I am pleased to welcome you to my personal blog, which I started in March 2009. I first became interested in blogging about five years ago, using old "blogger.com", which was cumbersome to use and I never mastered. About a year ago I discovered that Google had bought "blogger.com" and had revised it considerably, making it fun to use, so much so that I have devised at least 15 blogs on various subjects and frequently add posts and Gadgets to them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

National Guard is key in Afghanistan

This photo is of General Craig R. McKinley. This is an article I found this morning on Google Reader. It answers many of the questions I've had about the Guard and its active duty experience since I retired in 1984.

Posted By Bouhammer on June 23, 2009

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Bouhammer Note- I along with several others who are smart and familiar about Afghanistan say this same thing. The National Guard, whom is leading the fight in Task Force Phoenix with the training, mentoring and leading of the Afghan Army and Police is the true “tip of the spear” and the real path to the end of the war.

By John Vandiver, Stars and Stripes

Gen. Craig R. McKinley hears it all the time, how vital his troops are. Before Gen. Stanley McChrystal had even taken over in Afghanistan, he made a call to McKinley, leader [Chief] of the U.S. National Guard [Bureau]. He told him that contributions from the Guard would be crucial to the U.S. mission there.

Gen. David Petraeus, head of Central Command, has already suggested they could use more of the agribusiness development teams — manned by National Guardsmen from rural areas — that train Afghans in modern farming techniques. Thirteen already are in place. And that’s just the start for McKinley.

The head of Africa Command recently chatted with him about adding Kenya to the growing list of nations in the Guard’s State Partnership Program. And McKinley also sees opportunities for more collaborations in the European Command territory.

All this activity, however, raises a question: Between home-state obligations, frequent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and a growing list of training partnerships with foreign nations, when does the National Guard reach its breaking point?

"All I can say is, we are not there yet," said McKinley, who was in Stuttgart last week for a conference with stateside Guard leaders and EUCOM officials. "And as long as we can keep the balance … we should be OK for the foreseeable future."

As of 2008, the Guard represented 7 percent of the force in Iraq and 15 percent in Afghanistan. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 700,000 Reserve soldiers have been called to active duty in support of the war efforts. And as of last week, there were 142,221 Guard and Reserve soldiers currently serving on active duty, according to the Defense Department.

But McKinley, who in 2008 became the first four-star general to lead the Guard, said he believes it still is able to meet its domestic obligations.

"We can’t go too far," he acknowledged. "But right now, I haven’t had anyone come to me from the States saying you’ve pushed us too far."

Some of his commanders on the ground agree.

"I don’t feel we are stretched too thin, yet," said Lt. Col. Gary Thurman of the Georgia National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment of the 48th Brigade Combat Team. Thurman recently arrived in eastern Afghanistan with his battalion to assume command of Camp Clark, a base for teams training and mentoring the Afghan army. "I’d say at least 90 percent of the guys in this battalion wanted to come here."

But U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., said little has changed in his state since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast at a time when half of the state’s National Guard force was deployed to Iraq. The remaining soldiers had to be augmented by guardsmen from throughout the country.

Now, about half of the Mississippi National Guard is again deploying to Iraq, he said. He is concerned whether the state has the equipment it needs for emergencies. During the response to Katrina, the Guard had to pay a "horrible premium" to get the type of equipment that it had left in Iraq, he said.

"My engineering unit, thank goodness, once again, they’re home." Taylor said. "But they just came back from Iraq and my hunch is they left everything behind again."

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an adjunct professor of International Affairs at the U.S. Military Academy, said the National Guard is under-resourced in both troops and equipment to deal with disasters at home.

"On a given day, the active [Army] is probably 540,000, but we’ll have more than 700,000 in our ranks on active duty, which tells me that the National Guard and Reserve, instead of being an emergency force, has become a steady-state active-duty part of the country’s warfighting capabilities," he said. "We want an extremely well-resourced and structured engineer, medical, communication, civil affairs, military police, light infantry just for the homeland security mission."

And the National Guard’s overseas commitments aren’t limited to war zones. Without the Guard, commands such as EUCOM would be unable to meet their strategic training objectives.
The State Partnership Program — which pairs U.S. states with ally nations for training — has continued to evolve since its inception in 1993. In all, 61 countries are enrolled in the state-to-country partnership effort, including 21 each in EUCOM and in Southern Command, seven in AFRICOM territory — with more on the way — and six countries each in Pacific Command and Central Command.

Programs are tailored to the needs of a given region, whether it’s counternarcotics training in Kyrgyzstan, lessons in crop rotation in Afghanistan or noncommissioned officer training in the Philippines.

For EUCOM, the State Partnership Program has become increasingly important as force levels decline in Europe and those units that remain are repeatedly deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Those factors have put limits on EUCOM’s ability to man training missions. Currently, the SPP accounts for more than 40 percent of all military-to-military engagements, according to EUCOM.

Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart, adjutant general for the Illinois National Guard, said all those challenges were brought into focus last summer. The Illinois Guard had a brigade in training for a deployment to Afghanistan when the Mississippi River flooded and guardsmen were needed to protect levees.

"We were really stretched thin," said Enyart. "What we’ve had to do is be more efficient."
The Illinois Guard has teamed with Poland since the start of the State Partnership Program 16 years ago. Poland’s ability to deploy in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is a testament the value of finding ways to do it all, according to Enyart.

"I believe that has been a tremendous long-term strategic success," Enyart said.

Stars and Stripes reporters Jeff Schogol and Dianna Cahn contributed to this report.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Transcontinental Motor Convoy

U.S. Army military convoy in western Nebraska during its 1919 trek on the Lincoln Highway across the U. S. from Washington DC to San Francisco.

