Milblogging, Interrupted


A few days old now, but I just got alerted to it: an interesting Boston Herald report on new levels of military oversight on "milbloggers"–soldiers reporting uncensored impressions and tales from the front on their blogs.

The military has assigned a National Guard unit to monitor the Internet for possible violations of operational security—OPSEC, as they call it. No one is suggesting significant violations have occurred, and soldiers were already required to have their commanders' approval to blog, and to submit to periodic review. A mechanism to ensure soldiers are doing their duty makes sense, but overzealous officers will find violations, real or imagined, and punish soldiers.

The new rules also say commanders in the field must approve in advance anything that goes onto a public Web site. So much for trusting soldiers to observe OPSEC, much as civilian reporters have been trusted to do under liberal embedding rules.

Check out an excellent milblogging aggregator, with many thoughts on this new policy and its possible chilling effects, here.

[Link via Tom Spurgeon's wonderful Comics Reporter site.]

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  1. Ive been watching the new generation of the GI Movement with much interest.
    Back in our day, we put out clandestine newsletters at great risk- the stockade, where savage beatings were the norm for politicals. Or anyone else. Look into the various large scale rebellions that broke out in US stockades in 69-71.
    Man, if we had cell phones & the Net in Viet Nam……….

  2. There is a point in (or after) many wars of aggression where the jingoism apparent at the beginning of the war begins to look naive or even foolish or sinister.

    Apparently, we’re there and the military brass knows it.

  3. MUTT:

    NO cell phones or Net, we had a MARS station that would contact HAM radio operators stateside who would make long distance phone call to the folks back home, then connect the radio to the phone (I have no idea how that worked). The MARS guy would listen in to make sure you didn’t say the wrong thing.

    The Kent State massacre happened during my tour, some enlisted men were protesting by wearing black armbands while in uniform. Unofficial policy was not to fuck with them, tensions were high. Some officers were going around saying that the students deserved it and more should have been shot. Closest thing to a mutiny I ever saw while in the Army.

  4. i remember them MARS guys. I came out from the boonies on a parts scrounging expedition, and was wandering thru DownTown Long Binh (I think) & came across the MARS truck. Called me Mum. She answered. Made her month, that.
    Kent State happened after I got out. I caused much outrage in my little world of Cambridge Mass when my line was : its about time” WHAT!!?? shit, hundred times that or more dyin every day in VN” But then, I was runnin with what became local Weathermen, they understood the point. so theres that.
    Point is, this GI Movement got a good history. The folks who started the UFO, the coffee house outside of Ft Dix, & those who started coffee houses outside military bases in them days- It was Sgt Browns Mem. Necktie in Cambridge-
    are a real gutsy part of resistance history.(my own beginning as an ink stained wretch was Our Times, Ft Devens, Mass) Folks had serious grit because this sort of activism & organizing got met with violent levels of State repression. Cheered on by “conservitives”, of course. And the folks who had a lot to do with it were brave people. Committed. And few. (Civilians, I mean here)
    And before Jane Fonda sat on a AA gun carriage in a 4th world country being reduced to oblivion by the most powerful military force on the planet, she spent a couple years doing the antiwar GI circuit, on USO tours, stickin up for GI rights.
    Not that a lot of posters here believe GIs HAVE any.
    Its forgotten now. Now we are expected to see militarized police storm & wreck the wrong house (looking for pictures) as “training”. Thats the logical result of allowing militarized police to storm & wreck radicals places in the late 60’s-70’s, and allowing damn near unfettered lazay-fare police red squads & prisons.
    Surprise, surprise. Now, that shit falls on “respectable” peoples heads.

  5. MUTT, Buckshot,

    Believe me the military is a vastly different deal today than it was during Vietnam. No offense to the service of those who were drafted, but lack of conscription seems to have a highly positive effect on everything from better morale to a greater level of initiative and dedication to professionalism in the current “profession of arms.”

    Of course, what the hell do I know? I started out enlisted in the Navy and ended up commissioned in the Air Force. There’s not a lot of ground-pounding time on my resume.

