Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Language and Cultural Knowledge Improve Military Readiness

The Defense Language Institute’s Foreign Language Center views language and culture as “inextricably intertwined.” Col. Sue Ann Sandusky, commandant, Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center spoke with bloggers and online journalists during a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable, March 30. Sandusky said that its instructors are native speakers recruited from the areas of the world where the languages being taught are spoken, giving students the opportunity to learn history, art, culture, politics and customs at the same time they learn languages the U.S. Military urgently needs to master. The FLC is just one piece of the Department of Defense’s commitment to enacting the National Security Language Initiative, a U.S. Government program to encourage foreign language education for Americans.

Joining us on the call was Chuck Simmons, of America's North Shore Journal.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Contracting Directorate Discusses MoI Financial Systems and Processes

"I have seen a lot of progress in the past 14 months that from a person looking on the outside may not appreciate as being a significant gain, but the people that are left here in Iraq, they possess the ability to withstand 30 years of the former regime. And, they have succeeded in keeping themselves alive and keeping their jobs and doing what they need to do to move Iraq forward," Col. Roy Gray, director, Finance and Contracting Directorate, Ministry of Interior Transitional Team told online journalists and bloggers during a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable, March 30. Gray shared his perspective on Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq's ongoing efforts to assist the Ministry of Interior in developing and maintaining financial systems and processes.

Joining us on the call was Chuck Simmons, America's North Shore Journal.

Friday, March 27, 2009

American Contractors held by the FARC Discuss their Time in Captivity

Marc Gonsalves, Tom Howes, and Keith Stansell, American contractors held captive by FARC"And when my memory came back, I was a prisoner of the FARC. I'd already been strip-searched and there were people -- FARC with AK-47 rifles on either side of me and I was looking up at the -- a minigun of a Colombian army helicopter. And that began the period of captivity," said Tom Howes, one of three American contractors that were held by the terrorist organization known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the military arm of the Colombia Communist Party established in the 1960s. On Feb. 13, 2003 Marc Gonsalves, Howes, and Keith Stansell, crashed in the mountainous jungle of Colombia. Dazed and shaken, they awoke battered and covered in blood with automatic rifles pointing at their faces. Gonsalves and Howes shared their personal story with bloggers and online journalists during a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable, March 26.

Joining us on the call were Bryant Jordan, military.com; Beth Wilson, homefrontinfocus; David Axe, warisboring.com; and AirForceLive.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program Discussed

“We’re currently building seven new prototypes to that new design. Those vehicles are currently going through fabrication and machining the hulls at Join Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio. They’ll be in assembly this summer,” USMC Col. Keith Moore, program manager for the Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program said in a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable, March 25. Moore added that in May of this year, the first vehicles are expected to be delivered to the Marine Corps for testing.

Joining us on the call were David Axe, www.warisboring.com; Beth Wilson, Homefront in Focus; and AirForceLive; Andrew Lubin, military observer; and Jason Sigger, armchairgeneralist.

Monday, March 23, 2009

“While there’s a lot of friction and things don’t always move smoothly, there’s definitely

progress forward," said Navy Cmdr. John Muth, director of Special Staff for the Ministry of Interior Transitional Team. Muth participated in a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable, March 18, in which he discussed several topics including Rule of Law, human rights, the Inspector General, and the Ministry of Interior court system.

Joining us on the call were Beth Wilson, homefrontinfocus.com; and DJ Elliot, www.longwarjournal.com.

"I think the Army certainly has bent over backwards to make great opportunities for

women ... I don't think there could be a more open, transparent and fair process, if you're willing to put in the extra effort," said Col. Margaret Burcham, commander of the Gulf Region North district. Joining Burcham was Joanne Milo, deputy district engineer for the Gulf Region South district who discussed their current positions with the Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq and their almost fifty years of combined experience serving with the U.S. Army. They took questions on topics including what projects are currently underway, and what it has been like to be a woman serving in the Army.

"I think one of the critical benefits to working here is the involvement of partner nations

in the planning process," Capt. Cynthia Thebaud, Commander Destroyer Squadron 60, commanding officer of Africa Partnership Station, aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville (LPD 13) told bloggers and online journalists, March 18. "One of the things that we hear said the most frequently is the ... opportunity to come and work in a collaborative and cooperative environment with members of other west and central African navies."

Joining us on the call were David Axe, www.warisboring.com; and Jim Dolbow, www.blog.usni.org/.

