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"Looks like our conference suddenly became even more interesting...."
Someone else thinks so too. Anna Marie Cox, writing at Time Magazine's site:
Just in time for this week's "milblogger" conference in D.C., the Army has issued new regulations for active duty blogger-soldiers: basically, stop. All blog updates must be okayed, and personal emails will be subject to scrutiny. This seems like a mistake to me, as milbloggers are generally advocates for their operation and their word means a hell of a lot more to skeptics than whatever drivel's being broadcast by the Fighting 101st Chairborne.That's a voice from somewhere Left of Center on the Iraq war issue - and the Army can rightfully defend itself by noting this is an OPSEC, not a political issue. But that won't matter one bit on this IO battleground.
It's soldiers, by the way, who can really attest to whether or not the Democrats' position on the supplemental is really "hurting the troops." Wouldn't the administration want to keep their voices amplified? Oh, wait...
Check the comments at Think Progress for an example of the unintended consequences. And note that Lefty blog The Carpetbagger Report (read the comments there, too) links to decidedly Right-of-Center Captain's Quarters, where Ed Morrisey notes
However, no one has any evidence that milbloggers have violated Opsec orders in their communications. The one example offered in Wired is an old story about how people noticed a lot of parked cars and an uptick in pizza deliveries to the Pentagon on January 16, 1991, which presaged the imminent activation of Operation Desert Storm. That seems rather picayune, not to mention outdated.As Virginia Postrel notes at Dynamist,
If that's the extent of their concern and the extent of the violations, then they have sacrificed a powerful voice of support for the Army and the mission in favor of an almost-useless silence.
The geniuses in the Pentagon have decided that soldiers shouldn't be allowed to send emails or post to blogs without clearing the content with a superior officer. (And we know officers in the field have nothing better to do than play editor/flack.) The link above is to BlackFive (via InstaPundit), where there's lots more, including the Wired.com report that should set off a firestorm among people on every side of the war issue. Soldiers have the strongest incentives not to reveal operational details. So why hide their points of view?Decidedly Right of Center, Michelle Malkin: "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!"
Glenn Reynolds sums up with an economy of words too: "BULLET, MEET FOOT."
But don't worry - no more than one or two million people have read any of that.
More later - for now I gotta go, my pizza just got here.
I 'may' have read the whole 79 pages(The last thing I need is a visit from the FBI). I'm not sure if it is the real document...as it is posted on an Iraqi Website.
IMHO It effectlively ends all communications not specifically approved by an
KGB political OPSEC officer. Family members are to be indoctrinated trained in opsec as well.
Rather than dealing with the reality that we live in an open society...it attempts to create a closed society.
"Service members and families should prepare for deployment discretely".....ohh that's realistic....the army did a great job of hiding the deployment of the 4/2 Stryker brigade from protestors....but hey...if we can keep it secret from Grandma and Grandpa by not drawing attention to ourselves by having say "a pre-deployment party" good old jihadi will be kept in the dark.
The regulation has General Casey's name on it...I think he did a fair job with what he had to work with in Iraq...I'm okay with the fact that he was promoted....the fact that he approved this regulation indicates to me that he is no longer competent to command in a FREE country.
The new OPSEC guidelines are "what's hot" in the world of milblogs today, but has anyone actually read the entire 79 pages? I haven't, and won't until after the conference, but it would be beneficial to hear from someone who has poured over the entire document.
Looks like our conference suddenly became even more interesting....
Considering that the whole regulation...classified Official Use Only has made it "into the wild" I.E. posted in its entirety on the Internet in less than 14 days...I suggest a pragmatic review of what can be kept a secret for what length of time is in order.
*Note - If one million people are on a distribution list...then it is not a secret anymore. If US troops are operating in strength in a city of 6 million inhabitants...the fact that they are there is no longer a secret.
"Once milblogs are outlawed only outlaws will have milblogs - you can quote me on that."
I passed that bit on to a reporter working on an article for Today's Officer back in March, '06. The short version didn't make it, but my larger point did.
On the flip side is a blogger who goes by the handle Greyhawk, publisher of the blog The Mudville Gazette, who notes the requirement is “probably the best way possible to put a stop to blogging from theater.” Greyhawk, currently serving in Germany, notes that registration already has begun to put a chill on milbloggers. “It has discouraged a lot of folks who are ‘by the rules’ types, the kinds of guy who the Army would most like to have telling the story from Iraq,” he says. “Some are concerned about inadvertent OPSEC violations, others of being accused of violating OPSEC by an overzealous senior. But the maladjusted, antisocial types who really hate the Army aren’t going to play by those rules, so in the end my concern is that you’ll see fewer milblogs from the squared-away, professional military types and more from the bitter extremists.”
