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US Army Crushes Soldier Blogging From War Zones  
User currently offlineUH60FtRucker From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 1956 times:

About 5 months ago, I had a personal encounter with a commander who didn't "appreciate" me posting my experiences in Iraq, here on Airliners. Well after a change of command a month later, my new commander was more than happy to allow me to tell people back home what it REALLY is like.

BUT, looks like it's no longer in the commander's hands... the Army is coming down on all bloggers.

Here are some highlights from the article. The full article can be found here:

http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/05/army_bloggers

Quote:
Army Squeezes Soldier Blogs, Maybe to Death By: Noah Shachtman

The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops' online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.

Military officials have been wrestling for years with how to handle troops who publish blogs. Officers have weighed the need for wartime discretion against the opportunities for the public to personally connect with some of the most effective advocates for the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq -- the troops themselves. The secret-keepers have generally won the argument, and the once-permissive atmosphere has slowly grown more tightly regulated. Soldier-bloggers have dropped offline as a result.

.......

Army Regulation 530--1: Operations Security (OPSEC) restricts more than just blogs, however. Previous editions of the rules asked Army personnel to "consult with their immediate supervisor" before posting a document "that might contain sensitive and/or critical information in a public forum." The new version, in contrast, requires "an OPSEC review prior to publishing" anything -- from "web log (blog) postings" to comments on internet message boards, from resumes to letters home.

Failure to do so, the document adds, could result in a court-martial, or "administrative, disciplinary, contractual, or criminal action."

......

But with the regulations drawn so tightly, "many commanders will feel like they have no choice but to forbid their soldiers from blogging -- or even using e-mail," said Jeff Nuding, who won the bronze star for his service in Iraq. "If I'm a commander, and think that any slip-up gets me screwed, I'm making it easy: No blogs," added Nuding, writer of the "pro-victory" Dadmanly site. "I think this means the end of my blogging."

Active-duty troops aren't the only ones affected by the new guidelines. Civilians working for the military, Army contractors -- even soldiers' families -- are all subject to the directive as well.

--------

The U.S. military -- all militaries -- have long been concerned about their personnel inadvertently letting sensitive information out. Troops' mail was read and censored throughout World War II; back home, government posters warned citizens "careless talk kills."

Military blogs, or milblogs, as they're known in service-member circles, only make the potential for mischief worse. On a website, anyone, including foreign intelligence agents, can stop by and look for information.

--------

Passing on classified data -- real secrets -- is already a serious military crime. The new regulations (and their author) take an unusually expansive view of what kind of unclassified information a foe might find useful. In an article published by the official Army News Service, Maj. Ceralde "described how the Pentagon parking lot had more parked cars than usual on the evening of Jan. 16, 1991, and how pizza parlors noticed a significant increase of pizza to the Pentagon.... These observations are indicators, unclassified information available to all ... that Operation Desert Storm was about to begin."

Honestly, I find this to be a huge blow - not only to soldiers in the field - but to the public back home.

Lets face it - the media fails miserably when it comes to accurately document what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the government is doing a poor job educating the public what our goals/successes/failures are. And the benefit of having an actual soldier on the ground, report what he/she is seeing, cannot be underestimated.

And we're crushing that voice? At what point do you become so obsessed about security, that you needlessly hurt morale, and war support back home?

I'm going back to Iraq in Nov '07 - looks like no more "UH60's Update From Iraq"  frown 

-UH60

47 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineNewark777 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 9348 posts, RR: 29
Reply 1, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1940 times:

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Thread starter):
I'm going back to Iraq in Nov '07 - looks like no more "UH60's Update From Iraq"

That's actually what I thought of when I read the article a few minutes ago. It's too bad, and I agree with you, it's doing a great disservice to all the friends and family back home.

Harry



Why grab a Heine when you can grab a Busch?
User currently onlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21496 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1934 times:

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Thread starter):
I'm going back to Iraq in Nov '07

I'd still hope not.

