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Second, Grenada. We realize that Grenada had shown the need to review media-military relations in connection with military operations, but you did not request our assessment of media handling at Grenada and we will not provide it. However, we do feel that had our recommendations been "in place" and fully considered at the time of Grenada, there might have been no need to create our panel.
Finally, the matter of responsibility of the media. Although this is touched on in the report, and there is no doubt that the news organization representatives who appeared before us fully recognized their responsibilities, we feel we should state emphatically that reporters and editors alike must exercise responsibility in covering military operations. As one of the senior editors who appeared before us said, "The media must cover military operations comprehensively, intelligently, and objectively." The American people deserve news coverage of this quality and nothing less. It goes without saying, of course, that the military also has a concurrent responsibility, that of making it possible for the media to provide such coverage.
The members of the panel have also asked me to express their appreciation for being asked to participate in this important study and their hope that our work will be of value to the military, the media, and to the American people.
Finally, the panel considers this covering letter an integral part of our report.
Major General, USA, Retired
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) Media Military Relations Panel (known as the Sidle Panel) was created at the request of the Chairman, General John W. Vessey, Jr., who asked that I convene a panel of experts to make recommendations to him on, "How do we conduct military operations in a manner that safeguards the lives of our military and protects the security of the operation while keeping the American public informed through the media?"
Major General Winant Sidle, USA, Retired, was selected as chairman of this project and asked to assemble a panel composed of media representatives, public affairs elements of the four Military Services, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) (OASD (PA)), and operations spokesmen from the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS).
The initial plan, concurred in by CJCS and ASD (PA), was to invite major umbrella media organizations and the Department of Defense organizations to provide members of this panel. The umbrella organizations, such as the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA), the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), and the Radio Television News Directors Association (RTNDA), and their individual member news organizations decided that they would cooperate fully with the panel but would not provide members. The general reason given was that it was inappropriate for media members to serve on a government panel.
This decision, unanimous among the major news media organizations, resulted in a revised plan calling for the nonmilitary membership of the panel to be composed of experienced retired media personnel and representatives of schools of journalism who were experts in military-media relations. The Department of Defense organizations involved agreed to provide members from the outset. Final panel membership is at Enclosure 1.
To provide initial input to the panel for use as a basis for discussion when the panel met, a questionnaire was devised with the concurrence of CJCS and ASD (PA) and mailed to all participants. It was also sent to a number of additional organizations and individuals who had expressed interest and to some who had not but were considered to be experts in the matter. As the result of these mailings, the panel had available 24 written inputs to study prior to meeting. 05 these, 16 were from major news organizations or umbrella groups. All inputs are at Enclosure 2. The panel regretted that all who indicated interest could not appear before it, but time did not permit.
Although the news organizations involved did not agree to provide panel members, they all agreed to provide qualified personnel to make oral presentations to the panel. The only exception was an individual news organization which felt that its umbrella group should represent it.
The panel met from 6 February through 10 February 1984 at the National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. The meetings included three days for media and military presentations in open session and two days for panel study and deliberation in closed session. The presentations included those by 25 senior media representatives speaking for 19 news organizations, including umbrella organizations. The chiefs/ directors of Public Affairs for the Army, Navy, and Air Force also made major presentations during the open sessions with the USMC, OJCS, and ASD (PA) panel members making informal comments during the closed sessions. The open sessions were covered by about 70 reporters representing nearly 30 news organizations. The schedule of presentations is at Enclosure 3.
The attached panel report is composed of two sections.
by all panel members.
2. The Comment section, explaining the recommendations and including comments, when appropriate, made by all concerned, to include both written and oral inputs to the committee and by the panel itself. This section is signed by the chairman but was approved unless otherwise indicated by the members of the panel. It is made available to explain the recommendations and to assist, via suggestions, in their implementation.
The panel recommends approval and implementation both in fact and in spirit of the recommendations made in Section I of this report.
Major General, USA, Retired
CJCS MEDIA-MILITARY RELATIONS PANED (SIDIE PANEL'
The American people must be informed about United States military operations and this information can best be provided through both the news media and the Government. Therefore,
the panel believes it is essential that the U.S. news media cover J.S. military operations to the maximum degree possible consistent with mission security and the safety of U.S. forces.
This principle extends the major "Principle of Information" promulgated by the Secretary of Defense on 1 December 1983, which said:
"It is the policy of the Department of Defense to
It should be noted that the above statement is in
consonance with similar policies publicly stated by cost
former secretaries of defense.
The panel's statement of principle is also generally consistent with the first two paragraphs contained in "A Statement of Principle on Press Access to Military Operations" issued on 10 January 1984 by 10 major news organizations (copy at Enclosure 5). Chese were:
"First, the highest civilian and military officers of the government should reaffirm the historic principle that American journalists, print and broadcast, with their professional equipment, should be present at U.S. military operations. And the news media should reaffira their recognition of the importance of U.S. military mission security and troop safety. When essential, both groups can agree on coverage conditions which satisfy safety and security imperatives while, in keeping with the spirit of the First Amendment, permitting independent reporting to the citizens of our free and open society to whom our government is ultimately accountable.
"Second, the highest civilian and military officers of the U.S. government should reaffirm that military plans should include planning for press access, in keeping with past traditions. The expertise of government public affairs officers during the planning of recent Grenada military operations could have met the interests of both the military and the press, to everyone's benefit."
Application of the panel's principle should be adopted both in substance and in spirit. This will make it possible better to meet the needs of both the military and the media during future military operations. The following recommendations by the panel are designed to help make this happen. They are primarily general in nature in view of the almost endless number of variations in military operations that could occur. However, the panel believes that they provide the necessary flexibility and broad guidance to cover almost all situations.
That public affairs planning for military operations be conducted concurrently with operational planning. This can be assured in the great majority of cases by implementing the following:
a. Review all joint planning documents to assure that JCS guidance in public affairs matters is adequate.
b. When sending implementing orders to Commanders in Chief in the field, direct CINC planners to include consideration of public information aspects.
c. Inform the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) of an impending military operation at the earliest possible time. This information should appropriately come from the Secretary of Defense.
d. Complete the plan, currently being studied, to include a public affairs planning cell in OJOS to help ensure adequate public affairs review of CINC plans.
e. Insofar as possible and appropriate, institutionalize these steps in written guidance or policy.
When it becomes apparent during military operational planning that news media pooling provides the only feasible Beans of furnishing the media with early access to an operation, planning should provide for the largest possible press pool that is practical and minimize the length of time the pool will be necessary before "full coverage" is feasible.