Sunday, January 22, 2006

AP and Army

Just once I would like the news services to get simple things right. For instance my Yahoo Mail showed this AP headline: "Army Officer Found Guilty in Iraqi's Death."

Now this is not a the-Associated-Press-hates-America post. This guy sounds guilty as sin and there is nothing wrong with publicizing it. No, my complaint is that the soldier in question is Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. Warrant Officers are not "officers" in the military sense. They are more like senior enlisted men. Even the lowliest lieutenant outranks the highest warrant officer.

If you are going to write a story, please have at least a passing familiarity with the background of the story. The Army's rank structure is a good place to start with stories involving the Army.

UPDATE: If you want some background on warrant officers, the Army is a good place to start. Michael makes a good point in that Chief Warrant Officers are recognized as a commissioned officers. But CW2+s are not commissioned officers in the traditional sense of leading units. They're technical specialists. I still think that using the term officer (which usually refers to a commissioned officer) is misleading.

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