Joins the Ranks


If you've followed the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan much at all, you've come across milblogs -- online diaries from troops on the front lines. There's no better way to get a sense of what life is like over there for the soldier, airman, sailor, or marine.thunder6.jpgBut the joy of reading milblogs comes with a fairly substantial catch. The sites often pop up suddenly, disappear just as quickly, and feature new entries only when their authors can get around to it -- which isn't always regular in a warzone. All of which makes finding a good milblog pretty tough.So I was psyched when Spc. Jean Paul Borda launched The site has a gi-mungous list of milblogs, sorted by military branch and country where the authors are stationed. Site visitors also vote for their favorite blogs, which makes finding the good ones a matter of a couple of clicks.JP, who chronicled his own tour of duty in Afghanistan, clearly knows what he's doing. And, for his good work he's been given shout-outs by MSNBC, Newsweek, Army Times, The Washington Post, NPR, BBC radio, and others.Now here's the best part, for me: JP and I are now cousins. Well, sorta. At least in that Internet way. That's because Chris Michel and the rest of the patriarchs at made the wise choice of bringing into the family.Chris calls it a chance to "supercharge soldier-journalism." And he's dead-on. But there's more to it than that: With traditional journalists being targeted in Iraq and elsewhere, there's a huge void in war reporting -- a void which maybe only milbloggers can fill.Now, hopefully, the Pentagon will let them do it. The higher-ups have been getting increasingly skittish about letting their troops speak to the world without a filter. Guys I know on duty in Iraq now have stopped blogging, due to warnings about violating operational security. They still send their stories by e-mail, of course, and the content isn't hush-hush in the slightest. Let's hope that guys like JP can convince them to start sharing their views of the battlefield with the rest of us, once again.

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