Military Excludes Stars and Stripes: Brass Accepts USA Today Offer of Free Copies for Soldiers in Somalia Rather Than Paying for Copies of the Military Newspaper

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Brass accepts USA Today offer of free copies for soldiers in Somalia rather than paying for copies of the military newspaper

For what may be the first time in recent history, U.S. soldiers deployed abroad are not receiving the military newspaper Stars and Stripes.

Instead, servicemen and women stationed in Somalia are receiving free copies of USA Today.

The situation prompted newly appointed Stars and Stripes ombudsman Bill Monroe to devote a column to the subject in the European and Pacific editions of his newspaper.

According to Monroe, reporters from Stars and Stripes said that soldiers in Somalia were angry with the "soldiers' newspaper.

They were angry, he wrote, "because the GIs felt isolated and out of touch with the world - and Stars and Stripes, the paper that was supposed to keep the grunts in the field informed, was nowhere to be found."

Monroe cited possible reasons, such as getting the paper from Germany to Mogadishu, who would pay to import the military paper - he said no one asked Stars and Stripes to solve the budget problem - and the "unofficial word" that the U.S. military commander in Somalia did not want it to look as though "the U.S. force was settling in for the long haul."

The ombudsman, former editor of the Washington Journalism Review, noted that "speculation about motives, while perhaps understandable in this case, is never fair and rarely accurate."

He added that "Somebody owes the soldiers on the ground a better explanation than is now available of why they're not allowed to receive the newspaper designed by the Defense Department and fostered by the Congress to keep military men overseas in touch with home. …


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