Military Media Relations During Kargil War

Released on = February 22, 2006, 9:53 pm

Press Release Author = Kumar

Industry = Media

Press Release Summary = Recently on kargil operation, Military has opened up with
Media and reduced the gap between the military and the civilians and also changed
the people\'s perception on the pattern of high altitude areas conflicts.

Press Release Body = There have been media reports that the military has been
talking out of turn, and counter views have also been expressed on the topic by some
supposed thinkers. It is not by individual perceptions that policies are made and
the subject, in today's context needs to debated with select examples of the world
military media relations kept as a backdrop and the examples of using the various
media tools as force multipliers.

Military has opened up to the media only recently. Kargil operation was the first
televised war, which brought the conflict to peoples homes. It showed the war zone
to the world and changed people's perception on the pattern of conflict in high
altitude areas. It reduced the gap between the military and the civilians and
connected people with the lives of soldiers, who carry out their duties even at the
peril of their lives. It is in their prompt response at the borders that our
countrymen can remain comfortable at their homes. It was a bonding established and a
national fervour built which brought about unity in diversity. The up front
reportage altered the world opinion in our favour and justified the conflict, making
Pakistan the bad guy. All this happened only because the media by India was handled
with an aim, a vision and the public, in many ways participated in the conflict. The
negatives, to balance out, have also been true, with at times some media personnel
being given preferential treatment by the military and the same media men, when
rubbished on an occasion have been nasty in the reporting about the military. Such
practices are reasonably common, despite the users in the game being quite aware,
and such practices are bound to take place in a democratic system, yet it is
important to analyse the reasons for the reporters adopting a sudden change in their
outlook. It must be appreciated, after all, they are also individuals and bound to
err and swing one way or the other to gauge the mood swing of the readers.

Just prior to Kargil, Kosovo happened, and just a little later the United Nations
Force launched an operation in Sierra Leone. A brief mention of the two will
facilitate in framing opinions on the media being used as a weapon system. While
Kosovo was a 'War of Will' at least as projected by the western media, which gave
only a one sided picture with Mr Reuben giving his daily briefings; the Sierra Leone
intervention, despite the Indian contingent being actually responsible for the
success of the mission, was over shadowed by the British media which highlighted the
contributions made by the British troops in the success of the operations. However,
damage control was carried out by the Indian Foreign Service at a later stage more
as a reaction by sending the Indian media to cover the happenings, bringing to focus
the Indian Army's actions which brought about peace in the Region. More recently,
the American coalition war in Iraq was again a reminder that a war can be projected
as a justifiable war, if the events are doctored well and projected selectively.

The above examples bring to focus one important aspect, and that is, media has to be
intelligently applied and it must be situation oriented. It cannot adorn a template
which has to dittoed in all situations and the content also has to vary. An over or
an under play will neither be good for the public nor for the military. The
responses from the military have to be couched and well articulated. A total ban on
interaction with the media will give rise to speculation and invariably result in
misreporting. An over eager, inadequately thought of hurried response, is again
likely to give a negative projection. The bait by the media will always be given
with smiling faces approaching the military and wanting to be the first to report an
incident and in the bargain getting access to an event. It may also be that the
military, at times may feel that some other security agency may take the credit for
the task accomplished and therefore prematurely reveal some details to pre-empt the
other stake holders, which at times may result in tendering apologies at a later
stage. Such out of turn exposures to the media must be guarded against and that
comes with fore thought and practice Hence, it is important that media education is
imparted to the military as a professional subject. It should be taught in schools
of instructions right from entre level and should be practiced over the years. The
importance of the information warfare with media as a force multiplier has to be
understood and it has to be correctly used India Pakistan information as a weapon of
decision making, a weapon of success.

Web Site = http://www.himalayanaffairs.org

Contact Details = Delhi
pawan@neuronimbus.com

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