There has been a huge amount of discussion about the Military and a possible ban on Social Media. The US Marine Corps already has gone that route it seems. Here are a couple blog entries about it:
- USACAC FT Leavenworth: Overcoming SNS Fears
- The Pitch: A Step Backwards
- DoD Live: DoD & USMC Speak Out on SNS
- FT Leavenworth Lamp
- A Major's Perspective on SNS
- Army LIve: US Military and SNS Access
- Wired.Com's The DangerRoom: USMC Bans SNS
- WOTN: Orwellian Allegations Obscure Debate
- On WOTN: Actual USMC Message on SNS ban
My goal tonight is to talk about a couple of comments made in the various discussions. Most of you know from my first article about this subject where I personally stand. Just to re-cap though:
1. It is imperative and part of our duty as Professional Military Officers to tell the stories of the American Soldier to the American People.
2. The American People deserve to know what their wonderful Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard are doing for them.
3. Social Media to include Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook are imperative to accomplishing this.
4. Cutting off access is not the answer, fixing the security problems and providing proper education on usage are.
One of the arguments that has been made is that cutting off access to social media sites on government systems is no different then corporations that do this. That service personnel can still access these web-sites from home, so there is no impact.
Well this might be true if we were a corporation that was not forward deployed to all four corners of the world. I can only speak on this matter from my own personal experience, but I did not see many purely civilian computer services in Iraq in 04/05and Afghanistan in 07/08. I would say that 90% of my time spent on the Internet in theater was accomplished through government systems.
Now, I'm sure that someone is going to write to me and give a list of where civilian Internet cafes are in theater. That info is probably all true. As an Infantrymen though, who has spent much of his time in small Forward Operating Bases and Combat Outposts, I didn't see many of those Internet cafes. The only ones I knew of to be honest were in Kuwait, and at Bagram at the USO Facility. For me, I would not have been able to access Social Media Sites 90% of the time in theater on my deployments.
The second argument being made is that Public Affairs Officers and Specialists (PAO) will have special computers that will still be able to access social media sites. What the people making this argument do not understand, is that is not the point of social media. That is not why I became a military blogger. I am not a PAO person. Nothing against them at all, I think they are doing great work, and I have the utmost respect for them. It is just not what I want to do. I'm an Infantrymen. I enjoy leading my men, finding and fixing the enemies of our nation, and closing with and destroying them through close combat. I have just as much of a sacred responsibility to you, the American People, to tell you what our wonderful Soldiers are accomplishing, as a PAO person does.
Social Media is truly about "EVERYONE" being able to share their stories with the rest of the world through sites such as Blogger, Wordpress, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. This is not about who is the PAO person. Social Media is about everyone being able to tell these stories to the American People, and also the world.
Third and lastly, if the Military ignores the social media revolution then we are going to fall woefully behind. I have seen in comments section of blogs and in blog posts themselves people stating that: who cares about social media? Well first off, I do. Secondly and much more importantly the American People care about Social Media. Third the rest of the people of the world do also. Just look at the Iranian Election on Twitter if you need an example. Fourth, our Soldiers and their Families do. Fifth, our enemies do. If we want to be successful in this new world, whether it is telling our story, our narrative, recruiting, or even disseminating information to families we must embrace social media. To ignore it and try to down-play its importance, is short-sighted.
God Bless America