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Communication During the Iraq/Afghanistan Conflicts

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 “” 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

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.

Works Cited

“Ways to Communicate with a Soldier in Iraq.” Boots on Ground. 2014.

Wallace, Joe. “How Military Video Conferencing Works.” howstuffworks. 2014.

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.

Images Cited



Communication During the Vietnam War

There was a vast range of communication during the Vietnam War. It included: propaganda, letters, radio, aircraft, video and photojournalism, and protests.  Some of these ideas were new, while others were older and used in previous wars. Either way, they were all extremely important when it came to keeping America unified during the war.


Propaganda was an idea that was used in World War II especially but was still a form of communication during the Vietnam War. “Throughout the Vietnam War, the United States government, worked hard at sculpting effective propaganda in an effort to persuade the American public, as well as the rest of the world, that the war was a ‘just’ war and as such deserved public support. The goal was to create an atmosphere that enabled the U.S. to proceed in Vietnam as it saw necessary.” (Coppola) All the government was trying to do through propaganda was convince their people that getting involved in the war was okay. By doing this they hoped to gain a majority of the public’s support which would make it easier for the government to do whatever they saw necessary to win the war.

The United States also used propaganda on North Vietnam. They would drop leaflets on North Vietnam in order to produce a sort of psychological effect on the general public as well as the soldiers to convince them that what they were doing was good. One specific example of this was when the United States dropped safe-conduct passes on North Vietnam which allowed any Viet Cong solider to turn themselves in to any Vietnamese government agency or allied force.



Letters were still the most popular form of communication during the Vietnam War between the families and their soldiers. “I have all 80 letters that I wrote home while I was in Vietnam. I yearn for the day that I can see all 80 in print somewhere, regardless of whether I ever make a single penny off of them. I believe their value is beyond the dollar. I believe that the young misunderstand what it was like to be a kid (in Vietnam.)” (O’Connell) For a lot of these soldiers their day revolved around receiving and replying to these letters. This may have been because a lot of these soldiers were still kids therefore they were homesick and writing these letters was the only way for them to cope with their problem.


Radio was incredibly important when it came to communication between the soldiers. The radio allowed for different squads to talk between one another and it allowed generals to have almost immediate contact with each other on their army or their enemy. It was also the most effective form of communication between the ground and the air transportation.

Radio was also still used as a form of communication to the public. It was also used as a form of propaganda. This allowed for the current events of the war to be biased which the government hoped would help to gain support for the war.


Aircrafts during the Vietnam War were used for many different things. They included: delivery of supplies or letters, a way to drop off and pick up troops, and it served as a way to quickly rush injured troops to treatment. Helicopters were the most popular form of aircraft during the war. “During the Vietnam War, the United States relied on the helicopter as never before…thousands of missions were flown to resupply and reinforce troops on the ground, to evacuate American and South Vietnamese wounded, and to offer countless other services in pursuance of the war effort.” (Texas Tech) The reason helicopters were so popular was because they were much more maneuverable compared to other planes, and this was important because of the terrain Vietnam had.



Journalism in this war included pictures as well as videos. Video was a much newer technology especially when it came to broadcasting the actual war and fighting to the public. “By 1962, over 80% of American homes had television and in 1968 over 60% of Americans looked to television for news on the Vietnam War.” (Kennedy) Many squads of soldiers actually had cameramen come along with them while they were on patrol or even when they were in battle with the enemy hoping to catch footage which they believed would make them money. “Some photographers were full-time staffers with news agencies such as Associated Press and United Press International and news magazines such as Life, Time and Newsweek, but many more were freelancers who turned up in Vietnam hoping to have their work taken up by one of the major agencies or papers.” (Kennedy)



As the Vietnam War continued the overall support for the war declined, which then eventually led to people protesting. Many of these protests were led by college students who were members of the Students for a Democratic Society. However some of these protests turned violent when the military got involved. Kent State University and Jackson State University were the two biggest shootings that occurred because of protesting against the Vietnam War. There were also other protests which occurred at the capital at the Lincoln Memorial. For one of the protests 100,000 people gathered near the Lincoln Memorial protesting the war, followed by 30,000 of them marching on to the Pentagon. Another protest that happened at the Lincoln Memorial was when veterans of the Vietnam War threw their medals of honor on the ground to show their disapproval on the war.

07_-_vietnam_war_protests_1 protest

Communication was incredibly vital during the Vietnam War. Propaganda allowed for a biased opinion on the war. Letters helped to keep the soldiers and their families in touch. Radio served as a form of communication between soldiers as well as another form of propaganda. Aircrafts allowed for the delivery of mail, supplies, as well as soldiers. Journalism and photography helped to give a visual sense to the war, while protests tried to speed up ending the war and bringing troops home. Each one had their own specific purpose, which when combined allowed for America to remain united during the Vietnam War.

