Wednesday, October 15, 2003


Correctly criticised for organizing a campaign to send identical letters of positive news from the front, the boss takes responsibility for the actions of his soldiers.

Of course, the loudest criticisms are coming from those who are delivering uniformly bad news from the same area.

An Army battalion commander has taken responsibility for a public-relations campaign that sent hundreds of identical letters to hometown newspapers promoting his soldiers' rebuilding efforts in Iraq.
Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo said he wanted to highlight his unit's work and "share that pride with people back home."

Army officials revealed Tuesday that 500 identical form letters were sent to newspapers across the country with different signatures. They said the mass mailing was the wrong way of getting the message out, but they didn't know whether the commander would be disciplined.

"It sounded like a good idea at their level, (but) it's just not the way to do business. They're not going to do that again," said Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald, a spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division, which is leading operations in north-central Iraq.

And when you understand the soldiers' frustration and the purity of their intent and the naivete of their actions, I think we can give them a break.

"My understanding is that it was an initiative taken by members of a unit because what they were seeing in the newspapers did not match what they were seeing in Iraq," said Air Force Colonel Jay DeFrank, a Pentagon spokesman.

"So they decided what they would do is send in a letter to media in each of their hometowns," he said.

"They got the best writer in the unit and had him draft a letter each of them would sign and send to his hometown media," he said.

If the only spokesman for your best work can do nothing but find fault, you think you might see about an alternative spokesman?

Me too.

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