Thursday, 3 May 2007

The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the Army Way

From Recently Promulgated (US)Army Regulation 530-1 (pdf) from April 19th. Not April 1st, as you might suppose.
All Department of the Army (DA) personnel (active component, reserve component to include U.S. Army Reserve, Army National Guard, and DA civilians), and DOD contractors will-
g. Consult with their immediate supervisor and their OPSEC Officer for an OPSEC review prior to publishing or posting information in a public forum.
(1) This includes, but is not limited to letters, 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.
So every e-mail, every instant message, every communication requires censorship.

Now fortunately I'm not a US Army contractor or DA civilian. Or I wouldn't be able to say this. You see, this regulation is "For Official Use Only", and not everyone who has to obey the regulation is allowed to read it.
"Even though it is supposedly rewritten to include rules for contractors (i.e., me) I am not allowed to download it," e-mails Perry Jeffries, an Iraq war veteran now working as a contractor to the Armed Services Blood Program.

Al Qaeda can see the reg - I gave the URL to it above. The regulation doesn't cover US Navy, Air Force, or Marine personnel either. It has everything to do with stopping the justified criticism of incompetents and mainly Democratic politicians on military blogs, and nothing to do with operational security.

It also appears to be an attempt to throttle the main source of unspun news emanating from the war zone. MSM reports nothing but jihadi propaganda, gloom'n'doom. US CENTCOM, which almost no-one knows about, produces nothing but bland happy flowers and fluffy bunny stories that would have sounded twee in WWII. Of the two, at least CENTCOM stuff has a factual basis, but the saccherine coating of "Our Brave Boys And Girls In Green"-ery tends to induce nausea.
Despite the absolutist language, the guidelines' author, Major Ray Ceralde, said there is some leeway in enforcement of the rules. "It is not practical to check all communication, especially private communication," he noted in an e-mail. "Some units may require that soldiers register their blog with the unit for identification purposes with occasional spot checks after an initial review. Other units may require a review before every posting."

But with the regulations drawn so tightly, "many commanders will feel like they have no choice but to forbid their soldiers from blogging -- or even using e-mail," said Jeff Nuding, who won the bronze star for his service in Iraq. "If I'm a commander, and think that any slip-up gets me screwed, I'm making it easy: No blogs," added Nuding, writer of the "pro-victory" Dadmanly site. "I think this means the end of my blogging."

Active-duty troops aren't the only ones affected by the new guidelines. Civilians working for the military, Army contractors -- even soldiers' families -- are all subject to the directive as well.
Wired again
Not just the end of Army Blogging, the end of e-mails home as well. Because who can tell what some proud parent would quote in a letter to the editor, data extracted from an e-mail? Obviously with hundreds of outgoing e-mails a day from those under his direct command, no officer has time to vet them all. So e-mail will be forbidden.
Back in WWII, at least there were people sopecially trained to censor mail, and the postal service was good. Now neither applies. Communications from US Soldiers have just leapt from the 21st century to the 19th. Go Army!

Yes, I really do think those responsible for this situation should be held personally accountable. If not for MilBloggers, we would have no idea of the actual situation in Iraq (many who rely on MSM still don't). This will now change. Well, it will appease the incoming Democrat administration I guess. Lord save us from political Generals.


mythusmage said...

Just blogged about it. I hope this news spreads and gets the regulation either overturned or substantiallym revised

Nicole Harrison said...

It seems a "clarification" has been issued. Check out

Summary: "We didn't REALLY mean it to sound that way! You can still blog and post! Honest!"


Chief Bastard said...

Here in Australia, there has been several attempts to personally identify bloggers and in some cases, have some form of military judicial activity started as a form of personal vendetta.
Even if I was directed to stop, I wouldn't. I personally view the right to comment as and when I see fit as part of the bigger picture. I apply OPSEC as a matter of course. I don't need some twit telling me what can and can't be said.