Wednesday, October 18, 2006

 

Threat to MILBLOGS

Blackfive weighs in on recent developments of critical interest of MILBLOGS, updated policies on MILBLOGS, and the creation of a National Guard unit to monitor MILBLOGS for potential OPSEC violations.

Blackfive harbored concerns about potential DoD censorship of MILBLOGS, which in part motivated him to initiate what became The Blog of War:

One reason that I wanted "The Blog of War" published was to preserve several excellent military blogger entries from blogs that were either shut down by the military or the author decided to shut down in order to avoid trouble with the military (The Questing Cat, Armor Geddon, Training For Eternity, This Is Your War, A Day in Iraq, etc.).

Andi of Andi’s World posted on this the other day, and both Andi and Blackfive link as well to Noah Schactman’s Defensetech article. Andi quotes Schactman in her piece, and I have to wholeheartedly agree with their takeways:

In my opinion, milbogs have been far more effective in countering the mainstream media than the Department of Defense, and I'm not sure why the DoD has yet to realize their value and embrace their effectiveness. I'm not qualified to make a judgment on Rumsfeld's "penchant for secrecy," but I do agree with Noah's bottom line.

So you would think that the Defense Department would be doing everything it could to encourage positive coverage of the war –- to bring stories of brave American troops, risking their lives for Mideast democracy, to the Internet browsers everywhere. But Rumsfeld's penchant for secrecy -- and the military's fear that even the smallest, most innocuous detail about American operations could give insurgents the upper hand –- has scuttled this crucial media mission.

As I mentioned here, I'm hopeful that the DoD is coming around to the idea that milblogs are useful, and have a place in this information war. I hope I'm right. If I am, I hope it's not too little, too late.

My opinion on this has shifted.

I didn't think this was going to cause problems. I definitely saw postings in the early days that gave away too much BDA, or provided dispositional or other operational details that an alert adversary could exploit.

Even before the recent announcements, the prior guidance from GEN Schoonmaker placed the responsibility squarely on local commanders. If you had a good commander, or your site was clearly free of OPSEC, disrespectful, or otherwise “counter” to US or Army, then it wasn’t a problem. But a nervous commander, or turf-jealous PAO was always a potential threat.

I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the back and forth, discussions, possible mis-steps, fall-out from bad decisions, fall-out from negative press, fall-out from posting that makes leadership uncomfortable, and how aggressively leading bloggers lead the fight (in and out of service). It also remains to be seen how many will just go underground.

I have to say I am glad I blogged from theater when I did, that I stayed anonymous within my unit (except for my Company Commander and Battalion CSM), and that I maintained good discipline to stay WAY away from OPSEC, details, identification, disposition, tactics, etc.

But. Andi's latest update, Matt's comments, and the story about a unit tasked to ID OPSEC violations have got me rethinking my opinion.

Reminds me of the old MOS, I forget the nomenclature, but they were commonly called BF'ers, or buddy ******s.

I suppose I am too much the optimist not to have acknowledged the probability that DoD (under Rumsfeld) might go too far and weigh the Golden Goose for holiday dinner.

Bad, bad news, if this goes any further than alerting milblogs of slips, unintended exposure, ill-advised details. And alerting to commands if they have been serious vulnerabilities.

Although, as a National Guardsman, I would love to spend my drills scanning MILBLOGS…




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