Friday, March 30, 2007

Let the Soldiers speak

The Defense Department restrictions on Mil-Bloggers essentially muzzle a critical voice from Combat Theaters. DOD has dictated that soldiers can no longer use military resources to maintain a personal website which is a restriction that inhibits military blogging from within theater.

I believe the senior members of DOD are off the mark on the issue… its no surprise that the generation raised on radio and Black and White TV may not fully grasp the potential for Internet broadcast from the players in the GWOT effort. I’m not throwing a stone here – I’m in the same mode – I am in awe at the phenomenon that is text messaging, myspace pages, blogs and so forth. I have to get lessons on the jargon and capabilities online and will never be able to really connect like my own kids can.

Most of the generation that is coming of age is more likely to get their information from computer sources than traditional media outlets. Imagine, if you will, 18-22 year olds communicating directly with their peers about what life in the military is really all about… no filters, no fluff, no stuffy old person’s spin on the message… The Army has a special page, or "channel," on YouTube, and plans to launch its new platform no later than June. Once the platform is operational, soldiers will be able to send their clips to the Army for posting, but videos will "only go on the site with the Army's “blessing," The Army maintains that this effort is to "participate in the YouTube community" and counter some of the "misrepresentations" of the Army and Army life already found on the Web. You suppose the Army machine will really convince anyone other than those of us committed to the cause that its worth viewing?

A well meaning attempt by the Army, but we are missing an opportunity for the real gritty, uncensored truth to be available. Aside from real operational security concerns which are largely oversubscribed and usually temporary or manageable, I don’t think we should fear what our soldiers will have to say. Soldiers that are peers to America’s population at all levels and demographics - real men and women in uniform - can effectively counter much of the negative message that proliferates the internet already. We can get effective broadcast of the military message and what serving is all about.

The Internet is full of videos opposed to the Iraq War and the U.S. military. We have hundreds of thousands of military personnel that can tell pieces of the story from another perspective. Enough with the DOD hysteria and fear for letting soldiers express themselves – Let the Soldiers defend and practice Freedom of Speech.

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