American Forces Network (AFN)* Propaganda

English language television and radio programming are provided to the military in Iraq by the American Forces Network (AFN)*, which rebroadcasts the major U.S. networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN and CNN. That means we get to watch normal news, sitcoms, etc.

Unfortunately, there's a catch. AFN puts military commercials onto our televisions in place of the networks' ads for civilian products and services. Along with our American Idol and Desperate Housewives, we get a healthy dose of propaganda.

AFN occasionally airs a commercial that addresses real issues in a normal way. For example, there are spots whose aim is to prevent spousal abuse and drunk driving. But more often, the ads are pretty ridiculous.

Some beg service members and their families to live the perfect military life, or at least re-enlist. They feature corny skits of soldiers wearing perfect smiles and spotless uniforms. The AFN soldiers remind me of the supermodels in civilian magazines, all of their blemishes airbrushed away.

Other commercials show an important appointed official surrounded by service members (again, in perfect uniforms). The official offers us advice, but he's clearly reading the advice from a teleprompter. If the person delivering a message doesn't think it's important enough to memorize, how could AFN possibly think we'll believe the message?

And then there are celebrity commercials, which feature celebrities saying they support the troops -- but doing so in a way that makes it seem like they are completing a parole requirement.

If AFN is going to air these commercials, they should really try to target normal people and offer reasonable advice instead of trying to sell perfection. And it would help if the people who deliver the messages actually believed what they were saying (or at least acted like it).

-- Written 4/11

*As pointed out by a commenter AFN was incorrectly dubbed Armed Forces Network. American Forces Network is the correct nomenclature and was corrected.

Bert Stover

By Bert Stover |  April 27, 2006; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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Comments

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Hi Bert--it's the Canuck that wants to buy you a beer.--Man I do think; you are starting to become a 'Real Soldier'. All that phony crap, but don't forget, inside yourself you know what is right(or wrong).
Keep a tight A/Hole and your head down pal and God Bless you. What kind of beer do you like? My honour to buy.

Posted by: Hap Stokes | April 27, 2006 01:37 AM

Bert,
One of the few times I really missed commerical TV was during the last superbowl. I am not an avid football fan, but I usually watch the game in part for the commericals. This year AFN aired commerical after commerical telling us how much the folks back home appreciate what we are doing here. I think they ran the same commericals 10 times during the game.
Matt in Afghanistan

Posted by: If you liked the AFN commericals wait till the superbowl | April 27, 2006 07:33 AM

ALL: It is obvious that this Che does not really understand the intent of this blog! He/she does extensive cut-and-paste rather than having an original post. I liken him/her to what a visiting Pastor to my Church a short while back who quoted an amazing piece of statistics...he said, "there are about 20% of Pastors who regularly participate in viewing child porn on their computers". It is done in the privacy of their homes, etc and no one "really" knows these people's "dark side".
I believe Che is just like these "20% folks...he/she appears to be unloved and just plain bitter with life. There are very serious problems in Washington and politicians tend to lie...but that is NOT THE INTENT OF THIS POST! Join an anti-politician chat room if that is what you want to talk about. This Patriot has this blog to enlighten us back home about life in this theater of war! So I vowed to ignore any and all of Che's "pastes"...not post!
Now back to the intent of the Chief...
Enjoying the read and the comment of legitimate Americans who are really rooting for you and those on the "Wall"! Stay safe and keep us informed...your report are far more believable than those networks.

Posted by: Joe | April 27, 2006 07:55 AM

Even without official news we also get very heavy doses of propaganda. Before and since the invasion of Iraq, probably the most disasterous blunder in US history, we have been fed an unending series of preposterous and transparent lies. Still, I understand that the AFN must be even worse, thus all the talk about "the mission" and "a job to do" as though the war were rational, justified, legal, or helpful to the United States. Cheney and his gang have put us in grave danger. Take care and do the right thing.

