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No, Milblogs Are Not PAO or Propaganda

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In response to something offline, I wanted to add to what I said yesterday.

While some PAO’s blog, and the Department of Defense is starting to blog and engage in social media, milblogs are not PAO operations. The milbloggers do have to register with their command, which can consist of telling their superior they are blogging to something a bit more formal in writing. That said, they do not have to get their content reviewed or approved by public affairs (PAO).

While differing commands have different policies, most do not review what a blogger posts unless someone complains or there is a problem. The most common problem is one of violating operational security (OPSEC). The problem with violating OPSEC is that it can put that command in danger, especially if it gives information that the enemy can exploit. Think of it like this: if someone blogs that a security camera and alarm still hasn’t been fixed despite how long it’s been, and the enemy reads that, then they know how to get in undetected and do bad things. At its best, OPSEC isn’t designed or intended to keep the news from getting out (and problems unreported), it’s there to keep the enemy from getting in.

Yes, some milbloggers do get in trouble for saying things about their command. It is in many ways the same as working for any company: if you go on online and scream about your boss being an idiot, and the boss sees it, your rear will be in a sling if not out the door. It’s pretty much the same for a milblogger, though there is an added consideration that such comments have the potential to undermine authority in a way that could get people hurt or killed.

That said, commands and commanders do have the right to monitor, and can order a blog shut down if they feel it necessary. While that has happened, and under circumstances that have reflected poorly on the command and the blogger in question about equally in my opinion, it is not the norm. Active duty milbloggers also have additional rules that might not apply to civilian counterparts, in that they have to write in such a way as to not violate rules of conduct and to be sure that they don’t appear to be speaking for any branch or the larger Department of Defense. The former can be hard, since much of that is subjective rather than objective, and has been used in questionable ways by various authorities on occasion. The latter is why you will see a disclaimer on all (good) milblogs that specify that they are speaking only for themselves and do NOT represent the government or any part thereof in any way, shape, or form.

Again, if you think the milblogs are in lockstep and propaganda, you really need to actually read them. There is a wide range of opinions, styles, and more. We hope you will join us, and learn more about the wide range of information and opinion available through your friendly local milblog.

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