Title: Inside the Fortress
Author: Steve Valley
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Rob Ballister
ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1589825667
Inside the Fortress is a behind the scenes look at life for an Army senior enlisted leader inside the world renowned Green Zone, where he lived and worked from January 2004 to January 2005.
This book gives the reader an up close and personal look at what was really happening in Baghdad because what everyone saw back home via the main stream media was 180 degrees different of what was actually happening.
Steve Valley was the first sergeant of a unit made up of highly talented public affairs and combat arms Soldiers that brought with them an endless onslaught of personal issues and situations that that he and the unit's commander had to deal with on a daily basis. He played leader, father, brother and friend to countless American Soldiers that looked to him for answers and information while trying to survive the never ending incoming barrage of mortars, rockets and bullets.
Valley's duty station was at the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) in Baghdad, located in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. The CPIC was made up of nearly 70 multi-service and international military members and civilians. The organization was responsible for writing and distributing press releases, setting up and hosting all the coalition's press conferences, organizing the military's media embed program and performing extensive media relations with the international media and governmental relations with top level diplomats and politicians.
Valley performed media escort duties for first media trip to the Abu Ghraib prison after the story broke in February 2004. He played a major role in the Abu Ghraib court martial proceedings held at the Baghdad Convention Center, the signing of the Iraqi Transitional Administrative Law, the transfer of sovereignty from the US to the Iraq in June 2004 and Sadaam Hussein's first court appearance the following month. Valley also served as a coalition spokesperson for the major battles of Najaf and Fallujah. He dealt with every reporter that came to Iraq from CNN's Christiana Amanpour, to the Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter John F. Burns to the late Peter Jennings in addition to the numerous American daily and weekly community newspapers that needed updated information for their readers and viewers concerning Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Some of the media outlets that Valley worked with on a regular basis included the Associated Press, BBC, Washington Post, New York Times, Fox News (2 separate appearances on the Neil Cavuto Show), CNN, NBC, CBS and Al-Jazeera. He also worked with the CIA and FBI, White House liaisons, Department of Defense and State Department officials and senior Iraqi Governmental officials as part of his normal daily duties.