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Dangers of GI Blogs

From Newsday:

Letters home filled with tales of death and danger, bravery and boredom are a wartime certainty.

And now, as hundreds of soldiers overseas have started keeping Internet journals about the heat, the homesickness, the bloodshed, word speeds from the battlefront faster than ever.

More and more, though, U.S. military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan are clamping down on these military Web logs, known as milblogs.

After all, digital photos of blown-up tanks and gritty comments on urban warfare don’t just interest mom and dad.

The enemy, too, has a laptop and satellite link.

Nowadays, milbloggers “get shut down almost as fast as they’re set up,” said New York Army National Guard Spc. Jason Christopher Hartley, 31, of upstate New Paltz, who believes something is lost as the grunt’s-eye take on Tikrit or Kabul is silenced or sanitized.

A long story but worth reading in full.

When I was in Iraq “the Web” was something the 1SG wanted you to clean out from under your bunk, so this whole notion that one can come in out of the field, debrief, shower, chow down and then post your daily escapades for the world to see is kind of alien to a geezer like me.

On the one hand it is a little much to expect GIs to write/behave like journalists or trained PAO types. On the other, there is no sense in closing the barn door after the horses have fled. Short of pulling all forms of .com/.mil communications for troops to use, word is going to get out.

Rather than trying to throw up a “Great Firewall” (ask the Chinese how that is working for them) a better approach would be to disseminate some guidelines on what is permissible from an OPSEC point of view. GIs are going to curse, vent, and bitch and no amount of monitoring or censorship is going to stop that. Explain that the rules are there to help keep them and their buddies alive, and then let them loose.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.