U.S. Army Declares War On Soldiers’ Blogs

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“Service before self,” says the U.S. Air Force, and the unofficial Navy motto, “Not self but country,” follows a similar line of thought.  But it’s members of the Army who are being asked something new in regards to their “selves”: Soldiers must now “consult with their immediate supervisor and their OPSEC [Operations Security] Officer” before sending e-mails or posting on blogs.

These new rules were instituted on April 17, but (as you might expect) the Army wasn’t eager to make them public.  Wired managed to get hold of them, however, even though “the guidelines are kept on the military’s restricted Army Knowledge Online intranet.”

The enforcement of these guidelines will ostensibly keep secrets secretive and soldiers safe, but their scope has some soldiers up in arms (figuratively speaking, of course).  So what, exactly, has been affected?

“[L]etters, resumes, articles for publication, electronic mail (e-mail), Web site postings, web log (blog) postings, discussion in Internet information forums, discussion in Internet message boards, or other forms of dissemination or documentation” must all get approval (italics mine).  Wouldn’t it be easier to just take away soldier’s pens and computers?  Or maybe the Army could get John Yossarian to do some editing.

Matthew Burden, a retired officer, thinks the whole thing is pointless, anyway.  “The soldiers who will attempt to fly under the radar and post negative items about the military, mission, and commanders will continue to do so under the new regs,” he wrote.  “The soldiers who’ve been playing ball the last few years, the vast, VAST, majority will be reduced.  In my mind, this reg will accomplish the exact opposite of its intent.”

Nonetheless, the Army’s bureaucracy isn’t known for being quick to change its mind.  Soldiers who wish to obey its commands may have to put service before self and blog.

U.S. Army Declares War On Soldiers’ Blogs
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