The 2009 transcontinental motor convoy will retrace the route of the first major motorized expedition across the United States. Traveling from coast to coast in 1919, the original convoy set out to examine the feasibility of rapidly moving troops and equipment across the country as well as showcasing the military's use of some of the latest motorized technology. Following the, at the time, newly created Lincoln Highway, the convoy set a world record traveling 3,251 miles in only 62 days at an average speed of six miles per hour. Although the speed seems slow compared to today’s modern vehicles, this trip planted the seeds of what would become our modern interstate highway system.

Follow the Convoy's Route

Troops need new view of Afghan war, says general

General says troops need new view of Afghan war
By Jason Straziuso
Associated Press / June 25, 2009
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CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - US General Stanley McChrystal said yesterday that US and other NATO troops must make a “cultural shift’’ away from being a force designed for high intensity combat and instead make protecting Afghan civilians their first priority.

The newly arrived four-star commander said he hopes to install a new military mindset by drilling into troops the need to reduce the number of Afghan civilians killed in combat.

McChrystal is expected to formally announce new combat rules within days that will order troops to break away from fights - if they can do so safely - if militants are firing from civilian homes. One effect of the new order will be that troops may have to wait out insurgents instead of using force to oust them, he said.

Traditionally American forces are designed for conventional, high-intensity combat,’’ McChrystal said during a visit to Camp Leatherneck, a new US Marine base housing thousands of newly deployed Marines in southern Helmand province. “In my mind what we’ve really got to do is make a cultural shift.’’

Because the military is such a big organization, the new message will take “constant repetition,’’ he said.

President Hamid Karzai has pleaded with US and NATO forces for years to reduce the number of Afghan villagers killed in combat. Karzai has long said that such deaths turn civilians away from the government and international forces and toward the Taliban, a point McChrystal underscored.

When you do anything that harms the people you just have a huge chance of alienating the population,’’ he said. “And so even with the best of intentions, if our operation causes them to lose property or loved ones, there is almost no way somebody cannot be impacted in how they view the government and us, the coalition forces.’’

Thousands of Marines this spring have poured into Helmand, the country’s most violent province and the world’s largest producer of opium poppies. Southern Afghanistan is the center of the Taliban-led insurgency, which has made a violent comeback in the last three years.

Afghan and coalition forces killed 23 suspected Taliban fighters in a clash Tuesday near Tirin Kot, the capital of southern Uruzgan province, said General Sher Mohammad Zazai, an army officer in charge of southern Afghanistan.

McChrystal, who took command of all US and NATO troops in Afghanistan last week, is making his first visits to regional commanders to outline the new combat rules.

We’ve lost some of the arrogance I know I had early on,’’ McChrystal told a group of British and US troops, telling them that their war to win over the Afghan population is like a debate. “Don’t stop thinking. You don’t win an argument when you stop thinking.’’

© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

Annual Fourth of July Parade

This is an article in today's edition of the News-Reporter.

The twelfth annual Independence Day Parade will be held on July 4 at 8:00 a.m. at Fort Washington Park (behind the Wilkes County Courthouse).

Made up of walkers, bicycles, strollers, scooters, and animals on leashes, the parade will form at the park and move to The Square, then proceed down to Liberty Street, east to Jefferson Street, and back to the Park.

A short program including the reading of a portion of the Declaration of Independence, Pledge to the flag, and patriotic songs, will be held at the park. Prizes will be given for the best decorated participants.

Forty-four people joined in the first parade which has since grown to over 100 people plus dogs. Vietnam veteran, Bobby West, and his faithful friend, Franklin, will again serve as Grand Marshal.

"Come join us at 8:00 a.m. while it is COOL," said Jo Randall, organizer of the parade. "It's a great way to begin the day that celebrates our country's independence."

Everyone is invited. Those who cannot walk the route are invited to bring lawn chairs for the program.

Central Intelligence Agency

This morning I entered cia.gov into my computer and found some interesting stuff, for example, The World Fact Book. All of this is worth looking at.

The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world entities. Our Reference tab includes: maps of the major world regions, as well as Flags of the World, a Physical Map of the World, a Political Map of the World, and a Standard Time Zones of the World map.

The CIA Campus: New Headquarters Building

The CIA’s Original Headquarters Building (OHB) was finished and completely occupied in May 1962. Though the goal of OHB was to house all CIA employees under one roof, it never happened. From the start, OHB had been too small for a rapidly growing workforce. But it took nearly two decades before the CIA could begin plans for an additional building on its headquarters campus.

By 1981, the need for an additional building could no longer be ignored: thousands of CIA employees were occupying several buildings in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. There was a great need to centralize and consolidate the Agency. To spearhead the effort, the CIA established the New Building Project Office (NBPO).

NBPO’s first job was to identify, justify, and estimate the cost of new facility requirements; obtain the necessary approvals; and acquire a budget that could get the job done. NBPO collaborated with each CIA directorate; several internal offices, including the Office of Security, Office of Communications, and Office of Data Processing; and several outside agencies such as the Fairfax County (Va.) Government, the National Park Service, the McLean Civic Association, and Congress, to name a few.

As the planning team made headway, it was crucial to determine where the new building would go on the campus. NBPO provided several options. The winner: the new building would be built into a hillside behind OHB, west of the cafeteria, and linked to the OHB in a seamless blend of the two structures.

Designers of the Dirksen Senate Office Building (located in downtown Washington, D.C.) drafted design plans toward the end of 1981. The main entrance to the New Headquarters Building (NHB) is on the fourth floor. Inside the entrance, visitors are greeted by a huge skylight ceiling and, at the end of the entry corridor, a spectacular view of the OHB.

Groundbreaking for NHB took place on May 8, 1984, and the contractors finished construction in March 1991.

