Friday, August 29, 2008

"Dallas received an amazingly warm welcome by the people of Batumi ... " Capt. Robert P. Wagner

Capt. Robert P. Wagner, Commanding Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas, joined us today for the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable from the bridge of his ship in the Black Sea to discuss yesterdays delivery of over 70,000 pounds of humanitarian aid to the the Georgian city of Batumi for Operation Assured Delivery.

On the call with us today was Andrew Lubin of Get the Gouge, Grim from Blackfive, Chuck Simmins of America's North Shore Journal, David Axe of Danger Room, Austin Bay, John Donovan from Castle Argghhh!, and Jim Dolbow and Daren Lewis from An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Those elements are not only where we want to be in the future, but what we have to do in this era of persistent conflict," Maj. Gen. David Halverson

Maj. Gen. David Halverson, Director, U.S. Army Force Development, joined us today for an Army Bloggers Roundtable to discuss the release of the 2008 U.S. Army Modernization Strategy.

On the call with us today was Scott Malensek of Flopping Aces, Jason Sigger with the Armchair Generalist, Greg Grant of NextGov, John Donovan from Castle Argghhh! and U.S. Army Major Bryan Carroll, currently attending the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and blogging at A Major's Perspective.

" Their progress and all these tremendous security gains I just talked about have not been achieved without an incredible sacrifice -

- on the part of the Iraqi people and in particular the Iraqi security forces," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan the deputy commanding general of operations for Multinational Division-Center, the 10th Mountain Division on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable today. Gen. Buchanan discussed with us the growth in both the quantity and quality of the Iraq Security Forces in his area of operation in central Iraq.

On the call today was: D.J. Elliot of the Long War Journal, Scott Malensek with Flopping Aces, Greg Grant of NextGov, Grim with Blackfive, and Jarred Fishman of the Air Force Pundit.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

“We want to create a safe and prosperous environment where the people will willingly accept the newly trained and respectable Afghan National Police,”

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Richard Hall, Commander, 2-7 Marines, said today on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable. Lt. Col. Richard Hall provided an operational update from Afghanistan on the 1st Marine Division’s 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment’s mission to train and mentor Afghan police forces.

On the call with us today: Andrew Lubin of Get the Gouge, Bruce McQuain of QandO, Christian Lowe with, and Claire Russo of the Institute for the Study of War.

“The Department of Defense and European Command stand ready to assist as required –

- save lives and alleviate human suffering during this humanitarian crisis," Michael Ritchie, director of interagency engagement for the U.S. European Command, said today on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable. Mr. Ritchie discussed Operation Assured Delivery, the U.S. government's relief effort for the Republic of Georgia.

On the call with us today was Andrew Lubin with Get the Gouge, Jim Dolbow of the Unofficial Coast Guard Blog, Chuck Simmins of America's North Shore Journal, and Scott Malensek with Flopping Aces.

"I was on the ground here exactly five years ago. I actually got here in April of 2003 to Baghdad when the major hospital that we used

for coalition forces as well as life, limb and eyesight care for for Iraqi military was kind of a hull and a husk of what it is now. Windows were all broken out, a lot of dirt on the floor; it had pretty well been cleaned out and looted of all the necessary pieces and parts to include wiring and light fixtures, everything," U.S. Army Col. John Powell, director of health affairs for Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, said during a DoD Bloggers Roundtable on Aug. 26. "It's now an up-and- coming hospital."

Col. Powell discussed Iraq’s progress over the past five years providing medical care for its military and police forces during the roundtable. The Iraqis have a clear direction for their military health system, said Powell, who works closely with the embattled nation’s surgeon general. However, he said, they still have a tremendous challenge finding qualified individuals to staff the system, with only 160 of 800 available physician positions filled.

Joining us on the call were Chuck Simmons, North Shore Journal; Jarred Fishman, Air Force Pundit; and Grim,

Friday, August 22, 2008

CAMP BARBER, Afghanistan – Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway visited with Marines and other service members here assigned to Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, Aug. 14.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlton W. Kent, respond to questions from Marines and sailors assigned to Company G, Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division,
Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, while visiting Forward Operating Base Golestan,
Aug. 14. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Steve Cushman)

Gen. Conway discussed the task force’s extension in country and the possibility of being replaced by another Marine unit. “I probably could have told you that when you came here, you would probably get extended,” Gen. Conway said. “It didn’t come as a surprise at all. We told the Secretary of Defense, ‘we understand what the risk is, and we understand the need for the Marines there.’”

