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General Supports Milbloggers
As if being invited by the President of the United States to the White House for an hour-long chat about military bloggers weren’t enough to convince the Pentagon that we are great tools for getting the truth out, Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV is pleading with the armed forces to give milbloggers a chance. LTG Caldwell isn’t just any general. He commanded the mighty 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq recently.
LTG Caldwell suggests a four step approach to accomplishing this.
Naturally, the first step in ENCOURAGEMENT. If Soldiers aren’t encouraged to tell their story, they’ll never seek the means to do so. There is a mindset within the military that talking to the media or populace directly is dangerous and should be avoided without a public affairs official. This is nothing to be afraid of.
To get Soldiers to tell their story, they need to be EMPOWERED to do so. Look, Soldiers are entrusted with some weighty responsibilities compared to their peers outside the military. Soldiers in the their late teens and early twenties are required to make life and death decisions on a daily basis. Why should blogging about military life be any different?
The way to empowerment is through EDUCATION. If we train Soldiers on Operations Security (OPSEC) and classification within their mission sets, they will make sound judgments just as they do when they decide to pull the trigger. When I talk about education – and I hope the General agrees with me – I’m not talking about spin training. I mean telling it like it is without violating regulations and putting people’s lives in jeopardy. If Soldiers are taught how to deal with people and convey messages through the written and spoken word in a public forum, the more empowered they are to act on that encouragement without getting in trouble.
Finally, LTG Caldwell suggests we EQUIP Soldiers with the tools necessary to tell these stories. That probably means lifting many restrictions placed on Soldiers in the combat zone. Currently, anyone blogging in theater is required to get consent from their supervisors and security officials. General Caldwell suggests equipping units with camcorders with which they can document both missions and private life. In the Army we have all kinds of “additional duties” that range from NBC, to Intelligence Oversight, to Equal Opportunity. Why not add “Historical Preservation” or “Unit Media Relations” to the list? General Caldwell states, “The enemy video tapes operations and then distorts and twists the information and images to misinform the world. What if we had documented video footage of the same operations which refuted what our enemies say?” I agree. And not only with that, but with the fact that we need to be the FIRST one to get these images and words out!! In the war of words, you never win playing catch up. Ask any political candidate! Just look at the comments under recent posts here to see how people will believe anything initially, but convincing that information is wrong is an uphill, and perhaps impossible, undertaking.
Hattip to 1SG Troy for the link.