Posted by: Ron | April 27, 2006 08:25 AM

Propaganda has always had a place in war. How else to convince human beings to sacrifice their own self interest for the greater good? In this case, though, there is no greater good. This war is bad news for Iraq, bad news for the world, and very bad news for the United States. No amount of deceitful propaganda can permanently obscure its disasterous outcome or effectively hide the horrendous results yet to be felt. It is sad that people like Cheney who hold real power can manipulate the patriotism and sense of duty felt by many Americans, all for their own arrogant and greedy purposes.

Posted by: Alan | April 27, 2006 08:56 AM

Bert, it was very heartening to read your post this morning. While i've always been fascinated at the propaganda emanating from American network news and TV (and wondered how so may Americans-and Canadians can lap it up), it gives me much encouragement that you not only recognize it in the AFN, but you write about it in this blog. You reinforce the notion that this blog isnt just about the day in and day out grind of life in a war zone, but also about all the ingredients that go into creating and sustaining that effort, which always relies on some level of propaganda. So huge big up to you for articulating that in this forum. I also recently read that online users in the zone are now unable to access many blog and websites (like talkingpointsmemo.com, Atrios, and others. Can you confirm this?

Many thanks, Bert for the ongoing dialogue and keep yourself safe.

Posted by: dave | April 27, 2006 09:53 AM

First, I am a vet and proud of it as are 3 of my brothers.

I am very sick and tired of the administration using service men/women to bolster its point of view. These folks are not free to express their true opinions. Some agree with the administration but some do not.
From prior experience, I know that these folks have no choice, they have to follow orders.

Posted by: Bob Ramos | April 27, 2006 10:02 AM

Over in Afganistan blogs and forums are blocked on the government network. The commercial internet access that Service Members and Civilians can buy for their B-Huts have access to blogs, but they try to filter most adult sites.

Posted by: Dan | April 27, 2006 10:03 AM

Dan, thanks for that. What about politcal blogs, particularly those critical of the US gov't handling of the war effort? Can you confirm that they block (some of) them too?

Posted by: dave | April 27, 2006 10:10 AM

I am Sergeant First Class Mark Friend, currently stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China. I would like to comment on CW2 Bert Stover's blog about AFN "Propaganda". I think Chief Stover missed the mark concerning AFN commercials. I agree that the majority are cheesy in their production, and the acting is terrible, but one must look at the message - not the packaging. The people in the commercials are soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, NOT actors. So they are going to look and sound like soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines trying to act. Something they were never trained to do. Also, AFN can't afford to pour the kind of money that civilian companies like Nike and Budweiser pour in their commercials that make them look so slick and cool.

Most importantly, the messages these commercials carry are not propaganda. They reflect the very ideals on which our country was established. If encouraging service members to have integrity and honor in all we do or to respect one another is considered propaganda; then is "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", also propaganda? No, they are ideals that we strive to live. They are standards by which we may measure the actions in our lives. It's our ideals and the desire to make them real that makes the United States the best all-around country in the world. Notice I did not say "perfect". We are a long way from perfection. However, I dare say we hold ourselves to the highest standards in the world, and that's why we are a GREAT nation.

So I ask you to focus less on the officer that is trained to lead service members into battle, doing a poor job reading a teleprompter, and focus more on the content of the message. It's the ideals espoused in those messages that inspire men and women to rise up and become part of something greater than themselves.

Posted by: SFC Mark Friend | April 27, 2006 10:31 AM

History tells us that propaganda will only survive, and be effective, if there are those (in and out of the sponsoring gov't) who support and repeat the propaganda.

Posted by: dave | April 27, 2006 10:36 AM

Oh, and SFC Mark Friend, could you quantify for all of us why America is a 'greater' country than, say, Great Britian, Canada, Norway, or Spain?

Does having the mightiest, most expensive military in the world make it "the best all-round country" in the world?

Posted by: dave | April 27, 2006 10:55 AM

"Most importantly, the messages these commercials carry are not propaganda. They reflect the very ideals on which our country was established."

Oh really? I don't think so. If they reflected the ideals on which our country was established they would be dedicated to exposing and opposing the extent to which the current administration chooses to manipulate people's love for our country in order to further their illegal invasions and conquests.