Consistent with comments he’s made in the press, Gen. Conway said that in order to deploy more Marines to Afghanistan in significant numbers, there must be a reduction in the number of Marines in Iraq.

“We’re not big enough to do both Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.

After meeting the company and platoon commanders, the commandant and sergeant major then met with junior Marines who conduct daily combat patrols in the face of significant enemy threat.

“You’ve shown what Marines can do,” Gen. Conway said. “When we were getting ready to deploy you, I predicted that ‘commanders are going to fall in love with us. We’re going to do a hell of a job, and we’re going to be asked to extend and asked to replace you with more Marines.’ I predicted that.”

(Article and photos by Cpl. Steve Cushman,Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division)

TF 2/7 provides medical aid to Afghan girl

FARAH PROVINCE, Delaram, AfghanistanU.S. service members serving here in support of Operation Enduring Freedom recently provided medical treatment to an Afghan girl in Afghanistan’s Farah Province.

The team of military medical providers removed an infected abscess from the girl’s upper right neck during a health cooperative, also referred to as a Medical Capabilities (MEDCAP) event.

This was the second such initiative led by the Marines and sailors of 3rd Civil Affairs Group, Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, part of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix.

Three-year-old Miriam was brought into the makeshift facility barefoot and dirty by her 10-year-old brother and 1st Lt. Erik M. Lukas, an infantry officer assigned to Weapons Company, TF 2/7.

“When we brought her inside, she had boils and dirt all over her neck. I felt bad for her because I knew that it hurt,” said Lukas, who was mostly devastated by a boil on Miriam’s neck that was one and ½-inch wide and one and ¼-inch thick.

Navy Lt. Junior Grade James L. Armitage, a physician’s assistant, decided that he, his team of health providers and Lukas “had to do something” immediately. If the boil wasn’t removed from the toddler’s body, Armitage said the boil could have potentially become a lingering health threat.

“I’m glad she trusted Americans enough to come here because I don’t know where she would’ve received the proper professional treatment she required. Especially here, the people are poor,” Armitage said.

The medical procedure lasted about 15 minutes, but Lukas said the affects could last a lifetime.

“That’s one of the things we’re here to do, improve their quality of life. Like helping the sick people, we’re also helping the kids. I’m glad the little girl got help. Missions like MEDCAPs improve the atmospherics to allow the ANP (Afghanistan National Police) to do their job better; to learn better,” Lukas said.

Miriam is now recovering from her surgery in her Afghan home, thanks to the service members who continue to support various other civil affairs projects.

(Article and photos by Cpl. Ray Lewis, Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix)

“If a soldier is worried about his family, he cannot perform his job to the best of his abilities,” said military spouse Becky Pillsbury

Pillsbury, who was joined by Army Maj. Gen. John MacDonald, commander, U.S. Army Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, spoke with bloggers during a DoD Bloggers Roundtable, Aug. 21, about the Army Family Action Plan. In its 25th year, the Army Family Action Plan is a grassroots effort to listen to and prioritize Army family issues and soldier issues through a series of meetings and conferences. The program has resolved or reviewed 633 issues over the 25-year period, said MacDonald.

Joining us on the call were Bryan with A Major's Perspective, Kat with, and the National Military Family Association.

"It became obvious to me 18 months to two years ago that with the retreat of the multi-year

polar sea ice, the Coast Guard was going to have to do more than it had in the past to provide maritime safety and security to northern and western Alaska, the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort Sea,” Rear Adm. Arthur Brooks, Commander, 17th Coast Guard District told bloggers in a DoD Bloggers Roundtable Aug. 21.

With the potential for increased vessel traffic in the arctic, Coast Guard operations in Alaska are focusing on how to operate in the harsh environment. “And so we started doing initial planning as much as a year ago, and this summer -- through the spring and summer we've been conducting a test bed for moving various Coast Guard units into the Arctic environment and determining their suitability for service in northern Alaska, conducting all missions,” he added.

Joining us on the call were David Axe,, and Peter Stinson,

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

“There’s important medical information in those records that can either help a soldier when they get out of the Army for VA benefits, or …

can help their recovery when they get back," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matt Sims, a combat medic wounded three times in the past 12 months, spoke from experience about battlefield-care advances that are saving lives in a DoD Bloggers Roundtable, Aug. 20. Sims added that the Army’s Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) system allows soldiers’ medical records to be accessed on any computer at any time.

