ACG WebOps (May 2006)
Welcome to WebOps, Armchair General’s first website column! Every issue of Armchair General holds a wealth of military historical knowledge, all neatly packaged in an easily accessible format. The Internet and World Wide Web also hold vast amounts of like information, but not always so convenient or user-friendly. That’s where WebOps can help you, by bringing links to the comfort of your favorite web browser that hopefully make finding the military history you’re looking for online as simple as reading our magazine. And I don’t charge you for a subscription!
Legislation passed through Congress in 1999 and 2004 designated May as National Military Appreciation Month in America. Not only does May house Memorial Day (29th), but also Loyalty Day (1st), VE Day (8th), Military Spouse Day (12th), and Armed Forces Day (20th). So, grab the nearest Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, or Coast Guardsman and give them a hug and/or a handshake, and show them how much you welcome their everyday sacrifices! Done? Great! Now join me in marching around the Internet and quick-timing through these websites that salute and support the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
This is the United States Army Home Page, the Army’s official online link to and with the American public. This should be your first stop for information regarding current Army operations and references. With links to news, professional writings, photos, the Center of Military History, Soldiers Magazine, and its’ very own browser media player, this site has the U.S. Army covered nationally and internationally.
Army.com is a recruitment-heavy influenced website, but also manages to be a tool for the current Soldier, and those who are thinking of becoming one. Here you’ll find descriptions of many of the benefits of being a Soldier – travel, education, pay rates, loans, and such – along with brief sections on the training required to become a Soldier, through Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training, ROTC programs, and Army Special Operations units. Kudos should also be given for the personalization options available here, from the forums and blog pages to being able to set up your own army.com free e-mail address. And, just for those who still have not tried it, there’s also a link to the free America’s Army game.
" Since 1950, the Association of the United States Army has worked to support all aspects of national security while advancing the interests of America’s Army and the men and women who serve. AUSA is a private, non-profit educational organization that supports America’s Army – Active, National Guard, Reserve, Civilians, Retirees and family members. AUSA provides numerous Professional Development Opportunities at a variety of events both local and national. "
Most of what the average American civilian sees of our nation’s military is the Soldier in green camouflage on their local news, on duty somewhere in the world. There is a whole other world of people in Class A dress uniforms that control and direct the beast of our Army, collectively known as HQDA. This site links to a long list of those agencies’ websites, such as the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Office of the Sergeant Major of the Army, TRICARE Health Clinic, U.S. Army NATO, and the Military Personnel Service Center.
The U.S. Army would be incomplete without the Army National Guard, as they have proved themselves invaluable throughout their proud history. This website provides expansive information to and about our nation’s citizen-soldiers, including training and equipment, current news and past history, tools and other resources for those who seek them.
"NGAUS is a nonpartisan organization representing nearly 45,000 current and former Army and Air National Guard officers. Formed in 1878, NGAUS is focused on procuring better equipment, standardized training and a more combat-ready force by petitioning Congress for resources."
Military historians and wargamers alike can tell you the vast importance of keeping an armed force in reserve. This website is the cyber-home of America’s reserve Army, and helps to explain its’ mission, capabilities, leadership, and organization, and bring to the interested public news of the Army Reserve around the world.
Navy.mil is the website home of America’s sailors of the high seas. Look here for past and current Navy news, photos of ships and sailors at port or at sea. There’s a link to All Hands, the magazine of the U.S. Navy, links to video clips from Navy / Marine Corps News (NMCN), and a streaming audio link for Navy / Marine Corps Radio.
This site is the online Navy recruiter of sorts, packed with info regarding Navy jobs, careers, and benefits. There’s also a nifty little thing they call Navy Chat, "a one-on-one, highly personalized forum that gives you the chance to ask a Navy expert questions about career opportunities, scholarships, Navy life and any other Navy-related subject matter." Gamers may want to download and play the official U.S. Navy computer game, NTE: Strike & Retrieve.
The Navy League of the United States (NLUS) is a civilian organization that was created with the help of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902. It helps support the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Flag Merchant Marine through positive youth programs, NJROTC, MCJROTC, and ROTC programs, and through recognition and awards ceremonies. Be sure to click in and read through the Sea Power Magazine section.
