New Web Site Spotlights War on Terror
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 13, 2002 The U.S. Defense Department's unconventional war against terrorism has spawned an unconventional Web site to report news about that war: DefendAmerica.mil.
The new site, which can also be found at DefendAmerica.gov, offers the latest news, photographs, transcripts and other information about the U.S.-led global effort against terrorism. As DefendAmerica's editor, David Jackson, put it: "If it has anything to do with the war, we're interested."
The Defense Department launched the site before Operation Enduring Freedom began last October. The goal was to inform the public, both in the U.S. and abroad, of what the U.S. was doing to combat global terrorism, according to Victoria Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.
"We wanted people to know what our service members were doing at home and overseas," the Pentagon spokeswoman said. "Our goal is to help the public understand and appreciate how dedicated and committed our men and women in uniform really are."
The site captured attention quickly. Shortly after DefendAmerica's debut on the Internet, USA Today named it a "Hot Site" and Time Magazine reported: "If you want the official war news, that's easy -- go to the Pentagon's comprehensive site, www.DefendAmerica.mil."
Although DefendAmerica has been available to the public for only seven months, it already boasts readers in more than 70 countries, and links to it can be found on Web sites all over the Internet, according to Jackson, a veteran newspaper and magazine journalist who was brought on board to edit DefendAmerica.
Content on the site changes daily, Jackson said, and includes coverage of every Pentagon briefing by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top military officials.
A feature called "Americans Working Together" reports on the myriad ways Americans are working together to combat terrorism, while "Profile" spotlights individuals and the roles they play in the war effort. Archives of both features can be accessed on the site.
DefendAmerica is also the home of "America's Thank You Note", an online form where supporters are invited to sign a virtual thank-you note to U.S. service members during May for National Military Appreciation Month.
A daily feature titled "We Remember Their Sacrifice" pays tribute to each victim who died in last year's Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.
Military buffs have found the site to be a rich source of information on military aircraft and equipment. A section called "Database" offers technical information about a wide range of military systems and equipment, from the perennial M-16 rifle to the newest Predator aerial vehicle. Another section, "Backgrounder", offers information on subjects from Afghanistan to weather and its influence on warfare. The site also contains links to other U.S. government and military Web sites along with streaming audio and video news stories.
DefendAmerica reports on all branches of the military, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, both active duty and reserve components.
Probably the most popular feature, according to Jackson, has been DefendAmerica's Photo Gallery archive, which offers photo essays by Joint Combat Camera and other military photographers that chronicle the progress of the war, from the Sept. 11 terrorists' attacks to the current campaign to help Afghanistan rebuild after years of civil war and unrest.
"There are a lot of stories to tell about this war effort," Jackson said, "and there's an enormous demand out there from both Americans and our international readers to learn more. We're glad that they're finding us an authoritative place to see what's going on."