Saturday, January 07, 2006

Entire US Army Shoots Self In Foot

This photo from the USMC official website shows how serving soldierss are complete suckers for cute unidentified Iraqi kids who presumably have brothers and fathers ( each household is legally allowed one AK47).

Of course this would be of no interest to a guerrilla army whatsoever, unlike perhaps the photos and information provided in increasingly censored "milblogs"

Here' a link to a semi-thorough article from Newsday, a reputable New York Newspaper. concerning the crackdown on "milbogs".

And here are my musings:

Cindy Sheehan has been accused by various media pundidiots of "giving comfort to our enemies". Various politicians and reporters critical of the invasion of Iraq, its aftermath and its management have been often been accused of treason or at least "aiding and abetting the enemy". And lately some active duty soldiers have suffered the same criticism due to the content of their blogs.
Indeed the military has taken steps to shut down various "milblogs" it deems too detailed for fear that some of the information might be exploited by their military opposition and has insisted that any future blogs be reviewed for content before publication.

Reviewing and restricting the dissemination of information from a battlefront makes a lot of sense, in principle at least.
As a soldier on the front lines the last thing you would want to do is accidentally give the enemy useful intelligence because it could kill you. For the generals and politicians it could mean the difference between victory and defeat, tactically and strategically. For military families it could mean the difference between a joyful or sorrowful homecoming and for the taxpayer funding the war (whether pro or against) it could mean the cessation or continuation of taxation without real representation of hard-earned money that could be used elsewhere.

Here's another official USMC photo which IN NO WAY reveals any clues whatsoever about how an assault team might enter a building or what equipment they might carry.

For example one serving soldier’s blog was shut down and its author demoted because he had described his unit's flight route into Iraq and that information could thus help the enemy shoot down U.S. aircraft. The Army also said that this same soldier shouldn’t have disclosed that the last three bullets he loaded into his weapon's magazine were always tracers, because that could tip an enemy to time an attack just as an American soldier is reloading.

Marine Capt. Don Caetano of Mineola who was stationed in Fallujah where he ran the embedded journalist program and is now a recruiter in Garden City, NY offers this explanation of the increasingly instituted censorship:
"When you put your blog out there, you cannot forget that not only the good guys, but the bad guys are accessing it, especially for Techniques, Tactics and Procedures. If the bad guys take a piece from me, and a piece from you, and a piece from another guy, pretty soon they can gather some pretty good intel."

I have to admit that makes a lot of sense.

Except that Captain Caetano has of course just corroborated the information the Army objected to and negated his own argument for censorship. Thus he himself has "aided and abetted" the enemy—oops!

And here's the link to America's Army that apparently allows only the "good guys" with an internet connection to learn and practice the basics of both standard army and "special-ops" tactics.

But no matter, I’m sure the Army has now eliminated this particular use of tracers in US ammo clips, thereby preventing both the enemy and the US soldier of a clear notification in the middle of a firefight that it’s time to reload.

I’m sure the average soldier’s personal well-being and any mission objective will be henceforth better served by deploying hordes of army desk-jockeys to ensure every combat soldier’s ammo clips are without tracer rounds and instead insisting they quietly count the bullets they fire so that the enemy isn’t tipped-off about the soldier’s potential vulnerability. And I don’t suppose it has ever occurred to the stupid ragheads to designate just one of their group to function as a non-combatant first-hand observer in an attack against US military to better understand their tactics and procedures, rather than shoot first and "Google" later.

Two soldiers specifically have been demoted and fined respectively $1,000 and $1,640 for putting classified information on their blogs. Presumably then "aiding and abetting" or "giving comfort to the enemy" or revealing classified information no longer gets a soldier jailed or shot for treason but just a fine and a demotion; somehow the accusation and the penalty doesn’t quite fit. Perhaps the fact that said soldier might still be "in theater" whilst "security mom's" are beating up army recruiters in shopping malls has something to do with it.

An apparently life or death issue (not to mention the success or failure of a mission) is thus considered to be of national importance yet at the same time relegated to the level of a small-claims court.

The reasons given by Captain Caetano for the censorship of milblogs might actually be as injurious to the US military effort as the milblogs themselves.
His arguments and those of the Pentagon reveal a monolithic approach to the conduct of an "asymmetric" war, in the theater, in the media and at home. It is symptomatic of exactly the hidebound mentality that began the war and continues to mismanage it.
The "intel" provided by such blogs can indeed be used by the opposition as long as the U.S. military itself ignores it ands suppresses it. Information is just information, it’s how information is employed that matters. Rather than learning from those in the middle of the fight, the military (and its "Commander in Chief") would rather devote as much effort to attacking its own as it does to attacking its professed enemy.

There are plenty of good reasons for the military to be concerned about inadvertent release of "intel". But the fact is the US military as a whole is as guilty of providing such "intel" to a far greater degree than any single military blogger, or indeed of all of them. The excuses provided by the likes of Captain Caetano are fine in theory, but clearly lacking in practice. If the US military insists on "gagging" it's soldiers when it clearly can't gag itself, what then can we conclude? Are those in command stupid, incompetent or both?

According to our "Commander in Chief" the "Iraq War" was initiated based upon the "best intelligence we had at the time". That's a lot of crap. The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld's most constant refrain is "who knowS? You tell me!" Well the milblogs are telling their commanders what's going on and providing the US public who are funding the war with "intel" that above all informs those who are willing to listen and who are truly concerned with the soldiers' welfare as well as the professional and honorable completion of their mission.

It's hard to draw any other conclusion than that the gagging of milblogs is nothing more than an exercise in poltical propaganda which does nothing to serve the soldier, the mission or the nation. The Pentagon itself has done far more to provide the "enemy" with the intel it seeks, and to undermine morale in theater and at home though its incapacity to provide the troops with supplies and listen to their real-time field experience than any milblog ever has.


KEvron said...

i agree that the potential to inadvertently reveal, via milblogs, critical military intel does exist, but i just don't think the enemy is reading blogs (or if they, are, they aren't gleaning any valuable info from them). for, as we all know, that while blogs are a great source of information on a myriad of subjects, they're an even greater source of misinformation. too bad cpt. caetano didn't think to exploit this dynamic.


5th Estate said...

Kev posted his comment before I'd edited and expanded the post. still, his comment holds true.
Thanks Kev...I owe you a few