March 19th, 2007 05:25 EST
YouTube showcases Coalition Operations
BAGHDAD — The numbers speak for themselves.
YouTube users around the globe are tuning in for a unique view of the Multi-National Force – Iraq mission. It is the same view those on the ground have during combat and support operations.
Army officials here launched the military coalition’s channel on the popular video-sharing Web site March 7 and, 10 days later, are reporting more than 15,000 channel views and have passed 39,000 total views of the video clips currently posted.
“We launched this channel as a way to help tell the complete story about what coalition forces are doing in Iraq, but even we have been surprised by the high level of interest it has generated,” said Brent Walker, webmaster for www.mnf-iraq.com and the new channel’s supervisor. “It is exciting that people are responding to this footage. It shows people have a genuine interest in developing a more informed perspective on what is happening in Iraq.”
The initiative has attracted attention from several media sources and bloggers across the Internet, which is helping to drive up the channel’s viewership, Walker said.
“There are increasing numbers of people every day receiving their news and information in new and exciting ways. We want to be a part of that, and YouTube provides an excellent vehicle for sending this information to this unique audience,” he said.
The initiative also received strong support from MNF-I leadership and quickly moved from brainstorming sessions to action.
“We want the American public, from an unfiltered vantage point, to be able to see what coalition forces and Iraqi security forces are doing here in Iraq,” said Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, MNF-I spokesman.
Mechanisms are in place so video clips can quickly and accurately be posted to the Web site, while still adhering to operational security requirements, Walker said.
“The clips are chosen by the Combined Press Information Center staff from footage taken around theater by Combat Camera, American Forces Network, and Public Affairs. We intend to expand this to include footage taken first-hand by troops as well,” he said. “We ensure clips present the proper image - that the clips give viewers around the world a ‘boots on the ground’ perspective of Operation Iraqi Freedom from those who are fighting it. The video clips document action as it appeared to personnel on the ground and in the air as it was shot. We will only edit video clips for time, security reasons, or overly disturbing or offensive images.”
Maj. Armando Hernandez, media outreach chief, CPIC, added that clips are selected to show combat action, interesting, eye-catching footage, interaction between Coalition troops and the Iraqi people, and teamwork between Coalition and Iraqi troops in the fight against terror. Clips are screened to ensure they do not show profanity, sexual content, overly graphic, disturbing or offensive material, or footage that mocks Iraqi Security Forces or the citizens of Iraq.
“It is important we utilize this tool to maximum effectiveness,” Hernandez said. “To be successful we need to make available genuine footage from operations in Iraq to anyone, anywhere who is interested in an alternative to traditional, mainstream media.”
“We will update the site when we have an appropriate video to post,” Walker said. “We will try to keep the site fresh and add new items regularly, but we will only add items that meet our prerequisites. We won't add clips just to meet a schedule.”
Access the MNF-I channel on YouTube at: http://youtube.com/mnfiraq, or visit the official Web site at: www.mnf-iraq.com.