Tracing the first official U.S. military blogs

July 7, 2010

So yesterday on Twitter I asked a question: when was the first official U.S. military blog started?

Of course, long gone are the days when blogs were an unknown quantity, and these days blogs by U.S. soldiers will usually be signed off by a superior meaning they are to some degree ‘official’ but I wasn’t after these individual soldier blogs.

By ‘official’ I meant blogs that were started as deliberate public affairs exercises on behalf of a branch of the services, or individual units as the corporate, the professional, the governmental, the NGO and the military began colonising the blogosphere.

Nobody seemed sure but people like @LindyKyzer, @fieldsteven, @salottimc and @milblogging (who also wrote a blog post about it) pointed me in the direction of various pieces of information or other people I might ask.

Using their information and some link-hopping, what appears below is a list by start of date of official U.S. military blogs.

I have no doubt that it is a far from comprehensive list so if you have any to add or reckon I’ve got the date wrong let me know. I’m aware that some blogs might have been disbanded or restarted.

I’m not sure I can yet conclusively answer the question I posed but I’m further forward.

It has been an interesting exercise. For some reason (and I’m not sure why) I was under the impression that the U.S. military had been officially blogging for longer than it actually has. 

Initially the strategy of the Department of Defense’s New Media Directorate, set up in October 2006, was to work with and engage bloggers rather than start their own blogs.  

(Although @Wodins suggested that official military blogging might have been taking place on ARPANET way before the Internet.)

Official U.S. Military Blogs by Start Date

2004-5 

DoD news article suggests a blog written by Capt Steve Alvarez for Orlando Sentinel as part of his official duties in Iraq was "first official U.S. military blog". (Here is a taster…it appears to be no different from any online article).

2006

October – Department of Defense New Media Directorate established; For the Record (Pseudo-blog: see this written by Steven Field for discussion of whether this is a blog)*

2007

October – Bloggers’ Roundtable

2008

January – Army Strong Stories; Dept of Navy Chief Information Officer;
February – US Army Corps of Engineers
April – DoD Live at Blogger
June – Combined Arms Center Blog; ARSIC-South
July – US Army Surgeon General
August – Task Force Mountain
September  – US Army Medical Corps; US Air Force Live;
December – 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team 3rd Inf Div; Commander US Army Pacific; US Army Reserve
 
2009
 
January – US European Command
February – US Air Forces Europe
April – Army Live; DoD Live (relaunch)
May – TRADOC
July – 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division; U.S. Fleet Forces Command Blog; USS Stout; Commander Submarine Group Ten; SPAWAR Systems Center;
August – 17th FiB
September – 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Div
November – Army Technology Live; US Army Cadet Command;
 
2010
 
January – NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan
April – Navy Live, (Details here)
May – Army Strong Stories (Relaunched 6 May)
June – Central Command Live blog

Updates: This post has been updated on several occasions to include several other blogs missing from the original post in response to comments and emails.



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6 thoughts on “Tracing the first official U.S. military blogs”

  1. Lindy Kyzer says:

    It’s amazing how late it all got started, isn’t it? I think your timeline is on the mark and you’ll be hard pressed to find “official” military blogs that actually look like blogs until the late 2007 early 2008 timeframe. I think it points to the fact that it took that long for the Department of Defense to figure out how to talk in a social media construct. The notion of feedback, conversation, and independent, candid voices took awhile. To their credit, there are many in the corporate world who are STILL trying to figure it out. And I believe there is something to be said for listening/participating before launching your own blog. It’s what DoD did and it’s what I did when I launched the Army’s blog outreach program.
    Thanks for the post – it brings back good memories of the days not so long ago when we were pushing to move the stodgy DoD community forward in social media!
    -Lindy Kyzer

  2. Daniel Bennett says:

    Thanks for your comment!
    You are right about many in the corporate world still trying to figure it out.
    It’s interesting to compare with the BBC, which as a media organisation you would expect to be ahead of the DoD. And the BBC was experimenting with blog-like structures as early as 2001, and doing some stuff during the 2004 U.S. election. But it still wasn’t until the end of 2005 and into 2006 that they started launching a dedicated blog network.
    I think there was concern at the BBC and elsewhere that blogs might be a passing Internet fad which might not warrant dedicated resources (and of course various other well-documented issues along the lines of bloggers vs journalists, professionals vs amateurs etc).
    As it has worked out, while new Internet genres have certainly emerged (social networking, Twitter etc) the participatory elements pioneered online by blogging have remained a fundamental part of these evolutions and hence the new media culture.
    Getting hierarchical, bureaucratic, one-to-many, and large organisations to understand that new culture and then adapt to it was always going to be, and remains, a challenge.
    But I hear you’ve left that job in the hands of somebody else! All the best for the next adventure.
    Dan

  3. Jack Holt says:

    Daniel,
    The first official military blog was actually the original DoDLive http://dodlive.blogspot.com/2008/04/going-live.html
    I started this as an extention of our DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable which was our first foray into the New Media environment for the DoD New Media Directorate. Our first effort was to engage and be accepted by the existing Milblog Community that was evolving from the works of folks like Colby Buzzell, J.P. Borda, Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal, Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette, Matt Burden and Uncle Jimbo of Blackfive.net, John Donovan at Castle Argghhh!, and Ward Carroll at Military.com.
    Our intent was to first provide them the opportunity to engage with leaders on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and then find ways to support and extend those engagements. That lead to our DoDLive concept and the first blog. That first blog was to prove the concept which led to DoDLive.mil which now supports ArmyLive.mil, AirForceLive.mil, NavyLive.mil and offering up the platform for others to begin official blogs.
    It may appear to have started late and to be a bit behind, but for those of us here at the beginning it has been a wild ride. And we’ve only just begun.
    Thanx for the post.
    Jack

  4. Daniel Bennett says:

    Jack,
    Thanks for the information – it’s great to have some more of the detail filled in. I’m not sure you’ve convinced me you beat the Dept of the Navy to the punch though 😉

  5. Jack Holt says:

    Yeah, ya got me on that. The DoN CIO and the Chief of Engineers’ blogs preceeded our blogspot blog. I had been pushing for several months to get a blog platform online as others were asking for the capabilities. Now that you have me thinking about it another that preceeded us was also Navy, The Destroyermen: http://destroyermen.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2008-03-24T10%3A00%3A00-10%3A00&max-results=5 which the Navy was trying to shut down, and succeeded temporarily, but we, PACOM, and US Navy Pacific, were able to change their minds. I remember the DoN CIO published his blog but it was several months before we knew about it finding it through a Chips magazine article. I worked with the Corps of Engineers in developing their blog, but actually thought we published before them, but the Web shows different, doesn’t it.
    You’ve asked a great question and perhaps this is a good place to think through and capture what actually happened.
    I’ll be thinking about this and back soon. I’m also interested in any research findings in your course of study you’d be willing to share. One of the other things I could not get done was the research to help explain what was happening. I’m still looking …
    Jack

  6. Steve Kubiszewski says:

    Daniel,
    You are exploring the potential for social and internet networking which I respect and search as much as possible. But we might also look into the connection between that forum and the person networking domain. I also see a great potential for the virtual worlkd, i.e. secondlife.
    For our veterans and current returnees, along with their partners and families, the “issues” started in the “real world” (whatever that is!!) and at the personal level. Is anyone interested in or researching the possibility of linking blogs, forums and tele-counseling to community level, peer oriented and peer run discussion groups for PTSD?
    http://www.ptsdanonymous.org

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