Posted: Jun 19, 2008 06:41 AM
Last Updated: Jan 08, 2009 10:32 AM
Last Reviewed: Jun 19, 2008 06:41 AM

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An Army NCO at Google

December 3, 2007

Unfurling TF49 Colors

Task Force 49 Commander Col. Chandler C. Sherrell and Command Sgt. Maj. Richard A. Mitchell unfurl the Task Force 49 colors during a Dec. 3 transfer of authority ceremony at LSA Anaconda, Iraq. After a two-week relief in place with the Task Force XII headquarters staff, the Task Force 49 staff took charge of full-spectrum aviation operations throughout the Multi-National Corps – Iraq area of operations.

June 24 , 2009
I can't resist publishing autobiographical articles sometimes, and this one is no exception. ArmyLive published some posts by Dale Sweetnam.

An Army NCO at Google: Episode 3

Check out our third post from Army NCO and Training with Industry Soldier Dale Sweetnam, [who was mobilized in Alaska, spent 13 months in Iraq, and now works for Google]. Last week we brought you a blast from the past (because we can’t resist a post about lava lamps), so we’re bringing you his post from June 17. His June 24 post is worth a read as well, so visit his site at http://thearmyjournalist.blogspot.com.

TF49 recognized
A few days ago I found out that the unit I deployed with last year, Task Force 49, received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for its work in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 07-09. Task Force 49 actually received the award two months ago, but I just recently found out about it. You kind of fall out of the loop once you depart an active unit. So I’d like take a break from my typical Google updates and spend some time talking about those Soldiers I stood beside in Balad and Baghdad from November 2007 to December 2008.

It’s too easy to rely on the basic adjectives when describing the men and women of Task Force 49. I could spend time talking about their heroism, their dedication to duty and their selfless service. I could talk about how they worked 12 hour days seven days a week for 13 months. I could discuss all they sacrificed for their country. But instead of using all those played out and oft-repeated descriptions, I’d rather discuss how these Soldiers simply went out there and did their job. One of my favorite traits of a true hardened Soldier is that they seldom talk about where they’ve been. They don’t fish for compliments and they sometimes get embarrassed when civilians thank them for their service. Task Force 49 was full of these Soldiers. The Soldiers of Task Force 49 didn’t always like where they were, they didn’t always like their job and they sometimes didn’t even like each other, but they always showed up. They showed up and they worked.

There were about 130 of us, but 90 days before the deployment, the unit had only 30 Soldiers. Task Force 49 HHC had only 60 or so days to mobilize and deploy. So we came from all over the state of Alaska, from different units and even different installations. We were all thrown together last minute, so naturally there wasn’t much time to bond before we found ourselves in the desert.

Soldiers criticize each other and argue all the time. Task Force 49 was no different. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t like everyone in my unit, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a unit of Soldiers in the Army where everyone gets along. But that’s never the point. It’s about how you function as a unit, how you forget your differences and move past the conflicts of personality. I know when we stepped on that plane to come home, we were proud of each other and of the mission we accomplished. Every last one of us came home safe and when we shook hands and went our separate ways after the deployment, we truly respected each other.

I will always be proud of the work we did in Iraq. Sure, it wasn’t the most dangerous work, but we were still there for 13 months. We still slept in dusty tents and trailers, sat in bunkers during mortar attacks, flew countless hours over Baghdad and spent more than a year away from our families. It was a deployment, and it was tough.

My time with Task Force 49 was an important period in my life. It means a lot to me that the unit was recognized as a whole. I love these Soldiers and they should be proud of this commendation. They truly earned it.

Take care and thank you for reading-

Posted bylindykyzerunderTraining with IndustryGoogle, Task Force 49, Training with Industry | Comments (0)

The Solar-Cycle Tour

One of my blog posts on June 22 concerned an around-the-world bicycle effort by three British young people. By that time they had already reached Egypt. Since then I've arranged for Twitter to keep me informed about their progress. Periodically they furnish "Fact Attacks" on the specifics of their trip, plus blog-posts of their several daily travels. Not since Richard Halliburton's day have I been so interested in a bicycle ride. Their trip is not really around the world because bicycles are not capable of crossing large bodies of water like the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The trip started May 15 in London and is scheduled to end about eight months later in Miami. I'll try to keep up with them.

Country Highlights:


15th May: from City Hall, London to Dover
Trip Distance: 126.86km
Trip Time: 6h19m
Average Speed: 20.07km/h
Max Speed: 51.31km/h

16th May: from Dover, England to Arras, France
Trip Distance: 125.45km
Trip Time: 6h18m
Average Speed: 19.89km/h
Max Speed: 55.34km/h

France - Paris / Lyon / Marseille

Montelimar and the rather bizarre service station
By Iain

After three long, hard and hot days in the saddle we have followed the river Rhone 240 miles south to Montelimar, an ancient town on the banks of the river. Our route from Dijon was meant to follow the Rhone which has carved out a cycling friendly gorge through the hills of the Massif Central which rise menacingly on either side of the river. The valleys are littered with vineyards as the Burgundy wine region stretches south from Dijon and then beyond Lyon, turns into the Rhone wine region. Our enthusiasm to get off the beaten track occasionally got the better of us which with hindsight wasn’t too clever when the thermometer hit 36C, the afternoon wind pounded us head on and we found ourselves far from the flat roads going over way more hills then our legs would have liked.

Tunisia - Tunis / Tozeur (Tunisia’s largest salt lake) / Matmata (Star Wars film location)

June 11th, 2009 by Iain

It was not even 6am and we had barely left the frontier town where we had spent our last night in Tunisia before we ran into the first police check…..”Passport?”. We were still 30km from the Libya border and given the uncertainty over the visa changes, nervous of any officials. As with many of the Tunisians they [...]

