NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria — Far from the luxury of a newspaper hitting the home doorstep each morning, troops participating in the Bulwark ’04 exercise are still getting the paper delivered.

For the first time, Stars and Stripes is printing a newspaper at an exercise.

The “press” looks basically like a photo copier, but has a printing capability of about one collated paper a minute. The papers are 8½-by-11-inch versions of Stripes’ Middle East edition.

“This is an experiment,” said Tom Kelsch, Stars and Stripes publisher. “It’s another way that we can get the paper to the troops. As the technology improves, we’re able to reach the troops better than ever before,” he said. “I think it’s a great step forward for us.”

Stripes’ goal in printing in Bulgaria is to provide the paper to troops in a more timely manner, said Nathan Parham, Stripes’ senior digital technician who has been running the operation in Bulgaria since July 19.

“I normally come in around 10 p.m., prep the printer and get everything ready to go,” Parham said. Copies of the paper are then stapled together and distributed to the dining facility and various commands around 4 a.m.

Parham is printing 366 papers a night, or one for every three of the roughly 1,000 soldiers at the exercise. In the Middle East, a small printing press is set up in Qatar and larger, offset presses in Kuwait City and Baghdad. Print sites are also planned for Bahrain and Afghanistan.

Stripes prints its European edition in Griesheim, Germany, and Rome.

The troops seem to approve of the “new” newspaper.

“It keeps us up to date on the world events and it serves as a motivator for the troops to know what’s going on in Iraq and the States,” said Sgt. Shabbar Robinson of the 5th Maintenance Company, 21st Theater Support Command out of Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Remote print operations at future maneuvers are in the works, said Jerry Kidder, Stripes’ management information systems director in Europe.

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