After a week of mobilization inprocessing, paperwork, and other minute details we FINALLY get to do what a Public Affairs Detachment does...Public Affairs stuff.
Yesterday we started our MRE...Mission Readiness Exercise. We invaded "Camp Liberty" Public Affairs Office (otherwise known as the Ft. Dix Public Affairs Office) and set up the Media Operations Center. Almost instantly there was a flurry of activity with journalists finding story ideas and setting up interviews, officers looking for information on the website and monitoring input from our "white cell", i.e. the guys behind the scenes who are running our exercise.
Think the Wizard of Oz except you have to pay attention to the man (and woman) behind the curtain! We get so-called media queries, answers from higher, and other information from the white cell and we have to react accordingly with press releases or distribution of information or even photographs. It's very realistic and fun and a chance for me, as the commander of this fine unit, to finally see what my officers and journalists are capable of. So far it's been very impressive, even the half-asleep night shift.
We will do this at least through Thursday and then we can recoup, do an after action review, clean our cameras, load our equipment back on the conex, and continue through the regular mobilization process.
On another note, as our movement day looms closer and closer our Soldiers are starting to accept the reality that they are going to be gone for a year. While we were in Bryan they still had a lot of freedoms, freedoms that we no longer have, i.e. wearing civilian clothes and going out to restaurants, nightspots, movies, or any other form of "after hours" activities they choose. Now we cannot drive private vehicles and we have to eat chow at the dining facility. It's a very long list of things that we have had to adapt to as part of the mobilization process.
But we still have e-mail. I remember deploying to Bosnia in January of 1998 through Ft. Benning, Georgia. The Internet and e-mail was still relatively new and to check e-mail Soldiers had to go to one building at Ft. Benning and use WebTV that was very slow. Most Soldiers didn't use it because they didn't even have a computer at home, much less e-mail.
Now, here at Ft. Dix, you walk into the dayroom in the evenings and there are many Soldiers in there, hunkered down over laptops, sending e-mail and doing other things. Most of our Soldiers have laptops, including my little ultra-portable, and the barracks have wireless Internet access. We can e-mail or blog from just about anywhere these days. How things have changed!
Ahhh, technology...I'm guessing the next time I deploy (shut your mouth!) instead of getting into theater via aircraft I'll just be beamed from one place to another in an instant. :)