Congressman Duncan Hunter is a former Marine officer and the son of a veteran of the 75th Rangers during the Vietnam era, so nobody thinks he's a bad guy. But Congress can tell on even the best man, and recently he made the mistake of trying to set up General Odierno's staff to look either hapless or unconcerned about the fate of troops in the field. It provoked one of the most intense responses I've ever seen from a military officer testifying before Congress.
See for yourself. The issue at stake is the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A), which Rep. Hunter would like to derail in favor of a product produced by Palantir.
A lot of people have made much of the fact that Palantir is a Silicone Valley startup, and Rep. Hunter is from California. But Palantir is free to lobby Congressmen from their state, and Rep. Hunter is free to support a system he thinks is better for a constituent. That's part of our system.
What is improper is for a Congressman to compel a general officer to sit silently while that Congressman suggests he or his command are insensitive to the needs of the men in the field. To raise the suggestion is not itself bad, because Congress has a duty to oversee the military on just that point. What Rep. Hunter intended was to make the accusation without permitting a response, as he admits:
If you don’t let me say anything, we can’t have a conversation.
Well, you weren’t gonna let us say anything.
Well, you — you’re right, but I have that prerogative when I’m sittin’ up here.
Rep. Hunter questioned the honor of every man and woman in General Odierno's command, and expected him to sit silently for it. The general refused to let the slander stand without objection. Good for him.
Well, Blackfive is out of the office, but someone has to sleep on the office floor after early celebrations staff the duty post. Since I got the detail, I thought I would introduce you to someone you should know.
The image is one of several that have become iconic. Many of them were shot by the talented Oleg Volk, and start with her as a very young girl.
Well, she is now 15 (so down boys!) and I would point out that she not only knows modern and ancient weapons, but also a fair bit of hand-to-hand and will whip your rears in almost any music competition too. Fair warning, she's also Mad Mike's daughter.
If you want to know a bit more about what it's like to be an internet meme sensation, and more, go here and read what I think is her first interview. I can tell you that it is a true pleasure to know her, and to have loaned her duct tape for an impromptu art project (and learned to ask why she wants something in the process). Go read a nice interview with a smart and talented young lady.
Bumping: You can vote once a day on the cheerleader competition, and I hope you will do so. Thanks to you, the dynamic crew of readers at TAH, and the strong efforts by WOTN, she has moved up the rankings. Now, let's pour it on and put her in the lead. Thank you all so much! And thanks to LC, who won the comment of the day yesterday. *G*
The daughter of a friend has the chance to become an Indianapolis Colts cheerleader. Now, this is a nice young lady from my meeting her a few times, her mom is a very nice lady who happens to work in a place where they are doing research that might just help those injured on the battlefield, and, this won't cost a dime or even a registration. All you have to do is go here and click vote for Kaiti C. You have scroll down, and click, that is it. You can also vote once a day for as long as the contest runs.
Okay, the article I recommend you read -- especially if you are a PAO -- is "Where is Lt. Zuckerberg" but I am going to go with my biases in regards rank (this or CPT).
The article looks at the currently abysmal military landscape in regards new media, social media, and how to harness same. And, to call that landscape abysmal is being diplomatic. While some in combat arms saw the potential and worked to harness it to accomplish the mission, many more did not, and the further away you got from the tip of the spear, and the less it is understood. In fact, I would say that in my experience many in leadership away from the tip have at best an understanding of media and media economics based somewhere in the 1950s. There will be more to come, including one article I wish I did not have to write, as some of this is explored. Blackfive, and others here, provided input into what was to be the guiding article on social and new media policy, but what was recommended by us (and by military leadership at the tip) is not what was done. The article does a good job of highlighting the conflicting guidance that stymies not just those on the outside, but those on the inside who are trying to understand and create an effective policy.
As for the title, I know the author is trying to imply a young visionary, who knows the subject, filled with drive. That said, I think that what he is attempting to imply is better served with a private than a butterbar, in part because the lower enlisted ranks truly use social and new media, and have a far better intuitive understanding -- if not actual or academic understanding -- than most young officers I've met. I also think that truly making change for the better is going to take some seasoning and knowledge of the system -- which means you need SGT or CPT in my opinion, for they would still have the knowledge and drive to go with an understanding of the system and how to push, as well as how to break the system a la Mitchell. As a point on that, note the bio of the author. Just my bias and thoughts...
Please go read, and if you are military leadership, you really do need to read this.
But in a good way. Long story short, between hacking old and possibly new, plus a server migration, plus some other issues, my site The Laughing Wolf is dead. Well, the software that drove it is dead, stiff as a board, deceased, and other such words.
So, The Laughing Wolf is reborn with new software. Sadly, some things happened to keep me from rescuing all the old posts (at least for now), so we are starting over.
That's where it's all you, and about you. Comments are once again enabled, but what I need to know is what you would like to see on the site. Items, features, widgets, and more -- what do you want to see there as the real users of the site? Where do you want it? Let me know, and in my copious free time I will do my best to get done what I can so the site is user friendly. I post, but you are the user, so let me know.
And, yeah, I was hoping to be in Afghanistan by Christmas, but that did not work out. As I noted earlier, the high-level PAO now involved says it will be early January before they get things worked out. Not having heard from them, I presume that is still a go and operating accordingly. That said, I've also put out th word that I do have ITOs, and if someone else wants an embed to please let me know. I may have missed Christmas, but New Year's is still possible for a unit that can think and move quickly. Want to know more, check out this post. Meantime, let me know what you would like to see on the "new" site.
