1:01 PM, May 6, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
The 2007 Milblog Conference was held yesterday at a hotel just outside of Washington. The event was sponsored by our friends at Military.com, and while I did not attend last year's inaugural conference, everyone seemed very pleased with this year's turnout. THE WORLDWIDE STANDARD's own Bill Roggio was there to address some of the issues surrounding blogging from the front as part of a panel that was chaired by milblogger extraordinaire Matthew Burden of Blackfive. Roggio is something of a celebrity in this crowd and was interviewed by a camera crew from CNN for a segment to air sometime today between 2 and 4 pm (if I get more precise info on the time of that broadcast I will post in an update).
QandO and RedState, among others, were liveblogging the event, which featured a number of lively panel discussions on everything from mainstream press coverage of Iraq to how the community could best support the troops in the field. There were more than a few bloggers who stuck up for the mainstream press, but there was almost no one who thought that the U.S. military was doing an effective job of getting its message out. The Army public affairs office (PAO) was a favorite target for those in attendance, and this despite the fact that the Army tried to put its best foot forward by sending a number of representatives to the conference.
Likewise, the milbloggers were pretty much unanimous in their support of the war--they want the soldiers home, but not until they achieve their mission of a stable, democratic Iraq. Still, there were some dissenting opinions. In general, there are really two sets of bloggers covering the military--the milbloggers, who include active duty servicemen, their family members, and veterans-turned-journalists, and the techbloggers, who are a bit more of a mixed bag of veterans and milgeeks (I, too, would be a milgeek in this taxonomy). The techbloggers tend to be a bit more liberal and mainstream than their milblog counterparts. For the most part though, the politics of the war were largely ignored in favor of a serious discussion about how best to inform the public about what the troops are doing, and how best to support those troops while they're doing it.
And here is where I think the milblog community deserves a lot of credit. This conference was in no small part a celebration of the troops and the civilian organizations that support them, particularly an organization called Soldiers' Angels and its Valour-IT program. I heard some wonderful stories today about just how important this group is to the soldiers serving in Iraq and to the wounded soldiers coming home (check out Chuck Z's blog From My Position...On the Way! for more on that). The men and women behind this program are absolutely single-minded in their devotion to providing the troops with whatever it is that they need at any given time. I strongly urge our readers to support them by clicking through and making a donation.
On a final note, there was one character in particular who stands out in my mind as the group's most enthusiastic blogger/activist/all-around-lunatic. That would be the man behind the blog Castle Argghhh!, who provided much of the event's comic relief. His claim to fame: his blog is ranked number one by Google for the search "I bayoneted myself." Definitely a site you'll want to bookmark if you have even the slightest interest in the milblog phenomenon.
Also, here's the taped message the president sent in, which was played early yesterday morning as the conference got underway: