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Military Taps Social Networking Skills


First Lt. Jamie Christopher

Max Whittaker for The New York Times

As a teenager, Jamie Christopher would tap instant messages to make plans with friends, and later she became a Facebook regular.

Now a freckle-faced 25, a first lieutenant and an intelligence officer here, she is using her social networking skills to hunt insurgents and save American lives in Afghanistan.
Hunched over monitors streaming live video from a drone, Lieutenant Christopher and a team of analysts recently popped in and out of several military chatrooms, reaching out more than 7,000 miles to warn Marines about roadside bombs and to track Taliban gunfire.

“2 poss children in fov,” the team flashed as Marines on the ground lined up an air strike, chat lingo for possible innocents within the drone’s field of view. The strike was aborted.

Another message, referring to a Taliban compound, warned: “fire coming from cmpnd.” The Marines responded by strafing the fighters, killing nine of them.

Lieutenant Christopher and her crew might be fighting on distant keypads instead of ducking bullets, but they head into battle just the same every day. They and thousands of other young Air Force analysts are showing how the Facebook generation’s skills are being exploited--and paying dividends--in America’s wars.

From The New York Times
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