UK Brigadier Assails US Tactics in Iraq
Friday, January 13, 2006, 12:14 AM - The World After September 11Staff writer Thomas E. Ricks reports in the January 10 Washington Post:
A senior British officer has written a scathing critique of the U.S. Army and its performance in Iraq, accusing it of cultural ignorance, moralistic self-righteousness, unproductive micromanagement and unwarranted optimism there.See also UK officer slams US Iraq tactics in the January 11 BBC News.
His publisher: the U.S. Army.
In an article published this week in the Army magazine Military Review, British Brig. Nigel Aylwin-Foster, who was deputy commander of a program to train the Iraqi military, said American officers in Iraq displayed such "cultural insensitivity" that it "arguably amounted to institutional racism" and may have spurred the growth of the insurgency.
The article in question appears in the current (November/December 2005) issue of Military Review, which is published under the auspices of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
(Hat tip to Dr. William M. Donnelly, US Army Center of Military History)
In the Line of Historical Fire
Wednesday, January 11, 2006, 05:43 PM - Building the FieldA story in yesterday's Inside Higher Education reports on an AHA round table, Military Historians in a Time of War: Reflections on Current Roles, Responsibilities, and Experiences. Carol Reardon, president of the Society for Military History, chaired the session. Panelists included Conrad C. Crane, United States Army Military History Institute; Richard H. Kohn, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Brian Linn, Texas A&M University; Sarandis Papadopoulos, United States Naval Historical Center; and Mark A. Stoler, University of Vermont.
(Hat tip to John Maass)
And Keep Marketing On - Pt 2
Tuesday, January 10, 2006, 01:16 AM - The Craft of HistoryA few days ago I received some contributors' copies of the new issue of North & South magazine. Inside was an article I'd written on "The 'Dump Lincoln' Movements of 1864," which of course I expected; and a review of And Keep Moving On: The Virginia Campaign, May-June 1864, which I emphatically did not, since the book appeared over three years ago.
It was a nice surprise, because the review came from the pen of Gordon C. Rhea, author of a well-regarded quartet of books on the Overland Campaign. There isn't anyone whose good opinion of And Keep Moving On I value more. Rhea begins with two long paragraphs that outline the campaign and its importance, then goes on to a consideration of my book:
Perhaps because of its complexity, the Overland Campaign has received scant attention from Civil War historians. The standard work has been The Virginia Campaign of '64 and '65 (New York, 1883) by Andrew A. Humphreys, the Army of the Potomac's chief of staff. More recently, Noah Andre Trudeau's Bloody Roads South: The Wilderness to Cold Harbor, May-June 1989 (Boston, 1989) did a masterful job of capturing the spirit of the campaign. Other authors, myself included, have spun detailed studies of various of the campaign's battles. Missing, however, has been a grand synthesis of the entire operation, bringing together the disparate military, political, and social strands. Mark Grimsley's And Keep Moving On: The Virginia Campaign, May-June, 1864 fills that gap and has now been issued in a paperback edition.It's the sort of review that draws forth a sigh of contentment. Then I look at Amazon.com and see that, at the moment, a used copy of And Keep Moving On is available for exactly one cent. That just draws forth a sigh.
Grimsley does not purport to conduct fresh research or to uncover new information. His book is a synthesis, and he succeeds admirably in his objective. Often overlooked is the fact that Grant's operation involved the coordination of several armies moving on Lee, with epic fights, not only in central Virginia, but in the Shenandoah Valley and south of Richmond. Grimsley gives due attention to the multiple prongs of Grant's offensive, describing the salient features of the battles with verve while placing them within the campaign's larger framework. Covered also are the various political influences, Union as well as Confederate, and the campaign's profound impact on the home fronts, North and South. In reviewing military considerations, Grimsley keeps his spotlight not only on Grant and Lee, but on their subordinate commanders as well, venturing well-considered reflections about how the generals performed. Especially engaging is the book's final chapter, with its balanced examination of the overall conduct of the campaign and of the operation's broader place in history.
Grimsley has given us a model campaign analysis. As a devotee of the Overland Campaign, I thank him heartily for it.
Part 1 - Part 2
Gender and Military History - Pt 2
Monday, January 9, 2006, 01:02 PM - War and GenderA guest post by Michael Dolski, a graduate student at Temple University.
Ed. note: Michael published this merely as a response to the comment thread of his previous post on this subject, but it is so thoughtful and informative I didn't want it to get buried. I've done a bit of very light editing and have added links where appropriate.
