17 December 2008

Are unit blogs a good idea?

There are a growing number of them out there: blogs created by military organizations (or businesses, for that matter) that serve to provide command information to the public or enable internal communication. These are often seen as outputs of propaganda at worst and, at best, providing no new insightful information. It seems to me that we are just barely scratching the surface of what could be and have some ground to make up in the perception arena.

One idea that has recently come to mind (partly inspired by Prof. Lawson's article) was for a unit-level blog. This blog would be:
  • maintained by a responsible and effective writer within the organization (whether that's a company, battalion, or brigade - higher than brigade and we lose some of the "muddy boots" perspective)
  • provide information similar to what is often provided to families through family readiness channels but would be tailored for the broader potential audience
  • maintain a blogroll of all blogs of Soldiers in the organization. This would provide one way for the Army to keep up with many blogs and could provide interested readers with a broad perspective on the activities of the particular unit

By maintaining such a blog at the unit level, readers would be presented with a broader perspective than they currently can get by looking at somewhat random individual blogs, it could significantly assist in the distribution of stories that otherwise don't get told or are buried in other press outlets, and potentially could serve as a link between official statements through traditional PA channels and the very unofficial stories told by milbloggers.

Is this idea way off mark or is there merit to it? I'm interested in your thoughts.


  1. My concern with posting in a unit blog is the credibility issue. I know my commander and first sergeant's name is on that blog. I'm going to hold back on certain things because their name is attached to the blog. I'm also concerned about who would have editorial control over my post in a unit blog. I think you'll find unit blogs are much like a post newspaper, full of positive stories that don't reflect reality. I'd like to give you examples, but I'll have to work with these people in the next year and our unit will need their support.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Adam. What if you didn't post to the unit blog? You still posted to your own blog, but the unit blogroll included yours and other Soldier's blogs in your organization? Would you still be concerned about telling the "full story"?

    I agree that the entries on the unit blog itself would likely have a more positive than average slant but I disagree that they wouldn't "reflect reality". Positive stories are, I believe, if balance is achieved by reading the individual Soldier blogs. Perhaps the readers would get the "full" story if they read the unit post and a couple Soldiers posts about the same event. In fact, perhaps over time, the unit blog posts would be forced to be more unbiased than natural given the other Soldier blogs providing other angles.

    I really think if this idea were to work, it would have to be at the Brigade level or higher. Not sure how useful it would be at the Battalion and below.

    One benefit to the unit blog is that it is kind of a "clearing house" of sorts - a site that a person can check out to see all milblogs related to a specific unit, therefore, a specific mission and/or area of operations. Of course, that opens up the OPSEC can o' worms. More on that later.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  3. Thanks for the shout out and link to my paper!

  4. No problem! Thanks for pointing me to it and several other useful sources. I'd appreciate to hear other thoughts you may have about ideas floated on this blog.