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Thread starter):
looks like no more "UH60's Update From Iraq"

That would definitely be a loss.

I think we're primarily looking at an act of political desperation here.


User currently offlinePlanespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3533 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1913 times:

"crushes"

nice verb!

Quoting Klaus (Reply 2):
I think we're primarily looking at an act of political desperation here.

From who? According to the thread starter, most of the blogs/postings from military sources out there were positive towards the war effort...his own comments have been undoubtedly cheerful of operations (obviously not all of them in every situation). It seems unlikely that the military would gain any political satisfaction from silencing voices like his.

More likely it's just your good ole, typical clamp down on anything that could be considered a security threat...out of probably hundreds of posters it's logical that somewhere in there, if one were to read all and pay attention, there would be something of use to an insurgenet or whatever.

As an advocate of free speech, especially of positive information during wartime, it saddens me that the military wishes to silence one of the only positive voices about this conflict. Despite my decidedly leftward political beliefs, I would much prefer "our boys (and girls)" over there felt good about the job they were doing and wanted to educate the not-in-theatre folks like myself and most of the other people still stateside.



Do you like movies about gladiators?
User currently offlineFuturecaptain From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1901 times:

I agree the military has gone too far here. It's good to hear from the soilders actually doing the work what is being acomplished, not the politicians.

User currently offlineAGM100 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 5407 posts, RR: 17
Reply 5, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1890 times:

Here is to UH60... Going back to Iraq , risk life and limb flying over the enemy.. brave IED's and Sunni RPG weilding welcoming parties...

And what is he worried about ... not being able post on Anet ! Big grin

I am gonna miss it for sure !



You dig the hole .. I fill the hole . 100% employment !
User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 8735 posts, RR: 42
Reply 6, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1887 times:

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Thread starter):
And the benefit of having an actual soldier on the ground, report what he/she is seeing, cannot be underestimated.

And we're crushing that voice? At what point do you become so obsessed about security, that you needlessly hurt morale, and war support back home?

That's precisely the point I was going to make. Your "updates from Iraq" have impressed me deeply, the part where you remarked the war had made you more of a thinker in particular. I had hoped to hear that sort of thing from and/or about coalition soldiera and you put it online; and that's only a very slightl dramatisation.

My impression is that the army leadership isn't realising soldiers are writing more about their thoughts and feelings (again, my impression) than about operational details. That generates support, if anything.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 2):
Quoting UH60FtRucker (Thread starter):
I'm going back to Iraq in Nov '07

I'd still hope not.

 checkmark 



Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
User currently offlineGunships From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 574 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1868 times:

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Thread starter):
Honestly, I find this to be a huge blow - not only to soldiers in the field - but to the public back home.

As do I. I enjoyed reading your reports and looked forward to the next "editions". Mostly because I can get a view on a subject that may not be mainstream-media friendly.

But I have to say I agree that something must be done to monitor the information going out of the AOR. Should the DoD be censoring/policing e-messages from the troops? In my opinion, yes. Because of that .01% that will never understand when and where to stop talking, there is too big a risk of a breach of OPSEC.. I don't think the DoD can afford to implement anything dedicated to monitoring e-communications. Stopping it makes fiscal sense.

From what I've read from you, the problem isn't people like you. Unfortunately, it's people like you who will have to pay the price.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I like the decision. But I understand it's need.

--

Fly safe.


User currently onlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21496 posts, RR: 53
Reply 8, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1846 times:

Quoting Planespotting (Reply 3):
Quoting Klaus (Reply 2):I think we're primarily looking at an act of political desperation here.
From who?

From the political leadership in the Pentagon and the White House.

I doubt that a halfway open communication by the troops poses an actual security risk any more than it could have before. UH60 has been very careful as far as I can tell, and I'm pretty sure that will be just as true for other servicemen and -women.

