21 November 2008

Army Senior Leaders Embrace Blogging

When I was in the 82nd Airborne Division, I got to serve under now-Lieutenant General William Caldwell.  LTG Caldwell was a great officer to serve under for two reasons.

1.) He has embraced the art of public diplomacy known as milblogging (military blogging), and runs a blog at the US Army Combined Arms Center, under the name "Frontier 6".

2.) He gave us all the day off after one of the legendary 82nd Airborne Division 4-mile runs.  Therefore he pwns.

In all seriousness, it is actually rather revolutionary that one of America' top generals maintains a blog.  The military's attitude towards blogs has come almost full circle.  In 2001, many senior leaders seemed to be largely unaware that blogs existed.  As the war went on, and pictures from scandals such as Abu Ghraib hit the Internet, and message boards tipped off bomb makers to weaknesses in Humvees, the Army's leadership cracked down on blogs and "The Myspace".  

Now, with a new counterinsurgency strategy, the miltiary has taken a different approach to blogs.  Properly maintained and screened to prevent valuable intelligence from leaking out, blogs present a real-time unfiltered look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as America's efforts throughout the world, from South America to the Horn of Africa.   

Whereas officers at the Command and General Staff College in years past calculated force ratios for the giant Soviet-esque Red Horde coming through the Fulda Gap in training exercises, they are now required to maintain a blog as well as practice public diplomacy by reaching out and speaking to non-military communities.  

The concepts of "fires" has evolved--it used to mean artillery and air support.  It now includes information operations, which can include blogs.  

For a new media-savvy generation, often skeptical of news reports from established news media outlets and official government sources, blogs--largely unmoderated news sources--are oddly enough one of the more sought-after outlets for news reports coming from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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