Thursday, December 27, 2007

Army Blogosphere Access

Recently I discovered a Bloggers source material site set up by DoD

The Bloggers' Roundtable provides source material for stories in the blogosphere concerning the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Global War on Terrorism by bloggers and online journalists. Where available, this includes transcripts, biographies, related fact sheets and video.

Interesting that Blogger resources are offered at DoD but meanwhile the Army has reinforced its approach to restricting and curbing Blogging as noted in its regulations (cited below) and in its restrictions to internet browsing and access to many mainstream blogging sites used by milbloggers.

Army Regulation 530--1: Operations Security (OPSEC) (.pdf) restricts more than just blogs, however. Previous editions of the rules asked Army personnel to "consult with their immediate supervisor" before posting a document "that might contain sensitive and/or critical information in a public forum." The new version, in contrast, requires "an OPSEC review prior to publishing" anything -- from "web log (blog) postings" to comments on internet message boards, from resumes to letters home.

Now it appears for the last several months that the Army has further restricted and blocked access to Blog sites for Military and civilian personnel. While many might argue the current Army intent, I would offer that many Blog sites offer a open and diverse perspective that would be useful for the Army to view for a wide scope of application – Public affairs, Soldier input to support, Family issues, R&D activities.

Curiously Army personnel can still access Al Jazeera news sites but cannot read many of the blogs in the Army’s stand-to magazine, including this one, if they sitting at an army hosted machine. The restrictions actually do not allow my supervisor to review my blog (yes I follow the AR requirements) from his work address and attempts to address with IM community are fruitless.

It is a reflection of knee jerk techno scared senior leadership mandates that restricts access and exploitation of the good Army message using the Blogosphere. We should see the advantage offered by using the tools that are available to tell our story – after all the other side is offering an increasingly uncontested point of view.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Supporting our Soldiers

I often get asked what to send to soldiers by family members, friends, legion members. Often times I like to take time to discover the individual that they are sending packages to or learn that they feel a need to do something for military personnel stationed overseas during the Holidays. Many of the things I received in country were through the kindness of people sending stuff through organizations of companies that worked to acknowledge the service of sldiers – especially over the holidays.

Nothing beats a letter, package from loved ones sent directly to a soldier… Its easy enough to do once you have the soldiers address in country… its so great to get mail. If you don’t know a soldier serving personally, the military no longer accepts mail addressed to "Any Service Member" but there are still dozens of ways you can show your support to the American Soldier and the U.S. Army.

Many independent organizations are ready and willing to help support the troops. You can go to this site to get a short list of organizations that will help you send messages, packages and other mementos of support to troops.

Most of the organizations listed are nonpartisan, non-political groups and organizations that work to support U.S. deployed and wounded troops in harm's way. Many are managed by volunteers.

Take a moment this holiday season to check out the support agencies and see if you can support our soldiers…I can say on behalf of one former soldier that it is certainly appreciated.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

When is a Veteran not a Veteran

Another case of Reserve bias – recently approached and asked about a headstone for a Reserve soldier that was Reserve entire career. The Reservist did not die on active duty and did not retire from the reserves. Only duty performed on active duty was for Basic training and Desert Storm…both served honorably but neither up to 24 months. Entitled to a headstone or marker ? The answer is no …and would remain so even if deployed several more times

From the VA site the regulation is specific in its intent to not provide for reserve and guard soldiers

MEMORIAL HEADSTONE OR MARKER - Furnished upon application for installation in a cemetery only to commemorate any eligible veteran whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated and the remains scattered; may not be used as a memento.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE - Any deceased veteran discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A copy of the deceased veteran's discharge certificate (DD Form 214 or equivalent) or a copy of other official document(s) establishing military service must be attached. Service after September 7, 1980, must be for a minimum of 24 months continuous active duty or be completed under special circumstances, e.g., death on active duty. Persons who have only limited active duty service for training while in the National Guard or Reserves are not eligible unless there are special circumstances, e.g., death while on active duty, or as a result of training.

Another policy which should be relooked considering the changed nature of Guard and Reserve duty.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Don’t ask, Don’t tell – how about I don’t care

It has been apparent that a lot of fervor has been raised in the press recently from the many published views placed in the media of the Don’t ask, Don’t tell issue with respect to gay and lesbians serving in the Military. It seems from my simple perspective that conservatives, military, politicians, and groups with specific agendas related to the issue of our policy towards gay American’s serving in the Military miss the basic premise of service.

As a former Company and Battalion commander I am sure I likely had gay individuals that served my unit with distinction. I also had members of all faiths, ideals, political affiliations, nationalities and demographics within the ranks similarly performing their jobs well. As a leader the unit performance demanded that individual issues, bias, and influences had to be set aside to work in a collaborative team atmosphere to get the job done. Frankly my soldiers did not have time, need or inclination to be concerned with politics, religion, sexual orientation – we were then, and soldiers continue to be, concerned with establishing effective, well trained teams that focus on the job at hand.

I needed the soldiers that served with me to be tactically and technically proficient in their military skills. Devotion to the unit mission, knowledge of soldier skills and professional completion of all duties assigned were items that concerned everyone assigned.

The demagoguery on the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell hysteria found in the political arena recently is hype that isn’t prevalent on the Military that I knew or the one that exists today. It is a fabrication used as a political chess piece which pits former military (is he a retired colonel or Brigadier General- who cares), activist groups and political candidates against each other but does not reflect the conditions or issue for soldiers… we are too busy for the flap about things unrelated to the task at hand.

Demagoguery - refers to a political strategy for obtaining and gaining political power by appealing to the popular prejudices, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist or populist themes.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My Baby is a soldier

My daughter graduated High School last June and shipped to OSUT which is Basic Training then advanced individual Military skill training (AIT) immediately following. She just finished her OSUT (Basic and advanced individual Training) and has become a Beret wearing Hooah soldier.

I wrote about my daughter’s progress through the training process before – so this is another update – she completed Basic Training and AIT for Military Police at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO and returned back home in time for Thanksgiving several weeks ago. I remain in marvel of the system that transformed my little Girl into a soldier.

She is getting ready to step out to an affiliation with her Reserve Unit which is full of other members that have made the transition to citizen soldier military life . She will begin College in the Spring Semester and will remain ready for whatever call follows her unit in the future. She is committed to serving in any capacity assigned and knows the possibility of deployment is ever present in her position. She has morphed from the Mall Girl into a GI Jane of sorts, stronger, leaner and more determined to exceed…. I talk with her and realize that she is growing in maturity, poise, confidence to an extent that is never realized by many people…. She has gained it in 15 weeks in the Army.

So a tip of the Hat to the Drill Sergeants, process and leaders that comprise the community that transforms our teenagers into soldiers – I can personally attest that they have done a good job from my perspective in instilling pride, teamwork, Army Values and a sense of service into my little princess that now can handle an M16 as well.