U.S. Air Force
This official website of the U.S. Air Force always has some of the coolest photos up front of all the other sites on this list, I feel. The Air Force webmasters have packed the site full of top gun info: an Around the AF Podcast, AF News via an RSS feed, a link to Airman Magazine, an AF video section, and links to various AF artworks, a section on AF careers, and even a place to submit AF-specific questions.
‘Cross Into the Blue’ of this Air Force website and you’ll find all kinds of information about Air Force careers, life, basic training, and opportunities for officers and enlisted personnel, should you be looking to join the Air Force. You may also sign up for an e-newsletter, ask a question directly to an Air Force advisor, and check out video clips of Air Force men and women in action around the world.
This site is similar in scope and design as the above site, and is also geared to act as an online recruiting tool, here for the Air Force Reserve. Here you may find the usual: news, info on benefits, healthcare, and education, along with downloadable games, screensavers, and wallpaper.
The following websites are rehashed from my WebOps (Nov 2005) article, celebrating the 230th birthday of the U.S. Marines.
U.S. Coast Guard
Any serious look at the U.S. Armed Forces would be totally incomplete without including the Coast Guard. Unless you are actually in the military, you rarely hear anything about them, also evident in the sorely lacking number of supporting websites. If, by chance, you’ve been living under a log here in America since 9 / 11, the Coast Guard has undergone more than a few changes, most importantly, in association with the Department of Homeland Security, on the front line in patrolling our borders and coastal waters. These two following websites, therefore, are must-have additions to your Favorites list.
To round out our list of websites, these next ones cover all of America’s Armed Forces, providing readers a broad and informative range of news and views.
DefenseLINK is the official Department of Defense website. DoD, being the home organization for the U.S. military, does a truly excellent job of covering all branches here. Collected here are items from the American Forces Press Service, American Forces radio & Television Service, American Forces Information Service, and the Stars & Stripes newspaper, among others. Of particular interest is the link to MilitaryHOMEFRONT, "the official Department of Defense web site for reliable Quality of Life information designed to help troops and their families, leaders and service providers."
Certainly not the best looking website on this list, though it is packed with information and links to even more information, all in support of those who defend America. A book shop, military university, shopping network, realtors, forums, a .mil website domain directory, a glossary of military acronyms, all that and much more can be found here.
USAFNS dedicates their website to the members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. The site publishes news releases from around America and around the world "that report the activities and accomplishments of active duty service members of our Armed Forces," provide news, photos, blogs, even a military humor section, with jokes and stories written by members of the site that are quite funny!
With perhaps the most obvious name that comes to the mind when starting a military search online, Military.com is one of the best Internet military communities today. Take all those items that make up all the above websites, and you’ll find them here also. Claiming over six million members (and growing), Military.com supports the American populace by keeping us up-to-date on all active duty and reserve forces, providing information for veterans and retirees, and helping give voice to military family members, defense workers, and even general military enthusiasts.
MilitaryCity.com is the online home of the military newspapers owned by Military Times Media Group: Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, and Marine Corps Times. Collectively, these newspapers have been supporting the American military for well over 60 years now with news, special reports, tax assistance, pay charts, and other benefits for military families. All this is available online, along with forums and chat rooms, but you’ll need to be a print edition subscriber to take full advantage.
The Military Family Network at eMilitary.org was created by Army spouse Caroline Peabody in 2001. Through this website, military members and their families have access to solid information on military installations and their surrounding communities, an online community forum, employment opportunities, a book club, and even a resource section for children, among much more. The site also allows profit and not-for-profit companies a chance to communicate with military families in an unobtrusive manner, hopefully creating ‘win-win’ business situations.
The VFW and the VFW Foundation have been serving and supporting the veterans of America’s military through much of our nation’s history. The VFW reports that it donates over 13 million volunteer hours each year to veterans and their families through various safety, community service, blood drive, food kitchen, citizen education, and youth scholarship programs. The VFW Foundation is a "501(c)3 not-for-profit organization committed to improving the lives of veterans and service personnel, their families, and the communities in which they live and work through a variety of programs." Ninety-five percent of the publicly donated money received goes toward these efforts. Chances are there is a VFW near you, which should make it very easy to give thanks to a veteran this month!
Stay Alert, Stay Alive!
Jim H. Moreno
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