Army spokesperson Maj. Elizabeth Robbins admits that some bloggers did give up their sites when the registration rule was instituted. “More than a few decided not to keep their blogs,” she notes. “We have stepped up measures to educate soldiers, because not all of them understand they’re making a public communication. And any time you do that, there are ramifications.” Still, Robbins insists, the regulation was not intended to put a stop to milblogging. “There’s certainly no move afoot to quash them,” she says.
Yes, that's the Maj. Elizabeth Robbins who wrote the (award winning) "Muddy Boots IO: The Rise of Soldier Blogs". Read it all - but near the end you'll find she expanded on that bit from the "Today's Officer" piece:
If the Army restricts soldiers from blogging, then soldiers who like the Army and who are proud of their service will comply by shutting down their blogs and removing their positive influence from the blogosphere. In fact, these pro-Army blogs were never an issue, because the Army benefits from the positive coverage. Most Army detractors ignore positive depictions of the military; experienced PAOs will attest that good news is rarely deemed “newsworthy.” Instead, if the Army restricts milblogs then the only voices that remain in the blogosphere will be the disgruntled and disaffected few, egged on by fellow miscreants and fakers. These troublemakers are perfectly capable of shifting the “preponderance of the evidence” in the blogosphere, or worst case, creating phony issues that create noise in the system.I'll take the opportunity to post more details from my original March, 2006 Today's Officer interview too:
Like private citizens, the Army has a limited ability to distinguish between authentic and unauthentic anonymous milblogs. One approach, contained within the April 2005 MNC-I memo, is to require all milbloggers to register with their commanders. Unfortunately, once again, such a policy discourages “good” soldiers while allowing “bad” soldiers to blog unfettered unless caught. From a policy perspective, the Army should feel no obligation to respond to blogged allegations that lack such vital data such as date, specific location, or unit name, for it is impossible to provide detailed responses to anonymous, unspecified rubbish. We need not set a precedent for troublemakers to waste Army resources by blogging falsehoods, and the media cannot credibly publish any such blogged accusations without substantiation.
Lastly, the Army can benefit when individuals quickly speak for themselves in order to rectify inaccuracies in the national and international media. In a small number of cases, milbloggers can defend the Army more credibly and more quickly than official spokespersons.
Military blogs written by those in muddy boots – of their own volition, and in their own words – give readers precious insight into the quality, efforts, and sacrifices of our force. Blogs written within the boundaries of security, accuracy, policy, and propriety are a combat multiplier in the information domain. Commanders must educate soldiers and provide them specific guidelines in order to minimize possible OPSEC and other violations. However, commanders at every level must boldly accept risk in order to support the rewards and warfighting advantages that soldier-authors bring to the information battlespace.
What’s your take on the mandatory registration of bloggers?
- It's probably the best way possible to put a stop to blogging from theater.
What effect do you think that will have on milblogging?
- It's already begun. It's discouraged a lot of folks who are "by the rules" types, the kinds of guys who the Army would most like to have telling the story from Iraq. Some are concerned of inadvertent OPSEC violations, others of being accused of violating OPSEC by an overzealous senior. But the maladjusted, anti-social types who really hate the Army aren't going to play by those rules, so in the end my concern is you'll see fewer milblogs from squared away, professional military types and more from the bitter extremists.
What do you think the future holds for milblogging?
- The Navy has a great approach to blogging, can't cite chapter and verse but essentially a simple disclaimer on the site regarding "views expressed are those of the author", no OPSEC or Privacy Act violations, and off you go. If the Army adopts a similar policy (they won't, if for no other reason then it's the Navy policy, and thus reeks of sea air) they will benefit from the best possible PR they could ever hope for (or pay big bucks to civilian PA firms for! - But that's another miserable failure story for another day...) If not, see "more from bitter extremists" comment above.
Minutes after Bush vetoed the bill, an anti-war demonstrator stood outside the White House with a bullhorn: "How many more must die? How many more must die?"...is mightier than the sword:
Earlier at the Capitol, Democrats held an unusual signing ceremony of the $124.2 billion bill before sending it to the White House.
"The president has put our troops in the middle of a civil war," said Reid. "Reality on the ground proves what we all know: A change of course is needed."
