Ring corridor toward his office from a Department of Defense news conference, a senior public affairs officer related to the author that "Dealing with
the press is like going on a date with a gorgeous idiot girl. You've got to
exercise a great deal of restraint." The military services and the Defense
Department do not always exercise such restraint.
On July 2, 1991, the chiefs of seventeen major U.S. news organizations
sent a report to the Secretary of Defense bemoaning the restrictions imposed
on press coverage during the Persian Gulf War.
17 Yet it was clear from the
record of the preceding months that even with all of the relevant information
before it, the press was unable to make an accurate assessment of what had
occurred. Why, then, should journalists utterly ignorant and inexperienced
in the history, language, organization, methods, and technology of the subject they are covering, when that subject has a bearing on the life or death
of thousands (indeed, of an entire nation), be permitted to roam about at
will and to report without effective supervision?
William V. Kennedy, "The War Fought One Foot Above the Ground", The
National Guardsman ( July 1960): 4-5, 26-28.
Ferdinand M. von Senger und Etterlin, "New Operational Concepts", Journal
of the Royal United Service Institute for Defence Studies ( London) ( June 1983): 11- 15.
Richard E. Simpkin, Race to the Swift ( London: 1985). Brassey's Defence
Publishers. The recommendation appears on page 128 in a chapter entitled "The
Rotary Wing Revolution," a thoughtful analysis developing many of General von
Senger und Etterlin's themes.
"Gazelle de sables: Des helicopteres . . . mais surtout des hommes", Armees
D'Aujourd'hui (Ministry of Defense, Paris) 161 ( June-July 1991): 82-84.
"What to Deploy" (Opinion), Christian Science Monitor, 20 August 1990.
"Only a Helicopter Cavalry Can Beat Armored Iraqis" (Viewpoints), Newsday, 31 August 1990.
The description of air cavalry operations that follows is based on briefings by
the U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), July
1991; verbatim after-action debriefings of attack helicopter battalion commanders;
summaries of unit staff journals; and interviews with major participants. The 24th
Mechanized Division did not reply to an offer to discuss the evidence presented in
the foregoing research that it performed a follow-on role to the air cavalry, rather
than the lead role ascribed to it in Department of the Army pronouncements, notably
the nationally broadcast script read during the post-war Washington victory parade.
U.S. Congress, Congressional Budget Office, Rapid Deployment Forces: Policy
and Budgetary Implications February 1983.
"Military Strategy Overextends U.S." (Opinion), Philadelphia Inquirer, 17 October 1983.
"When the Best Defense Is a Smokescreen" (Viewpoints), Newsday, 3 May 1990.