(Bureau Chief's Meeting)
(Bureau Chiefs Meeting. Also participating: Victoria Clarke, ASD PA; Bryan G. Whitman, DASD PA; RADM Stephen Pietropaoli, Navy Chief of Information; MGEN Larry Gottardi, Army Chief of Public Affairs; BGEN Andrew Davis, Marine Corps Director of Public Affairs; CAPT "T" McCreary, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs; COL Jay DeFrank, Director, DoD Press Office; LTC Catherine Abbott, Deputy Director, DoD Press Office)
Whitman: Well I don't think we have any other distress calls from any of the entrances of the Pentagon right now, so I think we probably have a quorum. There may be a few more that join us here shortly, but let's go ahead and get started because I know you're all busy people. And if our discussions with you throughout the last couple of weeks, one-on-one type things, is any indication you probably have some things you want to ask about, concerns, issues you want to bring out in the open here.
First of all I just want to welcome everybody here. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Bryan Whitman. I'm Torie's Deputy for Media Operations. Ms. Clarke is, all the broadcasters know this, it's Radio Day over at the White House and she has the Secretary over there and is en-route back here and will be joining us in just a few minutes as soon as she arrives back in the building.
It has been a long time since we've had our last meeting but we have had a lot of discussions with all of you, I think, or a good number of you over the last several weeks to talk about the way ahead a little bit. But before we get started, because there are a fair amount of new faces in here also, why don't we just go around the room real quick so that people now who we're talking with here.
Q: Mark Stern with Copley News Service.
Q: Hi, I'm Francis Kohn from Agence France Press, AFP.
Q: I'm Robin Doherty with Reuters.
Q: George Tamerlani of Reuters Television.
Q: Tim Aubry with Reuters Pictures.
Q: Richard Ellis with Getty Images.
Q: Clark Hoyt with Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
Q: Richard Sisk, New York Daily News.
Q: Jack Payton, Voice of America.
Q: Merrilee Cox, ABC Radio News.
Q: John Henry, Houston Chronicle.
Q: Chuck Lewis, the Hearst Newspapers.
Q: Steve Geimann, Bloomberg News.
Q: Tobin Beck, UPI.
Q: Wendy Wilkinson, NBC.
Q: Jill Abramson, New York Times.
Q: Robin Sproul, ABC News.
Q: David Cook, Christian Science Monitor.
Q: John Hall, Associated Press Photos.
Q: Jim Michaels, USA Today.
Q: Tom Mattesky, CBS.
Q: Kim Hume, Fox News.
Q: Laura Myers, AP.
Q: Sandy Johnson, AP.
Q: Carl Leubsdorf, Dallas Morning News.
DeFrank: Jay DeFrank. I'm the Director of Press Operations.
Whitman: Why don't we just loop around the back here and go that way...
Q: Dave Wood, Newhouse News service.
Q: Peter Copeland, Scripts Howard.
Q: Andy Alexander, Cox Newspapers.
McCreary: T. McCreary, JCS Public Affairs.
Abbott: Cathy Abbott, Deputy Director, Press Office
Q: Vickie Walton-James, Chicago Tribune.
Q: Bob Timberg, Baltimore Sun.
Q: Bruce Auster, US News.
Q: Matt Vita, the Washington Post.
Q: Tom McCarthy, the LA Times.
Q: Deborah Howell, Newhouse News Service.
Q: Harry Walker, Knight-Ridder Tribune Photos.
Q: David Sweeney, NPR News.
Q: Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Q: Steve Redisch, CNN.
Q: Bill Gertz, Washington Times.
Q: Gerald Seib, Wall Street Journal.
Q: David Cook, Boston Globe.
Q: Thelma Lebrecht, AP Radio.
Q: Denise Vance, AP Television.
Davis: Drew Davis, Marines.
Pietropaoli: Steve Pietropaoli with Navy Public Affairs.
Gottardi: Larry Gottardi, Army Public Affairs.
Whitman: Again, thank you all for coming today. While it's hard to believe that there might not be somebody that's here with this large group, we are recording today's session and there will be a transcript so that any of your colleagues that were not able to make it today will be able to at least see what we talked about.
So with that, as we have our discussions it would really help if you identify yourself and your news organization so we attribute your comments to the right person and not somebody else inadvertently.
As I indicated, we started to have a lot of discussions with many of you in here. They've been discussions not only with the Bureau Chiefs that are here but also with your reporters that cover this building on a regular basis. We've also had some preliminary discussions with even some of your technical people, particularly the electronic media. Kim had made a suggestion that we take a look at whether or not there are some issues there that we should be fleshing out, and we started to do that a little bit this week. And so we really appreciate all the feedback we've been getting from you. And that has been very valuable for us and we would like to continue to solicit that from you in the days ahead because we do take your concerns very seriously and they have molded our thinking as we have been doing some planning for ourselves here.
I guess the first thing I'd like -- There are three areas that I'd like to cover today, and please interject at any time if you have a question. We can take as long as you need or as short as you feel is required for any of this today. But I'd like to talk a little bit about ongoing planning for future operations. I think I'd like to talk a little bit about, because I've gotten a lot of interest from you, on a media training program. I'd like to then open it up to some of your issues and some of your concerns. I've heard over the past couple of weeks everything from chem/bio training to vaccinations to the national media pool as well as a host of other things, and I think some of the discussions that we've had one-on-one would be beneficial to the group here, and there may be others that just haven't had a chance to meet with us on some of those things.
The good news is while the President has not made any decision for any military action in the Middle East or with respect to Iraq, and we can't say that enough times as we have our discussions today, we have been doing public affairs planning right from the beginning alongside all the contingency planning, the military contingency planning being done in this building. And as most of you know who watch our building, it's a very iterative process that's been going on, and we have been very much involved in making sure that the public affairs aspects of this are being addressed each step of the way. It's been concurrent planning and I think a lot of my colleagues right here in this room from the Joint Staff as well as from the services, for all the hard work that they've been doing as we look at any potential future operations.
While it's hard to get into any specific details today, I think what I can do for you is assure you that from the highest levels of this department the leadership is committed to making sure that you and your reporters, your reporters have access to our troops in the field should there be any military operation.
One of the things that I think we all need to have in our mind is that this, if there is military action one should not presume that the way we do public affairs will be a carbon copy of Desert Storm or any other recent conflict either.
We have been working very hard and are very committed to very extensive use of embedded media.
[ASD Clarke and Secretary Rumsfeld arrived]
Rumsfeld: What's the hot topic?
Whitman: Well sir, we were just starting to talk about some of the public affairs planning that's been going on concurrent with operational planning should the President make any sort of decision with respect to military operations and how at the highest levels of this department we are committed to the concept of embedding media and ensuring that there is access to what our troops may be doing on the battlefield. That was the sentence I was in when you walked in, sir.
Rumsfeld: Good. I was just told you all were here and Torie suggested I stop by and say hello, and I'm happy to do it.
I'd be happy to answer a question or two. I don't know enough about the context of where you are to say anything. I might say something wrong. I can get in all kinds of trouble here.
Q: Sandy Johnson with the Associated Press.
A year ago when we started military action against Afghanistan it took six weeks until American reporters were embedded with your people.
Rumsfeld: Meaning six weeks from when? September 11th?
Q: No. October, start of the war. It was Thanksgiving weekend or shortly thereafter.
Clarke: It took that long before they were embedded on the ground in Afghanistan.
Clarke: For the first several weeks we didn't have people on the ground in Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld: Yeah, we didn't have people down there. We were trying to get them in.
Q: Can I get some assurance from you that the American media will go in earlier than that at the forefront of any activity?
