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U.S. Army Policy on Blogging from Baghdad

The Multi-National Corps Command in Iraq (MNC-I) is not formally a company, even if it has a huge budget, more than 100,000 soldiers and as many civilians under its control. Those of them who blog have to follow a strict policy, including a formal registration process with their chain of command. And if they publish prohibited information, they can be “subject to adverse administrative action or punishment,” or even to punishment if they’re soldiers. These rules governing blogging from Iraq have been published by Operation Truth, “a nonprofit, non-partisan veterans advocacy organization,” which also is “the first and largest Iraq veterans group in America.”

On June 15, 2005, Paul Rieckhoff, OpTruth Director, wrote for the Huffington Post a column about the rules governing blogging from the front lines.”

These rules were defined in a policy memo issued by the Multi-National Corps Command in Iraq (MNC-I), “Unit and Soldier Owned and Maintained Websites” (PDF format, 4 pages, 339 KB). This document, signed by Lieutenant General John R. Vines, is stamped April 6, 2005, even if it isn’t formally dated.

This policy memo covers all websites written by military personnel, DoD civilian personnel and contractors working for MNC-I. And of course, these sites include blogs.

MNC-I personnel who post web logs must register the URL at which the blog is posted with their unit.

This registration process is mandatory, whether a blog is hosted on a .mil site or a commercial server.

Of course, you cannot publish everything you want on such a blog. Examples of prohibited information include classified information and “casualty information before the next-of-kin has been formally notified by the Military Service concerned.”

And remember that this is a punitive policy.

Servicemembers in violation to this policy may be subject to adverse administrative action or punishment under the UCMJ. DoD civilians and DoD contractor personnel may be subject to adverse administrative action.

Is this a good policy? Please tell me what you think.

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Roland Piquepaille
Roland Piquepaille
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