Having just braved the AHA convention held over the past couple days here in Philadelphia, I can provide a couple of examples of gender in military history.
The first is drawn from David Corlett and his paper entitled “Casualties of War: Community, Gender Identity, and Morality in New England’s Early Indian Wars.” Corlett describes how women transcended gender bounds while reacting to periodic incursions by hostile Indians. Such women would take charge of their households in the absence (or even at times in the presence) of the traditional male authorities, which may have been serving militia duty elsewhere. Also, Corlett examines the humiliation or the ‘unmanning’ of the male population that came from ineffectual responses to Indian attacks. Essentially, these men were failing to live up to their expected role as protectors of home, family, and community. These transgressions in gender roles were then used in propaganda and rhetorical outbursts in order to spur men on to actions while shaping the nature of their response. Corlett asserted that men were driven to further savagery in battle as a result of rage built up over their demasculization.
One other example comes from Paul Quigley’s paper, “A Nation Defined by War: Consolidation and Collapse in the Confederacy.” Quigley emphasizes the role that the war played in fostering a separate sense of Southern nationalism. One of the factors that he highlights as formative in this process is the differing conception of gender roles between the North and the South. Quigley asserts that the varied ideals of masculinity and femininity in the two sections served to heighten the divide between them; all of which came to a head due to wartime experiences.
I think these are interesting examples of how gender offers another analytical component for studying military history. Unfortunately, if I remember correctly, neither of these two scholars claims to be military historians. In fact, at an earlier roundtable during the conference, which was labeled “New Approaches to the Study of the Military in the United States,” every single panel participant readily professed the fact that they were not military historians. Maybe I was a little sensitive, but it just seemed as if they relished the fact that they could dip into the realm of military history while asserting (I think rightfully so) that military historians often ignore the issues and discussions that occur in the other areas of history.
Now, all is not lost, as Richard Kohn argued in a different session. Military historians have their various audiences and obviously are meeting the needs of the policy-making community as well as history buffs and those generally interested in military affairs. Brian Linn also pointed out that current trends are poor indicators of future hot topics. He has done rather extensive research on the Philippines, including the excellent book, The Philippine War, 1899-1902. Linn has become a recurrent commentator on current issues surrounding the War on Terror largely because of his work on counterinsurgency warfare. He said that when he began his studies nobody thought this would lead to any wider notoriety or would perforce have relevance beyond the direct issues he considered.
My overall point was to show how I became persuaded over time to agree with what now appears as the rather insightful assertions that Mark posted regarding gender and military history. I do not think that gender is a sine qua non for all military history and that everything to date has to be reformulated in order to directly address this topic. Rather, I feel that gender is one of several analytical concepts that military historians need to begin thinking about if not incorporating into their work if they wish to remain current with the rest of the discipline.
Memory, the area I am more interested in, is another great example of this. Avowed non-military historians have done most of the work on memory and war or battle, a point noted by Michael Allen during the conference (a cultural historian studying a military topic). I think the clear and constant distinctions between historical fields have been morphed into sort of preemptive claims in this regard. Non-military historians research areas related to military topics, but then can fall back on their status as cultural or whatever manner of historians when and if they fail to correctly depict the actual military side of the events. By failing to engage in these discussions military historians invite others to do so in their place.
I am not sure that most military historians have been convinced of the need to address these matters. I certainly offer this as a tentative assertion, but it seems to me that many are willing to acknowledge the potential relevance of concepts such as gender and then completely fail to include them once it comes time to research or publish some material.
Part 1 - Part 2
Good News From Philly
Sunday, January 8, 2006, 09:23 PM - The Craft of History
I was sorry to miss this year's annual meeting of the American Historical Association, particularly Saturday's round table session, Were All the World A Blog: History Bloggers and History Blogging. I look forward to reading reports of it as they appear on the web. I regret missing the session all the more because the winners of the first annual Cliopatria Awards were announced, and it turns out that Blog Them Out of the Stone Age received the award for Best Individual Blog. "Blog Them Out of the Stone Age," explained the jury's rationale, "is the finest example of the application of a historian's passion and tradecraft in the new medium of blogging. It combines research, analysis and pedagogy issues with a keen desire to engage with the broader public."
So many excellent history weblogs have made their appearance that this news came as a very welcome surprise. Although I've been blogging for two years, I still have many moments when I question the value of my work. This kind of validation from my peers is therefore immensely gratifying. I am profoundly appreciative of the readers who nominated the blog and the historians who organized and vetted the competition.
