NFL Games for Deployed Troops Stopped During Shutdown

The NFL donates its game broadcasts to troops deployed in harm's way but they still won't get to see them during the shutdown.

The NFL donates its game broadcasts to troops deployed in harm’s way but they still won’t get to see them during the shutdown.

Defense One (“Shutdown Means No NFL Games for Deployed Troops“):

The government shutdown means deployed troops and sailors cannot get their sports fix, as the Pentagon reduced the civilian staff of its Armed Forces Network Broadcast Center in Riverside, Calif., which normally transmits nine television channels and seven radio channels via satellite worldwide.

In a notice on its website, the center said most of its channels are off the air, except for news channels.  AFN Europe said mandatory staff reductions at the broadcast center will reduce television to one service: AFN News.

[…]

In addition, the Navy said its AFN Direct-to-Sailor service, which beams three TV and radio channels to 225 ships, has been cut back to one TV and one radio news channel during the shutdown, with sports and entertainment channels dark.

The Defense Media Activity, which operates AFN, has 682 civilian employees, according to its 2013 budget.

On its face, this appears to be yet another instance of the Obama administration maximizing the attention-getting pain of the shutdown in a way that will draw the ire of the public. But the fact of the matter is that the Defense Department has, over the last few decades, transferred tens of thousands of jobs that used to be done by uniformed personnel over to civilian government employees and contractors. And, when they can’t go to work, ordinary tasks simply can’t be done.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Quick Takes, Sports,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    OTB seems to be dedicating a great deal of ink to stories about how the shutdown is impacting people’s ability to watch football games.

    In the meantime, there are far more serious consequences. Why are we wasting time talking about trivial matters?

  2. Matt Bernius says:

    But the fact of the matter is that the Defense Department has, over the last few decades, transferred tens of thousands of jobs that used to be done by uniformed personnel over to civilian government employees and contractors. And, when they can’t go to work, ordinary tasks simply can’t be done.

    Kudos to you James for this analysis.

    On this note, given the transition from service cooks to civilian cooks, how are meals being handled? Or are cooks considered essential civilian contractors?

  3. Matt Bernius says:

    @anjin-san:
    I disagree in that this is useful analysis of a topical issue that superficially, as James puts it, seems to be “another instance of the Obama administration maximizing the attention-getting pain of the shutdown.”

    Other places I’m sure would use this as an eye-roll to prove the sinister nature of the Administration. James has actually just provided a solid factual counter to an easy (and as it turns out, empty) talking point.

    It’s exactly what OTB should be doing more of… oh, wait, physician, heal thyself.

  4. anjin-san says:

    a solid factual counter to an easy (and as it turns out, empty) talking point.

    Perhaps, but the only people who are going to buy into that talking point have shown time and time again that they cannot be swayed by mere facts.

  5. JKB says:

    Yes, it takes scads of government workers to route video feed over a satellite. Perhaps there would be glitches but not connecting the feeds at all is just pettiness. Pushing buttons is hard.

    Such as this move by the Obama administration to shut down revenue generating operations on USFS land that uses no federal funds or federal employees

    My company, based in North Phoenix, operates over 100 US Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas under concession contract. Yesterday, as in all past government shutdowns, the Department of Agriculture and US Forest Service confirmed we would stay open during the government shutdown. This makes total sense, since our operations are self-sufficient (we are fully funded by user fees at the gate), we get no federal funds, we employ no government workers on these sites, and we actually pay rent into the Treasury.

    However, today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.

    The point of the shutdown is to close non-essential operations that require Federal money and manpower to stay open. So why is the White House closing private operations that require no government money to keep open and actually pay a percentage of their gate revenues back to the Treasury? We are a tenant of the US Forest Service, and a tenant does not have to close his business just because his landlord goes on a vacation.

  6. Matt Bernius says:

    @JKB:
    Hmmm… so someone who is a Climate Skeptic, a (judging from his “past favorites”) Red Meat conservative, and an advocate for the privatization of national parks thinks Obama did something to get him… Why do I suspect there might just be a *little* more to this story than (s)he might be telling.

