Capturing Military Information on the Web and Elsewhere

Article excerpt

Everyone has likely felt the impact of the global war on terrorism--through increased security at airports, a friend deployed overseas, a family member called to active duty, or heightened concerns over privacy rights due to the Patriot Act. Information professionals, especially those familiar with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) or its agencies, realize that a great deal of military and defense-related information, once freely available on the Web, is no longer accessible. The demand for increased operational security in light of the potential for further terrorist attacks as well as the need to reduce the vulnerability of troops deployed in current operations has led the defense establishment to take a hard look at what gets posted publicly on the Web. Nevertheless, the amount of quality content still available online in the form of fulltext papers, theses, monographs, and data sets remains quite extensive.

My focus here will be on Web sites and open source databases featuring contemporary U.S. military and defense information. This unfortunately excludes sites devoted wholly or in large part to military history. Their number is too great and content too extensive to properly discuss in this short space. Also for the sake of brevity, I'll center my attention on dot-gov or dot-mil domain Web sites, with a few exceptions, such as the section on commercial databases.

ADDING TO YOUR RESEARCH ARSENAL

Military gateways make excellent starting points for exploring the world of defense information. The small sample of authoritative directories listed below can help you to quickly see the entire spectrum of defense-related information--ranging from fulltext reports to doctrine and lessons learned, from subject bibliographies and citation indexes to force structure tables and budget figures, from military maps and photos to weapons and equipment capabilities.

The Dudley Knox Library of the Naval Post-Graduate School (NPS) maintains, among many other useful directories a Where to Find Military Information resources page [http://library.nps.navy.mil/home/militaryinfo.htm] organized by subject. The broad topical categories here include Manpower, Budget, Awards & Medals, Education & Research, Equipment, and Organizations. Drill down to subcategories with each topic, which are usually then further subdivided by service branch (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, and DoD).

GATEWAYS TO DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE

The Air War College maintains several subject directories to military information on its Gateway to Internet Resources [www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awcgate.htm]. Included under Issues, Doctrine, and Warfighting are links to such areas as Special Operations, Military Doctrine, the Unified Command structure, and Military Transformation. Among other directories, you'll find Logistics, Space Operations, and Military Law.

While not a gateway in the same sense as the others, the Air University Library hosts a superb collection of bibliographies on military and defense topics that are organized alphabetically. Each bibliography contains sections on books, government documents, articles, and Internet resources [www.au.af.mil/au/aul/bibs/bib97.htm]. Current hot topics include Afghanistan and Peacekeeping.

Another notable military gateway page is the DoD's DefenseLINK Sites directory [www.defenselink.mil/sites/] that features links to useful Web sites such as the Defense Almanac [www.defenselink.mil/pubs/almanac/index.html], where you can go to quickly get an overview of the organization, money, people, and equipment within the DoD.

Finally, as an exception to the military domain focus of this article, the Gateway to the Federation of American Scientists' Military Analysis Network deserves mention. FAS was established in 1945 as a lobby and advocacy group for scientists concerned with public policy. It has a special interest in educating the public on a variety of issues that exist at the nexus of national security and science. …