Bush signed the veto with a pen given to him by Robert Derga, the father of Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Dustin Derga, who was killed in Iraq on May 8, 2005. The elder Derga spoke with Bush two weeks ago at a meeting the president had with military families at the White House.
Derga asked Bush to promise to use the pen in his veto. On Tuesday, Derga contacted the White House to remind Bush to use the pen, and so he did. The 24-year-old Dustin Derga served with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines from Columbus, Ohio. The five-year Marine reservist and fire team leader was killed by an armor-piercing round in Anbar Province.
I posted a round-up of reports about the new OPSEC Regulation over at Dadmanly, links, excerpts and commentary.
But here's the Executive Summary version. Here are the must reads for today:
Shachtman’s Report in Wired
Companion Interview with Regulation Author
Blackfive's The End of Military Blogging
Army To Milbloggers: About Face
COMING DOWN ON THE MILBLOGGERS
Army Forbids Troops From Blogging
AW, HELL — In the vein of obtuse military bureaucracy vs …
Should make for a very very lively MILBLOG Conference...
There is another piece to going forward...that whole "creating time and space for a political solution" thingy...
TIKRIT, Iraq – In an effort to end tribal conflicts that have been occurring for decades, the paramount sheiks from the Karki and Shimouri tribes signed a peace agreement at the home of the Mujema tribal leader in Diyala province, Monday. Specifics of the agreement include freeing previous kidnapped victims and stopping all kidnapping and killing operations; stopping indirect-fire attacks; providing the Iraqi police any members of their tribes which may be linked to insurgent groups; supporting the Iraqi army and police against terrorists; and resolving farming issues among the tribes.
Another "surge" Brigade arrives:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEIf the Brigade sounds familiar, it may be because this is the war machine that couldn't be stopped.
RELEASE No. 20070502-01
May 2, 2007
4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division arrives in Iraq
Multi-National Corps – Iraq PAO
BAGHDAD – Multi-National Corps-Iraq added a U.S. brigade this week to assist the Iraqi Security Forces in and around Baghdad.
The 4th Brigade, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Lewis, WA will be deployed in various locations around the country. Their mission will be to assist Iraqi Security Forces to clear, control and retain key areas of the capital city in order to reduce violence.
The brigade includes approximately 3,700 Soldiers.
But if you've noted a sense of desperation in declarations of surge=failure from certain quarters lately, that might be driven by a fear of possible success in an admittedly difficult mission, and an urgent need to mislead the public into believing the strategy is fully in place. One thing you can count on: much of the reporting on progress from this point on will be deceptive at best, agenda-driven at worst, and virtually useless as a result.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RELEASE No. 20070502-03
May 2, 2007
Baghdad Eagle battalion takes lead in counterinsurgency fight
Multi-National Division – Center PAO
MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — Iraqi Soldiers have been slowly taking the lead in the fight against terror throughout Iraq, and Tuesday another battalion officially took control.
The 4th Battalion of the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division’s “Baghdad Eagles” assumed control of the battle space around Yusufiyah.
The battalion has worked side-by-side with the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., since the 2nd BCT’s arrival at the beginning of September.
The 4-31 Infantry “Polar Bears” have lived and worked with the Iraqi Soldiers for the past eight months, training them in every aspect of counterinsurgency fighting; including finding caches, conducting air- and river-borne assaults into hostile areas, and providing medical and financial assistance to local civilian populations.
The battalion has taken control of about 75 square kilometers in the rural area south of Baghdad. The men of the 4/4/6 IA, which is based on Forward Operating Base Yusufiyah, have met all performance objectives, Warner said. They have proven themselves to be an effective force capable of defeating the enemy and providing security to the citizens of Yusufiyah.
An Iraqi Army In the Lead ceremony is slated for a future date.
...which highlights another recent bit of extremist media ignorance:
U.S. plan backs off training of Iraqis
Policy shift entrusts security to American troop buildup
April 22, 2007
BY NANCY A. YOUSSEF
WASHINGTON -- Military planners have abandoned the idea that training Iraqi troops will enable U.S. troops to start coming home and now say American forces will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.
That bit of ignorance was inflicted on America three days after the handover of a complete province to Iraqi authority.
No excuses. No more warnings. Next offense, your family receives a beating.
The inspections begin Friday.
