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January 21, 2010
Very Nice ThingsBy Greyhawk
"Roughly 20,000 U.S. troops will be supporting relief efforts in Haiti by Jan. 24."
But don't worry:
Sensitive to the impression the US is taking too forceful a role, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday night the White House was being "very careful" to work with the Haitian government and the UN.
That's a very nice thing. But I would have said "the priority is to get emergency food, water, and medical care to the Haitian people as fast as possible - lives are at stake, and that trumps all. We'll sort 'hurt feelings' out later."
"I want to make sure that when America projects its power around the world, it's not seen only when it's fighting a war," Mr Obama told ABC News.
And that's a very nice thing, too. For some reason whenever we did anything in the humanitarian department over the last decade (and we did - a lot) if it got any attention at all it was in a story about the over-stretched military.
And photo ops are a fine thing, too - but again, the priority is emergency relief, not stage managing a proper photo op.
Other than getting Bill Clinton in, I'm not sure what "non-humanitarian" flights were getting priority. I know the US Air Force was initially operating the Airport on a "first come/first served" basis, but I suspect the real problem was less about "humanitarian relief" and more about "we want our photo op, too." (Hence the 'hurt feelings' issue above.)
But here's an account of what was going on at the airport:
Hopefully this explanation from the young sergeant will be acceptable to the White House, France, and the rest of the United Nations:
And hopefully one of the first flights in delivered a copy of the new UN agreement.
Fortunately, while France and the United Nations we're busy filing formal complaints regarding the quality of service they were getting from the US military, the US military was busy elsewhere:
All of which could give the UN something to file a fresh barrage of formal complaints about:
The increased flow of humanitarian aid and supplies through new entry points likely will cause greater congestion on Haiti's roads, Fraser said, possibly delaying the delivery of relief to a desperate population.
On a more positive note, the UN now has so many doctors and engineers in Haiti that they can start turning others away:
That was two days ago. Today:
As thousands continued fleeing the ruined capital by bus and on foot, teams of rescue workers defied the odds by finding more people buried in the rubble.
Also in the good news department, in spite of airport delays the good folks of Médecins Sans Frontières are finally getting their giant inflatable hospital inflated, and "hope to start offering medical treatment inside these structures Friday morning."
Here's "Major Military Support for Haiti - At a Glance." Notable: the 250-bed/550 medical professionals/Advanced medical treatment facilities/Helicopter deck-equipped US Navy Ship Comfort arrived early (departed Baltimore Jan. 16, scheduled to arrive in Haiti Jan. 21) and is treating patients. No new pictures or stories of US soldiers distributing food today, however. But hopefully food distribution is continuing in spite of protests from civilian aid agencies; as noted, it isn't about the photo op.
Next: Quake report
Previously: The Hunger (Continued)
Posted by Greyhawk / January 21, 2010 11:49 AM | Permalink
My first thought on learning Howard Zinn is dead was "heh - he never saw my contribution to his royalty check." Then I wondered who he might have willed it to... My daughter is taking a (college) history class this semester, and Zinn's is the textbook ... Read More
Someone might want to "clarify" this really fast:Soldiers told to stop handing out food PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Food handouts were shut off Tuesday to thousands of people at a tent city here when the main U.S. aid agency said the Army should not be di... Read More
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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