On Tuesday, we’ll be “wheels up” on another trip to a war zone embedded with soldiers from Joint Base Lewis McChord.
Military reporter Adam Ashton and photographer Peter Haley plan to spend six weeks in Afghanistan with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division in Zabul Province and with I Corps in Kabul. This will be The News Tribune’s eighth military embed since 2003, our first to Afghanistan.
Ashton and Haley are veteran war correspondents.
Haley has been to Iraq as part of three TNT embeds. He calls them “the most fascinating assignments of my career.”
Ashton served twice in the McClatchy Newspapers Baghdad bureau before he joined our staff in 2010. However, this trip will be different.
Ashton’s earlier work centered on Iraqi politics and everyday life in a battered city. He lived and worked in a hotel outside Baghdad’s Green Zone and worked with Iraqi journalists “who wanted America to understand how the war impacted their countrymen,” he said.
“This will be my first time to spend weeks on end living in close quarters with soldiers,” Ashton said. “It’ll give me a better sense of what they value, how they cope with challenges and what experiences they’ll bring home.”
The embed will inform Ashton’s coverage even after he gets back because he will have experienced – albeit for a short time – what life is like for soldiers on the ground.
Lewis-McChord has a large and growing imprint in Afghanistan, with about 4,700 soldiers there today and nearly 5,800 more on their way. Most will serve in the southern provinces Ashton and Haley will visit.
Our local soldiers are supervising the international coalition of forces, partnering with the Afghan army and preparing for the annual summer fighting season. We won’t try to tell the big-picture, geo-political story of the war but will focus instead on the work our soldiers do day-in and day-out.
In addition to reading their stories and seeing the pictures in the newspaper, you can follow our team live on our military blog, FOB Tacoma. We hope to produce more videos from the field on this trip, including live chats with Ashton and Haley. Watch for them at thenewstribune.com.
As always, these staff members volunteered for the embed.
On Friday, we did a final check of protective gear, communications equipment and life insurance. We know their itinerary, and they know to stay in close touch. We thanked them for taking this assignment and reminded them of its importance. As long as we have soldiers overseas, we should do our best to tell their story.
But like the tens of thousands of military families about to send their loved ones into a war zone, we urged them (repeatedly) to be careful. And we pray for their safe return.
The Doonesbury strips appearing on this week’s comics pages are alternate panels.
The original panels carried a story line about a Texas law that requires women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion. While cartoonist Gary Trudeau often satirizes political issues of the day, we found the content of this series too graphic for our comics page.
We have posted the original panels on our website at thenewstribune.com/ae/comics/.
Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434