June 13, 2006

CENTCOM Has the Personal Touch

CENTCOM Has the Personal Touch

[At CENTCOM,] we’re well known in the blogosphere– we post stories all the time. Like maybe there’s a dialogue going in a blog about starving children in Iraq, and we’ll post something about humanitarian efforts there.

First Lieutenant Brian Anderson, Electronic Media Engagement Team Leader, CENTCOM, in a conversation with Open Source, 6/13/06
US Soldiers unloading prayer rugs in Iraq

Iraqi Army Cpl. Husein Abass Husein unloads a box of prayer rugs for a local mosque. [Cpl. William Skelton, image from Combat Camera Photo Galleries]

The Electronic Media Engagement team is a new detail at United States Central Command, the command center in charge of troops in the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia (including Iraq and Afghanistan). First Lieutenant Brian Anderson and two other soldiers were transferred to CENTCOM headquarters in Florida about a year ago. They send out press releases to a cadre of 450 bloggers and encourage bloggers to link back to their site. Sometimes, when they find a blogger writing about U.S. military operations in CENTCOM’s designated region, they’ll respond in the blog’s comment thread with a story like one of these.

We post under full disclosure– I’ll say I’m First Lieutenant Brian Anderson at US Central Command. Often when we’ll post a story, [the bloggers] will want to ask us a bunch of questions, but we don’t actively engage in that kind of dialogue. Occasionally, if it’s a really interesting question, we’ll forward it along to the media section, but that’s rare. That’s not really what we do.

First Lieutenant Brian Anderson, in a conversation with Open Source, 6/13/06

Lieutenant Anderson says it’s not to advance any particular political agenda; they’re just trying to get the information out. He’ll email press releases out to any blogger who expresses interest.

If you buy the line that bloggers respond best to personal outreach, then mass emails from John Kerry and MoveOn are missing the mark, and US Central Command is right on. When CENTCOM sent out this press release on Saturday, and when Obob quoted the text on his blog, he was duly thanked:

Hi, Obob:

I just wanted to thank you for picking up the press release from US Central Command. I don’t know if you’ve explored our webpage (http://www.centcom.mil), but it features news, photos, audio and video from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. You’re welcome to use any materials you find on our site.

Good luck with your blog.

SGT C. Flowers

CENTCOM Public Affairs

SGT C. Flowers, in a comment to so much for our hatred of Islam, Obob’s World, 6/10/06

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