Sunday, November 30, 2008

The efficient Federal government

My wife and I received five separate pieces of paper in individual envelopes so that the USCIS could tell us that her application for permanent residency had been received and that she had an appointment given to her for biometrics. I'm always happy to see tax dollars hard at work, not just duplicating effort, but quintupling it.

Fanwood Police Departments shows us why New Jersey municipalities have such financial difficulties.

So I went home this weekend for Thanksgiving. While Elizabeth and I were out walking Sebastian's dog Hun, I showed her where we used to go sledding as children behind the municipal complex. We walked by two SUVs, a Ford Explorer and a Ford Expedition, owned by the Fanwood Police Department.

Fanwood is a small one square mile town with no place more than a few hundred meters from a single road. Other than the powerlines shown below I doubt there is any place one could even drive off-road.

Perhaps if the Fanwood Police Department considered the operating costs of such vehicles like the rest of us do, they'd be able to spend a few less tax dollars.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mass Communications for the Military in the 21st Century

Although I've only read a bit of Victor Davis Hanson and tend to disagree with his politics, his Carnage and Culture has had a significant impact on how I view my own military service and the superiority of Western civilization in general. I'm willing to bet that if I contribute regularly to this blog, sometime between now and when I retire from the United States Navy, I will be reprimanded for something I've written criticizing someone who would rather wear no clothes than be told he or she has no clothes on. For anyone who hasn't read Carnage and Culture, I will point out that Hanson's general thesis is that western military superiority rests on three things massive decisive force, open society's ability to determine the best strategy and tactics, and citizen soldiers who fight for far more than just the king. I've chosen not to be part of the massive decisive force when I left the submarine force and I have already done all of the third when I was born in New Jersey. Through this blog I will endeavor to do the second.

So if you read one of today's posts in Small Wars Journal Blog you would have seen the interview with Colonel Peter Mansoor. I'm most interested in the final two questions regarding mass media. I actually wrote a post last night about this, but then accidently deleted it. I'll only have a bit to say now, but may add some more in the next couple of days. Colonel Mansoor mentions that our efforts to fight Al Qaeda's public diplomacy "are quickly discounted as propaganda," yet this does not have to be the case. This results directly from the upper brass's inane efforts to control the message. In today's media, the message cannot be controlled.

Does that then suggest that commanders should give up on what the message is? Should General Odierno merely allow the BBC, AFP, Al Jazeera and CNN decide what his message is? Of course not. Commanders, while giving up control, should put significant efforts into shaping the message. For instance instead of forbidding or minimizing low level soldiers or officers from talking to the media, commanders should accept that in today's military most soldiers want to be there and support the mission even if not always perfectly happy and merely have standing guidance that all soldiers are trained on with regards to how the handle the media. These soldiers would do more to show anti-war elites on the home-front that the soldiers are not victims than any statement by the Pentagon.

I don't know why the first paragraph is different. I just started using ecto and eventually I figure it out.