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Media is the Battlefield

Newsletter 07-04
October 2006

CALL Handbook No. 06-08: Catastrophic Disaster Response Staff Officer's Handbook Cover

React to a Media Interview

Appendix E


A Soldier of the command is approached for an interview by media representatives who appear to be legitimate. The Soldier is participating as part of stability operations and support operations. The interview will not materially affect his ability to conduct his assigned tasks.

Situation A: Press is unescorted and not accredited by the force headquarters.

Situation B: Press is escorted by a unit public affairs representative (UPAR).

Task Standards:

  1. Interviews are not conducted with non-accredited media representatives.
  2. UPAR provides guidance to both interviewer and Soldier to be interviewed.
  3. Soldier interviewed does not speculate, nor does he express opinions beyond the scope of his experience or duties.
  4. Operational information is not discussed.
  5. Unit adheres to the rules of engagement.

Subtasks and Standards:

  1. Soldier asks to see accreditation certification.
  2. Soldier asks where the escort is if the reporter appears to be unescorted.
  3. If all details are in accordance with instructions received from briefings, Soldier participates in the interview. (See subtask 6 below if reporter is not escorted.)
  4. UPAR remains nearby during the interview.
  5. Soldier responds to interviewer’s questions.
    1. Soldier listens to the question, asks for clarification if needed.
    2. Soldier thinks about answer before responding.
    3. Soldier is honest in his answers. Says “I don’t know” if answer is beyond scope.
    4. Soldier explains if he cannot answer a question due to operations security.
    5. Soldier does not respond to hypothetical situations used by correspondent to elicit a response.
    6. Soldier terminates interview if he becomes uncomfortable with the questions being asked, or if questioning becomes provocative.
    7. Soldier does not allow himself to be “baited” into a response by a controversial or so-called “investigative reporter.”
    8. Soldier avoids saying “No comment.”
  6. If press representative is unescorted, Soldier:
    1. Determines if escort is in the area. Asks for a specific name and unit rather than accepting a general wave “over there.”
    2. Requests person or team to accompany the reporter to headquarters element location or calls for superiors to come to the location.
    3. Uses tact in dealing with media team.
  7. Leader attempts to verify identity of media team.
    1. Notifies higher headquarters UPAR or public affairs officer (PAO).
    2. Advises media team to depart area of operations to make contact with higher headquarters UPAR or PAO. Provides location and recommends route.
  8. Guidelines for media team operations in a controlled area. If media team is in an area under direct U.S. force control (e.g., secure compound, protected area, buffer zone), Soldier detains the media team to maintain positive control.
    1. Soldier informs media team that they are in a controlled area.
    2. Soldier informs media team that detention is for security reasons and will continue until released by higher headquarters.
    3. Soldier uses restraint consistent with authorized methods.
    4. Soldier/Leader considers that a ploy may be engineered to portray U.S. force unfavorably.
    5. Soldier/Leader keeps higher headquarters informed of all actions taken.

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