I'm leaving tonight, bags packed. The pre-torn jeans, alas, could not make the trip. They were buried at sea after sustaining mortal wounds during a fierce game of combat crud a ways back. Great story there, having the med group commander duck tape your jeans together during a lull so that you can keep playing. Anyway...
Andi reminds everyone of the dress code (there isn't one). Of course I'm the example for how casual this thing is. Sheesh, I wore a sweater people. I think ya'll are gravely underestimating my committment to this event.
What's an ILE-CC anyway?
'Cause, you know, I don't think it would help any Navy guys make rank. We don't like that edumacation stuff as much.
What caught my ear today is it looks like the Republicans in the House are about to take a pre-emptive fold.
Brushing aside White House opposition, Republican leaders in Congress said yesterday that negotiations on a second war spending bill should begin with benchmarks of success for the Iraqi government, and possible consequences if those benchmarks are not met.The military is but one Line of Operation, but so is the Civil Gov't and its development. Take away support from the Civil Gov't in Iraq and then move the military to "holding pens" out in the desert away from doing anything? WTF?
But GOP leaders did not take the benchmark issue off the table. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested last week that although Republicans could not accept linking benchmarks to troop withdrawals, they could tie them to $5.7 billion in nonmilitary assistance for the Iraqi government.
Blunt spokeswoman Burson Snyder said yesterday that it would be "premature" to rule out such a proposal, in spite of Rice's comments. "We haven't even begun substantive conversations with the Democratic leadership, so how can we start ruling in or out certain provisions?" she said.
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) took a similar tack. Boehner "believes members and the administration can and will discuss benchmarks as a way of measuring progress and holding the Iraqi government accountable, and that's where members need to start," said his spokesman Kevin Smith. He added that "tying benchmarks to withdrawal dates or deadlines are a non-starter," but he did not rule out consequences for Iraqi government inaction.
Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) has suggested that benchmarks be tied to U.S. troop positions within Iraq. If the benchmarks are not met, troops would remain in the country but would be removed from combat zones.
Do any of these people know the '72-'75 slide? Do any of them think beyond the next vote? If that is the halfway point between the Rep. and Dems. then, really, what is the point? If before you even give CDR MNF-I a chance to report back by SEP you already tell the terrorists that if they do X and Y by time Z that we will defund the Iraqi civil gov't by the end of the year and move out to holding pens - then save us all the trouble and order us to come home now - the end will be the same.
Give MNF-I the support and time he needs to make this work. If GEN Petraeus says "Stick a fork in it" then we can take those steps - but let's not create self-fulfilling prophecies.
Someone needs to go to school and the woodshed.
AlReuters has a new tool on Land Mind casualties here
It is still a big "buggy"(doesn't quite work). It is an important point however....how many Iraqi's have been killed by 'insurgent' landmines...how many Iraqi children have been maimed by landmines?
I would hazard a guess in the thousands if not tens of thousands.....
Got you covered at my place. I owe you one for the help on Afghanistan poppy stuff, anyway.
In my post Osama Tips His Hand
I made these statements
Circa 2000 - Saddam doesn't like the US enforcing sanctions against him and Osama wants to control Mecca...Saddam doesn't care about Mecca...but controling the oil fields of Saudi Arabia would make it impossible for the world to maintain sanctions against Saddam.
Sept 2001 - Osama has some of his boys drive airplanes into the World Trade Center...his boys conveniently leave plenty of tracks leading back to Saudi Arabia...Osama could have just as easily used Algerian,Morrocan,Sudanese et al nationals...but no...he chose to use primarily Saudi nationals.
We have better evidence than that. Here is what Tenet(ed CIA Director) told the relevant Senate committee in February 2002:
Iraq … has also had contacts with al-Qaida. Their ties may be limited by divergent ideologies, but the two sides' mutual antipathy toward the United States and the Saudi royal family suggests that tactical cooperation between them is possible, even though Saddam is well aware that such activity would carry serious consequences.
Now we have the resident troll making these statements
lordy, get out the tinfoil hats and pass them around. I guess with logic like this all those 911 conspiracy theories make sense as well. Ash | 04.29.07 - 8:49 pm | #
Now I'll look at some older history
Day 15: Wednesday, Jan. 30(ed 1991)
Scores of Iraqi tanks, thousands of troops advance into Saudi Arabia.
The al-Qaeda leader(ed Osama Bin Laden) was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991 because of his anti-government activities.
Saudi Arabia is home to some of Islam's holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there was seen as a historic betrayal by many Islamists, notably Osama Bin Laden.
