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 Post subject: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:07 pm 
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Michael Yon is back with an excoriating condemnation of the MoD publicity machine in Helmand, lifting the lid on a little-discussed but vitally important aspect of the conduct of the war there. Speaking with a defence correspondent this morning about it, he could not conceal his delight that Yon had done the deed, with a long account of the behaviour of one particular officer running "Media Ops" in Camp Bastion.

View full article here

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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:58 pm 
To date I've been a fan of Yon, but this blog piece left a sour taste. It's not journalism at all, it's a rant, with diversions about going to the Netherlands, the ending of the embed etc, and it suggests he's allowed his ego to get bigger than the story.

A good journo leaves all that for the autobiography much later, and in the meantime gets on with putting together accurate and timely stories that give insight to the reader, something at which he normally excels.


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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:21 pm 
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Hugh de Jorgen wrote:
To date I've been a fan of Yon, but this blog piece left a sour taste. It's not journalism at all, it's a rant, with diversions about going to the Netherlands, the ending of the embed etc, and it suggests he's allowed his ego to get bigger than the story.

A good journo leaves all that for the autobiography much later, and in the meantime gets on with putting together accurate and timely stories that give insight to the reader, something at which he normally excels.


Actually, I have my own reservations about the piece - and you will notice that I have been very selective about what I've used in his post. However, the specific issues on which I have commented have far wider application than Yon. Richardson and Cole have been a serious problem for many other journalists and between them have actively inhibited reporting of the war, for no good reason. Thus, the problem is much bigger than Yon. His contribution, therefore, has some value.

I also have to say though that "Media Ops" was just as much a problem in Iraq ... there is something fundamentally wrong with the way the MoD/Army handles media relations - something about which I have written several times. However, I don't think I've finished with this affair - I'm thinking about doing a follow-up post.

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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:41 pm 
Withdrawing Yon from the embed was such a shocking own goal: Say what you like about ego, his combat reporting is second to none. He is the premier war reporter of our time, the first one to understand and make the internet his natural forum to publish in.

Lying about the Chinook is inexcusable in my view. Media ops are really singlehandedly undermining the efforts of the soldiers by lying to the UK public, and this surely must affect our credibility with loyalist Afghans also.


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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:56 pm 

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The shooting down of the helicopter - you may have seen a piece of PR co-ordination yesterday. The RAF admitted that helicopter had been shot down and Quentin Davies was quick to suggest it only got away from the attack because it was fitted with an experimental engine. At the same time the Gov. announced a £400million upgrade programme for the Chinook fleet to upgrade the engines and avionics. However, the first choppers won't be in service until 2011 and the programme won't be completed until 2014.

Don't they know there's a war on?

They're fighting us more than the Taliban. Yet when these stories get out of Afghanistan by other routes it rarely appears worth the trouble. Yes it makes for a less than pristine campaign 'narrative' but have our politicians become so feather bedded and nannied by a willingly supine media that they cannot (or worse, have not) thought things through enough to be able to argue the British interest?


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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:59 pm 
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Were Richardson and Cole under orders to sift the chaff of truth from the wheat of narrative or did they act spontaneously for what they thought was the good of the country - an act of heroism they expect one day to be knighted for, no less, or else they'll spill the beans in an autobiography, extracts from which will be serialised in the Daily Mail?

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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:09 pm 
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therewaslight wrote:
Were Richardson and Cole under orders to sift the chaff of truth from the wheat of narrative or did they act spontaneously for what they thought was the good of the country - an act of heroism they expect one day to be knighted for, no less, or else they'll spill the beans in an autobiography, extracts from which will be serialised in the Daily Mail?


There is certainly, in my experience, a deliberate attempt to control the narrative - and to that you must look to the chain of command. These two do not operate in a vacuum ... their activities are well-known, there have been many complaints about them, and especially Richardson (some at very high level) ... but they remain in post. Why?

And yes, there are political issues here, but it would be wrong to say that the politicians are happy about the way the PR is managed. I am aware of a considerable body of dissatisfaction. However, the Army PR is to an extent, autonomous - at that level beyond political intervention. If the pols raise questions, the Army can always retreat behind the wall of "military decision" - i.e., operational matter - into which territory the pols dare not stray. Even the MoD civil servants (PR specialists) have problems. They can only advise, not direct, Army operations. For "autonomous", therefore, read "law unto itself". It would not be the first time that London had to clean up the messes and smooth ruffled feathers after particularly inept actions by local media ops.

There is also another dimension here ... this is - in theory - a Nato OP, ISAF and all that. Therefore, theatre PR answers not directly to London but to ISAF headquarters in Kabul. Media Ops is very adept at hiding behind the skirts of Kabul, taking action in defiance of London (for instance, refusing to clear material for publication), claiming ISAF as the over-riding authority. By the time Kabul is brought into the loop and "misunderstandings" have been "cleared up", in a fast moving situation it is often too late to apply a corrective. What's done is done.

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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:49 pm 
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gareth wrote:
At the same time the Gov. announced a £400million upgrade programme for the Chinook fleet to upgrade the engines and avionics. However, the first choppers won't be in service until 2011 and the programme won't be completed until 2014.

Great announcement isn't it, apart from of course the fact it's just another Labour trick by re-announcing something they've already announced, Project Julius has been in the news since 2008. More details here http://diack.co.uk/fitaloon/2009/09/chinook-propaganda-from-the-mod-labour-spending-reannouncement/


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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:13 pm 
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fitaloon wrote:
gareth wrote:
At the same time the Gov. announced a £400million upgrade programme for the Chinook fleet to upgrade the engines and avionics. However, the first choppers won't be in service until 2011 and the programme won't be completed until 2014.

