War in Iraq: Up close and personal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 27, 2003

Tribune staff

For the last week, America has received a heavy dose of the ultimate reality show - the war in Iraq.

No one is performing ridiculous stunts such as those you see on the many reality TV shows, but men and women are putting their lives on the line. And, if we wish, we all can sit in front of our television and view

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The nation has been seduced by visions of war never before seen - even live fire from the front lines. War, as it turns out, is hell, and now even those of us who have never served in the military can attest to that age-old adage. We have seen the hell happening before our eyes.

When the Pentagon coined the term "embedded media," no one really knew what to expect. Reporters tagging along with the troops in Iraq would not be an ideal situation for either the press or the military, most deduced. Judging from the first days of the war, though, the arrangement seems to be working well.

For the first time, people back home have been able to witness the news as it unfolds on Iraqi battlefields, half a world away. Armed with instant-TV technology, journalists are reporting live, right next to those who are fighting for their freedom.

A new era of high-tech capability has made it possible for journalists to travel with combat units. More than 500 reporters are on ships and in barracks, with infantry, armored, airborne and Marine divisions. In exchange for the front-row seats, the journalists may not divulge sensitive information such as troop locations. The result is real-time war reporting, delivered to the homefront via TV, radio and print.

It has been said that war's first casualty is often truth. This time, with so many journalists bringing the news from the battlefield, that may be avoided.

Even Gen. Tommy Franks, allied commander, likes what he has seen so far. "(Readers and viewer) get a take of what's going on on this battlefield," he said Monday. "It was a very good thing to do."

Now that we have seen our troops at work, we should all have a better appreciation of them and what they do for us.