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Archive for December, 2007

Blog tag: Bhutto

I’m dying to hear what Matt has to say about the Bhutto assassination. Not really the topic of my blog, but I think he’ll have some interesting insights…

So Matt, I’m tagging you. Looking forward to what you have to say.

For everyone else, consider this an open thread to add your thoughts. About the news. About the news coverage. Whatever you feel like contributing.

Ready? Go.

Update: Matt posts with some interesting links, then passes the ball to Thomas Barnett. He hasn’t posted to his blog about Bhutto yet…

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A Web site is a great way for you to get out your message on your terms.

But you should never create one just because you can. You need to have a reason to do so.

Today’s lesson in online communication for the military has been brought to you by the U.S. Army, which recently launched “Grow the Army.” It is a new micro site dedicated to sharing information about the growth of the military under orders of the President.

It basically consists of a map of the U.S. that you can click on and jump to another part of the page that talks about how much each base will grow as a result of the military reorganization. There are links to a press release (which nearly made me go cross-eyed from the big blocks of text), some slides (God, they are dreadful) and a video of the media briefing that announced the stationing (which I can’t link to because Army Media Player needs some serious work).

And all this gets a big “so what?” from me.

I’m sure some general in some corner of the Pentagon thinks that this is the most important thing to ever happen to the military, and it requires a big press conference and hundreds of cameras and a web site and fireworks. (And if it was you driving this, BG Cucolo, my apologies, but I still don’t think the roll-out of this plan requires a Web site.)

Before creating a micro site (or planning any media event public event communication whatsoever), the first question to ask yourself is why.

Lets deconstruct this piece by piece.

Restationings and the growth of military installations are big news items. But only to the local communities. They bring good (new jobs, new construction, federal money, new consumers) and bad (more traffic, young-and-sometimes-foolish Soldiers). So would it make sense to have this site to communicate the Army’s message to these folks? No. The people outside Fort Lewis, Wash., or Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., aren’t going to the Army Web site to learn about restationing. They are going to the Web site of their local installation or, more likely, attending a public meeting at their local chamber of commerce. So talking to these people isn’t a reason to create this site.

What about the White House? The President directed the growth of the Army. Surely folks in the executive branch will want to see what the Army is doing as far as restationing. But wait! If I were President and wanted this information, I might call my Secretary of Defense, or my Secretary of the Army or even my Army Chief of Staff to get this information. I wouldn’t go to an Army Web site.

Maybe Congress wants to see this? Again, doubtful. With Congress, as with local communities, politics is local. When I worked at Fort Meade, we talked to former Sen. Sarbanes’ and Sen. Mikulski’s staff frequently, and we often were the ones providing them information about military realignment at the base.

So again, why? Unfortunately, sometimes in the puzzle palace, the answer is “because the general said so.” It is the job of thoughtful and strategic communicators in the public affairs ranks to make a case to those generals that “cause I said so” isn’t the best use of his or her communication resources.

What do you think of the micro site? Do you agree with me?

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Those dangerous interwebs

As if the military didn’t have enough irrational fears about online technology…

From af.mil:

“Intruders” from cyberspace are trying to hack into the Kadena Air Base network and steal information from unsuspecting e-mail users.

The intruders are not hackers, though they pretend to be to gain access to information they would need if they wanted to cripple the mission here.

Fortunately, they are not a real threat but a group of Airmen from the 18th Communications Squadron’s “Blue Team” charged with strengthening Kadena’s network through training, testing and assessing users.

“(Lt. Col. Clayton Perce, 18th CS commander) recognized we had people in our squadron with the unique talent of understanding the mindset of hackers,” said Lt. Col. Alonna Barnhart, 18th CS Blue Team officer-in-charge. “We act as ‘blue team aggressors’ against Kadena’s network users, helping people recognize the threat, train for the threat and retrain as necessary.”

One of the biggest threats to the local network is an e-mail scam known as phishing. Phishing is an attempt to acquire sensitive information by fraudulent means such as e-mail designed to look like a bank or other trustworthy company. Sensitive information sought by hackers includes usernames, passwords and credit card numbers.

I think the way that this story is written shows how much public affairs types have acquiesced to network administrator types when it comes to use of the Internet. Under the frame presented in this story (and furthered by network administrators), online technology is rife with danger. Watch out or the enemy will get you online.

No wonder the “ban MySpace/YouTube” forces are winning the DoD’s internal struggle for ownership of the Internet.

Why aren’t there more articles about how the Internet is a powerful force in helping the military gather intelligence and fight our nation’s wars? Because it wouldn’t fit with the big, bad Internet storyline?

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In today’s Buzz Feed, there were some links to recent blog posts about terrorists using virtual worlds (think platforms like Second Life) to conduct training programs.

Check out some of the links (here, here and here) .

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Weblogs a decade old

Dear Pentagon,

I think these “weblog” thing that the kids are talking about on the Inter-tubes are catching on.

From BBC:

The word “weblog” celebrates the 10th anniversary of it being coined on 17 December 1997.

The word was created by Jorn Barger to describe what he was doing with his pioneering Robot Wisdom web page.

The word was an abbreviation for the “logging” of interesting “web” sites that Mr Barger featured on his regularly updated journal.

A decade on and blog-watching firm Technorati reports it is tracking more than 70 million web logs.

These things might be here to stay…

h/t: Smart Mobs

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My boss forwarded this to me. I love parody.

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DefendAmerica.mil, the one-stop shop for information about the Global War on Terror (or whatever OSD is calling it these days) is no more.

Supposedly, all of the content is being integrated into pentagon.mil. However, based on my last post, I doubt that is the case.

It’s election season. Time to hide Iraq under the carpet until there is a new president…

Anyone from OSD(PA) have something to share about the decision to take down the site? I’d love to hear.

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