The Economist's _Modern Warfare, Intelligence and Deterrence_ -- a Review
Posted By Grim
The Economist magazine is, famously, the magazine you are supposed to claim to read if you are ever granted a job interview by the CIA. When they asked us here at BLACKFIVE to review their latest book -- it is chiefly a conglomeration of articles on military and intelligence technologies -- they were quick to mention that Xinhua has purchased the Chinese translation rights. This is one of those pleasant games that intelligence and military professionals play: we know that the Chinese leadership will have already read the articles, since they will have read them in the Economist's print run; so the purpose of the Chinese edition of this book will be to push these articles down to the lower-level functionaries and officers who do not read the magazine. Thus, we should make sure to purchase lots of copies of this book as well, in order to make sure that our officers' corps understands what the Chinese are thinking....
I admire the clever maneuver by their marketing branch, which is worthy of a PSYOP/MISO officer. So, what will the Chinese be learning if they read this book?
If that's the case, then quite a few of us are in trouble. In fact, I would say almost everyone with a blog qualifies to some degree or another. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has long stood up for the rights of those involved in new and social media. As politicians and the law have struggled to understand and come to terms with the changes created by technology, and within media technology itself, the EFF has been there. They have helped champion justice in the electronic frontier, and supported those who blogged anonymously for personal safety -- an important thing. They have helped some of those in the milblog community I do believe. Personally, I've been glad for it and encouraged support for it.
However, this morning I read something rather disturbing over at the Jawa Report. It started with this story about an anti-jihad blogger pulling a fast one on someone determined to out him. It quickly morphed into something more, best seen here.
Jillian York is on the staff of the EFF, as Director for International Freedom of Expression. Her comments in support of outing the anti-jihad blogger because he was an "a****le" are in direct contradiction to the policy of EFF, and all previous precedent. As they appear to have been made in her official capacity, and not personal, I was concerned enough that I e-mailed some of the leadership of the EFF to ask some questions. Questions that included asking if she was, indeed, speaking in official capacity for the EFF.
So far, I've only heard back from member of the Board of Directors Brad Templeton, who responded with "If you have a problem with Jillian, bring it to the attention of her superior. That is not me."
The lack of response to the questions, and the response of Mr. Templeton, do not inspire confidence. So much so, that unless and until this matter is addressed, I withdraw all support for the EFF and recommend any of you who have or do support them examine the matter and make your own decisions.
I am very well aware that individuals within an organization are entitled to their own opinion -- it's why we have a portion of the bylaws of Cooking with the Troops protecting that. However, we also have provisions in for who can speak for our organization, and what happens if someone claims to without sanction. I'm also well aware that even private, protected speech can have a negative impact on an organization: there's a reason I don't blog about politics much anymore, as I've found it has a negative impact on CwtT.
When someone can be seen as speaking for an organization, they have a much higher level of responsibility to clarify for whom they are speaking. This is not about attacking Jillian York, no matter what Mr. Templeton mistakenly appears to think. It is about clarifying for whom she was speaking, and if this represents a fundamental change to an organization that has done a lot of good for bloggers, online journalists, and others.
I've just got to come out and say it. Yes, I hate BlogWorld LA. Here's why:
• Hundreds of experts speaking. You always tell people you come to events like this to learn, but... It is a bit intimidating to be hit with new concepts, tech and research issues that you didn't even know existed (but should have), and some synergystic concepts within the first couple of hours. Then, to have someone explain a complex problem and give you a quick way to deal with it, well, enough of those "Doh!" moments start to hurt.
• Speakers that actually mingle and engage with attendees. Let's face it, at most conferences the big-name speakers (and quite a few of the small) hide out in the green room or speaker's lounge and away from the riff raff they are there to address. Having them come out, talk, engage, well, it's just not right.
• An exhibit hall with a lounge attached, and power at the tables in the lounge. Exhibit halls are meant for pushing people through, not for having them mosey, sit, talk, and spend time in. This truly is against the natural order of things.
• Reasonable space. Conferences should either be crammed into a small area so you can hear multiple presentations at once, or in a too-large space so you bounce round like a pea in an empty C5 and need shuttles to get from one session to the next. Having good space, reasonably spaced-apart facilities, and room to grow, well, it's disorienting. I would suggest to the BWE staff that getting Segway as a sponsor might not be a bad idea at the current rate of growth, however.
• Business Hours. Okay, so a good conference or trade show should be a 12 hour day. Do you have to make it 15-17? You have pre-opening networking, keynotes, all-day sessions, working dinners, and then evening/night networking events. When you add in the informal networking events that happen after (and because of) the "official" networking events, it is a 15-17 hour day at best, and I suspect some just gave up on the idea of sleeping. Not fair.
• Troop support. Not the flashy showy kind, but the real thing that permeates all levels of an organization. From programming, support of the military track, to many other ways of showing support and care -- don't they realize that we aren't used to that and are much more used to dealing with hostile crowds and words, even if this isn't Berkeley?
• No cloning and memory re-integration. Okay, this is and has been for some time my biggest beef with BWE. If you are going to have this many good speakers (200?+?) and panels, the least you can do is have a cloning booth along with a re-integration facility so you can get to all of them. To not do so is just taunting and mocking.
Yeah, we are having a horrid time out here. Marcus, Rachel, Mandy, Kristina, and a number of veterans are also upholding tradition and closing down, er, making the most of all events. Think the motto may well be sleep, what's sleep? Those of you who are missing this, you've missed a good one.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.