If they reflected the ideals on which our country was established they would be dedicated to exposing and opposing the radical departure of the current administration from over two centuries of checks and balances. They are transforming our country from over fifty years of promoting the rule of law in international affairs to the rogue state that we have become, a promoter of kidnappings, secret prisons, and torture, like the fascist and communist dictatorships that we once opposed.

Posted by: Phil | April 27, 2006 11:08 AM

I am a retired AF vet and have friends from all services both retired and those who severed their enlistments with distinction. One of the funniest stories told to me was from a Marine vet who served during the periods of the Korean conflict and the Viet Nam war.
He said that the Marines would have a parade with all the regalia. At he end of the parade, when all the marines were pumped with enthuesiasm, a patriotic spirit
and ready to fight anyone, the would pass the 1st Sgts who had set-up tables for those who wanted to reenlist. Of course, they were very successful. Who wouldn't want to sign-up after all of that.

Posted by: LEO A BOYLE III | April 27, 2006 11:12 AM

the United States the best all-around country in the world???

How come we in the world's richest country lack the economic protections, the universal health care, the multi-party democracy that other wealthy countries have? How come we lag far behind the other wealthy countries in education and health care, in infant mortality and in disease prevention? How come we have income disparities far greater than the other wealthy countries? How come we lag in every quality-of -life index?

Hint: Why come our military spending is greater than that of the rest of the world combined? SFC Mark Friend apparently watches too much TV propaganda. As we all should realize, the more you watch the less you know. The war system is a scam that rips us all off.

Posted by: Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs | April 27, 2006 11:16 AM

Well Bert, I can't say I'm surprised. On the other hand, what can you expect? AFN as part of the military apparatus has to reflect the commander in chief's view. They are not going to say that the war sucks and you folks have been suckered. On the bright side, no one can take away your ability to evaluate the message for yourself and make your own determination as to whether what you are being fed through AFN is true or a bunch of BS. For better or worse, once you joined the military, you also accepted the fact that the military is not a democracy and that you accepted giving up some of your rights in order to protect ours (for that I'm really grateful). So, take what you hear with a large grain of salt and just realize that AFN is doing much the same as you - doing their best to follow their orders even when they might not understand them or even agree with them. Thanks for doing what you're doing. I appreciate your sacrafice.

Posted by: James | April 27, 2006 11:22 AM

Dave,

I'll try to address your questions.

1. I didn't say American was "greater" than the other countries you mentioned. If you go back to my original post, I stated that America is A "great" nation. I'm not implying that America is "greater".

2. What I meant by "the best all-around country" is that I believe America provides the best opportunities for anyone, no matter how humble their station in life, to better their lot. I wish you could see the long, long lines of Chinese people at the embassy trying to get a visa to come to America. I think it speaks volumes, in a positive way, about our country.

3. There are numberous watchdog organizations and mainstream media like the Washington Post that expose the wrong doings of politicians and corporate executives everyday. Thats why Abu Gharib prison was shut down. That's why congress is demanding to see the tax records of petroleum companies, just to give two examples. Besides, the military is not designed to "expose and oppose" administrations. That's the job of congress and our nation's citizens.

Also, I don't believe we are a rogue nation. If you will remember, the U.N. passed two resolutions authorizing Coalition Forces to invade Iraq. So International Law was on our side when we and the other coalition countries went in.

I hope I've been clearer and have not offended you. I do respect your opinion. In fact, I am sworn to defend it.

Posted by: SFC Mark Friend | April 27, 2006 11:48 AM

Bert -- What would lend a little balance and still be beneficial for morale would be your own version of A2C Adrian Cronauer yelling, "Good morning, IRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAQ!!!" (check out http://www.manchu.org/sounds/gmv.ram for the original AFVN cut) --That, and a little sweetness like "A Date with Chris (Noel)".

Posted by: Vietnam Vet | April 27, 2006 11:52 AM

SFC Mark Friend,

I apreciate your post, and explanation.

