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- 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
Time to once again open my life up a little in order to share the plethora of wealth I'm about to absorb. I'm going to be back in Iraq through September, so hop on board and check back every couple of days, I'll do my best to update as much as possible. Questions? email@example.com And check out the site I'm working with: http://www.billroggio.com Support independent journalism!
Friday, July 30, 2004
Currently, the U.S. military has pretty much tied the hands of most journalists here. They have 8 soldiers assigned to escort media on infrequent one week trips into the field. Most of the time the wait is at least a month and it is nearly impossible for you to go where you'd like to go. In other words: They control what most of what comes out of Afghanistan.
This obviously poses a problem for journalists like me who are based in the country full time with the sole mission of providing western media outlets (CBS, NBC, Sky, etc...) with fresh video of the War on Terror/Afghanistan.
Fortunately, I have found a way around this problem and will soon be using it to my advantage. The solution is to work with the Afghan National Army (ANA). This is a huge deal in many ways. First, I will be capturing the birth of this army from the ground up, it will be saved to video and become part of the history of this war. Second, the ANA always works with convential U.S. as well as Special Ops troops. This is huge for me because this allows me to get around the noose that the army currently has on journalists collectively. Even better, when I return to Afghanistan in a week or so, I will become the first ever journalist to embedd with the ANA.
How would you like to be the first reporter to truly be embedded with the ANA?I talked with the ANA PAO and they would like to do an embed. It would be a first for them and I would be doing some training with them to show them how to coordinate with coalition (CPIC). I would make sure that the coalition forces would know that you would be with the ANA since they are usually attached to coalition forces. The kicker is that you would be under their care...
Major Eric BloomCoalition
Joint Task Force Phoenix-J5
That's an idea. That could be any interesting point of view. Gotta be somewhere active, though. Like Zabol or Paktika or something. I take Thursday's off!Heh!
If reinforcements are heading to Ghor anytime... I'd be interested in that as well.
The ANA already has plenty of troops in that area. But we do resupply everyfew weeks.
Major Eric Bloom
Coalition Joint Task Force Phoenix-J5
I should be able to get you into Herat with the 2nd BDE and they have 2kandaks in the area. You would be able to move around from unit to unit inthe west. If Herat is fine with you I'll start to work on the coordination to see how soon I could get you out there around the 15th.
Major Eric Bloom
Coalition Joint Task Force Phoenix-J5
What would be ideal is if I could spend a week in Zabol, then head west? What do you think? I have to do a story on Operation Lightning Resolve or whatever it is. I need pics from Zabol.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Talk to you then.
Mike, We talked about this before I left. You told me that you work with people in country and people YOU KNOW will be in country from experience. I have worked extensivly with you and will need to get out as soon as I get back. I do not have the time to wait a month while my name moves through the list. I know for fact you guys work with people before they get here (Geraldo, Laura Logan, etc..), so please, let's play this even. So I guess this is my question: How long will I be waiting once back in country? My goal is to hook up with 2/35 attached to the 25th ID somewhere in Zabol. Preferably with units working with the ANA. Since you know this in advance and you know when I'll be back, I shouldn't need to wait a month to move. I'm hopefully getting you enough information that some advance planning can be done. Finally, your records are correct. I went to Jalalabad for three days. However, I waited so long that all I could do was three days because I was out of time. Not only that, but Jalalabad was nowhere near any of the four different places I requested to go. I lost a full month of work because of the slow response from your office. In fact, I had to go through Camp Phoenix to get that trip. I truly hope this process is getting smoother.See you in two weeks.
IHA, Kabul Bureau Chief
Dave we do have a policy of not lining up embeds with media that are not in country. We have not forgotten you and we will have something line up> for> you after you get into country. Bye the way were not embedded with TFP before you left??? Anyway our records show that you were. Please let me> know> if that was an error. Please come by and see us when you get back into country
A week ago I wrote about rying to be set up with an embedd when I> return > to Afghanistan in a few weeks. I still have heard no reply whatsoever > from your office. The reason this concerns me is because for the> entire > month of June, your office was unable to get me out with a unit. I hope this process is not happening again.
IHA, Kabul Bureau Chief
Monday, July 12, 2004
Back in Istanbul, though, it was a bit crazy for a few days. When we landed, I jumped out of the plane and got all the shots you need to get when a president steps off. The real challenge was to get my luggage. Since I wasn't in the official entourage, I had to somehow get the authorities to believe that my luggage needed to go with me. To their credit, they worked with me and I was able to get my stuff quickly. Too quickly actually. Hell, I could've grabbed the president's suitcase for all they knew, but I didn't, and I quickly made my way to a taxi.
By the time I showed up at Ihlas (headquarters), I was sweating and looked like near death. To my credit, I had about 200lbs of gear and was humping it alone.
The reception in the newsroom was mild, but nice. Many of the people had never met me, so I got a lot of those "so that's Dave Tate" type of looks. That works out fine, because very few can understand a word I say.
For the next two days I don't do much but surf the net and work on a new contract. Right in the beginning of negotiations, my boss tosses down a $1,200 "extra" bill from my last stay. Nevermind that they put you up in a 5-star hotel. It did surprise me, but like the people say, "It is a 5-star hotel you know".
So I decide rather quickly to re-sign for another four months. I got several of the issues I needed addressed taken care of. Leadership: They made me bureau chief, which is fine. I can do without the headache, but I know if I let someone else do it, it will drive me crazy. So far the decision making here is a bit deficient.
I was also able to talk them into getting us internet as well as a small expense account that will go a long way in Afghanistan as well as helping me get a local phone.
Unfortunately, I also found out that the company plans on giving away video to potential clients for two months, in order to get them used to our service. It's a new concept I hadn't heard of. Considering I work on commission, this is very bad news. I feel a bit duped. I'm still working this out, but it does have me concerned.
Then came the plane ticket. Of course no one got the ticket taken care of until I got to Istanbul, which in short, ended up with me only able to get a ticket to Philadelphia (and that still cost $350 to exchange). IHA didn't want to buy the final leg after that, so they told me to rent a car. Great, after 20 hours of traveling, they want me to rent a car for the final leg. Whatever, I just want to get home. Not only that, but a couple of pieces of gear was lost and I'm expected to pay for it... grrr. I swear if this wasn't such a great moment in history, I would not be coming back.
The bright news is that my friends, Eddie and Mike, came all the way to Philly to pick me up. That, I must say, rocked. Tough to find friends like that!!. The good news is quick because the airport lost my luggage and sent me home empty handed. Although the drive home was a blur, the next two days were miserable because my luggage was MIA.
The best part of coming home, though, was walking into the house (3:30 am) and seeing my wife getting up off the couch. I just grabbed on to her and gave her the longest hug I have ever given. It was so good to finally be home. We stayed up until daylight talking and catching up. I showed her some pictures and just spent the time once again enjoying her company. There is no doubt that the hardest part about the past three months has been missing my wife. It truly helps me understand better the soldiers and marines I cover daily.
So I plan on taking a few weeks off to enjoy life in general, but check back starting around August 2nd, and I should start off on another adventure to Afghanistan soon thereafter.