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On DoD blogging policy... and rash subordinates bloggers.

Last week I brought up KaboomwarJournal and its... tactical pause.  In hindsight, I'd have taken a different approach to how I said what I said, as the conversation didn't quite take the tack I expected.

It was a good conversation, though.  And one that has spread a bit, over to Cassandra's place, where she elucidates the obvious (her title, not my snark).

I don't have a lot to argue with regarding what Cassie said, in fact, it's the subject of this post.  And what has Cassie peeved is why I should have written my post differently.
Even if they caused someone to call me a "weak leader" for simply doing the job Uncle Sam paid me to do.

Because the way I wrote my post allowed the conflation of my points that Cassie refers to in her post.  I stand by my assessment of  the leader's action in this singular event in question - as an example of how not to do things. As far as I know he's a fine combat leader otherwise.  Don't continually mis-read your subordinates, bully them into a corner where they may react badly (and ill-advisedly) and then get petty in response. 

As they put it in leadership classes - "Always leave an out, when it makes sense."  And don't engage in petty retribution when things don't go your way.  Even if you believe you're right on the merits, it's no reason to get petty and vindictive.  You're supposed to be the adult.  Walk away.  The petty retribution isn't telling LT. G to shut down, btw - it's the "You're on my shite-list for petty pissant details because you won't do what I want - but am reluctant to order you to do."  In other words, I gave you two valid choices, and because you didn't do what I want, I'm going to pick on you."  Heh.  Shouldn't have given him the choice then, bubba.

Problem for me and my post was - it was a perfect storm of issues I care about.  Poor leadership, *and* the blogging policy which allows weak leaders to shut things down as an exercise of power.  I chose a less-than-optimal example (LT G's post and the response to it) to mix those themes.

Because LT G was wrong.  That was the planned subject of the follow-up post.  I should have posted them in reverse order.

I blog openly.  My bosses know I blog.  As in high up in the company they know I blog.  Several of them read the blog, on occasion.  I don't blog the job, the company, or the people I work with.  Oh, I leave hints about where I am or what's going on around me - but never details about the people, and certainly not about what the client has paid for.  That's theirs, not mine.  I have frustrations with the job, sure - but you don't read about 'em here.  You don't read about work personalities here.  Just like you don't read about the stuff I like about the job, or the people I like that I work with.  That's simply a minefield. 

Now, LT G., essentially writing a journal of his experiences, doesn't have that luxury - which means he has to exercise great discretion - else he find himself hoist on the petard of Neil Prakash and Armorgeddon.  Those who've been around milblogs a while will recall that Sergeant Hook had a similar experience, where he told a story that he thought was a good one, and not harmful to anyone involved, only to discover that he hadn't sterilized it nearly well enough - and there were some serious feelings hurt as a result - which caused Sergeant Hook to take a tactical pause, though that was self-imposed, vice externally.

LT G should have saved the details of that post for his memoir.  Or made it allegorical, vice personal.   It's instructive, in a sense, that he has left the offending post up unaltered.  I know blog etiquette about deleting posts - and I understand how Google operates - but that's a post that could have had the content erased, with a disclaimer, and I don't think that would have been a breach of blog-fu.  Your mileage may vary.

The whole thing - including Cassandra's response and all the commentary at both places - illustrates the shifting sands we walk as we explore this environment, the changes in cultural norms, and strive to develop new ones, that hopefully keep what was good while jettisoning the trash.

Cassandra sometimes wants to protect and keep close things I think are better discussed - and when discussed well, not only clarify things for us, but also give outsiders insight to us that is good for them - and us.  We are an insular enough group as it is.

But she's right that we don't always do that in optimal manners and venues, and it's good to have someone play that role, and wave the ruler at us.  Blogging is, let's face it, the realm of the self-absorbed (as in journalism in general) and we oft-times forget that our bubbles are transparent.  Just because they aren't commenting, doesn't mean they aren't reading.  And "they" isn't always a friendly audience.

Which is something we should all keep in mind. 