But clearly communicating the real difficulties back home to a political environment where the current administration is increasingly facing actual opposition makes such open communication an increasingly lethal political risk to the Bush administration and to its hangers-on.

I'm pretty sure this order has initially originated in Dick Cheney's office or in the one of Karl Rove, not in the one of an actual general.


User currently offlineHalls120 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 1800 times:

Quoting Gunships (Reply 7):
But I have to say I agree that something must be done to monitor the information going out of the AOR. Should the DoD be censoring/policing e-messages from the troops? In my opinion, yes. Because of that .01% that will never understand when and where to stop talking, there is too big a risk of a breach of OPSEC.. I don't think the DoD can afford to implement anything dedicated to monitoring e-communications. Stopping it makes fiscal sense.

From what I've read from you, the problem isn't people like you. Unfortunately, it's people like you who will have to pay the price.

Typical bureaucratic response to a problem created by the 1% who don't understand. Instead of addressing that 1%, punish everyone.

Stupid. Understandable, but stupid.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 8):
I doubt that a halfway open communication by the troops poses an actual security risk any more than it could have before. UH60 has been very careful as far as I can tell, and I'm pretty sure that will be just as true for other servicemen and -women.

Disagree with your last point. What makes you so sure it "will be just as true for other servicemen and -women?" Your vast experience as part of the US military?

Just because UH60 is a responsible poster doesn't mean every soldier will be as responsible. Fact is, there is going to be a dunderhead who doesn't get OPSEC, and will run on at the mouth. The issue is, do you address the dunderhead, which is hard, or clamp down across the board, which is easy.


User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7802 posts, RR: 16
Reply 10, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 1773 times:

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 9):
The issue is, do you address the dunderhead, which is hard, or clamp down across the board, which is easy.

when reading UH's original post I couldn't help but think of Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22. There is a particular chapter where Yossarian is in the hospital and is tasked with censoring outgoing mail. One day he censors out all the adverbs, the next adjectives, and so on.

So in the end the ban on blogging is a bit of a catch-22 in my mind. On the one hand there is the risk of serious security leaks. But on the other hand I see it as infinitely valuable to the public and troops alike. Us civilians get a picture of the combat and the lives of our servicemen and women that is not being regularly portrayed in the mainstream media. And I imagine it is just as important for the solders themselves. I suspect posting their experiences on message boards and blogs is a healthy and productive way of making sense of what they are doing in Iraq. It would seem to me that it is a morale booster as well.

Of course the cynic in me is forced to ask, why crack down on it now, after 4+ years?



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineAllstarflyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 1773 times:

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Thread starter):
I'm going back to Iraq in Nov '07

Good for you, dude, but for the sake of your personal life, I'm sorry.

I'm surprised this wasn't addressed in recent years. Then again, I'm surprised we're still over there while all any terrorist has to do is make it to Mexico and hoof it north.

-R


User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9537 posts, RR: 42
Reply 12, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 1761 times:

Quoting Gunships (Reply 7):
From what I've read from you, the problem isn't people like you. Unfortunately, it's people like you who will have to pay the price.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I like the decision. But I understand it's need.

Agreed.

So UH60, you'll just have to spam the forums when you get back. I hope the servers will be able to cope.  Smile


User currently onlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21496 posts, RR: 53
Reply 13, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 1724 times:

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 10):
Of course the cynic in me is forced to ask, why crack down on it now, after 4+ years?

This is what makes this looking especially fishy.

You always need to balance the damage you're doing with the potential benefit. Of course there could be the famous secret reason why it's all for the best, but that's rarely been for real.


User currently offlineCfalk From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 1710 times:

Quoting Aloges (Reply 6):
My impression is that the army leadership isn't realising soldiers are writing more about their thoughts and feelings (again, my impression) than about operational details. That generates support, if anything.

Generally speaking, you're probably right, and 99% of all soldiers' blog posts like UH60's contain nothing harmful. The problem is the 1%. If you have just one guy out of a hundred who is posting irresponsibly, it ruins it for everyone else, and the Army has to clamp down on everyone.

