"Dave" has been in and out of the military since 1981. Now, he's getting ready to deploy to Iraq. So he decided to start a blog, as "a place... to share [his] thoughts, feelings, and observations, before, during, and after the Army Reserve is done with [him]." He managed to put up a couple of entries -- and pictures of his cats, Stinky Pooh and Buddy Badger."But Dave has pulled the plug on his blog, just six weeks after he started it. Why? "Today we had a briefing on Blogs 'do's and don't' for the Army," he writes. "It appears to be very subjective as to what is and isn't allowed, so to keep from violating some Army reg, policy, or wish of the commander, I will have this as my last post." Then Dave linked to Defense Tech's post from last week, on the Army's "Big Brother" unit.Now, Dave clearly wasn't going to be a model spokesperson for the military. He laughed at the Army's new slogan. And he wrote darkly about how the service "turned me from a career soldier loving the Army to someone that couldn't wait to get out just that quick."But still. This is someone who plunged back into military life, long after he was out. Someone who wrote of his desire to be "an outstanding soldier, a mentor, a leader, someone who cared enough to make a difference." Isn't that exactly who the Army wants telling its story? And isn't Dave's online retreat exactly what friends of the military, like Andi and Blackfive, have been warning about?UPDATE 8:18 PM: Speaking of Blackfive, the man isn't amused by the Army's new attitude -- or its blog-hunting squad.
As a former Intel Officer, I agree that there's a need to make sure that blogs aren't violating OPSEC. For instance, if three bloggers are in separate units but witness an event and blog about it, there might not be an OPSEC issue in one blog, BUT if you put the information from all three blogs together, you might be able to piece together Battle Damage Assessment or Order of Battle information. Since the bloggers might be in different chains of command, this might be missed by their 06 commanders who are responsible for blog review. Setting up a group to evaluate this possibility is needed.However, the watchdog should also realize that coming down on bloggers for some (perceived) OPSEC violations might be a bit ridiculous - especially when there are photos and explicit descriptions of weapon systems and procedures that are publicly available on civilian (ie. FAS) or military/DoD websites.Warning bloggers of possible violations is a good thing. But mindlessly cracking down on them without considering the consequences to the positive information flow will only create a cadre of negative military bloggers flying under the radar that will become the anti-military poster children for the New York Times and CNN.And then one of the few alternative sources of information about our military and the war will be gone...UPDATE 8:23 PM: Milblogger Dadmanly "didn't think this was going to cause problems," originally. Now, his "opinion on this has shifted."
Reminds me of the old MOS, I forget the nomenclature, but they were commonly called BF'ers, or buddy ******s.I suppose I am too much the optimist not to have acknowledged the probability that DoD (under Rumsfeld) might go too far and weigh the Golden Goose for holiday dinner.Bad, bad news, if this goes any further than alerting milblogs of slips, unintended exposure, ill-advised details. And alerting to commands if they have been serious vulnerabilities.Although, as a National Guardsman, I would love to spend my drills scanning MILBLOGSUPDATE 10/19/06 1:03 PM: "Just as they were years too late discovering blogs, the military also seemingly haven't discovered that blogs represent about one tenth of one percent of the potential threat," milblogging guru Greyhawk writes.
MySpace pages, chatrooms, YouTube, and countless other personal and public web pages are used and read on orders of magnitude above and beyond what weblogs are. I suspect (actually I hope) that the real problem here is that "blogs" is now military shorthand for "anything anyone puts anywhere on the web". (In fact, if you read the sometimes-mentioned-in-this-discussion Army training on blogs****, you'll find that most - perhaps all - of the OPSEC violations cited didn't occur on blogs at all, but on other open web sites.)In a nutshell, I want the military to ensure information that can get me killed isn't widely available via open sources on the web or elsewhere, but I've seen absolutely nothing to give me confidence that the military is capable of doing so... Damanly says (in somewhat tongue-in-cheek fashion) that he'd "love to spend my drills scanning MILBLOGS". But you see, he's one of the military's leading experts on weblogs, so that will never happen in a million years. What they're going to do is get some guys to sit at computers and respond whenever a bell rings because an automated process has detected too many instances of the initials "FOUO" in a web site.Jeebus.