Cliopatria has news of all the awards.
Gender and Military History - Pt 1
Tuesday, January 3, 2006, 07:29 AM - War and GenderA guest post by Michael Dolski, a graduate student at Temple University
Mark invited me to compose a guest entry about a month ago due to several e-mails we had exchanged. The heart of the matter was that I admitted appreciating the significant possibilities that gender offers for the study of military history. My viewpoint on this matter is the issue at hand because I was not always convinced of this.
My first exposure to Mark’s ideas on gender and military history came from an early posting entitled How I Came To Do This; a more detailed examination is in Meet the New Patriarchy, Same as the Old Patriarchy. I was skeptical to say the least. A large part of my skepticism came from ignorance, as is so often the case. This specifically deals with the concept of gender as a tool of analysis. I simply equated gender with women’s studies until I had to consider this further over the past couple of months. For me, this early post by Mark represented a "squishy" attempt (to borrow Allan Millett’s terminology) to revise military history and make it more palatable for the rest of academia. I thought that inserting gender into this was nothing more than the post-modernist/post-structuralist bent of changing "his"-tory to "her"-story.
As indicated, my conversion or enlightenment is a relatively recent affair. This stems from several months of frantic reading and discussion, much of which took place out of my comfort zone in military history. The major turning point for me came from reading Bonnie Smith’s The Gender of History. Smith shows the inherently gendered nature of professional history. This signifies that the issues considered by historians as well as the historical development and organizational culture of the academy reflect gender bias.
The excellent point to draw from this relates to the post-structuralist trend in history, which identifies the influences on and biases of the historian as integral components of the final product--history. She demonstrates that gender biases represent an overwhelming influence on individual historians. This becomes an even larger issue by determining which matters to investigate and by shading the interpretation of the events under consideration.
Upon reading this book it is easier to see that gender influences our beliefs and very ways of approaching the world, including history. Smith also explains that studying gender must go beyond simply inserting women into the traditional narrative of history. Gender includes the very concepts of male/female and masculine/feminine. To look at one in isolation will necessarily produce distortion by excluding the negative basis of comparison. Gender is important because it forms a large part of the way that we view the world. This influences the people and events in the past as well as the subsequent examination of them through the process of history. However, what does this mean for the study of military history?
Reading Smith forced a confrontation with an area of personal ignorance and bias. This significantly challenged my self-assured understanding of history and demanded adaptations to assimilate new information. Yet, initially I did not apply this to my areas of interest in military history. This comes from an unfortunate aspect of graduate education: the immense amount of material students are responsible for and the hectic pace of covering it precludes stepping back and considering the larger ramifications of it all.
Nevertheless, I did come across something that shows the role of gender and even sexuality as they relate to topics of concern for military history. I am referring to Dagmar Herzog’s recent book, Sex after Fascism. Herzog presents a compelling analysis of the way that gender and sexuality influenced Germany under the Nazis and afterwards. She shows that sex roles and rules were an important component of Nazi racial policies. More interesting, perhaps, is the discussion of the postwar attempts to address the crimes of the Nazi regime. Both of the divided German states repressed or avoided the atrocities of their recent past. One way that they did this (more so in West Germany) was to enforce sexual conformity and to reestablish what was believed to be the conservative, patriarchal society that predated the Nazis. The point is that gender and sex roles played a significant part in the manner that these societies tried to come to terms with the horrors committed during World War II. Also, these issues influenced the actual conduct of the war (i.e. the German toleration of rape by their soldiers in the East but not in the West).
So, why should I bring up these two particular works in this forum? The basic premise is to illustrate how I came to accept Mark’s assertion that gender is an interesting and useful analytical tool for military history. Consideration of this will open up a range of possibilities for any aspiring or even established historians working in this field. This goes beyond, for instance, examining why modern Western societies have tended to exclude women as combatants in their militaries (which still remains an interesting question, especially in this time of potential flux in the matter). Including gender roles in studies of military history can take the form of explaining the influence of conceptions of masculinity on the propensity for war or it may assist with explaining homefront-battlefront dichotomies. These are just a few easy examples and I am sure that many of you can provide insightful additions to this.
