Why cover Idaho troops but not Washington's?

Question: Why did the paper not send reporters to Fort Lewis when the 81st brigade trained to go to Iraq, but you'll send them all the way to Texas to do stories on guardsmen who are not from Washington. -- Peter G. Borg, Spokane

Answer: Actually, we did spend a bit of time at Fort Lewis. But our ability to cover the military is all about access. Due to limitations imposed at the unit level, we had less access at Fort Lewis. We've been given greater access to the units of the 116th Combat Cavalry. Furthermore, we're proceeding with plans to send a reporter and photographer from our Coeur d'Alene bureau to Iraq with the 116th. (We had been embedded with a Spokane medical support unit at the beginning of the war in 2003. But the unit's deployment was canceled at the last moment, so we stayed home).

The Spokesman-Review serves thousands of readers in North Idaho. Many of the soldiers being deployed are the sons and daughters of our readers. Telling their stories does not in any way diminish the service of Washington units and does, in fact, serve to honor all troops engaged in Iraq. -- Steve Smith, editor

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