Army Docs Reveal Relationships with Idol, X Factor


A new batch of Pentagon documents obtained by a FOIA request by’s Tom Secker produced about 1,400 pages of documents from the U.S. Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs (OCPA-West). The department acts as a go-between the entertainment industry and the Army. The newly uncovered docs show the degree of involvement the US military has in entertainment, including reality shows like American Idol and X Factor.

In one entry, the name of an American Idol season 10 contestant is redacted (I looked, but couldn’t find her. Maybe they have the wrong season?) but the report goes on to mention disappointment that she was eliminated from the show in Hollywood. The contestant was a PSYOP (psychological operations) specialist based out of Fort Bragg. Also noted, that American Idol film crews visited Fort Bragg to film a background video package focused on the contestant.

From the report:

The sheer scale of the Army and the Air Force’s involvement in TV shows, particularly reality TV shows, is the most remarkable thing about these files. American Idol, The X-Factor, Masterchef, Cupcake Wars, numerous Oprah Winfrey shows, Ice Road Truckers, Battlefield Priests, America’s Got Talent, Hawaii Five-O, lots of BBC, History Channel and National Geographic documentaries, War Dogs, Big Kitchens – the list is almost endless.

There are screen grabs containing details regarding Army officers involved in several shows. For instance, there was a request to access Fort Sam Houston to film footage of a service members daily routines for America’s Got Talent, season 10, and the fact the Chef Gordon Ramsey featured Army officers on one of his shows.

Billboard did some digging and found an entry regarding X Factor:

The OCPA-LA was also contacted by producers of The X Factor, who proposed conducing an open casting call for singers in the defense department. “Good possibility the new program will develop into a ratings hit,” the official wrongly predicted. Later, the Simon Cowell-helmed show filmed a Thanksgiving episode at an Army base in Missouri. “This program provided Fort Leonard Wood with an opportunity to help connect the American people with one of our installations and the soldiers who train there,” it said. “With increased television viewing over the Thanksgiving holiday, we can expect this segment will exceed last week’s 7 million viewers for this episode.”

American Idol fans remember Season 2’s 4th place finisher, Marine Josh Gracin. Not only did the military allow him leave to participate in the show, but when war broke out with Iraq, he was allowed to remain in the competition. The Marines probably figured having a goodwill ambassador on the biggest show on television during a controversial conflict was a better use of Josh’s services. However, when it came time for the summer tour, the military took him back.

Another huge Idol military connection came when season 11 auditions were held on the USS Midway ship in San Diego Harbor. That must have taken a massive amount of coordination between the two entities.

About mj santilli 35006 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!