History is rich with 'great' nations who, for whatever reasons, leverage their 'greatness' to export, and in many cases, impose it on other nations/peoples. I didnt mean to imply that the US was worse than thos i mentioned earlier, its just that this notion of greatness oozes from every corner of American culture. As noted above by several post-ers, there are many many areas in which the US lags behind other countries. Cheney, Rummy & co. and your country's leaders constantly invoke this percieved 'greatness' when explaining, for example, the march to war.

I dont know what other countries you have lived in/visited, but I would hesitate to agree with the notion that America offers the best opportunities for anyone, regardless of their lot in life. Many countries have much stronger social safety nets to help those who cannot find work, and I would argue thats a good thing (for the counrty and those living/struggling in it).

Bottom line, any country, or leader who professes to be the greatest ususally (through their hubris and confidence) causes great damage to the subjects of that imposed greatness. Wouldnt you agree that Cheney and Rumsfeld's hubris and pride caused lousy planning and enourmous suffering for your armed forces and the people of Iraq?

Posted by: dave | April 27, 2006 12:03 PM

"Also, I don't believe we are a rogue nation. If you will remember, the U.N. passed two resolutions authorizing Coalition Forces to invade Iraq."

This Bush version of history is ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE. The Security Council EXPRESSLY REFUSED to authorize the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Iraq despite weeks of bullying and the lies of Colin Powell.

Posted by: Check your facts | April 27, 2006 12:04 PM

"If you will remember, the U.N. passed two resolutions authorizing Coalition Forces to invade Iraq."

"Facts" like this are precisely the intended effect of the relentless untrue propaganda to which we are subjected, whether by AFN, Fox, or any of the other mouthpieces of the powerful. The more you watch, the less you know.

Posted by: Check your facts | April 27, 2006 12:12 PM

SFC Mark Friend, doesn't it bother you to know that the Cheney bunch took us to a war in which we have lost thousands of killed and wounded under false pretenses? That they lied about virtually every aspect of the circumstances that they manipulated to get us involved in a blunder of historical proportions for which many thousands more will die and for which we, our children, and our grandchildren will have to pay? That they express no remorse for the damage they have done to our country nor for the tens of thousands of Iraqi dead, wounded, widowed, and displaced? That our reputation is of an arrogant and brutal power that lies, kidnaps, bombs, kills,and tortures without justification?

Posted by: Check your facts | April 27, 2006 12:26 PM

I'm an Army vet (enlisted and commissioned), proud of it, etc. While I consider myself somewhat immune to propaganda, I think that we should seek to keep people in the service as long as we can. Afterall, we have paid a lot of money to get them proficient in the things that they do. If someone is really swayed by a cheesy commercial on AFN, well, better the Army than private industry.

I resigned commission in 2002; it looked like a good idea at the time.

On a different note, does anyone remember the AFN Grill Sargeant commercials about cook out safety. An absolute hoot.

Posted by: Tom Canick | April 27, 2006 02:15 PM

Ahh.. yes. The old "Yes Grill Sergeant! "

That was a hoot.

Serioulsy, as a former "71R Broadcast Journalist" from the early 1980's, now retired after a 21 year military career in the active and Guard, I can tell you that producing those 30 second spots is never easy.

As a lanky young 22 year old PFC in Germany working with others likewise situated, often times we were tossed a general idea of something to create, and then left to use our imagination to create them. We got to make the stuff up (creative juices), film it, edit it, and put it on the air. Sometimes on short notice.

For example- the General would see that someone got killed on a motorcyle.

The next day, an order flowed down to AFN to create a motor cycle safety spot and get it on the air in the next few days.

Sometimes we did good.

Sometimes it was less than a stellar production.

Always, though, we enjoyed trying our best to be creative to bring you, the soldier, information that you could use, or information that your commander wanted you to have. And try to communicate it to you in a way that you would enjoy.

"Yess, GRILL SERGEANT". That was a classic.

Posted by: Jim (PFC, AFN 1983-1987) | April 27, 2006 02:41 PM

SFC Mark Friend wrote:

"I do respect your opinion. In fact, I am sworn to defend it."

