The US military is now posting video clips on YouTube showing US troops in combat and insurgents being bombed in a "boots on the ground" perspective of the Iraq war, officials said Monday.
Multi-National Forces Iraq created a "channel" on the popular video sharing website in March to show the clips, which often capture the intensity of combat while generally showing US troops in a positive light.
Pentagon spokesmen were unable to explain what the military hopes to accomplish with the "MNFIRAQ" channel, but it appeared to be part of a push by to find new ways to gain support for a deeply unpopular war.
"This is a specific effort to get information out about Iraq," said Colonel Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said he thought airing video clips of combat on YouTube was "a good idea."
"Because it’s important sometimes to be able to get … images out that are going to portray a fuller picture of what’s going on on the battlefield.
The brief, slice-of-life-and-death videos carry titles like "More Fighting in Baqubah," "Battle on Haifa Street," "’Soft Knock’ Search in Baghdad," and "Counter Mortar Operation."
One shows US troops helping the victim of a car bombing, another returning a freed hostage to his family.
Soldiers fire their weapons at unseen combatants in some shots, and run through smoke-filled streets in others. But in most, death remains somewhere beyond the frame.
"MNF-I established this YouTube channel to give viewers around the world a ‘boots on the ground’ perspective of Operation Iraqi Freedom from those who are fighting it," a statement posted on the channel said.
"Video clips document action as it appeared to personnel on the ground and in the air as it was shot," it said. ""We will only edit video clips for time, security reasons and for over disturbing or offensive images."
In "Counter Mortar Operation," viewers are presented with an aerial view of six insurgents who are said to be firing a mortar, then breaking it down, and piling into their car to escape.
They speed down a country road, seemingly unaware they are being watched. A missile is then seen entering the frame, followed by a fiery explosion.
"Coalition air power destroys vehicle, mortar and insurgents," a caption reads.
Typical of the emailed reactions to the clip, which the website says has been viewed more than 39,000 times, was one signed dboy4ever:
"Die terrorists and people who sympathize with them. You messed with the wrong country," he wrote.
Sometimes viewers take away a different message.
"I am sure the Iraqi freedom fighters don’t like that the American terrorists are on their turf. I guess that’s why u’ll never win this war," wrote Lleuwelynn in response to another combat video.