Joining us on the call were Andrew Lubin,, Bryan with A Major's Perspective, and Grim,

"A myriad of fascinating devices are achievable using transformation optics and metamaterials. One of the most exciting applications is an

electromagnetic cloak that can bend light around itself, similar to the flow of water around a stone, making visible both the cloak and an object hidden inside," said Dr. Richard Hammond, a theoretical physicist with the Army Research Office, who discussed the early stages of research looking at “cloaking,” or using advanced fiber optics to make everyday objects invisible during a DoD Bloggers Roundtable on Aug. 20. While this technology is still a long way from being battlefield ready, Hammond said, a 2006 experiment demonstrated the ability to make an object invisible at eye-level.

Joining us on the call were Andrew Lubin,; Grim,; Christian Lowe,, and David Axe,

Threats like al-Qaeda and related groups, as well as an unspecified "malign Iranian influence," are best dealth with using

whole-of-government approaches that emphasize diplomacy, communication, humanitarian assistance and other civilian-oriented tools as much as military power, U.S. Central Command, Brig. Gen. Robert Holmes told military bloggers during DoD Bloggers Roundtable on Aug. 20. Holmes added, countering violent extreme actors will depend on successful interagency cooperation among the U.S. and foreign governments.

Joining us on the call were Spencer Ackerman,; Grim,; Andrew Lubin,; Christian Lowe,; Scott Malensek,; Jarred Fishman,; and Troy Steward,

Friday, August 15, 2008

"It's all about balance," - Dr. Thomas Mahnken

reiterating what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said upon releasing the 2008 National Defense Strategy. Dr. Mahnken, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, joined us today on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable to discuss the 2008 NDS and its emphasis on balancing planning and resources between traditional warfare and irregular warfare.

On the call with us was Andrew Lubin of Get the Gouge, Jim Dolbow of the Unofficial Coast Guard Blog, Jason Sigger of the Armchair Generalist, Paul McCleary of Ares, Colin Clark with DoD Buzz, and Greg Grant of NextGov.

"Certainly this is historic, ...

it's different, but I think it's very consistent with the long partnership we've had with the United States Navy stretching all the way back to our birth of 218 plus years ago," Rear Adm. Thomas f. Atkin, Commander, Deployable Operations Group, U.S. Coast Guard said today on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable. Rear Adm. Atkin, U.S. Coast Guard Master Chief Darrick L. DeWitt and U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christian Dunbar, Director of Training, U.S. Navy Special Warfare Center joined us to discuss the new program allowing assignment of U.S. Coast Guard personnel to train and serve with the U.S. Navy SEALS.

With us on the call was Andrew Lubin of Get the Gouge, Jonas Hogg of the Ball Gunner, Chuck Simmins of America's North Shore Journal, Jim Dolbow with the Unofficial Coast Guard Blog, Christian Lowe with, and Bruce McQuain with QandO.

"The population feels secure, and the quality of life is improving," said Col. Tom James

Col. Tom James, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, told military bloggers during a DoD Bloggers Roundtable Aug. 14 about the overall stability gains are compounding in Iraq's Babil province thanks to continuous pushes and improvements on the security, governance and economic fronts, Significant improvements within the Iraqi security forces, including coordination between the Iraqi Army and Police, have led to more effective combined operations with Coaliation troops and trainers, said James.

Joining us on the call were Andrew Lubin,; Jarred Fishman,; Grim,; Bruce McQuain,; and Greg Grant,

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"I'm just ready to go there and have fun, and that's what I'm going to do. And, I really can't wait to go out there and represent the

United States, the United States Navy, as well, and the whole military," said Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class Casey Tibbs, the first active-duty servicemember to compete for the U.S. Paralympic Team, at the Paralympic Games in 2004, will be competing for Gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Petty Officer 1st Class Tibbs spoke with bloggers today during a DoD Bloggers Roundtable about the upcoming 2008 Paralympic games and the track and field events he will be competing in. These events include: The Pentathlon, 200m, 400m, long jump and the pool for the 4x100m relay team.

Joining us on the call were Grim,, and Bryant Jordan,

“My team continues to focus on doing the right things to bring those capabilities – those everyday things that the Iraqis need and want

- starting at the ministerial level and coming down (to the citizens),” said Air Force Col. Karlton Johnson, communications director for Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, told bloggers during a DoD Bloggers Roundtable August 12.

Johnson joined the roundtable to discuss an effort to start bringing the Iraqi people into the 21st century by providing modern technologies in the ministries.

Joining us on the roundtable were Andrew Lubin,, and Jarred Fishman,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Marines search roads for IEDs

FARAH PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Cpl. Jose Y. Campos and other Marines assigned to Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, conduct a roadside inspection for improvised explosive devices during a recent trip to a forward operating base.

