Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Milbloggers under pressure

More and more, U.S. military commanders are clamping down on military blogs, known as milblogs. Rumsfeld hey are getting too 'informative' but after all, photos of blown-up tanks and gritty comments on urban warfare don't just interest the parents let alone the general public.

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

Nowadays, milbloggers get shut down almost as fast as they're set up - something is lost as the grunt's-eye take on Tikrit or Kabul is silenced or sanitized. The Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy have now tightened control on bloggers by requiring them to register through the chain of command and by creating special security squads to monitor milblogs.

Hartley was targeted for his honesty of his blog.

A visitor wrote: 'Is this a joke or what? This whole blog gives a bad taste in the mouth.' Hartley replied, 'It leaves a bad taste in your mouth? That's sorta the point.' Another blog reader, with the moniker Alberto, defended the shock-blog: 'The point of being so graphic it's to see what a war really is. Good blog, keep it up!'

Hartley was among the first active-duty combat troops demoted and fined for security violations on his blog.

'Well - what happens - the ones that stay up are completely patriotic and innocuous, and they're fine if you want to read the flag-waving and how everything's peachy keen in Iraq,' said Hartley, who is back in New Paltz after two years stationed in Iraq.

The military, at first unaware of the milblogging trend, began targeting bloggers with warnings, punctuated by high-profile disciplinary action. Echoing the World War II censorship slogan, 'Loose lips sink ships,' the Pentagon in November 2005 sent out an advisory titled 'Loose blogs may blow up BCTs.'

A waste of time?

Let's face it - the military commanders can't control the flow of information by shutting down soldiers' blogs. There's a tremendous communication underground - soldiers won't even go remote unless there's a connection - at least email - the Army is wasting its time.

So milblogs remain popular. Mudvillegazette.com claimed more than 700,000 page views in 2005, with blackfive.net not far behind.

And michaelyon.blogspot is ranked in the top 100 (No. 81) of the 8 million blogs tracked by Technorati.com.

A complete milblog blackout will never succeed - as long as there are soldiers with something to say. In the end, it's the public who has the power to make or break any blog. Not Rumsfeld.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely the biggest, fucking, arrogant idiot I have ever met. How you can look at your smug self in the mirror each day is beyond me.

5:49 PM, April 05, 2006  
Blogger STAG said...

I was a military man for 20 years, and occasionally had doings with reporters. By and large, they were not there to support you in any way. We used to say "If you talk for an hour, the reporter will air the one stupid statement you make". So to save ourselves embarrasment and trouble, we just stopped talking to reporters, and told our troopies to regard reporters with suspicion...and to always remember that their agenda was not necessarily ours! However, at least a reporter has a boss who can rein in the odd idiot. Not so with the bloggers. I suppose I would support "front line" bloggers if they would confine themselves to grousing about the chow, or showing pictures of endless waves crashing over the bow...but that would not make for really good reading! Instead, they take pictures of military actions, usually after the fact, with no attempt to put things into context, and with even less attempt to provide balanced coverage than a legitimate reporter. They take pictures of insignia, (broadcasting troop movements all over the globe) weapons, equipment, and security measures. Most of the time, this doesn't matter. But can a commander take a chance? So, a commander has to devote scarce resources to monitoring every single blog and picture just to be sure the blog is not providing aid and comfort to the enemy. (Yes, Virginia, this is what y'call cen-sor-ship!) I can see why the average commander would rather just shut it down.
I don't believe a military force is obliged to provide a free press.
I was quite tickled when General Scharzopf used the media during desert storm, telling truth after truth until he was certain that the Iraqis were watching every move he made. He then told the media they were going to attack from "Here" and then he actually attacked from "There". The media were pissed that he had been given deliberately false information! That they had been USED for military purposes! (OMG!) But it worked. How well would that tactic have worked if every dogface had a blog and was broadcasting his unit's position and strength on a daily basis?

Well, I have rambled on and on. Would love to hear a rebuttal to this "sweet voice of reason".

Bill Fedun
stag@cyberus.ca

6:20 PM, April 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didnt find thing that i need... :-(
google

8:43 PM, November 24, 2006  

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