And thank you, Mark, for defending it so well. Regardless of my personal feelings of disgust about this president and his administration, I have great faith in the men and women of the Armed Forces to continue to defend my right to express my views openly and freely. If this nation is indeed "great," it is because its citizens have the right of free expression, a right that must be defended at all costs.

Thanks to all of you who are unable to be at home with your families and loved ones. Know that your sacrifices for us are deeply appreciated, whatever our politics may be.

Posted by: Buck the liberal dog | April 27, 2006 02:43 PM

Since it was blocked he first time by the Post, let me restate this in a different way. I have first hand knowledge that our military organizes group visits to Holland and other European countries for troops about to be deployed to Iraq and Afganistan. This is a part of a group bonding psychological program initiated under the Bush administration. Would you care to verify this? What similar programs are being used to brainwash recruits?

Posted by: Mike | April 27, 2006 02:44 PM

Specifically, and I am trying to ge tthis trough the Posts censors, those groups are sent to and provided funds for visits to brothels.

Posted by: Mike | April 27, 2006 02:46 PM

While it's nice to see that there is some awareness among the military that they are being propagandized, I'll really be impressed when the 85% of our service members in Iraq that think they are there to "retaliate for Saddam's role in 9/11" figure out that they've been had. That's exactly what a Zogby survey of military members found about a month ago.

While they are only about 30% more misinformed on this than the average Bush voter (52% in October 2004), it is sad how badly we have brainwashed our people in uniform these days.

Posted by: b2o | April 27, 2006 02:56 PM

The link to that Zogby poll (on the Saddam-9/11 delusion infecting our Armed Forces):

http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1075

Posted by: b2o | April 27, 2006 02:58 PM

I personally feel insulted when somebody tries to "sell" me a point of view and I immediately begin to question both the underlying truth and motive. We've all been "propagandized" by this administration and there are alot of angry people as a result. We will all go through a healing process, and hopefully it will be smoother than the recovery from Vietnam. Hang in there, and keep thinking for yourself. I pity the folks that swallow it "hook, line, and sinker".

Posted by: Bryan | April 27, 2006 03:15 PM

Dear Servicemembers: Work on your Spanish. You may need it to try to get a job when you return.

Posted by: Franco Fujberg | April 27, 2006 03:28 PM

As a longtime military spouse, I know alot of soldiers and none of them seem bothered by commercials. Maybe they are too concerned about their families, their own safety, and idiot democrats. Imagine your biggest issue is a commercial that is trying to boost moral. Yet, you secretly yearn for the Burger King guy?
I will send your column to the men and women overseas so they can get a good laugh. I think knowing that there is such a superficial person around actually wasting space and time about commercials will help them. I guess they are just smarter than you and use the commercials to get food, go to the bathroom, and talk to the person next to them.

Posted by: Karen | April 27, 2006 03:31 PM

Er...Karen, Chief Bert Stover IS one of the "men and women overseas". In fact he's in Iraq right now flying choppers.

Normally, Bush-cultists like you turn up here to shout their support for Bert Stover.

But today you're calling him a "superficial person". Why? Because he dared to express his opinion.

Just one more thing. I'd like to echo CheckYourFacts who rightly corrected SFC Mark Friend.

There was no UN resolution authorising the invasion of Iraq. That would be a Chapter Seven resolution. None was made.

The UN Security Council specifically refused to approve an invasion of Iraq. A large majority of members were opposed.

Posted by: OD | April 27, 2006 03:57 PM

"I guess they are just smarter than you and use the commercials to get food, go to the bathroom, and talk to the person next to them."

I wouldn't say that someone who needs a commercial to tell them how to go to the bathroom is necessarily very smart.

Posted by: OD | April 27, 2006 03:59 PM

Karen!

Thats some kinda 'support'

Your husband may need to run for cover if his fellow soldiers find out his wife posted that!

Posted by: dave | April 27, 2006 04:08 PM

Memo to Karen: 10 out of 11 service members returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom" and running for Congress are doing so as Democrats. Sounds like they may be faster learners than you. Don't you people ever get tired of being lied to? Find some self-esteem.

