Support Coasties deployed to Southwest Asia

May 31, 2007

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseHere’s a chance for everyone living in Hampton Roads to support Coast Guard personnel deployed to Southwest Asia: Sign a scroll.

At the Portsmouth Federal Building, there’s a 448 ft. scroll in support of members of the Coast Guard. Created by George & Shirley Jackson of American Corner, Maryland (they have no affiliation with the U.S. Armed Forces; they’re just two people that are very proud of our military members). To show their appreciation of the American military, they created a scroll for each branch of the Armed Forces and have displayed them in public places so people from the community could show their appreciation by signing or drawing pictures on them. Once complete, they are delivering them to the troops in the Middle East.

Later this summer, Master Chief James, the Atlantic Area Command Master Chief, and Vice Admiral Peterman, the Atlantic Area Commander, will be traveling to Bahrain and will present the Coast Guard’s scroll to the crew of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia

Beginning at noon on Friday, June 1, through Friday, June 8, the scroll will be on display in the lobby of the Portsmouth Federal Building for members of the community to come and write comments and best wishes.

Please come by and show your support for the deployed members of the Coast Guard.

National Bike Summit 07
Originally uploaded by BikePortland.orgThe Tidewater Muse brings you, dear reader, another post not about the Coast Guard…

Last week I wrote about the possibility that certain functions currently done by the Coast Guard might be stripped away and given to another federal agency…

Scuttlebutt says that, indeed, there is a proposed bill working its way through a representative’s office, although no one is willing to name names. And, I’m not willing to guess who might the elected official be

With whispered voices, I hear, “The Coast Guard has friends on the Hill.” But I wonder, nonetheless, if the proposal to strip some functions away (perhaps to include aids to navigation, port state control, mariner licensing and documentation) isn’t a good thing.

Amongst calls to make the Coast Guard “great,” I can only think about Jim Collins’ book From Good to Great. Among many ideas, Mr. Collins suggests (and I’ve simplified here) that excellent organizations are excellent, in part, because they focus on one thing, and they do that one thing very, very well.

The Coast Guard prides itself on being “multi-mission,” which, if you accept Mr. Collins’ research, means the Coast Guard will never be great.

Perhaps stripping away some functions would allow the Coast Guard to be more focused, and perhaps great… or at least greater.

Meanwhile, I ask only this: Can the relationship between an agency such as the Coast Guard, and elected officials, such as the Congressional Representative from Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, be one of mutual respect and admiration?

This has been another post not about the Coast Guard.

US Secret Service Protection Plan
Originally uploaded by ACME-NollmeyerPerhaps this is true of most federal agencies involved in law enforcement and homeland security: there’s too much work and not enough people or funds.

In the Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu notes that the Secret Service is finding this extended presidential campaign season to be fiscal, and HR, killer:

The U.S. Secret Service expects to borrow more than 2,000 immigration officers and federal airport screeners next year to help guard an ever-expanding field of presidential candidates, while shifting 250 of its own agents from investigations to security details.

Burdened by the White House’s wartime security needs, the persistent threat of terrorism and a field of at least 20 presidential contenders, the Secret Service was showing signs of strain even before the Department of Homeland Security ordered protection for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as of May 3, the earliest a candidate has ever been assigned protection in an election season.

Wow. They’re borrowing 2,000 agents to help with security? I imagine the Coast Guard will contribute a couple of special agents to the cause…

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MusePortsmouth continued its tradition of hosting a Memorial Day Parade; a tradition in Portsmouth since 1884, the city’s Memorial Day Parade — the nation’s oldest — is in its 123rd year. You’ll find a slew of pictures of this family-oriented paradehere.

Pictured with this post is Coast Guard Vice Admiral D. Brian Peterman, Commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area. The Atlantic Area staff operates out of the Portsmouth Federal Building located in historic Olde Towne.

He didn’t have to die.

Sad news from Lake Pontchartrain and the City of New Orleans: Marquise Hill, a young player with the New England Patriots, died yesterday in a jetski accident. His body was found today by searchers which included the Coast Guard, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, the New Orleans Police Department, and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department.

Mr. Hill was not wearing a PFD (personal flotation device; a “lifejacket”).

Would he ever have run onto a football field without wearing the proper equipment? Doubtful.

Let Mr. Hill’s tragic accident have some good for the rest of us: let it remind us that when boating, always wear a proper PFD. No excuses: underway, wear a lifejacket.

I’m certain that Mr. Hill was not alone in losing his life in a boating accident this holiday weekend; and that, dear reader, just s*cks.

Be safe on the water this summer. Wear a lifejacket, and make certain that everyone with you wears one too.

Originally uploaded by BetchaboyI’m the 4th monkey… 😉
There’s irony here, and I suspect the person who created the irony just doesn’t see it.

Steven Aftergood over at the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy blog, Secrecy News, posted that

An unidentified Republican Senator placed a secret hold on the Open Government Act, a bipartisan bill to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act, thereby preventing the Senate from acting on the bill this week.

So, let’s see… a senator is using an anonymous hold in order to stall a bill that would increase transparency in government. At least Senator Patrick Leahy sees the irony.

It is both unfortunate and ironic that this bipartisan bill, which promotes sunshine and openness in our government, is being hindered by a secret and anonymous hold. This is a good government bill that Democrats and Republicans alike, can and should work together to enact. I hope that the Senator placing the secret hold on this bill will come forward, so that we can resolve any legitimate concerns, and the full Senate can promptly act on this legislation.

Some people just aren’t willing to publicly take a stand, I guess. They’d rather hide behind curtains.

This isn’t the government I hoped for.

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseAdmiral Allen has today released his third Commandant’s Intent SITREP. He notes,

We are underway, making way and this is an “all hands” evolution. As we navigate our course into the future, we need everyone onboard. Whether you are a Reservist deployed in the Arabian Gulf, a civilian at the Finance Center, an Auxiliarist conducting a fishing vessel safety exam inport, or a helo pilot prosecuting a case in the Bering Sea, each of you plays an important role in moving the Coast Guard forward.

The text is not yet up on the CG’s website; I’ve posted it here in the mean time.

Have fun drivers!
Originally uploaded by hoju510I’m amazed to learn that the I-580 connector is back open. It took the contractor, C.C. Myers, only 17 days to make the repairs. And he pocketed a cool $5 million bonus for completing the work early! If you’re at all interested in civil engineering, government bureaucracy, or private enterprise, check out Michael Cabanatuan’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle

The Chiefs’ Mess, Port Security Unit 305
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseWhile glancing through the newly signed Atlantic Theatre People Plan (LANTAREAINST 5357.1A), I discovered that while the Commandant no longer requires attendence at the CPO Academy, the Area Commander does. I believe this applies to all Chiefs assigned to non-HQ within the confines of Atlantic Area.

