Face of Defense: Broadcaster Teaches Iraqi Police

RAMADI, Iraq, Sept. 26, 2011 — Iraqi police serv­ing here in Anbar province are becom­ing more inde­pen­dent as they con­duct their own mis­sions and cap­ture ter­ror­ist lead­ers, requir­ing less and less U.S. assis­tance as time goes on.

How­ev­er, neg­a­tive reports from unsup­port­ive news agen­cies and jour­nal­ists using bad infor­ma­tion can over­shad­ow this good news. The Iraqi police decid­ed to take mat­ters into their own hands to ensure the pub­lic knows the truth. Assist­ing the Iraqis in get­ting out their sto­ry is Army Sgt. Tony McCaslin, pub­lic affairs broad­cast­er for the 82nd Air­borne Division’s 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, and native of Fair­field, Maine.

An award-win­ning broad­cast jour­nal­ist, McCaslin was cho­sen to pro­vide an instruc­tion­al class to the media team at the Anbar Police Direc­torate in Rama­di, on Sept. 15.

McCaslin taught the Iraqis basic video­g­ra­ph­er skills to improve their abil­i­ty to tell their sto­ry.

“The bet­ter their sto­ries are, the more peo­ple will want to watch them,” McCaslin said. “And if the peo­ple know the Anbar police have the facts, the peo­ple will trust them.”

Iraqi police Lt. Ali Fakhri Abbas, media rela­tions and pub­lic affairs direc­tor, said Iraqi offi­cials noticed the Iraqi police pub­lic affairs cam­era­men were mak­ing mis­takes, which is why they asked the Amer­i­cans for train­ing.

“This is our job,” Ali said. “And we want­ed to get more knowl­edge from the U.S. forces before they leave.”

McCaslin chose to cov­er com­po­si­tion and video sequenc­ing tech­niques that make the video more inter­est­ing to the view­er. But when the class began, he real­ized even those skills were more com­plex than most of the police­men were used to.

“Halfway through the class, I found out that some of them didn’t even know how to use their new cam­era,” he said. “What a lot of broad­cast­ers would con­sid­er basic, they were hav­ing trou­ble with.”

McCaslin changed his focus to cov­er­ing basic fea­tures on the cam­era. The police­men recent­ly pur­chased a pro­fes­sion­al-grade video cam­era, which was a huge step up from their old hand­helds, and there­fore more dif­fi­cult to oper­ate. The but­tons are in Eng­lish, adding anoth­er train­ing issue for the native Ara­bic speak­ers.

McCaslin famil­iar­ized him­self with the camera’s set­tings as the police­men gath­ered close. One issue the Iraqi video­g­ra­phers sur­faced was that footage they shoot in the harsh Iraqi sun would become over­ex­posed and unus­able. McCaslin showed them how to adjust the camera’s white bal­ance and fil­ter fea­tures.

After the demon­stra­tion, he hand­ed the cam­era off to class mem­bers to per­form the tech­niques cov­ered ear­li­er in the day. The men prac­ticed dif­fer­ent cam­era angles, rule of thirds, and per­spec­tive shots to help them achieve var­ied effects.

“I could tell they were excit­ed to use the new cam­era and to fig­ure it out for the first time,” he said. “I saw that they real­ly want to do this.”

The Iraqi police media teams through­out Anbar province have worked with U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army units in the past to improve their video abil­i­ties. After receiv­ing class­es and new equip­ment, they have become an inte­gral part of police oper­a­tions in Anbar as they have now cre­at­ed their own tele­vi­sion pro­gram.

‘The Pun­ish­ment’ is a wide­ly watched series that high­lights arrests made by the Iraqi police, includ­ing con­fes­sions from the crim­i­nals and on-the-scene re-enact­ments of the crimes. A broad­cast of this type is just one way the Iraqi police media teams are broad­en­ing out­reach to local audi­ences.

“They’re mak­ing that con­nec­tion between the police and the cit­i­zens of Anbar,” McCaslin said, “and that makes all the dif­fer­ence.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)