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Archive for the ‘Milblogs’ Category

It seems like…

The Army Web Risk Assessment Cell has some new toys with which to track blogs.

Anyone from AWRAC wish to share? I’d love to hear more…

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Under the category of new-to-me-milblogs, check out fewl.net, a blog written by a sailor stationed in Japan.

One of my favorites is his redacted blog post, poking fun at blog censorship:

Fewl

The rest is just as good. You won’t be disappointed.

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Army of Four

My boss at Edelman (you know, the one who co-founded that little conservative political blog…) used to joke that I write in a niche of one. The world of military public affairs writers is so small that no one else would write about it, he reasoned.

Then I found this guy. And this one.

And today, we have another in our ranks.

Check out Beyond Blather, written by a 24-year military communications veteran and instructor at the Defense Information School.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Chad.

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Ok… so I’m a week late on this one (he announced it last Tuesday on his blog), but for some reason I just got the post in my feeds this morning. Damn you, Bloglines!

Here’s the (not-so) scoop:

“Teflon Don,” the milblogger who regaled us with his impressive prose and chronicles of his deployment to Iraq on his blog Acute Politics, is going back to Iraq — this time out of uniform.

From his blog:

I am not going back with the Army, this time, though that may still occur at some point in the future. I am going back of my own free will- I am becoming a participant in this great experiment of independent, citizen journalism. I am going back to Iraq as a photojournalist, accredited by the recently developed Public Multimedia, Inc.

If you would like to donate towards the purchase of equipment for my trip and receive some return on your investment (besides quality journalism, of course!), there is a new photo album up. Viewing is free- the photos are also available for purchase as high-quality prints. All proceeds will go directly to benefit citizen journalism.

This is great news, in my humble opinion. TD is an incredible writer. The community of milbloggers thinks so too — he handily won the Milbloggies last year for best U.S. Army Milblog.

If you have any doubts, read this. After reading that post, I subscribed to his blog.

I’m be excited to see what he brings us next…

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Weekend Reading

If you haven’t yet read Muddy Boots IO: The Rise of Soldier Blogs, you should.

It was written by MAJ Beth Robbins, who I had the pleasure of working with at the Pentagon. She held positions in planning, media relations, and took a significant role in standing up the Soldier’s Media Center a few years ago.

All around, she is a rockstar officer.

So check it out. It’s a good read.

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Check out Castle Argghhh! for details.

Apparently, this is the first time a sitting president has had a sit-down with a group of bloggers at the White House.

Glad the White House press office decided to reach out to the milblogging community first!

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Man down?

I noticed today that Army Lawyer’s blog appears to have been deleted and replaced with a standard WordPress welcome.

Was the anonymity of this active duty officer compromised?

Regardless, it is disappointing. Army Lawyer was one of my favorite reads in the milblogosphere.

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For years, the military has been warning that soldiers’ blogs could pose a security threat by leaking sensitive wartime information. But a series of online audits, conducted by the Army, suggests that official Defense Department websites post material that’s far more potentially harmful than blogs do.The audits, performed by the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell between January 2006 and January 2007, found at least 1,813 violations of operational security policy on 878 official military websites. In contrast, the 10-man, Manassas, Virginia, unit discovered 28 breaches, at most, on 594 individual blogs during the same period.

The results were obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, after the digital rights group filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.

“It’s clear that official Army websites are the real security problem, not blogs,” said EFF staff attorney Marcia Hofmann. “Bloggers, on the whole, have been very careful and conscientious. It’s a pretty major disparity.”

The findings stand in stark contrast to Army statements about the risks that blogs pose.

“Some soldiers continue to post sensitive information to internet websites and blogs,” then-Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker wrote in a 2005 memo. “Such OPSEC (operational security) violations needlessly place lives at risk.” That same year, commanders in Iraq ordered (.pdf) troops to register their blogs “with the unit chain of command.”

Read the full story here.

(h/t Beltway Blogroll)

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NETCOM, the Army command responsible for the maintenance and preservation of the military’s online network, has blocked access to Blogger, Google’s popular blogging platform, from government computers, according to Army employees.

Sources tell The D-Ring that Blogger blogs (which can easily be identified because they have the word “blogspot” in their Web address) were blocked for “security reasons” — there was concern about “malicious code” associated with Blogger blogs. A spokesman for NETCOM denies that they are blocking Blogger.

A public affairs representative for Joint Task Force – Global Network Operations, which oversees the global information grid, also said that Blogger was not one of the sites that was being blocked, and suggested that the problem might be due to local network restrictions.

Despite the official insistence that Blogger is not being screened, a D-Ring investigation found that Army employees at various installations on the East and West coasts, as well as the Midwest, could not access Blogger blogs, suggesting that the problem extends beyond network restrictions imposed locally by installation commanders.

In May, I defended the Army’s updated blogger policy by saying that it would not lead to a significant chilling of military bloggers.

This, however, is a different story.

If true, the decision to block Blogger amounts to a backdoor ban on blogging. By eliminating access to this blogging platform, the Army is removing the opportunity for Soldiers to blog.

Even if regulation allows Soldier the right to blog, without access, that right is meaningless.

The Blogger decision is especially disconcerting because many Soldier bloggers who had maintained MySpace blogs migrated to other platforms like Blogger after U.S. Strategic Command decided to ban MySpace. If one by one, the military starts blocking blogging platforms, it will eventually leave Soldiers no place where they can blog unless they buy their own blogging software — a step that I believe most Soldiers will not be willing to take.

And we wonder why we are losing the war of ideas. Maybe it is because our best spokespeople — our men and women in uniform — are being gagged. Let them share their ideas and their stories with the world.

Is Blogger blocked from government computers at your installation? Whether it is or not, leave a comment. The D-Ring wants to know. I’ll update as I get more information from NETCOM, US STRATCOM and folks from the field.

Update: A public affairs specialist in the National Capital Region just let me know he still has access to Blogger. I’d still like to hear from other folks outside of the public affairs community, since many computers belonging to public affairs have requested exemptions from the site blocks (especially in the case of MySpace and YouTube, which were blocked a few months ago).

Update 2: From the comments, it looks like blogger blogs are being blocked in Europe and Carlise Barracks. Anywhere esle?

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The D-Ring is a family-friendly blog, according to an online tool from Mingle2.com:

Online Dating

I got that rating for using the word “shoot” once (and I am pretty sure it wasn’t in the context that Mingle2 would find objectionable). Compare my rating to the rating for Blackfive:

Online Dating

Blackfive was given that rating for using the words “dick” (22x), “dangerous” (5x), death (4x), kill (3x), suck (2x) and poop (1x).

I think my blog rating just got less tame…

What’s your blog rating? (h/t Leah)

Update: As noted in the comments, only the front page of the blog is considered for these rankings. Also, the addition of the words in this post have bumped my ranking to PG.

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