It is one of the main reasons given by the Saudi-born dissident - blamed by Washington for the 11 September attacks - to justify violence against the United States and its allies.
In the evening of 22 August 1995, the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission met with General Hussein Kamal in Amman. The meeting was attended by Prof. M Zifferero (IAEA), N. Smidovich, and a person from King of Jordan court who served as an interpreter. The meeting started at 1950 hrs and lasted approximately three hours. The General spoke in Arabic with the follow-up translation by the interpreter.
General Hussein Kamal - "the current government will never change. Otherwise I would not leave. They will remain as always. Last time they massed the Army in Basrah ready to go into Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. I thought to leave at that time. They might think they might accuse me of being a traitor but I saw all kinds of battles. Until now it was planned to go into Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. If I stop issuing statements to the public for three weeks, they will return to the old policies. Listen again to Saddam's speeches immediately after the Gulf War and now. Still no changes for Iraq: poorer and suffering. They are only interested in themselves and not worried about economics
Osama was trying to overthrow the Saudi Royal family as far back as 1991. That is a historical fact. Saddams troops crossed into Saudi territory in 1991 as well. Coincidences...
I was wondering how (or if, even) the President would address the 20+ billion in pork the Democrats had slathered into the withdrawal Bill.
After dismissing their demands for declaration of failure and surrender to terrorist thugs, he spoke briefly on that topic:
Third, the bill is loaded with billions of dollars in non-emergency spending that has nothing to do with fighting the war on terror. Congress should debate these spending measures on their own merits -- and not as part of an emergency funding bill for our troops.Indeed. The specifics would be embarrassing to anyone with a shred of dignity or character - and while aiding the enemy is the greater crime, he would have done well to spell these out in detail.
...$25 million for spinach farmers, $74 million for peanut storage, $120M for shrimp research, $283 million in income subsidies for dairy farms, $400 million to rural counties hurt by cutbacks in federal logging, $400 million in additional heating subsidies for the poor, and $1 billion to prevent or prepare for a possible bird flu epidemic.I'm still concerned that will end up being the bribe the Dems demand for eliminating the surrender provisions.
Democrats swear it's a coincidence that President Bush will get their bill calling for U.S. forces to be withdrawn from Iraq today on the fourth anniversary of his "mission accomplished'' ceremony after Saddam Hussein was ousted.Lots of coincidences lately. The day after the House passed the withdrawal Bill, al Qaeda launched numerous suicide attacks in Iraq:
March 24, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - A sharply divided House of Representatives voted yesterday to order President Bush to bring combat troops home from Iraq next year - a victory for Democrats in an epic war-powers struggle and Congress' boldest challenge yet to the administration's policy.But nobody noticed that coincidence.
March 25, 2007 -- BAGHDAD — Suicide bombers struck in force across Iraq on Saturday ...after days of relative calm...
Then, on the day they met with President Bush to discuss the Bill, another amazing al Qaeda attack coincidence cost 200 Iraqi lives
Reid, the Senate's top Democrat, described part of a meeting with Bush at the White House on Wednesday -- the same day bombs killed almost 200 people in Baghdad in the worst day of violence since a U.S.-backed security crackdown was launched there earlier this year.President Bush vetoed the Bill, of course.
Pray for the people of Iraq, and our troops there. They'll probably experience another coincidence soon.
When you think nobody is watching...
BAGHDAD, April 30 — A senior commander in the American military’s main detention center here testified Monday at a military hearing that his predecessor, Lt. Col. William H. Steele, gave computer programs and other gifts to the daughter of a high-value detainee.
The commander, Lt. Col. Quentin Crank, whose military police unit took over for Colonel Steele’s at Camp Cropper in October 2006, said the gifts, which would be a breach of military law and Iraqi cultural norms, were given after Colonel Steele had moved to another assignment in Iraq. The detainee was said to be outraged by the personal contact with his daughter, telling American officials that Colonel Steele was trying to supplant his role as father.
A computer forensics expert testified that an IBM laptop recovered during the investigation contained classified material, 37 adult pornographic videos, 122 adult pornographic images and an e-mail message to an undisclosed person that “appeared to be adulterous in nature.” A second laptop, a Dell, contained the text of a secret document, the investigator said.
So we've got Quentin Crank testifying against Michael Steele in an article by Damien Cave.
Is this a court martial or a porno? And could you tell the difference?
UPDATE: Oops, got LTC Steele's first name wrong. Must've been all that porno talk...