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:
1) Tell me a little about yourself .
I was born and raised in Mississippi, except for one year of high school, which I spent as an exchange student in Japan. I went to Duke and became interested in the military while there. I decided to be a Marine and joined Naval ROTC. I was commissioned at graduation and went on to be a combat engineer officer. I left active duty in 2004 and worked in real estate development for about two years.
2) Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging when I was closely following the 2004 election. I sent lots of articles and links to friends. One of them suggested I start a blog. Sounded like a good idea to me. It took me a few weeks before discovering that I had a lot to say about warfare and such. If I hadn’t figured that out, I probably would have abandoned it.
3) Why are you still blogging?
Well, at the moment, I do a bit of writing elsewhere for newspapers and internet opinion sources. My blog is a place to post things that wouldn’t make good article for one reason or another, or that I just can’t find an outlet for elsewhere.
In a larger sense, I have a passion for what can loosely be defined as warfare and statecraft, and all of the issues that are wrapped up in those two terms. This is one outlet for that passion. There are others, but I’ll keep those to myself.
4) What five blogs do you consider “must reads”?
That’s a tough question, but here goes. If you don’t read Instapundit, I have to question your sanity. Belmont Club is the smartest blog I have ever encountered. The Fourth Rail is very good. Westhawk is top notch. To round it out, I guess I’d say Tigerhawk. Generally speaking, I find myself checking those daily, and in some cases, multiple times a day.
5) Where do you get most of your news and information?
95% is from the internet. Daily reads are Instapundit (see above), the Drudge Report, RealClearPolitics, TCSDaily (where I write myself) and the Small Wars Journal, which has daily news links. If you keep track of those every day, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the heck is going on.
6) What should the DoD be doing to better communicate in today’s media environment?
Businesses and celebrities have official blogs. Why not military units? Every battalion-sized military unit probably already has a member who is a blogger, whether they know it or not. There’s no reason why there couldn’t be an official unit blog — especially if those units are deployed. Aside from that, if I worked in military public affairs, I’d do everything in my power to have troops record things and get them out on YouTube. Would serve the same purpose as unit blogs, only more visual. In both cases, you circumvent traditional media outlets, which are frequently part of the problem.
7) Is there something CENTCOM should be doing better, and if so, what?
I’d refer them to the same advice above. I think CentCom has made lots of improvements in its public affairs realm over the past year or so.
8) If you could say anything to GEN Casey right now, what would it be and why?
Moqtada al-Sadr’s life needs to be ended. Not only is he personally wanted for murder charges, which flouts all idea of an incipient rule of law, but letting such a man have such sway over a religious organization that operates in an extralegal fashion delegitimizes the Iraqi government. Sadr should have been killed and the Mahdi militia dismantled long ago. Not one American will shed a tear for him. Don’t listen to anyone who says there will be riots in the Arab streets. Has that ever stopped us before? He’s an enemy and needs to be destroyed, not coopted. He’s coopting the Iraqi system, not the other way around.
9) If you were president and could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your SECDEF, who would you choose and why?
It would be hard to dismiss an opportunity to pick Donald Rumsfeld again. It would be worth it just for the media hand-wringing. A second choice, I suppose, might be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well, wait a minute. You said living or dead. Maybe Teddy Roosevelt, post-San Juan Hill?
10) Is there a burrito better than Chipotle?
Yes, at the Cosmic Cantina, in Durham, North Carolina. It doesn’t get much better than that.
(Editor’s note: the D-Ring strongly disagrees. The correct answer is that there is no burrito better than Chipotle.