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The Stars and Stripes to Publish Baghdad Edition

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2003 – Service members in Iraq will soon get more current news as The Stars and Stripes, the daily newspaper of the U.S. military abroad, begins publishing in Baghdad, Stripes officials said here.

The newspaper is establishing a second print site for its Middle East edition in Baghdad. The Baghdad plant will print 15,000 copies originally, said Stripes General Manager Max Lederer. The current print plant in Kuwait will continue to operate and produce about 10,000 copies.

The paper is free for service members in the area.

Service members in Iraq have complained of the spotty delivery of the paper. In some cases, the paper is delivered a week or two after the publication date. The problem, Stripes officials said, was in getting the edition transported from Kuwait City to the bulk mail facility at Baghdad International Airport.

The new Baghdad edition will allow service members in the capital to get same-day service. Service members in outlying areas will still receive the paper via the mail facility, but the wait should be one to two days, said Stripes Publisher Tom Kelsch.

The Washington offices of the newspaper will beam the pages of each day's edition to Baghdad using American Forces Radio and Television Service satellites, Lederer said. The printing plant will take the pages and print them in eight- page sections through the night. Local Iraqis will stuff the various sections together. Lederer said he envisions each paper being 32 to 48 pages.

About 130,000 U.S. service members are in Iraq, as well as about 100,000 U.S. civilians. Even with a "pass-along" rate of 4-to-1, that means only 60,000 will see a newspaper. Kelsch said Stripes would like to increase the press run, but will need funding to do so. Officials are looking for the money to make that happen, he said.

Service members have been able to watch the American Forces Radio and Television Service since the beginning of the conflict. Many units carried satellite television equipment into Iraq with them in March. Now, over-the-air radio is also available. The first area to receive an AFRTS station was Talil in June. Service members in Baghdad received an FM channel in July, and those based in Mosul got one in August.

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