U.S. Military Clamps Down on Soldiers' Blogs

Posted on January 4, 2006

An article from Newsday says that the U.S. military is maintaining a tighter control over military blogs, also known as milblogs. The article says that some blogs have been shut down and that National Guard Spc. Jason Christopher Hartley, who blogs at justanothersoldier.com, was demoted and fined for security violations found in his blog.

Nowadays, milbloggers "get shut down almost as fast as they're set up," said New York Army National Guard Spc. Jason Christopher Hartley, 31, of upstate New Paltz, who believes something is lost as the grunt's-eye take on Tikrit or Kabul is silenced or sanitized.

Hartley last January was among the first active-duty combat troops demoted and fined for security violations on his blog, justanothersoldier.com.

Throughout last year, the Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy tightened control on bloggers by requiring them to register through the chain of command and by creating special security squads to monitor milblogs.

"The ones that stay up are completely patriotic and innocuous, and they're fine if you want to read the flag-waving and how everything's peachy keen in Iraq," said Hartley, who is back in New Paltz after two years stationed in Iraq.

The article says that supporters of the military's stricter control of the soldier blogdom argue that the military is only trying to provide needed security. They don't want the enemy learning secrets or coming up with new ways to kill U.S. troops based on text or photos posted in milblogs. The article says that the Pentagon even sent out an advisory that read "Loose blogs may blow up BCTs [brigade combat team]." However, there are concerns that this is less about providing security and more about censoring troops that are critical of the war and the way the Iraq War is being conducted.
Some critics of the censorship say it could be harder for American soldiers to publicly raise questions about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the success or failure of the war effort, and the "stop-loss" policy that forces soldiers to remain after enlistment contracts expire.

But a complete milblog blackout may never succeed.

"Is it over? No way, as long as there are soldiers and the Internet. People will always be starting blogs and get shut down, and then someone else starts one," Hartley said. "In my generation, or younger, everyone's all about spilling their guts on the Internet."

Wired also ran a story on military blogs last August.

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