The military can be roughly divided between those who fight, and those who don’t. Somewhere along the way, support troops falling into that latter category acquired the nickname of REMFs, (short for Rear Echelon Mother F—–s), and they’ve been objects of derision ever since, despite that fact that a modern army requires a huge logistics tail. For every “shooter” on the streets of Baghdad, there are many as seven support soldiers, performing the required tasks to make sure that combat troops have the fuel, food, amunition, medical and intelligence they need to carry out their mission.
Apparently, the same sort of dividing line can be found among the “combat” correspondents covering the War in Iraq. In the new edition of National Review, Michael Fumento compares the handful of “embedded” reporters who accompany our troops on the front lines (and share their dangers), with the so-called Baghdad brigades, journalists who do their job from the relative comfort–and safety–of the city’s best hotels.
As we’ve noted previously, serious embeds like Mike Fumento and Hollywood documentarian Patrick Dollard, are a dwindling breed. Instead, most of our reporting from Iraq comes from reporters like CNN’s Jane Araaf, who finds time to complain about the quality of her hotel. Other members of the Baghdad brigade rely on Iraqi “stringers” to gather information, or try to listen in on conversations in the grocery store, to get a sense of “what’s going on.”
The result is coverage dominated by shootings and bombings, reinforcing perceptions that Iraq is mired in chaos. Make no mistake: the situation in the Sunni Triangle has taken a turn for the worse, but there’s more to the Iraq story than the latest IED attack. Outside of Baghdad (and excluding Al Anbar), the situation remains relatively stable, but you wouldn’t know that from the reporting of a hotel-bound press corps.
Fumento’s reporting illustrates–again–why our information opertions and public affairs managers are missing the boat in Iraq. Mr. Fumento is an Army combat vet, a veteran journalist and attorney–a man who knows his way around a battlefield, and can offer genuine insights on the situation in Iraq. It’s nice to know that he’s been on three embed tours (already), but the military needs to open the doors for more Mike Fumentos to embed with our troops, and tell their stories.