Here's an overview of my itinerary:
- Northwest Airlines: Minneapolis, Amsterdam, Kuwait City
- Meet SSG Bravo (not his real name), a tall white guy with a short haircut wearing civilian clothes at Starbucks in the Kuwait Airport (I'm not making this up).
- He'll take care of clearing me through Kuwait and putting me on a C-130 to Baghdad.
- Once I land in Baghdad, I sign up for the "Rhino Ride" into the Green Zone.
- Deal with paper work at the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) in the Green Zone.
- Catch a helicopter to Al Assad Air Base (a big hub), and then catch the next helicopter to Fallujah.
- Three days before my plane is due to leave Kuwait, I catch another helicopter to Al Assad. From Al Assad it's a direct flight via C-130 to Kuwait.
- Catch a bus to the Kuwaiti International Airport.
- Prepare to drink my first beer in weeks.
I will be wearing comparable body armor to the troops I am embedded with, and I will never be "outside the wire" on my own, or traveling in unarmored vehicles. If I visit any Iraqi civilians it will be in the company of a bunch of Bravo company soldiers loaded for bear. I'm not worried about security...
Who manages me, do I have a "minder"?
Short answer no. There is no official filter or censor of the photos I take, or the stories I write. I'll have a satellite phone and satellite internet access 24x7, and it's my responsibility to follow the rules. At a basic level these rules are pretty common sense:
- Don't report details that might damage operational security, such as operations currently in progress, or the exact locations and numbers of American troops.
- Don't release personal or casualty information without approval. Particularly bad examples would be publishing the name of an injured soldier before their family has been notified, or publishing that an unnamed soldier from a specific unit has been killed in action prior to the family being contacting (you can image the stress of every family in the unit waiting to find out if it was their soldier).