There are many ways families can communicate with their soldiers who are currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. This includes: mail, e-mail, phone, video conferencing, radio, photography, newspaper, and television. While some of these forms of communication have been used in previous wars, many of them have been improved a considerable amount. There are also a couple new forms that have not been used before in wars.
Mail is still one of the most popular forms of communication between families and soldiers who are over in Iraq and Afghanistan. Along with exchanging letters, care packages can also be sent. In order to mail packages to soldiers you need the APO and FPO military address, which allows the families to pay as if it were being shipped to somewhere within the United States, which makes it much cheaper. Regardless of what is mailed the arrival time remains the same. The window is said to be between 7 and 20 days, but on average it takes about two weeks. However, for holidays it takes about 3 weeks for something to arrive. The cost for mailing a postcard is $0.27, a letter is $0.42, a flat rate envelope is $4.95, and a shoebox-sized box is $10.35.
E-Mail is a form of communication not used in wars before this one. It is much quicker than actual letters, but internet is required for it, therefore it can be limited. If one would want to e-mail a soldier they would need to have the soldier’s “Army Knowledge Online” e-mail address. It usually ends in a “@us.army.mil.” This “Army Knowledge Online” e-mail address can also be used as a type of instant messaging between families and soldiers if the family has an account of their own.
The phone is another incredibly popular form of communication between soldiers and their families during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The main source for soldiers to go and call their families is the Defense Switched Network phone centers. AT&T tents are also available on military bases for soldiers to make 15 minute “morale calls.” (Boots on Ground) Soldiers can also have cell phones but the “per-minute charges can be pretty steep,” (Boots on Ground) so instead soldiers buy international prepaid phone cards and use them. The other good thing about the prepaid phone cards is that there is no charge for incoming calls, therefore if a soldier were to call their family it wouldn’t cost the family anything.
Video conferencing is a way for “family members to engage in real-time video calls at various times.” (Boots on Ground) They are usually arranged through Family Readiness Centers, which are located on military bases. However, these centers only allow immediate family members to talk with the soldiers. Video conferencing is not limited to be between just family members and soldiers, it can also be used by generals. They can have “daily video conferences which outline daily missions and review strategy with field commanders, plus additional conferences with soldiers.” (Wallace)
Radio is used more commonly between soldiers. It is a quick way for soldiers and generals to talk about their position, or the enemy’s possible position. Soldiers can also quickly talk amongst each other while they are in any type of transportation. This includes tanks, jeeps, and planes. Families back home can also listen to radio stations and hear about what is going on over in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Photography is a way for the general public to visualize the conditions the soldiers have to deal with while they are over in Iraq and Afghanistan. This could include the terrain and weather conditions, the cities the soldiers are patrolling, and the people who live there, and the soldier’s life while they are on base. Photography was also a sense of truth for the people of Baghdad when Saddam was killed. “Images were powerful in a culture used to misinformation. The only thing they really trusted was what they saw with their own eyes.” (Rieckhoff)
The newspaper allows the general public to see and read about what is going on with the wars. It also lets the public read about different views and aspects of the wars. Many newspaper companies are incredibly biased on certain topics of the wars, which they hope will cause either a gain or loss in support of either war by the general public.
Television is one of the most popular ways for the general public of the United States to see and hear about what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also one of the quickest ways to hear about any breaking news that may have happened. “The Bush administration decided to enforce a policy that would ban news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.” (Shah) However this was later lifted by the Obama administration. Many movies have also been made to describe certain points of these wars. Some of these movies include: Zero Dark Thirty, The Messenger, and No End in Sight.
All of these forms of communication are necessary in order for families to remain in contact with their soldiers while they off at war. Mailing and e-mailing allows for soldiers and their families to communicate in the form of writing, as well as send them anything they may want or need in the form of care packages. Television, newspapers, radio, and photography allow for families to see, hear, and read about the war. The phone allows for both sides to communicate in a verbal sense, while video conferencing makes it possible for both sides to see each other while talking. All of these things happen incredibly fast too. Something that has to be shipped can be there within two weeks and something that could happen electronically can be done within a matter of seconds.
“Ways to Communicate with a Soldier in Iraq.” Boots on Ground. 2014. http://www.bootsonground.com/iraq-communications.htm
Wallace, Joe. “How Military Video Conferencing Works.” howstuffworks. 2014. http://science.howstuffworks.com/how-military-video-conferencing-works1.htm
Rieckhoff, Paul. Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier’s Fight for America from Bagdad to Washington. NY: Nal Caliber, 2006. Ch. 19-22.
Shah, Anup. “Iraq War Media Reporting, Journalism and Propaganda.” Global Issues. 1 August 2007. http://www.globalissues.org/article/461/media-reporting-journalism-and-propaganda