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Media Representatives Get Taste of Military Training

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2002 – Fifty-eight reporters, photographers and cameramen are getting a view of military training they don't usually see -- they're doing it, not watching it.

The media representatives are participating in a Pentagon program this week to familiarize them with the rigors of wartime reporting. They're learning how to deal with the military and some basic techniques to protect themselves in a combat environment, Army Lt. Col. Gary Keck, a Defense Department spokesman, explained.

He said the training is not graded, and getting the training won't guarantee a reporter a seat with a military plane, ship or unit. Likewise, not receiving the training won't preclude a reporter from accompanying a deploying unit.

"It's designed to make them more comfortable in dealing with the military," Keck said. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy either: Participants are rising with reveille and training way past taps.

The 58 media members in training this week are at Naval Station Norfolk and Marine Corps Base Quantico, both in Virginia. The first several days will be at Norfolk, including two at sea aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, and the rest of the time will be at Quantico.

Training will include sessions on basic first aid, how to respond to various types of attacks and hazards, and familiarization with the military's Code of Conduct, rules of engagement, ranks, weapons, equipment, and customs and courtesies.

The training isn't only to help media members survive, it's to help them successfully report on military operations, Keck said. Participants also discuss issues such as using civilian communications devices on a battlefield, the roles and capabilities of the unit public affairs representatives, and media ground rules.

The training culminates Nov. 22 with a five-mile tactical road march carrying 25-pound rucksacks, complete with ambushes and other attacks. Another interesting twist: Quantico is hosting a media day to give other media representatives the chance to cover their fellow reporters' actions.

Keck said media representatives having such experiences helps increase commanders' confidence in media accompanying their units. "We hope to increase the confidence level on both sides," he said.

He said officials are working out the details for other services to join in running future classes. All would cover the same core subjects. He said he couldn't put dates on future classes, but noted more than 400 people are already on the waiting list to attend.

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