Lt. Gen. Gary North recently spoke to a number of bloggers about his role as 9th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Central Commander. Bloggers wanted to know if he anticipates an increase of airpower over Afghanistan similar to the increase of ground troops in that country.
His answer? Yes. There will be an increased Air Force presence both on the ground and in the skies over Afghanistan.
“Well, we will see an increase of our airmen in proportion based on the requirements that the increase in ground forces bring in,” he said. ” I have already moved in several extra C-130s to provide the inter-theater lift to move those personnel on the battlefield. We’ve moved in several helicopters for our combat CSAR and medical evacuation. And I am planning — based on an ongoing analysis, I’m prepared to bring in additional fighters if the analysis of the effort– ways that we will need to have more forces overhead. My goal is to meet the requirements and, of course, the way you can do that and this is the beauty of our asymmetric ability to fight is with our tanker force, you can take two ships or fighters or a bomber, the B-1, and keep them overhead for extended vulnerability periods, vul periods is what we call it, and so you’re capitalizing on that effect of a tanker overhead to be able to produce that armed overwatch for an extended period of time. So we will see an increase of airmen”.
“We anticipate in 2009 that we will at least surpass 16 million pounds and most probably be up between 20 million and 25 million of pounds of air dropped equipment and supplies as the fight continues,” said the General.
Click here for more of this topic, and the complete transcript and audio file. The Bloggers Roundtable, supported and run by the Department of Defense (DoD) brings together bloggers and online journalists for interviews about events and issues within the DoD. The Roundtable is a great example of the shift to social media, as well as a reminder of the importance of bloggers.
Where else can a 14-year NCO from the Army be on the same line with Wired’s Danger Room, which gets 12 million monthly readers? The lines are blurring and the levels are equalizing regarding who gets access and who can report to millions around the world.
Military PAOs, and the government in general, need to recognize that there are people getting news in non-traditional ways and it’s time to work with those sources; encourage bloggers and engagement and conduct outreach with them.