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Origins of Embedded thinking - from 1998 by B Duckworth
EMBEDDED MEDIA TRAVEL
by Mr. Bob Duckworth, Forces Command Public Affairs
This article originally appeared in the March 1998 issue of the FORSCOM I-Opener.
Embedding media in your operations is a force multiplier. You can expect to gain positive coverage for your community, strengthen local media relations and improve morale for your soldiers and their families. You should consider embedding media on major exercises and upcoming deployments.
How do you embed local media with a unit deploying to the Central Command Area of Responsibility? Hopefully, this information will provide some guidance and clues as to how and why we need to do things a certain way, and why we need to plan for and coordinate well in advance of any unit deployments even well before any alert or deployment orders are received.
Several years ago, Congress gave DOD some very stringent guidance on using government aircraft to fly media anywhere. Here are some of the important points from AR 360-5, Chapter 5, "Use of Military Transportation." This same information is also in the new consolidated PA regulation, which is currently in staffing. Take a moment to review them:
Military transportation will not compete with commercial carriers when the public affairs objectives of the proposed travel can be accomplished through the use of commercial carriers.
Travel or transportation may be authorized in connection with an assignment to cover an Army program or operation when travel is an integral part of the story and is provided on a space-available basis.
Nonlocal travel by all news media representatives must be approved by OASD-PA.
All local travel or transportation requests for national media must be brought to the attention of HQDA OCPA.
Travel or transportation for public affairs purposes must be primarily in the interest of DA or the DOD.
No commitment of military transportation for public affairs purposes will be made until the request has been coordinated and approved.
Invitational Travel Orders covering transportation will be issued by the command with primary interest.
If you prepare each news media travel request, local or nonlocal, in accordance with AR 360-5, it will stand up to both Congressional and public scrutiny.
Getting A Head Start
Embedding media with a deploying unit appears complex and time consuming, but it is not that difficult. It does require a sizable amount of advanced planning and coordination. Keep these points in mind as you develop your planning and coordination checklist:
1. The deploying unit must agree to sponsor the media when they deploy and while they are in country.
2. They must help with their deployment preparations. And they must agree to provide aircraft seats on the unit's flight to the area of operations.
3. You will need escorts to go with them and stay with them, but take heart--they don't have to be Public Affairs personnel from your shop!
4. USARCENT must agree to support the trip and coordination with their Joint Task Force Public Affairs is imperative. Check with FORSCOM Public Affairs and we will find out what ARCENT's embedded media policy is.
5. Before any warning or execute orders are ever issued, survey your media and find out who may be interested in going with your unit should they be deployed. Let them know in advance what will be required. For example, up-to-date visa and passport, immunizations, training, equipment and approximate costs, to include a return commercial flight if military flights are not available. If they don't know how to get a passport or visa, call us. (Jack Coffey has developed an excellent Media Resource Guide for Bosnia that has proved very useful to PAOs and their media. Most of this information is also pertinent to other areas, including CENTCOM. We are still coordinating with Third Army/USARCENT to provide information on CENTCOM's AOR, sample ITOs and other information. If you can't wait, call or request it via e-mail, and Jack will e-mail it to you. Be on the lookout for a comprehensive Media Resource Guide that will be featured by AOR.)
6. Once you have a handle on the requirements, start working on Invitational Travel Orders (ITO) for media who will likely be embedded.
7. Work with your operations personnel to draft an MTF message in advance. A sample message is included below and contains the addressees who will need to approve and/or be aware of your proposed plans.
8. Keep in close contact with your operators, the commander of your sponsoring unit, your media and the JTF PAO before and following deployment.
9. Have a plan that will ensure coverage of your unit and work with your higher headquarters to market products coming out of theater. As a minimum, get your media articles in the Early Bird.
10. After you have completed your coordination, complete work on an MTF message.
Do you have to send a message? Yes. Both nonlocal media travel approval by OASD-PA and travel clearances are necessary. They should be requested at the latest 30 days before the tentative departure date but that is often not feasible when embedding media. Both are normally requested in one message, which justifies the reason for the trip and the proposed dates of travel. You must include the name, social security, passport number and affiliation of each news media representative. The same information is required for each PA escort. Remember that the escort does not need to be a PAO. A responsible, fully briefed, NCO or officer will suffice.
DA and OASD Public Affairs will work with you and try their best to respond and meet your needs, but don't expect miracles. Both DA and OASD Public Affairs will confirm approvals in writing. Take steps to make all this information available in one file.
Remember to plan ahead, coordinate, and take action with confidence. You can do it! Please see SAMPLE MTF message below:
FROM CRD THIRD INF DIV FT STEWART GA//PAO//
HQ DA WASHINGTON DC//SAPA-POPD//
INFO JCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//OASD/PA/DPL//
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL//PAO//
COMUSARCENT-CDRUSATHIRD FT MCPHERSON GA//PA//
USCINCTRANSCOM SCOTT AFB IL//TCPA//
USACOM NORFOLK VA//JO1PA//
SUBJ: REQUEST FOR APPROVAL OF NON-LOCAL MEDIA TRAVEL TO SWA AND TRAVEL CLEARANCES RMKS/1. THIS HQ PROPOSES TO EMBED MEDIA WITH A DEPLOYMENT OF THE 3D ID SCHEDULED TO DEPLOY TO THE SWA THEATER OF OPERATIONS ON APPROXIMATELY 26 MAR ON AN AIR FORCE CRAFT. REQUEST APPROVAL AND THEATER AND COUNTRY CLEARANCES FOR THE NON LOCAL TRAVEL OF THE FOLLOWING NEWS MEDIA FROM FORT STEWART TO SWA AND POTENTIAL RETURN. REQUEST THEATER CLEARANCE FOR NEWS MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES (NMRS) AND MEDIA TRAVEL IN AND OUT OF THE OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH AREA OF OPERATION.
