Thursday, May 03, 2007

Leashing the Blogs of War?

From the WaPo:

Blogs Chronicle War from Soldiers' Perspectives

(major snip)

On April 19 the Army released an updated OPSEC policy, Army Regulation 530-1. This policy requires Army personnel to consult with a supervisor and their OPSEC officer before posting information in a public forum. This includes letters, e-mails, Web site postings and blog postings among others types of information, according to the policy.

...Army OPSEC Program Manager Maj. Ray Ceralde, who helped author the revision, said bloggers shouldn't be concerned.

According to Ceralde, the new regulation does not require bloggers to have each post approved by officers, but rather instructs bloggers to alert commanders and OPSEC officers when they initially create a blog. This is similar to the policy already put in place in Iraq, he said. "Soldiers have the right to express themselves as long as they don't reveal information that will subject their unit or personnel to harm," Ceralde said.

Dr. Leonard Wong, an associate research professor in the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, said he believed the information on blogs could be used against American forces.

"We have a very open society, and we are starting to realize that the enemy takes advantage of that," Wong said.

While he couldn't cite a specific example of information from a blog being used against troops, he said the incident of Basra insurgents using Google maps to hit British military targets proves that they're capable of using information posted on the Internet in their attacks. full article

Captain Ed at Captains Quarters explains the new regulation and its potential effects:

"If that's the extent of their concern and the extent of the violations, then they have sacrificed a powerful voice of support for the Army and the mission in favor of an almost-useless silence. The author of the new rules, Major Ray Ceralde, claims that it won't kill milblogging, but the regulations make it so cumbersome that it will be impossible to maintain blogs -- or even e-mail. Here's the relevant section:

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.

(2) Supervisors will advise personnel to ensure that sensitive and critical information is not to be disclosed. Each
unit or organization’s OPSEC Officer will advise supervisors on means to prevent the disclosure of sensitive and
critical information.

In practical terms, a commanding officer would have to approve every blog post, every e-mail, and every forum post before the soldier could complete it. With the prodigious red tape of the military and the other duties of commanding officers, that means it could take days, weeks, or even forever before those requests get addressed. The immediacy of the information will be lost, and so will interest in it.""