MoD reveals first details of media pools for Iraq war

Brown: “won’t be like Gulf War”

Details of the first journalists to be attached to the armed forces are beginning to emerge as Britain and the US prepare for war with Iraq.

Around 100 journalists have been offered places attached to the British armed forces in the event of war. The deadline for applications from the press closed last week.

Journalists with the armed forces have to go through a hostile environment training course, including biological and chemical warfare training, and are supplied with safety equipment. They are also trained in how to respond under interrogation and will be regarded as officers, although they will not be required to wear uniforms.

The BBC has confirmed that Ben Brown will be “embedded” in a British Army unit in Kuwait and Gavin Hewitt with US Army Infantry, also in Kuwait.

Brown said he thought 24-hour news press restrictions for broadcast journalists would be less of an issue than during the Gulf War.

“We will have two satellite dishes and will be doing a lot of live stuff,” said Brown, who is on 48-hour standby. “We will be out with them so we will know what information is militarily sensitive, but with the amount we will be doing it won’t be like the old days, when they could have more easily stopped things they didn’t like going out.”

Sky News’s Emma Hurd, who is swapping her Washington correspondent post with Middle East reporter Andrew Wilson, will be with the Ministry of Defence hub in Kuwait. Wilson has been taken ill.

Regional and national press name their war teams

The embedded Sky team includes Greg Milam with British infantry; David Bowden with the Royal Marines; and Richard Bestic with the RAF. James Forlong is already with the Royal Navy.

For ITV News, correspondents including Bill Neely and Andrea Catherwood will be posted with key military outfits. ITV News will have Juliet Bremner and Geraint Vincent on the frontline with the British Army. Tim Ewart and Romilly Weeks will also be reporting directly from the frontline.

Neely will be with the Royal Marines, Catherwood with the RAF, Mark Webster will report from the Turkish/Iraqi border and Tim Rogers will be in Israel. Robert Moore will lead ITV’s coverage from Washington and the UN, supported by Adrian Britton.

Defence correspondent Kevin Dunn will report on the military briefings in Qatar and political editor Nick Robinson will be based in London.

According to an MoD source, slots with the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and RAF have been given to 40 broadcast, 40 national newspaper and 20 regional newspaper journalists.

The Army has room for 80 journalists, the Royal Navy and Marines 40 and the RAF eight.

Around 15 internal allocations have also been made to MoD staff to accompany the forces.

The journalists will have to have taken part in a hostile environment course, and must hold valid international vaccination certificates to make the final selection. The guidelines they will be expected to follow while with the armed forces are still being drawn up by the MoD.

National newspapers have already conscripted their pool position recruits. Those named to go at this stage include:

The Independent and Independent on Sunday: Terri Judd and Paul Peachy. The Guardian: Audrey Gillan, Jamie Wilson and photographer Dan Chung. The Observer: Paul Harris and Burhan Wazir. Daily Mail: Nick Craven, Neil Sears and photographer Bruce Adams. The Mail on Sunday: Sarah Oliver. Evening Standard: Valentine Lowe. Daily Mirror: Tom Newton Dunn, Harry Arnold and photographers Ian Vogler and James Vellacott. Financial Times: Matt Garrahan and Charles Clover, currently in Kuwait, who will be embedded with US Military. Daily Express: photographer Jonathan Buckmaster and Greg Swift. Sunday Express: Tim Shipman plus one other.

The Daily Telegraph: Tim Butcher, Stewart Payne, Ian Jones and photographer Paul Grover. The Sunday Telegraph: David Harrison and Martin Bentham. The Sun: Michael Lea, Paul Thompson, Nick Parker, photographers Marc Giddings and Terry Richards. The Times: Patrick Barkham, David Sharrock and photographer Simon Walker. The Sunday Times: Jonathan Ungoed Thomas and Jonathan Calvert. News of the World: Chris Bucktin and photographers Jamie Jones and Brian Roberts.

Regional press reporters scheduled for duty include: The News, Portsmouth: Richard Hargreaves. Western Daily Press: Richard Edwards and photographer Jon Mills. Birmingham Evening Mail: Jon Griffin. Manchester Evening News: Martin Dillon. Eastern Daily Press: Mark Nicholls. Express & Star, Wolverhampton: Keith Harrison and photographer Alan Evans. Evening Star, Ipswich: James Fraser-Andrews.

By Wale Azeez

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