A complete analysis of all my motivations to undertake this venture would be fairly complex, but it's easy to trace the spark that started the fire: On November 16th Michael Yon posted a great article on his Michael Yon: Online Magazine, regarding the state of media coverage of the war in Iraq. He highlighted the lack of embedded journalists covering the war, and the difficulty of getting embedded as a independent or freelance journalist.
The fact in his article that really caught my attention was that at one point in September there were only nine journalists embedded with American forces in Iraq, of that number four were reporting for Stars & Stripe and Armed Forces Network (official military publications), two were reporting for the foreign press, one was doing research, and only two were potentially reporting for the US media. No wonder I can't ever find any real news about the war!
There is nothing like having somebody tell me something I'm interested in is to hard to get me motivated to make it happen! On November 17th I made my first official inquiry with the military, and on January 6th my embed was officially approved. Time seemed to drag through the process, but in retrospect it was just about light speed considering some of the hurdles.
Although I feel the coverage or the war in Iraq from the perspective of American troops in the field is seriously lacking there are some bright lights out there:
Michael Yon is in back in Iraq, and planning to spend most of 2007 in country covering the war. If you only have time to read one site, his is the one. To get an introduction to Michael's work read this post.
Badgers Forward is the blog of an Army Captain currently commanding an engineer company in Iraq. It's a great window into the war from the perspective of a currently serving officer.
Earlier in the war there were quite a few great military blogs, but the number has dwindled significantly due to negative pressure from the command structure. The military is definitely still trying to figure out how to deal with the realities of controlling the flow of information in an internet age were soldiers on the front lines have laptops and wifi.
Day by Day, by Chris Muir (updated daily)
Chris Muir is the cartoonist that I met in Kuwait. He spent two weeks in Iraq at the same time I was there in February 2007, and so thought it would relevant to showcase his work on my site. Here is a link to Chris' humorous travelogue of this Iraq trip: http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/03/arrival_alignright_v.php