All regular and reserve Chiefs (E-7, E-8 and E-9) in the Atlantic Theatre are required to attend the Coast Guard CPO Academy or an equivalent DoD senior enlisted leadership academy. Only those with an approved retirement date are exempt from this requirement. Failure to attend should be considered in enlisted evaluations and should be disqualifying for special assignments. Deployable units shall make every effort to allow chiefs to attend this course during a portion of a deployment. Once orders are issued, cancellations require the approval of the first flag officer in the member’s chain of command. Enclosure (1) specifies procedures for units under Atlantic Area OPCON to request to cancel or reschedule CPO Academy orders.

Seeking clarification, I spoke with Master Chief Richard Brown, the MLCA Command Master Chief. He told me that the same is true on the left coast, and PACAREA’s language was even stronger. And, he told me that the Commandant still requires attendance at the CPO Academy to be eligible for E-9.

This is all good; the Chief Petty Officer Academy is an excellent learning opportunity located in the hills and valleys of Petaluma, CA. Notes John Niece, School Chief of the Chief Petty Officer Academy,

Prepare to be engaged–you will find the Chief’s Academy very different from any previous resident course experience. It is not simply another “C” school, but the beginning of the most critical transition in your career–advancement to E-7.

Altus tendo.

Shuttle Returns Home
Originally uploaded by hodad66Any time someone decides to destroy records for fear they “would become official records and subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act,” I become very suspect.

And I’m very suspect.

From Jenny Mandel at Government Executive, we learn that a NASA lawyer destroyed recordings of a staff meeting between NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and the NASA inspector general staff. NASA General Counsel Michael Wholley

told lawmakers that he later learned from agency Chief of Staff Paul Morrell that recordings had been made of the meeting, counter to a prior instruction that no taping take place. After receiving what he believed were the only copies of the offending DVD from Morrell, Wholley said, “I personally made the decision to destroy them, and I did so by breaking them into pieces and throwing them in the trash.”
Wholley said before destroying the tapes, he consulted the Federal Records Act and concluded that they did not constitute official records, but that if copies were retained, they would become official records and subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

What boggles my mind is that he thought about it… and still made the wrong decision. Perhaps not an illegal decision, but an unethical decision.

He was thinking like an attorney and not like a civil servant, as in a servant to the people.

I wonder if the position of NASA General Counsel is a political appointment…

You heard it here, first, although I didn’t get it all right. Turns out they actually made an announcement. And, we haven’t given up all hope.

From Michael Bruno of Aerospace Daily and Defense Report at Aviation Week, we learn that Peter’s prognosticating was correct: the Coast Guard is putting shipboard UAVs on the very slow track, waiting for at least a decade to see “where the industry is.”

Capt. Michael Anderson, Deepwater program manager, said Coast Guard officials now are looking at 2014-17 to roll out a VUAV aboard planned National Security Cutters (NSCs) and other patrol ships. At that time “we’ll see where the industry is,” he said.

That compares with ambitious goals held as recently as a year ago to provide one of Bell Helicopter Textron’s Eagle Eye tiltrotor VUAVs by this August along with the first planned NSC. Otherwise, the first VUAV was supposed to be delivered to the Coast Guard for developmental testing and evaluation in 2008.

I also didn’t see the CG pursuing land-based UAVs.

Anderson told a group of legislative aides on Capitol Hill May 18 that officials now are eyeing proven land-based UAV alternatives to make up for the lack of sea-based VUAVs in the immediate future.

There’s going to need to be a solution as Mr. Bruno notes that the Coast Guard is not going to meet its maritime patrol aircraft requirements for nearly a decade. Ouch.

Hat tip to John over at Coast Guard News

Originally uploaded by soldiersmediacenterOver at the Counterterrorism Blog, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross has been posting about his time embedded with the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade, 32nd Field Artillery. Here’s his first post, The Desert Heat, and his most recent, Baghdad: Patrolling Yarmouk. Mr. Gartenstein-Ross writes with the eye of an observant reporter who can bridge the world of the military with the world of everybody else. A brief sampling:

On Wednesday’s patrol I caught my first glimpse of Baghdad outside the wire in the daylight. The fact that a war is raging in this city is apparent at first glance, yet life goes on. Some of the areas we passed were composed of abandoned ruins and burned-out shells of buildings — areas where nobody should want to set foot, not even in the daylight. Other areas were residential, with large handsome estates right next door to bombed-out buildings that must have been equally handsome years ago, before the American invasion. Some Iraqis walked down the streets casually, some were standing and conversing. Some — particularly those with kids — waved at the American Humvees as they passed, while others glared with manifest anger. All of the women I saw on the streets wore either burkas or heavy hijabs, and had male escorts. Although the roads themselves were relatively clean (almost certainly to reduce the chance of an IED attack), the sides of the roads were littered with trash.

Check it out.

Monica Goodling and the Press
Originally uploaded by icki… and her congressional inquisitors didn’t even realize it.

From Sam Smith and Undernews, I saw the first inkling in his post Goodling Admitted to Major Bush Voting Fraud… and Committee Didn’t Even Catch It. What it was was a reference to an alleged vote “caging” scheme.

Vote caging? Yeh, I didn’t know what it was either. Mr. Smith’s post notes that it is an illegal maneuver used to try and block registered voters from voting.

Over at The Brad Blog, Greg Palast posts more on this vote caging scheme. Mr. Palast claims that Karl Rove along with other operatives, perhaps even in the Department of Justice, had a hand in this alleged illegal action and that the attorney firings were actually related to this: those who were fired weren’t willing to contribute to the effort. Mr. Palast also alleges that the “lost” Rove emails include lists of those voters who were caged.

We can only hope that we get to the bottom of this.

Originally uploaded by Bast ProductionsAn interesting article came across my news reader this evening:
US Coast Guard to be split in two. The original piece comes from TradeWinds, a Norwegian newspaper covering the international maritime industry.

Bob Rust of TradeWind reports that Congress will soon be considering a proposal calling for the USCG to be more of a pure security organization:

The US Coast Guard (USCG) may soon be split into two US maritime bodies under legislation to be introduced by next week.

Legislative and lobbying sources tell TradeWinds that a brand-new smaller federal agency is likely to be formed to take over most of the parts of the USCG that international and domestic shipowners meet in the course of their business.

Port-state control (PSC), ship documentation and registration, seafarer licensing and other functions that have a direct impact on the operation and ownership of merchant ships are all thought likely to leave the USCG.

