565th Quartermaster Company Conducts Media In The Battlefield Training

Story by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge
13th SC (E) Public Affairs Office

Special Troops Battalion, of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), is preparing to deploy later this year to provide logistical support for coalition forces involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

As part of these preparations, Soldiers of the battalion's two companies, Headquarters and Headquarters Company and the 565th Quartermaster Company, are undergoing extensive training focused on developing basic Soldiering skills and mission-specific readiness.

In recent months, both companies spent time on ranges honing marksmanship skills for all assigned weapons - from the M16A2 rifle to squad automatic weapons and .50-caliber machine guns.

To further promote combat readiness, HHC integrated one morning's physical training with evacuation techniques for combat situations.

In addition, the entire battalion scheduled squad training exercises to be conducted Sunday through Wednesday.

One aspect of training which is drawing increased attention, however, is Media Awareness and Media on the Battlefield.

Media training is growing in importance due to the number of civilian media personnel who now have open access to Soldiers around the clock during many military operations. There is also a need for media awareness due to the accessibility of information and the speed at which news is capable of traveling due to technological advances such as satellite communications and digital signal transmissions.

To prepare 13th SC(E) Soldiers to interact with media personnel, the command's Public Affairs Office provides media briefings and field training.

The 565th QM Company participated in the PAO's field-site media training Friday as part of weekly Sergeant's Time training. Training began around 10 a.m. and was completed in less than three hours. In that time, the Public Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, Sgt. Joel F. Gibson, gave media awareness briefings to three groups of Soldiers from the quartermaster company.

The NCOIC began each session by telling the Soldiers they should feel free to tell the Army's story. He explained the American public's right to know what the Army is doing and why. He then added if Soldiers are not telling their own story, someone else will tell it for them. Unfortunately, he said, someone else may not get the story right.

Then, prior to the actual briefing, a public affairs specialist who was simulating a civilian reporter conducted interviews with one or two Soldiers from each individual group. The Soldiers were given a scenario and were then questioned by the mock reporter.

During the interviews, the reporter asked questions designed to get as much information as possible in reference to the scenario. This scenario included multiple breeches of operational security including specific numbers of casualties and vehicle losses.

Spc. Tyler Lindsey was the first Soldier interviewed during Friday's training. The specialist was relaxed during the interview and was willing to speak to the reporter.

"We had a few Soldiers wounded," the specialist said, referring to the scenario he had been given.

When pressed, he refused to give specific information, stating his unwillingness to start rumors.

The reporter then questioned him concerning abuse to captured insurgents. Lindsey said he was unaware of prisoners being mistreated and he trusted his comrades to not abuse prisoners.

"That's not what we do," the specialist concluded.

The reporter then interviewed other Soldiers. Several of them told the reporter information which would have been considered sensitive.

Following these mock interviews, Gibson began to explain how these Soldiers should have responded to the reporter's questions.

Gibson stressed the need for operational security while at the same time letting Soldiers know it is alright to speak to journalists and other media personnel. He told the Soldiers there simply need to be ground rules prior to interviews and Soldiers need to remain focused in order to avoid disclosing classified or sensitive information.

The NCOIC went on to explain the importance of audience perception and interpretation of Soldiers' stance, appearance and intonation during interviews.

"I think it's good that we're going over stuff we need to go to Iraq," said Spc. Amanda Menefee, a supply specialist with the 565th.