Posted by: b2o | April 27, 2006 04:10 PM

And, Karen, don't ever get the idea that people out here who opposed Bush's adventure in Iraq do not support those troops. I think of those young men and women as hero's, the very best and bravest we have, who are being misused by a cynical bunch of politician's in a game to see who can win the most points. I detest the Democrats, but I simply loathe Bush and his people. Neiher seems to be very aware that no policy we impose, nothing we do, nothing we can do, will make any difference in Iraq. It's broken. We broke it, but we cannot put it back together again. Iraq is doomed to fragment into a number of warring factions and all out civil war whenever we leave, this next week or 100 years from now. Without a strong arm thug to hold it together, it will disintegrate. That thug, today, appears to be the Shiites. The Mahdi Militia is invading Kurdish communities in the North in an attempt to halt Turkey's infiltration of Turkmen militia who are there to halt Kurdish designs on establishing a homeland. Right now, I have reports from Kurdish friends, that the center for the civil war is moving North and the level of violence and the introduction of Turkish and Iranian troops is a genuine threat....with our troops right in the middle.

Posted by: Mike | April 27, 2006 04:23 PM

The Kurds are our only true friends in Iraq.

Posted by: John | April 27, 2006 05:04 PM

Re Mike's comments, Mosul and Kirkuk are sectarian timebombs. The trouble in the centre of Iraq will seem minor if the northern Kurds try to secede, or if arguments over northern oil revenues turn to violence.
The current Shia-Sunni violence is just a dress rehearsal for the real thing. One day the Kurdish issue is going to explode.
US troops would best be off the scene before that happens, or there's going to be one hell of a mess.

Posted by: OD | April 27, 2006 05:31 PM

White House ideas for cutting back the VA, including making vets pay insurance premiums, higher co-pays and doubling Vets' costs for prescription drugs, have been beaten back by Congress. One VA response to its huge backlog of claims has been to limit enrollment for its services. In January, 2003, the White House ordered the VA to create a new temporary cost-cutting category of "affluent" vets who would not be eligible to use the VA. But the new category seems headed for permanency. And it sets the cut-off level for eligibility for VA care so low -- around $30,000 for a so-called "affluent" family of four -- that many vets who have been cut off can't possibly afford health insurance and medical care on the private market.


LINK TO ARTICLE:

http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=80291

Posted by: Check your facts | April 27, 2006 09:18 PM

I worked for the Armed Forces Radio for twenty years. The mission of the world's largest network is simple. Command information. The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service is the Voice of the military. Pure and simple. Years ago when I was in Vietnam, all heck broke loose over news censorship. As a result, it was "The Will of The Congress" that the Armed Forces Radio remember that even though the folks listening were in uniform, they were, never-the-less, American Citizens and protected by the Constitution from "news management."
You have to remember, the the public service announcements you see (or hear) take the place of commercial announcements that are in that space. If there were no PSA's you would be enjoying a few minutes of dead air.
Kindest Regards and thanks for you service over there.
Cal

Posted by: Cal | April 27, 2006 10:37 PM

Karen, how does that "hook, line and sinker" taste? I see you do swallow.

Posted by: Bryan | April 28, 2006 06:50 AM

Apologies to Jim, the PFC from AFN, for not getting back on line. Every now and again (OK, everytime I use my grill), I shout out, "Yes, Grill Sargeant!" Cheesey or not, the message has stuck with me. So, it was indeed an effective and therefore good public service message. Without AFN, I would have been a bigger alki at 21 than I was.

To Karen, the dependent: you revolt me. I expect that you will live an unrewarding life, saying things like, "Think about it!", "Those democrats are traitors!" and "Why did my husband(s) leave me?!?" As a younger officer, I hated dependents. They were a big reason that younger soldiers had problems. As an older officer I saw dependents as a necessary evil. Necessary to keep people in the service, yet still an evil.

Posted by: Tom Canick | April 28, 2006 11:48 AM

MILITARY PROPAGANDA (PSAs) COMMERCIALS: I loved those cheesey "Grill Sergeant" commercials, hated the PSAs and truly enjoyed the few times AFN & SCN let a real commercial slip through! To Warriors overseas, especially when deployed, the silly talking toilet bowl brush commericals beat the best PSA anyday.