If you have any other suggestions on identifying and dealing with that 1%, I'm all ears.


User currently offlineConfuscius From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 3870 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1690 times:

It's unfair. It's not like these soldiers work for FOX News.


Geraldo Rivera detailing plan live on FOX News. Big grin



Ain't I a stinker?
User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13170 posts, RR: 15
Reply 16, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1666 times:

The USA military is also going to censor blogs and communications of soldiers and civilian employees of the Military, their contractors when using military e-mail and web systems, even e-mails to or from their families. This is nothing new, all similar communications have been censored in both world wars and we are in a situation where strategic information is available in real time, not weeks like a mailed letter would take.
What is at play here is a matter of control by the military and political leaders of this country to prevent any possible information to be accessed by our enemies and to cover up the mistakes of the military in our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is far too easy for someone in an e-mail or blog to forget to use due care in what they say, including disclosing private and personal info of your self, others, business information of your employer and so on.
I guess that this will mean that only 1 'authorized' blog site will be allowed, totally controlled by the military. It may also mean keeping from the public critical information such as situations as happened in the jails in Iraq. It will also cover senior military leaders butts from any failures or mistakes in their duties from their bosses or the public.
1984 is alive and with us.


User currently offlineCfalk From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1660 times:

Quoting Confuscius (Reply 15):
Geraldo Rivera detailing plan live on FOX News.

That's what happens when you are forced to hire token lefties  Wink

geraldo was rightfully booted out of Iraq for that stupidity. But you don't have that option for military personel.


User currently offlineDC10extender From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 617 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1591 times:

That is a real shame. The very rights our men and women are fighting to protect are being witheld from them. Well, our thoughts and prayers are with you when you head back to Iraq.


Did you ever read on your birth certificate that life is fair? Thats cause its not there.
User currently offlineWrenchBender From Canada, joined Feb 2004, 1779 posts, RR: 8
Reply 19, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1573 times:

Quoting Cfalk (Reply 14):
Generally speaking, you're probably right, and 99% of all soldiers' blog posts like UH60's contain nothing harmful. The problem is the 1%. If you have just one guy out of a hundred who is posting irresponsibly, it ruins it for everyone else, and the Army has to clamp down on everyone.

Very true and sadly it has always been the way of the military in most nations to dole out mass pumishment instead of dealing with the root problem.

Quoting Cfalk (Reply 14):
If you have any other suggestions on identifying and dealing with that 1%, I'm all ears.

A fair policy has to be written and enforced, break the policy go to jail, probable charge 'providing information to the enemy'.

Downside-
There are those who may use it as a way out.
The possibility of a charge escalating to treason/spying.
A nightmare to oversee/enforce.

Upside-
There really isn't one other than the troops may be a little happier.

WrencjBender



Silly Pilot, Tricks are for kids.......
User currently offlineYOWza From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 4906 posts, RR: 15
Reply 20, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1559 times:

I'm rarely one to defend the US military but there is a possibility that stopping blogging will minimize intelligence leaks and keep soldiers safer, albeit by a tiny edge. If this saves even one life I think it's not such a bad thing.

As already talked about it will be a shame for us back here out of the hotspots because the media (both sides: The Fox Whitehouse Channel and the Chicken Noodle Network) are woefully useless in their coverage.

YOWza



12A whenever possible.
User currently offlineNewark777 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 9348 posts, RR: 29
Reply 21, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 1551 times:

Quoting DC10extender (Reply 18):
That is a real shame. The very rights our men and women are fighting to protect are being witheld from them. Well, our thoughts and prayers are with you when you head back to Iraq.

On the other hand, they still have the right to communicate, they just have to have the content looked over to make sure it's not sensitive.

