Tuesday, May 23, 2006

For the 2% of you that didn't come here from Foxnews.com

Yeah, I wrote something for the Fox Web site.

It's good to be at Fox :)

New Offensives in The Propaganda War

The Propaganda War: What will it take to win?

People at the Pentagon are working on its strategic communications roadmap, one of the goals of which is to reduce cross-service stress, thus making our nation's strategic communications more effective.

Now, I don't know how much of a problem this is at the joint level...I don't work there and it's outside my lane. But my first reaction is that this is something that's long overdue. We need to understand that effective communication-call it strategic communication or a rose by any other name-requires all of the players to be involved. The biggest impediment to strategic communications is the lack of coordination...everyone's off doing their best, but often doing it in a vacuum.

This is something near and dear to my heart so I'm going to take the next few days to discuss a few of the issues this article raises-or fails to raise. This will keep me from posting one monster post that most folks won't get through, including me :)

Today's point is about tasking authority.

One of the obstacles to integrated strategic communications-from the public affairs standpoint-is getting the communications plans successfully integrated into the operational plans. If you're a PAO, you have had this happen: your higher headquarters in the public affairs chain will often call and say "hey, it'd be great if your unit could try to do this project, which will really help the Army's overall communications efforts." In all fairness, it usually is a pretty good idea-from their level.

Now anyone who has been in the Army more than a day knows that at this point it's all about the individual public affairs officer and whether or not they can make this happen.

The problem arises when the PAO goes to try and talk the unit into supporting this mission. The unit operations officer is going to say-and rightfully so, "If this is so damn important, why didn't we get a tasker to make it happen?"

This is a good question and critical to the successful integration of communications. The Army runs on paperwork and the king of paperwork is the tasking document. For most purposes, when you get a tasking document it's official that you actually have to do something.

So one of the first things we're going to have to fix is getting these great ideas into the tasking chain. When we identify a key stakeholder-which I define as an individual or group that can have a significant impact upon our mission accomplishment-which a subordinate unit can engage in communication that's advantageous to the bigger mission, we need to be able to task them to do so.

Some people will say, "We don't want to nickel and dime subordinates. We don't need to be "micromanaging" subordinate units and bases and telling them how to do their job. These folks have a lot on their plate and they don't need us calling them with taskers for simple things."

Well, isn't that what we're doing when we call the PAO? Only then the problem is that we want the PAO to accomplish the exact same thing without the benefit of tasking authority. For those unfamiliar with this process, PAOs have no tasking authority over subordinate units/personnel.

Other might say, "This is exactly what we're trying to prevent, having subordinates engage in what is our fight. We should be doing this at our level and protecting our subordinates."

I couldn't disagree more.
This is NOT like the division headquarters saying, "We're not going to tell battalions how to fight." The division headquarters should not be telling the battalion HOW to fight, but you can certainly bet that division HQ will tell them WHERE to fight and WHAT they are supposed to accomplish.

For instance, the joint force headquarters says, "We want this person or group to have a better understanding of what we do and why. We have identified them as critical to our communications efforts. Let's have the local Army base engage this group to accomplish this mission."

This is NOT telling the local army base how to fight their communications battles. This is telling them the WHERE and hopefully, the WHY.

If we are going to truly embrace and accomplish integrated strategic communications, we are obligated to bring the same effective processes to communications that we bring to everything else that we do. That means having the authority to make the right things happen.

That's enough for now...more later.

Retired generals and the SECDEF...another round?

Retired Major General John Batiste wrote a gues essay that appeared in today’s online version of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Sometimes it’s tough to figure out who should be accountable after the fact, especially on something as uncertain as strategy. I wasn’t in the room when the strategy for Iraq was being formed, but I’m sure that the strategy was debated back and forth. I’m sure that camps were formed and arguments were presented both in the formal setting and in numerous hallway and email conversations.