Rumsfeld: Well, put yourself in my shoes for a minute. I can't give you that assurance because I don't know what might happen. I don't know who might be on the ground, what might be taking place, and in the case that you're referring to we spent days and ultimately weeks trying to get first Special Forces people and later ground forces into Afghanistan, and to do it we had to first develop relationships with the Northern Alliance and then we had to develop an arrangement whereby we could physically get them in there. I can remember instances where the helicopters tried to come in from the north into deposit small numbers of these folks with the Northern Alliance people who we didn't know, and they had to turn back three or four times and it took a week and a half in one case just to get through the bad weather and get people in there.
So I think it would not be an accurate representation to suggest that there was a conscious effort to keep people out and not embedded in forces during that six-week period from October 7th, because our task was just getting a small handful of people embedded with the Northern Alliance, and there was a sufficiently small number that they were worried about their own security because we didn't know what was going to happen with these Northern Alliance people, and they certainly didn't have time to provide any force protection for anyone from the press.
Now then you say can I give you assurance that in the event something happens that they'll get in sooner than that. The answer is of course I can't give assurance. Can I give you assurance that we recognize the desirability of having people embedded? Yes, we do recognize that. Do we want to try to get them in as early as possible, that it's not going to put at risk the U.S. forces that are in there? Yes, we do want to do that. But that's the only assurance I can give you.
Q: Matt Vita from the Washington Post. Us, like other news organizations, likely will have reporters who will not be embedded, who will be perhaps in Baghdad, perhaps in Northern Iraq. What kind of assurance --
Rumsfeld: Again, we'll begin every question on Iraq with the preface that says in the event something were to happen.
Are people writing what I'm saying in here, or is this off the record?
Voices: It's being recorded. On the record.
Rumsfeld: Okay. Then I'll say it before every question is asked (laughter).
I do not want to be positioned as sitting here answering a bunch of questions about Iraq on the assumption that there's going to be something happening in Iraq because I'm simply not in a position to do that. The President's made no judgment other than to go to the Congress first and the United Nations second and a debate's taking place.
Sorry to interrupt you, but --
Q: Hypothetically, --
Rumsfeld: Now you've got it.
Q: -- should encounter U.S. forces in field in Iraq, what kind of assurance can you give us that they will be treated as journalists and helped along as they need be and not treated as potential hostile combatants?
Rumsfeld: You're talking about people that are physically in the country were U.S. forces to then arrive and what kind of assurances can I give you that they would be treated as journalists?
Rumsfeld: Again I can't give assurances, but there's no question but that U.S. military people treat journalists as journalists. Is it possible that they could be in a building that got bombed? Yes. Is it possible that they could be embedded in a group of forces that come under fire? Yes. If they're operating with the Republican Guard or something like that, forces that are being opposed, there's no question but that problems can occur.
It's not possible to know if it's dark or -- So you can't give assurances like that.
Does that sound reasonable to you?
Q: Not if they happened to find themselves in a building that was bombed, but they happened to come across U.S. forces, what is the policy of the forces towards them? They will be accredited journalists that they would encounter somewhere.
Rumsfeld: The policy would vary depending on the size of the force and what they were doing, but certainly any policy would be to treat them as non-combatants at the outset. Whether they would be instantaneously transferred in the accreditation from an Iraqi Republican Guard unit to a U.S. unit in the midst of a battle is hard to say. One would think you'd want to sort people out and figure out who they are in the event that there were some sort of an exchange, but U.S. military people are trained to be respectful of journalists regardless of what country they come from.
Does that go to your question?
Q: -- that U.S. military understands they may encounter, they may run into journalists who are not --
Rumsfeld: There's no question but that that could happen were something to occur in Iraq.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you talked about the desirability of having journalists embedded should there be any action in Iraq. Can you talk about the word "desirability"? Is that a core principle for you? What are some of your thoughts about that?
Rumsfeld: Well I think that as a principle, given our Constitution and the way our free system works, that it's always helpful, generally almost always helpful to have the press there to see things and be able to report and comment and provide information about what's taking place. There are obviously times when that's not appropriate, the danger is too great or the confidentiality of what's taking place is such that it's not appropriate.
Is it a core principle? Sure. It is something more than that. It's also self-serving in this sense. You're dealing in -- we'll go back to the hypothetical case of Iraq, although the same thing was true in Afghanistan. In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan there was a great degree of skill on the part of the Taliban and the al Qaeda in news management and they were able to co-locate their various military activities in close proximity to hospitals and nursing homes and schools and sympathy-engendering locations. To the extent they couldn't and some building was bombed, they would then take in some cases, actually physically take people from a hospital and take them over to a place that was bombed and pretend it was a clinic of some kind.
It's helpful to the extent you have people who are journalists and are accurate and professional with you that can see those things on the ground when they happen.
Now the problem is if you're in the air and they happen you can't do that. But if you're on the ground having people embedded on the ground I think is particularly useful because we see intelligence that they are already arranging things that will mislead the press in Iraq as to how they want to do things. There's a risk that they will do that and try to blame it on the United States in the event that something takes place in Iraq, and having people who are honest and professional see these things and be aware of that is useful. So I consider it not just the right thing to do but also a helpful thing.
Q: Bill Gertz, Washington Times.
One of the problems that I've encountered over the years is that when reporters and news organizations are included in operations it's often done in an unfair manner. What kind of assurances can you give us that there will be a better diversity of news organizations that get to go with front-line versus rear-line units in any kind of future operation?
Clarke: Well I'd say Larry Flynt and Hustler Magazine are pretty diverse. I mean it. If you take a look at the whole picture since October 7th when military operations started and media were embedded on ships, with pilots, those sorts of things, and since then there has been an incredible diversity of domestic and foreign media that have been embedded.
Q: That wasn't the case with Special Operations in Afghanistan.
Clarke: It's a different situation with Special Operations. There aren't as many opportunities.
Rumsfeld: I just don't know. It's below my radar screen. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Torie Clarke is the one who has people who figure all that out and I, needless to say, don't look and see who's in and who's out and who's doing this and who's doing that. I just don't know.
But clearly when you have a limited number of slots for something, by the nature of what you're doing, I would assume that you try to rotate people for one thing, and have a mix of media types. That's what you do on our plane when we travel. I don't know, Bill, what else I can say.
Q: Mr. Secretary, there's been another report of incidents of friendly fire, U.S. Air Forces on Marine forces.
Rumsfeld: This is the report of an earlier --
Q: Right, this was the C-130 incident right at the outset of Anaconda.
Q: There's been a whole series of these going back over the years, and I wonder if this problem has risen to your level, if you've gotten personally involved in this issue.
Rumsfeld: We have.
Q: I know you've had some interaction with the families of people who have been killed or wounded --
Rumsfeld: I sure have.
Q: Is there a basic problem here that we can't hit what we're aiming at?
Rumsfeld: Well I guess in the history of warfare there's always been friendly-fire incidents throughout my adult life, and they're always just heartbreaking. You're right, I have had dealings with families that have been involved in friendly fire incidents.
We had a lessons-learned project start very quickly after the beginning of the Afghanistan episode and they looked at this to some extent. I've not heard or seen anybody who thinks there is a pattern that is correctable in some way. There are individual things that occur, just as in peacetime. I suppose you could call the collision of our two aircraft recently a friendly-fire incident. It was a non-enemy occurrence that killed American service people. And as a former Navy pilot, half my flight class I think was dead by the time I got to the age of 50, and a good half of it was not from enemy fire. These are things that happen. People make mistakes.
Someone came into this room today and probably stumbled and bumped their knee. Things do occur like that. But I've not seen anything that suggests we can't hit what we're aiming at. Indeed, quite the contrary. The use of precision-guided munitions has significantly improved the precision and the accuracy of what we're doing. It doesn't change human beings from being human beings who can make mistakes and feel just god-awful about it after it happens and heartbroken for the families and the people involved.
I don't know, T [Capt. McCreary], do you know anything I don't know about this? I've not seen any pattern.
McCreary: No, sir. It's all been individual cases.
