Information Warfare: April 17, 2002


: One barometer of a journalist's value is what they consider import enough to write about. In covering the deployment of the UK's 45 Commando to Afghanistan, USA Today reporter Andrea Stone wrote in the 14 April issue that unlike the Americans down the Bagram airbase runway, the Royal Marines were wasting no time making themselves as comfortable as possible. Really, now?

She pointed out that while American soldiers were still sleeping in tents pitched at odd angles, amid overturned trucks and bombed-out mud houses, British engineers had cleared "a smooth patch for tidy rows of tents". She also noted that after five months, the Americans were still eat precooked rations heated in boiling water but that the newly disembarked British were "serving fresh food, including Cornish pasties (stuffed turnovers) and chips (fries)".

However, there was nary the trace of indignation in Stone's report of this disparity and a quick internet search indicates that she is a US citizen. One wonders if it ever occurred to the intrepid reporter that the prior presence of American troops creates the perimeter of safety in which those royal luxuries can be set up. 

Incidentally, a 10 April Associated Press report noted that the Royal Marine section of the base is set apart from the rest of Bagram; with its own tented camp, dining halls, fuel supply and airfield. U.S. soldiers aren't allowed to enter the British compound without reason and approval. 

Royal Marine LTC Paul Harradine justified this by saying the British need to be able to operate without the Americans; "They may move to another airfield... We also don't know how long they're going to be here, or exactly how long we're going to be here.'' Translation: "Stay away from our Cornish pastries". What a pal. - Adam Geibel


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