Coalition Servicemembers Reach Out to America via YouTube
By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 14, 2007 Coalition military officials in Iraq are hoping to reach out to younger, broader audiences by posting clips of servicemembers in action on a popular video-sharing Web site.
Clips of combat and support operations have been posted to the YouTube Web site in an effort to inform Americans of the successes of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers in Iraq, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said during a phone interview today.
“How do we reach out to those in mid-town America who don’t know someone serving here? How do they find out what’s going on?” Caldwell asked. “One thing people don’t know is what’s really going on over here on a daily basis.”
The initiative first came about when soldiers began brainstorming about how to reach out and share stories of what’s happening in Iraq with a greater number of people. The group determined that the user-generated Web site would be a perfect venue for the more visually oriented, younger American audience.
“We want the American public, from an unfiltered vantage point, to be able to see what coalition forces and Iraqi security forces are doing here in Iraq,” he said.
Mechanisms are in place so video clips can quickly and accurately be posted to the Web site, while still adhering to operational security requirements, Caldwell said.
Since the multi-national force began the initiative on March 7, six videos have been posted, resulting in thousands of viewings.
The most popular, with more than 2,000 views, is a Jan. 24 clip from Operation Tomahawk Strike 11. The video shows U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division alongside soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division engaging insurgents from a high-rise building during a series of targeted raids.
Clips also have been posted showing footage from an unmanned aerial vehicle and a documentary-like essay on the discovery and destruction of a factory making vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.
In addition to posting videos on the YouTube site, a “Share our Story” tab has been established on the Multinational Force Iraq Web site, www.mnf-iraq.com, filled with videos, still photos and narratives of the men and women in uniform stationed there.
“(The link tells) what they’re doing over here to serve our country, support the government of Iraq and support the Iraqi people as we try to bring greater security and stability and self-governance to this nation,” the general said.