Rumsfeld: It's true if you're in a business and you're making pharmaceuticals and you have to have all kinds of checks and records to see that they're putting the right things in and that the people are checking this and checking that and this is accurate. Every once in awhile you find someone makes a mistake.
Look at the hospitals where they end up good people, intelligent people, well-trained people, spend decades learning how to be good doctors and nurses, and the next thing you know the chart is wrong and the wrong medicine is administered. It's just the way life is I suppose, and when you're dealing with things that are dangerous -- weapons and bombs and rockets, ships, heavy machinery, people get hurt and it's a shame.
But no, I think your characterization or your question about the possibility of something that's systemic has not been validated.
It's nice to see you all.
Clarke: Thank you, sir.
Okay, meeting's over. [Laughter]
How far had you gotten?
Whitman: What we were talking about when you came in was kind of trying to, I guess maybe disabuse people that they shouldn't use any previous conflict as a model for how any potential operation in the Middle East might unfold, and how we have a much stronger commitment I think to the concept of embedding and embedding early and that a lot of things have changed over the last decade, too, in terms of technology and your ability to report from the battlefield, our ability to move information.
Clarke: I would just add on one thing to that. And for the record, this is all on the hypothetical for planning if indeed there is a military action in Iraq. And there's been no decision made, so this is hypothetical contingency planning. But I would add on to what Bryan said. I have talked to a lot of people in this room and we really appreciate the time individuals, news organizations, people have put into this process thus far.
In the category of lessons learned from the Persian Gulf War 11, 12 years ago, whatever, one was well, there was a pretty good effort made in terms of actually getting the media over there and in the right places, but there was a real drop-off and a failure on the part of helping get product back. So a big part of what we have been focused on is taking into consideration changes in technology, those sorts of things, and try to focus on the nuts and bolts of how can we make sure if we have indeed gotten somebody or somebody's embedded, how can we make sure they can get their product back and get their product back quickly, not two weeks later.
So lessons learned but, and we're trying to apply it going forward, but to Bryan's point, just like military planners are not taking the Persian Gulf War binder off the shelf and saying we're just going to tweak this for what may or may not happen going forward, we are not taking the Persian Gulf War public affairs plan off the shelf and just tweaking it. We're trying to approach the world as we see it and make happen what we all want to make happen. And the Secretary's right, it is self-serving. It is in your interest to be out there getting as much news and information as possible about what might transpire, it's in our interest.
Whitman: Part of that I think is to have you start thinking about some of the challenges of moving your products when you're in an embedded situation and not in a more fixed location which many of you may have been accustomed to operating from in the past where there are greater access to facilities, whether they be telephone lines or what have you, and the ability to travel lightly but still be able to, for the most part be able to move your product organically yourself, too.
That's why we wanted to talk to you a bit today about our commitment to embedding and how important embedding is going to be to any potential media operation that would accompany the operation.
We've kind of talked about the overview, and one of the things that we have been talking to you about and one of the things that you have mentioned to us on several occasions is as you start to look at your operations and the reporters that may be covering your operations, whether or not there is some utility both for you and for us in getting, doing some basic training of your reporters. Things that would include basic military knowledge. Simple things. Everything from understanding the rank structure to what weapon systems, what the difference is between various weapon systems, as well as some basic survival skills. First aid, emergency land navigation, the basics of cover and concealment if you're going to be operating with a combat unit. Really to help your reporters operate safely and report accurately from the battlefield, to give us a measure of confidence and the unit commanders that are out there a measure of confidence too, that they have some fundamental understanding of how the military operates. But it should be emphasized as we go forward with any sort of training program like this that this would not be and is not intended to be any sort of a prerequisite to embedding. Nor should it be viewed as any sort of guarantee to be embedded with any U.S. military or coalition force for that matter.
Most of you have received, yesterday I believe, a letter from Ms. Clarke that basically outlines kind of the preliminaries of what we were looking at in terms of a program like this.
Clarke: And let me just say one thing as people are passing around new copies of this. As we were starting to think through some of these things, and I really do feel sometimes like I'm the marriage counselor, and how can we increase confidence on both sides. As we were thinking through some of these things individual news organizations, individual correspondents came and found us and sought us out and said hey, let's manage expectations but it could be really useful to have some training and orientation on some key issues, some basic issues, as well as some things that are of concern to people like the chem/bio training. So this is an idea, a concept that has sort of all come to one place from different directions including from the services. So I'm going to encourage fellows behind me to speak up on this because they've got some very, very good ideas as well about how we can do this.
But just to reiterate what Bryan said, managing expectations. It's not a guarantee somebody gets embedded, nor is not going through it makes it a non-starter that somebody will get embedded. But I think it would be very, very useful for all parties to think about the kinds of correspondents that are likely candidates to be embedded and say hey, it wouldn't hurt to get some basic training, some basic orientation about these key issues. And as most of you all know far better than we do, there is nothing like face time to increase the comfort level about things like embeds. So I think there are some after-effects as well.
Q: I have a question on [inaudible]. We are a proponent of training, speaking for ABC.
Have you considered maybe doing a separate or two levels of training? Because clearly each of our news organizations has people with no experience to people who are highly experienced but who need training specific to some of the unique challenges to any potential Iraq conflict. I would see that it would be terrific to be able to offer the specific chem/bio safety, things specific to this mission for people who have a great deal of experience in otherwise covering military in combat.
Clarke: I don't know if these three have thought about it in their services. We haven't, not because it's not a good idea. We haven't thought about it because there's only so much we can get done in a period of time. And I'm going to say this and warn you this isn't an indication of anything. We all think it would be a good idea to do this sooner rather than later. It takes people, it takes resources, and we're thinking about several different locations, and I honestly don't know if the schedule and the people and the resources could stand sort of the JV and the varsity category.
Q: Maybe it would be at least considered that of a five-day training period one day was specific to --
Clarke: Yeah. General Gottardi is saying it turns into sort of an elective system or an a la carte, which to a certain extent defeats the purpose. It isn't just about chem/bio training and you start to break it up too much into an a la carte package I think you lose, from our perspective, you lose some of the value.
Pietropaoli: And I would just say that some of the things that are very specific obviously, for embarks in high performance aircraft you need water survival training and that sort of thing. We do that anyway on a recurring basis, if you're looking at specific niches for your more experienced combat correspondents. But you will get much of what you need, we're trying to keep this as short as possible, trying to keep this down to four or five days, recognizing a significant commitment.
I would also mention that those of you that are putting your journalists through Centurion and other kinds of personal security courses should continue to do that. This is not intended to compete with or replace any of those. There may be overlap. We will try to reduce the overlap to the extent possible if you are all committed to doing that for your own folks so we're not spending a lot of time on the first day if you've already gotten that. We can do things that Centurion can't cover -- small unit tactics, concealment and cover, that sort of thing.
As far as the others, if there's somebody who needs a quick hit in an area before they're heading forward, just come see any of the services that you want. We can probably accommodate somebody for half a day on a basis like that. But overall we can't structure the program that way.
Gottardi: I think the other thing you're going to find out is even if you go through an OSD-sponsored block of training, if you're going to be embedded with a particular unit when you get there, then they're going to give you additional training focused on -- that kind of deal. So I think you're likely to be over-trained rather than under-trained.
Q: A couple of questions. How much is it going to cost, and is there going to be a limit on the number of people from a news organization that can go through it?
Davis: What we're looking at initially is, at least the Navy and the Marine Corps, is a program in the next two weeks if we really can mash this through. The way we envision it is that you would sleep aboard ship, you would sleep in Marine barracks at Quantico, Virginia, you would sleep in the field. There are no costs attendant to that. You would eat MREs and shipboard food. We would charge for that. It's not onerous. Transportation would be provided by military aircraft, but we would have you get to a central place for pickup, hopefully in the national capital region. There's no cost there other than you getting to the pickup point.
