As a senior leader in the military, my chances of becoming the target of a media
interview, or having to manage the media, will be exponentially increased due to the ever
increasing conflicts that the United States is involved in. I as Field Grade Officer, the
lessons taught by the Army Command and General Staff College Intermediate Level Education
Program regarding how to deal with the media in the military will play an integral role in my
duties to effectively lead and win the fight on the battle field over the next 10 years of my
I will need to understand media management and how it impacts our troops and how it
may impact our success on the battle ...view middle of the document...
Although General Sherman’s approach to the media was extreme, he knew that the media was a
force that needed to be managed.
At the beginning of the Vietnam War, the media for the most part generated stories in
support of the United States Armed Forces. This had a profound impact on the opinion the
civilian population had of our Armed Forces and the Morale of the Armed Forces as well.
The stories generated by the media at that time took the vantage point of an effort to quell
the advancement of communism as an extension of the “Cold War”. (Cross 2009) The image
portrayed did not happen by accident.
The senior military leaders at that time had been involved in past armed conflict and
based on their experiences managed the media to get the militarie’s story and view point out to
the American public rather than allowing the media to conjure up its own view point and
perception on the combat operations in Vietnam. When I was a young boy, I remember my father
discussing the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Although he did not agree with the government’s
policy he and most of the population at the onset of the war had a positive image of the U.S.
Armed Forces and when Soldiers arrived home they were welcomed back as patriots in the fight
for liberty. In contrast as the Vietnam war progressed, journalist were going deeper into the
combat environment than ever before reporting on every aspect of the war with little or no
censorship or control of how much exposure the media had to combat operations. (Cross 2009)
The stories told were written or broadcasted to sensationalize the story to increase news paper
sales and to increase the number of viewers watching the evening news. Perhaps General
Sherman was not far off in his opinion.
I remember watching the evening news as a young boy and seeing the graphic
images on the television capturing some of the most bloody and violent scenes ever presented to
the public which portrayed the theme that our soldiers were criminals conducting murderous
acts with wonton disregard for humanity. This shift in media coverage led to a shift in the
opinion the American public had of our Soldiers returning home. One night stands out in my
memory more than the others. I was watching in shock at a live broadcast of our Soldiers
coming home from the war coming home tired, wounded, and maimed disembarking planes, and
rather than being welcomed home as Heroes and Patriots in the fight for liberty and stopping the
spread of communism and being greeted by a welcoming crowd waving the American flag and
cheering them on. They were actually greeted by angry mobs, waving signs of protest, burning
the American flag not only in protest of the war but also being falsely accused as “Baby Killers”
and being spit upon. For us as leaders to ever allow that to happen to our troops in the future