When the government released news yesterday that the new policy regarding troop casualty announcements would not be made until after next-of-kin have been notified, it was a huge “sea change” for reporters. Many news outlets require their journalists to be “first on scene” and “you heard it here first” type of reporters. Word from the tops says incidents where there have been U.S. troop casualties will not be reported until the warriors involved have been identified and their families have official notice from the government.
Americans are used to hearing about incidents in the battlefield right away but for the families who have loved ones in Harm’s Way, news that U.S. service members have been killed is agony, especially, if their warrior is deployed to the region where casualties were reported.
This new mandate will mean that U.S. troop losses and incidents of explosions, invasions, and suicide bombings, in the war zones will go unreported for days.
One American mom agrees with the decision. She writes:
Ok so here’s what happened to us. Our son was in Afghanistan and all day long a message ran over and over again at the bottom of the TV screen. It said two NATO soldiers killed by a suicide bomber at a campfire on a base in Afghanistan. I watched that all day. As a parent of a soldier, a lot of things ran thru my mind. I was very sad and felt bad for the families but at the same time realized it could be MY son. My husband actually found out on Facebook before the phone rang that evening, that our son was one of the two killed many hours earlier. I believe the families should be notified to avoid this happening to them. I can’t put into words how it affected us to worry and not know hour after hour that day nor how it still feels to see that one has been killed and we know the families are finding out or might even not know yet as we see it reported.
Those first hours and days are very difficult for the families and was worse for us because it was already all over the news before we knew our son was dead.
Her son, Sgt. Jonathan J. Richardson was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne. Sgt. Richardson died at FOB Salerno, Afghanistan, when a suicide bomber attacked his unit, March 9, 2010.
The initial report of this information change came from Reuters, one of the most trusted news sources left. CNN’s Barbara Starr who is a mainstay in Pentagon reporting has yet to make a statement.
Foreign sources often report on battlefield incidents, however, with few or unsubstantiated details.