To wrap this post up I would like to point out just one more thing. Mark has convincingly described how the academic community partially marginalized military history. This is certainly the result of two related trends: academic history has moved away from ‘traditional’ topics such as military history and military historians have failed to engage fully with these changes. This highlights the importance of issues such as gender. I am not advocating a complete restructuring of the historical narrative or rejection of all that fails to take account of gender. However, by overlooking this significant influence on lived reality as well as historical methodology we are only handicapping ourselves. This is evident in two ways. First, historians produce partially distorted or incomplete history when they ignore relevant influences on the people and events, such as gender. Second, military historians will only further exclude themselves and their topics from the rest of the academy by failing to engage with the subjects or themes that many other areas are now looking at. In the end, these matters provide military historians with an excellent opportunity to show how their subject matter is relevant to the rest of academia and necessary for a full understanding of history in general.
Part 1 - Part 2
New Distance Learning Program in War Studies
Thursday, December 15, 2005, 05:19 PM - Building the FieldThe Department of War Studies at King's College London has launched its first wholly web-delivered (no residential requirement) MA degree, War in the Modern World.
The first intake of 43 internationally-based students will be given an understanding of military campaigns from 1945 until the present. Military operations are studied in the light of economic, social, technological, and political changes in the world today.
Anne-Lucie Norton, Director, eLearning Programme, says, ‘The increasing prevalence of military intervention across the globe, and its associated costs, both human and economic, ensures that the study of warfare will remain topical.'
War in the Modern World is a part-time postgraduate degree, its content and resources available all day every day.
Full Story in the KCL News highlights archive
Information About the War in the Modern World MA and Diploma Programme
Wednesday, December 14, 2005, 09:23 AM - Building the Field
The blog's original logo and the question that accompanied it: "What is the relationship between the book at left and the people at right, photographed living in the city dump in the hills above La Ceiba, Honduras, July 2002?"
Two years ago today I wrote the first post for Interrogating the Project of Military History. That was the genesis of what became this blog. Not quite a year later I moved to a Blogger site, War Historian. There I continued to post, mostly for my own edification--only a very few people even knew of my blog--until mid-January 2005, when Cliopatria added me to its blogroll. After that my readership quickly expanded. So in February I acquired WarHistorian.org and on March 6, published the first post from this site.
Blogging has been a significant experience for me. I've come to value it highly as a means to mull over new ideas, a tool to spur productivity, and a way to meet a great many people I would otherwise never have encountered. Even so, I'm still not quite sure what I'm doing here, which is part of the charm of blogging, I think. A person embarks on a blog with one purpose in mind--in my case, to ponder the field of military history through the lens of postcolonialism--but over time that purpose often shifts in new directions. For instance, I did not initially think of the blog as a place to rough out drafts of my "normal" academic work, much less as a place to explore many of the themes--memory, myth, and imagination, for instance--that have since become a regular feature of the blog. In that sense, blogging has proven to be, more than anything else, an intellectual journey.
The word count on this site now exceeds 200,000, and I imagine that between them, the two predecessor blogs account for at least 100,000 more. That's a lot of writing--the length of two or three books--and increasingly, I wonder how easy it would be for someone new to the blog to retrace that intellectual journey and make sense of it. My guess is, not very. For that reason, I've begun to tweak the blog's sidebar. I've included a dozen favorite posts to give new readers a better feel for the blog, and I'm going to streamline the cumbersome, calendar-based archive.
But I suspect that won't be enough. In surfing the web I ran across an interesting statistic from a survey taken in March 2005: fully 62 percent of regular Internet users still did not know what a blog was, much less did they read them. Over time that will change, and in the case of blogs devoted to subjects like current affairs it doesn't matter very much: the half life of their posts is very short, and you can read the most recent posts with very little need for orientation to the earlier ones.
With a blog like this one, however, it's different. The "intellectual journey" is what gives Blog Them Out of the Stone Age such value as it has, so the ability to retrace the journey is important. I think that holds true for other history blogs as well, particularly those created to support a dissertation or book. Of course, the eventual manuscript can become, in effect, the "souvenir edition" of the blog, but until that happens a reader must look to the blog itself for edification. And blogs, despite categories, archives, and search engines, aren't really set up for that. You can't flip through a blog the way you can a book and get a fairly complete impression of its contents. At least, that's been my experience when I have tried this experiment with other blogs.
It's also plain that you have to learn to read a blog, in somewhat the same way that kids used to learn to read a newspaper. On the occasions when I have shown my blog to people unfamiliar with the medium, they've plainly seemed bewildered by the plethora of links and by the blog's conventions--the most recent post is on top, for instance, so unless you visit a blog frequently you have to read it from bottom to top and from back to front, so to speak. Blogging also has its own specialized lingo. Some of it is obvious: blogosphere, blogroll, milblog, even blogiversary. But much of it is technical; e.g., syndication, aggregating content, trackbacks, etc. To be really useful to someone new to the medium, a blog has to include an introduction, not just to the site, but to the medium of blogging itself. A link to a primer on blogging is helpful, but it's probably better to have one on the site itself.