Clarke: It's an interesting question though because some news organizations have indicated whatever costs there are they want to pay. For some news organizations that's something they feel they should do.
In terms of numbers, I can't see how you could put too many people through that.
Davis: We're planning for 50 as a manageable number in the first increment, then we'll see if that's too big, too small.
Clarke: If the demand is more, we are hoping we can get the first one launched within a couple of weeks here. But even if for set-aside hypothetical contingency planning for Iraq, if none of that were on our radar screen this would be a good thing for people to do, a good thing for your correspondents to do.
Q: From each news organization is there going to be a limit on the number of people that --
Clarke: I don't see one.
Pietropaoli: Not eventually, Bill. I think for round one obviously we'd try to spread it across the interest level, but overall we hope to be able to get a core curriculum down here, work out the kinks, and then franchise this out geographically, do it overseas. A lot of your foreign correspondents, overseas correspondents would be the ones that go forward for you first. For them getting to Washington is more difficult.
Q: And one point I'd like to make if possible. I don't think this training should be secret. I think we should be able to report on our colleagues getting trained.
Davis: I agree completely. My feeling is report what you see, experience, etc. This is not, however, an experience that we're designing to showcase our services or our capabilities. This is a no-kidding program so that you don't endanger yourselves, you don't endanger our warriors, and you don't endanger the mission. For the newer folks, that the things that are reported are accurate and correct.
Pietropaoli: And I would just say I wouldn't count on reporting as you go along. We're not putting filing breaks into the curriculum. Hopefully we'll keep you too tired to file at all.
Clarke: There may be something, just as when people go out now and spend time on an aircraft carrier or people go to a base to report something, there may be things they're asked not to report for security reasons. So not a blanket, but I think the fact that we're sitting here putting out pieces of paper recording this and transcribing it, is a sense of how transparent we are being on the process.
Q: I have a broader question about embedding, because we haven't been among those who have been consulted lately, which is fine. But last fall the feeling was that for embedding it basically was done in the region and that you had to go to Bahrain or work through units there.
Is the feeling that in the event something happens there the best place, there are multiple places to go? For example if you have a news organization in a state from which military units may be involved, would it behoove you to deal with military units in your state, or should you deal with the Pentagon or where?
Clarke: It always behooves you to deal with military units in your state, which most of you do. Hypothetically speaking, it will be all of the above. Some of it will be highly organized and predictable and lots of lead time. Some of it will be something is happening and we know it's going to happen, we think it's going to happen a day from now in the region and we're going to put together a pool on the spot, as we did often last year. So it's going to be all of the above. But I can't give you the recommendation now, put a lot of your people here and have them there.
Q: Last time it really had to be done in the region and through certain rather limited areas to do it. But there were large numbers of units that came from the States, and presumably in this case if this happens there will be in fact a unit coming from --
Clarke: Just don't presume too much. There will be some things for which there is a lot of lead time and there are a lot of numbers, and there will be some instances in which there aren't. No two ways about it, the larger news organizations will be advantaged because they've got more bench strength, they can spread more people around.
Q: How will you use this list then? What happens if a lot of people do this across all of our divisions? But if we're not in Qatar the day they deploy something from Qatar, or if we don't have somebody who has gone through the training, how do you prioritize at that point? If they've gone through the training, are those people that your commanders are going to prefer --
Clarke: We've talked about this. I think Steve Pietropaoli and I have probably talked about this the most among ourselves. I am not into keeping lists. We're not into grading, those sorts of things. I think a lot of people will learn things. I think there will be some correspondents who going through a few days of this will go, you know what, maybe I'm not the one to be going into Baghdad or wherever. I think people will learn a lot from this. For us it just increases our comfort level that news organizations are making a commitment, that they're treating this very seriously. So it just via osmosis becomes part of our thinking, but it is not, no lists, no grades, those sorts of things.
Whitman: The third point I didn't make when I was talking about the training was that there is a fitness component to this, too. I think we all need to appreciate the fitness component only because if you're asking your reporters to go out and be with a ground unit that may be patrolling for an extended period of time, or over an extended number of days, you want to make sure that you have a comfort level with your reporter being able to do that also. So there is an element of fitness that's involved in this. We're not trying to raise a real high bar in terms of that but we do think it's important that the training also allow for some self-assessment too, when you look at what the tasks are going to be or what a typical unit might be doing out there.
Q: Chuck Lewis from Hearst. A couple of questions.
First, what's the deadline and how do people apply for the training seminar?
Clarke: Start giving us names now. We hope, this is Wednesday, I think in the next day or so we can just say okay, we all agree on the core program. This is very much a joint effort done at different facilities -- Navy, Air Force, Army, etc., and one overseas. But start giving us the names as soon as possible and we'll sort through the process. But the first, are you thinking November 11th?
Davis: We are working hard to have five, four and a half days beginning November 11th in the evening. A day and a half aboard ship in Norfolk and also exposure to the Joint Public Affairs Operating Group, Joint Forces Command. And then the next three and a half days in the field in Quantico. If we can't do it that week then it will be the next week.
Clarke: But in terms of the window, our hope is that we can get three or four of these done before the holidays.
Davis: Right. And then a West Coast increment, perhaps Coronado, Camp Pendleton, and I don't know if General Gottardi's got planned.
Gottardi: Fort Benning.
Q: I'd like us to leap over the boot camp issue here and look at some questions about embedding.
First of all, what do you mean --
Clarke: Before you go to that, let me say this. This is a pretty good whack at what we think it will look like, what the objectives are, those sorts of things. It represents the inputs of people in this room. It represents a lot of hard work and inputs from the services, from the Joint Staff, from Central Command. But we are open to suggestions, changes, those sorts of things. So that said --
Whitman: And with that, and then I'll let you go. As we finalize the curriculum this week we have asked for your input also if there is something you think we've missed there or something you think we're putting on the curriculum that you think is either inappropriate or not necessary, please let us know. Because that's kind of the core joint training that will take place at each of these locations and while none of them will be identical because each of the services are hosting them and they have different facilities and things like that so there will be a certain amount of uniqueness to each location where they take place, this will be the core curriculum, so to speak. This is your opportunity to influence that if you think there should be something on it.
Q: On embedding. I would urge that you have an expansive view of the definition of unit. For example, if you had one embedded correspondent with a whole division that would be under coverage, I think. If we had one correspondent with every platoon, that might be over coverage. But we need your commitment that the department is interested in embedding as many people as the unit, however you define the unit, can handle. And that it not be used as a defense of well, we already have a camera crew with the 2nd Marine Division so therefore nobody else can go with the 2nd Marine Division.
Clarke: General Gottardi was just saying what I was about to say. Go ahead.
Gottardi: Consistent with mission accomplishment.
Clarke: You guys know this as well as I do. It is hard to have a blanket statement on any of these things. It's hard to say one size fits all. It doesn't. You have our commitment that we are trying very, very hard to facilitate as much media access and as many embeds as possible. And it's for the right reasons and it is for self-serving reasons. You have our commitment.
But there are going to be lots of situations that we can't predict, there will be things that pop up. There's where I do look back and I go, you know what? We can make this work. There were any number of situations that popped up spontaneously in Afghanistan and the right people would get on the phone and say okay, we can only have three people, we've got 12 correspondents, we're going to figure out which three go in and service the pool and how they're going to access the pool.
So I know it would be nice to have everything tidy, to have everything predictable, to have everything in very straight lines. That ain't reality. It's just not.
So if I can leave you all with one thing when you all leave here, understand the asymmetrical approach to this because that's what we'll be dealing with.
Davis: Can I embellish on that?
Davis: I was just out in California last week and met with the Commanding General of 1st Marine Division and asked him his understanding that the contingency mission, what could he handle and embed. The number that we walked out of the room with was talking about four embedded journalists per battalion as a number that we could handle in 1st Marine Division knowing what our contingent mission is right now.
