Or, a (very short) treatise on letting milbloggers blog and leveraging their power.
The Pentagon is afraid.
There is something revolutionary happening with media. People have been talking about it for a few years, but in the last 24 months, we have seen a tidal-wave like shift. Media once used to be owned by the elite; online publishing has now democratized media. Institutions (like the media) are facing growing distrust, while the voices of average people (ones that we can relate to) are becoming more and more credible.
Study after study shows that the military’s most effective spokesman is often the soldier him or herself.
Yet despite the amount of trust the organization puts in junior enlisted and noncommissioned officers, there is no trust in the ability of these men and women to tell their story to the world. Generals and admirals seem to be afraid that, if left on their own, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines would ruin the “brand” that they have tried to create, that they would sully the image of the service.
But this is not the case.
The leadership also seeks control. To own the message. To own the image. To own the communication.
They are commanders. What they know is control.
But what the medium knows — what this new communication environment knows — is fluidity. It is openness. And more importantly, whether commanders like it or not, soldiers will blog.
Rather than fight it, the smart commander should embrace it.
I have written before about the gap between the military and civilian society. This is a problem, especially as we face a long and protracted war against a determined enemy in a war that requires continued public support. Imagine if every soldier was not just a rifleman, but also a spokesman? If online, there existed a portal that served as a repository for the stories of hundreds of thousands of men and women serving who codified their stories into blogs?
The Pentagon should create a forum where every Soldier can tell his story — a platform at http://blogs.defendamerica.mil.
Any service member who wanted to could register a blog at this address for free. All that would be required to register is to take a quick 15-minute online tutorial (created cooperatively by public affairs and operational security experts) on what information is and isn’t appropriate for posting on their blog and how to blog.
With that, they would be free. They could tell their story. The blogs would be aggregated online for anyone who wanted to come and see the military story — direct from the mouths of the brave men and women serving the nation.
A pipe dream? Perhaps. But something to consider.