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The Air Force Needs A Few Months Of No Press To Get Its Shit Together
The U.S. Air Force needs a little bit of time to get its shit together, so journalists, if you could just do us a favor and stop asking us questions for like, a week or maybe a month or two, that would be great. Thanks.
That's the non-fluffy version of a quiet change in the Air Force recently revealed by Defense News, which reported the service was putting a freeze on interviews, base visits, and media embeds "until further notice" as it begins a retraining effort for the service's public affairs staff.
The Air Force says it needs to get its spokesmen to stop revealing juicy tidbits to the media that could be harmful to operational security. So naturally, the "for official use only" guidance memo, dated March 1, was leaked to the press.
"This is a total force effort to improve our operational security communications in line with the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force's operational security memorandum sent in February 2018," the memo reads. "As this transition occurs, the Air Force will temporarily limit the number and type of public engagements tied to operations and readiness while training to provided to commanders, public affairs professionals, and Airmen representing the Air Force."
In other words, we need to break out the PowerPoint slides, ladies and gents.
According to the memo, any and all personnel down to the wing level that may interact with the media need to go through PowerPoint hell before they can even think about talking to a reporter, lest they reveal to the enemy that we inspect parachutes or stand alongside our allies.
During this time, reporters trying to write up even benign human-interest stories highlighting an airman on an honor guard or a base veterinary clinic would need to pound sand until a four-star general signs off.
Still, the memo does talk through some of the potentially sensitive areas that should be avoided when speaking to reporters, to include classified information (obviously), vulnerabilities, deployment schedules, and specific details on numbers, locations, and capabilities of Air Force assets.
Reading this, however, makes me wonder why this is even necessary.
I've talked with countless military public affairs professionals in my time as a reporter, and just about every time you call them up, they give you something in between jack and shit in response to your questions.
But according to the Air Force, there have been some instances where OpSec issues have come up when dealing with the press. One example slide that was leaked on Facebook (lol) said a unit identified the National Space Defense Center at Colorado's Schriever Air Force Base as a "hub of critical data" to The Gazette, which in turn tells adversaries that it's a potential "national center of gravity."
This just in: I have just learned that the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and the National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. are also considered national centers of gravity. And you know what, I'm not even sorry that I just revealed incredibly sensitive information to the Russians and Chinese.
In reality, it's pretty rare to see military public affairs officials actually give journalists worthwhile information for a story — at least, on the record. They are Defense Information School-trained in the art of deflection and offering non-answers, for the most part.
Nine times out of ten in military reporting, you get something interesting from a background or anonymous source and then call the service up for the obligatory declined to comment response.
But if you happen to know any public affairs officials willing to go on record with some sensitive shit, please let me know.
Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.
On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.
Fatal training accidents are on the rise. Now the families of the fallen are pushing lawmakers to do something about it
CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.
Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.
Just weeks before that emotional ceremony, Alexandrina Braica, her husband and five children attended a similar memorial at the same military base, this to honor Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who also was killed in a rollover accident, April 13, at age 29.
Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.
"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."
While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.
"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."
North Korea threatens to resume nuclear weapons and ICBM tests if US-South Korea military exercises proceed
SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.
Customs and Border Patrol denied a Marine vet entry into the US for his a scheduled citizenship interview
A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been unable to come back to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry to the country Monday morning when he asked to be let in for a scheduled citizenship interview.
Roman Sabal, 58, originally from Belize, came to the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 7:30 on Monday morning with an attorney to ask for "parole" to attend his naturalization interview scheduled for a little before noon in downtown San Diego. Border officials have the authority to temporarily allow people into the country on parole for "humanitarian or significant public benefit" reasons.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.