Prior to our visit to the Czech military academy, I never really thought about the presence of journalists in the military. For that matter, I never thought about the training they would have to go through. Unless one already has background knowledge on various military training procedures, I have to bet many would underestimate the training we learned about today as well.

Vyškov Military Academy offers special training courses for NATO civilians, diplomats, humanitarian groups and journalists planning to travel to potentially dangerous areas.

Vyskov Military Academy Chief of Special Forces Karel Klinovsky talks to the students about his experiences in the military. He says the journalist training course is the most difficult of all the courses within his department.

Vyskov Military Academy Chief of Special Forces Karel Klinovsky talks to the students about his experiences in the military. He says the journalist training course is the most difficult of all the courses within his department.

Chief of Special Forces Karel Klinovsky, as well as other military officials at the academy, gave us a crash course on the journalism training. He says that the most shocking encounters that journalists face when they are embedded into the military and deployed somewhere like Afghanistan, are not the often-thought heat, dust or Taliban. He says the biggest shock is the military itself and adjusting to the military lifestyle.

With that in mind, I gave myself something to think about throughout our visit: what I found most shocking out of everything we learned about military journalists.

One thing I found both interesting and shocking is an anti-Hollywood point that Chief Klinovsky continually made. Put another way, how American films give overzealous, inaccurate depictions of military situations.

What he really put into perspective with this point was how journalists are not on their own and segregated from the military – their actions affect others. He referenced American films and television showing the search and rescue of abducted personnel, such as captured journalists, as a joyous, victorious moment. In reality, he says, he will not be chipper or friendly in that kind of situation. In order to save the lives of those journalists, he must risk and sometimes lose the lives of his own men in the process. While bringing the journalists home safely is a priority, even a successful rescue does not come without consequences.

The training camp at Vyskov Military Academy. Here, the students learned about special forces training courses in one of the rustic cabins.

The training camp at Vyskov Military Academy. Here, the students learned about special forces training courses in one of the rustic cabins.

Just a little background information before the second thing I found shocking…

The length and intensity of special course training is determined by the group participating. The journalist/media training takes place over 14 days. During this time, the journalists are trained in survival before experiencing simulations of crisis situations which are both physically and psychologically demanding. While practicing basic survival skills, the journalists are forced to react to situations such as car accidents, land mines and abductions. The crisis situations become more demanding as the course goes on, eventually leading to up to 12 hours of captivity and simulated torture and interrogation methods by military personnel acting as terrorists. Journalists chosen to participate in this course are selected based on many factors, including results from physical and psychological tests.

Vyskov Military Academy Special Forces Coordinator Martin Benes briefs the students on the journalist training camp. He played videos of the crisis situations the journalists encounter during training, in which he says he plays several roles. Benes joked that the military officials who act in the training course are better than Hollywood actors.

Vyskov Military Academy Special Forces Coordinator Martin Benes briefs the students on the journalist training camp. He played videos of the crisis situations the journalists encounter during training, in which he says he plays several roles. Benes joked that the military officials who act in the training course are better than Hollywood actors.

With all of that in mind, Chief Klinovsky said that out of all of the special training courses offered at the academy, the journalist course is by far the most difficult. He even joked that if he put the military soldiers through the same course, he would be thrown in jail. While he didn’t give an exact reason as to why the course for journalists is so difficult compared to the other courses they offer, I can appreciate the value of the difficulty level. After lectures and briefings from the military officials, asking questions and even watching videos of the course in action, the skills appear invaluable – especially for the very real possibility that these crisis situations will occur while reporting in a dangerous area.

Chief Klinovsky says the best way for journalists and other groups deployed with the military is to learn about the country they’re traveling to. It will make communication easier and help them to understand what they want to accomplish and what the locals desire in return – ultimately lessening the blow of culture shock.

Kudos to all of the Czech journalists out there successfully completing this training course. It appears to be physically grueling, emotionally draining, life-changing and downright intense. This visit and our dinner Monday night with the Prague Freedom Foundation, Radio Free Europe and Anglo-American University have taught me the same thing: how strong journalists who want to make a difference have to be. I hope to be one of those journalists.

Categories: Uncategorized

Comments are closed.

#kentinprague

 

Student Work