There was some confusion about a recent update to the Army regulations for OPSEC, or Operational Security, pertaining mainly to mil-blogging and e-mail. The rumor was that it said that all blogs and even personal e-mails must be okayed by higher-ups before being posted.
According to this Homeland Stupidity blog post, that is not accurate. There are no significant changes from when they updated the regs back in 2005.
What’s funny though is that the regulations are posted only on the Army’s interior network. When the Federation of American Scientists posted it on their own site, one of the Army publications folks told them to take it down. FAS declined. How are people (including civilians working for the government) supposed to know what to do if they can’t access the regs? Hell, ask anyone in my unit and I guarantee you they won’t know they have to register a blog to post to it legally. There is no awareness of this program.
As you might remember, I had to remove my Iraq journal and Iraq photos after someone (I still don’t know who) squealed to my UNIT commander (not my first-line supervisor or security officer), which got me in heaps of trouble. I ended up spending half a year in the penalty box and on the commander’s shitlist, doing little tapdances and quivering-lip performances for the unit sergeant major. Eventually I was let off the hook but by that time, my job training opportunities had halted, I was doing menial admin desk work, and there was no reason for me to deploy as I wished. I requested to stay back to apply to grad school. I might have gone to Iraq if I had still been with my team. It worked out better this way though since grad school letters of recommendation ended up being a babysitting project.
Anyway when I got in trouble, there were only some extremely vague memoranda from the Army secretary and sergeant major and commander about OPSEC. They offered no specific examples except photos of truck damage. (don’t get me started on “truck damage”…like terrorists really have a problem figuring out how to build an EFP or IED capable of destroying a HMMWV anymore…) There really is no regulation on OPSEC, which makes it open season for companies and units to pretty much do whatever they please. The result is that some soldier might be just warned and another might have his career ruined. Which is what has happened if you look into specific cases.
The new regulations contain the same vague, useless language. Plus you have to register your blog with your commander before posting to it. Which is retarded because very often your commander (who is required to have a degree, by the way) is clueless about what a blog even is. Commanders are captains so they’re not old, but they still think a blog is like some sort of advertising campaign to reveal every secret the Army has, instead of a personal journal posted online. That’s the attitude I got. Like I was bragging about what I was doing in Iraq and wanted EVERYONE to know. Why post it online then? they’d say.
It’s bad enough trying to explain OPSEC to people who aren’t in intelligence. In my admin work, that’s exactly what I had to do. No one cares except intel people. So then you throw in blogging and it’s even more of a lost cause.
I got thrown under the tires and I suspect many others have as well. The Army got what it wanted though. No one I know blogs about the war or military. Friends who had even vaguely military-related content on their blogs took them down.
There’s a Walter Reed blog by a current patient which has brazenly continued to post anonymously, saying that they will not be silenced. That’s probably the only way these blogs will continue. Anonymously.
One amusing aspect is that if you kowtow to Bush policy then it’s not OPSEC, it’s reporting the under-reported good news in Iraq.
All the chaos (chowss, Julie) of soldiers dying, pointless missions, Geneva Convention violations, policy criticism, and PTSD for returning soldiers is suppressed. Then you have the indoctrinated military side villifying the press for covering those issues for making mountains out of molehills. “If it were a problem, we’d know about it and take care of it ourselves…” How would you know about it if your teammates aren’t allowed to fucking talk about it? It’s just all pretty sad.
Soldiers can’t propose future courses of action or even talk about them except privately. The war is being run by some clueless officers up top and sergeants and lower-level officers are just trying to hold it all together. Petraeus is at least a positive force but he flies in the face of the typical general mentality.
Keep in mind it is these generals and also the hawkish politicians who leak more information to the press to pump up their cause than any mil-blogger does. As many have rightly said, OPSEC is routinely violated at the highest levels and is restrained at the lowest levels where you might actually get a lot of positive press from it.
I plan to re-post all my photos and my journal entries. They’ll be private but if you can read this then you’ll be able to see them again.
Meanwhile the shithole that is the occupation of Iraq continues. Yes, I’m back home from Australia and Fiji and back into the Iraq media maelstrom.