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Archive for the ‘Army’ Category

Nick Turse, a new correspondent at Wired’s Danger Room Blog, is reporting from the Army Science Conference in Orlando that TRADOC is building an island in Second Life. (UPDATE: Apparently the Air Force is in Second Life too… oh bother.)

From Turse:

The Army Second Life effort will actually consist of two virtual islands.  One of them, will serve as a “welcome center” with an information kiosk and the means to contact a recruiter, the other will offer, says [Gen. William S.] Wallace, “virtual experiences like jumping out of airplanes, and rappelling off of a towers and using a weapon, to see if we can get some kind of recruiting benefit out of this social networking.”

The Army will even offer virtual tchotchkes to woo recruits.  After the presentation, Wallace told me “if you perform well in the activities you get points and those points can be used to buy virtual tee-shirts and baseball caps.

Hate to break it to you general, but you came to the dance too late. You’re wasting your money.

(more…)

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It seems like…

The Army Web Risk Assessment Cell has some new toys with which to track blogs.

Anyone from AWRAC wish to share? I’d love to hear more…

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Ok… so I’m a week late on this one (he announced it last Tuesday on his blog), but for some reason I just got the post in my feeds this morning. Damn you, Bloglines!

Here’s the (not-so) scoop:

“Teflon Don,” the milblogger who regaled us with his impressive prose and chronicles of his deployment to Iraq on his blog Acute Politics, is going back to Iraq — this time out of uniform.

From his blog:

I am not going back with the Army, this time, though that may still occur at some point in the future. I am going back of my own free will- I am becoming a participant in this great experiment of independent, citizen journalism. I am going back to Iraq as a photojournalist, accredited by the recently developed Public Multimedia, Inc.

If you would like to donate towards the purchase of equipment for my trip and receive some return on your investment (besides quality journalism, of course!), there is a new photo album up. Viewing is free- the photos are also available for purchase as high-quality prints. All proceeds will go directly to benefit citizen journalism.

This is great news, in my humble opinion. TD is an incredible writer. The community of milbloggers thinks so too — he handily won the Milbloggies last year for best U.S. Army Milblog.

If you have any doubts, read this. After reading that post, I subscribed to his blog.

I’m be excited to see what he brings us next…

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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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Go Army! Beat Navy!

From Flickr, uploaded by Hoses.

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The Army is blogging!

Kinda.

The U.S. Army has a contestant in this year’s Miss America Pageant — Miss Utah, or Sgt. Jill Stevens. She is a veteran of Afghanistan and a member of the National Guard, and she is blogging about her experience in the competition.

They aren’t calling it a blog, probably as not to intimidate the higher ups who still don’t get the “interweb.” But that’s what it is. It is a series of personal entries, published in reverse chronological order, updated frequently.

Though others might disagree with me (so far she has written about singing holiday songs and practicing walking in heels and posing), I think that this is a great way to humanize the Army. Every Soldier story is different, and this certainly is a unique one. It may not sound like a traditionally “hooah” story, but this story has legs (really — no pun intended). Using a blog to help tell the story is quite effective.

Also check out the other multi-media incorporated into the site — a Flickr page, a YouTube page, a downloadable poster, a slide show

Overall, A+ to the Soldiers Media Center for putting together a great online package.

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Fallen Soldiers

Remember those seven Soldiers I wrote about earlier who spoke out against the war in Iraq in a New York Times op-ed?

Two of them won’t be coming home.

The Pentagon has announced that Yance Gray and Omar Mora from the 82d Airborne Division died in a vehicle accident on Monday.

These men were true patriots — fighting and dying for their country in a war that they personally questioned. Putting country above self is the ultimate sacrifice.

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