I don’t know General Batiste, never served with him, and have heard lots of good things about him. I absolutely believe that anything he said was said in full good faith that it was the right thing for our country.

I would love to see more clarification on what exactly keeps the argument from being, “your mistake was in not listening to me”. It’s easier to say, “I knew this would happen” than it is to say, “here’s exactly why anyone would have expected this to happen”.

In any case, it doesn’t look like the debate will be over anytime soon.

To win in Iraq, war on terror, U.S. needs new defense chief

John Batiste

Guest essayist

(May 23, 2006) — The war in Iraq was started by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his inner circle who "knew everything," except how to win.Winning in war is an absolute and there is no substitute for victory. Americans go to war to win.

Driven by his contemptuous attitude, dismissiveness and arrogance, the defense secretary built a war plan that violated the principles of war. What should have been a deliberate victory is now a protracted challenge. He is responsible for America and her allies going to war with the wrong plan, setting the conditions for Abu Ghraib that fueled the insurgency and disbanding Iraqi security force institutions when we needed them most. The effort in Iraq has never recovered.

Our secretary of defense does not know how to win...

Read the full article here...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Speaking of the Saudis and School children

These two men got on a school bus filled with students and began speaking Arabic. Under questioning they gave different answers as to why they did it...

Let the lame excuses begin. No doubt we'll hear more calls for more education in Arabic and how our society has brought this mix-up upon itself. Months from now on page 14 we might find out that they were really conducting reconnaissance work for possible terror attack sites...which we brought on ourselves as well.

Jewish Apes, Christian Swine and women who are one-half of a human

This is what I wish the media spent more time on. You can only imagine--in fact, I CAN'T imagine--what the outrage would be in this country if our textbooks were written this way.

I might be wrong but I think if more people read this, we'd be much more supportive of the current War on Terror...

This is a Saudi textbook. (After the intolerance was removed.)
By Nina SheaSunday, May 21, 2006; Page B01

Saudi Arabia's public schools have long been cited for demonizing the West as well as Christians, Jews and other "unbelievers." But after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis -- that was all supposed to change.

A 2004 Saudi royal study group recognized the need for reform after finding that the kingdom's religious studies curriculum "encourages violence toward others, and misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the 'other.' " Since then, the Saudi government has claimed repeatedly that it has revised its educational texts.

Well, apparently no such changes have been made, and the books have lots of examples of how to think about the infidels.

"As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."

The 10th-grade text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women, and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a "free Muslim male." Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or the victim's heirs for murder or injury:
"Blood money for a free infidel. [Its quantity] is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is 'of the book' or not 'of the book' (such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.).
"Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel."

Hat tip to Maj P guest writing over at OPFOR for this...

What exactly are we teaching our kids?

Well, more lessons in life from the New York City public school system.

My wife decided to volunteer for my daughter's class trip to "Medieval Times". My wife really enjoys helping both our daughters' teachers and often volunteers for whatever's needed. The bonus was that this promised to be a relatively fun trip.

The downside was that if parents wanted to go on this trip they had to pay a 40$ ticket fee. Okay...although steep, that's not insurmountable so we stepped up and paid for my wife early on...you see, there was only enough room on the bus for five parents. Worse, there were three parents who would be "required" to attend if they wanted their children to go on the trip because their angel was a disciplinary problem. That's right: for their child to go on the trip, a parent would be required to attend and to sit next to their child on the bus. As my wife was to find out later, the seating requirement did not extend to the event itself.

Now kudos to the school for one thing. At least they made the parent come and didn't have any problem identifying those children most likely to make the event overly taxing for the teacher. Frankly, I'm surprised that some lawyer didn't advise the school that they were opening themselves to a lawsuit by damaging the self-esteem of those children identified as problematic.

Here's the kicker.

If you were a parent required to accompany your child...you didn't have to pay the $40 fee. That's right...the taxpayers paid for your ticket.

