Milblogging … Good or Bad?

So, everyone who anyone knows all about LT G’s blog being shutdown (as an aside, his fiancee has taken up the cause).

It’s caused quite the controversy in the blogosphere as to what members of the military should and should be allowed to say.

Opinions on the LT G issue range from “He violated the rules of posting, so down he goes” to “He was just voicing his opinion, which he should be allowed to do as an American” and everything in between.

It brings up a good issue though. There’s a lot of people blogging out there, and a distinct lack of an Ernie Pyle to tell the story of the American soldier to the public. But how much should the soldiers be allowed to tell the public themselves?

I’ve intentionally tried to not talk about anything I’m directly related to on this blog. I’ve also avoided commenting on policies I may or may not agree with.
The boys over at Castle AARGH! have a good post on the subject.

I blog openly. My bosses know I blog. As in high up in the company they know I blog. Several of them read the blog, on occasion. I don’t blog the job, the company, or the people I work with. Oh, I leave hints about where I am or what’s going on around me – but never details about the people, and certainly not about what the client has paid for. That’s theirs, not mine. I have frustrations with the job, sure – but you don’t read about ’em here. You don’t read about work personalities here. Just like you don’t read about the stuff I like about the job, or the people I like that I work with. That’s simply a minefield.

And Cassandra has an enormous post/reply thread going on at Villainous Company wherein they discuss the dichotomy between blogging in the real world and in the military world, and the similarities / differences therein.

It does not matter, really, whether you agree with the DoD regulations on blogging. Your personal opinion on military regulations is undoubtedly interesting to your mother, but essentially irrelevant to the performance of your job.

Discuss it, if you wish, on your own time. But the fact of the matter is that as long as the regulation is in force, it must be obeyed and if you do otherwise than to urge any military person to comply with a military regulation, you are behaving in a highly unprofessional manner. If you are doing this on your blog, especially using distainful and/or profane language, and you cannot understand why DoD is less than thrilled about Milbloggers, you are encouraging insubordination.

All good points, truly. But where do you draw the line? Posting opinions about your direct superiors is not a good thing, but LT G had done it in the past and nothing had happened. In fact, they had reviewed the post and allowed it. Granted, the previous posts weren’t as scathing in their wording, but the posting that caused his blog removal wasn’t necessarily a denouncement of the capabilities of his superiors as it was a voicing of his desire to not join their ranks. So the question that begs is, what was so different about this post?

The obvious answer is that it wasn’t routed through the chain of command the way it was supposed to be. Ok. Fine. But why eliminate what was arguably one of the most popular blogs from the front, and therefore, by default, a great PR tool for the Army?

The real question becomes, what is the worth of the military blogger in terms of getting the true story told to the American public, and is it worth the inherent risk of the occasional post that won’t toe the party line?

I’d seriously like to hear what everyone else thinks about this topic.

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4 Responses to Milblogging … Good or Bad?

  1. blunoz says:

    I wrote a bit earlier in response to your previous post about military bloggers. I’m like you in that, “I’ve intentionally tried to not talk about anything I’m directly related to,” and, “I’ve also avoided commenting on policies I may or may not agree with.” I’m also like Castle AARGH! in that my CO, the wardroom, and their wives, plus a good portion of my crew know that I blog and read my blog. I mainly use my blog as an avenue for sharing our adventures around Hawaii so they can see fun things to do around the island as well as learn from our logistical experiences in feeding the kids and finding clean restrooms, etc. I do write about Navy and submarine life, too, but I steer clear of anything that might draw unwanted attention to my blog from higher up the chain of command.

    You ask a very good question though, where do I draw the line? Obviously nothing classified or would violate opsec. Certainly nothing with negative or controversial aspects that I have insider info on like the recent investigation on the HAMPTON. I do like to share good news like the Junior Officers of the Year and the CO/XO Screening Board results.

    BTW – Thanks for introducing me to LT G’s blog. I really enjoyed reading it. I think it’s unfortunate they ordered LT G shutdown. He seemed very conscientious about opsec and I don’t think he posed a threat to his unit’s security. I get the impression the order to shutdown his blog was a vendetta for offending his chain of command by not taking the XO job. They say that wasn’t the reason, but I don’t believe it. The quote about suicide versus martyrdom was priceless, but I don’t see why the Army would find that offensive.

  2. Allen Harp says:

    It truly is a fine line between the right of free speech and too much information that just isn’t necessary to share.
    In the early years of the Nixon administration, his senior security advisor, later Sec.ofState, Henry Kissinger when asked about sharing information with the public and their right to know replied bluntly “they (the american public) are not intelligent enough to understand it all even if you did tell them.”
    Maybe that’s a little harsh, but don’t you think it’s maybe a little true as well.
    I truly believe in freedom of speech/press but I believe there is a calculated responsibility and accountability you assume when you make posts to a blog or public statements. If it violates security or established policy, then no, I believe you do not have a right to share that information. We were all sworn in with the same oath. We should think before we speak, especially if we are walking a very fine line.
    Thanks for letting me post my 2-cents.

    • Alexandro says:

      Hi Anna,Wise words great comments. I aulbsotely agree with you failure is necessary and a big part of how we learn.I also made a note of your challenge of getting more traffic, specifically organic traffic. Similar to one of Jaycee’s blog challenges.First of all, I think it is great that you are getting good referral traffic! Now since I am feeling better, I should have some energy to write about my experiences with getting organic traffic on my other blog.Also, as I mentioned to Jaycee, I think there is a bigger goal we all may want to focus on going forward that should do many positive things for our blog, including building organic traffic. Stay tuned coming real soon.

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