Harry



Why grab a Heine when you can grab a Busch?
User currently offlineHalls120 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 1547 times:

Quoting YOWza (Reply 20):
I'm rarely one to defend the US military but there is a possibility that stopping blogging will minimize intelligence leaks and keep soldiers safer, albeit by a tiny edge. If this saves even one life I think it's not such a bad thing.

Now why are you trying to inject common sense into this discussion?


User currently offlineFXramper From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 7325 posts, RR: 85
Reply 23, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 1523 times:
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Quoting UH60FtRucker (Thread starter):
the media fails miserably when it comes to accurately document what is happening in Iraq

Agree 100%  yes 

Happy and Safe hunting in November.


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 24, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 1490 times:

MIchael Yon comes pretty close to giving the soldiers view, since he's a former soldier and he's embedding with troops on the ground. He pisses off enough people that he must be doing something right.

Enjoy your time at home.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
25 Post contains links SJCRRPAX : There was a blogger early on in this conflict that I would read daily and enjoy. He was maybe the first blogger in Iraq and the army stopped him also.
26 ANCFlyer : Feel free to send me all the e-mail you want. I'll make sure it gets posted.
27 L-188 : That was a good movie. So do I, and your threads here are one of the big reasons. The military might not like it but these are a form of "The Letter
28 Newark777 : Aren't emails subject to the same screening as other posted content? Harry
29 ANCFlyer : Personal Messages via personal e-mail will likely be screened, but not prohibited as will be the Blogs.
30 Newark777 : Oh, ok. I got the impression that the blogs would still be technically allowed, but because of the hassle to get everything approved, most just would
31 LAXspotter : Why is the military against blogging? Its a serious question, 1. Are they fearful of security leaks 2. Trying to withold the viewpoints of troops I me
32 Post contains images TedTAce : Ok, I have said it before, but I guess it bears repeating. WTF ARE YOU THINKING?!?! You should have a VERY pregnant wife by then!!! I really admire y
33 Thorben : This is censorship, nothing else. And it is supposed to hide the reality of the situation from the people in the US and the world. The military seems
34 ANCFlyer : Umm, no, it's not. It's understandable, but not desirable. But it most certainly is NOT censorship. No different this than any other operation than a
35 Planespotting : Ha, it certainly is censorship, in the truest sense of the word: "the act of examining books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and televis
36 Thorben : Just a different word with the same meaning. ANC, that is censorship, and that is what's happening. Why is the negative tone not appropriate?
37 Planespotting : Well, in this situation there are certainly many practical and ethical reasons for this form of censorship...safety of the soldiers in the field cert
38 CaptOveur : When you agree to defend the freedoms of others you have to give up some of your own. This sucks but I can understand it. I am kind of surprised it d
39 Post contains links Cfalk : Quoting Thorben (Reply 36): Why is the negative tone not appropriate? Because censorship can be the right and good thing to do. All soldiers in Iraq w
40 SJCRRPAX : This probably doesn't belong in this thread but I'll give my opinion anyway. I see really only two out comes to this conflict at this point. 1. The S
41 Post contains images Fridgmus : Thanks Sergeant Major! I'm hoping UH60 can get permission to post here. None of his threads that I've seen violated OPSEC. He is a perfect example of
42 Post contains images Klaus : No, but I'd expect that actually meaningful OpSec violations should still be rare. And would routinely be dealt with according to the rules. Keeping
43 ATCT : Finally someone that goes after both sides. Glad im not the only one (and im conservative...yes I like Bill O'Reily, but he puts a spin on everything
44 NoUFO : It may be censorship, but it is perfectly legal in this case, even in your and my country. Publications violating laws can be censored. Slander, libe
45 Post contains images UH60FtRucker : I think that best sums up this situation. A vast majority of the soldiers writing from the warzone are staying within the prescribed guidelines, and
46 ANCFlyer : As is usually the case with Military Spouses and Children . . . some folks simply can't empathize.
47 Dougloid : Fellows, I do not know whether you are aware of the historical context but I have a box full of Vmail from 1943 sent from a guy in the AAF to his fami
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