There are few reporting assignments to compare with being on the frontline of a war zone with a military unit. It is exciting, exhilarating and also dangerous. For more than two decades, western forces, particularly British and US troops, have been in constant action deployed in war zones, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. There has never been a busier time to be a defence correspondent and experience at ﬁrst hand the challenges faced by soldiers, air force personnel and Royal Navy crews in the face of a hostile foe. Yet to be able to function eﬀectively in such an environment and to deliver
relevant and meaningful reports to an audience/readership takes an enormous amount of care and preparation. To be a successful defence correspondent or war reporter requires physical and mental preparation combined with the acquired knowledge and experience that will enable a journalist to perform to the best of their ability and be able to report the story with balance, depth and maturity. But it goes far beyond reporting from the raw edge of the military theatre.
There are stories back home: from the training of the troops or air crew; the survival of a base that may be under threat of closure from defence cuts, and the wider impact of its loss on that community; policy decisions; and the basic groundwork of contact building and getting to know the units that you may link up with in the future. Above all, there is the human story – tales of courage and survival in the face of danger and adversity and the harrowing toll of serious injury and death on the troops, the units, and the families and loved ones left behind. There is a need for honest, accurate, factual reporting combined with humanity, understanding and sensitivity. This all comes under the remit of a defence correspondent.