    In particular I have to wonder if the people who typically oversee this and other private business on the Government Side might have fallen into the “non-essential” category.

  7. David M says:

    @JKB:

    Still not seeing why the GOP shutting down the government isn’t a good idea?

  8. James Pearce says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    James has actually just provided a solid factual counter to an easy (and as it turns out, empty) talking point.

    Yeah, he’s good at that. It’s one reason why OTB has been my daily read for half-a-decade now.

  9. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    Yes, it takes scads of government workers to route video feed over a satellite.

    Actually, it should not be surprising that it does.

    And it should not be surprising that a government shutdown would result in the closing of AFN stations and national parks, not to mention a whole bunch of other stuff.

    What is surprising is that those who wanted this result the most now have the loudest complaints.

  10. Neil Hudelson says:

    So JKB (and others) attitude is essentially “My side shut down the government, and that sumbitch Obama isn’t making sure the services I like stay open!!!”

    Really, swell job guys.

  11. john personna says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    As we’ve said, there is a management cost to any blanket move, be it an across the board cut, a sequester, or a shutdown. It takes time and money to make the plan.

    That said, it seems pretty straightforward that supplies for troops are essential, tv is not.

    Not much of a story, or need for analysis.

  12. john personna says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    But it’s teevee!!!

  13. Scott says:

    And let’s remind everybody that non-essential employees get sent home and don’t get paid. Essential employees are required to work and also not get paid.

    And Rand Paul thinks taxes are a form of slavery.

  14. JKB says:

    @Scott: Essential employees are required to work and also not get paid.

    But the essential employees have an enforceable claim for those wages earned during the shutdown and will be paid. The pay may be delayed because the payroll clerks are furloughed but they will be paid.

  15. JKB says:

    Apparently, the NPS Barry-caded the bus turnaround at Mt Vernon (which is open as it is private)

    Oh, and they are spending money renting Barry-cades to block off the scenic pull offs on the GW Parkway. Can’t have people pulling to the side of the road looking at a river when government workers are furloughed.

    And the reports are from the NPS and the USFS, the orders came from the White House.

  16. al-Ameda says:

    Yes indeed, Republicans have commandeered a shutdown that causes even this minor inconvenience. Unfortunately, there are many people in this country who probably believe that this is more important and more WRONG than a default on government debt.

  17. anjin-san says:

    And Rand Paul thinks taxes are a form of slavery.

    Does he think his paycheck comes from the tooth fairy?

  18. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    Oh, and they are spending money renting Barry-cades to block off the scenic pull offs on the GW Parkway. Can’t have people pulling to the side of the road looking at a river when government workers are furloughed.

    Barry-cades…..that’s…that’s cute.

    As Dave Weigel has been fond of saying this past week:

    the GOP pursued a Ted Cruz strategy to embarrass Democrats into taking tough votes, underestimated how many of them would take them, and won nothing but a talking point.

  19. mantis says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    On this note, given the transition from service cooks to civilian cooks, how are meals being handled? Or are cooks considered essential civilian contractors?

    This is important. Cooks are our last line of defense in terrorist attacks led by Tommy Lee Jones.

  20. rudderpedals says:

    Is there some reason the NFL can’t stream it’s junk so the troops can watch football? It won’t help sailors @ sea obviously, but it’s something rather than nothing for troops with internet tubez.

  21. wr says:

    @JKB: Waaaahhhh!!!!

    Man it’s mean to force the Republicans to live with the consequences of their actions.

  22. Matt Bernius says:

    @mantis:
    Was wondering who would get to Under Siege first…

    Though I actually asked about food as a serious question as my understanding is that its almost all — if not all — civilian contractors at this point.

  23. Leeza says:

    @Matt Bernius: Care to explain where you get the idea that this is a “solid factual counter?”

    Especially in light of the fact that it takes one guy in front of a board to relay these broadcasts, I’d sure like to know how YOU know that this piece isn’t just another proof that we media consumers are surrounded by Pravda light.