First casualty of war is truth, closely followed by logic
The Defence Department posted this image from Afghanistan on its website on Tuesday. As you can see, the faces of the Australian soldiers were obscured.
For security reasons, we have decided to also obscure the faces of the Afghans in the photo.
The Defence Department released this photo along with a media release, which explained the men pictured were village elders and religious leaders of Chenartu, north-east of Tarin Kowt. The photo shows the Afghans laughing and getting on well with members of Australia’s Special Operations Task Group as they engage with Afghan communities across Oruzgan province.
What would happen if the Taliban saw this photo? How would they regard these villagers? As traitors? Would they execute them? Have they already done so?
This media release once again highlights the wholly farcical nature of the Defence Department acting on the media’s behalf as supposed reporters in Afghanistan.
In detailing the great success of the combined Afghan-Australian hearts-and-minds operation, they quote the commanding officer of the SOTG. But his name “cannot be disclosed for security reasons”.
The commanding officer’s comments are utterly worthless. No half-respectable media organisation could, or would, re-report what he has said. If an independent reporter had actually been present when the CO spoke, it may have been acceptable to protect the commander’s identity and still relate his comments.
But for all we know, what he said might have been written in Canberra.
A Defence media release from January 22 talked of a “bright future” for the Oruzgan province after Australian and Afghan soldiers had worked together on uncovering weapons caches.
The release stated: “More than 30 weapons caches have been found since the operation began on 1 January 2010.”
That’s a lot of caches. And good work, too, in uncovering them. But rather than pointing to a bright future, it only confirms the place is riddled with weapons with and people who want to kill members of the foreign and national armies.
The release named and quoted an Afghan National Army 4th Brigade private who spoke of how good he felt when uncovering stores of weapons.
Defence never puts names to Australian privates. That’s off-limits.
Once again, Defence is exposing others while protecting its own. Moreover, it is wasting its time and energy with such media releases. No one uses them.
Australian media representatives need to be permanently stationed in Afghanistan. Call it “embedded”, if you will, but the Defence Department’s cynical arm’s-length media management in Afghanistan is a proven failure.
What would a news crew, whether television or print, have done if it was invited along to that riverside meeting of Australians and village elders? There’s no question – we would have run photos of both the locals and the Australians.
Publication might have put the Afghans at some risk, but it would be seen for what it was – a meeting between troops and locals.
That gives the Afghans in the images more room to move than branding them, under the official Defence Department logo, as cooperative stooges.
Have a look at this awful staged shot, below, reportedly taken by Defence on December 19, and also posted on their website this week. The caption reads: “Over there! A SOTG soldier invites a local villager to a medical clinic.”
I don’t think this Afghan man is any danger. It looks more like a lost soldier asking for directions back to camp.
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