Wow! If encouragement truly is going to happen, the Secretary is certainly a great place to start! A few comments from the article bear repeating here:
"We've got to embrace every form of media, and this new medium - and particularly blogging, for many people - has replaced traditional media as a way to get news," said Geren. "And not only to get news, but to educate themselves, the back and forth that blogs offer. So I see it as an addition of what we're doing, and a mechanism to reach some people who you don't reach at all through so-called traditional media."
Bergner [Maj. Gen., previous spokesperson for Multi-National Force-Iraq] offered his perspective on what bloggers bring to the table that makes their perspective so critical.
"It's the personal aspect of what bloggers are able to convey," said Bergner. "No one can do it with the same personal insights, the perspective, and the texture that comes with those dialogues. That is what is so meaningful for the American people and so
important for the Army because all of us want Soldiers to be able to tell their story, like only a Soldier can do."
It's clear that our senior leadership is getting it - they see the value in milblogs for many of the reasons that have been kicked around on this blog. The next challenge is getting the lower levels of leadership to get it, accept it, and make it happen. Knowing that our senior leaders think it is important is the most important first step. But, besides just saying we encourage blogging, what actions can we take that will actually encourage Soldiers to blog - in other words, what will we do to make it more than positive rhetoric? What kind of measures could we use to encourage Soldiers who otherwise would be fearful of blogging to go ahead and give it a try. Right now, my thoughts lie in increasing awareness of the Army's policy and leading by example (leaders starting blogs). Additionally, posting guidance around MWR computers would increase awareness and potentially encourage Soldiers to try their hand at blogging. (Personal note: as I'm finding, blogging is a lot less difficult and time consuming than I had imagined. And, getting the dialogue going is pretty cool!)
As the article points out, and LTG Caldwell has also discussed, we have some cultural challenges to overcome. This is where the education/enabling of Soldiers to be effective bloggers is most important. We can't overcome cultural challenges by trying to do things the same way we've always done them and/or discounting new ideas and technology because they carry risks with them. We must evaluate the value of the idea, decide if the value of the idea is high enough to justify further work, examine and understand all inherent risks, and then develop ways to reduce that risk. We do this all the time for operations across the spectrum of conflict and in training. We need to do the same thing for blogs and other new media outlets. The Army is moving in this direction with some new blog policy guidance that is due out sometime next year.