PERTINENT INFORMATION IS IN NAME/ORGAN/SSAN/PASSPORT NUMBER FORMAT.
Jim Doe COLUMBUS (GA) LEDGER-ENQUIRER/SSN 000-00-000 US PASSPORT 111-11-98
Susan Doe/SAVANNAH (GA) SAVANNAH TIMES/SSN OO1-01-001
US PASSPORT 111-12-98
Steve Smith/CPT/HQ, 2ND BDE, 3 ID/ESCORT OFFICER
2. MEDIA HAVE AGREED TO REMAIN WITH THE UNIT FOR APPROXIMATELY TEN DAYS AND WILL PROVIDE CRITICALLY NEEDED HOMETOWN, FORT STEWART AND ARMYWIDE COVERAGE OF 3D ID TO FAMILIES, THE FORT STEWART CIVILIAN WORK FORCE AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC. REPORTERS HAVE AGREED TO COVER PORTIONS OF AIR FORCE SUPPORT TO 3D ID UNITS WHILE IN TRANSIT. REPORTERS WILL TRAVEL ON A USAF C5 FROM HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD TO SWA. REPORTERS WILL STAY WITH THE 3D ID IN BASE CAMP. 3D ID PAO HAS AGREED TO SUPPORT MEDIA TRANSPORT IN AND OUT OF THE BASE CAMP TO COVER FIELD TRAINING AND UNIT OPERATIONS IN THEATER.
3. UNIT COMMANDER AND THE ASSIGNED ESCORT OFFICER HAS ENSURED REPORTERS WILL COMPLETE THEATER SPECIFIC IRT PRIOR TO DEPARTURE. REPORTERS HAVE PASSPORTS, VISAS, ACCREDITATION, IMMUNIZATIONS AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT. FORT STEWART PAO WILL PREPARE INVITATIONAL TRAVEL ORDERS UPON RECEIPT OF TRAVEL APPROVAL. MAJ RUSS OAKS, 3D ID PAO, WILL ESCORT MEDIA IN THEATER. REPORTERS WILL ACCOMPANY AN MP COMPANY IN TRANSIT.
4. REPORTERS HAVE BEEN BRIEFED THAT DEPLOYMENT DATE MAY FLUCTUATE AND RETURN FLIGHTS ON MILITARY AIRCRAFT MAY NOT BE FEASIBLE. REPORTERS HAVE AGREED TO PAY IN FULL FOR TRANSPORTATION BACK TO THE UNITED STATES.
5. WHEN MEDIA FLIGHT IS APPROVED AND TRAVEL CLEARANCES GRANTED, REQUEST THAT AMC PA GRANT MMO/MEGP STATUS, INCLUDING AUTHORIZATION FOR NMRS TO GATHER MATERIAL, FILM, VIDEO AND/OR STILL PHOTO COVERAGE ON AMC MISSIONS IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH. NMRS WILL OBSERVE ALL USAF SAFETY REGULATIONS PER DOD INST. 4515.3r. TRAVEL IS ON A NON-REIMBURSABLE, NON-INTERFERENCE WITH MISSION BASIS. MEDIA WILL NOT BE GIVEN ACCESS TO CLASSIFIED INFORMATION OR MATERIALS.
6. FOCUS OF MISSION REMAINS REGIONAL/HOMETOWN NEWS COVERAGE OF 3D ID SOLDIERS PARTICIPATING IN OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH WHILE PROVIDING NMRS WITH A COMPLETE ORIENTATION ON THE COMPLEXITIES OF MILITARY DEPLOYMENTS, INCLUDING THE TRANSCOM/AMC MISSION. TRAVEL BY MILITARY AIRCRAFT IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE STORY AND NMRS INTEND TO INTERVIEW CREWMEMBERS, PILOTS, FLIGHT ENGINEERS, AND LOADMASTERS DURING FLIGHTS, AND ALCC GROUND STAFF AT ENROUTE STATIONS. ESCORT OFFICER WILL BRIEF AIRCREW MEMBERS THAT NMRS ARE PRESENT AND THAT CONVERSATIONS OR ACTIONS OF THE CREW MAY RESULT IN ARTICLES, PHOTOS OR VIDEO PRESENTATIONS.
7. NMRS WILL IS ACCORDED ALL COURTESIES AND PRIVILEGES AS EQUIVALENT GRADE OF O-4 FOR MESSING AND BILLETING.
8. POC AT THIS HQ IS MR DUCKWORTH, COMM (404) 464-5686 OR DSN 367-5686.
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