Military blogger Fred Schoeneman weighs in on the controversy that was stirred when Army Spc. Thomas Wilson asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld why there were not more armored humvees in Iraq. Wilson was prodded to ask the question by a Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter.
In many armies in this world, a soldier wouldn’t survive asking such
a question. But we aren’t talking about a foreign army, we’re talking
about the American Army, which is full of volunteers — National
Guardsmen and Reservists — who’ve put their lives on hold to serve
their country […]. Many of these enlisted men have already served back to
back deployments, and many more will be asked to serve back to back
deployments in the future. The least these men can expect is not to be
condescended to. Seriously: Coached or not, that soldier had every right to ask his question.
Like it or not, get used to it. Media continues to get less objective, not more so. The line between media, participant and consumer continues to get ever more blurred in a phenomenon that others call "citizen journalism." Protests are covered by protestors, and war is now covered partly by soldiers, as the photos from Abu Ghraib showed. Historians like Stephen Ambrose used to look at first-person accounts largely after the war was over: through letters that were written home and the accounts written by troopers often long after the last shot was fired. These days, camera phones, email and blogs give new meaning to the word "first-person journalism."