Works Cited: Staff. “Vietnam War Protests.” 2010.  A&E Networks.

Kennedy, Liam. “Photojournalism and the Vietnam War.” UCD Clinton Institute for American Studies: Photography and International Conflict. 2008.

O’Connell, Paul. “Letters Home.” 1998.

Page, Caroline. “U.S Official Propaganda During the Vietnam War, 1965-1973.” Apocalypse Now. New York: U of Leicester Press, 1996.

Shah, Anup. “Media, Propaganda and Vietnam.” Global Issues. October, 24, 2003.

Trueman, Chris. “Protests Against the Vietnam War.” History Learning Site. 2013.

Images Cited:

Communication During World War II

There were many forms of technology during World War II. Many, but not all, of these were new developments, never used in previous wars. The types of communication during World War II included: Propaganda, Newspapers/Magazines, Radio, Airplanes, Telegraph, Telephones, Mail, Animals, and Cryptology. Each one specializing is specific situations allowing Americans to be more connected with one another than ever before.


There were many forms of propaganda used. Movies, commercials, and posters were the most popular. They all had the same general message though, which was to do whatever you could to help win the war. Whether it was women helping in the workforce while their husbands are away fighting the war or Americans remaining loyal to their country and not talking to possible enemies, which is where one of the slogans “Loose lips might sink ships” comes from. An example of a movie that was a form of propaganda was “The Best Year of Our Lives.” “Almost immediately, the film attracted large crowds, eager to understand the ways in which the war had changed American society.” (Mintz & Kellogg, 170)


Newspapers and Magazines 

Newspapers and Magazines now gave a sense of opinion to the public with the idea of editorials and letter-to-the-editors along with their initial role which was just to spread news to the public. “Letters-to-the-editors of various newspapers throughout Arkansas reflected strong feelings against the employment of married women in the nation’s defense industries.” (Smith, 21) People would now write in about what their stance was on specific, and at times, controversial topics. “Newspapers and magazines gave enormous publicity to stories of wives who had been unfaithful to their servicemen husbands. “(Mintz & Kellogg, 171)


The radio was “split second communication among all members.” (Britannica) It served as a way for troops and generals to communicate between one another. This could be between generals discussing strategies or it could be between soldiers to generals discussing positions of themselves or enemies. Radio was also another form of propaganda. It helped “to explain to Americans what their country was fighting for and to make the war their own.” (Gerd, 43) Lastly, the radio was the only possible form of communication between the ground and the air for airplanes.


Airplanes served as a way to quickly deliver something. This included care packages or letters from back home. It also helped to deliver messages that couldn’t be delivered on the ground because the trip would be too dangerous since it dealt with the enemy and their territory.


Telegraph was still a popular form of communication during World War II. However it had evolved since the last war. The teletypewriter was a device for transmitting telegraph messages as they are keyed and for printing messages received. With these teletypewriters there were conferences which were called telecons. “A commander or his staff at each end to view on a screen the incoming teletypewriter messages as fast as the characters were received. Questions and answers could be passed rapidly back and forth over the thousands of miles separating them.” (Britannica)


Telephones helped to connect the nation to almost immediate communication between one another. It also served as a way for troops to communicate between one another. However, it wasn’t always available between families and troops so mailing letters was still the most popular form of communication between families and their troops.


Mail served as a way for the troops to get caught up on what was going on at home. “Civilians were encouraged to write their service men and women about even the most basic activities. Daily routines, family news, and local gossip kept the armed forces linked to their communities.” (Smithsonian) It helped to boost troop’s moral and keep them from getting lonely. This is also when V Mail became extremely popular. V Mail was a way to quickly deliver a lot of mail to troops.



Animals were even used as a form of communication during World War II. They helped to deliver hand written messages among troops. Dogs and pigeons were the most effective animals the military used.


Cryptology is the study of codes. Depicting enemy codes was a big part of World War II. Those who depicted were “sworn to secrecy. The penalty for discussing the work outside of approved channels could be death, as it was considered an act of treason during a time of war.” (Wilcox, 8) Cryptology was a whole new language. There were different meanings to every word. Both sides would receive messages through radio of their enemies and they would have to try and decode it. Once they decoded it they would then know their enemy’s positions and/or times of their attacks.

Each form of communication played a unique role in World War II, yet they were each dependent on each another in order for success. Airplanes were one of the main forms of transportation to deliver the V Mail to the soldiers and the only reason airplanes worked was because of the radio. Communication and all of the forms it had to offer during World War II helped to connect the nation as a whole.