So the $40 is apparently a tax on those parents that have taught their children to maintain at least a minimum standard of behavior. We're not talking about our own little angels here, we're just talking about being good enough not to require a parental escort on the field trip.

There's the argument that, "Parents who let their kids act like that probably wouldn't care enough to pay the money to come, so if we didn't pay for them their kids would miss out."

You know what? That's a decision for the parents that I'm okay with.

Apparently, there IS such a thing as a free lunch...if your kid is a big enough pain in the butt.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

And his mom is a state trooper...

What does it take to get through to some people? I'm not talking about Lionel Tate here. I'm talking about the people who keep putting dangerous animals like this on probation.

Fla. teen gets 30 years for gun possession

FORT LAUDERDALE (AP) — Lionel Tate, the teenager who got a second chance after he beat and stomped a 6-year-old girl to death, was sent back to prison for 30 years Thursday for gun possession.
"In plain English, you've run out of chances. You do not get any more," Circuit Judge Joel T. Lazarus told Tate, who smirked as he was led off to jail in shackles.

Even if you didn't think he had run out of chances when he stomped a little girl to death you might think he had run out of chances well before this:

Since his release in 1999, Tate has had numerous run-ins with the law. In 2004, the judge sentenced him to an additional five years' probation for having a knife.

Murder, "numerous run-ins" and a knife charge...The solution's clear. Time to tell this young animal "Stop or we'll say stop again".

Tate, now 19, was convicted of beating Tiffany Eunick to death in 1999, when he was 12, claiming he accidentally killed the girl while imitating pro wrestling moves he had seen on television. He became the youngest person in modern U.S. history to receive a life sentence.
His murder conviction was overturned in 2004 by an appeals court that said it was not clear Tate understood the charges. He was freed under a deal in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years' probation.

The best part...he still faces trial in September for the robbery for which he was carrying the gun.

"He continues to get bad advice from meddling third parties," Williams said outside court.
Williams said Tate's mother, Florida Highway Patrol trooper Kathleen Grossett-Tate, told him he could win an appeal on the probation violation conviction, win his robbery case and leave jail in a year. She left court without commenting.

Apparently "trooper" is not the Florida equivalent of "lawyer".

Holding my breath...

Well, my editor here at Fox says that my story on the 2006 milblogging conference should hit the foxnews.com web site on Monday late in the afternoon. Of course, it's just in time for the 2007 Milblogging conference :)

Once again, I've learned an important lesson for when dealing with my own servicemembers...make all--or at least most--of your edits in one fell swoop. Of course, from my end I should never add new stuff for version three. Duh-OH!!

Never underestimate the ingenuity of the military

Once a fisherman, always a fisherman...

Chicago TribuneMay 17, 2006 Pg. 1

GIs Angle For Quiet Time At Baghdad School Of Fly Fishing
By Aamer Madhani, Tribune staff reporter

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- Like many of his fellow anglers in the Baghdad School of Fly Fishing, Navy Lt. Joel Stewart thought an afternoon of casting on one of Saddam Hussein's lakes could make him feel as though he had escaped the war and was back in his native Montana, fishing for trout.

But sometimes he couldn't pretend.

"There was one time when I was casting and a rocket landed in the lake about 400 meters from me," said Stewart, an avid angler and founder of the club dedicated to introducing U.S. soldiers in Iraq to what is known as the "quiet sport."

Other fishing excursions have been interrupted by gun battles and roadside bombs exploding within earshot. "I wasn't in any real danger, but it was a real reminder of where we're at," Stewart said.

For many soldiers, the war in Iraq is about enduring painfully long stretches of boredom punctuated by brief flashes of terror. Even the most battle-seasoned of infantrymen can weather months of humdrum patrols without firing a shot or being fired at.
Finding ways to maintain sanity during the valleys of the fight can sometimes be as daunting as the peaks of battle, the soldiers say.

