US military bloggers fall silent in protest

December 18, 2009

A couple of days ago a number of military bloggers in the US agreed to hold a silent day of protest and more bloggers appear to be joining the campaign.

The trigger for the blogging strike was the treatment of blogger CJ Grisham whose chain of command became involved in his row with a local school. But there appears to be an underlying groundswell of discontent among the military blogging community.

An open letter posted on the influential Blackfive blog outlines several hypothetical scenarios based on real stories where military personnel and their families have faced difficulties as a result of blogging.

The post is addressed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the military leadership. It is particularly critical of the field grade of officers (major, lieutenant, colonel).

Although blogging and the use of social media is officially supported by more senior leadership, Blackfive and other military blogs have been critical of the field grade for ‘not getting’ military blogs and over-reacting to stories on blogs that are not entirely positive.

The author of the post, ‘Laughing Wolf’, does recognise that these officers often have other pressing concerns, particularly on deployments, but challenges senior leadership to address some of the problems experienced by military bloggers if they genuinely believe blogging is valuable to the US military. 

Laughing Wolf suggests that self-censorship is "creeping in" and that the number of bloggers writing about Afghanistan is diminishing.

Military blogs that have been closed down in the past usually get pulled by the individual blogger after pressure or a direct order from their chain of command. Notably, it appears that few blogs actually breach operational security and that they fall foul of internal military politics or are closed for being ‘off-message’.