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March 28, 2005

Milblogging 101

Frequent readers of this space know that I've taken to making Afghanistan kind of a mission for the Castle to report the Forgotten Campaign of this war. But there is another group of Forgotten Soldiers - the ones in the Balkans. They have a voice, too, SGT E of Foxholes and Dogtags and Incoherent Ramblings (she's a multi-blogger).

Young SGT E recently ran into some rocky ground in her blogging, that caused her to take it down briefly. Kind of like SGT Hook - except that she's back, and has published a 10 Commandments for Milblogging list. worth the read - especially if you are thinking about blogging.

I left her a long, rambling comment, that in retrospect reeks of officer-like paternalism. Which is how I write, so I guess that isn't a surprise. I'm sticking my response in the Flash Traffic/Extended entry - not to hide it, but it's intended as an expansion of her theme, so I'll leave her theme on the front page, and bury my old fart musings below the fold.

I said (generally, I may edit this a touch)...

Heh. So *that's* why I didn't retire a General... (which is partially true, my "keep your mouth shut gene is not well-developed)

Some of what you just mentioned ended up biting the famous SGT Hook in the butt, but 1SG's who blog still make Sergeant Major - but Hook still foundered because someone's feelings were hurt. Hook quit voluntarily.

Sigh.

Try a different tack. People still want to know what it's like to be a soldier - and you happen to be a voice in the Forgotten Deployment. Over at Castle Argghhh! I've essentially added a war correspondent from Afghanistan - because the media doesn't talk about that much anymore. They don't talk about the Balkans at all. (Which means what you are doing is working, really)

But people like Mark the Kiwi up there in your comments want to know what's happening. Talk about the good stuff that happens. Make a conscious effort to see things in a positive light (after 24 years of soldiering, I know the ugly and seemingly stupid stuff hits you the face - blinding you to what keeps you there in uniform...)

Find ways to make it funny - but not at other people's direct expense. Tell war stories. Develop a few 'regular characters' who are amalgams of types of people, give them names (not real) and use them to tell the stories that might otherwise get you in trouble. Fudge the times and places, and keep an eye out *always* for real OPSEC vice CYASEC. Soldiers and authors have been doing that since time immemorial - we expect and understand that.

If you really don't understand why something is happening in your unit - ask some of the other milbloggers... especially the older ones, officer or enlisted - or retired.

You got a story you want to run, share it with them, get an opinion. Get several. They might be able to explain why something stupid, isn't. Or they'll at least go, "Yep, that sure seems stupid."

If you really feel strongly about it - ask them if they'll run it - suitably sanitized. Sometimes the rocks do need to be kicked over - just by somebody else.

But, y'know - the rules are the same for me, really. I'm retired from active duty, but do analysis work for the Army, so I can talk about the military a lot, and have lots of sources for info - but if I ever talk about my job, it's tangential, and never with specifics, usually only to provide context or, a weak credential. And I never mention the company I work for. Ever. That doesn't mean you can't figure it out from the blog if you know enough - but like you said in III and V (which are flip sides of the same coin) non-military bloggers who talk bad about their employers and bosses are at risk, too...

And if they talk about sensitive things like product design or launch out of school they are at risk as well... so the rest of us *should* be working under the same set of rules.

The big difference is that unlike the rest of us, active duty deployed milbloggers can actually endanger someone other than themselves, which lays an extra burden of responsibility on shoulders already bearing a heavy load.

Hang tough!