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Libya - Tripoli / Leptis Magna (prominent city of the Roman Empire)

June 16th, 2009 by Susie

Libya, Libya, Libya.
First things first, we should probably make a bit of a confession. Well, not a confession as such but point out that we have - over the last week - had a little bit of help…
Libya, is not an easy country to get into. As our visa situation so ably highlighted, rules and regulations [...]


Time out in Tripoli See more stories >

Egypt - El Alamein (WWII battle ground) / Sidi Bishr (surfing) / Cairo and the Pyramids / Kuraymat solar station

Good run in to Marsa Mutrah complete with Wacky Races style police chase. The sea here is stunning. Going beach hunting!
about 8 hours ago from txt

Jordan - Aqaba / Wadi Rum (rock climbing) / Petra (ancient city, cut into the rock face) / Dana Nature Reserve / Karak (ancient crusader stronghold) / Dead Sea

Syria - Damascus / Palmyra (oasis caravan city)

Lebanon - Beirut

Turkey - Sirnak & Cudi Mountain (Noah’s Ark alleged landing point)

Iran - Qazvin (former capital of the Persian Empire) / Mount Davamand (highest volcano in Asia) / Mashad (Iran’s holiest city)

Turkmenistan - Merv (Silk Route city, UNESCO heritage site)

Uzbekistan - Burkhara / Samarkand (one of the world’s oldest cities) /

Tajikistan - Fergana Valley

Kyrgyzstan - Osh (largest outdoor market in Central Asia) / Irkeshtam Pass

China - Western Chinese Desert / Kashgar (oasis city) / Qaidam Basin solar power station / Xian & the terracota warriors / Mount Hua (China’s ‘most dangerous’ hike) / Shanghai

US - Alcatraz / Napa Valley / Yosemite (El Capitain) / Death Valley / Solar Two power plant / Monument Valley / Austin - Texas / New Orleans / Miam

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Four-Wheel-Drive Truck on Transcontinental Trip

Photo credit Eric Cramer
Rock Island Arsenal Public Affairs

Don Chew's 1917 Four Wheel Drive Co. truck is one of two vehicles in the Transcontinental Convoy old enough to have participated in the original convoy in 1919. Chew believes that some parts he bought during his restoration of the truck came from the three original FWD trucks that were in the 1919 Transcontinental Convoy.
Only two of the many vehicles in the 2009 MVPA Convoy are old enough to have actually taken part in the original convoy, a 1918 Dodge command car, and the 1917 Four Wheel Drive Co. truck belonging to Don Chew.

"There were three of these in the original convoy," Chew said.

Chew said the Four Wheel Drive Co., of Clintonville, Wisc., built 6,000 of the vehicles between 1917 and the company's failure in the 1920s.

"There were two original owners of the company who created the four-wheel-drive system and created the whole concept, and they used an attorney. The attorney stole the company from them," Chew said. One of the company's founders went on to work as a designer for the famed Oshkosh heavy equipment manufacture in the Wisconsin city of the same name.

Chew's truck is part vehicle, part restoration, and part archeology project.

"I didn't dig it up, but I did dig up some of the parts," he said. "The body came out of a cornfield near Mason City, Iowa, and I've bought and purchased parts from all over the country."

He said he strongly suspects that some of the parts he purchased came from among the three original Four Wheel Drive Co. trucks used in the 1919 convoy.

"I bought three batches of parts from Riverside, Calif. When I got to researching, I found out that very few of these trucks ever made it to California, but among those very few trucks were the three that were in the 1919 convoy. I think the parts I bought probably came from them," Chew said.

Restoring the vehicle was a year-long project that consumed all of his time. "I'd get up, work on it, go to bed and get four or five hours of sleep and then get up and work on it again."

The truck is making the trip, this time, on a flat-bed trailer. It's engine pulls it along at a stately 12 miles per hour, too slow to maintain the 30-mph pace of the rest of the convoy. "You can get it up to 15, but its hard on the engine," Chew said.

He said he plans to tear down the engine when he returns to his home in Colorado following the completion of the convoy. Improper piston rings don't allow the engine to develop enough compression to operate correctly at the 6,000-foot elevation where he lives. He's having new pistons and piston rings custom manufactured to allow the vehicle to operate more efficiently.

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Ashton Kutcher vs The Mosquito


Ashton Kutcher beat CNN to one million followers on the social media platform Twitter at 2:13am EST on Friday, April 17th. To celebrate his triumph over the network giant, Kutcher is sending 10,000 mosquito nets to help Malaria No More fight malaria in Africa. This will help protect 20,000 children from this disease—and raise awareness just in time for World Malaria Day on April 25th!

Early Friday morning as his numbers pulled ahead, Ashton showed off a check to Malaria No More for $100,000, already cut and signed, during a live video feed as he counted down to one million followers.

Ashton is helping Malaria No More raise awareness for World Malaria Day on April 25th and galvanizing his Twitter army to spread the word about how the world is fighting—and winning—the battle against the disease. This is an incredible way to leverage new, innovative tools and technology to battle an ancient disease.

"We're so grateful to Ashton and all of his Twitter followers for reaching the million mark and helping Malaria No More send ten thousand mosquito nets to help families in Africa protect themselves from malaria," said Scott Case, CEO of Malaria No More. "By leveraging new technologies like Twitter we are participating in one of the biggest pro-social movements in history and saving lives from malaria at the same time."

Watch Ashton cross the million mark

As this Twitter experiment shows, every individual can be part of making sweeping, global change and having the best possible impact by saving lives. Twitter can help raise awareness and launch a movement to get millions involved in supporting malaria control efforts worldwide. The malaria community is winning the fight against malaria—we need to use every weapon in our arsenal to declare victory against this deadly disease and reach our goal of universal access to malaria interventions by December 31, 2010.

