A FAMILY AT WAR



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Soldier Blogs

 “[In] the last e-mail he sent, he said, ‘you know, I think that we just need to get this show on the road. Either we come home or we just take care of the job.’”
—Roxanne Kaylor, in A FAMILY AT WAR

Archival photo of a young man sitting in a cave of sorts created by sand bags, a piece of paper in his lap, writing with his left hand
A soldier stationed in Korea, writes a letter home (1951) Photo: U.S. Army


Technology has changed the way the military are communicating with their families, and in some cases, the world. Gone are the days of writing letters that arrive back home weeks later. Personal war diaries and letters have long been the communication vehicle for soldiers in wartime, however the immediacy of broadband, phone and photo access has drastically changed communications.

Today, it is more likely that a soldier will simply send an e-mail that can be read almost instantaneously. But even e-mail seems passé in the “Blogoshere”—a virtual world of online journals called Web logs, or blogs—where soldiers share their reflections on the World Wide Web with friends, family and strangers alike.

Get soldier blog excerpts and links >>

“The Internet and digital communications devices have democratized the global flow of information for friend and foe alike. Whether you think that's good or bad, there's no question that it is a revolution with profound implications.”
—Military analyst Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute in Arlington, Virginia


Logo banner has a photo collage of two soldiers an American flag and five stars in a circle, the text reads: Home of Milblogs: Free speech from those who help make it possible
Logo: mudvillegazette.com

An estimated 200 soldiers on active duty keep blogs, and the number is growing steadily. Because of their popularity and concerns that they may compromise military operations, soldier blogs, or “milblogs” (military blogs) are under increased scrutiny by military leaders. In April 2005, the military released its first policy on blogs, saying that any Web site maintained by a soldier must be registered. Bloggers were also prohibited from discussing classified information, revealing the names of soldiers who are killed or wounded before their families are notified and commenting on incidents still under investigation.

Policy enforcement is at the discretion of unit commanders. To date, there have been cited violations, including Specialist Leonard Clark, who was fined $1,640 and demoted. Army physician Major Michael Cohen, known as 67cshdocs, agreed to avoid punishment by taking down his site after a warning.

As the military grapples with how much information they need to control, and as soldiers get more access to communication technology, the rest of the story is waiting to be told. For now, soldiers’ blogs provide a real-time account of life on active duty.

Learn about how soldiers are “sending letters home” today >>

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