Military Situation Reporting: A How-To-Guide
CRITIQUE OF PRESS REPORTS There are several problems with the press reporting on the Fallujah battle. The best way to address them is to examine some basics of military situation reporting, and then to examine bits of several press stories to show how military situation reporting would be a much better template for their stories. Situation reporting doesn't translate directly into journalism, but it would provide mucch more detail than we are getting. It is also adjustable to account for any info holds the US may be putting on the journalists. And there is no reason why journalists can't use this system. Basically it is just better writing, and requires no special military knowledge to use. It is a simple system. First, here is the basic way to give a report about enemy personnel. Time: When seen Size: how many? what size unit? Unit: what unit are they a part of? Activity: what are they doing? Location: where are they? Equipment: what do they have? Example from today's ABC News reports: "On Tuesday, heavy street clashes were raging in Fallujah's northern neighborhoods." What does 'heavy' mean? Every story references 'heavy', 'fierce', 'harsh', 'tough' fighting. How are the insurgents attacking us? What techniques are they using? Here's how to rewrite it: "At 4pm local time Tuesday, US Marine engaged small bands of a dozen militants each in the central part of the Jolan district. The militants were armed with small arms, and were firing indiscriminately from street corners and roofs of houses. Marines responded by . . ." Rather than using superlatives or the same tired adjectives over and over again, both of which have the effect of sensory overload on the reader, reporters should aim for more precision. Rather than giving us some kind of barometric measurement meant to quantify the fighting, they should concentrate on giving more detail on what EXACTLY is happening. If most of these reporters were NCOs or officers, they would be kicked off the radio nets because nothing they mention has value to gaining a mental picture of what is happening. Still to come tonight . . . (in no particular order) 1. I'll plumb the depths of the Early Bird for under-reported stories. Good ones are often found there. Links may be hard to come by, so I'll paste paragraphs. 2. Where does it go from here? 3. Prediction Roundup and Update 4. Does this battle remind you of anything? 5. Chester takes a close look at a Slate article. Stand by . . . Also . . . Carnivorous Conservative is working feverishly on updating our joint graphics.