© 2009 Malaria No More | 432 Park Ave South, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10016 | info@malarianomore.org

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Malaria No More is a 501(c)(3) organization

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Bicycle Trip Around the World

Among the interesting blogs from SolarAid is this account of an around-the-world bicycle trip by three young people trying to raise funds for SolarAid.

Three cyclists start the solar revolution!

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Today, on EU Solar Day (15 May 2009), a team of three solar campaigners left London's City Hall to cycle around the world powered by the sun!

Susie Wheeldon, Jamie Vining and Iain Henderson make up The Solar Cycle Diaries. An around-the-world cycle trip aimed at raising awareness of solar as a solution to climate change, the world's energy needs and the fight against poverty. The team will be raising money for SolarAid and their target is an impressive £30,000.

Thin film solar panels on their panniers will power the team's communications equipment enabling them to update their blogs and upload photos regularly.

There are many ways you can follow the team's progress. Read their blog, following them on Twitter or read SolarAid's updates right here on latest news.

Please support them on their massive venture and support SolarAid at the same time.

The SolarAid team wish the intrepid travellers the very best of luck

A Post from BuzzMachine

This is a post from Jeff Jarvis' BuzzMachine today that I find particularly interesting.

State coverage as a worthy charity

June 22nd, 2009

There’s nothing unsexier in journalism than covering state government. “Trenton bureau” just doesn’t have the same ring as “Paris bureau,” does it? Do you know the names of your statehouse reps? I’ll confess I don’t.

And so my biggest fear in the death of metro papers is the vacuum that will be left in coverage of state capitals. I don’t buy the dire predictions that journalism itself or investigative journalism will die with those papers. Washington will still be covered; one could say it’s over-covered (if often poorly covered) today. City government will be covered because it affects people’s lives directly and because there’ll always be somebody to catch the mayor red-handed.

But statehouses? Unless your governor is a former movie star or pro wrestler or client of prostitutes, they don’t get much – enough – attention. And even when it does get covered, there’s no obvious and endemic advertising support. Capital coverage was the gift of broccoli from news organizations and no one’s likely to bring that dish to the new news potluck.

That’s why I think that in the new ecosystem of news, state capital coverage may need to be publicly and charitably supported. Unsexy though it may be, it does affect our lives and purses. And witness the inanity in Albany lately, state government is populated too often with crooked fools who must be watched.

I’ve had a few email exchanges on the topic with John Thornton, a venture capitalist in Texas who’s worrying about state coverage. “It’s where the economics are the most up-side down,” he said:

Think about this: the total 08 Fed budget was $3.1 trillion. Subtract, national defense and entitlements, and it shrinks to $1.3 trillion. That’s the “discretionary spend” which is the dominion of Congress. Sure, there is always room for better coverage of Congress, but I’d submit that it’s pretty well covered as is.

On the other hand, the cumulative state budgets are $1.6 trillion, or 30% *more* than the discretionary spend of Congress. These taxpayer dollars are, of course, spread out into 50 byzantine and corrupt state capitols, the coverage of which has fallen dramatically and continues to do so.

So how will such coverage be funded? Thornton is counting on philanthropy. He said:

It’s certainly apropos to look at the public radio and tv numbers. Austin’s npr station, kut has 200k listeners and 17k contributors—the best conversion rate I know of. They raise $3m from individuals and $3m from contributors. . . .

Dance companies in Texas raise $20mm a year. . . . If journalism philanthropy, 10 years from now, were the size of dance, we’d put 150 reporters on statewide issues and could literally change the way state government operates. Think about that: an extra 20 at the capital; a couple each for all the agencies and the school board; 20 on the border. You almost can’t spend that much money responsibly. I don’t need opera. I don’t need visual arts. Don’t need symphony. Just give me dance, and I’ll change state government.

What this needs is people with the passion of a Thornton to sell the cause and raise the money. But as with NPR and Wikipedia and Spot.US, not everyone who benefits has to give to make the nut.

This is one of the areas we are investigating at the New Business Models for News Project. The question we are asking is how much potential charitable giving we can project for news in a market and what that will support.

We will also look at how the rest of the ecosystem can support this coverage. For example, wouldn’t it be wonderful if your town and city blogs and sites had at the ready charts to tell you who your state reps were and what they’ve been doing: their votes and expense accounts, too? Support will come not only with money – it has to start there – but also with the attention papers used to be able to give such coverage.

: LATER: In the comments, Bob Wyman argues that state capital coverage is actually a good entrepreneurial opportunity.

Solar-Aid in Tanzania

This is a blog-post I found this morning, published by Solar-Aid, a non-profit organization devoted to providing electricity to remote homes and villages off-the-grid in Africa.

By Anna on January 30, 2009 2:49 PM
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SolarAid Tanzania's office in Dar es Salaam is now home to a rural solar village...painting!

A local Tinga Tinga (Tanzanian style) artist has produced a village scene where solar power provides the village's electricity needs.

Have a close look at this wonderful and intricate painting. Among traditional village activities you can see people using microsolar to play their radios, macrosolar servicing a clinic and school, a solar-powered water pump and local business people using solar to make money by charging mobile phones. It's great to see what solar can do for a village!

If you feel as inspired by the work SolarAid is doing as this local Tanzanian artist was, then please support us today.

Thank you!

A Twitter Revolution?

This is an article I picked up this morning from ArmyLive.

A Twitter Revolution

You can hardly turn on the news these days without seeing Twitter promoted somewhere. Major news networks are using the micro-blogging platform to connect with viewers and get citizen feedback. Whether it’s a major news network or your local affiliate, the past four months have seen a major rise in popularity for this Web 2.0 platform, which is designed to answer the question, “what are you doing now?”

