Reporting from the front lines

Ask University of Washington alumna Alex Quade to describe a memorable moment from her journalism career, and she will quickly rattle off half a dozen. There was the time a Green Beret gunner needed her to help feed more ammunition into his .50-caliber machine gun during a firefight. Or the time she filmed a special combat engineer dismantling a car bomb two feet away. Or the many times she comforted wounded soldiers. The list goes on and on.

Alex Quade on a tank in Afghanistan
Alex Quade in Afghanistan, while embedded with Air Force Special Operations.

Quade (BA, Communication, Speech Communication, Political Science, 1992) is a freelance war reporter who covers U.S. Special Operations Forces on combat missions. She is the only reporter, male or female, who has embedded long-term with these elite secretive units. Quade spends months at a time in the field, using a hand-held video camera and notepad to capture stories about combat, including the personal stories of Special Forces on the front lines.

“My goal is simple: to make the inaccessible feel relevant to the American people,” she says. “I tell the human stories behind the hardware, combat stories from the heart. I want to bring the audience along for the ride, to share the human experience, not strategy nor politics. I want to make people pay attention and shake them out of indifference.”

Before donning combat gear in far-flung places like Iraq and Afghanistan, Quade worked more traditional journalism jobs. She started as a White House Press Office intern, then worked as a producer and reporter for Fox News and CNN. But combat reporting was always her goal.  She embedded with an elite unit in 1998 and never looked back.

Alex Quade in vehicle embedded with Green Berets in Diyala Province, Iraq.
Alex Quade in a vehicle while embedded with Green Berets in Diyala Province, Iraq.

“I was mostly concerned with not messing up, getting the story, doing what I’m supposed to do,” she recalls of her first time working in a combat setting. “Just like the soldiers I cover, I’d done everything I could to prepare. At that point, it was just ‘game on’ and laser focus on the job ahead.”

That laser focus has helped Quade gain the trust of Special Ops leadership who rarely welcome journalists into their world. “They operate in secret, and it’s high stakes,” says Quade. “What they do has life-and-death repercussions, so they’re not going to let just anyone in. I must prove myself every time: by my candor, courage, integrity, and most importantly, by getting the story right and not being a burden to the teams I’m with.”

Quade has accomplished that brilliantly according to those who have worked with her. Senior Weapons Sergeant James A. Baker, retired Green Beret of the 10th Special Forces Group, recalls that Quade blended in and became part of the A-team when she embedded with his Operational Detachment. “She’s like us,” he says, offering the ultimate compliment. “If there’s another step to take, she’s going to take it and go as far as she can. Not everybody can do that. It’s just who she is. If it can be done, she can do it.”

I tell…combat stories from the heart. …I want to make people pay attention and shake them out of indifference.

Quade admits that she’s at her best in extreme situations and chaos. But, she clarifies, that’s different than being a thrill seeker. She does not risk her safety for an adrenaline rush but rather to capture truths that cannot be shared any other way. That’s also why she prefers to freelance rather than work for an established news organization, despite the financial instability and personal risk. Freelancing allows her to spend more time overseas following a story where it leads.
“The Special Operators never leave anyone behind, and that’s how I feel about their stories,” says Alex Quade.

“The truth of these soldiers’ lives cannot truly be shared from a TV studio in New York City, or from the occasional anchorperson dropping in,” Quade says. “Freelancing allows me the opportunity to spend more time going out on more missions with the Special Operators, learning firsthand about them and witnessing what they do, so I can responsibly do justice to their stories and answer the questions of their families and the American public.”

Quade’s stories have run the gamut from profiles of Green Berets, to coverage of a fighter jet shot down in Iraq, to the first broadcast interview of the SEAL Team 6 member who shot Osama bin Laden. Her reports air on major TV news outlets and have been published in The New York Times,,, and other publications. She has produced more than a dozen special series and documentaries including Danger Close, released earlier this year.

Admirers of Quade’s work include former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who praises her “first-hand portrayals of graphic combat operations,” and Major General (retired) Mike Repass, former Commanding General of U.S. Army Special Forces, who describes Quade as “the real deal.” Repass notes that Quade has spent more time with Special Forces operators than any other reporter. “Alex nails the essence of sacrifice found in America’s Special Forces operators and their families,” he says. “She…is uniquely qualified to tell their intensely-lived, extraordinary stories.”

Alex Quade hanging from helicopter with Air Force Spec Ops PJ, covering CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue).
Alex Quade hanging from a helicopter with Air Force Special Operations PJ (pararescuemen) while covering combat search and rescue.

For her tenacity and extraordinary reporting, Quade has been honored with numerous awards, including two national Edward R Murrow Awards and a Congressional Medal of Honor Society award for excellence in journalism. “My awards belong to the people in my stories, who had the courage to allow me in, to share their stories so we can learn from them,” Quade says.