On U.S. bases, video games are perhaps the most popular downtime distractions, particularly games that mimic war, such as Halo and Mortal Kombat. The U.S. military has also built state-of-the-art gyms and rock-climbing walls, and it screens movies to offer troops temporary reprieves from the stress of their work.

There is no bar scene, such as the one U.S. troops enjoyed in Saigon, and there have been few stories of GIs meeting their future brides, as many American troops did during World War II. But the variety of diversions and creature comforts available to troops in Iraq is astounding compared with previous wars.

At some of the military post exchanges soldiers can purchase flat-screen televisions, DVDs, Maxim magazine and other comforts of home. The Internet and the availability of cellular phones have made keeping in touch with loved ones back home easy and relatively inexpensive.
Some U.S. troops use their downtime to take correspondence courses, hundreds blog on the Internet and a few have even formed rock bands.

But the Baghdad School of Fly Fishing based at Camp Victory is unique.

"I can't tell you the number of times I have come out with a fly rod and solved the world's problems," said U.S. Army Maj. Vance Sperry, a club director, on a recent afternoon as he took an hourlong break to cast a line.

Stewart, a Montana native whose yearlong tour ended in February, founded the club to help fellow service members clear their minds while teaching them a sport they could enjoy back home. When Stewart went home, Lt. Col. William Jones and Sperry took over.

"There is nothing better than spending a day fly fishing," said Jones, taking time recently from his job in the planning and policy unit of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq to lead a class. "Here, we're lucky to get free for an hour twice a week, but I'll take it. It's good to get your mind off things for a little while. Everybody out here has to find a way. This is mine."

This spring, during the chaos that consumed Iraq after the bombing of the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, Jones and his colleagues worked 20 hours a day. When things slowed down to the more normal 14-hour workday, the first thing Jones did was head to one of the lakes on base with his fly rod, he said.

Stewart said he started fly fishing at Camp Victory whenever he could find a free hour. The manmade lakes still teem with carp and other fish stocked during Hussein's regime.

"Some guys do PT [physical training] to unwind," Stewart said in a telephone interview from his new base in Rhode Island. "I do PT because you have to. Fly fishing allows me to decompress. When you're deployed you have to have something to let your mind escape for a little while."

Inevitably, service members who saw Stewart fishing would stop to inquire about it. Some of them asked if they could join him. Stewart, an ambassador of the sport, would always oblige.
With all the interest from soldiers and sailors who wanted to learn how to fly fish, Stewart got the idea to start an eight-week course. The class focuses on teaching the basics of the sport and is open to service members at Camp Victory.

He started posting notes on a fly fishing bulletin board on the Internet, writing about fishing in Iraq and his desire to teach other service members to fly fish. Soon, enthusiasts in the United States were mailing him flies, reels, rods and other equipment to run his class.
Stewart also started a Web site to post his war zone fishing tales (all true, he insists) and updates on the classes.

In one entry from August, he described an hourlong battle with a behemoth fish called a mangar, a species found in the Tigris River.

"He turned towards the brush pile and I strained the connection between us, trying to turn his massive head out of the danger zone," Stewart wrote. "That proved to be too much for my weary tippet and it gave up the fight. Just like that it was over. I had been in the fight for an hour and felt every minute of it. The moment of defeat-induced despair was quickly overcome with the euphoria fed by adrenaline. I had fought the fish of a lifetime for an hour."

Stewart graduated 34 anglers from the Baghdad School of Fly Fishing before returning to the U.S. Jones hopes to graduate dozens more before he heads home early next year.

"My hope was to get some guys out of their hooches and out of the MWR [Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers], teach them to fly fish and find something that would give them a little distraction," Stewart said. "It's gone way better than I thought it would."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why is it liening?

Army Wives…

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the little annoyances that Army Wives have to deal with. A h/t to Homefront Six for reminding us what wives go through almost every day. And my prayers and thanks to those wives who have way more to worry about than little stuff like this.

