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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.
General Myers: You know, I don't see that many of them, but based on this conversation Hugh, I will see more of them (laugh). I think, you know, when you get to the four-star level, you fight to get information from the troops and you don't want to be a victim of just getting fed what the staff brings you every day. The way you work that is through the internet as you just mentioned or you visit places. You go to Iraq, you go to Afghanistan and you try and get down to the individual soldier, airmen, sailor, Marine level, coastguardsmen duty, civilian and look them in the eye and say, "How's it going?" and establish enough rapport that they'll tell you, and at my level it's a constant fight to make sure that you get the straight skinny. I think it's a good idea that I plug into some of those too in my spare time.
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.
Somehow I don't think CB will care if he's 'filtered' especially from his comment about NPR! It's unfortunate, but necessary because I'm sure there are some who don't realize that simple info could violate OPSEC. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. Hopefully they won't be too 'filtered' because if they become a PR mouth - they lose all their sense of TRUTH and people will stop reading.Posted by Kathleen A at August 25, 2004 11:42 AM
I am not really concerned with the NPR audience and their opinion on the war. The fact they still call what is occurring in Iraq a "war", shows how out-of-touch they are.
On top of the that, the majority of those who listen to NPR and 'believe' what they hear, have already made up their minds and nothing short of exposing these "birth-right" Americans to what the rest of the world is like will ever change that.
Semper Fi, CB
//jcruePosted by jcrue at August 25, 2004 04:53 PM
Wow! Thanks for the link! Someone read my site!Posted by Chap at August 25, 2004 06:06 PM
I'm in the USAF and where I'm stationed I do have access to web-based e-mail such as Hushmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. As far as not being notified of upcoming deployments goes, I have a few friends whom I work with that were sent to Iraq in the spring of 2004. They were all given at least a one and a half months notice before deployment. I don't know how the USAF notifies other personnel at all our other bases, so my friends' experiences could be unique. Same goes for my ability to access web-mail...could be a unique situation again.Posted by Rob at August 25, 2004 09:38 PM
I have a son in the Air Force, flying C-130's out of Little Rock AFB. He deploys every three-six months and also knows about a month to two months before hand. He is allowed to use web-based email at times and at others, must go through the military email. But he knows this ahead of time as well. I believe this depends upon his area of deployment. He is unable to tell us where he's going, although I know it's somewhere in the ME (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemmen, Iraq, etc) ... I notice, BTW, that CB has changed the name of his blog to just "MY War" now.Posted by betsy at August 26, 2004 04:17 AM
Thank you for another great and informational post! It was something that weighed on my mind all day. I posted tonight from the wife of a service member's perspective on the issue. I think military wives, husbands, family members, etc...also have a duty to watch what is put out there. If by chance we were to come across some information we must be careful what we do with that information and make sure we are not the cause of putting our troops in danger. The old WWII slogan "Loose Lips Sink Ships" keeps coming to mind today.
Sgt. Hook's post on this topic has been mysteriously removed.Posted by Amy at August 26, 2004 02:44 PM
When I was in Kuwait the Army used websense to selectively block sites. When the shooting started, they blocked everything but mil, news and financial sites. Sports was not considered news and it was odd to be able to read the front page of the NYT but not the sports section.
One of the reasons is they shift bandwidth from the regular internet to the classified internet and back depending on the situation.
I've been told (don't know if it's true) that the portal email sites use a lot more bandwidth than a regular web page because they keep the socket open. Or something like that.Posted by Kevin at August 26, 2004 09:29 PM
Okay, I am going to sound like a moron here LOL, but how do you do a track back? I added the link to this post to my post but I've noticed the track back address is slightly different. I noticed track backs on several blogs but I'm not exactly sure what to do. Could someone briefly explain track backs for me for future reference? Thank you so much.Posted by Jenny at August 27, 2004 02:51 AM
I, too, have been following CB's blog and posted on the topic yesterday.
Unfortunately it looks like the proverbial party is over as CB has pulled the plug. All his archives have been taken offline and title changed to: OVER and OUT
I can't say as how I blame him. I have always said: "Give me Fortune. Who needs Fame?"
Damn it was a thrill while it lasted!Posted by JasminePetal at August 27, 2004 07:42 AM
Congratulations to the self-serving carps at NPR. Their "Soldiers' Iraq Blogs Face Military Scrutiny" piece has become the proverbial self-fulfilling prophecy.
The NPR program that aired this poor excuse for journalism is called Day to Day. Please join me in expressing our displeasure with their broadcast of August 24 by emailing them at email@example.com
It won't bring CB back, but we'll feel better and they'll get a hell of a lot of email to wade through. This sounds like win-win to me!
P.S. By the way, it seems even Sgt. Hook doesn't know where his Milblogs post has gone. He was apparently as surprised to find it removed as everyone else! Curiouser and curiouser....Posted by Julie (BFS) at August 27, 2004 08:19 AM
Good thing I printed out "Men In Black" on CB's blog. I should have archived his whole site. Anybody know if it got archived somewhere outside of Blogger.com?
There's always the google cache.. I just googled site:cbftw.blogspot.com and got about 80 entries. Obviously those aren't complete, but still not a bad place to start..