Slow posting today is in the name of something awesome: I’m playing with Wired‘s new photo-gallery software to (finally) produce the photo gallery of troop tattoos from Bagram I’ve been promising for a few weeks now. In the meantime, check out this post of mine at Danger Room looking at the differences in the U.S. reaction to the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods.
After the Haiti earthquake, the military took the unprecedented step of letting civilian aid organizations log in to its All Partners Access Network, a web-based communication tool for uploading and sharing situation reports, maps and basic text messages. All of a sudden, the Red Cross and other NGOs had the kind of situational awareness that the military previously hoarded: The iteration of APAN used in Haiti acquired 1,700 members. Some within U.S. Southern Command considered APAN access a big leap forward for civil-military disaster relief cooperation. “I think we’ve stepped through the door, I don’t know if we’ve fully gone inside the room yet,” SOUTHCOM tech expert Ricardo Arias told Danger Room in January.
In Pakistan, we’re not even in the building. SOUTHCOM hasn’t been consulted by anyone working with the flood relief efforts for its lessons-learned. Several public-affairs officers for commands dealing with Pakistan didn’t respond to questions about the use of APAN. Linton Wells, a former Pentagon chief information officer who’s long advocated for the military to work more closely with civilians in disaster relief, worked with SOUTHCOM in the days after the Haitian earthquake. While he cautions that he doesn’t have the same visibility into U.S. Central Command than he had into SOUTHCOM, he doesn’t see the same kinds of tech-based coordination from CENTCOM to aid workers — which, in fairness, has the other gargantuan tasks of running two wars shortly after a command change.
And with that, I go to re-re-size a ton of photos.