AFN/SCN TV: When I was stationed in Germany in the late 70s, we got old British comedies like Benny Hill & Monty Python (that only now I have grown to love). It was all B&W, came on at 1100 and off at 2300; and the morning's programming was what was shown the night before. Last summer I saw the many changes & channels that AFN Europe has now, 30 years later and was flabbergasted at how times have changed -- great news for all who have access!

KAREN: You are truly the example of why family member spouses get a bad name.

POLITICS & THE WAR: Sadly many politicians, regardless of their party, forget why they were elected. Cheney lies; Bush is too stubborn and egotistical; Rumsfeld really needs to retire. BUT who will be running next time? from either party? The next presidential election cannot come soon enough! Let's hope we're not voting for the "lesser of two evils" again!

I support my fellow Warriors of all services and components, but NOT the war. I have little sympathy for the civilians that volunteer to go there and then snivel about being there; have NO sympathy for journalists that get in the way, compromise Warriors' safety and won't wear the chin straps on their helmets resulting in additional and unnecessary injuries due to that "TV image".

Bert, you write great reports... you and many others who fight for the freedom of speech and Our Country have the right to speak candidly!

Stay safe
A retired Army Sergeant Major

Posted by: RW7 | April 28, 2006 02:50 PM

Four years agon I was in Germany and AFN was running entertainment programs about a season behind their original airing in the US. They also ran a spot occasionally that explained that they were prohibited from showing "real" commercial. They never did say why they couldn't air a show in its entirety and then a few minutes of news. I would have preferred that to the overplyaed, goofy, low production value, grammatically incorrect PSAs that did air.

It was nice to have American TV, though.
God bless all the Americans in harm's way defending us.

Posted by: No Fan of Propaganda | April 28, 2006 09:07 PM

As a Reservist my MOS is a 46R40. As such, I've also been to Baghdad (Green Zone) and enjoyed the one year of "Boots on the Ground," So I can appreciate your rhetoric about AFRTS and AFN.

As a matter of fact, I have had duty for SRTV and I've done some stuff for AFN. In Baghdad, regular MPAD soldiers usually put together the "infomercials" or "PSA's".

But unlike helicopter pilots who have an endless supply of fuel, those soldiers who produce those pieces usually have small budgets to produce them. Unfortunately, because of time restraints and deadlines they grab any extra personnel they can for use in those pieces.
As you can image in a war zone that's pretty limited even if they are produced somewhere else, the budget is still the same and its due next week. The result is they are quite restrictive and seldom allow for anything really sophisticated; yes, sometimes they are redundant. So I understand better then most why those infomercials are the way they are.

But you're your comments that they are propaganda, - is misplaced. I think you're missing the point. AFRTS and AFN -(Armed Forces Radio and Television Service-/-Armed Forces Network)- is supposed to support Command information.
As any soldier knows, CI is informative and is the voice of the military. It was never meant to support commercials that Budweiser can brag about.
But to compare them to Grobbels Nazi Germany or Stalin's Russia of their grand plan of using "propaganda" by fooling the masses is a stretch and it's insulting.

Pure and simple Chief Stover, -deal with it and quit whining, ...remember you are in a war zone?
-At least you have radio and TV.
Sgtbilly-

Posted by: Hey Chief; | May 17, 2006 08:13 AM

the networks above mentioned are very liberal biased. I think that is a shame to show all the bad news and liberal propaganda to our fellow troops overseas.

Posted by: MSGT NH | May 17, 2006 01:24 PM

Bert Stover,

It's obvious that you have no clue what you're talking about, especially when you don't even do any research. If you'd have done any research at all, you'd know that AFN stands for American Forces Network, and you'd know why they don't use civilian commercials. Most of the commercials that they do use are made by the soldiers themselves, not corporate professionals with 20+ years experience. Pull your head from your third point of contact, and get a life.

