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TWIN BRIDGES TRAINING AREA, South Korea — Soldiers and commanders in this year’s Strike ARTEP exercise are taking on more than tanks, troops and terrain. They’re also getting firsthand experience with something just as ubiquitous on the modern battlefield: reporters.

As part of an effort to familiarize troops with “embedded” media — a concept used for the first time on a large scale in Iraq this year — 2nd Infantry Division public affairs officials are taking to the field to portray civilian media members.

Embedded reporters live, eat and ride with the units they’re covering. They are also subject to ground rules on what they can and can’t report. More than 600 international reporters embedded with U.S. units that fought in Iraq.

And, as civilian reporters covering the war discovered, the results vary depending on the unit and its commander.

A few 2nd ID public affairs journalists were “killed” with their units during battle simulations.

One Army journalist was told he wasn’t allowed to wear civilian clothes; a company commander took his own extra battle dress uniform, chopped off the name tape and patches, and told the reporter to wear it for the duration of his embed.

That staffer was “killed” twice in the same battle, once with a Bradley team and once with the medics.

The purpose of the embeds, officials said, is to get commanders and troops used to having reporters around their units, especially in combat situations.

Partially because of the ambitious embed plan employed in Iraq, 2nd ID wants its troops prepared to handle the media, Maj. Tamara Parker, a division public affairs officer, said the week before the exercise started.

“We’ve done that before for exercises, and it’s usually worked,” said Capt. Dexter Holley, a tank company commander who worked in the 2nd ID public affairs office before shifting to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment.

For Holley, having a reporter with his troops during Monday’s simulated battle wasn’t a burden. The reporter was assigned to ride with the company’s senior platoon leader and given unfettered access to the troops and simulated battle that followed.

Of course, the ground rules still applied, both for the reporter and soldiers.

“Everything you say to him is on the record,” Holley reminded his troops when introducing the reporter during an operational update brief.

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