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Dawn Patrol from Mudville Gazette on June 30, 2008 10:23 AM

Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and other sources around the world. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link to any of these stories, add a li... Read More

8 Comments

Well now I wasn't going to post what I wrote this morning...

Now you are making me reconsider :p
   
You're a guy - you're supposed to say, "Huh"??? :p
 
Heh. Really. You say that... to *me*?
 

My observations so far…

This discussion is very interesting to observe. New media, the milblog evolution, and the medium’s place in the national security discussion are in interesting motion here. While this isn’t the first time we have seen this situation occur to a forward deployed blogger, Lt G has higher visibility and popularity than others in the past because while his content is first person military, his style was compelling from a literary perspective and reached a broader audience.

Military blogs are an evolution, not revolution, and the bumps in the road make the medium stronger, make everyone smarter, and evolves the standards of acceptable content from every perspective. Given the neurons at work over Lt G’s situation; here, Cassandra’s, and elsewhere it is notable Lt G is raising the quality of first person blogging with his error at the same rate he did when he blogged.

The Army, indeed the DoD, should be getting some mileage here, assuming they are paying attention.
 

 
Well, I've been sending the links to LTG Caldwell, OSD, and Big Army PAO...
 
John,  as I look at your whole series and Cassandra's Blog including all the comments. I start looking at this in following way, There is a large chasm between the civilian and Military worlds. Let me say this very clearly, "This is not a case of one is better than the other, they are both important to the Defense of this Nation.  But they both have clearly different mindsets." Civilians, please understand the blogs may allow you to have a virtual visit to the Military. But when you're done, you close your browser and go about your civilian life, this is not true for the others.  This a choice under your control. To the Military, THANK YOU, for allowing us to visit your "home". You allow your Family, in the large sense, to share with us. Vets, times change but traditions don't. Yes, somebody can be rotten or petty, but if you do it, who wins?

To everybody, let's work together as we go into the 21st Century. 

As always,
Grumpy
 
John the best posts are like this.... Messy.

I'm a believer in freedom but I know that often doesn't really apply in the military which is so ironic as to be depressing.  But all extremes have a limit, including freedom.

One could silence talk completely which is the way of the Australian military.  Consequences seem to be rooted in civilian unawareness, disdain and hostility towards the military.  Add problems having poor avenue for venting and stop lossing.  These fester badly and cause quite a bit of morale issues.  But it does avoid all the problems of people saying things that others don't want said.

Or you could blog but never talk about anything that rocks anyone's boat internally.  Which seems to be what the US system prefers but does not fully practice.  So what if this happens?  Rock external boats and talk nice?  Consequences here?  Civilians more informed, internal problems still encouraged to fester.  Milblogs end up distrusted as outlets for officially approved views.

At the core I believe in Opsec.  I am definitely no lover of secrecy and that relates again to freedom.  But there I see reason and it makes sense.  But secrecy and silence for the sake of making an appearance of honour?

Hardly.  This is like spin politics.  In fact there is nothing more dishonourable than faking honour.  Cue the deluded dudes who attend marine dinners as a marine they aren't.  Honour doesn't build from dishonesty by omission or fakery.  A military ought to be so jam packed with honour faking it isn't needed.  Because if it isn't honorable the country is screwed.  I can understand some countries have Problems but Australia and the US, while there are issues, have plenty of strength to go on.

As I see it these sorts of posts popping up on US milblogs suggests the internal resolution is broken.  This could be bad leadership but which leader and it could be other things as well.

All the silence reminds me of the father problem for a teenager.  He goes to work he must be doing something because I'm still eating and watching TV.  What does he do?  Dunno he's not allowed to/interested in telling you/doesn't have time.  He loves mum, he plays golf and he snores. On weekends he plays poker with his mates while you play your xbox.  Or maybe he has a BBQ with the family.

He worked a long time and retired with a gold watch.  Had a heart attack soon after.  Nice funeral.  He cared for me in his quiet way let me grow up.  I love him.  I miss him.

10 years later.  "Who was your Dad?"

"Dunno."