I would welcome feedback about this blog, especially suggestions about the ways in which its content could be made more accessible. In the meantime, I want to thank everyone who visits the blog, especially those who read and comment on a regular basis. I very much appreciate it.
On to year three!
Review of the 2005 West Point Summer Seminar in Military History
Tuesday, December 13, 2005, 07:07 AM - Building the Field
The Saratoga staff ride at the 2005 USMA Summer Seminar
A guest post by Donald R. Shaffer, who teaches U.S. History at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. He attended the 2005 West Point Seminar in Military History, which was held from May 31-June 23, 2005. His book After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans was published in 2004 by the University Press of Kansas and won 2005 Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship.
Reprinted by the author from a review recently posted to H-War:
As the fall semester ends and thoughts turn to the winter holidays, the wise academic should already be making plans for next summer. For persons with an interest in Military History these plans should include consideration of attending the West Point Summer Seminar in Military History. Offered by the History Department at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, the seminar is an intense, but highly rewarding three-week exploration of Western military history (with an emphasis on the United States) from the late Middle Ages to the present day.
The seminar has something to offer just about any serious scholar of Military History, from relatively novice graduate students to professors who teach the subject at their home institutions. Its activities fall into basically five categories: 1) small group seminar sessions led by West Point faculty; 2) lectures by West Point faculty and visiting scholars; 3) staff rides; 4) special events; 5) social events.
The small group sessions are the core of the seminar experience. In 2005, the twenty fellows were divided into two groups of ten persons, with each session presided over by a West Point faculty member. Although session activities varied, they generally involved a review of important literature and classroom materials (maps, videos, etc.) followed by a discussion of the scheduled subject matter. A purpose of these sessions was to give the fellows a sense of how the History Department at West Point taught each subject area in the two-semester History of the Military Art course sequence that each cadet is required to take.
Another main activity of the summer seminar was the lectures by West Point faculty and distinguished visiting scholars. The lecturers seemed free to discuss what they wanted within their topic area. Some gave generalized presentations on the relevant subject area, while others made specialized lectures relating to their own research or a topic of interest. The visiting scholars in 2005 included Mark Clodfelter, Linda and Marsha Frey, Joe Glatthaar, Joe Gulmartin, Brian Linn, Douglas Porch, Harold Selesky, William Skelton, and Gerhard Weinberg. West Point faculty who lectured the fellows in 2005 included Daniel Barnard, Lance Betros, Robert Doughty, Jennie Kiesling, Cliff Rodgers, and Sam Watson.
The highlight of the seminar for this reviewer was the field trips, or as they are known at West Point, "staff rides." There were three staff rides for the 2005 fellows. They included a day trip to the Saratoga battlefield from the Revolutionary War, an afternoon staff ride of the West Point fortifications (also from the American Revolution), and a four-day swing through Civil War battlefield sites in the mid-Atlantic region (the 2005 staff ride included stops at South Mountain, Harper's Ferry, Antietam, and Gettysburg). All the staff rides except Gettysburg were capably led by current or former West Point faculty. The Gettysburg staff ride was conducted by Carol Reardon of Penn State, who gave a masterful tour of this most famous of Civil War battlefields.
The USMA History Department also managed to work a number of special events into the 2005 seminar, as well as finding creative ways of making more routine events "special." The former included a library tour and visit to the West Point museum with a lecture on historic firearms prior to the 19th century (more modern firearms were covered in another lecture to the fellows later in the seminar). The fellows also were able to brush shoulders with the military re-enactors on two occasions. Revolutionary War re-enactors accompanied the fellows on the staff ride of the West Point fortifications, lending their expertise along the way. Another group of re-enactors also led a Civil War tactical exercise in which the fellows learned basic Civil War drill and tactical formations, plus were able repeatedly to load and fire (sans ammunition) replica Civil War muskets-a special treat for this reviewer. The fellows also had a tour of the academy grounds, visiting normally closed areas such the cadets' barracks and dining hall.
The history faculty made sure the fellows did not lack for an active social life. After the first full day of the seminar, the fellows cruised the Hudson River on the USMA Superintendent's boat, an ingenious way to coax normally reserved academics to get to know each other and the West Point history faculty. There were also other planned social events organized by Capt. Daniel Barnard, and numerous more informal gatherings among the fellows themselves. Indeed, if one took full advantage of all the social opportunities at 2005 seminar, there was little time left to complete the assigned readings or sleep.