Because we’re getting ready to head back to the “Land of the Morning Calm” ourselves, my own Homefront Six had to make some arrangements to take our beloved HD Softail overseas. Because we still owe a little bit on it, she contacted the Army’s Transportation Office here at lovely Fort Hamilton to make certain we could still take the bike overseas.

Apparently, asking for the right paperwork over the phone isn’t as easy as it seems.

Here’s the conversation: I kid you not.

Hello? Is this the transportation office?
Yes it is, how can we help?

My husband and I are getting ready to move overseas. We have a motorcycle that we’d like to take in our household goods, but there’s a lien on it. What kind of paperwork do we need?
What do you mean it’s leaning?

What? No, there’s a lien on it. Do we need something from the bank?
I don’t get it. Your motorcycle leans?

No, no…there’s a lien…. we’re still paying on it. We don’t actually own it outright.
Ma’am, you don’t even have the motorcycle? How can you take it to Korea if you don’t have it?

No…We’re still paying on it.
You’re paying on a motorcycle you don’t even have?

Okay, thanks for your help.
We decided to just pay it off. Apparently that’s much easier.

And as far as riding the motorcycle is concerned...that's easy, just lien into the wind.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Milblog ring

Milblog ring
Originally uploaded by kosovodad.

Testing a theory for my blogring pic

Apparently, it's not the first time...

Our new favorite minor leaguer, Delmon Young, has been a bad man before. Apparently he threw a bat towards a pitcher who had come too close with a pitch.

Also this from the Heraldsun
"[Dmitri] just told me to keep my head up and get through it," Delmon Young said. "I'm not really such a bad person. I may act up a little bit every once in a while, but I'm really not a bad person."
When he was playing for Double-A Montgomery last season, Young was suspended for three games by the Southern League for bumping the chest of plate umpire Jeff Latter.
Bulls shortstop B.J. Upton, billed along with Young as the future of the Devil Rays, said some players were expecting the suspension to be longer.
"He realizes what happened and what he did," Upton said. "I honestly think he never meant to hit the umpire. He's young and he made a mistake.

I don't think he MEANT to hit the umpire???

Well, there you have it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

They're over here!

Just when you thought it was safe to protect your civil rights? Well, it seems that the bigger problem here is that the MSM can’t get it right, can’t ask the tough questions, and can’t understand why people get ticked at their inability to do the first two.

Is the U.S. Border Patrol selling out the Minutemen to the Mexican Government?

When you read the headline and lead paragraph, you’re lead to believe that the U.S. Border Patrol is tipping off the Mexican government as to the location of Minutemen border patrols. Whoa, that’s crazy and dangerous isn’t it?

Except once you read through the story you find out that the BP is letting the Mexican gov’t know where the patrols WERE that arrested someone.

Is the BP telling them in advance? We don’t know from this story because that question never got asked or answered.

But this quote from a BP spokesman makes it seem like the BP is telling the Mexican govt where the Minutemen are going to be in the future…

"It's not a secret where the Minuteman volunteers are going to be," Mario Martinez said Monday.

This is just one more reason why people continue to lose faith in the Media.

One strike and you're out.

Or maybe "Take me out of the ball game."
Or maybe "Seventh Inning Prison Stretch?"

Delmon Young, a minor league ball player for the Durham Bulls was suspended for 50 games just days after he hit an umpire with a thrown bat after taking a called third strike.

This guy should be arrested for assault and sent to jail. It's time to stop allowing major sports organizations to continue to punish internally for what would be a felony outside of the organization.

You can read some of the stories here and here.

You can see the video of the incident here. You don’t see him actually throw the bat but he walks off to the left of the screen and you see the bat come flying back and hit the umpire after bouncing off the ground.

Okay, 50 games is a lot. He made a quick and fairly complete apology. It’s believed to be the longest suspension in the International League’s 123-year history and it will probably cost Mr. Young around $145,000.

