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The Army Clarifies: So, Are We Back To The Old Policy?

Thursday, May 3, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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The Army has issued the following clarification, which makes it sound like the new new policy is the old policy.  Fine by me:

Fact Sheet
Army Operations Security: Soldier Blogging Unchanged

Summary:
o America’s Army respects every Soldier’s First Amendment rights
while also adhering to Operations Security (OPSEC) considerations to
ensure their safety on the battlefield.
o Soldiers and Army family members agree that safety of our
Soldiers are of utmost importance.
o Soldiers, Civilians, contractors and Family Members all play an
integral role in maintaining Operations Security, just as in previous
wars.

Details:
* In no way will every blog post/update a Soldier makes on his or
her blog need to be monitored or first approved by an immediate
supervisor and Operations Security (OPSEC) officer. After receiving
guidance and awareness training from the appointed OPSEC officer, that
Soldier blogger is entrusted to practice OPSEC when posting in a public
forum.

* Army Regulation 350-1, “Operations Security,” was updated April
17, 2007 – but the wording and policies on blogging remain the same from
the July 2005 guidance first put out by the U.S. Army in Iraq for
battlefield blogging. Since not every post/update in a public forum can
be monitored, this regulation places trust in the Soldier, Civilian
Employee, Family Member and contractor that they will use proper
judgment to ensure OPSEC.
o Much of the information contained in the 2007 version of AR
530-1 already was included in the 2005 version of AR 530-1. For
example, Soldiers have been required since 2005 to report to their
immediate supervisor and OPSEC officer about their wishes to publish
military-related content in public forums.
o Army Regulation 530-1 simply lays out measures to help ensure
operations security issues are not published in public forums (i.e.,
blogs) by Army personnel.

* Soldiers do not have to seek permission from a supervisor to
send personal E-mails. Personal E-mails are considered private
communication. However, AR 530-1 does mention if someone later posts an
E-mail in a public forum containing information sensitive to OPSEC
considerations, an issue may then arise.

* Soldiers may also have a blog without needing to consult with
their immediate supervisor and OPSEC officer if the following conditions
are met:
1. The blog’s topic is not military-related (i.e., Sgt. Doe
publishes a blog about his favorite basketball team).
2. The Soldier doesn’t represent or act on behalf of the Army in
any way.
3. The Soldier doesn’t use government equipment when on his or her
personal blog.

* Army Family Members are not mandated by commanders to practice
OPSEC. Commanders cannot order military Family Members to adhere to
OPSEC. AR 530-1 simply says Family Members need to be aware of OPSEC to
help safeguard potentially critical and sensitive information. This
helps to ensure Soldiers’ safety, technologies and present and future
operations will not be compromised.

* Just as in 2005 and 2006, a Soldier should inform his or her
OPSEC officer and immediate supervisor when establishing a blog for two
primary reasons:
1. To provide the command situational awareness.
2. To allow the OPSEC officer an opportunity to explain to the
Soldier matters to be aware of when posting military-related content in
a public, global forum.

* A Soldier who already has a military-related blog that has not
yet consulted with his or her immediate supervisor and OPSEC officer
should do so.

* Commands have the authority to enact local regulations in
addition to what AR 530-1 stipulates on this topic.

(emphasis added.) (HT: TruthLaidBear.)

I look forward to Blackfive’s analysis.

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