Milblog Conference 2008 AAR
HOLY SHIT.... I cannot even begin to count the number of blackmail moments from the Penthouse Club party! *thud* I had NO idea how much Penthouse does for our troops, completely outside of the public eye. They were absolutely incredibly gracious hosts. There were no dancers (unless you count Chuck, Matt, Jimbo, Greyhawk, CJ, and Marcus pole dancing, which was an absolute RIOT) in our room. The only nudity was a beautifully done naked female torso photo of billboard size in the room. Centerfolds showed up to autograph headshot photos. Penthouse provided us with transportation to the party, open bar for 2 hours (more than enough time for us all to get SLOSHED), thumb drives, a free year's subscription (if you wanted it), and a free copy of this month's magazine, which features a GREAT article written by Blackfive about wounded warriors. SO... I can honestly say that I picked up a Penthouse for the articles!! hahaha
Four fantastic panels, but no President or Sec Def address this time! The SecDef was scheduled to provide opening remarks, but his schedule got too tight so LTG. Caldwell stepped in for him. He emphasises the importance of blogging by Soldiers in the field. After all- they're the Army's best promotional material. LTG Caldwell, the commander of the US Army Combined Arms Center. Graduation from the school REQUIRES blogging- that's how strongly LTG Caldwell believes in the power of blogs.
My favorite was the Blogger's Roundtable discussion, featuring the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren, and the new Army Chief of Public Affairs, Major General Kevin Bergner. They re-emphasised Caldwell's dedication to allowing ALL Soldiers to blog, and even encouraging them.
More to come later- must get on a plane now. WHOOO HOO! WHAT A WEEKEND!
OK, I've found time to BREATH again.
One of the things Chuck Z brought up with Secy. Geren was training soldiers how to blog, rather than relying upon their instincts to know what to write about, and what not to write about. He said something along the lines of "We don't send soldiers into the field with a weapon they've never used before. I've heard it said that the soldier in the field is the Army's best weapon against media propaganda, which is one of the reasons blogging is encouraged. However, we don't train our soldiers HOW to blog. If we trained them, we could eliminate many of the Opsec issues that shut down blogs."
I loved that point. Secy. Geren said he would consider it. I'm VERY interested in finding out if Geren really does act upon that suggestion. During his talk with us, he mentioned something that came out of a previous Roundtable. He said a parent (Carla, Some Soldier's Mom), said that the military is so focused on the spouses, they forget about communicating with the PARENTS. He took that to heart, and as soon as the original Roundtable was over, went to his staff and asked for action on this item. And he has put this item on top of his meeting agenda with his staff. It showed all of us that the Roundtable participants really do value what we have to say, and they act on it. I was thoroughly impressed.
I got to meet a lot of "new" friends this year too! JP and his gorgeous and sweet wife (milblogging.com), CJ and Marcus (A Soldier's Perspective and You Served), Bouhammer, David Marron (Thunder Run), Travis (How to kill people), Toby Nunn (did you know he wrote a book between his first and second deployments?? It's on my "buy" list.), Mr. and Mrs. Greyhawk, Laughing Wolf, Wolf, Froggy and Grim (who all write at Blackfive now) Sarah (Learning to Grok) and many others I know I'm forgetting to mention.
Plus, it gave me a chance to reconnect with "old" friends, like my roomie, Boston Maggie, LL, SK, Jack, John and Beth Donovan, Chuck and Carren Z, Matt (who, thanks to CJ, we brought to his knees during a "rock star" prank. OMG.. that was hilarious), Andi, AWTM, HF6, Sean and Heather (It was SO SO SO good to see them together again! Warmed my heart), BCR, Barb (that's "Bob" to you, Maggie), AS (but not the Mrs this year), Concrete Bob, Carla, and again, many others I've forgotten to mention.
Some were greatly missed this year- Keith, Lex, Taco and his parents, Pain, Hook, Joan, Lynn, Leta and Kev. All had either deployments, homecomings, or family or cash commitments that kept them away this year.
At the end of the conference, Mrs. Greyhawk reminded us all of some we will not see again until we're reunited in heaven, including one of my favorite milbloggers, Brian Delaplane of Firepower Forward. Delaplane's death earlier this year was like a punch in the gut. I cried for a couple of days following his death, and cried for him again Saturday afternoon. JP and Mrs. Greyhawk read from last posts from a couple of bloggers, making us all tear up. All day long you could hear rustling, bottles opening, whispers, giggles, and people going in and out of the room. Not during Mrs. G's talk. You couldn't hear anything but her voice, and sniffles throughout the room. Stoic John Donovan broke up too, when he reminded everyone that at The Castle, when we lose a patriot, We Dance... to "Taps". Damn. Not a dry eye in the place.
This year's conference was a BLAST, but I thought it lost its focus, being in Vegas. Vegas is a party town, and trust me- we partied like rock stars, but that's not really what milbloggers are all about. At dinner Saturday night, Andi said that she wanted to move the conference back to DC next year. We all agreed that would be a good move. We're milbloggers, and being in DC gives us a chance to honor our country, not just get sloppy drunk, before and after the sessions. I really missed what had become an annual visit to the war memorials and Arlington, and I'm looking forward to returning to DC next year, with the man I hope will by my husband by then, MSG Keith.
YES.. WE'RE OFFICIALLY ENGAGED! STAY TUNED FOR DETAILS!!!!