Clarke: That's a mark on the wall.
Davis: That is obviously different from every other unit, every service, that's just one unit.
Q: Is that people or news organizations?
Davis: People. Four individuals.
Q: Clark Hoyt from Knight-Ridder.
Torie, Would you talk some about filing by embedded journalists? You would expect, would you, that they would bring their own arrangements for filing satellite telephones?
Clarke: Uh huh.
Q: And how would that fit with media ground rules?
Clarke: Well one, it is our very strong preference, and again I think just from what I've heard from a lot of news organizations, it is their strong preference that to the extent possible they have the means and the technology to get their product back, whether it is a photo, a story, TV. So as we go through our planning with Central Command and the Joint Staff and others, we're looking at what does that take in terms of logistics? What does that take in terms of seats on a plane? What does that take in terms of how many pounds of equipment? Those sorts of things. That is our number one preference and we have technical people from news organizations talking to technical people from the J6, I guess it is.
Again, going back to what I said, we're going to go to the trouble to get media embedded, which we want to do. It is in our interest to help them get the product back as quickly as possible and appropriate. So we are also looking at what are the backup systems, what are the systems that we have that we're using for other projects that we could use to help get product back. We consider that the backup, the redundancy built into the system.
McCreary: If I can add one caution. One of the technical things we have to look at in regards to all of this and we're still thinking it through, and I'm sorry, this may be a little slower than we'd all like, is what the radio or the signal environment is on the battlefield. By you using a cell phone or a satellite phone from a given position, tactically gives away from the enemy, there has to be some assessment of his capabilities and how he can hone in on a particular front, and if he picks up something live on a news organization that's coming up now he can try to exploit the spectrum to find out where that signal is coming from and then give him an advantage to actually attack that site. We have to walk through some of those hard things and figure out where that electromagnetic spectrum fits into the actual combat situations, not just how it will help you file.
Pietropaoli: If I could add one thing, too, it's going to be even a little bit more draconian than that. Right now we've got CNN just did videophones for the first time off a carrier live in a combat zone with a videophone. The videophone, as it's designed, a satellite phone, gives its own position to the satellite all the time and that gets transmitted back to the headquarters in Atlanta or in London. We had to disable that function.
We're working through those things. But I've also got to tell you, as has been the case on naval embarks for a decade, you come aboard, you're going to surrender some autonomy with respect to your transmissions. You need to be planning that to begin with. Even if we can carry all your stuff forward with land forces or on the ship, there are going to be windows in which you're going to be allowed to transmit depending on the tactical operations, and there will be times when you are not because it would give way just exactly the kind of thing that Captain McCreary was talking about.
I think all of you know that, it's just important to remind you of that here for the record. Even if you bring your own things forward, that operational commander is going to have to have a turnkey with you as part of the embed rules or he can't safely, assure the safety of his mission or his own people.
The key there is to give good policy guidance from our side, and have all the understanding up front so that this is not whimsical or capricious. I think that's a very doable thing. But you need to know up front that it won't be, if you're embedded with us, part of it will be surrendering a little bit of autonomy with your own equipment. I don't think we can bring you along and give you complete control of your transmission.
Clarke: One correspondent a couple of weeks ago told me that the unit with which he was embedded last fall, he had to sign a piece of paper saying he wouldn't use his sat phone. I'm exaggerating slightly, but he wanted some blanket approval from us that we would say you can always have your sat phone and you'll have a lot of freedom with when and how to use it. It just won't be that way.
But we will tell you up front or we will tell the people who are being embedded, hey, here are the circumstances, and we're going to let you know the times when it is appropriate and when it is not. But again, it will be different. Different locations, different activities. It will be different.
Q: Robin Doherty with Reuters.
On the training outside the U.S., do you have any idea how soon after the November 11th session you'll be doing that, and where it's likely to be?
Clarke: Not dates, but --
Whitman: In fact we just started talking with EUCOM Public Affairs, people that you've all dealt with probably at times. They're exploring the possibilities because they know that a lot of you that have international audiences and international hubs would like to try to do it overseas as opposed to coming here.
So we're looking at that. I can't make you any promises at this point but we recognize the need.
Q: Is the training limited to Americans or to nationals of the potential coalition?
Clarke: No. It is news organizations, accredited journalists.
Q: If you do do it, are you looking at, is Frankfurt the likely place, or is it --
DeFrank: I talked to EUCOM just this morning about that. They're really looking throughout the theater to try and find a location that is at least somewhat centrally located but has facilities where they could actually conduct an effective training program, too. Right now I think at the top of their mind, the leading contenders are in Germany, but whether that's where it will actually end up or not, I couldn't tell you at this time.
Clarke: But we understand, this is scheduling, this is logistics for you all, so as soon as we get it nailed down we will let you know. Even if we don't have the exact dates we'll say okay, we've picked this location so begin thinking about it. I don't want to promise more than I can deliver but it's my fond wish we can get these done before the holidays.
Q: When we say the names, should we specify ones that our preference would be outside the U.S.?
Q: Can I just suggest that we might even, I think we did it long ago that I think might be helpful, for those times when we would be using DoD feeding resources, that we might even do a practice run in the parking lot here at the facility. The uplinks here, whatever, just to get the photos, try to print, try to feed -- just sort of a scaled-down version so that we could say it was leaving here fine when we used it here.
Clarke: Sure. I don't want to speak for CNN, but I think they've got an enormous amount of knowledge and practical experience out of their trip last week.
Pietropaoli: One of the thing we hope to do in Norfolk, there are some transmission capabilities that we intend to bring forward with our troops for our own purposes which could be used by media as well to get their products back which hopefully you'll be able to see when you're down.
Q: Jerry Seive with the Wall Street Journal.
In addition to sending some of our own people through the Centurion-style courses, some of us have also invested in chem/bio gear -- suits, gas masks. Should we assume and should we instruct our correspondents that if they've got that sort of thing that that is the sort of thing you should bring along to the embed or --
Davis: For the training courses, at least for the Marines at Quantico, we're going to outfit the training audience in Marine Corps MOPP gear and gas masks.
For embeds, for any potential contingency operation we don't want you to become casualties and we don't know the quality of the gear that you might buy off the shelf.
Anything to do with personal survival or personal protection has got to be compatible with the equipment that's going to be in the unit you're going to accompany. What you don't need is, you don't need somebody that's got a Romanian gas mask with a canister made in Israel --
Pietropaoli: For the actual embed, the expectation is, and what we're telling the operational commanders is, to plan overage, as they always do anyway, to deal with embedded media.
Now, if you're sending people into the theater and you're not sure what they're going to do, obviously send them with their own gear because it's better than nothing. But if they go with our guys we're going to outfit them.
Q: -- they will be outfitted by you guys?
Clarke: Yes. And we're going to try to make that more than an assumption. We were just talking about this yesterday.
Whitman: Right. It's in our interest that you have the same force protection in a chem/bio environment that our troops have and the service PA chiefs have appropriately recognized the embed site is where that should probably take place because there are some differences depending on whether or not you're on a ship or whether you're with a ground unit or so forth.
Davis: Which points to yet another problem. I can't remember who asked the question earlier about independent journalists in theater. If they happen on a combatant unit and they're not equipped, again, that endangers them, it endangers the unit, it endangers the mission. So having independent journalists wandering the battlefield really is fraught with lots of problems.
Q: Can I follow that up on the equipment? This is both embedding and training. Will the services provide everything from BDUs to boots and things like that?
Davis: Not uniforms.
Clarke: What's the second term? Survival.
Gottardi: Survival. We'll provide chemical defense equipment and equipment that has to do with your personal protection. Not to include weapons, obviously. But boots, bring your own boots. That sort of deal.
Q: That's for training and embedding as well?
