In addition to the factual information provided by BosniaLINK, it also offers a service by which greetings and messages of encouragement can be sent to the troops serving in Bosnia and other areas participating in Joint Endeavor. Although we had no way to predict what would happen, and there was some concern that there would be significant negative response, just the opposite occurred. The expression of good wishes has been overwhelming, and usage of this capability is in the astounding category: in the first eight hours we received over a thousand messages; in the next twenty-four hours over 7,000 messages were submitted from around the world. Although messages are not delivered to specific individuals or units, a selection of these messages is distributed through internal military print media to the troops and is being broadcast over Armed Forces Radio and Television to the troops deployed to Bosnia and the areas supporting the Joint Endeavor operation. Additionally, a CD ROM containing the first sixty days of messages was produced by DTIC for distribution to units in the Bosnia area.

Not only was the reaction to BosniaLINK's message feature very positive, but the speed with which the BosniaLINK development team was able to bring the service to the Internet was nothing short of phenomenal.

In response to the growing developments in the former Yugoslavia, a decision was made on December 1, 1995 to create a Web site to provide as much information as possible on U.S. military operations in Bosnia and the surrounding area. This decision set off a frenzy of activities by DTIC's Web development team and OSD Public Affairs' Directorate for Defense Information and Information Resources Management Office. That same day BosniaLINK was up and running. By December 8, the system was greatly expanded and automated, and by December 15 the final components of the service were in place. Technical adjustments and improvements have been made since that date, but the service was essentially completed within two weeks. During its first three months of operation BosniaLINK had more than 1.4 million hits and was featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles and television reports, both national and local. Most importantly, BosniaLINK provided important information to both the military and civilian communities with a timeliness and to an extent never before possible. Procedures developed for the DefenseLINK and BosniaLINK projects can now be used by the Department of Defense and to provide important information during future operations and contingencies.

The importance of BosniaLINK can be summed up in one comment submitted by a reservist: "Deployments on operational missions are not new to this busy unit, but what is new is our ability to obtain accurate, timely, relevant information prior to deployment... This is making technology work for us. Thank you for the great work! Keep it up."

This tradition continues with DefenseLINK, the official World Wide Web Information Service of the Department of Defense. DefenseLINK provides the highest level entry into the official information resources made available on the Internet by various components of the DoD. Links are available to the following organizations and their subordinate components: the Office of the Secretary of Defense, including the Defense Agencies and Defense Field Activities; the Joint Staff; the Unified Commands; and the Armed Forces consisting of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, the Reserve, and the National Guard.

The original DefenseLINK was created in 1994 to expedite distribution of news releases to the media. In answer to the challenge of coordinating the Department of Defense's large and diverse World Wide Web presence, the mission of DefenseLINK was soon greatly expanded to make it the one official entry point to all World Wide Web services in the Department of Defense.

The new DefenseLINK, which went on line in April 1995, was created by a talented team of people representing all the military services under the direction of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. Technical and production support is provided by the Defense Technical Information Center.

With DefenseLINK the user can visit each of the Military Services and an ever expanding number of Defense agencies and organizations. They can also explore DefenseLINK's many additional features, which include DefenseLINK News which provides up to the minute news releases, briefing transcripts and press advisories; Publications which provides on-line versions of DoD directives and instructions, organization and function statements and a wide variety of DoD -related publications; the Defense Fact File which provides on-line versions of Department of Defense and military service fact sheets. DefenseLINK also has a section for Frequently Asked Questions which provides answers to a broad spectrum of Defense-related questions. This section also allows for submission of specialized questions to be answered by DoD's Public Communications Office.

The final area of DefenseLINK is its Locator service which is designed to help the user identify public Department of Defense information sources by utilizing the Government Information Locator Service known as GILS. GILS is designed to help the public locate and access information and to facilitate interagency sharing of information. The GILS system resides on DefenseLINK and is also being used by DoD to register all World Wide Web services and as the primary search mechanism for DefenseLINK's "Locator" section. GILS records can be submitted on line and are automatically validated. This allows the organization to easily create the GILS record for that information, thus completely decentralizing the GILS maintenance process.

DefenseLINK places the Department of Defense in a leadership position in the use of the World Wide Web to provide important information to the public.

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