Tuesday, July 05, 2005

More on Military Bloggers

I got a comment on my Military bloggers post



(why yes, it was the only comment – how kind of you to notice!) from my brother, who was called up for the first Iraqi conflict, btw, and whose political views are, um, how shall we put this, diametrically opposed to mine.

This is part of the comment:

Of course, the military is not interested in suppressing free speech for the hell of it. What they are concerned with is operational security, and means and methods.

You can bet that the enemy reads every military blog everyday. So when Sergeant Jennings posts a story about what his unit did today, and the enemy reads the blog, this is known as operational intelligence. Soldiers in WWII were prohibited from keeping diaries for the same reason, not because Franklin Roosevelt was against diarists.

I’ve been considering, since, why I think what’s happening with the military bloggers is not, in fact, the same thing as what was going on in WWII, or in other wars.

One difference is obvious. No blogs in other wars. Sergeant Jennings could write a letter home, he could write a note in his diary, and maybe either could be intercepted by the enemy, but certainly he couldn’t then post them on a world-wide-web which any enemy who wanted to see them could have immediate access to. That’s a major difference, and one I can see a military command being deeply concerned about. I’m wondering why the military command isn’t, or at least doesn’t seem to be, more concerned about it.

As my brother points out above, soldiers in WWII were prohibited from keeping diaries.

Why aren’t soldiers in Iraq being prohibited from keeping blogs?

Seems to me if military command is actually worried that the enemy is going to ferret out vital military secrets from the blogs of their soldiers, they would ban the blogs – not just register them.

Registering them, rather than banning them, and then registering them with the plan of having them reviewed by the soldier’s chain of command every three months, strikes me as rather like Bush’s celebrated speeches.

You know – the ones where those who want to be the the crowd have to pass little tests to be admitted. Have to show that they’re registered Republicans. Have to be wearing the right shirts. Have to have the right tickets. Have to answer the quiz questions correctly. It’s not that Bush doesn’t want people not to speak at his rallies. It’s just that he wants them all to say the right things.

Well, it’s not that the military command doesn’t want speech out of the military bloggers in Iraq – it’s just that they don’t, precisely, want that speech to be free.

What I'm suggesting, to be blunt, is that the problem here is not what the enemy is finding out about what is happening in Iraq via the blogs -- it is what the rest of the world is finding out.

If by a subtle form of coercion, known as I'll smack you if you don't behave, the chain of command can make military bloggers worried about saying anything on their blogs that those above them don't want heard -- or even might not want heard -- well, it can all become a nice unified front, can't it? It can all be painting schools, handing out candy, and playing soccer, can't it?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It's a free pr campaign. If they control the speech and thus the military bloggers are left to blog only "positive" stuff, then it looks as though we're winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqis. I agree with you. Why not just ban it if the real concern is operational safety? Well, they lose the pr. They know how powerful blogs can be. The msm is not exactly touting the success of the war, but if the blogs start to seem positive, then maybe that positivity (is that a word?) will trickle up.