Q: My experience with embedding was that units provided flack jackets, helmets, everything.
Davis: I didn't hear what you just said.
Q: My experience with embedding was that units provided reporters everything, from helmets to flack jackets to BDUs. Maybe not boots, but --
Clarke: Can we come up with a list?
Gottardi: Yeah, we can do that. We don't want you being out there --
Q: (inaudible) -- training and what about females?
Clarke: All the above. All taken into consideration. And for instance last year right before the holidays when we hand-picked four or five people to go out with the Special Ops guys, with the SOF teams, physical fitness was a part of it. I could look the Secretary of Defense and these guys in the eye and say I know these five people and I know they can handle the circumstances into which they're going. I'm not a doctor, but I know these people, I know what their capabilities are. So yes, that will be taken into consideration.
Whitman: But there will be different levels of fitness. Just like not everyone is the same level of fitness in any given military unit, we don't expect that everyone's going to be at the same level of fitness in your own news organizations. What we're doing, why we're putting a fitness component in there is so that you can do some self-assessment and the reporters can do some self-assessment as to the type of conditions that they might find themselves in and whether or not they want to make the recommendation that they be an embedded reporter, if they be somebody that reports from a Joint Information Bureau somewhere, or something like that.
McCreary: I think there's a common-sense element to this that is common to us and sometimes we forget it doesn't translate. Assume a 100-degree desert and assume you're putting yourself in a tarpaulin from head to foot and wrapping yourself in it and you're going to be in it for 12 hours out in 100-degree weather. That requires a certain level of fitness that not everybody could attain if you're going to be particularly embedded with ground forces in whatever part of the world may happen to have 100 degree weather with a chem/bio environment. So I think people have to be conscious of that when you're making your assignments and that's all we're saying. You've got to apply that kind of thinking as well as just who the best pencil is.
Q: [Inaudible] and appreciate there is a fair amount of flexibility built into it. But one potential problem may be, and if I could just use the Marine example of four reporters per battalion, if there are four reporters say with a headquarters and service battalion which is back typing up forms or something like that and they want to move to a unit that may be engaged or is on the move or just has the potential to see and report on more things, what flexibility in the system will allow for that? Or will it?
Whitman: Clearly there are going to be units that are more interesting and exciting to be embedded with, and to the extent possible there's going to be some rotation into various units, too. But you accept also some limitations in your ability to report when you embed, too. Because, as you know, you then get a very narrow picture of what's going on in the conflict. But you also get a very rich and in-depth report from that unit, too.
So I think you have to look at the value of embedding and whether or not you put all your resources into embedding and how you position your resources to be able to do the very in-depth, as well as cover the broad.
You're asking a question that we can't answer at this level. That is going to be at the execution level and the intent of the policy will be well known. But the fact of the matter is there will be some units that will be more exciting to be with than there are other units. Not that they're any less important, though.
Clarke: And some things will go forward the way people will expect and some things won't. Somebody could be embedded with a unit that's moving forward and thinks it may be in the center of some pretty interesting action and sit somewhere for three or four days and then well, we're not doing it. So your person was out there for X number of days and nothing came of it. That's just the nature of the beast with which we're dealing.
Whitman: It's an investment.
McCreary: Can I look at another perspective just from the field level? If you have a limited number of assets and you have somebody out embedded in one unit and they say okay, I want to get out of that and go over to another unit. They come back to whatever central point when we get to that that we may be shifting folks. They show back up there and there's 30 other people back there waiting to go somewhere else, then they're not going to be number one of that 30. If you have two folks there, if you have three folks there and people are in queues for different things, if it develops into queues, that could come up with 150 scenarios. What we're going to have to do is rely on the flexibility out in the field after we set these overarching policies.
The difference that we're trying to sense today is the fact that the operational units who are involved in the planning are understanding this requirement a lot earlier in the process than we've ever had them before. It helps them develop some expectations that we're just not throwing things on them at the last minute and I think they'll be a little bit better able to deal with them as we work through this thing.
Q: Francis Kohn from AFP.
Vaccinations. Do you have a mandatory kind of program for that? What's your --
Clarke: Not mandatory. We have recommendations and we are also working through with David Chu and (William) Winkenwerder, our personnel and readiness and healthcare people, on what we may, and hopefully will, offer to people. Just as we are looking for the folks in the military, what may be appropriate for them in terms of anthrax or smallpox vaccinations, we are working through with them. We do not have an answer yet, what we could offer in terms of the media, but we will not force anybody to do anything. We will just tell you here's what we're doing, here's what we're offering, make the decision yourself.
Q: Would you distribute that recommended list?
Clarke: We have --
Whitman: For those of you who have deployers in the pool right now, I can give to you something that you're probably familiar with. This is the currently recommended immunizations for the U.S. Central Command area of operation. All of these vaccines here are commercially available and most of your reporters that are deployers I'm sure probably keep those fairly up to date. But for those of you it may be new to, there's a list for you.
Q: Robin Doherty with Reuters.
If you decide to go ahead and vaccinate, as Torie was saying, would that be done here or could it also be done outside the U.S.?
Whitman: If we come to the decision where we are going to provide vaccinations that may not be commercially available we would try to make that available at multiple locations where units would be deploying from or where there would be medical treatment facilities. But there are a lot of issues still associated with that that we have to look at and we're doing that aggressively.
But this list right here is certainly a good start to keep your reporters healthy in the theater.
Q: And anthrax takes a few days? A series?
Q: Smallpox is completely different?
Whitman: There's no one currently being vaccinated for smallpox.
Q: If there was, what --
Whitman: It would be in the same category of perhaps a vaccine that's not commercially available.
Q: Only from what I've read, smallpox is eradicated in the world, so any use of it will come from a vector, like a bomb can be targeted, contained, and so --
Clarke: Uh huh.
Q: Torie, for those of us who are in the national media pool this quarter, that subject came up at the meeting two weeks ago and the answer came out this morning I think that said they do not envision anthrax or smallpox vaccinations because those people would not be in the theater long enough to require the vaccination.
Q: -- national media pool is different than --
Clarke: I hear what you're saying. That is different than embedding and the length of time could be different. Again, and like I said we're still getting some questions answered on this. It is actively being worked David Chu and Winkenwerder, but I think one of the best things we can do is say this is what we're doing for our folks who may be in that region for different periods of time, and then you'll need to make decisions for yourself and your correspondents as to what you want to do with that information.
Q: If you could please e-mail the latest edition of the ground rules so everybody here is on the same page.
Clarke: Which ground rules?
Q: The ground rules that are described in the academic syllabus here referring to media ground rules in classroom training.
Whitman: That instruction is going to be somewhat general in nature that you see on the syllabus there. We'll talk about what type of ground rules might be imposed and things like that. We will not be distributing any specific ground rules for any potential military operation that hasn't been decided on yet though.
Q: I didn't understand your answer.
Whitman: What you're reading in the syllabus is a discussion, is classroom discussion instruction on ground rules, what ground rules could include and things like that.
Q: Are you saying there are no present ground rules that are presently offered to us?
Clarke: We have basic principles upon which we operate with which your correspondents are very familiar. But for instance somebody, Navy or Marines might give a more detailed explanation of if you were a TV network and you're on an aircraft carrier these are the kinds of restrictions we may place on when you can beam your stuff up.
Q: Can you distribute the one bullet item up from what Chuck was asking about, Military Public Affairs Directives and Doctrine. That is written.
Whitman: Sure. That's easy.
Q: Two questions. One is embedding and the relationship with pool and non-pool. Are there some guidelines that have been discussed as to what will be considered a pool and what not? And secondly, how will the briefings be coming back? Will we have live access to that material and where will that material be available?
