- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2002

Military officials are giving reporters a crash course in warfare this week at installations along the East Coast.
Reporters and photographers who would cover a U.S. war with Iraq are participating in a weeklong "media boot camp to raise the comfort level of journalists" seeking to be placed with troops, said Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke.
"The most critical sources in a wartime situation are the media, and we think it's very important that reporters are brought up to speed," said Ms. Clarke.
The boot camp which features military exercises at the Norfolk Naval Station and Quantico Marine Base, Va., and at the Marines' Camp Lejeune, N.C. will teach reporters how to take cover under fire, first aid and other military basics. Pentagon officials created the camp in response to media criticism about limited access to troops during the Persian Gulf war, in which journalists were placed in the field with troops.
Ms. Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said her office received more than 400 requests from reporters wanting to participate in the training.
"It's amazing how many bureau chiefs have called us up and said this is the kind of thing we want our reporters to do," she said, adding that the Pentagon is committed to placing reporters with troops in the field if war with Iraq occurs.
Fifty-eight journalists, including one Russian news-service reporter and one television reporter from the United Arab Emirates, are participating in the camp. They represent 31 different news organizations, including The Washington Times.
Other boot camps are being planned, including one in Britain or Germany, Ms. Clarke said.
The media boot camp began Saturday with reporters being shifted from the Pentagon to Camp Lejeune, where they were berthed aboard the USS Iwo Jima amphibious assault vessel about 40 miles off the North Carolina shore. Journalists witnessed simulated responses to an attack on the USS Iwo Jima, a Navy transport ship for amphibious vehicles.
The weekend included tours of Navy vessels docked at Norfolk Naval Station, such as the USS Leyte Gulf battle cruiser, the USS Arleigh Burke destroyer, the USS Hampton nuclear submarine, and the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman.
The battle cruiser, equipped with the AEGIS package a central information-processing center is largely regarded as the "brain" of a battle group of sea vessels. While the battle cruiser may be more than 100 miles from the convoy's other vessels, which would include an aircraft carrier, a destroyer and at least one submarine, it has the job of monitoring and compiling the radar data from each of the vessels in the group.
"Everything the carrier sees and everything in the convoy's other vessels in terms of intelligence is linked to us," USS Leyte Gulf Capt. Thomas F. McGuire said. "It allows you to recognize threats sooner and deal with them more quickly."
On Monday, reporters were sent to Quantico, where they are spending the week undergoing Army and Marine training, including several nights camping with a combat platoon, a five-mile hike through live-fire simulations, and training for reporting on urban warfare and biological and chemical attacks.

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