Over a month ago we made the news for a brief remark about Ashton Kutcher’s rise to over 1 million followers (if you’re keeping track, he’s at over 2.3 million, now). While we always say it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the conversations and connections, it certainly says something that one individual can get more followers than a single entity or news network. Twitter has loosened the term citizen journalist in unprecedented ways. Is every individual remarking on the news, or sending out links, a citizen journalist? Many of the major networks, who regularly pull quotes and perspectives from Twitter, seem to think so.

In the military, I’ve still seen some skepticism about how Twitter can be used as a strategic communications tool. It’s just a little too funky, and a little too uncontrolled. We’re used to the Wild Wild West of the social media landscape, but Twitter takes that to new levels. Is it worth sifting through a sea of useless information in order to connect with the segment of people who really care about what you have to say?

The use of Twitter by protestors in Iran, however, is opening people’s eyes. With the absence of journalists to cover the story, Iranian citizens are stepping in. The hashtag (a symbol used to track trending topics in Twitter) #iranelection continues to trend on Twitter, as both Iranians, and supporters from across the globe use Twitter to connect and share information. While there could be doubt as to how widespread the use of Twitter is among the Iranian population, those who are using it know its power and ability to provide instantaneous updates to followers. And because of the rise in media outlets using Twitter, some tweets sent from Iran are aimed directly at news agencies - notifying them of press conferences or events. The rise in free, fairly accurate Internet translation software has opened doors for messages to spread not just across platforms, but across languages.

Is this a Twitter Revolution? Perhaps. I will always look at social networking sites as simply tools, not solutions. If there hadn’t been Twitter, what would the coverage of the Iranian elections have looked like? What information would have bubbled to the surface, and what platforms would have gotten it there? As a public affairs operator and someone who finds knowledge and information at the core of the freedoms we hold so dear, and protect so fiercely in the United States Army, it is powerful to see news and information spreading through the Middle East through the power of social networking. I don’t think the events in Iran signify a Twitter revolution, but I do think that as an American citizen, anytime we see individuals expressing free speech, it is a win for democracy.

The U.S. Army has been using Twitter for awhile, so visit us at www.twitter.com/usarmy. If you’d like to ask me a question or drop me a note, always feel free to do so at www.twitter.com/lindykyzer. Do you think the use of Twitter in Iran signifies a Twitter revolution? How do you feel about this fastest growing social networking platform? Drop us a line in the comments section.

Posted bylindykyzerunderCurrent Events

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Submarine Skipper Relieved

"A Lucky Man" is Relieved as Submarine Skipper
Story Number: NNS090620-08
Release Date: 6/20/2009 11:51:00 AM
By Lt. Patrick Evans, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Calling himself "a lucky man," the commander of Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720) was relieved during a change of command ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London's Shepherd of the Sea chapel June 19.

Cmdr. Andrew C. Jarrett, a native of Alexandria, Va., turned over command of Pittsburgh to Cmdr. Michael K. Savageaux during the ceremony.

During the event, Jarrett told his crew that they were the reason he came to work everyday.

"The most important part of this job is interacting with you," said Jarrett during his speech where he paused several times because he was overcome by emotion. "The success we earned is because every one of you gave more than I had asked for in terms of sacrifice and unity."

During Jarrett's tour as commanding officer, Pittsburgh became the first submarine to deploy to the U.S. Africa Command and completed a deployment to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. Jarrett will next serve as Battalion officer at the U.S. Naval Academy.

"The record of success of Pittsburgh under the guiding leadership of Andy Jarrett has been exceptional," said guest speaker and Norwich native Rear Adm. Arnold Lotring, commander, Naval Service Training Command.
"What I find most impressive about the period of the ship's history under Andy's command is that despite extended and complex periods of maintenance, he was able to ensure that his crew's training and readiness proficiency did not degrade, but, in fact, improved."

Savageaux returns to the area he calls home. A native of Grafton, Mass., Savageaux previously served as the deputy director of the Center for Expeditionary Counterterrorism Operations and deputy for Readiness for Submarine Squadron 2, both in Groton.

"I am humbled and honored to be your commanding officer and I look forward to working with you to take our ship out to sea and into harm's way," said Savageaux.

Fort Stewart and Antiaircraft Artillery

Anti-Aircraft Artillery Center

In June 1940, Congress authorized funding for the purchase of property in coastal Georgia for the purpose of building an anti-aircraft artillery training center. It was to be located just outside of Hinesville, Georgia, some 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Savannah

On 1 July 1940 the first 5,000 acres (20 km²) were bought and subsequent purchases followed. Eventually the reservation would include over 280,000 acres (1100 km²) and stretch over five counties. The large expanse of property was required for the firing ranges and impact areas which an anti-aircraft artillery training center would need for live-fire training.

Fort Stewart was established in September 1940 as the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Training Center. The first unit to arrive was the 70th Coast Artillery Regiment. It was designated Camp Stewart on 10 Jan 1941, after Brigadier General Daniel Stewart, a Liberty County Revolutionary War hero.

In fall of 1941, the Carolina maneuvers were held, and all the anti-aircraft units from Camp Stewart participated. As these maneuvers drew to a close, a feeling of restless anticipation pervaded the ranks of the National Guard soldiers who were looking toward their impending release from active duty, after completion of their year of training. However, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th ended these dreams. Now the U.S. was in the war, and Camp Stewart set about accomplishing the mission it was intended for.

In the fall of 1941 Camp Stewart troops participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers, the largest peacetime field operation undertaken up to that time. By June 1942 twenty-one battalions were on post taking anti-aircraft training with training reaching its peak in the spring of 1943 when over 40,000 men were on Camp Stewart.

During World War II, 151 Anti-Aircraft Artillery battalions would train at Camp Stewart. The camp served as a holding area for German and Italian Prisoners of War during World War II. It also boasted a Cooks and Bakers School, one of the earliest Women's Army Corps detachments and even Women Air Force Service Pilots unit which ferried aircraft for the Army Air Corps.

