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Public Affairs : NYU students embed with cadets

NYU students embed with cadets on war simulation

Submitted by Capt. James Machado

Department of Military Instruction

One of the key measures of success for cadets at the U.S. Military Academy is to communicate effectively with all audiences, to include the media.

On Nov. 19, cadets from the Defense and Strategic Studies’ Military Communication Course (DS350) received just that opportunity. They conducted a joint exercise in the Department of Military Instruction Simulation Center with Professor Yvonne Latty’s Graduate Journalism students from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University.

The exercise challenged cadets to coordinate efforts in the War Simulation Center to hold a mock press conference in which the NYU students questioned the acting public affairs representatives about the previous events. The day also included the opportunity for NYU students to fire the EST2000 weapons after they were properly trained by cadets.

During the exercise, cadets played the role of lieutenants on the battlefield with an NYU student assigned to each of them as embedded reporters. They faced real-world scenarios based on situations in Iraq where local police forces shot a civilian for throwing rocks and U.S. forces were called in to help disperse a newly-formed mob.

In addition, cadets supported local political leaders in securing an area of civilian unrest—all while ensuring accountability and protection of their embedded reporters.

They made real-time decisions on whether to engage the mobs and used the proper procedures in calling on higher elements for advice during the events. However, the real challenge began after the WARCEN simulation when cadets held press conferences to brief the previous events and then received a multitude of questions regarding their decisions.

In addition to facing questions about the Iraqi police and mobs, one group found themselves in a predicament when one reporter’s avatar accidentally died after being ejected from a moving helicopter. Cadets had to explain where the lack of training occurred and what would be done to rectify the issue.
 
 
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Cadets take on the role of public affairs officers during a press conference as they field questions from New York University journalism students Nov. 19 during a joint exercise at the Department of Military Instruction Simulation Center. Courtesy Photo

The questions tested the communication abilities of the cadets to not only describe their actions and justify why they made each decision, but to also steer away from military jargon while keeping their explanations in layman’s terms.

To prepare fo
r this exercise, cadets practiced delivering press releases and fielding prepared questions from the audience. This provided them with a basic understanding of media relations that they applied to the NYU exercise. By applying these skills, the exercise resulted in cadets understanding the additional responsibilities and issues of working with attached battlefield correspondents as well as briefing at a press conference.

NYU students gained a unique insight of
military and embedded journalism while also enhancing their skills of examining and writing about military action. Almost all of the students had never been on a military post or participated in any military training, but truly enjoyed the experience, especially with firing in the EST2000.

“It was really cool. I could feel the weight and pull-back of the weapon as I fired,” Timothy Weisberg, NYU student, said.

As both parties expanded their media relations and communication skills, this exercise will continue to be held each semester to continue developing this valuable talent.