Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

Monday Funnies

Courtesy of the funniest man in the PR blogosphere.

Miss Teen South Carolina’s plan to divide up The Iraq:

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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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Bob Burns, the esteemed Pentagon correspondent for the Associated Press, is reporting that the Pentagon is narrowing in on a strategy that will likely reduce the number of troops in Iraq.

He quotes “a senior military official.” Odds are 100-to-1 that that official is Dorrance Smith, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs

This appears to be a commonly used tactic in government media relations known as “softening the ground.” A senior spokesperson, generally the press secretary or communications director, will leak a story that has potential to be challenging or difficult for the administration on the condition that the person’s identity is kept secret. Why do this? So that the government can take the temperature of the public and see how they react to the news — and also to ease expectations.

The timing makes sense. September has been the month that the White House, the Pentagon and the media have identified as “zero hour” for the next steps in the Iraq experiment. It appears that they are bracing for, at worst, a negative report from General Petraeus or, at best, a report that is viewed skeptically by the Democratic congress.

Check out the article for yourself, and let the D-Ring know if you think this effort will be successful.

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People are talking about Ricardo Sanchez online. People, that is, excluding milbloggers.

The spike came as a result of recent comments made by the retired general at a recent speech in San Antonio.

One would think that when a former commander of troops in Iraq publicly says that the U.S. has lost the war and should cut its losses, milbloggers would have something to say about it.

Instead, stunning silence.

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On Monday, the Department of Defense announced that Maj. Megan McClung, a Marine public affairs officer, had been killed in Iraq.

I first heard the news a day after it was announced. I wanted to write about it, but I didn’t know what to say.

The media has been abuzz about the death of Maj. McClung because it meets some of the established (and sometimes artificial) criteria for what makes news “newsworthy.” She was a woman. She was an officer. She was the highest ranking female Marine to be killed in Iraq to date.

To me, however, it feels different. This time it feels more personal.

To be clear, I did not know Maj. McClung. During my time as a military public affairs specialist, our paths had not crossed, though I wish they had. From the coverage of her death, she sounded like an incredible woman, one who I am sure that — on many levels — fellow public affairs officers would be proud to hold up as a representative of the career field and the military.

She was a public affairs officer. She wasn’t infantry. It wasn’t her daily job to find IEDs or conduct raids. Her duty was to tell a story. It was her job to help reporters to theirs and to help the American people know about the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the US Marine Corps.

I feel like I am rambling. I feel like I am not focused. I can’t tell you why, but this time it feels different. Not for any of the reasons that reporters and pundits have decided that this news is “newsworthy.”

I never met Maj. McClung, but for some reason, this one hurts more.

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Active Denial Buzzing Online

The Active Denial System, a new “less than lethal” weapon created by the Air Force, has been cleared for use in Iraq after extensive testing, and the online world is talking about it.

The new system even made BuzzFeed, the new aggregator that highlights the big things that people are buzzing about online.

Why are people talking about this? Because it is controversial. Supposedly, the pain that the beams from these guns cause is so intense that test subjects could only handle it for about five seconds.

And the big guns in the blogosphere are commenting:

  • Gizmodo: “I think I’d rather be shot for reals”
  • DefenseTech: “Excruciating pain not so bad when drunk”
  • BoingBoing: “Air Force makes weapon that makes your face feel like its melting”

Look at the spike in conversation:

What do you think about the use of this technology in Iraq? And how do you thing the general public feels about this technology?

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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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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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Want to be a milblogger?

Then you need to be aware of the policies.

Especially if you are going to be serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I have yet to pin down the exact location of the complete military blogging policies for deployed servicemembers, so if you know where I can find it to share with others, please pass it along. In the interim, here are some select phrases from the blogging policy adopted by MNF-I for Iraq, signed by LTG Vines in April 2005:

6-b: Personal web sites and web logs. Personal web sites and web logs produced in a personal capacity and not in connection with official duties need not be cleared in advance. However, it is the responsibility of MNC-I personnel to ensure that any personal web sites and web logs do not contain prohibited information defined by this policy. MNC-I personnel who have any questions regarding prohibited information may submit the information to their servicing S2/G2/C2 for classification questions or to their PAO for other questions. (Emphasis added)

More on milblogging in combat to come.

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