During the early months, training was done on wooden mock-ups, since real anti-aircraft guns were in short supply. Live-firing exercises were conducted on the beaches of St. Augustine and Amelia Island, Florida, since the necessary ranges and impact areas had not been completed at Camp Stewart. This live-fire training over the ocean continued until September 1941, while at Camp Stewart practice firing and searchlight training progressed.

Savannah's First Bryan Baptist Church had a special service for soldiers from the Savannah Air Base and Camp Stewart December 21, 1941. Reverend Terrill wrote a letter to Asa H. Gordon, director of the Colored SSSS, extending the invitation to the soldiers. Church members took at least one soldier home from the service for Sunday dinner. Reverend Terrill, at the special service for soldiers, preached on "The Negro's Place in National Defence." Thelma Lee Stevens gave the welcome address. Scout Westley W. Law was master of ceremonies (source: page 71, Dr. Charles J. Elmore, "First Bryan 1788-2001 The Oldest Continuous Black Baptist Church in America.")

The National Guard units departed and new units came in for training. Facilities were expanded and improved. Anti-aircraft artillery training was upgraded and soon a detachment of Women’s Air Service Pilots (WASP’s) arrived at the air facility on post, Liberty Field, to fly planes to tow targets for the live-fire exercises. Eventually radio-controlled airplane targets came into use as a more effective and safer means of live-fire practice.

As the war progressed, Camp Stewart’s training programs continued expanding to keep pace with the needs placed upon it. Units were shipped out promptly upon completion of their training, and new units received in their place. The camp provided well-trained soldiers for duty in the European, the Mediterranean, the North African, and the Pacific Theaters.

Gunny R. Lee Ermey Visits Fort Campbell

Former 'Mail Call' host drops into Fort Campbell

By Nondice Powell, Fort Campbell Courier

"You will not like me, but the more you hate me, the more you will learn," barked Gunnery Sgt. Hartman to his Marine Corps recruits.

R. Lee Ermey, best known for his role as the drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in "Full Metal Jacket" and as the host of "Mail Call," came to Fort Campbell, Ky., Wednesday to film segments for his new show "Lock and Load."

"For those folks who have already seen 'Mail Call,' which has been on for five years pretty much, and it was the highest rated show on the History Channel for a while, we've replaced that with 'Lock and Load,'" said Ermey. "It is basically 'Mail Call' on steroids. It's a one hour show and comes out in July."

Ermey served 11 years in the Marine Corps before being medically discharged and taking up acting. He came to the 101st Airborne Division to film segments for "Lock and Load" on helicopters and artillery. He completed a tandem jump out of one of 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment's CH-47F Chinook helicopters with members of the 101st Airborne Division Parachute Demonstration Team and took part in a range with 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment.

"It worked out real well because we were able to come here to Fort Campbell and kill two birds with one stone," said Ermey.

This was not Ermey's first visit with the Screaming Eagles. He visited with troops during a trip to Iraq. The opportunity to spend time with Soldiers is something he enjoys.

"It's wonderful," said Ermey. "It's always good. The guys are great. I like hanging out with them. I wouldn't be doing what I do if I didn't. It keeps me young. It is always a breath of fresh air to come hang out with the guys for a day or two."

For Ermey's trip to Fort Campbell, Sgt. Major Keith Hudson, 3rd Brigade Combat Team operations sergeant major, didn't have to add any missions to the training schedule in order for the crew to get the footage they needed.

"We didn't have to manufacture a lot of this," said Hudson. "The firing point and the [observation points] were already owned and occupied by our Red Knights. This wasn't even a training distracter."

For some it actually added to the training experience. Some of the Soldiers had not seen an F model of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

Many have only seen and worked with the D model. Fort Campbell was the first to receive the new F model helicopters in 2007.

"It's a good training opportunity," said Hudson. "That's the latest and greatest."

Hudson explained it was a humbling experience to meet the man many servicemembers best remember for his role in "Full Metal Jacket."

"He is larger than life," said Hudson. "He is Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. He is a Vietnam veteran. He is a great American. Gunny is a great man. We could use a lot more of him."

After having lunch with the Rakkasans, Ermey headed out to the airfield to shoot more footage with the flight crew who took him up for his jump and to shoot stand-ups for his show. He uses that gruff and matter-of-fact tone he is known for to explain what is going on to viewers.

"The C-H in CH-47 stands for cargo helicopter," said Ermey, yelling into the camera. "But don't kid yourself. This ain't no...minivan. This thing goes where the action is."

Ermey enjoyed his trip to Fort Campbell. He sees his show as a good recruiting tool for all branches and as a way to show his support of the military.

"We are all in this together," said Ermey. "We support one another. I support the Army as much as I do the Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard or the Navy. We work well together. We're getting the job done, plain and simple."

"Somebody needs to support the military and I know the American people do support the military," he added. "I like to think that I'm pulling my share of the load."

A Lava-Lamp Story

Check out this early post from our friend and Training with Industry blogger with Google. Read his full blog athttp://thearmyjournalist.blogspot.com.

On what was only my sixth or seventh day in the office, I somehow managed to almost destroy a Google lava lamp. The episode started quite innocently. I noticed everyone at Google had a lava lamp on their desk except me. I wanted one. I thought it would make me look more Googley. So I looked around and eventually came across an unoccupied desk with an unclaimed lava lamp. Victory would soon be mine, I too would embody the carefree attitude of my fellow Googlers. So I quickly scooped it up and scurried to my desk. During my lava lamp search I noticed that everyone else kept their lamps turned off. I figured it was simply because the novelty had worn off so I thought little of it. I had to identify the source of about eight other cords before I determined where I could plug in my new lamp. After making space on my desk, identifying an outlet, plugging it in and settling back into my chair I was ready to go.Click…Click…Click…Nothing. My lava lamp wouldn’t turn on. Strange. Maybe it wasn’t plugged in right. Maybe the cord wasn’t properly attached to the lamp. Nope, all looked good. Then it occurred to me, maybe there was a second on/off switch underneath the base of the lamp.

