Army Clamps Down on Blogs Again

Posted on May 5, 2007

Wired reports that an updated document (PDF) from the U.S. Army has strict new guidelines regarding blogging. These new restrictions require blogging soldiers, also known as milbloggers, to get approval from a commander before posting anything new. The guidelines essentially turn military commanders into editors and censors.
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.
Retired paratrooper Matthew Burden, editor of The Blog of War anthology, tells Wired, "This is the final nail in the coffin for combat blogging. 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."

The new guidelines do not sound fair and they will certainly keep some soldiers from posting or at least curtail what soldiers post. In the end just how much soldier web content is lost depends on how the military ends up enforcing the new guidelines. Defense Tech writes, "It remains to be seen how intensively the Army will investigate these postings for opsec violations which would take a tremendous amount of manpower considering the over 130,000 troops deployed to Iraq alone."

Some commanders will probably be stricter than others so how much individual soldiers are allowed to blog may depend a great deal on who is in charge as well as how intense the investigations into violations are.