Various correspondents hailing from different military-focused press outlets apparently had no access to U.S. troops set to deploy to Eastern Europe amid increased tensions with Russia over Ukraine. The correspondents, who were allegedly blocked from embedding among American troops during their deployment, were subsequently prompted to write a letter that demanded action from the Pentagon.
“We call on the Pentagon to immediately begin the process of allowing journalists to embed with troops headed to Europe,” the letter proclaimed, adding that the troops were deployed in response to the increased aggression Russia has demonstrated through its “troop movements near Ukraine.”
The letter’s emergence was likely motivated by a recently released statement from the Military Reporters and Editors Association, which was addressed to Llyod Austin, who serves as the Secretary of Defense in the Biden administration.
According to the Military Reporters and Editors Association, the Biden administration’s decision to deploy troops to Eastern Europe in response to Russia provides a chance “for the [American] military to showcase how the men and women in uniform undertake the mission asked of them by the U.S. government and the nation.”
The association also requested for the Pentagon to permit various journalists the opportunity to embed with American troops that have been selected for deployment to the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Per reports from CNN, a correspondent from the news outlet Military Times, Howard Altman, pressed John Kirby, who serves as the Pentagon spokesperson, several times over the Biden administration’s restrictions on the free press. Altman noted that American taxpayers have “an absolute right to know about how and what its troops are doing,” as well as how taxpayer funds are being delegated.
“Can you tell me when journalists will be allowed to embed with troops going over to Europe?” Altman asked Kirby.
“And if not soon, who or what is holding that decision?” Altman added.
Kirby proclaimed that “the buck stops with [him]” as he is ostensibly responsible for decisions made regarding media access to the military’s people and operations.
With regards to recent complaints, Kirby claimed that his department is currently deliberating “the appropriate level of media access” and determining a way to arrive at a specific conclusion.