From Noah Shachtman at the Danger Room:
Army Squeezes Soldier Blogs, Maybe to Death
"The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops' online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say."
Under the new policy, commanders would have to approve the content of every new blog entry or personal e-mail before they are posted or sent. Give me a break. At one point in my career, I was a flight commander in an Air Force battle management squadron, with 30 aircrew members under my supervision (this was just before the Internet era). Even at that level of command, the ban would be unenforceable. Flight commanders, platoon leaders, company, battalion and brigade commanders have better things to do than monitor the internet activity of their subordinates. Now, think about trying to regulate the on-line activity of entire Air Force squadron (100 or more personnel); an Army or Marine battalion (400 members), or the USS Carl Vinson (with a crew of more than 5,000).
As a former spook, I can certainly understand the need for OPSEC. But as someone who's also spent some time in the realm of information operations (IO), I also appreciate the importance of the "new media" (including the blogs) in getting our story out, bypassing the traditional bias and filters of the MSM.
The new Army directive is simply a mind-numbingly bad idea, pure and simple. And it's introduction is more than a bit ironic. While the Army is trying to limit the participation of its soldiers in the blogosphere, other elements of the military are actively engaging the same community, including U.S. Central Command (which is participating in the MilBlog Conference this weekend), and more recently, U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), which has launched its own outreach program. The Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) has even published a monograph on the subject, outlining the possible advantages of "blog-based operations" in conjunction with IO campaigns.
Clearly, some segments of the military understand the importance (and advantages) of the blogosphere. It's sad that the Army is lagging far--and miserably--behind.
Hat tip: Michelle Malkin