09 November 2008

Making the case: The Army should encourage Soldiers to blog!

Why should Soldiers be encouraged to blog? Why shouldn’t the Army policy stay just the way it is? After all, the way the policy currently is written, blogs are allowed, they are not censored, and there is limited oversight which allows soldiers to write pretty much anything they want (so long as it doesn’t violate the principles of Operational Security (OPSEC)). The reason I believe our policy about blogs needs to be investigated and expanded is that we are missing a potentially great opportunity to more completely tell the Army’s story. Much like the Air Force’s “every Airman a spokesperson” idea, every Soldier has an important role in telling the complete Army story – from what’s going on in deployed locations to what life is like as a soldier or an Army family member to what it’s like to go through some of our training experiences. In short, to tell the world what it’s like to be an American Soldier.

This idea is completely in line with current military public affairs guidance (as described in Joint Publication (JP) 3-61, Public Affairs) which states that “by projecting confidence and commitment during interview or in talking to family and friends, DOD personnel can help promote public support for military operations.” (p1-6) This confidence and commitment can absolutely be demonstrated through a blog just as it can through these other avenues. Additionally, the US National Strategy for Public Diplomacy states that “All agencies and embassies should make a major commitment to more aggressively tell the story of how these programs are helping people improve their lives and opportunities.” (p7) Soldiers blogging can play an important role in this story telling. In fact, this same strategic document suggests that “all agencies and embassies must also increase use of new technologies, including creative use of the internet, web chats, blogs, and video story-telling opportunities on the Internet to highlight American policies and programs.” (p6)

To summarize, our nation’s leadership believes that blogs are a useful way to help highlight what we are doing around the world, governmental agencies are charged with aggressively telling their story, and public affairs guidance instructs service members to project confidence and commitment when interacting with the media as well as family and friends. Put this together, and Soldier blogging is one way to meet the intent.

Convinced? What am I overlooking? If we will agree that Soldier blogging can be an important part of a larger national strategy than we must ensure that our Soldiers are well prepared to “aggressively” blog. I’ll attack that problem in the next post.

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