Arizona City Adds Pentagon Channel to Local Cable Lineup
By Maj. John Paradis, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
PEORIA, Ariz., Aug. 31, 2005 Peoria became the first city in Arizona to begin airing the Pentagon Channel live on a municipal local access channel in an Aug. 30 ceremony here.
Mayor John Keegan kicked off the broadcasting on his city's Peoria Channel 11 at city hall before a crowd of military personnel and area community leaders.
Programming on the Pentagon Channel includes Defense Department news briefings, military news, interviews with top defense officials and information and features about the work of the armed forces.
Keegan said his city initially will provide up to 30 hours a week of Pentagon Channel programming. Cox Communications, the local cable provider in the greater Phoenix area, has agreed to assist with the activation of another of the city's local access channels for around-the-clock Pentagon Channel coverage shortly, he said.
"Today marks an historic first in Arizona," said Keegan. "It is important that we do whatever we can to make this important programming available to our military personnel and their families who live in our communities." Located near Luke Air Force Base, Peoria is home to many military families and military retirees.
Col. Robin Rand, commander of Luke's 56th Fighter Wing, said the Pentagon Channel helps military families stay informed about the latest news from the Defense Department. That a community cares enough about its military families to devote programming over its community access channel to military news and information also sends a message to those who may doubt America's resolve, he said.
The colonel noted that the Pentagon Channel also allows communities to show their support for deployed military members. "For Luke families that live in Peoria, this is a nice benefit to have," Rand said.
Joining Rand at the ceremony were members of the 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron who recently returned from deployments to Iraq. The airmen provided security for convoy operations while assigned to U.S. Army units. They received a standing ovation from the more than 150 people at the event.
The launching of the Pentagon Channel in Peoria follows the state of Arizona's announcement in May that it would become the first state to join "America Supports You," the Defense Department's program that highlights Americans' efforts to support the troops. The ceremony featured congratulatory remarks taped for the ceremony by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Arizona state Rep. John Nelson of Glendale, who is spearheading a statewide effort to bring the Pentagon Channel to local government channels.
In the spirit of DoD's "America Supports You" program, the Pentagon Channel also is important because it provides an important connection between the military and the American public, Keegan said.
"A generation ago, every family in America had somebody who had served - a father, a brother, a daughter," said the 27-year veteran of the active Army and Naval Reserve. "You don't have that now with the all-volunteer military. So I think it's important to get information out to the entire community."
(Air Force Maj. John Paradis is chief of public affairs for the 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.)