Former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne thinks the best solution may be to let the troops themselves document the story. “We need to make sure we capture the news cycle by providing our troops with something like a combat blogger,” Wynne tells Danger Room.
But that means changing the Defense Department’s often-schizophrenic approach to bloggers in uniform. Within the armed services, there’s a growing recognition that average soldiers are the most trusted voices the military has. But leaders are squeamish about letting their troops publish online. The result: Army secrecy regulations, read literally, make it next-to-impossible for average soldiers to blog — while leading generals, deployed to war zones, are keeping online journals of their own.
Wynne thinks it’s time to let military bloggers have a freer hand. “This thing of letting the Taliban, letting Al Jazeera, letting the enemy public affairs unit get a hold of 24 to 48 hours of news cycle and then you announce that you’re forming an investigative team — what is that?” Wynne says. “The sad part is, that when [the military] forms an investigative team, it looks like it’s only for one reason: to cover it up.”
Something I've been saying for a while (again, check in with me next week for my awesome news). The Mudville Gazette takes it a little bit further, adding:
Off the top of my head I can think of one subsequent example of rapid, real-time "IO victory" by deployed milbloggers. While the DoD has made great strides forward in putting Humpty together again over the past two years, by the time the surge was launched in 2007 my distant early warning that if milblogs were outlawed only outlaws would have milblogs was (with few notable exceptions) effectively fact. I was in Iraq in December, 2004 - and back again for the surge. But among the few deployed "milbloggers" during that second tour (not many more in all of Iraq than were in that DFAC in 2004) the most well known and widely-read was The New Republic's DFAC correspondent Scott Thomas Beauchamp. Funny how that worked out.On a closing note (for now): soldiers don't quit, and milblogs won't die. There are still guys in-theater - Iraq and Afghanistan, blogging away. (And we still follow them here.) Their numbers are small, but another point I made at the milblogs conference is worth repeating here: for that they are a national treasure.