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September 19, 2005
Bringing it OnBy Greyhawk
The Philadelphia Inquirer offers an "expose" for those who might have missed the story the first 900 times it appeared in a major media outlet: combat teams from the 82nd Airborne were not instantly dispatched to New Orleans immediately after hurricane Katrina hit. There may be some confusion on the part of that paper as to what function those big boys with their guns play in disaster recovery efforts, perhaps enhanced by the enduring image of the US military as "meals on wheels" developed throughout much of the 90s. Perhaps the writers and editors of this piece pine for that September 10th world - but who doesn't?
In reality, having large groups of armed military operating under separate chains of command in an area were civil control has broken down completely and media reports are screaming hysterically about murder, rape, robbery, and general mayhem can often make the situation worse. And while some dream of a world where American warriors are trained to deploy rapidly to help under-privileged farmers prepare for spring planting, others look into the reasons why chaos reigned in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras from hell.
Governors can request assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If federal armed forces are brought in to help, they do so in support of FEMA, through the U.S. Northern Command, which was established in 2002 as part of a military reorganization after the 9/11 attacks.Read the whole thing - it includes a useful and brief explanation of the actual laws and restrictions placed on federal troops operating in the United States.
Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds expresses reasonable concerns about this comment from the President's speech:
Yet the system at every level of government, was not well coordinated and was overwhelmed in the first few days. It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces -- the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice.Indeed, no one cuts through bureaucracy faster than a General Officer more concerned with his mission than his career, but this passage begs for clarification, and Glenn is right to take the opportunity to glance towards Waco, Texas as he makes his statement. Because there's another enduring image of the US military circa mid-90s; roaring into a "compound" with guns blazing, offering a small sample to a would-be American messiah of what a group of fanatics in caves and cities in another part of the world were still years from experiencing. That's not what the President has in mind, but the image is forever there, and hard to ignore.
To further cloud the issue, you'll now find reporters complaining that those now-deployed troops are limiting their access, stopping them from getting high-res corpse photos, and generally treating them like some sort of potential looters, for gosh sakes. Clearly evidence of government clampdown on freedom of the press - clearly not what CNN expected when they demanded the deployment of those troops in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Expect this theme to grow unless federal troops are withdrawn.
Oddly enough, at the bizarro end of the spectrum we find Cindy Sheehan, who's demanding an immediate end to the occupation of New Orleans, via Michael Moore's web page. Seems they've got a big demonstration in DC coming up next week - and they don't need the nation to lose focus on what really matters. Themselves, of course.
Stay tuned for further developments.
Posted by Greyhawk / September 19, 2005 7:35 AM | 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...)
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