For well over 20 years now, the Western TV News networks have used media security advisers to assist with their news gathering out in conflict areas around the world. They’re also used in other hostile environments such as natural disasters.
Here is literally a snapshot from back in 2007 of myself on the ground with a small media team while embedded with US Forces on the Afghan/Pakistan border areas of Khost and Paktika Provinces, Afghanistan.
It’s rare for an adviser to be accompanied on a military embed. However, apart from pro active security, the adviser can also call out exactly what’s playing out in front of the news crew, and therefore help capture the story.
Normally the adviser is used when the media team are outside of the security bubble and operating unilaterally.
Myself holding a TV camera. Honoured that after 7 years of working with this great camera man, that due to the cramped space in the helicopter, he’s allowed me to touch such a precious and all important item…it would be like me giving him my rifle…or maybe not.
The Blue Mosque in Khost City paid for by Saudi Arabia.
A gathering of Regional tribal elders. Take away the plastic chairs and the AK47 assault rifle, and the photo could be from one of the earlier British Afghan wars of the 19th century.
The local tribesmen welcoming each other to the gathering.
Over the years from Dhofar, Oman to Pakistan, and all in between, I’ve normally been associated with this weapon from being in front of it…so nice to have the chance to be safely behind it.
A wee break at a weapons bunker, Khost Province.
Afghanistan is undoubtedly a beautiful landscape with beautiful people, but I have to remember that we’re all just one massive bulls eye as we travel from point A to point B.
Still the massive target as we wind our way through the markets of Khost City.
Kids appear from the middle of nowhere.
American soldiers doing their very best to win hearts and minds by giving out winter clothing to the local kids…they certainly needed it…most were freezing.
Scotty our cameraman taking some great shots.
Where’s our winter clothes, we’re freezing too? Or words to that effect.
I always say, kids all over the world are the same. Full of innocence, and just want to have fun, no matter what little they may have. But just look at this poor wee lassie’s skin. Aged with dry altitude air.
I just farted to keep myself warm, and the wee laddie’s like “are you serious!”
The team interviewing an American officer about the local projects to win hearts and minds…or not?
I just ran into Waziristan, Pakistan to take this shot, then ran back again.
Khost Governor and police chief waiting for US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to arrive by Chinook.
Afghan police check point on the Pakistan border.
Robert Gates thanking his troops and wishing them well.
Blackhawk about to lift off from the wilds of Khost Province.
One of the smallest and scariest (again) outposts overlooking the border with Pakistan. The enemy actually dropped mortar rounds inside the tiny compound…good firing.
An early morning shot as the sun comes up.
Training his sights on the border.
Familiarizing myself with the ground around the FOB…I like the look of that big gun.
The oldest sniper in town. Thanks to an awesome bunch of young men, keeping my eye in…you just never know when I might need it? Take the chance when you can!
My favourite stand to position…options.
Off to the next location on the border.
A serious reminder on a daily basis.
Off again, feeling very vulnerable…again!
Nice knowing though that we’re supported by the big guns. Why Super Jamal? Well, when the lads were lying on their beds discussing what they should name their gun…one lad looked at the ceiling, and the bricks were named Super Jamal!
There you go…Super Jamal.
The workout is free, but you’ve just got to get there…security included.
Looking over the border to a Pakistani military fort in Waziristan.
Just loving the firepower at this gym.
Apart from a wee bit of barbwire protecting the observation post, the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is but a line in the sand.
The convoy coming for us can be seen for miles…and miles…by us…and the enemy.
It’s mine!!!!! Yes, the clacker…it’s mine! If all hell breaks loose tonight, this is where I’m heading.
The neighbours know how to protect their family.
Apart from the flight out of here…almost the end of an awesome journey…learnt heaps, with a terrific news gathering crew.
First leg of the flight out…in a Chinook from the border area.
…and now onto the C130 with this awesome SNCO who was with us for a lot of the time…he’s off on a well deserved R&R.
Well, there’s a wee look at a trip with a media team as a security adviser. No, not there to just take photos…although what an opportunity.
I hope you like the wee story, and the photos. 2007 was a bad year for US troops and the overall situation inside Afghanistan. The embed with US troops was really the only way to move around outside of Kabul…even though we become as much of a target as the soldiers.
A huge thank you to the troops for hosting us, great times with great people, still thinking of you all, and hoping that you’re still safe today.