For the past five years, military bloggers have formally congregated, either in Washington D.C., or Las Vegas, NV, to discuss the challenges and the future of military blogging, share ideas and best practices, and meet new people and further strengthen the bonds previously forged in the depths of cyberspace.
My wife, Bonnie, and I, look forward to these events for a multitude of reasons, but none more important than meeting up with folks who are becoming closer friends with each visit …even if I still don’t know some of their real names (CDR Salamander)!
The Navy was pretty well represented this year – Navy Bloggers Boston Maggie; Steel Jaw Scribe; a slew of folks from the USNI Blog; Wendy of Navy Wife Radio; one of the coolest Airdales on the planet, AW1 Tim; and Taylor Kiland and CAPT USN(ret) McCandless of the Navy Log Blog (sponsored by the United States Navy Memorial) were all in attendance. Also, after months and months of twitter banter, I got to meet @NavyNews – he is a bit shorter than I imagined with a lot less hair.
We had the privilege of hearing from some pretty influential and interesting people. The event was kicked off with an entertaining, taped message by General Petraeus. We participated in a live feed, question and answer period, with Major General Hogg, Deputy Commander – Army, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan. This may be surprising to those who know me, but it turns out I mumble – when I asked the General about recruiting the Afghan forces most of my question was inaudible to those here in the states but was well understood halfway around the world – the text of the interview is [here] – I am the “Tom — (name and affiliation inaudible)” guy. Had a chance to let off a little steam when I asked a question to the legislative panel concerning military pay and the GAO’s latest report that wonders if a gap exists with the civilian sector – I kept it relatively clean, I only yelled the word crap once. I had one other question that I posed to Admiral Harvey after his panel was completed. I was curious if we, the Navy, have learned lessons from the numerous humanitarian missions that may change the training pipeline for Sailors, like additional first aid training or something we may never have thought of before Katrina, Haiti, the Tsunami, and the other tragic events. He assured me that before our forces make it to the affected zone, they are trained and ready to meet the challenges they may face.
Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame was also in attendance – funny(ish) story – Taco Bell and I walked up to a gentleman thinking he was Garry – in our defense the two could be twins – and I asked him if I could get a picture of him with me… turns out that the Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Director of National Intelligence has a great sense of humor – who knew? When I found the real Garry, I took this picture. Someday, I may just Photoshop myself into it.
I was surprised at the number of bloggers who were authors of books. If I had a topic, any skill at writing, and umm, time – I would love to join that distinguished group.
Finally, I would like to mention the movie, Brothers at War. I am very impressed with Jake Rademacher’s ability to tell such a difficult story with dignity and honor. If you haven’t done so already, go and watch the trailer to the movie via the link I provided – if you don’t have a couple tears starting to form in the corner of your eyes when it’s over, then you are not human.
Whew, this is a long post, and I am sure I am missing a ton of information and people who made the trip educational and fun. So, when is the Vegas Milblog?! We are ready!
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