Text Sources:

Mintz, Steven, and Susan Kellogg. Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. New York: The Free Press, 1988—Ch. 8: Families on the Home Front.

Smith, C. Calvin, “Diluting an Institution: The Social Impact of World War II on the Arkansas Family,” The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 1 (Spring, 1980), pp. 21-34.

Horten, Gerd. Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda During World War II. 2003

Wilcox, Jennifer. Sharing the Burden: Women in Cryptology during World War II. Center for Cryptologic History, National Security Agency. 1998.

Image Sources:

Communication During the Civil War


The Civil War was the first war that was actually photographed. It allowed the rest of the United States, who were not fighting the war, to witness first-hand what was going on and how it looked. “Portraits of armed Union and Confederate soldiers preparing to meet their destiny; battlefield landscapes strewn with human remains; rare multi-panel panoramas of the killing fields of Gettysburg and the destruction of Richmond; diagnostic medical studies of wounded soldiers who survived the war’s last bloody battles.” (USA TODAY, 35) This was good for the education of the public but at the same time, some may not have been prepared for what they were going to see. The uses for photography were vast, this included: portraits of soldiers before going to war for the family to remember them by, many pictures within campsites, pictures of patients’ injuries for doctors to do medical examinations on, and panoramas of the battlefields.

The Railroad

The railroad system was a relatively new form of communication, especially when it came to war time. The north was much more technologically advanced when it came to the railroad compared to the south. “48.6 percent of free residents in the eleven Confederate states lived within fifteen miles of a railroad junction, while 85 percent of the northerners did the same.” (Majewski, 714) Because of this, the north targeted the South’s railroad system to gain an advantage during wartime. “As the war progressed Union generals such as William T. Sherman devised a “railroad strategy” focused on the capture and destruction of the southern railroad network.” (Majewski, 713) The uses for each side’s railroad system were different too. The north used the railroad to attempt westward expansion, while the south used it to transport cotton and for slavery. However by the end of the war, the south had improved their railroad system greatly. “By the outbreak of the Civil War the main railroad lines of North Carolina were already developed. Although only 283 miles of railroads spanned the state in 1850, a liberal policy of state aid enabled nine railroads to amass a total of 922 miles of track by 1860.” (Price, 298)The Piedmont Railroad is a specific example of the improvement in the south. It ranged from Greensboro to Danville, and was initially denied because of the concern that the smaller western stations would lose money because trains wouldn’t stop there as often. However it was eventually passed and the South benefited greatly from it.

The Telegraph

The telegraph was used more during the Civil War, compared to the Indian War, but it was used for the same reasons. The telegraph was used as a form of communication between soldiers and their families. The telegraph was also used as a way to discuss the position of enemies as well as the position of their own men. “Lee had no telegraphic communication north of Culpeper, and little need of any, prior to his advance. But the Federal telegraphic system, as heretofore, included all of their positions above indicated, and also, at times, as far out on the Orange and Alexandria road as Bealeton.” (Plum, 10)

Postal Service

Mail was still the most popular form of communication during the Civil War. Compared to the Indian War the delivery time shortened drastically. However the motive for writing letters remained the same. The soldiers and their families were constantly checking up on each other to make sure the other side was safe, and more importantly, still alive. Both sides also loved receiving letters because it showed that someone was still concerned about them and cared about them. “You cannot conceive how badly I feel when our Postmaster comes into Camp with no letters for me.” (Watson, 16)

People were extremely dependent of communication during the Civil War. It allowed the public to have a visual element with the war, it helped the armies strategically plan out their attack because of their knowledge of their position and the position of their enemy, and it served as a way for families to keep in touch within a decent amount of time. These came in the forms of: photography, the railroad, the telegraph, and the postal service. They were all very different but were all equally important.

Works Cited

-Majewski, John. Journal of Southern History. August 2013, Volume 79, Issue 3, pages 713-714.

-Price, Charles L. Civil War History: North Carolina Railroads During the Civil War. September 1961, Volume 7, Issue 3, p. 298-309.

-Plum, William Rattle. The military telegraph during the Civil War in the United States: with an exposition of ancient and modern means of communication, and of the federal and Confederate cipher systems; also a running account of the war between the states. 1882, 2 Volumes.

-USA Today (Magazine). The war between the states frozen in time: a landmark exhibition considers the evolving role of photography during the Civil War. July 2013, Volume 142, Issue 2818, p. 34-37.

-Watson, William. Letters of a Civil War surgeon. Edited by Paul Fatout. 1837.