Kresh

Posted by: Cory Koresh | May 23, 2006 06:05 AM

I work for AFN doing spots/tv news stories. It's impossible to get the point you've made across to those in charge. Rooting out pocket cells of efficiency or innovation in the ranks is common practice. Why? Because any changes that might threaten to overshadow or surpass a senior nco or commander's knowledge could minimize his importance. If something ever actually gets "high speed" it becomes more difficult to exert complete control over it. It is too great a risk to their career to trust in the capability of a common soldier. Secondly, their role in broadcasting is secondary to their military identity. Put em' in Vegas with 4 drinks in them, and they won't wonder "did I lock the car?" instead it's "did I secure my vehicle" They're so rigid, they can't be subjective or original in even the most relaxed situation. You know this if you've been to a military concert. 300 uniforms standing in one spot with sporadic toe tapping and head nodding. The wildest of the bunch occasionally yelling out a "whoooooo!" So that leaves us stuck with what these guys learned in school about broadcasting 14 years ago or 2nd hand. I do get to be more creative than I expected (I write all my spots) but I've had two yanked off the air so far. One that I appeared in only aired for about a month. Not too many times. That's been months ago but people still see me and joke and laugh and tell me they really liked it. We've been told "our mission is not entertainment, it's command information" I think we could do both. You refer to the spots as being between civilian programming. To these guys its the other way around. In related news, DVD sales continue to soar among the military stationed abroad. This AFN News!

Posted by: Iknow | May 23, 2006 07:33 AM

Has anyone mentioned that AFN is not allowed by the entertainment industry and the host nations where US troops serve to show commercials? The real ones, that advertise products?

Radio and TV programming is supplied to AFN at a fraction of the costs that civilian stations must pay for programming, and is intended as a "morale booster" to the deployed troops. The contracts that AFN signs with the program production companies forbids advertising any product, goods or services - AFN is a not-for-profit operation, unlike all commercial civilian radio and TV networks/stations that charge advertisers for airing commercials.

The host nations that air AFN (and it is still available "over-the-air" in most locations) also forbid AFN to advertise any products, goods or services that would compete with their own internal broadcasting companies.

So, Bert, what would you rather have - an hour-long TV show that really only runs 48 minutes sans "commercials" or (as you put it) "AFN Propaganda", or dead air for 3-4 minutes several times during a program where the commercials that AFN is forbidden to air would be?

Besides, what part of American "Forces" Network do you not understand? It's a military operation....

Gary Hall
Ex Army Broadcaster

Posted by: Gary Hall | May 24, 2006 12:15 PM

Karen... I appreciate the dedication that you have for your Husband and His Comrades. Never let that go. Be proud of a patriot who will do the job he was commisioned to do even though the mainstream media has a propaganda blog like this one. They're included in our Freedoms. And yes I think our Country is the greatest in the world. We could change America by just giving in to the Democrats!
OKAY, here's the plan:
Back off and let those men who want to marry men, marry men.
Allow those women who want to marry women, marry women.
Allow those folks who want to abort their babies, abort their babies.
In three generations, there will be no Democrats!!!
I love it when a plan comes together.
God Bless America & the President & the Military and their Families.
Bryan..."hook, line and sinker" and it tastes good. RJ Army 68-71

Posted by: RJ | June 22, 2006 04:33 AM

After 20 plus years in military broadcasting I will try my utmost to be objective in response to Mr. Stover's blurb on the American Forces Network and it's use of command information (tall order to be sure). Stover says the command information spots he sees and hears on AFN are propaganda (no doubt generated in some grand propaganda mill somewhere deep in the bowels of the military establishment that he seems to dislike). All I know is that hundreds of dedicated professionals labor day and night to bring him the most unbiased, uncensored and truely comprehensive snapshot of American life in the free world. The offerings on AFN are unrivaled in diversity and breath. The fact that time is given to commanders and their staffs to communicate what they deem important is something Mr. Stover should relish and not ridicule. His brothers and sisters in arms are working for him. What is he doing for them?

Posted by: AFN For Life (nippytuck) | July 3, 2006 02:35 PM

I could not be objective. Tried and failed. But boy do I feel better.

Posted by: AFN For Life (nippytuck) | July 3, 2006 02:37 PM

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