Leveraging the Media: The Embedded Media Program in Operation Iraqi Freedom

  • July 15, 2004
  • Col Glenn Starnes

In the planning for the war in Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took a bold step and enacted a major change to the public affairs approach for military operations. In February 2003, he approved the concept of embedding reporters with frontline forces. The Secretary of Defense, along with other strategic leaders seeking to end Saddam Hussein's regime, wanted the American people and the world to see, hear and feel the war, up close and personal. The embedded reporters told a story that otherwise would not have been told. The Embedded Media Program was also an essential part of the Information Operations Campaign. Strategic and operational leaders leveraged (not manipulated) the media in order to enhance and in some cases achieve information operations objectives. Specifically, the US-led coalition countered Iraqi propaganda while affecting tactical and operational actions on the battlefield. The ability to leverage the media coverage of the war assisted the coalition in achieving information superiority.