Clarke: Again, it's one of those things where there are any number of potential answers. On the pools, again I go back and say okay, Afghanistan, some pretty good lessons learned there. There are some very standard, very traditional pools. There are some that we put together on the spot, people who are wherever they are physically. And smart, decent, well-meaning people have to figure out okay, these are going to be the guidelines by which we operate this pool. Three of the 12 journalists who happen to be in a town get to go in and serve as the pool. They come back and share their product with everyone.
This, as Bryan is always quick to point out to me, this is a break-away from sort of the traditional, conventional sense of pooling. Traditional, conventional sense of pooling says if 12 organizations boil themselves down to three as a pool, then the pool comes back and gives the product to those 12 news organizations.
What happened last year, practical experience was to the greatest extent possible, and the National Press Club helped out a lot with this, when pool product came back it was posted via the National Press Club and other means. The networks would make it available on a satellite at whatever time. That's my strong preference. But individual correspondents, and in particular one person in the network said we need to be thinking about and I don't have all the hard answers for you today, need to be thinking about do we have some new guidelines or practices, if you will, that will really reward news organizations for making the investment. So this is just an example.
This is not what we decided, just an example. Five people go in somewhere as a pool. One's TV. They come back, put their product up. They have it exclusive for an hour and then it becomes available to everybody. But I'd open it up for discussion, because what we did last year was people were very flexible, people were very reasonable, people were very willing to make their product available to everyone and I think that benefits everybody. But it's open for discussion.
And in terms of briefings, again, it is interesting, there are a number of people who want to take the binder off the shelf from 12 years ago. Well, this is what you do. I've actually had people in news organizations say this is what you need to do. You need to have Tommy Franks in the region briefing at this time of day and then you need to have somebody back here at this time of day briefing. Ludicrous.
You will have Tommy Franks; you will have a commander, local level; you will have Don Rumsfeld and General Myers; you will have all of the above. And as much as it would be nice to have a very predictable schedule, it's not going to work that way.
But the important part of your question in my opinion is, how widely available are we going to make that access, and the answer is as much as possible.
Pietropaoli: Can I just say that, the ships were the first place last year, and we intended frankly for that to be a pool out of Bahrain, but because we were able to get so many journalists in that first tranche out there, it was able to go unilateral, there was a broad representation. But for us, I can just say when you're out there with a Navy unit, when we make it pool, our intent is to make it pool, it goes to everybody. You come back and it's available to everybody in the world.
When you guys form a pool because it's more efficient for you all to leave one or two TVs out there rather than 16 TVs to get the same shot, that's up to you how you distribute that product. As long as we can accommodate everybody out there, we won't go pool. We only go pool if, our default is always unilateral, we only go pool, and I think this is true for the other services too, when there's limited opportunities and we have to exclude people. We're not into exclusives so we make it pool under those circumstances.
What Ms. Clarke said about some pool plus stuff, where individual organizations make an extra commitment, get some competitive advantage out of it for some short time but then make the product available, is a great innovative thing that you all ought to give us the feedback.
Davis: We respect and honor enterprise reporting.
Q: The Admiral mentioned the pool word, so let me come back one more time on ground rules. Could you please disseminate the ground rules that are presently operative for the national media pool? That's what I think --
Whitman: We have two things we can provide to you. One is the principles for combat coverage and the other one is the principles of information. Those two are the broad policy guidelines.
Specific ground rules are unique to every military operation and will be established and disseminated at the appropriate time, but I can't tell you for every situation in which the national media pool could deploy right now what the specific ground rules might be for that deployment.
Clarke: It depends on the nature of the operation in which it's involved.
Q: Can we get a copy of --
Whitman: We're going to attach that to the transcript. We're going to attach the Principles of Combat Coverage and the Principles of Information to the transcript when we send that out so you'll have those policy documents that are the guidelines for coverage http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/html/51225.htm and http://www.defenselink.mil/admin/prininfo.html .
DeFrank: And those are available on DefenseLink, too. So you can access them at any time.
Clarke: We'll send them around, and you'll get the first e-mail.
Q: [Inaudible]. Back to protective suits. My organization and I'm sure others would be very interested in knowing what the right protective suits would be for this circumstance. Can we get advice or manufacturers? Because we are purchasing for other people who are going to be in the region, and rather than having the Romanian gas mask and the Israeli whatever --
Clarke: Sure. For those correspondents that might not be --
Voice: Your independent correspondents who are not embedded but are in the theater.
Q: -- organizations, whether they need it or not, will want to have protection for people.
Whitman: We can certainly give you what it is that is the current inventory and what we use. Whether or not that's commercially available to you or not, I don't know the answer to that question.
Clarke: We'll find out. Good question. It goes to Matt's concerns as well. You are going to have people out there that aren't wandering around with the military. Carl --
Q: Carl Leubsdorf.
It's my understanding that while you can't predict briefings and all that, but in the event of something there will be a JIB somewhere in the region?
Q: But we don't know where it will be.
Clarke: The concept, if you will, right now is to have one central JIB, whatever you want to call it, one central location and then there will be other multiple JIBs of different size and makeup, and there may be mobile JIBs. But again, to repeat what I said before, if you don't leave with anything else, leave with it will be changing, it will change rapidly sometimes, there will be slow periods, it will be asymmetrical. That's just the way it is. Bill --
Q: I'd like to raise a rules issue. It's a tradition in battlefield reporting to identify people by name, age and hometown. I know that in the recent conflict there have been restrictions on that.
I would like to suggest -- and there are security reasons for that that people may be concerned -- but I would like to suggest that perhaps there could be a policy making that identification optional, so that if someone didn't want to be identified --
Clarke: It was.
Pietropaoli: We're trying to get a uniform policy so we don't have one service --
Clarke: We've had a lot of conversation about that. I came into this building 18 months ago thinking one of the best things for the United States military is if every one of those men and women could be identified and where they're from so that people from their hometowns, from their states can understand what a great job they're doing, and I still believe that is a really good thing. Whenever you can, those people should be identified.
What I refuse to do is issue a blanket policy that says everyone will do this and start managing this down the food chain. That is not appropriate, especially in the wake of 9/11. That is not appropriate. Because if there is some soldier out there putting his neck on the line and by virtue of his name and hometown appearing in a newspaper somewhere or on TV somewhere, someone decides to go back to his hometown and mess with his family, it's not going to be on my watch.
So my policy would be, it should be up to the individual soldier, sailor, marine, and no undue influence should be put on that person from anybody.
Now individual services, individual military operations, they make the decision. I think they tend to make pretty good decisions.
Q: Is there a policy which says that soldiers may not be identified by full name and --
Clarke: Individual units, and depending on the nature of what someone might be doing, some of their commanders have a policy that they shall not be identified.
Davis: The Marine Corps guidance is name names and hometowns. If you're uncomfortable doing that, don't give the interview.
Q: So it's essentially this idea that it's an optional policy. If people don't want to be identified by their last name they don't have to, but if someone perhaps wanted to be identified by their last name and hometown --
Davis: I personally think seeing stories in the great newspapers of this country about Sergeant Tom and Captain Bob turn our hometown warriors, like Ms. Clarke said, into cartoon figures. That was one of the drivers for the Marine Corps policy that we will name names, hometowns, and if you're uncomfortable for the reasons Ms. Clarke just gave -- which are very real --
Pietropaoli: That's the Navy-Marine Corps policy and it differs among services. It certainly differs among units. SOF is going to be different from front line units.
Pietropaoli: I think that the Navy and Marine Corps policy will remain. If they consent to the interview you consent then to use your name and your hometown because that's important because of your state's news and things like that. And the way to avoid that is to not give the interview if you're concerned about security.
Now, that said, we expect an accommodation from the reporters out there covering that if a guy's not doing an interview and you can read his name tag, you don't say one of the guys here is Sergeant Tom So and So and you ask his buddy where his hometown is. Those who don't want to give interviews should not be identified if they prefer not to be identified for family security reasons. But if you do an interview I don't want it to be Pig Pen and Twinkie and Biff, and all the call sign stuff in the Navy and Marine Corps. We made the decision last time and we'll stick with that this time.
