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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Warblogging: Diverse Communities in Difficult Times

An online course dealing with war stress, team-building under duress, and shortages of equipment, personnel, and time, revealed that need that active-duty military and dependents have for a supportive community is nowhere near being satisfied, and in fact cannot be met in a face-to-face community. In fact, conditions often make community-building an impossibility.

Online courses can offer a place for community building to begin to take place, as evidenced by the online course, “Leadership in Difficult Times, which was developed in response to a stated need for a leadership course that dealt specifically with current real-life issues. Students’ essays, journals, and discussion board postings were astonishing in their intensity, focus, and eagerness to embark an in-depth exploration of issues that included post-traumatic stress syndrome, team-building under duress, and dealing with shortages of personnel, resources, and time.

Warblogging is another method used by individuals to develop a community of practice, and to share lessons learned. While one might suppose that most “war blogs” would be almost jingoistic in their stance toward war, what one finds is quite the opposite. Support for families, details of day-to-day experiences, and philosophical introspection are perhaps even more common than agenda-laden politically or ideologically-inflected blogs.

Proliferation of “warblogs” – Many started at the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, and the authors lost enthusiasm or the will to keep blogging. Newer blogs are reminiscent of many personal blogs, and are similarly filled with day-to-day journaling, lists of likes and dislikes, and contain the all-important blog roll. Perhaps the most influential of the blogs are “portal blogs” such as Blogs of War, which ranks military-based blogs.

Blogs of War:
This blog contains current events as well as recommendations and ratings of other blogs. It is an absolutely incredible resource which provides not only summaries of news but also links to related sites and/or analysis. The blogroll is quite effective, balanced, and useful. The presentation is uniformly up-to-date, fair, and thought-provoking.

Active-Duty Military

Incoherent Ramblings Risawn – Fort Lewis, Washington. This is an entertaining and enlightening look at the inner life of a young enlisted female soldier who describes her life and the changes she is undergoing as she progresses in the military. Her blog has continuity and reads like creative non-fiction.

American Soldier --
Brief entries, thoughts on current events, political aspects, the media.

Deployed and in Iraq / Afghanistan / Other

A Day in Iraq -- Michael, from Fort Benning, Georgia, describes his experiences and reactions to current events during his deployment in Iraq. There are many vivid details, and one gets a sense of authenticity – something often lacking in war reporting.

My War -- -- unidentified soldier in “hell on earth” Iraq shares his perspectives, experiences, and provides a bit of a reality check as an antidote to the official media.

Aarrggh! The Home of Two of Jonah’s Military Guys -- Interesting, with commentary on current events as well as a chronicle of day to day life as a soldier.

Dependents and Military Families

Marine Corps Moms --
This is an invaluable resource for families of deployed military. As the mother of a Marine, I find that I have mixed emotions about information -- I crave it, and yet I begin to brood. What I admire about this blog is that there are stories (and photos!) of Marines. Many are deployed to Iraq, and the accounts are good to read -- they help demystify the subject, and eliminate media spin by focusing on the individuals rather than their ideology. There is a lot of information, and it is there for when it is needed. This blog is a great service and a labor of love.

Independent Journalists

Kevin Sites Blog – Dispatches from a Life in Conflict --
This is the journalist who gained 15 minutes of infamy for filming a young Marine shooting what turned out to have been a booby-trapped injured insurgent. At least this is what I understand the facts to be. At any rate, it is worthwhile to read his thoughts about the various ethical dilemmas. This begs the question – ARE there any ethics in war?

Military Retirees and Aficionados

Froggy Ruminations --
A Navy SEAL reflects upon his experiences and maintains an up-to-date resource on current Navy SEAL activities and accomplishments. This blog is only marginally interesting for those who are not SEALS, SEAL families, or SEAL aficionados.

“Grunt Poets” -- Creative Writing – Young Enlisted

Not for the faint of heart, these writings of young Marine Corps infantrymen (grunts) simultaneously shock, sadden, and give tremendous into the emotional landscape that typically hidden from view, or masked by an exaggerated “jarhead” persona.

Entrails of the Equivocate

Intensely personal and disturbing prose poems,

with extended metaphors for inner conflict
and the self-immolation that comes with
the Marine Corps experience as their psyches are melted
down and they are reformed into something
born of more than 200 years of tradition.
Influences and allusions abound –
Dante, Milton, Rabelais are just a few.
Formo a Animus
Funny, insightful, heartrending.

One is reminded of Eli Weisel,
as well as Dostoyevsky, Salinger.
Shame-Spiral Continuum
Articulate and intriguing essays on the

nature of reality, the influence of consumer culture,
the impact of media programming on our behavior.

One finds echoes of the Matrix, Baudrillard,
Deleuze, and Guy Debord (Society of the Spectacle).

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