War and Media Operations
The US Military and the Press from Vietnam to Iraq
This is the first academic analysis of the role of embedded media in the 2003 Iraq War, providing a concise history of US military public affairs management since Vietnam.
In late summer 2002, the Pentagon considered giving the press an inside view of the upcoming invasion of Iraq. The decision was surprising, and the innovative "embedded media program" itself received intense coverage in the media. Its critics argued that the program was simply a new and sophisticated form of propaganda. Their implicit assumption was that the Pentagon had become better at its news management and had learned to co-opt the media.
This new book tests this assumption, introducing a model of organizational learning and redraws the US military’s cumbersome learning curve in public affairs from Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, the Balkans to Afghanistan, examining whether past lessons were implemented in Iraq in 2003. Thomas Rid argues that while the US armed forces have improved their press operations, America’s military is still one step behind fast-learning and media-savvy global terrorist organizations.
War and Media Operations will be of great interest to students of the Iraq War, media and war, propaganda, political communications and military studies in general.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction Part 1: The Military as a Learning Organization 2. Perspectives on Military Learning 3. A Model of Strategic Innovation Part 2: The History of Media Operations 4. Disastrous Public Affairs: Vietnam 5. Restrictive Public Affairs: Grenada, Panama, and the Persian Gulf 6. Experimental Public Affairs: Somalia, the Balkans, and Afghanistan Part 3: A Case Study of Strategic Innovation 7. Retrieving Past Experiences? 8. Strategic Public Affairs: Iraq Part 4: Discussion and Outlook 9. The Friendly Learning Loop 10. The Adversarial Learning Loop
'War and Media Operations is must-reading for anyone who wants to understand
how modern wars are sold to public opinion.'
Jamie Shea, Director of Policy Planning at NATO, alliance spokesman during
the Kosovo War
'Those who support or oppose 'embedded' journalism will find ammunition here
but Rid himself doesn't take shots.'
Steven Komarow, USA TODAY, embedded with the US Army's V Corps during
the Iraq War
'thought-provoking, insightful, and deeply engaging'
Ikujiro Nonaka, Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy,
Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, former Xerox Professor of Knowledge, Haas
School of Business, University of Berkeley, author of The Knowledge Creating
'Thomas Rid demonstrates how nimble adversaries such as Al-Qaeda are coming
up with their own information strategy.'
James Mann, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins
University, author of Rise of the Vulcans
'The best analysis I have yet seen of the role of Public Affairs within the wider
context of Information Operations.'
Philip Taylor, University of Leeds, UK, author of Munitions of the Mind: A History of Propaganda