Regular commenter Jane of SeeJaneMom has received a notice clarifying the Army’s position toward bloggers. I’m not sure who is saying this to her, but if this statement is accurate and authoritative then it represents a most welcome change. A couple of key excerpts:
Army Operations Security: Soldier Blogging Unchanged
o America’s Army respects every Soldier’s First Amendment rights
while also adhering to Operations Security (OPSEC) considerations to
ensure their safety on the battlefield.
* In no way will every blog post/update a Soldier makes on his or
her blog need to be monitored or first approved by an immediate
supervisor and Operations Security (OPSEC) officer. After receiving
guidance and awareness training from the appointed OPSEC officer, that
Soldier blogger is entrusted to practice OPSEC when posting in a public
Again, I haven’t seen an official copy of this document or an official source, but I’ve no reason to think it would be false or inaccurate.* I also don’t know what motivated this reconsideration, but I’m very glad it happened.
As I explained here, I’m very sympathetic to the military’s need to control operational security, but the sort of warning and training laid out in these new guidelines seems like a fair compromise, especially since blogging troops are far more invested in preserving their own security than the regular media is. Stifling the milbloggers seemed like a case of the Army cutting off its nose to spite its face.
UPDATES: Jane breaks more on this story. Norm Coleman, Tom Coburn, and Jim DeMint have written to Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressing their support for milbloggers, urging that the guidelines be drafted to permit them to continue to post. Here’s some language to put on your sidebars, fellas:
While the Army’s new regulations rightly address the vulnerabilities created by this new medium, we are concerned the regulations may also inadvertently weaken what has proven to be a significant asset in our new media age: the firsthand accounts of American military men and women on the ground.
Full thing, and even a screencap, at Jane’s.
I also asked Jane to clarify whether she thought the directives above represented a shift in policy:
SEE-DUBYA: Do you think this is a genuine shift in position based on the outcry, or that it’s a clarification that the policy was never that restrictive to begin with and we just freaked out over nothing?
JANE: The policy has always been tight, but they just FLASHED it a bit in everyone’s face to remind we military trash that Big Brother is still watching.
My take is that they “tightened” it PRECISELY SO THEY COULD LOOSEN IT. (Like the British hostages were taken so they could be released.) The average Active Duty knows PRECISELY what it means. As I said in yesterday’s post, the old addage…never say what you can write, never write what you can nod and never nod what you can wink.
Hmmm…so as much as I would like to claim another blogospheric victory, this may have been a pre-planned jerk of the chain all along. In any case, the affirmation from three solid conservative Senators is gratifying.