That will leave the USCG more nearly a pure security organisation, in line with the many new domestic security mandates it has been handed since the terrorist attacks of 2001 and with its move shortly thereafter out of the US Department of Transportation and into the new Department of Homeland Security.

Lobbyists give the soon-to-be-unveiled proposals a good chance of passing during the present session of congress.

Where would the stripped away functions go? Mr. Rust reports,

The hived-off regulatory areas are thought unlikely to be passed to the US Maritime Administration (MarAd). It is said that this is because MarAd’s duty of promoting the US maritime industry accords poorly with the regulatory and policing functions that are now handled by the USCG.

MarAd spokesman Shannon Russell tells TradeWinds she is not aware of any such proposals but points out that one USCG function having to do with the alteration of bridges is set to be moved into MarAd.

This would be a huge change, particularly when coupled with the Coast Guard’s current strategic transformation initiatives.

Hit tip to Norm Paulhus who sends out Coast Guard news clippings to his CGForward listserv. Mr. Paulhus notes with this posting from TradeWinds, “I can’t tell you how much credibility to give the item, since most of its sources are unidentified, but just be aware that this ‘deep, dark secret’ may be out there.”

I can’t get to the original article, but I’m sure we’ll hear more about this next week.

Originally uploaded by soldiersmediacenterI am pretty sure I’ve pointed readers to them before, but I wanted to once again draw your attention to a few must reads from a couple of Milbloggers.

Pictures from the Army: Soldiers Media Center has great pics from Iraq and elsewhere. These are all official photographs, good stuff, and in the public doman.

A blog from Teflon Don, a 23-year old soldier who blogs from Iraq on his Acute Politics. His work is featured in the upcoming book from The Sandbox. He serves with a unit responsible for clearing mines and IEDs.

Badgers Forward, from Badger 6, an Army captain serving in Iraq. This is good stuff, complemented by his wife, Mrs. Badger 6, writing from home. He’ll also be featured in the book The Sandbox

Well, that’s three for now. Happy reading.

Ambassador Bridge
Originally uploaded by redmannHere’s a little something I didn’t know: Ambassador Bridge, which links Detroit and Windsor, is privately owned. Pam Fessler at NPR has a very interesting story about the bridge and concerns about security at the bridge and its vulnerability to terrorist attacks. From her Private Bridge on Canada Border a Security Concern:

The busiest border crossing between the United States and Canada — the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit — is privately owned. It carries one-quarter of all trade between the two countries, worth about $100 billion a year. But government inspectors have limited access to the bridge, and it’s not clear who is in charge of making sure it doesn’t become a terrorist target.

The bridge is owned by Manuel “Matty” Moroun, a reclusive billionaire distrusted by many people on both sides of the border. Moroun is now in a fierce battle with a government-run group over who gets to build the next crossing.

One of the big issues is security. Gregg Ward, who runs a nearby ferry for trucks that carry hazardous materials, is disturbed that uninspected trucks are allowed to park underneath the base of the Ambassador. They park there while truckers shop at the bridge’s duty-free store on the American side. Trucks and cars can also fill up their tanks with discounted fuel. Ward says fuel trucks park under the bridge when they’re filling up the underground storage tanks.

Like much infrastructure here in the US of A, this is just another target, albeit a big one and one that would have huge economic impact.

Anyway, check out Ms. Fessler’s two part article; it includes background on the history of the bridge along with a discussion of the security concerns.

The Commander in Chief spoke at the commencement exercises at the Coast Guard Academy in New London today. As is usual at these events, his speech mixed humor and policy. There were some revelations in his speech:

I’ve often warned that if we fail in Iraq, the enemy will follow us home. Many ask: How do you know? Today, I’d like to share some information with you that attests to al Qaeda’s intentions. According to our intelligence community, in January 2005, Osama bin Laden tasked the terrorist Zarqawi — who was then al Qaeda’s top leader in Iraq — with forming a cell to conduct terrorist attacks outside of Iraq. Bin Laden emphasized that America should be Zarqawi’s number one priority in terms of foreign attacks. Zarqawi welcomed this direction; he claimed that he had already come up with some good proposals.

To help Zarqawi in these efforts, our intelligence community reports that bin Laden then tasked one of his top terrorist operatives, Hamza Rabia, to send Zarqawi a briefing on al Qaeda’s external operations, including information about operations against the American homeland. Our intelligence community reports that a senior al Qaeda leader, Abu Faraj al-Libi, went further and suggested that bin Laden actually send Rabia, himself, to Iraq to help plan external operations. Abu Faraj later speculated that if this effort proved successful, al Qaeda might one day prepare the majority of its external operations from Iraq.

In May of 2005, Abu Faraj was captured and taken into CIA custody. Several months later, in December 2005, Rabia was killed in Pakistan. Several months after that, in June of 2006, the terrorist Zarqawi was killed by American forces in Iraq. Successes like these are blows to al Qaeda. They’re a testament to steps we have taken to strengthen our intelligence, work closely with partners overseas, and keep the pressure on the enemy by staying on the offense. (Applause.)

Despite our pressure, despite the setbacks that al Qaeda has suffered, it remains extremely dangerous. As we’ve surged our forces in Iraq, al Qaeda has responded with a surge of its own. The terrorists’ goal in Iraq is to reignite sectarian violence and break support for the war here at home. And they believe they’re succeeding. A few weeks ago, al Qaeda’s number two, second in command, Zawahiri, issued a video in which he gloated that al Qaeda’s “movement of violence” has “forced the Americans to accept a pullout — about which they only differ in regard to its timing.” We can expect al Qaeda to continue its campaign of high profile attacks, including deadly suicide bombings and assassinations. And as they do, our troops will face more fighting and increased risks in the weeks and months ahead.

The fight in Iraq is tough, but my point today to you is the fight is essential to our security — al Qaeda’s leaders inside and outside of Iraq have not given up on their objective of attacking America again. Now, many critics compare the battle in Iraq to the situation we faced in Vietnam. There are many differences between the two conflicts, but one stands out above all: The enemy in Vietnam had neither the intent nor the capability to strike our homeland. The enemy in Iraq does. Nine-eleven taught us that to protect the American people, we must fight the terrorists where they live so that we don’t have to fight them where we live. (Applause.)

The question for our elected leaders is: Do we comprehend the danger of an al Qaeda victory in Iraq, and will we do what it takes to stop them? However difficult the fight in Iraq has become, we must win it. Al Qaeda is public enemy number one for Iraq’s young democracy, and al Qaeda is public enemy number one for America, as well. And that is why we must support our troops, we must support the Iraqi government, and we must defeat al Qaeda in Iraq. (Applause.)