Now Quade is tackling another challenge: writing a book that offers her behind-the-scenes perspective of secret missions and the “Quiet Professionals” of the Special Forces. Tentatively titled Danger Close (the same as her latest film), the book is slated for publication in 2018. She hopes the book, like her other work, will shed light on the realities of secretive units in combat and its aftermath.

“Witnessing the atrocities of humanity and the suffering of others hurts. The anguish, tragedy, and conflict can be heartbreaking,” she says. “I report the good, the bad, and the ugly. I write and report because I must. The Special Operators never leave anyone behind, and that’s how I feel about their stories. Their stories should all come home too, so that the truth is not left behind.”

The story was written by Nancy Joseph and originally published at the University of Washington’s Perspective.

Former Sec. Defense Robert Gates gives kudos to Alex Quade’s ‘Danger Close’

Former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates.

SWJ Review by Dave Maxwell

Using actual combat footage by an embedded journalist and that captured from the enemy it tells the story of not only an American Special Forces Sergeant and his family, it represents all American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines and provides the American people a glimpse of the full spectrum of emotions that come with service to the nation and loss of a comrade in arms. See the trailer HERE. [Read more…]

CNN reviews Alex Quade’s ‘Danger Close’

Alex Quade on CNN

By David Daniel, CNN

War reporter and filmmaker Alex Quade returns to Iraq to fulfill a promise she made to the family of a fallen Green Beret.

[Read more…]

The Valor Podcast interviews Alex Quade

The Valor Podcast’s Nick Layman interviews international journalist Alex Quade. She was able to gain access to the secret U.S. military special operators community and tell their story. We talk about the movie “Danger Close,” which features the story of the SPECOPS community and a promise Quade looks to fulfill. [Read more…]

‘Danger Close’: Alex Quade Tells the Special Forces’ Stories

If you were embarking on a dangerous mission, you would much prefer to have embedded journalist Alex Quade with you than a lot of our so-called allies. You could count on her to keep her head and make the right decisions during times of crisis. For her, the U.S. Special Forces soldiers are not just a subject to file and forget. They are the people she shared foxholes with. Quade does their stories justice in Christian Tureaud & David Salzberg’s documentary, “Danger Close”, which opens this Friday in New York.

Quade is highly simpatico with their approach. She never takes positions on the missions themselves, but she feels a duty to truthfully report the dangers and challenges the U.S. Special Forces and conventional military personnel face. [Read more…]

Los Angeles Times notes “Danger Close”

Female war correspondent Alex Quade chronicles the stories of U.S. Special Operations Forces in the third film in the “Heroes of Valor” docu-action series. Featuring Wendy R. Anderson. Written by Eli Baldridge and Quade. Directed by Christian Tureaud and David Salzberg. Gravitas Ventures


Pre-order “Danger Close” on Amazon.

Combat reporter Jamie McIntyre notes “Danger Close”

“DANGER CLOSE”: One of the most intrepid war reporters I know, Alex Quade, who shepherded me around the Persian Gulf region in the fall of 2002 during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, premieres her feature-length documentary, “Danger Close,” tonight at the National Press Club. The movie, which hits theaters April 28, takes you behind the scenes and puts you on the front lines with U.S. special operations commandos in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tonight’s premiere screening will be followed by a question and answer session with Quade.

‘Rolling Stone’ covers artist who sings tribute to fallen soldier in ‘Danger Close’

By Stephen L. Betts Rolling Stone
Barrett Baber, whose full-throated, Southern rock-tinged vocals took him to a third-place finish on Season Nine of NBC’s The Voice in 2015, has released “Still Stands,” a powerful song from his album A Room Full of Fighters. Penned by Baber with Kenny Lamb, the tune recounts the brave, inspiring story of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Ryan Pirelli, who was killed in action in Iraq in August 2007, but not before leaving behind a combat outpost that would one day bear his name and inspire a documentary film. [Read more…]

Alex Quade’s ‘Danger Close’: ‘We show the human beings behind the hardware’

By Zachary Leeman

Alex Quade isn’t typically what comes to mind when one thinks of a modern-day journalist. Instead of a desk in an air-conditioned office building, she’s had to carry her tools in a rucksack across desert plains to keep up with Special Forces operators. Instead of a laptop and wifi hotspots, she’s carried a small video camera into war zones, and then shared her footage with the world. [Read more…]

Documentary follows Alex Quade, U.S. Special Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Jared Morgan

It started with a promise and 300 hours of combat footage. “Danger Close” seeks to make good on a promise made by military journalist Alex Quade to “A-Team” ODA-072, a detachment of U.S. special operators looking to make sure Army Green Beret Staff Sgt. Rob Pirelli wasn’t forgotten.    [Read more…]