The Army’s Big Blunder
I find this decision to be so amazingly ill-informed about how the milblogs have served the war effort and the cause of the military as to raise real doubts about the military’s ability to ever get ahead of the enemy in the information war. Really, if such a blunder can happen without anyone even asking about the ill effects on the effort to keep information flowing from people in the know to combat the ceaseless propaganda from the enemy, then the brass involved cannot possibly understand how the information war is playing out.
The new rules (.pdf) obtained by Wired News require a commander be consulted before every blog update.
“This is the final nail in the coffin for combat blogging,” said retired paratrooper Matthew Burden, editor of The Blog of War anthology. “No more military bloggers writing about their experiences in the combat zone. This is the best PR the military has — it’s most honest voice out of the war zone. And it’s being silenced.”
Compare the Army’s fear of information flows with the jihadists deep investment in them by reading Lawrence Wright’s “The Terror Web.”
“The Internet provides confused young Muslims in Europe with a virtual community,” Wright wrote. “Those who cannot adapt to their new homes discover on the Internet a responsive and compassionate forum. ‘The Internet stands in for the idea of the ummah, the mythologized Muslim community,’ Marc Sageman, the psychiatrist and former C.I.A. officer, said. ‘The Internet makes this ideal community concrete, because one can interact with it.’ He compares this virtual ummah to romantic conceptions of nationhood, which inspire people not only to love their country but to die for it.”
The internet has also fostered many virtual communities of individuals who believe in freedom, religious tolerance, and victory in the war against the jihaidsts. Many of the participants in those communities are milbloggers, and much crucial information on and perspective about the war has come from the milbloggers. The Army has now concluded that those flows do more harm than good, but I cannot fathom how any serious student of the blogosphere could reach such a conclusion.
More at Blackfive. Matt correctly notes that “Operational Security is of paramount importance.”
“But,” he adds, “we are losing the Information War on all fronts. Fanatic-like adherence to OPSEC will do us little good if we lose the few honest voices that tell the truth about The Long War.”