We’re thankful to the military, the intelligence, and law enforcement personnel who work tirelessly to stop new attacks on our country. With every plot they foil, every terrorist they capture, we learn more about the enemy’s plans and persistence. In the minds of al Qaeda leaders, 9/11 was just a down-payment on violence yet to come. It’s tempting to believe that the calm here at home after September the 11th means that the danger to our country has passed. I see the intelligence every day. The danger has not passed. Here in America, we’re living in the eye of a storm. All around us, dangerous winds are swirling, and these winds could reach our shores at any moment.

And they will, no matter what successes we have in terms of intelligence and law enforcement.

See the Whitehouse website for the full speech and more photographs

Originally uploaded by yudhiestDid you hear about the Hooksett Four, fired for gossiping at work? The four women, employees of the Town of Hooksett in New Hampshire, were canned

in April after speaking to a lawyer the town hired as a fact-finder to rout out chatterboxes.

They say questions about a close relationship between Town Administrator David Jodoin and a female employee, identified only as “A” in the lawyer’s report, drifted into Town Hall sometime in March. They say they weren’t the only ones who discussed the rumor, and dismissed it as untrue after briefly talking about it.

Harsh. The city fathers ought to just be happy these employees weren’t blogging, but, rather, just kibitzing around the water cooler.

I, Robot (2004) / **½
Originally uploaded by greybeanPerhaps you remember Dean Kamen? While he’s best known for inventingthe Segway, he has more than 150 other inventions, many of which are more remarkable and more life changing. Most of his previous work has been in the fields of medicine, although he also has patents in climate control systems and helicopter design. While the Segway caught a good idea, his early work is more awesome.

From Scott Kirsner in Wired back in 2000:

When he watched a man in a wheelchair try to negotiate a curb in the late ’80s, Kamen wondered whether he could build a chair that would hop curbs without losing its balance. After $50 million and eight years in development, the Ibot Transporter – a six-wheeled robotic “mobility system” that can climb stairs, traverse sandy and rocky terrain, and raise its user to eye-level with a standing person – is undergoing FDA trials, and should be available by 2001, at a cost of $20,000. That may sound high, but keep in mind that the Ibot erases the need to retrofit a home for a wheelchair.

Mr. Kamen is headed back to make a name for himself, and help thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. Will Smith’s bionic arm from I, Robot is here.

From YouTube

Over at MedGadget about the development of the arm which was done by the Mr Kamen’s DEKA Research & Development Corporation under the auspices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also known as DARPA.

While the Segway is cool, this is life-changing stuff. Let’s hope they can get this in production soon. Given the way things are going overseas, I’m afraid we have plenty of candidates.

h/t to the News Buckit

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseI’d heard there’d be a segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes.

I missed it, and then last night I received a an email with the subject line “60 Minutes.” The email, from my brother, AAS, BS, MA, MLS, JD, and PhD (ABD) was simple and to the point, “My unsolicited advice to you is to resist all temptations to post any commentary on THAT.”

Oh, come now, Phil. We know this is one I can’t resist.


The Deepwater segment on CBS

While I didn’t actually see the 60 Minutes segment, I did get a chance to read the article posted to the 60 Minutes website. I’m not sure there’s truly any new ground here.

There were a couple of tidbits which, I’m sure, made for good television.

One of the first people to send up a warning flare about the contract was Captain Kevin Jarvis, who, until his retirement last fall, commanded of the Coast Guard’s Engineering and Logistics Center.

“People have told us, ‘Look, the people that were supposedly managing the contractors were, in many cases, the contractors themselves.’ The same companies. Correct?” Kroft asks.

“Correct. Correct. People say that this is like the fox watching the henhouse. And it’s worse than that,” Capt. Jarvis says. “It’s where the government asked the fox to develop the security system for the henhouse. Then told ’em, ‘You’re gonna do it. You know, by the way, we’ll give you the security code to the system and we’ll tell you when we’re on vacation.’ It was, in my opinion, it was that bad. And that’s why we have some of the problems we have.”

While I’ve never met Captain Jarvis, I know his opinion is not unique. Hey, even I agree, and I’ve said it before. But there’s no new news here.

What is news, however, is that there’s a new sheriff in town, a sheriff who had zippo to do with Deepwater before assuming command.

Admiral Allen’s Response

In the final 60 Minutes dig, they noted

Late last week, after our story had been completed, the coast guard finally offered to make Commandant Thad Allen available, but only for a live unedited interview, which we declined to do. In a separate letter the Commandant said he has changed the course of Deepwater, and that the program is turning around.

My suspicion is that Admiral Allen has always been available… for a live interview. Admiral Allen’s no dummy; he knows that in a live interview he can provide his perspective unedited with no television shenanigans as we are likely to see in an edited production.

How do I know this? Because Admiral Allen went live this weekend on CNN to address the Deepwater issue. The man knows how to handle questions.

And, even more amazingly, he’s not spinning, at least as I see it. Sure, he’s providing his perspective, but he’s admitting that the Coast Guard messed up, and he’s going to set things right.

You can find a copy of Admiral Allen’s letter to Mr. Kroft of 60 Minuteshere. In it, Admiral Allen writes about the way ahead, and he offers to appear live on 60 Minutes, not that they’d actually take him up on the offer as it doesn’t really meet their format… and they lose control.

No one held accountable

On Sunday, Maria Recio in the Seattle Times, wrote about the Deepwater project. In it, Ms. Recio interviewed Representative Gene Taylor of the House of Representatives. Representative Taylor is a Democrat from Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District and a former Coastie.

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., calls the failed 110-foot conversion program “the poster child” of what’s wrong with Deepwater.

“They stopped after ruining eight boats,” said Taylor, a former Coast Guard reservist who commanded patrol boats. “What angers me is we have eight ruined boats, $100 million spent and no one is held accountable. No one has been demoted.”

No one held accountable. No one demoted. Well, that’s simple: everyone who made the decisions which ultimately led us here have already left the service.

I remember a number of years ago when the Coast Guard started the Frontier series of operations in the Caribbean. As with most of these things, there wasn’t really enough money to fund the operation, so the-then Atlantic Area Commander and his Chief of Staff saw a huge pot of money they could tap into: naval maintenance money. The thing about tapping into maintenance money is that deferred maintenance leads to one thing and one thing only: disrepair. But it takes years for the ramifications to show up, and when they do, the people who made the initial decisions have moved on and, in most cases, retired.

