By Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith, National Guard BureauApril 3, 2009
ARLINGTON, Va. (April 2, 2009) - The adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard had a teleconference with civilian and military Internet bloggers today to detail the flood response efforts underway in his state.
Army Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk said he wanted to use any means available to tell the nation what has taken place in his state. "Anything we can do to get the word out ... I think it's very important," he said.
Sprynczynatyk said that the blogging community and the Internet is just another means to get information and access to the public.
Bloggers on the call were interested in the spring floods along the state's Red River and other areas, which rose in late March.
With the river receding and state officials now estimating the damage, Guard members and civilian responders are preparing for a predicted snow melt in the next few weeks, said Sprynczynatyk.
Sprynczynatyk took questions on the telephone as well as through online social media outlets, including Twitter, a popular social networking and micro-blogging service.
The Blogger's Roundtable, a social media program at the Department of Defense, hosted the event.
Roundtable coordinator Lindy Kyzer said in an email that several hundred live listeners normally participate in their Roundtable talks. The interviews are then posted to iTunes for downloading.
Bloggers post the interviews or portions of them on their Web sites and typically include commentaries about the topics.
Their readers are invited to post comments, which generate additional discussion and postings about the interview, and topic, said officials.
"Today was the first time that a National Guard adjutant general has directly engaged bloggers to tell our story in a homeland defense mission," said Jack Harrison, the director of public affairs at the National Guard Bureau.
During his session, Sprynczynatyk told the bloggers that 2,400 Guard members joined local emergency responders to fly search and rescue missions, conduct sandbagging, manage ice jams and help communities in many other flood response missions.
"It was epic in nature," said Sprynczynatyk. "None of us imagined what the scale of the event would be across the state."
He added that the North Dakota Guard had anticipated and prepared for flooding from the winter snowfalls. "We went through an extensive planning exercise to ensure whatever was asked of us we would be prepared for," he said.
Harrison said that expanding the National Guard's public communications activities into new and developing media will provide the public unique access to leaders like the adjutants general.
"It's an opportunity that those in the community would not normally have to ask questions about their National Guard," he said. "The National Guard is based in the community, and this helps strengthen that bond."
The National Guard Bureau maintains a Facebook fan page, a Flickr account and a You Tube channel. Those sites can be found at www.NGB.Army.mil.