Feature

Embedded Journalist’s Perspective 10 Years after Iraq Invasion

Sig Christenson during a Skype interview

Sig Christenson during a Skype interview

Sig Christenson is a senior writer covering the military for the San Antonio Express-News and has been with the paper since 1997. He was embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Wednesday, March 20, marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the U.S-led invasion of Iraq. For Christenson, this anniversary “stirs up a lot of dust—not all good.”

“I kind of knew this war was coming for a long time and I was prepared for it,” Christenson said during a Skype interview from Texas. “I got a lot out of it, more than I asked for.”

While embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division, Christenson went through six major engagements and conflicts. His major project, “Witness to War,” was a special section recounting the invasion and early occupation of Iraq.

“It was the best and most difficult thing I’ve ever done,” Christenson said about being an embedded war correspondent.

He explained that embedded journalists slept where they could, he remembers sleeping on the roof of a tank, and rarely showered, “We were essentially homeless.”

Christenson had never covered a war and didn’t know what it took to do it.

“I read a lot of Ernie Pyle’s pieces and I wanted to be like him. It’s not something you want to do until a war comes around,” Christenson said. “I had no real guidance for this.”

After Sept. 11 Christenson knew the U.S. was going to go to war.

“It was inevitable, but we still don’t know why we went,” Christenson said. “If I were to ask 100 soldiers why they went to war in Iraq, I would get 100 different answers.”

There are specific reasons why a country goes to war, Christenson divulged, “This war is impossible to know why we went.”

“This war was a mystery. People should know why it was this transformed,” he said.

When explaining what the soldiers were told at the beginning of the war, Christenson said they were tell, ‘You’re going to go to Baghdad, pack your bags and come home,’

Soldiers were told before the invasion, “You’re going to go to Baghdad, pack your bags and come home,” Christenson said. “This wasn’t what happened.”

According to a Brown University study, the war has cost $1.7 trillion thus far with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans. It killed more than 4,400 U.S. soldiers and left 32,0000 wounded.

Christenson returned from the war with “a lot of negative energy” which he doesn’t blame for his failed marriage, but believes “it had something to do with it.”

“There are costs of this war that will impact not just this generation, but generations to come,” Christenson said.

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