Tuesday, August 30, 2005

 

OPSEC and Pandora's Box

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette weighs in on the Schoomaker OPSEC memo, and his reference to blogs. Greyhawk notes a UPI Story out today, as it appeared in The Washington Times.

Greyhawk makes some corrections of misstatements in the UPI report, and offers the following assessment:
Just putting things in perspective here - the "Army declares war on blogs" theme is perhaps interesting fodder for bloggers (and apparently UPI reporters) - but it doesn't approach the reality of the situation, and from reading the actual memo "the Army" knows it. The problem is most likely too large for any but two possible solutions. One: deny internet access to deployed troops (major morale blast there) or two: train, educate and insist on strict adherence to security standards. Looks like which option is implemented is in the hands of lower level commanders. As noted here before, their responses may vary.
I would certainly agree with Greyhawk's assessment. My freedom to blog is constrained by my Commander's assessment of how well I practice OPSEC. So far, so good. (And writing nice things about him has nothing to do with it.) My intent is indicated in my initial post on this issue. Each local Commander will have wide discretion in monitoring, censoring, or even shutting down blogs of Soldiers under their command. And some will no doubt be overcautious, timid, or reluctant to take any heat for a would-be journalist "embedded" in their unit.

Furthermore, I take to heart Blackfive's observation that many things about our war in Iraq are experimental. The US Army is trying out a lot of new doctrine, new techniques, new warfighting capabilities, and new services important to Soldier care.

The amount of connectedness in this battlespace is unparalleled in history, any Army, any war. It brings immediate and spectacular advantages. And it likewise delivers results home so rapidly that innocents are being harmed by premature revelations, or mistaken identities resulting from a too rapid, non-validated rumor-mongering, or even an unsympathetic press that uses real-time snippets of news as lure to prey upon vulnerable family members.

Things may very well change in the future. Soldiers may not have unlimited internet access. Mail access. The freedom to blog. Perhaps the Army will try to control information too tightly. Perhaps they'll implement a kind of military-sponsored "syndicate," where unit members can sign on to "self-embed" with their units. Such a process might grant freedom to blog with self-censorship, provided the Soldier blogger agree to various rules or policies. Like a online journalistic code of ethics, a Hippocratic Oath of blogging.

As Blackfive also suggested, if there is to be some solution found that preserves the critical value of the MILBLOG, yet maintains meaningful OPSEC, the solution will have to come from within the community of military bloggers.

Links: Basil's Blog, Dawn Patrol at Mudville Gazette



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