"We bring a knowledge of current operations

in the military," said Master Sgt. Barbara Rubio, current Congressional Fellow working on Capitol Hill. "We keep Congress updated and tell them about our experiences." Joining Rubio was Capt. Mariah Smith, also a Congressional Fellow who joined bloggers and online journalists to discuss their positions. The Army Congressional Fellowship Program educates and trains selected officers, civilians and for the first time, non-commissioned officers, in all aspects of congressional activities. Rubio, as a part of the first class of NCOs participating in the program, discussed how the program assists Congress, as well as advancing the NCO Corps. In the military, officers are the ones issuing the orders, and NCOs implement them, said Rubio. Including NCOs in the Congressional Fellowship Program for the first time provides a new perspective to the program.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"This is great news for the Army family and for our soldiers who have sacrificed for their country and served so well for an

extended period of time," said Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, deputy chief of staff for Personnel. "Limiting stop loss balances our need for unit effectiveness with the impact on individual Soldiers and their families." Joining the Army Bloggers Roundtable discussion about the decision to phase out stop-loss were Maj. Gen. Gina Farrisee, director, Military Personnel Management; and Col. Debbra Head, deputy director of Military Personnel Management.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

USNS Comfort: Continuing Promise '09

“Africa Partnership Station responds to (East) African requests for training by providing a delivery vehicle for international, interagency

and non-governmental organization assistance,” said Commander, APS, USS Robert G. Bradley, Navy Capt. Nick Holman said. “The U.S. government and our Navy are committed to helping all African nations and regions achieve stability and economic prosperity and East Africa is looking for help.” Holman participated in a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable, March 11, just days after his return from leading the mission to Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania in which he explained the growing initiative and its impact in Africa.

Joining us on the call were Chuck Simmons, North Shore Journal; and David Axe, warisboring.com.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"In the most part, the U.S. has already withdrawn out of a lot of the cities. In fact, since the height of the surge, we have already

reduced our forces by over 20 percent. So, if you took a look at the number of the forces here at the surge, and take a look now, over a fifth of them have already gone home. In that same period, the Iraqi security forces have increased by at least 130,000," Maj. Gen. David Perkins, director of Strategic Effects, CJ-9, Multi-National Force-Iraq discussed with bloggers and online journalists MNF-I's role in the new emerging Iraq, March 5. "I think what's important is not just the numbers, but their capabilities have increased. In addition to the drawdown in U.S. forces, he said that they have also seen a decrease in violent attacks," said Perkins.

Last year they had weeks where they averaged over 190 attacks a day in Iraq, but routinely now they have days where they have less than 10 attacks a day throughout Iraq, Perkins added.

Joining us on the call were Paul McLeary, aviationweek; CJ Grisham, Soldiers Perspective; Spencer Ackerman, washingtonindependent; Bruce McQuain, qando.net; and Greg Grant.

"The culture of the Army is that of a team," said Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Peter Chiarelli. "And anytime one of our own feels so lost

that he or she sees no other option than to take their own life, than we've failed as an organization." Chiarelli joined bloggers during an Army Bloggers Roundtable, March 5, to discuss what the Army is doing to prevent suicide, as well as offer a leader's perspective on the upward trend of suicides in the Army. Chiarelli dedicated much of his time to assuring those participating in the roundtable that the Army understands the severity of the problem, and is doing everything it can to prevent even a single suicide from happening.

"From joy to frustration, I've seen change in our society. I have seen changes in the views of our society on women serving in the military. And,

most definitely, I've seen changes in the military," Sgt. 1st Class Helen Gillespie, 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, joined bloggers and on-line journalists, March 4, for a special blogger's roundtable in honor of Women's History Month and the Year of the NCO. Gillespie joined the Army in 1971 as a part of the Women's Army Corps. "Now, I believe that we are looked on as an integral part of the military machine that defends our geographic country, as well as our policies and our values world-wide," Gillespie added.

“Our role is to help the Iraqi security forces’ intelligence organizations” with manning, equipping, training, basing and sustaining

in support of the Iraqi ministries of Defense and Interior, Col. Benjamin D. Lukefahr, senior advisor, Intelligence Transition Team told bloggers March 4. Lukefahr discussed how Iraq’s internal intelligence apparatus is gradually making the transition from war-time to peace-time operations.

Joining us on the call were Christian Lowe, www.military.com; Sharon Weinberger, wired.com; Spencer Ackerman, washingtonindependent; Jarred Fishman, airforcepundit; Chuck Simmons, northshorejournal; and Sean Gallagher.

"What we're really trying to do is look into the

future," Tad Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, told bloggers for a special roundtable discussion, March 6, concerning Army environmental efforts. "Look down the road 25 or 30 years from now and determine, hey, what are those critical things that we need to look into now so that 25 or 30 years from now we are going to have the resources we need."