The same thing is at the root of the Deepwater debacle. Decisions which brought us to where we are today were made by people who are no longer with the Coast Guard. And, while they made the decisions in what they thought was the best interest of the Coast Guard, those decisions, when compounded with other decisions and other decisions (like a decision path leading to an aircraft accident) turned out to be poor decisions. A key difference is that with an accident, the decisions are fairly recent; with Deepwater, we likely have no idea who made what decisions.

While Admiral Allen has acknowledged that the Coast Guard has made some poor decisions, he’s not willing to pin the blame on anyone. He’s not willing to go backward to punish; rather, he’s only looking backward in order to create a better way forward.

The way ahead

The way ahead is clear. Admiral Allen has the conn. He’ll take responsibility for where we are today, and he’ll get the Coast Guard on its way out of this mess. With the restructuring of the G-D and G-A staff elements (Deepwater and Acquisitions), expect the term Deepwater to die and expect future acquisitions to take on a more realistic and traditional approach.

And, expect the Coast Guard to guard the hen house.

Draft the Twins!
Originally uploaded by Kier42It speaks for itself: A sight we’ll never see.

Eric Saltzman
Originally uploaded by JoiThis week I’ve been taking pictures of the meeting I’ve been facilitating. And now I’m disappointed; they’re nowhere near as good as these by Joi Ito at the meeting he was in this week.

Maybe part of it is that I’m not using a SLR and can’t seem to get depth, as in the picture with this post.

Or maybe I just suck.

I have written in the past about how it is possible to support the military and the members of the military but not support the war. I suspect that some people think I’m off my rocker and that to oppose the war is to automatically oppose the members of the military. I’ve noted that members of the military are nothing more than instruments of national power used by politicians to attain political goals.

Jay Lindsay writes for the Associated Press about a Boston University professor, Andrew Bacevich, who agrees with my line of thinking. Mr. Lindsay wrote,

Bacevich, a conservative, viewed the war as a delusional overreach by political and military leaders who overestimated the power of the American military to transform the Middle East.

“There are no easy answers, but one at least ought to acknowledge that in launching a war advertised as a high-minded expression of U.S. idealism, we have waded into a swamp of moral ambiguity,” he wrote in the Washington Post in July 2006.

Bacevich advocated withdrawal from Iraq, writing in The Boston Globe in March that the war had made the world more dangerous for the United States.

“Our folly has alienated friends and emboldened enemies” he wrote.

Wow. In 2003, Dr. Bacevich wrote the war would “test the nation in ways that would ‘make the Vietnam War look like a mere blip in American history.'”

Mr. Lindsay also quotes a colleague of Dr. Bacevich’s, Erik Goldstein who is the chairman of the international relations department at BU, as saying Dr. Bacevich, a West Point graduate and retired lieutenant colonel, has “the highest regard for people who wear the uniform.” Dr. Goldstein is also quoted as saying, “The appreciation for what the military does is differentiated from his opposition to the conduct of this particular war.”

Dr. Bacevich’s son, Andy Bacevich Jr., a First Lieutenant serving with the First Cavalry, died this past Sunday in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat patrol operations in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq.

It is indeed, dear readers, possible to support the troops, to even have a member of your family give the ultimate sacrifice and still support the men and women in uniform, and oppose the war.

We live in an ambiguous world. We live in ambiguous times.

And, that is why, over at the Daily Kos, LarryInNYC wrote this past Monday,

the image of the Bush twins partying in Paraguay or at Fashion Week here in New York while Professor Basevich is burying his son and namesake seems to me unspeakably unjust.

Who supported the American military men and women more, Dr. Basevich or President Bush? Who truly sacrificed while embracing the ambiguity that is our life today?
Originally uploaded by leiaamidonYes, let’s find someone to pin the blame on. How about a “lowly three star general”?

Martin Sieff has a very interesting essay about the recent nomination of Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute as the “war czar to oversee and coordinate the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Mr. Sieff notes,

For all his experience and impressive record, he is taking over a position as a relatively lowly three-star general who had already been turned down by at least four well-qualified four-star commanders. And he will be overseeing four-star rank commanders, like CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon and Iraq ground forces commander Gen. David Petraeus.

Also, Gen. Lute will not be reporting to President George W. Bush directly but to national security adviser Stephen Hadley.

This arrangement looks likely to be filled with confusions and ambiguities.

First, wars involving the United States have always been run by the War Department, and then, since 1947, through the integrated Department of Defense. The National Security Council and its chief have never had responsibility for running or even overseeing any war directly in the 60 years since the NSC and the position of national security adviser were created.

Oh, I see success written all over this appointment.

Originally uploaded by soldiersmediacenterWell, it’s been a long time coming, and, frankly, I’m not surprised.

From John Ward Anderson in the Washington Post, we learn,

a new study warned that the country was close to becoming a “failed state.”

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, said the country had tread close to “the edge of the abyss” but now was making progress on political reforms needed to help mend sectarian and ethnic rifts that have pushed the country to the brink of civil war….

Contrary to Crocker’s assessment, some critics say that political progress has been too slow, while military counterinsurgency strategies have achieved mixed results….

A report released Thursday by Chatham House, a foreign policy research center in Britain, challenged the notion that violence in Iraq has subsided since the buildup of U.S. troops, saying, for instance, that car bombings had not diminished and arguing that radical groups were simply lying low.

“It can be argued that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation,” the report said.

I’m thinking that quagmire and morass might be apt descriptors.

Perhaps I’m just pessimistic…

Originally uploaded by makingadollarDid you catch what the U.S. government is asking Wachovia Bank to help with a transfer of money for the North Koreans?

From the Associated Press

A U.S. bank said Friday it was considering a request to help solve an international funds transfer involving North Korea that has held up movement by the communist country to implement a landmark nuclear disarmament accord.

Wachovia Corp. said it has been asked “by the U.S. State Department to help them process an interbank transfer of funds held at other banks, which are the subject of negotiations with North Korea,” bank spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said, reading a statement.

“We have agreed to consider this request and our discussions with various government officials are continuing,” she said on Thursday in the United States.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia is the fourth-largest bank in the United States.

Isn’t this just the Nigerian email money scheme? “Hey, I got all this money and I can’t move it and I need your help.”

You can read more than 500 sample fraud emails here

I just hope Wachovia doesn’t fall for this scam.

