I caught this story from Danger Room today, and to be honest I was very disappointed. Now, just to preface this with, it seems this is just a review and that means that a recommendation would have to be made and then approved. But, the Danger Room Article also sited sources inside of US STRATCOM that stated this was pretty much a done deal. If this was a typical MSM outlet stating that I would be suspect. But, I have a great deal of respect for the Danger Room Staff. They run a top notch outfit over there. Usually when they make a statement like that, its pretty true.
So why am I disappointed? I came into the Army in 1997. As a young LT the first class I was given on media was that they were basically the enemy and to stay away. If you couldn't stay away then watch every word you said, only state what you had been authorized to say, and have a supervisor observe you. How far we have come.
Fast Forward to 2004 in Iraq. I had four of the best embedded media I could ever dream of, to include Michael Yon at our Battalion Level with the Battalion Commander. 2007 in Afghanistan, we worked with our media, international media, and bloggers to get the stories of America's Soldiers to the American People. The American People had a right to know what was really happening, and by God, we were going to tell them what their wonderful sons and daughters were doing.
In 2008, LTG Caldwell here at Fort Leavenworth made it mandatory for students at the Command and General Staff College to blog about the military and their experiences. True to the great leader that he is, he started his own blog at the same time. US Forces Afghanistan, ISAF, even the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs have joined the web 2.0 revolution and are trying to connect with the American People thru Twitter, Facebook, and their own blogs. I believe ADM Mullen is at 4000 followers on Twitter and USFOR-A broke 20,000 fans on Facebook last week.
This is a tremendous change that I have seen in 12 years. The military has embraced the web and understands that as Military Professionals it is part of our job to tell the American Soldier's Stories to the American People. Great leaders as I cited above have spearheaded it, and they deserve a great deal of respect for what they have done.
Now, we have the issue of security concerns. It used to be an issue of OPSEC. But, as we discovered, through proper training you can explain what can be talked about and what can not be talked about, and the incidents of OPSEC violations has been so low, I would term it negligible. Now, again, there is another concern. Instead of training our Soldiers, or putting more security in place, the recommendation is to just cut it off. Im sorry, but that is not the way the Military works. We do not shoot the messenger, we do not throw the baby out with the bath water. If there is a problem or a challenge we confront it, find a solution, and implement it.
As more and more comes out about this, I will continue to follow it and report on it. Some of the questions right now are: Does this apply to Internet cafes in theater, would this also cover blogging sites, would this also apply to mail services such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail that have chat and group functions. I just don't know. But I will be following it and reporting on it.
We have come too far as a Professional Military to just cut things off dead in the water. The American People deserve to know what their wonderful sons and daughters are doing overseas, in harms way. It is our job to tell that to you as Military Professionals. I truly hope that logic prevails in this situation.
God Bless America
Much thanks to the Danger Room Staff for publishing this very important article.