Today is a good example of how reporters and headline writers show their ignorance about the military, and how wrong the Associated Press is — again — in their reporting.
An AP story that hit the wires said U.S. military forces were able to free two hostages in Somalia in a nighttime raid on Jan. 24. The AP story which will be found in pretty much every daily paper in the country, unless they have their own reporter, reported:
U.S. Special Forces troops flew into Somalia on a nighttime helicopter raid early Wednesday, freed an American and a Danish hostage and killed nine pirates in a mission that President Barack Obama said he personally authorized.
Unfortunately, this story showed up in Military.com, USA Today, Boston Globe, Reuters and Time, and even CNN, to name a few. Even the headlines used the phrase “Special Forces” (Washington Post’s story was correct, but their online headline writer joins the rest who failed).
No, They were NOT Special Forces. The correct military units were Special Operations Forces.
The news release from the Pentagon said the raid was conducted by Special Operations Forces, in this case it was Navy SEALs and special operations helicopter pilots. CBS News got that right as did the Los Angeles Times.
Special Forces are the Green Berets.
That’s not to say all AP writers don’t get it. Associated Press Intelligence Reporter, Kimberly Dozier, wrote a piece on the difference. I just wish her own colleagues would read it. But it just adds more evidence that AP does not know what it’s talking about when comes to military reporting, editing or headline writing.
Fellow journalists, for accuracy’s sake, just because the AP writes it, doesn’t mean you have to follow them.