Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

Dang. Scooped again.

Dang you, David Meerman Scott, for beating me to the punch on what the Air Force is doing in the world of social media.

Not only does he have a better, glossier and more professional blog photo than I do (left), but he also got the first interview that I know of with Capt. Faggard, USAF Public Affairs. I wanted to talk with him, but got beat.

Stupid day job is getting in the way of my unpaid pundit gig. (And for anyone from my company reading this, let me be clear that I’m only kidding.)

Oh well. At least if I was getting scooped it was by him. Damn fine post. Go read it.

And for corporate communicators, I’d definitely get familiar with the chart that the Air Force uses and Scott posts on his blog. It is a great template for judging how and whether or not to engage with bloggers:

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As a former Army PAO, I enjoy ribbing the Chair Air Force every now and then.

But when they do interesting things, I need to give them kudos.

Yesterday, Capt. Dave Faggard from Air Force Public Affairs posted a call out to airmen around the world to create their own video showing why he or she has the best job in the Air Force.

While the video promoting the effort is somewhat bland (check out the link above to see what I mean), I am a huge fan of the concept. Getting real airmen to show the American people what they do is a great idea — and can be a great tool for recruiting.

Why? Because the videos are real. No one is more knowledgable, passionate and excited about the work of airmen than the airman him or herself. This kind of authenticity comes across in video; viewers are likely to have a great deal of trust for the people appearing on camera if it is real rather than produced.

Furthermore, a lot of the “official” video content created by professional communicators (both in and out of the military), frankly, SUCKS. It is bland and corporate and boring.

The Navy has already proven the grassroots video can be fun and memorable, and even viral when posted online.

I’m excited to see what the Air Force gets out of this.

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Want to read blogs that are getting blocked by the US Air Force? Here are two ways to circumvent this boneheaded decision:

  • Use RSS. Noah recommended this approach, and it works well. He also notes a shortcoming; embedded images, audio and video will not get through, only text. Noah mentioned Feed Deamon and Google Reader. Others readers include Omea, Bloglines and Newsgator.
  • Visit the blog through a proxy server. A proxy server redirects your request to visit a site to get around a firewall. Some popular ones are Invisible Surfing and Hide My Ass. I haven’t tested this out on the USAF firewall, but it should work. If someone can confirm, I’d appreciate it.

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Stupid move, USAF

But great reporting from Noah.

The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word “blog” in its web address. It’s the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value — and hazards — of the sites.  At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so “utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.”

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service’s new “Cyber Command,” took over.

If sunlight is the best disinfectant, hopefully the uproar over this monumentally STUPID decision will reverse the the Air Force’s course of action.

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More to come on this soon. For now, check out the video on YouTube (unless you are reading from a military computer, in which case, you can’t see it):

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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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…Because the Air Force is getting close to launching “Cyber Command.”

Air Force Cyber Command is creating a foundation now for the combat Airmen of today and tomorrow, said Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr., commander of 8th Air Force here and the joint functional component commander for Global Strike and Integration for U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

“What we have found for the Air Force is that everything that we do is integrally linked to what we do in cyberspace,” he said.

As the birth of Air Force Cyber Command comes closer to fruition this fall, the importance of cyberspace to today’s Airmen is even more important.

“Unlike other services where you can actually walk up to people and at least see them, we are doing operations globally — we are a global service,” General Elder said. “And, the way we connect all this together is through cyberspace.

“People hear quite often that we, the Air Force, believe in centralized control, decentralized execution,” the general said. “It is one of the things, I believe, that makes us a very effective and efficient service in terms of how we conduct our operations. We are able to do that because our control of cyberspace is so good. For us to be able to use our precision weapons, for us to be able to do the kinds of quick responses that deal with multiple targets, for example — it is all tied to how we work in cyberspace.”

Huh? After reading the article, I feel dumber. I have absolutely no clue what this new command will actually be doing.

Read of yourself. If you have any insight, I’d love to hear.

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The Internet is not a fad. It’s a powerful communication tool, and our worst enemies are well aware of that.

Too bad the Army is afraid of it.

— Chris Vadnais, USAF

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In the world of communication, there are times where less is more.

This instance is one of them.

In the past, I have come down on the Navy and the Marines for not using RSS to syndicate their news content, while applauding the Army and Air Force for their efforts.

Sorry guys, but today I have a beef with the Air Force.

For the past few months I have been subscribed to the Air Force’s RSS feed.

In the past week, there were 94 different news items that they sent across their feed. 94 different items.

And the problem is that a lot of this is stuff just doesn’t interest me. Like their perpetual sports reports from the Air Force Academy. Their CENTAF reports would have potential if they weren’t so boring. And some of their news stories are just plain outdated (such as this news story on an Airman who attended the State of the Union, which was published four days after the President’s speech).

I know some of the Air Force News folks, and they are all great. But seriously, I’m going batty with this deluge. I’m afraid my RSS reader will explode.

To the http://www.af.mil Web team, would you please consider segmenting your RSS feeds? You might not realize this, but you can have more than one. Think of how much more effective you will be in reaching your audience anyhow if they can subscribe to the news that they want to get.

Compare the Air Force approach to that of U.S. Central Command. In the past week, I have counted 16 news items that have posted to their Web site. I think this is a great number; it gives a continuous flow of information without overwhelming readers. Furthermore, CENTCOM several different RSS feeds that can be subscribed to —

In part two, I will take a further look at CENTCOM’s efforts — the highs and the lows — in their efforts to leverage positive military stories in the Middle East.

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From Army.mil:

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 29, 2006) – Nearly 4,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members are gearing up to support the national farewell to former President Gerald R. Ford that will span a seven-day period with events in California, Maryland, the nation’s capital and Michigan.

“This is DoD’s way of showing respect and honor to a former commander in chief and president, so it’s very important to us,” said Army Col. Jim Yonts, public affairs officer for the Military District of Washington.

Read the full article here.

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