USAFE blog will offer airmen in Europe a forum

By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 22, 2009

Airmen in Europe now have an easy way to blog about their life in the Air Force overseas.

They can share their experiences in their own words, officials say, as long as they adhere to a few Air Force public affairs ground rules, such as professionalism and balance.

"USAFE Live" was launched Thursday with a posting by Gen. Roger Brady, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, introducing the first official blog site for the command.

Brady wrote that since USAFE covers a vast geographical area and supports diverse roles and resources, it’s "critical that we each have an understanding of our roles in this great mission."

USAFE is turning to its more than 39,000 active-duty, Reserve, Air National Guard and civilian employees to meet that challenge, providing them a venue to share their stories, officials say.

"It’s for all of USAFE," said Lt. Col. Pamela Cook, USAFE public affairs chief of strategy and assessments.

It is intended to be a site where participants can voice views "in their own words." Contributors are asked to be professional but "we’re certainly going to give them some latitude," she said.

"Since it’s an official USAFE blog, the topics need to relate back to USAFE," she added.

Opinions are welcome as long as they’re balanced, she said. For example, "somebody asked if it’s OK to say flying on a C-130 is uncomfortable," she said. "I don’t think there’s a problem saying that, if that’s what the person experienced."

But, for balance, Cook suggested, the person might say the unpleasant ride was worth it "because we were able to work with a partner nation in this exercise."

Bloggers must get permission from their local public affairs office before posting, and public affairs officials will review entries to ensure they’re professional and don’t compromise privacy or operational security, Cook said. The blog’s home page is http://usafelive.dodlive.mil/.

USAFE is the second major command in the Air Force to launch an official blog site, according to the Air Force. Pacific Air Forces’ PACAF Pixels went live last fall.

The site represents a broader Air Force public affairs effort to tap into new forms of media, as it seeks to reach a younger demographic and those who might not seek news and information from mainstream media, Cook said.

Photos can be posted on USAFE Live and the site can link to the Air Force’s BlueTube, a video-posting site connected to YouTube. Anyone can comment on a blog entry without registering, Cook said.

Public affairs officials will review comments for decency and other standards, but "we’re going to welcome a wide range of opinion and comments," Cook said.

Those interested in blogging should contact their local public affairs office.

"We’re looking for people to contribute," Cook said.

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