U.S. Military Photographers Help Counter Enemy Propaganda and Support American Propaganda

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Photographers in the U.S. military do more than just take pictures—they also assist in providing images that can be used to promote propaganda objectives.


An updated doctrine for combat camera (COMCAM) personnel claims that photographers play important roles in helping win any war. They can “potentially achieve national, theater strategic, and operational level objectives in a manner that lessens the requirement for combat in many situations.”


Furthermore, COMCAM “can counter adversary misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda.”


One example cited in the recently released report comes from Marine Captain Glen Lollar in Afghanistan, who is quoted as saying about the achievements of U.S. combat in Helmand Province, “Despite security progress and a return to normal civilian activity, there was a lack of US national and international awareness of the progress….Combat camera teams were directed to acquire imagery of key districts as the local population moved back to local village areas and business trade resumed. These images were used during dignitary visits and provided to the media to illustrate security progress.”


When local insurgents used photo of civilian casualties to promote hostility against U.S. forces, Pentagon photographers were ordered to provide images of Americans treating injured Afghans.


Images collected by military photographers also play a role in identifying key combatants and “support special reconnaissance,” and can “help commanders gain situational awareness on operations in a way written or verbal reports cannot.”

-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Military Photographers Ready to Deploy Around the Globe (by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News)

Combat Camera: Multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Combat Camera (COMCAM) Operations (Air, Land and Sea Application Center) (pdf)

Military Clashes with U.S. Spies over Outsourcing of Satellite Surveillance (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Justice Dept. Fights to Keep Bin Laden Death Photos and Video Secret (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Reporters Forbidden from Photographing Dead Soldiers in Eastern Afghanistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

No Proof that Abu Ghraib Photos Led to U.S. Military Deaths (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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