The Army Smashes Blogs

Army Strong! Army SMASHMy former employer, the U.S. Army, has published a new version of AR 530-1, which covers operational security. Actually, if my memory serves me correct, 530-1 has always existed, so this new AR is probably an addendum to the old one. The Army loves doing addendums.

Nothing in the new AR is surprising in the least, and it’s just an official declaration of what I realized over two years ago — that the days of unfiltered, completely honest voices blogging from a warzone are over.

The surprising thing? The new AR not only requires commander approval before posting blogs, but also for personal email messages. And the new rules apply not only to soldiers, but also to civilians working in Iraq and family members of soldiers. Which means no more blogs written by burdened wives who’ve been kept apart from their husbands for 13 months and need an outlet to blow off some steam.

It’s not like we, the current and former soldiers who participated in blogging, didn’t see this coming. You can see references to my chain of command spotting my writing in the Letters From Iraq e-book, which contains all my old blog postings from my tour of Iraq.

There’s a lot of noise going around that the actual AR file is blocked off to most people under the Army Knowledge Online site. I can verify that it’s true — I still have my AKO access, and I logged in to see if I could get a copy of the AR for posting here. I can view just about every AR (that’s Army Regulation, by the way) under the sun, but this one requires “special registration”, so my request for access was sent off to an administrator. I’m sure they’ll wonder why someone who is no longer in the Army is trying to access a hot document, but oh well.


4 thoughts on “The Army Smashes Blogs

  1. The most recent file regarding AR 530-1 I could find on AKO is identical to the one linked here: http://blog.wired.com/defense/files/army_reg_530_1_updated.pdf

    If there’s a newer/different one, I can’t find it anywhere on AKO… but I’d be interested in finding out how they respond to your request.

    Joe and I were both under scrutiny for a while as well when “the ones who need to know” found out we had blogs. Site Meter logged the CO on my blog anywhere from two to five times a month a one point. Joe had to ask permission, so to speak, while in Iraq. I was never told I had to get permission to blog anything and I was never told I had to take any content off of my blog. (Honestly, they would have had to shut the whole thing down in order to get me to censor my own blog… but it never got to that point, thankfully.)

    Even though I was never asked about my blog, I was still being watched. I used to post stuff that was purposefully shady just to jab the knife a little more their way. For instance, I would post something along these lines: “Well, all of you know about the story I posted a few months ago regarding J’s unit. As it turns out, the same drama is still following them around and the chain of command doesn’t seem too concerned. It makes me wonder when they’re going to start paying attention to the stuff that really matters… and that’s right under their noses… and stop spending time worrying about insignificant crap.” (No one ever accused me of being a grown up at all times.)

    Is it that bad, Jeremy? Are they really that scared of something getting out? Or it is just another ‘we’ve got our thumb on everything you do’ thing?

  2. They do have very good reason for at least being concerned about blogging. I know that there was a few times where I had to step back and say, “hey, it might not be a great thing if this information were available to the people that are trying to kill me.” I think they’re making the wrong move by shutting it down entirely, though — I mean, the best PR 1-10 got during my tour overseas was my constant shilling on how great the unit was, the great things we were doing, etc.

    Yeah, you’re gonna get some grumbling here and there, but that’s part of the deal. Complaining about the Army is a hobby — something done to pass the time. We complained a lot about being overseas, but we knew deep down that we were doing amazing things as a unit, and I think that came through in my writing.

    I’d say that they need to step back and trust soldiers to not be idiots, but that’s easier said than done. 🙂

  3. I’d say that they need to step back and trust soldiers to not be idiots, but that’s easier said than done.

    Unfortunately, you’re right on that point. Some in 1-10 specifically proved that AR’s such as this one are necessary.

    I’ve downloaded your file containing the writing from Iraq. I look forward to sitting down and reading through all of it.

  4. Mm says:

    Yeah, but you’re a SMART blogger. Trust soldiers not to be idiots after Abu Ghraib? Not trying to take a cheap shot, but not everyone’s as conscienscious as you, however you spell that word.

    That being said, my grandfather was telling me I believe how the Army used to black out several details from hand-written letters home back during WWII, so is this really anything new?

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