My second deployment was to COS Garryowen in Maysan, Iraq at the end of Operation New Dawn in 2011. Over the course of the deployment, our operations transitioned from being offensive while partnered with the Iraqi Army to defensive as we retrograded and closed bases. We very rarely went into the towns and cities and quickly lost our pulse on what was going on in the world around us. Working with my S2, we came up with the idea to do google searches of people, groups, or places around us in Arabic.
We would get search page results, and then I would work with one of our translators to provide summaries of the articles for my Battalion Commander. Sure, echelons above Brigade were working on translating articles that mattered to DOD, and occasionally they would filter down to us, but we never got exactly what we wanted nor as quick as we wanted. With this method, we quickly became much more tuned into the political and enemy situation and were able to make better decisions because of this.
In five years much has changed, and Google now offers a way to automate the process I just mentioned. Google Alerts scours the internet for topics that matter to you and empowers you with open source information. You can set Google Alerts to either send you updates as the stories are published, or you can ask for less frequent updates (daily or weekly).
I recommend these things to add to your Google Alerts: your branch, your unit, your unit's equipment, your name, your boss's name, areas you are/will be deployed to, and important individuals/groups acting in the area you are deployed to. Check out the video below for a step by step guide on how to set this up.
Do you have any other suggested tips for using Google Alerts? If you have thoughts on the article you just read, please leave some comments for the group. If you’d like to continue following this blog, sign up for our newsletter or add our RSS Feed to your Feedly account to know when new content is posted .