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseEarlier this week, I wrote about how I’m finding the Internet intersecting with the physical world. Well, it happened again, although this time there wasn’t surprise, but a planned intersection.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about operational security (OPSEC) and the Army’s new policies. As I often do, I went looking on flickr for a picture to use with the post. Usually, I search on flickr, using some keyword that I hope will lead me to an appropriate photograph. I searched on “opsec” and found the photo I ended up using. As the photo allowed for blogging use, I just linked to it, and thought nothing more about it. I did find it interesting that the photo had a Coast Guard cutter in it, but I didn’t spend any time thinking about it. Until the photographer got in touch with me.

Turns out Crazymoflo, a twenty-something journalist who lives in the Bay area, is dating a Coastie who happens to be the son of a senior officer I’ve worked with in the past.

We had dinner today at a Japanese restaurant near my hotel. Flo and I ate sushi and chatted for an hour or two waiting for her beau, Brian, to get to the restaurant after finishing up work for the Response Division at Sector San Fransisco; he was putting the finishing touches on the OPORDER for tomorrow’s evolution to save the two whales who are swimming up the Sacramento River

Anyway, another intersection of the Web and the physical world, and another example of how small the world can be sometimes.

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseCompliments of our friends at Secrecy News, the recent report from the Congressional Research Service about the Coast Guard’s Deepwater project is posted online.

The report, Coast Guard Deepwater Program: Background,
Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress, updated April 30th, is an excellent overview of the Deepwater program. Note that the report was written by Ronald O’Rourke, a Specialist in National Defense of the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division of the Congressional Research Service for “members and committees of Congress.” The Congressional Research Service would actually rather this report, and all their reports, are not released to the public

Thankfully, our government is like a sieve and the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy is fed copies of this and other CRS reports. But, I digress.

One of the “Potential Options for Congress” noted on page 19 of the report is

encourage or require the Coast Guard to replace the Deepwater program with a series of separate procurement programs for replacing individual classes of cutters, boats, and aircraft.

Interestingly, this is the tack that the Coast Guard is going to take, nuking the term Deepwater in the process. What we’ll see is, indeed, a more traditional acquisition process and program in place as noted as an option in the report.

Ah, let the oversight begin…

The Associated Press reports today that the President has named Army Lieutenant General Douglas Lute to be the “war czar.”

Ben Feller wrote

President Bush on Tuesday chose Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the Pentagon’s director of operations and a former leader of U.S. military forces in the Middle East, to oversee the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as a war czar.

“General Lute is a tremendously accomplished military leader who understands war and government and knows how to get things done,” Bush said, capping a difficult search for new leadership in the wars that have defined his presidency.

It was a difficult job to fill, given the unpopularity of the war, now in its fifth year, and uncertainty about the clout the war coordinator would have. The search was complicated by demands from Congress to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq and scant public support for the war. The White House tried for weeks to fill the position and approached numerous candidates before settling on Lute.

In the newly created position, Lute would serve as an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser, and would also maintain his military status and rank as a three-star general.

The White House has avoided the term “war czar.” Bush called Lute the “full-time manager” for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Okay, I think I missed something here. If General Lute is going to be the War Czar, er, sorry, the “full-time war manager,” what are the combatant commanders? Is not Admiral William J. Fallon, Commander of U.S. Central Command, the “full-time war manager?

Or do we expect the full-time war manager to manage the war from an office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia?

privacy protection
Originally uploaded by (in trouble,I’ll be back)Recently I was speaking with the XO of a CG unit who was telling me about a change he recently discovered. Turns out that government employees actually do have an expectation of privacy when using government email.

That’s right. You read that right: you actually do have an expectation of privacy.

Here’s what he told me: it turns out that there was a recent Marine Corps case that determined that when a government employee uses email, the employee actually has an expectation of privacy.

The case is United States v. Long, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces No. 05-5002, September 27, 2006

Here’s a plain English summary from Richard C. Balough, a Chicago-based attorney:

Military Court Finds E-Mail Messages On Marine Corps Computers Are Private

A Marine Corps officer has an expectation of privacy in her e-mail messages sent and stored in a government computer system, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has found.

The e-mails were from the officer’s account stored on an unclassified government computer system on which she had authorized limited personal use. The e-mails were obtained as part of an investigation of her for drug use. A motion to suppress the emails was denied at trial because the military judge found the officer had no reasonable expectation of privacy for her e-mail account.

A log-on banner for the email account stated that the government had the right to “monitor” the computer system. However, the appeals court found that the right to monitor the computer system did not allow the government “to engage in law enforcement intrusions by examining the contents of particular e-mails in a manner unrelated to maintenance of the e-mail system.”

The appellate court found that the actual policies and practices of the government “reaffirm rather than reduce the expectations regarding privacy on office computers. These policies, among other things, require individual users to have passwords known only to themselves and to change their passwords periodically to ensure privacy. Additionally, these policies limit outside network access to the network administrator and describe very limited conditions under which he would monitor the network for unauthorized use.”

The court said while the government can intrude into an employee’s computer or e-mail accounts for work-related reasons, “searches conducted for the primary purpose of obtaining evidence of illegal conduct require probable cause.” Since the search in this case went beyond work-related misconduct, probable cause was required. “Because there was no command authorization, the evidence should have been suppressed,” the court concluded.

So, hypothetically, let’s say that you were a government employee and wrote emails about, say, using marijuana, nobody can just read your mail and learn about this… unless they have probable cause… and, I’d guess, a warrant to look at such email.

I think it’s just easier to figure that employees don’t have any expectation of privacy.

More to follow, I’m sure.

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseOn Mother’s Day, the Stinson Clan was sitting in the Olde Towne Bakery enjoying brunch when my life on the Internet met my life in real life. First, Clyde Nordan was at a table with his family. Clyde, an awesome photographer, had written me months ago commenting on my flickr photostream’spics of Olde Towne. We’d met in the flesh a couple of weeks ago alst at the Bakery. Then, as Jenny and the younger boys were sitting, I saw Deb come in.

I said to Jenny, “Hey, she’s on flickr.” Indeed it was as Deb looked like her 365 photos. Loudly, I said, “Aren’t you Deb from flickr?” and she said, “Hey, you’re the Tidewater Muse.”

My wife looks at my, an eyebrow raised. “You’re like a celebrity.”

Well, no, but I have an online-life that sometimes meets real life. And, that’s okay.

This merge of the online with the off-line is one of the things I find most powerful about Web 2.0. That I can actually build and sustain relationships with real people is powerful. That people can engage in dialogue and share themselves is powerful. That people can move between the online and the off-line is powerful. That both the online and the off-line can be harnessed for change and art and work and relationships is powerful.

I like that I live in both worlds. I want to live in both worlds without forsaking one or the other.

