Archive for November, 2006


This isn’t good. Especially when the Iraq Study Group is seriously considering recommending that the U.S. directly engage Iran and Syria in helping to secure Iraq.

From ABC News:

U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.

This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. “There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval,” says a senior official.

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In the new Through the Ringer series, I will be doing short interviews with milbloggers, military officials, defense contractors and others who have something to share about the military and new media. If you would like to nominate someone to be put Through the Ringer, send me an e-mail at dringblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

I’ve been reading The Adventures of Chester for a while now, and when I decided to start Through the Ringer, I couldn’t think of a better choice for my first interview. Josh Manchester, whose nickname provided the namesake for his blog, is a smart, thoughtful and interesting guy. He has been blogging for a while and has obtained quite a following. If you haven’t gone to his blog yet, you need to check it out.

Here is what Josh had to say when the D-Ring put him through the ringer:


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Ok, so I lied when I told you I wouldn’t be writing about Patterico again.

But this time, it is good news for CENTCOM.

Patterico updated with a message from the CENTCOM Electronic Media Engagement Team.


I understand you ran into a bit of difficulty with our press desk last week.

I hope we can consider that water under the bridge and as you say, it is an isolated incident. I would like to invite you to join our mailing list and get in the loop with the CENTCOM Blog Team.

CENTCOM does indeed recognize the importance and value of blogs especially when it comes to getting out positive news in what seems to be an overwhelming sea of negative coverage of events in Iraq and the Global War on Terror in general.

U.S. Central Command Public Affairs has a team of three individuals, an officer and two enlisted, whose main responsibilities are to reach out to those of you who operate blogs that discuss and write about matters in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

I do wish the events that lead to this would have been handled differently, your request should have been routed to us but, what is done is done. I can say that the event did generate a memo from the Deputy Director,

“We treat bloggers as we do “traditional media’ in all respects.

If you interact with bloggers please direct them to the appropriate staff section as you would traditional media.”

For future reference, please directly media inquires to the blog team,

Capt. Anthony Deiss deisaa@centcom.mil
Spc. Patrick Ziegler zieglepa@centcom.mil
Spc. Chris Erickson erickscj@centcom.mil

Spc. Patrick A. Ziegler
U.S. Central Command
Public Affairs

Awesome. This is the way you do business.

On top of that, Spc. Erickson (who I called out earlier for sending a spammy e-mail pitch) sent me a follow-up e-mail. I haven’t gotten back to him yet, but I will. Still, needless to say, I was very impressed.

I knew I would be. I think one of the really cool things about the blogger engagement team is that it is composed of one officer and two enlisted Soldiers. That is one of the things I loved about the Army while I was working at DA — the level of confidence and trust they put in their NCOs and Soldiers. (And as a junior civilian, I appreciated getting similarly endowed with a level of trust in my expertise).

I think situations like these prove one thing — there are no “experts” when it comes to new media engagement. There are only people who have been doing it longer.

We are all learning how to deal with new media. Even those actively engaged in the blogosphere.

Good to see that CENTCOM is part of that learning. Keep it up.

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From Wired:

A new video game commissioned by the U.S. Army as a recruiting tool portrays the nation’s military in 2015 as an invulnerable high-tech machine.

The new PC title, Future Force Company Commander, or F2C2, is a nifty God-game that puts players in the driver’s seat of 18 systems at the heart of the military’s new net-centric warfare approach. The Army added the game to its recruiting tool kit last month as a high-tech follow-up to its successful America’s Army shooter.

It’s an impressive game, simulating weaponry the military is actually using or building, gamers say. But the gameplay is designed so it’s hard to lose: The equipment holds up awfully well and the enemy doesn’t learn from experience.

Read the full article here.

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Civil War?

Yesterday, NBC News announced that they would officially begin referring to the conflict in Iraq as a civil war.How has the online world been talking about it?

Here is a chart for posts containing “Iraq” and “Civil War” from Technorati over the last month:

Seems to be going up. Now here is the same chart over the last year:

Notice the volume of Iraq and civil war talk in the online world last March.

Make of it as you will.

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Army Strong and Army Wrong

Good job, Gary Bishop.

But not good enough.

Back in October, when I first heard that Army would be abandoning “Army of One” in favor of “Army Strong,” I wondered how long it would be before the “Army Wrong” parodies would pop up.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Army Strong. I think it is great — it is a theme that is powerful and resonates well with the institutional Army as well as prospective recruits (in a way that Army of One never could). But Army Strong invites parody.

Apparently, Gary Bishop, the Web guru at Army Recuiting command, thought so too.

So he made a great move and registered the domain www.armywrong.com under his name. As long as he owns it and sits on it on the Army’s behalf, others would not be able to use it for their insideous purposes.

Too bad Mr. Bishop forgot that there are other armywrong domains out there.

Like this one.

True, the .net domain isn’t as powerful. But it is a pretty good domain name for the group’s intent.

Maybe I am making a mountain out of a molehill. After all, I think that the USAAC’s Web efforts overall are superior — the Army’s Web presence in general outshine those of the other services.

But in battle, Soldiers are told to know the enemy, to be two steps ahead. Looks like Army recruiting missed a step.

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On the ball

I had every intention this morning of chastising Army Recruiting and McCann-Erickson, the Army’s advertising contractor.

Instead, I have to commend them.

Yesterday, I noticed that a Google search of “Army Strong” listed the Army’s Web site as the third search result rather than the first (behind Blackfive and a Boston.com article).

This morning, it has been fixed. The results on Yahoo! are even more favorable to the Army.

Good SEO, folks.

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I have said before that I think the term “crackdown” is an unfair descriptor of the activities of the Virginia National Guard unit that is monitoring blog conversation among Soldiers for potential OPSEC violations.

Some have responded to this “crackdown” by shuttering their blogs.

Here is a response I like much better (from Tadpole):

I will promise this much: If I am asked to change or remove an article due to an OPSEC violation, I will. However, I will not be silenced, and I most certainly will not voluntarily shut down my blog. Our story must be told, and it must be told in a manner commensurate with the sacrifices we make daily.

I think that is the response that the DoD was looking for.

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How does one write a scholarly analysis of the online conversation about the war in Iraq without citing milblogs?

I’m not sure, but apparently, it has been done.

I came across this paper, published in the latest edition of the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication while doing research for a paper I am working on for one of my graduate classes. I’m not writing about the milblogosphere, but the latest edition has an entire section on online communication in the war on terrorism, so naturally, it caught my eye.

Above is a map of the blogs that the authors examined in their study (liberal leaning blogs are coded blue, conservative ones are red).

So where is milblogging.com? Where are Blackfive and Greyhawk and Hook? How can these guys be left out?

Maybe that is the real problem — people are looking at Iraq through a prism of left and right, rather than right and wrong. What is good for their country and what is good for our country.

How about less politics and more solutions? Maybe if the authors who conduted this study had listened to the milbloggers, they might have had some.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I am off to Chicago for Thanksgiving, so I’ll be stepping out of the D-Ring for a bit. But I’ll be back soon.

In the mean time, at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, remember those who can’t be home with their families because they are fighting to protect all of us.

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