Clarke: Sandy --
Q: Because of the investments that you are making in this training, we're making in this training, will the initial embeds come from this group of people?
Clarke: Maybe. I mean, going through this does not guarantee somebody gets embedded, nor does not going through it mean somebody won't get embedded. I could come up with 20 people right now that I know are perfectly capable to go into almost any situation. So it's just, let's manage expectations. It's just a good, useful thing. We thought it was. And since we aren't the creators of all great ideas, I was really struck by the number of news organizations and individual correspondents who came to us, they didn't even know we were thinking about this, and said hey, this would be a really good idea. It just raises the comfort level, the confidence level all around.
Davis: Can I ask a question of you all? The observation was made that there will be some physical demands in this, and it's a self-evaluation process. We're not going to hand out certificates or distinguished graduates for physical fitness. (Laughter) This is not boot camp, high stress. We know that four days is not going to make somebody a fit person.
However, would you be interested in feedback from us if there were key indicators that someone you sent really wasn't ready to be in a stressful situation.
Clarke: Yeah, I don't want to be the squealer.
Davis: Please say no. [Laughter] Please say you're not interested.
Q: If it means that we sent someone thinking that they would make the list and you don't believe they will, I'd like to know that.
Clarke: There is no list.
Q: Well --
Clarke: Let me state for the record again and again, there is no list.
Q: There will be a list of people that did the training, and how you use that I don't know, but I would like to know that. Maybe it's some emotional component as opposed to physical, but I won't send that person out if --
Q: You could do it in some informal way. I think if you had a concern about somebody we ought to talk about it. Much better that than something simply quietly happening that we don't ever really know about but you feel you have good reason for doing.
Q: (inaudible) serious case where it's clear that this is a real serious problem, I would feel like I had been done wrong if someone hadn't told me. But I'm not sure that you need a grade for every person.
Clarke: No grades. Actually, I'll come around from the other direction. We recently got into something with a correspondent in a news organization in Afghanistan and the person really shouldn't have been going out and doing the things that the person wanted to go out and do. They tried to resolve it at the local level and then it came up the food chain. We were talking with the correspondent and the correspondent's boss. So we did have that conversation.
Q: Steve Redisch, CNN. Just wondering how you are going to manage the embedded requests. Is it coming through you to your office, through the field, through the individual services? Is there a list of people that we would like to embed that we should give to you?
Clarke: The reality is that you should be working every aspect of that. Which is us, which is these guys behind me, which is if you have people in the region, and I again think it is likely that similar to last year in the early days in which there is a lot of demand and a lot of interest, we all have to work together in a coordinated fashion to say, okay, this is the best use of all the resources and let's try to add and adapt in different places.
As time goes on -- if time goes on -- then it becomes a much more natural, organic process. Our desire is to have it as decentralized as possible. I just think it is highly likely that the early days and weeks it will be some pretty intense, on-going coordination. I mean the early days last year, days and weeks last year, we were constantly on the phone with one another, with Jeff Alderson over in the region, those sorts of things saying okay, here are the requests. We've got these three. How do we match these up?
Q: Torie, you said a number of times if there was military action, it's not going to be the same for the press as it was during the Gulf War. Can you elaborate on that? What would be really different in your relationship with the press and what you're trying to do?
Clarke: I wasn't here 12 years ago so I can't talk to you about the relationship. I just think, and I try hard not to make black and white statements, but I just think it's not smart for people, just like it wouldn't be smart for military planners, to take a binder off the shelf from the Persian Gulf War and say oh, well, we're going back to that part of the world so let's just take that binder off the shelf and tweak it a little bit.
The world's changed so much. So many factors that influence your businesses. What we do has changed so much that we should take a new innovative approach to things to the extent possible. What is fundamental and what is very certain and very predictable is that we're working really, really hard to provide as much access as possible for the media.
What I'm saying about the military operations is who knows? We don't know if there will be military action in Iraq, and we certainly don't know, certainly wouldn't tell you in advance exactly how we think it will shake out. Even if we have the plans, the contingency plans, and we have a pretty good sense of how it is scheduled to go, everyone knows things change.
So again, I'll repeat myself. Be prepared to be flexible, as people were last year. Be prepared to adapt. It's just common sense.
Q: Torie, Tobin Beck from UPI.
In the event of military action against Iraq, at the start of that action would you plan to deploy the national media pool? And if not, or not necessarily, what would be the factors that would determine that?
Clarke: We plan and very much hope that we can deploy the national media pool in some manner that is appropriate. If you look at it, as everyone will when we send it around, we can attach this to the e-mail, the guidelines and criteria of the DoD national media pool. We have been thinking, based on our knowledge of what the military action might be like, different possibilities. I'm not prepared here today to say what that might be, but we are looking at different possibilities and different likelihoods for the DoD national media pool.
Q: So the answer is yes, that would be one thing that would be considered is the deployment of --
Clarke: Absolutely. Heavily considered. Hopefully we'll do it. Hopefully we'll do it as early as possible.
But for instance, to go back to what the Secretary was saying, if the early days of military action -- I'm not saying this is it -- I'm just saying for the sake of the argument. If the early days are six guys on the ground in some remote region, that is not going to be the DoD national media pool.
So what we're looking at is based on how we think things might transpire. What are the potential places, scenarios, in which it might be deployed?
Q: Hi, Bruce Auster, US News.
Following that up, what happens if there are people on the national pool when it disbands? What happens with those people? How do they hook up --
Whitman: The guidelines for the national media pool is that we disband the pool as early as practical and we give the reporters that are on the pool two choices. One is to return via the military transportation by which they came; and the second is to stay with no promise of any return transportation at a later date.
Q: In terms of if they want to embed --
Whitman: Again, I can't give you any hard, fast guarantees on that, but it would certainly depend on the situation whether or not there was an embed opportunity available when the pool was disbanded. I can't predict at this point. I wouldn't have any specifics right now to offer you on what the pool might do?
Whitman: I think probably if you start sending them in to us we will collect them. We're going to have to see what the level of interest is in terms of -- I know that all of you can't shut down your news organizations for a week and send everybody at the same time, so I'm sure that you're going to be looking at who you can send on the first one versus the second one versus the third one, that type of thing, and the curriculum as we're building it doesn't have a specific number in mind as to what it can accommodate but there are clearly some logistical constraints that we're going to have to work through depending on what type of interest that we get from you.
Clarke: You're talking about the training or embeds?
Whitman: Training. This is on training.
Clarke: The more the merrier.
Whitman: We should start getting some feedback from you on that in terms of people that you want to send to it. And some of you have already responded actually from the memos and our discussions that we've had, and I've gotten one today.
Q: You talked about one central JIB and I'm wondering because we're talking about so many different components of the military -- air, land and sea -- whether there will be media coordination points for each, and whether you could perhaps discuss those.
Clarke: For the individual services?
Pietropaoli: Yeah, likely the maritime component commander is almost certainly going to be out of Bahrain, since that's what the biggest Navy presence is with respect to Kuwait. If of course anything were ever to happen in that part of the world. Kuwait has got a big Army presence with ARCENT and the Air Force probably --
Voice: And we envision a mobile forward tactical level information center --
Clarke: JIB-like entities.
Voice: -- and within the various units they have their own public affairs officers as well.
Clarke: We are about out of conference room space here. So, Bill --
Q: Just to get back down into the weeds as the Secretary said, I would also like to urge that any embedding be done in a fair manner --
Q: -- and that news organizations, some get to go front line and --
Clarke: Hold on one second. That's not down in the weeds. Fair and equitable, as balanced as possible. Nobody's going to be 100 percent happy, but that's the way life is.
Thank you all very, very much. Thanks for all your inputs.