Marines gain publicity through home page

The Army traditionally believed that the Marine Corps long enjoyed favorable publicity far out of proportion to its relative small size leading to the myth that the Marines fielded an extra man for every rifle platoon - a photographer.

Based on a recent visit to the Marine Corps' home pages on the World Wide Web the 90s version of that yarn probably would go something like this: Every Marine platoon has a photographer and every Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has a Webmaster.

Last month the Marines' home page (www.usmc.mil) prominently featured photos of Marines from the 22nd MEU evacuating civilians from Sierra Leone with an easy-to-toggle link to the activities of all the MEUs worldwide topping the button bars that run down the left-hand side of the page.

Click on the MEU button and up pops a simple world map with the locations of the MEUs highlighted. Click on the 22nd MEU home page and you quickly end up at a site that features links to page after page of powerful photos of the recent evacuation in Sierra Leone. In an era when no publicity or bad publicity has a direct impact on funding these photos should represent a money in the congressional bank.

Besides serving a broad public and the press the 22nd MEU also uses its Web page as a communication tool. Its most important audience: friends and family at home with a "Family Gram" link as the first link on the page.

Col. Sam Helland the 22nd's commanding officer opens this monthly missive with an update on miles traveled since leaving North Carolina (5 000) meals served (126) and then on to highlights of the MEU family including promotions birth and awards. Each of the MEU section chiefs - personnel supply operations and others - as well as the chaplain sergeant major and attached units such as personnel from the Radio Battalion follow with casual but detailed reports of their activities on the other side of the world.

The value of this easily accessed "Family Gram" page cannot be understated as it removes the fear of the unknown with just the click of a mouse. The page sharply illustrates that indeed the Web has wrought a revolution in communications.

Another button bar on the main Marine Web page takes users to the Marine FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page which provides links to answers to such questions as contacting active or retired Marines sources of manuals enlistment information and other items.

With some slight modifications most of the items in this FAQ could fit easily on the Army Navy or Air Force Web pages except for "Tun Tavern - What about Tun Tavern?" Click on that link and discover a story well-known to all Marines - a capsulated history of the founding of the Corps at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia on Nov. 10 1775.

From Tun Tavern to Sierra Leone the Marines have designed and now operate a Web site that serves multiple audiences with a combination of sophistication and warmth. Just think what they can do when every platoon has a Webmaster.

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