My creation
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseFor a very long time, people in the Coast Guard have been talking about moving to numbered staff elements, similar to the numbered staffs used within the Department of Defense. A decade ago, I facilitated a working group that looked at moving the Atlantic Area staff to a numbered staff. It didn’t happen.

But, as with many things in the Coast Guard, things that in some organizations take months often take decades in the CG. Numbered staffs is just one of those things.

Numbered staffs is happening in the Coast Guard, and within a year or two, most major commands will have numbered staffs. As a public service to Coasties reading the Musings, I offer the following broad summary.

  • CG-00 – Command
  • CG-1 – Administration
  • CG-2 – Intelligence
  • CG-3 – Operations
  • CG-4 – Logistics
  • CG-5 – Plans & Exercises
  • CG-6 – C4I
  • CG-7 – Readiness & Capability
  • CG-8 – Resources
  • CG-9 – Transformation

Got it? There’ll be a quiz on this tomorrow.

Originally uploaded by TzuLanI mentioned last week that the term “Deepwater” was likely going to die a long death. Not the acquisition of new assets, but the term itself. It’s got baggage, and the baggage is darn heavy, as we all know. Coast Guard leaders will still use the term Deepwater when on The Hill, but that’ll be about it. The acquisition is going to be more traditional in structure. Another change likely to be seen is that the most testimony on The Hill for legacy-Deepwater will be captains and senior civilians; the flags and SES leaders will be saved for moments when real power needs to be brought in.

In a similar, but not so heavy rationale, manner, the CIAOs, the Commandant’s Intent Action Orders, will be placed aside. The CIAOs still exist, but the work groups and teams involved will no longer be directly associated with a specific CIAO. Instead, the work groups will be based on the four key organizational elements… plus a fifth, dangling chad.

Now the focus will not be on CIAOs but will be on strategic transformation. The strategic transformation is occurring within the framework of the key organizational elements:

  • DCMS: Deputy Commandant for Mission Support
  • DCO: Deputy Commandant for Operations
  • FORCECOM: Force Readiness Command
  • OPCOM: Operations Command

The dangling chad, the fifth organizational element which is taking hold is in the realm of financial management. The Coast Guard has got to pass the CFO Audit, and this is going to drive an “above the line” organization which is going to be created. CG-8, Planning, Resources & Procurement.

So, we’re going to be hearing more about strategic transformation, and less about CIAOs.


Dilbert: 2007043054828
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseThings with the Coast Guard’s ongoing “transformation” are notional at the moment… because there hasn’t been Congressional notifications.

You’d think we’d have done that already. A decade ago the Coast Guard decided to move off of Governor’s Island off the southern end of Manhattan. The CG got all the way to the almost-calling-the-moving-vans, and remembered that we’d forgotten to let the White House and Congress know. Ooops. Needless to say, the elected representatives from the State of New York weren’t too happy, and the folks in the White House were upset at getting blindsided. Everything went into a holding pattern while senior Coast Guard leaders ran around and tried to “do” politics.


I’d have thought that we learned our lesson. But, the scuttle has it that we haven’t, at least organizationally.

I can’t imagine that any elected representative or Congressional staffer would either be surprised or concerned about these impending strategic, organizational transformations. Admiral Allen has made a substantial number of public comments, including at his statement before the confirmation hearing last spring. Couple that with his most-recent State of the Coast Guard address, and anyone who keeps track of Coast Guard issues ought to know what’s going on.

Well, all that and we’re an organization that looks more like a sieve.

Got to love transparency, eh?

Anyway, these current organizational changes ought to be a no-brainer, based on the parameters that are in play.

First off, there’s going to be limited impact in terms of number of command and employees outside the beltway. Still going to be a major, three-star command in Alameda and another in Portsmouth. Limited or no movement of civilian employees. Move of the delivery of services outside the Beltway.

It’s all good.

I hope that Congressional notification has started cranking. Perhaps I could get a job blogging the official Coast Guard message? 😉

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseI didn’t lie. I was just wrong.

I’ve been on a hiatus recently. First there was my hiatus from blogging about CG issues. Some people suggested that I was either airing dirty laundry or discussing, in a public forum, things which ought to remain internal to the organization. Some people have suggested that all the stuff I’m privy to is pre-decisional in nature.

I love this concept of pre-decisional. What this means, at least as I understand it, is that until a decision is actually made, the process of making a decision can be hidden in darkness.

And we all know how I hate the dark.

However, I stopped blogging about the Coast Guard. Well, I mostly stopped.

And then, I’ve been silent for the last week or two. This total silence has only occurred as I’ve been OBE (overtaken by events). As in, I’ve been busy. Last week I was in New London for work; this week I’m in Alameda. And I took a slight vacation, a hiatus, from blogging.

Well, I’m back from the break, although I’m not sure what pace I’ll take in posting.

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseI am a regular reader of the Secrecy News published by the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy. They publish some excellent stuff and work diligently to ensure transparency and shine light where some people perhaps don’t want light shone.

Yesterday, they posted a bit that is worth checking out. The Army wants them to quit doing what they do.

Last week, Cheryl Clark from the Army Publishing Directorate sent them an email which stated,

You have Army Publications hosted on your website illegally, there are only 5 Official Army Publications Sites. You are not one of them, you can link to our publications, but you cannot host them. AR 530-1 is a FOUO publication, it is not intended for Public release. Please remove this publication immediately or further action will be taken.

Right. Like that’s going to move anyone who is interested in transparency. And, it’s not like they actually work for the Army (sometimes we might have to ratchet back a bit if we don’t want to loose our jobs, ya’ know).

Bring it on, Ms. Clark.

Needless to say, the good folks at the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy haven’t backed down

I stand with the Project on Government Secrecy; let transparency in government be the ultimate watchword.

… but it’s still cool.

From Port Angeles, Washington, a little Coast Guard aviation action:

h/t to Ryan at

The Bush-Clinton Crime Family
Originally uploaded by illuminating9_11Marc Fisher at the Washington Post reminds us, “Today, as we enter the eighth consecutive presidential campaign involving a Clinton or a Bush on the ticket — a span of 28 years…”

Eagads; we may not have a monarchy, but 28 years of Bushes and Clintons… This, too, is more than I can bear to think.

h/t to Sam Smith at Undernews

When I saw this referenced over at Below The Beltway, I found it hard to believe; now, I cringe.

From the Daily Mail we read

A 17-year-old girl has been stoned to death in Iraq because she loved a teenage boy of the wrong religion.

As a horrifying video of the stoning went out on the Internet, the British arm of Amnesty International condemned the death of Du’a Khalil Aswad as “an abhorrent murder” and demanded that her killers be brought to justice.

Shocking, in a word.

