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August 25, 2004
With Friends Like That...By Greyhawk
NPR offers a misguided and condescending look at MilBlogs - specifically "My War".
Do not mistake what follows for any attempt on my part to speak on behalf of CB. He speaks for himself quite well. I will also mention "the Army" throughout this discussion. Note that "the Army" is a large group of individuals. Long years of experience have led me to this fact: An individual in the Army is usually responsible for all complaints targeted at the institution. Since I've no idea what specific individuals might think on this topic I will use the generic "the Army".
There are obvious problems with the NPR story:
1. Moments after we hear from the real blogger, (audio available at above link) they play a "dramatization" of one of his entries, read by someone CBFTW describes as an "f-ing weirdo" that sounds like "the bus driver from the Simpsons". Dude, like, you know, they sooo tooootally wanted you to be something that yer not. You B You, man, UBU. Rock on. Peace out.
2. In conjunction with the false dead beat dope smoking under achieving moron that had to join the Armyimage, they portray CB as someone 'reporting the truth about an increasingly unpopular war'. While a recent bombardment of campaign speeches and media coverage may be eroding support for the troops, I would guess "the Army" is well aware of the positive PR they were getting from My War. But this is not a political issue - its a military one. The lives of a lot of people are at risk, and CB's command shoulders that burden. Were they to not monitor the communications once they were aware of them they would be negligent, at least, likely derelict in their duties, and responsible for the results.
"The Army" wants him to continue blogging. Believe me, "the Army" could more easily issue a blanket gag order and shut down all MilBlogs - most likely there are voices calling for that. In years past that would have been the instant response. That they haven't done so speaks well for a new mentality at the top. Perhaps the same mentality that led to "embedded reporters" in the thunder run - but I'm speculating.
3. What seems apparent to me is that CB has now been "outed". "The Army" now has a new and different problem. Can they use him in the capacity for which he was trained - the service he wants to perform? Heaven forbid anything happen to him, but what would the same morons crying about "the Army" trying to silence him say if he were hurt?
A sticky issue, to say the least, but really a new version of an old problem. My grandfather wrote letters home to my grandmother in WWI (yes - one). The ones I've seen were censored. War is Hell. The people who read those letters prior to sending them knew my grandfather wouldn't intentionally violate security, and they read every letter he wrote. The military is trying to come to grips with a new age. For every MilBlogger out there that I know of, there are probably at least ten I don't. For every one of those there are a thousand more GIs writing home on the internet; IM, e-mail, personal web pages or otherwise.
I see two likely options:
1. Trust 'em or bust 'em: Train thoroughly, monitor closely, punish those who violate opsec.
2. Flip the comm switch "off".
I propose option one. But I'm biased.
And here's what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said to Hugh Hewitt:
Hewitt: General Myers, I have very narrow question. A lot of us who use the internet for a living and blog for a living are interested in this. There are a lot of military bloggers out there. Individual active duty servicemen and women who put their thoughts, their impressions of their duty stations and the world around them on the internet on MilBlogs. What's your opinion of that? I love them. I hope you keep them, but what's the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff think about those?Ironically, the General, like the rest of us, will now have to read CB through the filter of his immediate command.
War is hell.
(Hewitt quote via Chapomatic).
Update: Nathan at Brain Fertilizer offers this:
To tell the truth, I am far more disturbed that the USAF (and maybe the rest of the military, dunno), totally blocks access to the portal mail servers (Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL). Even worse, they don't warn you before you deploy. It can be a significant morale hit to not be able to receive email or even be able to tell someone you won't be able to read their email until you return...Will have to look into that. Anyone else have this problem?
Meanwhile, Darth VOB offers this:
I'd like to offer some advice to deployed milbloggers. This is roughly the same advice I've been giving soldiers about to deploy for the last year and a half. In that time, as part of my duties in the J6 (Information Management / Operations) for the Ohio Army National Guard, I've briefed soldiers on the benefits and use of AKO - Army Knowledge Online, the Army's web portal. One of the points I make is that if you want to share a photo or a story, don't do so on MSN, Yahoo IM, or standard email unless you are comfortable with it being on the front page of USA Today. That's how secure those information delivery vehicles are.They both have plenty more to say. Click in and visit, they've got nothing to hide.
Update 2: Hook weighs in from the 'Stan. He writes the second half of this post so I don't have to - on being anonymous for the benefit of the junior troops, vs the seniors.
Posted by Greyhawk / August 25, 2004 11:34 AM | Permalink
So NPR uses military attempts to maintain Operations Security as a pretext to criticize the war in Iraq. Here's Greyhawk's take on the issue. My reaction? Well, I don't know. I don't trust NPR much to begin with, and when... Read More
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Fellow Milblogger DarthVOB offers some food for thought on OPSEC for deployed milbloggers, offering up some stuff I hadn't thought about, and will keep in mind, as well. Why me? Because I get stuff from deployed warriors sometimes, and while... Read More
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November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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