United States Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Brown lost his life in Afghanistan earlier this week. While that is extremely sad news, it was how his wife was notified of his death that was the big news. A woman in his platoon contacted Mrs Brown via Facebook to tell her about the tragedy before the chaplain could deliver the news. This has prompted security questions such as “should a soldiers ability to use social media such as Facebook be banned?”
The common answer to a question like this is an emphatic no. We need out fighting men and women to be happy, because without great morale, our troops will start to suffer. This is what a commenter (rjm56) had to say about contact with home:
“Long ago (very but don’t ask more) as a ground pounder Marine there were often delays in getting snail mail. Our military tried real hard to get it to the troops but movement, equipment failures don’t help. It really is very important to communicate with home as you are often is a strange place wondering who death will take next. Today’s world of instant communication would have been a dream. Regardless of even being heartbreaking at times (mom’s cooking vs. c-rat? 99% of moms win) moral goes way up with home communications. I agree, keep it going. If the soldier in question disobeyed orders, it will cost him some pay, a stripe or whatever. Human error happens and as a soldier we are held accountable for the screw up. No reason to punish the rest by going back to snail mail.”
The guy has a point. number one being how do you punish over a million men and women because of the actions of one misguided friend? I understand that she was doing what she thought was the right thing, but the military has policies in place for a reason. So then the question becomes, “how do we stop this from happening again?” The easiest answer is tho further the education of the men and women fighting overseas. Explain why we notify people of loss the way we do, and explain the process of how the notification takes place.
The difficult answer is to go back to a blackout with censored mail that can take months to get back and forth. I’m pretty sure neither the families, the soldiers, or command want that to happen. Because a happy Army is an effective Army, and an effective Army is nearly unstoppable in this day and age. If we limit our soldiers capacity to communicate with their families, we are basically saying that we do not trust them to make the correct decisions we have trained them to make. So please, let’s have more education and not a quick, irrational response.