Like the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, this is just hard to believe.

Here’s the video: I warn you, this is not for the feint of heart, but I feel compelled to post it not out of a sense of gruesome voyeurism, but because it is news-worthy:

With violence of this nature — violence against someone because of their beliefs or race or whatever — is that there is invariably retaliation. As there was in this case; see Amnesty International’s news release were they note that in retaliation for the stoning of Ms. Aswad, twenty-three men of the same sect as the people who stoned Ms. Aswad were dragged from a bus and killed. And, no, they were not the same men who stoned Ms. Aswad, just of the same sect.

Question: What in the blazes do we think we do in a country where this is tolerated? At least one member of a security force (police?) witnessed the crime; evidently there haven’t been any arrests or legal action of any sort. It seems to be condoned.

I’m beside myself.

Coast Guard Ben
Originally uploaded by craZirinaMany years ago, when America’s Fifth Military Service started carrying weapons and conducting regular law enforcement boardings, there were tales of over-the-top encounters with mariners, mostly recreational boaters.

Well, now we’ve moved on to perceived over-the-top encounters with professional mariners.

Michael Grey recently published his “Viewpoint” on Lloyd’s List; it’s worth a read.

Follow that with Alexander Hamilton’s first Letter of Instruction

And wonder how far the smallest American military force has come… or how far it has not come…

EOD Coming Up
Originally uploaded by TrinityTestSiteTeflon Don is still posting, thankfully.

I wonder when the curtain is going to be pulled down by the censors.

Originally uploaded by soldiersmediacenterMichael Weiss at Salon has a good overview of online comments about the Army’s new blogging rules.

And then at The Raw Story, there’s this story about the results of a recent survey of American forces:

A survey of US combat troops deployed in Iraq has found that one in 10 said they mistreated civilians and more than a third condoned torture to save the life of a comrade, a report said Friday.

The study by an army mental health advisory team found continuing problems with morale and that acute mental health issues were more prevalent among troops with lengthening tours or on their second and third deployment to Iraq.


What’s the solution? How about allowing members to have a creative outlet — say blogging — and reducing the time-in-country and increasing time at home.

Oh, right, can’t do the last one as we’re stretched way too thin.

And, that being the case, we can expect to have bad news on the wire for months and years to come.

Originally uploaded by Orthelo“Classes seem so unimportant. It seems like all the subjects we were taking are so insignificant.” ~~ Blake Day, Virginia Tech student.

Er, maybe she’s taking the wrong courses?

See Most Va. Tech Students Skipping Finals: Majority Of Students Accepting Offer To Keep Grades They Had Before The Massacre

As demonstrated by the photo, the important things continue.

Originally uploaded by crazymofloSteven Aftergood at The Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy notes that

The terms of the Army regulation are so expansive as to create innumerable new opportunities for violations and infractions. Just this week, for example, the Army’s own 1st Information Operations Command ironically posted a briefing on “OPSEC in the Blogosphere” (pdf) marked For Official Use Only.


In checking out the powerpoint presentation, I’m intrigued that a member of the Army can publish a newspaper… but not a blog… See slide 15…

A number of bloggers and pundits have remarked that the new rules are going to kill off the blogs and other Web 2.0 publications of those military members who are already taking OPSEC into consideration on their postings, and increase the underground and anonymous postings.

Oh, that’ll help, for sure.

Were one to wonder what Iraq is like for our military men and women, and the long-term psychological impact this foray into Southwest Asia is going to have on the American psyche, one would need not go further than here, a clip by Colby Buzzell

I found this clip here at Mr. Buzzell’s blog. For more of Mr. Buzzell’s story, read his book, My War: Killing Time in Iraq, available in hardback, also.

I’d also note, that under the new guidelines recently issued by the Army, Mr. Buzzell would likely not have been able to blog from Iraq. And, I’d suggest, we wouldn’t hear his important story, and he would have kept the shoebox closed longer, resulting in even more post traumatic stress.

Two more reasons the new policy smells like feces.

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseOver at Web Worker Daily, Mike Gunderloy suggests three ways to get email without getting the associated spam that seems to always come with it.

The first method involves a hack called “plus addressing.” This seems a bit technical, or perhaps in the haze of the morning I was unable to suss it out. He then suggests disposable email addys. I don’t know; that just sounds like too much trouble.

My favorite idea, one that I’ve already this morning put to use: Contactify, where you get your “own dedicated link to a captcha-protected contact form on their own site.” Now, you can contact me here

Sure, it’s more of a hassle for the sender than a straight click through to a “mailto” link, but it’ll keep out the spam, and it will mean that people who sent me mail, at least the first time, really want to.

A fourth possibility, one that Mr. Gunderloy doesn’t mention, is the use of Bloglines email addresses and subscriptions. Notes the Bloglines website:

You can create an unlimited number of special Bloglines email addresses that are tied to your Bloglines account. The email addresses show up as subscriptions in your My Blogs page, and email sent to those email addresses appears as new items.

When you create a Bloglines email address, a subscription is added to your account. If you unsubscribe from that subscription, the email address becomes invalid and mail sent to it will bounce.

Email subscriptions are great for announce-only or broadcast mailing lists that don’t provide RSS feeds. They are also useful as temporary email addresses.

And Google things they have the ultimate weapon? Not so.
A little something put together by someone…
Originally uploaded by soldiersmediacenterAnd every other form of public communication, including letters.

Badger 6 from Badgers Forward writes:

The End of Badgers Forward

I hope not, but the Army has issued a new OPSEC regulation

It states Army personnel must

Consult with their immediate supervisor and their OPSEC Officer for an OPSEC review prior to publishing or posting information in a public forum.
(1) This includes, but is not limited to letters, resumes, articles for publication, electronic mail (e-mail), Web site postings, web log (blog) postings, discussion in Internet information forums, discussion in Internet message boards or other forms of dissemination or documentation.

Now the author of this gem expounds here. He says

The regulation says that a Soldier or other U.S. Army personnel must consult with their immediate supervisor and OPSEC officer prior to posting information in a public forum. However, this is where unit commander or organization leadership specifies in orders, policies, or directives how this will be done. Some units may require that Soldiers register their blog with the unit for identification purposes with occasional spot checks after an initial review. Other units may require a review before every posting.

Now the way I read that I should be able to continue blogging under our current unit policy.

But in truth his explanation goes far afield of what the policy actually reads. I am very concerned that Army milblogs may not be long for this internet.

OPSEC, or fear of transparency?

The comments on Badger 6’s post are all opposed to this move, albeit for various, and sometimes competing reasons.

Bottom line: if it smells like feces….