Campos, a communications Marine assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, is from Houston, Texas. He rode along with the convoy to provide specialized communications support. Serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, TF 2/7 is responsible for training, mentoring and advising the Afghan National Police. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ray Lewis)

ANA Mullah provides spiritual support to interpreters at Marine camp

HELMAND PROVINCE, Camp Barber, Afghanistan – Col. Abdulah Nazim, Mullah for the 205 Corps, Afghan National Army, preaches to Muslims during a recent religious ceremony held here. Lt. Col. Richard D. Hall, commander, Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, invited the mullah to host fellowship here so the religious leader could help his Afghan interpreters and other Muslims serving with the battalion strengthen their spiritual beliefs. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ray Lewis)

Friday, August 8, 2008

"The Navy, as you all probably know, never has had a civil affairs force in the past, although Admiral Bullard liked to say we'd been in the business

for a long time," said U.S. Navy Capt. Robert McKenna, commanding officer of the Maritime Civil Affairs Group of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command who joined us today for the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable. The MCAG is a result of the Chief of Naval Operations, Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) initiative. Its mission will be to conduct Civil Affairs activities and to support Civil/Military Operations. Civil Affairs activities enhance the relationship between military forces and civil authorities and involve the application of Civil Affairs Functional Specialty Skills in areas normally the responsibility of the civil government.

On the call with is today was Jim Dolbow of the Unofficial Coast Guard Blog and Grim of Blackfive.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


"Today I was told by an Afghan general that if Kandahar becomes secure, all of Afghanistan will become secure." Col. John Cuddy

Col. John Cuddy, Commander, Regional Police Advisory Command - South spoke to us today from Kandahar, Afghanistan on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable. Four months into his assignment, Col. Cuddy reported to us the progress he has seen in the training of the Afghan National Police; the Focused District Development program in the provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, and Helmand; and the ability to train a cohort of 500 Afghan National Police recruits for the first time. A cohort which, also for the first time, included four female recruits. The Regional Police Advisory Command - South is tasked with the responsibility to train the Afghan National Police as part of the Afghan Regional Security Command - South of Task Force Phoenix VII.

With us on the call was, Grim of Blackfive, Christopher Radin of the Long War Journal, and Troy from Bouhammer.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Today what I'd like to do is focus squarely on two topics which are the core of this proponent's

mission. One is understanding cyberelectronics that is -- it is evolving in our thinking, and two, appreciating the current state of our development efforts, particularly on the electronic warfare front," said Col. Wayne Parks, director of Computer Network Operations-Electronic Warfare Proponent and TRADOC capabilities manager for Electronic Warfare Integration at the Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Col. Parks spoke with bloggers today on a DoD Bloggers Roundtable and discussed the current and future roles of cyber-electronic warfare in combat operations.

Joining us on the call were Grim,; Richard Lowry,; Colin Clark,; and Andrew Lubin,

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Through the efforts of very many brave men and women, tough men and women - soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines - we're

completing our mission," said Col. Thomas McGrath, commander of Afghanistan Regional Security Integration Command South. "And we're setting the stages for the future operations and for the future of the Afghan army and police and bringing stability to this country."

On DoD Bloggers Roundtable August 1, Col McGrath reflected on his 14 months in southern Afghanistan, as he prepares to return home to the United States, and the mission to build the capacity and capability of the Afghan army and police.

Joining us today were Jarred A. Fishman,; Kate Wiltrout, The Virginian-Pilot; Troy Steward,; Sharon Weinberger,; Andrew Lubin, Get the Gouge; Grim,; Bruce McQuain,; Boston Maggie.

"Intelligence information is essential to defeating the insurgent, terrorist threat and establishing Iraqi self-reliance," said Mr. Steve Bond

On a DoD Bloggers Roundtable August 1, Mr. Steve Bond, director of the Intelligence Transition Team under Multinational Security Transition Command - Iraq, told bloggers that a robust, capable national intelligence apparatus will be a key enabler for the independent operation of the Iraqi security forces. His unit, is responsible for training members of the Iraqi intelligence community, and supports the Iraqi Ministries of Defense and Interior, as well as the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Command.

Joining us today were Jarred A. Fishman, and Ed Morrissey,

“This is the first time a foreign law enforcement detachment has been deployed from a U.S. military ship to exercise another

nation's sovereignty over their waters,” U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Robert Wagner, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas, told bloggers and online journalists during a DoD Bloggers Roundtable about the cutter’s various efforts throughout West and Central Africa in support of Africa Partnership Station.

On the call with us today was David Axe,; Jim Dolbow,; and Andrew Lubin, Get The Gouge.