So I lifted the lamp quickly, not realizing the lava portion of the lamp was not secured to the base of the lamp, nor was the metal top of the lamp fastened to the lava portion. So when I lifted the lamp and turned it sideways I managed to launch the other two unfastened elements toward my computer monitor. Panic. They say things like that always happen in slow motion, I don’t believe that all. I don’t think there is anything in the world that has moved, or ever will move, as fast as that lava lamp (now in three pieces) did while hurling toward my computer. I just closed my eyes.

The noise was pretty substantial. There was a large thud when the lava glass hit the desk followed by an obnoxious clanging sound as the metal top rolled across the desk. Amazingly, there was no permanent damage. I looked up sheepishly waiting for about 20 heads to pop up staring in my direction. Nothing. Apparently the sound of crashing lava lamps was common in the Google office. After dissecting my lamp further I concluded that the bulb was out. Which in all likelihood accounted for all of the other out of service lava lamps. I can’t imagine it’s too easy to find a lava lamp-specific light bulb. So no lava lamp. I guess I’ll have to find another way to look Googley.

Thank you all for reading. Take care,

Transcontinental Military Convoy's 90th Anniversary

Jun 13, 2009 By J.D. Leipold

Mid-morning June 13, history began to repeat itself as antique military vehicles from the Military Vehicle Preservation Association began winding its way through downtown Washington, D.C., on the first leg of a journey that will take the drivers 3,251 miles in 26 days traveling at about 35 mph to San Francisco.

In the summer of 1919, the Army's first transcontinental motor convoy made up of 81 Army vehicles and manned by 24 officers and 258 enlisted men began an expedition that crossed the country's breadth to show the nation the importance of moving the military through motorized transport.

Among the officers was 29-year-old Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower who went on to become a five star general and America's 34th president. Eisenhower's first-hand experience of breakdowns during the 62-day trip influenced him later as president to build the country's interstate highway system.

The 2009 convoy will have as many as 300 vintage military vehicles join in along the route with about 45 making the entire trip cross-country.

Friday, June 19, 2009

National Infantry Museum Opens in Columbus, GA

- chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com

A walking cane in his left hand, a Cavalry Stetson adorned with three stars atop his head, retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore walked.

An 87-year-old battle-scarred soldier in his dress blue uniform, Moore experienced “The Last 100 Yards,” the signature exhibit of the new National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Patriot Park on Thursday night.

On the eve of the grand opening, about 175 military leaders, past and present, including former Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell and Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, gathered for a formal dinner and tour of the facility. The gathering included philanthropists from Columbus and throughout the country who helped make the museum possible.

On this night, Moore walked through the American Revolution, into the Civil War, into two World Wars and through Korea.

All along the way, he stopped and dutifully read the markers describing each battle depicted.

He walked slowly, but he walked with purpose.

As Moore neared the top of the ramp, he stopped.

Vietnam. Air Assault at Landing Zone X-Ray.

“I am familiar with this one,” he said as he marched toward the marker.

He stopped. Got as close to the words describing battle as his eyes would allow. He squinted. And he read every single word.

As he read, his face was a portrait of concentration, lips pursed.

He walked up to the helicopter, a video screen playing on the inside. The grass moved as if the chopper was landing.

It was all too real.

He looked into the face of one of the soldiers captured in a large photo inside the exhibit.

“That was one of my men,” Moore said.

These were Moore’s men, this was his fight.

What happened on that field in Southeast Asia was first a book, “We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young,” written by Moore and journalist Joe Galloway, and then a major Hollywood movie.

As Moore walked out the Vietnam War and onto the desert sands of the most recent wars, he stopped and looked back.

“It felt like I was going backward in time and memories,” Moore said while standing on the 100-yard ramp.

His words were choked with emotion.

Moore’s friend Toby Warren put the experience into words the lieutenant general could not.

“He will not sleep tonight,” Warren said. “This reconnected him to his heart, all that his life has been about.”

Moore’s wife, Julie Compton Moore, a soldier of a different kind on the home front during those trying times, is buried just up the hill in Fort Benning Main Post Cemetery. She died five years ago.

The walk through the historic battles helped Moore put his place in history into perspective.

“He told me the book was for the men; the movie was for the men,” Warren said of Moore. “But walking through there it was not just for his men, but for all of the dead of this country including his men.”

Moore stopped as he got to the top of the ramp.

He simply said, “I’m speechless.”

Aflac Chairman Dan Amos walked the ramp, too, as soldiers — past and present — and those who made the $91 million museum a reality gathered for a meal before today’s dedication.

“I have seen a lot of people tonight who are speechless,” Amos said.

Retired Columbus businessman Benjamin Hardaway III gave the museum his seal of approval. Hardaway, a World War II veteran who landed at Omaha Beach, was one of the many donors who made the museum possible.

“This is above my expectations — and they were high to start with,” he said. “I can’t see one thing that I would criticize.”

Powell walked the ramp shortly after Moore. He will be the keynote speaker at today’s dedication.

As Powell got to the top of the ramp, National Infantry Foundation Chairman Jerry White, a retired major general and former Fort Benning commander, was explaining the symbolism of the American flag on a large video screen with soldiers marching out of the desert and into future battles.

Powell just nodded.

“Now that I have seen it, this is a remarkable tribute to the Infantry, the Infantry School and, frankly, the community that has supported it for so long,” Powell said.

For some old warriors, the museum was an important trip into the past.

“I think this will help close a chapter in his life,” Moore’s friend Warren said. “This was a very serious trip.”