Indeed, one of the benefits of the 2005 seminar was meeting an interesting variety of people. The seminar organizers, led by the able and efficient Major John Hall, selected a fascinatingly diverse group of fellows. Besides faculty and graduate students from traditional academic institutions, there was faculty from the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, plus a State Department CSO. There also were five foreign fellows respectively representing Australia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, and Great Britain.
It also was beneficial meeting and getting to know people at West Point. The academy history faculty, both uniformed and civilian, invariably proved friendly, approachable, and obliging. Major Hall and Major Pete Knight (who will lead the 2006 seminar) in particular proved extremely helpful in assisting the reviewer with some unanticipated professional needs that developed during the seminar.
Another great benefit of the seminar was the haul of materials the USMA History Department distributed gratis to the fellows. These amounted to hundreds of dollars worth of books, including a set of priceless West Point military history atlases and a DVD with a variety of highly worthwhile electronic resources. (In fact, it would be a good idea for future fellows bring an empty suitcase to carry home the materials they will acquire during the seminar.)
The reviewer has already incorporated all manner of West Point materials into his classes, particularly PowerPoint slides included on the DVD. The materials and knowledge acquired at the seminar have proved helpful not only in his military history courses, but also in more general U.S. history courses, including the American survey. Indeed, it would not be a stretch to say that after attending the West Point Summer Seminar in Military History, the reviewer has been able to add a new dimension of instruction in all of his courses.
Certainly the seminar in 2005 was not without its problems. For example, the presentation by one of the distinguished guest lecturers proved surprisingly sub par. Likewise, there was some grumbling that the library's schedule made it difficult for the fellows to complete their projects (each fellow was required to put together and submit to the other fellows, according to the syllabus for 2005 seminar "a project that will be useful to them in the teaching of military history").
To be honest, the problems that cropped up at 2005 seminar tended to be minor and, for the most part, hard to anticipate. The reviewer also can say from his exchanges with participants of earlier seminars that West Point faculty clearly evaluate each seminar afterwards for problems that occur and adjust their planning accordingly for the following year.
It also should be mentioned that the seminar is free-of-charge, with all expenses, including room, board, and travel covered by a gift from an anonymous benefactor. In addition, the fellows in 2005 received a $1,500 honorarium at the end of the seminar.
Hence, I highly recommend the 2006 West Point Summer Seminar in Military History to the readers of H-War. The 2005 seminar was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For more information on the 2006 seminar and application forms, please visit its web site.
Readers are invited to examine a series of photographs the reviewer took of events at 2005 seminar.
Monday, December 12, 2005, 05:32 PM - The World After September 11
I never considered Blog Them Out of the Stone Age to be a milblog (military blog). Consequently I was surprised this weekend when Milblogging.com decided to add me to the comprehensive index it's building of milblogs. (See previous post.) Yet after mulling it over a bit, I figured, why not? Its webmaster probably knew better than I did what constituted a milblog.
Me, I would have thought you'd have to be a soldier--but then again Blackfive, the grand poobah of milblogs, is maintained by a veteran no longer in service. Well, then, a veteran--but come to think of it, I am a veteran, albeit of eight years in the Army National Guard. A veteran who has seen combat? Not in my case, unless you count my pitiless war on the mosquitoes at Camp Grayling, Michigan--but then many milbloggers are not combat veterans.
Hmm. I don't blog that much about combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. On the other hand, I do touch upon them from time to time and I have a category called The World After September 11 as a place to comment on the Global War on Terror. Furthermore, nearly all of my posts directly address military affairs, broadly conceived; whereas many (if not most) milblogs dwell heavily on current politics. Most of them are fervently conservative and hawkish on the war. But then again, milbloggers are at pains to tell you that their ranks contain a diversity of opinion. (And every now and then you actually run across an example of that.)
Having decided this might be a milblog after all, I've decided to educate myself more systematically concerning the MilBlogosphere. Here are links to a couple of good introductions to the subject:
Hugh Hewitt, Rise of the Milblog, Weekly Standard, March 12, 2004 - probably one of the most important early attempts to report the milblog phenomenon.
"Greyhawk,"A Brief History of Milblogs, Mudville Gazette, November 11, 2005 - A recent retrospective by one of the major milbloggers.
Part 1 - Part 2 (link not yet active)