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October 27, 2007
Fox on the AirfieldBy Greyhawk
Bobby Calvan's web page is back on line. I hope he continues to update frequently. Honestly I think it will be a worthwhile read.
But Bobby Calvan wasn't the first reporter to try and "throw his weight around" in Iraq, and probably won't be the last. So I offer some post-Calvan advice for reporters in Iraq.
Once upon a time, on my last visit to Iraq, an unauthorized vehicle accessed and attempted to cross the airfield that is the center of a very large military installation here. This caused some degree of concern among folks whose job it is to kill people who do things like that. However, instead of killing them from a nice safe distance, they elected to intercept this non-descript vehicle and force it to stop.
I suppose I should explain the key word "airfield" in the above paragraph. This doesn't mean a "field full of air" that Republicans have designated for their own private use, it's actually a "field" where airplanes land and takeoff. It may not seem fair, but we generally don't let cars share this pavement even though it's quicker to drive straight across than to go around and this hurts women and children the most.
Anyhow, there were two passengers within, who claimed to be in the employ of a very famous television news organization which I will not identify beyond saying it's named after a small furry animal. One (henceforth "the talent") was, in addition to being exceptionally qualified, a fabulous babe - what we used to call a "Fox". But I honestly can not recall her name. (If anyone can tell me the identity of a fabulous babe reporter for a news network named after a small furry animal who was in Iraq during the late fall/early winter 2004-2005 that would prob'ly be her.) She sat quietly and behaved herself during the ensuing adventure. (I mention the fabulous babe part because although I can't confirm it I suspect that her sitting there quietly being a fabulous babe might have saved her companion from eating sand. Life is funny like that.)
The other (henceforth "shotgun" though he was actually driving and unarmed) who worked for the same organization as the
It would be fun to say he woke up a few seconds later face down in the sands of ancient Mesopotamia, but that didn't happen. He was allowed to strut and mutter and explain to some of the lowest ranking enlisted GIs in Iraq how he was going to make their lives miserable as they verified via radio contact whether he should be shot or arrested. For some reason, the process took an extraordinary long time to complete. But ultimately they were identified as relatively harmless twits, then they were politely escorted off the flightline and pointed in the right direction for the long trip around the perimeter.
Anyhow, moral of the story: Do not attempt to convince a low ranking GI in Iraq that you have life or death power over him. In addition to the fact that the reverse is true, there are at least two other reasons to avoid this approach:
1. Somewhere behind him is a guy with one more stripe than he has who actually has that power, and that guy loves nothing more than clobbering people who eff with his troop. This is true up the chain of command. He knows this. He is laughing at you.
2. Even if there was some weak link in that chain where your influence is that great, the low ranking guy is in Iraq. In fact, there's a saying here: "What are they gonna do? Send me to Iraq?"
Still, I suspect that as they drove away, dipstick was probably bragging to the talent (and making a mental draft of a letter to the suits) about how he had delivered them from the morons.
And by the way, don't even think about threatening me to get me to reveal the name of the news network involved in my story. It ain't gonna happen.
Next: Change in the Weather
Posted by Greyhawk / October 27, 2007 2:08 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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