This week, I had an email exchange with Joe Chenelly from the Army Times. Wow, I can't believe that he just emailed little ol' me out of the blue. If you don't know, Mr. Chenelly is the author of the recent Army Times cover story about milbloggers. Anyhow, he wanted to hear my opinion about the Multi-National Corps-Iraq's recent policy letter on soldier-run websites (including blogs).
I think that it is good that the policy actually spells out what prohibited information you shouldn't publish on the web (4.h.). I already comply with that paragraph and am very careful about putting out info that could compromise our mission or get someone killed. Also, I like the part that soldiers are responsible to police their personal blogs (6b). The part that worries me, though, is that commanders are supposed to audit their troops blogs quarterly (6.c.). I don't think that these bloggers can really "tell it like it is" with their commanders leaning over their shoulder periodically.
I responded to Mr Chenelly's questions and basically told him that my anonymity is vital to the integrity of my blog. If I have to let the Army approve everything that I write, then I'm not able to be completely honest anymore and I'm just going to close up shop like Red2Alpha did.
I don't mind expressing my opinions here in my little corner of the blogosphere with 40-ish hits per day, but I am not sure about talking to Mr Chenelly. If my comments make it into the Army Times along with my blog address, I'm afraid it might bring too much attention on me.
Is too much attention a bad thing, you ask? It can be. Too much attention can make the Army want to find out who I really am.
I didn't start this blog to be a major-league milblogger like blackfive or greyhawk. I, like many other minor-league milbloggers, just think that I might have something to contribute as a witness to history. There are hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have seen both wonderful and tragic things during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I hope to let others hear what the main-stream press doesn't show... the thoughts, feelings, and fears of an average citizen-soldier. Maybe the average American will be able to see a little bit of what is going on over there through my posts.
Part of what I am doing is to combat the perception that we are losing this war. If we are losing, it's because the will of the American people is being sapped by constant negative images in the press. War, much like life, is not black and white. There is no such thing as a "good" war or a "bad" war. War is a dirty, nasty, cruel, but sometimes necessary thing. My dad told me when I was a kid never to get into a fight. He also told me that there was one thing worse than getting into a fight and that is losing a fight. I have way too much personally invested in this war to just stand by and watch America lose. That's part of what I'm trying to do here... get the word out and win back some popular support to see this through to the end and not see America "cut and run" too early to make our sacrifices worthwhile.
So wherever the chips fall with the Army Times, I'll do like I always do and make the best of whatever situation I find myself in. Some newfound attention may not be all bad.
For other opinions on the new blogger regs, see Commander Salamander, Castle Arggghhh and the Huffington Post