    Though my best friend, a guy who got me interested in Military History, says similar things about the guys he serves with on the Army side. He says those things even after rolling out to Afghanistan with 10th Mountain after spending 18 months with the 101st Airborne at the beginning of the Iraq war. (Me, though? I’d be pissed… I can’t think of a better reason to increase the size of the Army than his situation.)

  6. rob:
    Air Force Officer, eh? The enemy! 😉
    From the information I’ve gathered in my reading, you are right about the lack of conscription having a positive effect on all things military. Makes sense to me, professionals instead of angry draftee’s, it’s hard to be bitter when you asked for the job, and I understand they have higher recruitment standards than they did back in my days. They even took me! The political atmosphere was quite different 35 years ago, too, this was a nation divided. There were even two different kinds of young people, short hair redneck types who though weed was the devils herb, and us “freaks”. Today even the rednecks get high. There are different youth sub-cultures today, but not the same way. The past is a different country, as the saying goes.


    You were a Weatherman, no shit? Pretty radical. I heard you guys got your name from the Dylan line, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”. A friend of mine who died recently was in the SDS, we were good friends for decades and didn’t get into many conversations about the war, too many stong feelings, even after all these years.

  7. rob wrote:”differnt deal today than it was during Vietnam. No offense to the service of those who were drafted, but lack of conscription seems to have a highly positive effect on everything from better morale to a greater level of initiative and dedication to professionalism in the current “profession of arms.””
    You right there. I live in San Diego, and am always impressed, humbled & royally pissed off by our young people in uniform. The first two by them, the last for how they are being fucked over/abused. By “patriots” & “Support the Troops” chickenhawks. No doubt about it: these kids are far more into the idea of Soldiering than I & most of my friends were. And thier aint a goddam thing wrong wwith that for them. For US, however, as antiimp[eria;lists- as all low or high case libertarians MUST be, its not good. Having a lot of people within a military who DO NOT want to be there keeps it honest. In my case, I enlisted. As did the majority of VVAW members in the old days.
    A collective that became Weatherman after the split the set I was part of. (RYMII, if ya wanna know. Who KNOWS what this shit was about- I wasnt a college kid, I was a legitimizing body- for a while.) The last issuie of our GI paper in fact featured the upcoming Bring The War Home Weatherman kamikazi Chicago action. A co editor (active duty) ended up doin time.
    I was purged for my sad lack of Revolutionary fervour, if ya want the story, ping me off line. Its fairly funny. My link, above, is actually moi.

  8. Buckshot – I think that tends to be true. When I was in the Navy in the VERY early 90s there were still a few guys around who remembered the draft.

    I remember a guy who retired after 20-some odd years who said that if he’d never been drafted he’d never have had such a great life. I remember thinking that if I’d been forced to go to sea I would’ve been too pissed to stick around for a career. Actually, I was too pissed off to stick around even though I volunteered.

    Admittedly, “Join the Navy, see the world” isn’t a lie… the problem is you’ll spend most of your time watching the world slide by on the port side and then slide by on the starboard side – because most of the time you won’t be stopping!

    MUTT – ” The first two by them”

    I totally understand… Just because a guy wears the same uniform as you doesn’t mean he can’t still be a total jack-ass. Actually, in my experience there seems to be a larger proportion of uniformed jackasses than nonuniformed jackasses. There’s a life lesson in that for me, but I’m damned if I can spot it! Heh!

  9. MUTT:
    “Having a lot of people within the military who do not want to be there keeps it honest. In my case, I enlisted”.

    I enlisted, too, and in short order discovered that I didn’t want to be there anymore. One tour in Vietnam was enough for me, if I had been ordered back for a second tour I would probably have deserted. When I hear about our Iraq War veterans being sent back for 2nd and 3rd tours I feel a great saddness. It too much to ask of these young soldiers, airmen and saliors. Soon our military WILL be filled with people who don’t want to be there and will take it upon themselves to “keep the military honest”. I’ve said before that we citizens here stateside don’t really know what’s going on over there on the ground, you have to be in the middle of the shit to know what it really smells like. rob would probably have a better idea than me what the disgruntled troops are MUTTering about. Once some of the 2 and 3 tour veterans return to civilian life, they’re going to start talking and writing books about what a fucked-up mess this war was. Meanwhile, our Fearless Leaders in the White House think hard & profoundly as they move the pawns around the chessboard.

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