Meet the Army’s own media corpsArmy photographer Corporal Barry Lloyd RLC taking stills of members of the Afghan national police in Lashkar Gah.
Photo: Sgt Tom Robinson RLC/MOD 2010
By Jemima Kiss, The Guardian
The Combat Camera Team is the army’s own embedded media corps, reporting from Afghanistan
When David Beckham made a surprise visit to British troops in Afghanistan in May, the press wasted no time in splashing photos of him signing autographs, handling weapons and scoring during a kickabout at Camp Bastion in Helmand. It was far less widely reported when troops at a patrol base in Sangin commemorated the D-day anniversary by reading a poem by a second world war marine, John Henry Beale, at sunset – just hours after being shot at by insurgents who had destroyed part of the wall of the base with an improvised bomb. And there were no media reports of the moment when a small group of Afghan children wandered over to investigate the camera of a soldier working with the Coldstream Guards to set up a vehicle checkpoint.
But all these moments were captured by Captain Joanna Timmermann and her Combat Camera Team (CCT) – the British army’s own embedded media squad. Timmermann says the CCT, established during the Iraq war in 2003, was the result of the MoD identifying a need for managing the media during conflicts.
A fully trained Territorial Army Royal Engineer officer of 12 years, Timmermann is also a PR graduate and describes her job as that of a war correspondent. Does she consider the work of her team to be objective? “We are serving soldiers and members of the MoD and in terms of what we produce, we try and keep an objective eye,” she replies. “Obviously, we are not looking to show the people we are with in a bad light – any PR person doesn’t want that. But if you put out material that is overly biased it is never going to be used, so that would be counterproductive.”
Army Photographer Sgt Tom Robinson RLC (right) and Capt Johanna Timmermann (centre) interviewing Capt Ciaron Dyer (left), who is an ATO working with the C-IED taskforce during a IED clearence patrol on Route Dorset.
Photo: Cpl Barry Lloyd RLC/MOD 2010
The CCT’s video, photos and reports are distributed to broadcast and print media, and published on the YouTube channel, blog, on Flickr and on Facebook, as well as providing audio material to be released as podcasts. It has produced a profile of the female Apache pilot Jo Gordon, shown tractors being given to farmers in Nad-e-Ali and filmed parts of the recent Tor Shezada operation. The team – Timmermann plus a photographer, Corporal Barry Lloyd, and a videographer, Sergeant Tom Robinson – is on a six-month tour, and the material they produce will be archived at the Imperial War Museum in London.
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