- Nov 22, 2003
- Reaction score
March 07, 2007
NBC in Iraq
"Finally we feel there is security, it's better" said a man who brought his daughter outside to see the US soldiers.
- NBC News report from Sadr City
A great quote from Iraq, the sort a journalist can get every day if they want to. Last month I wrote of Mike Yon at MilBlogs
Mike's story adds the details and life that no press release can. Though sometimes you'll find a gem of a quote included like that in the third paragraph above, it's more often than not like the difference between reading the final score of a football game you hadn't seen and reading a full account by a reporter who did, and knows more than the score.
Worse, the mainstream press, for some odd reason, generally chooses to provide only the oppositions "score".
I'm not addressing that failure here - that's a given. I actually want to point out the magnitude of the failure. Over the past week I've collected not a handful, not a dozen, but 55 such press releases here - and there are others I simply didn't have time to add. Fifty-five stories that could have been told in the way Mike did; unembellished, un-hyped, and simply factual, but with the level of detail that a press release can't provide. Fifty-five stories lacking only the teller to be told.
Mike's still delivering gems from the war zone:
On the 18th, we drove from Baghdad to Ramadi for a Transfer of Authority from the 1st Brigade 1st Armored Division, to the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division.Along with Williams, retired General Wayne Downey
Geraldo Rivera was there. Hes got a cool mustache. Monte Morin of Stars & Stripes was there. Montes a serious war correspondent. Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno was there. Odierno is a serious general who runs a huge portion of this war. Next time Odierno comes on the news, it can be good to stop and listen.
...but as should be obvious from the first word of this post, someone other than Geraldo has shown up to report from Iraq. NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who, in fact, just gave us an opportunity to follow Yon's advice regarding Lt General Ray Odierno:
And this is what the general heard Monday about how warmly the locals now view the Americans.
"They do not want us to leave. They want to see the police come through," says U.S. Army Col. John Charlton.
"The people here are very glad to see us very hesitant for us to go. They want us to stay and to keep beating down the insurgents," U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles Ferry says.
Brian Williams (to Col. Charlton): You just said, They don't want us to leave. That's the 10th time today I've heard that. I've got to go back to the States and do a newscast that every night has another politician or 12 of them saying, We have got to get out of that godforsaken place.
"They can talk about policy, OK, and that's what they have to do back there," says Odierno. "My mission right now is to provide protection for the Iraqi people so this government can grow."
Brian, every single one of them, I ran into a lot of officers and NCOs that I served with -- every soldier that I ran across today I asked him: 'How do you feel about what's going on, what do you know about what is going on back in the states?' And without exception -- this was spontaneous, especially when you start talking to PFCs and Spec 4s, they're going to tell you the truth, no party line. Very proud of what they're doing. Very, very dedicated. Many of these guys, Brian, are back here on their second and third tours. These are one-year tours. Extremely well trained and very professional.
And Williams has even carried the message to MSNBC's Hardball program, where host Chris Matthews was deeply concerned that the Walter Reed story might be hurting troop morale ("Is it clear that the people feel that we're letting them down at home?"). Williams seems to think that's not the case. The conversation then turned to Iraq (by the way, note the "so called surge" reference - Williams knows the score.):
MATTHEWS: Now I want to ask you the big question. How is the surge going in Baghdad?
WILLIAMS: Well, I`ll tell you. It`s in its early stages and with - if you mention the so-called surge, you have to talk about it in tandem with this new policy of these small outposts, these - what they are really is glorified police stations.
We saw it today in Ramadi. There is patently no way a few weeks ago we could have stood outside an armored vehicle and had a conversation as we did today in Ramadi.
They have changed policy there. The war has changed.
Is it better? That`ll be for other people to judge. But it is already being felt here, that is, the increase in troops. The first ones are already here.
There`s a huge field behind us they are clearing for the 3rd Infantry, for their next tour of duty here. And so, we`ll have to wait and see. It`s on a continuum.
But, again, the combination, with this change in policy - getting out, decentralizing, going into the neighborhoods, grabbing a toehold, telling the enemy we`re here, start talking to the locals - that is having an obvious and palpable effect.
MATTHEWS: Do they - have you been there long enough, Brian, this time over, to sense whether it`s different than the last time you were there?
WILLIAMS: Already there are some obvious differences in security in some spots. It doesn`t take that long on the ground to instantly compare it to previous visits. So, yes.
We covered a lot of ground in one day. And when you travel with a three star and a Black Hawk, you can do that. We had a lot of heavy armor on the ground to facilitate our travels.
Still a very dangerous place. There are pockets of peace and serenity where the soldiers can go to relax, the contractors can do their jobs.
But yes, Chris, all of them revolving around the issue of security. There are some very obvious differences, starting with the arrival at the airport.
MATTHEWS: Has there been any cost to morale? And again, it`s a hard one to get perhaps this quickly after a couple of days there, Brian.
But the British withdrawal of troops from Basra, are people feeling we`re out there on point all alone as a country now?
WILLIAMS: I heard no talk of that, and that`s all I can speak to.
Today, the message that we`re prepared to report tonight on "NBC Nightly News" is this kind of tale of two wars.
I`m fresh from, you know, weeks of putting together "NBC Nightly News" and televising this debate in Washington, a lot of members of Congress saying we should be out now.
And today, we literally airlift into a place like Ramadi, where they are so proud of the latest city block they say they have been able to "peacify." They have been able to forge an agreement with the local religious leaders and knock al Qaeda one city block further away from the center of town.
They are so involved in the battle. Many, many soldiers told me today the local people are so worried they`re going to leave cities like Ramadi and Hit. That`s the war they know.
And they say very politely, they can talk all they want in D.C.; we`ve got to enforce the policy, the job we`re here to do.
Yup. Kudos to Brian Williams and NBC.
But the last quote - and the best on troop morale - is from Mike Yon: "If their morale could be bottled, it would probably sell like crack, then be outlawed."
Posted by Greyhawk at 12:10 AM