And yes, if you or I did it the fine probably wouldn’t be nearly that much. But you know what the difference would be?

We would have a criminal record. How much might that cost us over the course of our lives?

I’m so tired of athletes throwing a temper tantrum to eclipse that of any toddler in the full-on throes of the “terrible twos” and then turning around and saying “oops, my bad, I didn’t mean it.” You know what? You DID mean it. You may not have meant to get in so much trouble over it, but you definitely meant to do it.

And you should pay for it like the rest of us…No more special favors just because you’re an “athlete”.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A photo update

The AFRTS conference wasn't all work for those of you that were worried. We spent some time learning about the Temecula Valley wine country.

Waiting for the start of the Five Boro Bike Tour

Some people bring their whole family out for the tour. I'm hoping that cats don't get up this early.

And something I found that every military person who has ever been on any staff at any level can probably relate to.

A few good updates.

I've updated the blogroll...check these folks out because they're a wealth of good information and very good at what they do.

Last week I attended the American Forces Radio and Television Service's worldwide conference. Events like this are really good for getting the masses jazzed about what we do. At least I know it works on me! I had the chance to sit next to Alison Barber during dinner (see my posts on "name dropping is such a vulgar thing". I have met very few people more dedicated to serving the men and women of the armed services than her. You know how you can just tell when people don't really have their heart in what they're doing? Well, you can definitely tell with her. Her heart is definitely all-in the America Supports You program. I've been really happy to see guys like Gary Sinise go out there and support the troops. Guys like that can't get enough credit. It'd be nice to see those hollywood types that say "I support the troops, but..." get out there and do the same. Although, given what I said about knowing when people's hearts are in it, it might not be such a good idea.

I had mentioned the 2006 mil blogging conference to her and gave her the names of some blogs to read. Who knows how that will turn out...

I also happened to pick up a copy of Dungeon Seige II, which has been a boatload of fun.

I also had the chance to meet some of the great people that I'll be working with when I get to the American Forces Network of Korea. It was a definitely a great opportunity to meet the team and I'm really excited. Although, as we all know, the best part of the deal is that the family is excited about the move as well. As we say in the military, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

Just got an email from my branch rep...apparently my number has come up and I'll be getting promoted on 1 June. Yep, my field grade lobotomy is almost complete. Woo Hoo!! It's been a long strange trip since I was a Private First Class wwwaaayyy back in 1984...not to mention several career field changes, Military Police, Field Artillery, Military Intelligence, and now Public Affairs.

Ah yes, like every good military story..."no bulls#$%, there I was," >>cue the orchestra<<

No No No, there'll be no singing. None of that! Back on track...

Saturday I went on the Five Borough Bike Tour. Just me and 29,999 of my closest friends. $55 dollars for "day-of" registration and NO t-shirt, what the hell? Anyway, it was a good 39-42 mile bike ride (depending on whose odometer you're using) through--you guessed it--all five boroughs of New York. It was neat to ride over several of the bridges and down the BWE and the Belt Parkway, which were closed off.

I did have one spill however, when some dork cut a woman off and clipped her front tire causing her to crash right in front of me. Fortunately I avoided running over her, but fell down on the curb myself. Nothing worse than a few scrapes and bruises. The funny thing was watching people try to bike ride and use their cell phones at the same time. I'm sure that these are the same jerks that make auto driving worse for everyone as well. GET OFF THE PHONE AND PAY ATTENTION!!

The hardest part of the ride was probably crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. This is a pretty long, two-story bridge. That means you go uphill for quite a long while and you're on the bottom level, which creates this giant wind tunnel effect. But the nice part is that this is definitely one of those "feels so good when it's over moments" when it's done. I got the pic here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Name dropping is such a vulgar thing...

As I was telling Gene Simmons of KISS, just the other day. This guy is definitely a nut...but he does know quite a bit about p/e ratios, stock options, etc. I was amazed at the depth of his business knowledge.