Great announcement isn't it, apart from of course the fact it's just another Labour trick by re-announcing something they've already announced, Project Julius has been in the news since 2008. More details here http://diack.co.uk/fitaloon/2009/09/chinook-propaganda-from-the-mod-labour-spending-reannouncement/


Good spot! However ...

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/arch ... c8750.html

If you look at the 2008 announcement to which you refer in your blog, you will see that it refers to "funding secured to start modernisation work on eight of its 40 Chinook HC2/2As."

But there is also this:

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/20 ... grade.html

Quote:
The UK Royal Air Force plans to upgrade its entire fleet of Boeing CH-47 transport helicopters to a standard configuration from late 2009, with the modernised type likely to be dubbed the HC4, says Chinook force commander Gp Capt Andy Turner. Full details of the Chinook capability upgrade have yet to be finalised, along with funding approvals, but key elements will include a standardised glass cockpit with head-up displays and new navigation and night vision equipment, says Turner.


The August announcement to which you refer states:

http://www.shephard.co.uk/news/3596/

Quote:
Honeywell announced today that the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense (MOD) will purchase the Honeywell 55-L-714A engine and spares, valued at approximately $185 million, to retrofit their fleet of Chinook helicopters.


Note the phrasing "will purchase". That almost certainly means a "letter of intent" rather than a contract had been issued.

Of yesterday's announcement, this seems to refer to the actual award of firm contracts for the whole fleet. That some aircraft have been fitted with "experimental" engines must refer to the original programme which authorised the fitting out of eight machines.

I would not have thought the announcement is quite as sinister as you make out. Spin, yes ... but not direct lying.

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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:22 pm 
I'm afraid Media Ops dire performance does not surprise me in the least. I have worked on psyops both on exercises and operations and while we concentrated on the enemy, Media Ops were devoted to 'positively influencing' domestic audiences. We were always looked down on by them and often the very arrogant and unhelpful Media Ops officers would refuse even to speak to us. According to them psyops practised the black arts but they, of course, were whiter than white. In reality the psyops side was constrained under NATO doctrine to tell the truth (no black psyops or lying, just straight forward messages), while we watched the 'honest Media Ops' staff regularly lie through their teeth, deliberately misleading journalists and producing propaganda stories ('for morale purposes') that would have found favour in Stalinist Russia. These stories were extremely selective, usually misleading and always designed to give a positive spin. And guess where they get their lead from? MoD Media Information back in London.

One of the first things the Blair government did in 1997-98 was to sack most of the old MoD PR staff and replace them with a new breed of right-on journalists who had drunk deep from the same cup as Alastair Campbell and the rest of that nasty, motley crew who have so besmirched British politics over the last decade. I am sure Yon is quite accurate because I have seen these politically correct sycophants hard at work misleading the British and international press and their audiences. Perhaps the next government might like to consider ridding MoD of the entire military and civil media ops set up and creating a fresh organisation that employs none of the existing retards. Oh, and by the way, if you really want to see hard spin and stifled debate on the wonderful job that Bullshit Bob Ainsworth and his merry men are doing, try reading the garbage that appears in the various in-house MoD magazines for the encouragement of the increasingly cynical and demoralised staff.


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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:36 pm 
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Thank you for that.

There is obviously a long an complex story here. It is very clear that MoD media is now highly politicised (as indeed is much of the whole civil service). What then confuses the issue and makes it more difficult to understand for outsiders is that each of the Services have their own autonomous media resources - and some units also have their own media people. Each of the chiefs also have their own media units. There is clearly friction between the different organisations and factions within those organisations, which goes beyond normal "creative tension", and then lines of control are by no means clear. It does not seem to me that ministers have direct control over the entire media effort - there is still civil service resistance to political interference in what are regarded as operational matters - and likewise the Service media teams are very jealous of their own autonomy.

As to the in-house stuff - I agree ... some of it is toe-curling propaganda - almost a parody if itself. You wonder how anyone can write the stuff with a straight face.

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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:57 pm 
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RAENORTH wrote:
Note the phrasing "will purchase". That almost certainly means a "letter of intent" rather than a contract had been issued.

Of yesterday's announcement, this seems to refer to the actual award of firm contracts for the whole fleet. That some aircraft have been fitted with "experimental" engines must refer to the original programme which authorised the fitting out of eight machines.

I would not have thought the announcement is quite as sinister as you make out. Spin, yes ... but not direct lying.


Not sinister just Propaganda. Pretending this is new and putting it out on the Eve of the Labour Conference, when I'm sure it will be mentioned is just pure propaganda, perhaps not for a politician lying, but for the rest of the population a definite untruth and a spin that it is "new" money.


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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 2:31 pm 
You can't blame the major in the piece for not leaving Bastion, its dangerous outside. ;)



No comment on Trident Dr North?


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 Post subject: Re: The naming of names
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 2:48 pm 
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Guest wrote:
You can't blame the major in the piece for not leaving Bastion, its dangerous outside. ;)



No comment on Trident Dr North?


Trident is so passé. Actually, I get more than a little irritated with it. Defence debates in the House are dominated by it, which are hijacked by all the little weenies climbing in their hobby horses.

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 Post subject: fear be gone...
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:17 am 
Guest wrote:
You can't blame the major in the piece for not leaving Bastion, its dangerous outside. ;)


truly sad, and pathetic.

Through Yon's dispatches I've gained a tremendous respect for the Brit's men, both in dedication and bravery. Truly sad that a few roaches insist on spoiling the soup.


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