Thursday, May 03, 2007

To Blog or Not To Blog... That isn't the question.

In April 2007 the Army republished its regulations on Operational Security, OPSEC, it is 530-1. There has been a lot of writing generated by it, much of it saying that the Army's intent is to squash Blogging by soldiers. I can not vouch for the intent of the powers that be. I have received a couple of communications in the last couple of days which point to the validity of concern on everyones part, and thought I would share. I received an email from an editor of a publication in Italy, reference my remarks about the Spanish Medevac. He has followed my blog for a while as a way to find out what is going on in an area where his country men are deployed. He is gathering intelligence. Harmless intelligence, but never the less intel.

This morning I received an email from a Stars and Stripes reporter reference my thoughts on the new regulation, so I red the pertinent parts and here is what I think basically.

Subject: blog regulations

Date: Wed, 2 May 2007 16:58:54 -0400

I’m a reporter following the story of the Army’s new regulations on blogs and emails -- I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to follow the issue, but it has created quite a storm today:

We’re trying to get some reaction from guys blogging downrange, so I was hoping you’d take a minute and send me some of your thoughts. I don’t know if this will have or as had any effect on your blog – I’m also interested if you feel the Army is sending the wrong message to guys who are trying to write about what they’re seeing and doing overseas. Many of the bloggers back stateside are petrified that the on-the-ground perspective is going to get lost.

Let me know if you’re comfortable being quoted (and your full name), and thanks for the help.

XXX XXXXXX xXx, Washington Bureau Reporter

Stars and Stripes

My response to him follows:

I guess I will keep my answer relatively short, and caveat it by saying I could be wrong.

The new regulations as I read Army Reg 530-1 updated April 2007, do not significantly change the rules of operation that I was under previously. Especially if you read the explanation here :

CFC A Policy Memo #030 Blog Policy was published on 18 September 2005, and signed by LTG Eikenberry. It required that blogs be registered, and monitored by the OPSEC Officer, IAO, and or PAO of the lowest organizational unit.

This is the question asked of MAJ Ceralde and his response:
Q: If a soldier has to consult his supervisor or an OPSEC officer every time he wants e-mail home or put up a blog posting, doesn't that effectively kill the practice? What supervisor is going to have the time to check all of that material?
The regulation says that a Soldier or other U.S. Army personnel must consult with their immediate supervisor and OPSEC officer prior to posting information in a public forum. However, this is where unit commander or organization leadership specifies in orders, policies, or directives how this will be done. Some units may require that Soldiers register their blog with the unit for identification purposes with occasional spot checks after an initial review. Other units may require a review before every posting. A private e-mail message to Family Members is not considered posting information in a public forum, but U.S. Army personnel are informed that unclassified e-mails can be intercepted and that they shouldn’t write anything that they wouldn’t say on an unsecure phone. While it is not practical to check all communication, especially private communication, the U.S. Army trusts that Soldiers and U.S. Army personnel will do the right things to maintain proper security when they understand their role in it.

It appears that MAJ Ceralde has updated 530-1 to incorporate various policies that were put into effect to secure information anyway. I believe that the existing updated regulations as I read them right now, are no more restrictive than the set I was operating under. I am pretty sure that someone in the Dept Of Justice reads what I write on a fairly regular basis, as I keep seeing their IP address.

I believe that Military Blogging done by soldiers, done correctly is a huge asset to the military. That does not mean that I have drank the kool aide and am regurgitating army thought. What it means is that the American Public and our Executive and Legislative branches deserve as much information about what actually happens here as they can get. It is a form of check and balance, there are rabid fanatics on both sides of the spectrum.

This may affect me in a negative way. Time will tell. Right now, I am registered appropriately, my organizational unit has a method to monitor my blog, and to the best of my knowledge I am in compliance with both the intent and letter of the law.


Keith McNeilly

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