By lex, Posted on December 11, 2006
The Australian Defense Forces HQ has pulled the plug on its milbloggers:
Critics say the soldiers are being denied the very freedoms they are fighting for.
The blogs were destroyed in September, hours after pictures of Australian soldiers playing with guns surfaced on the internet in the days before the inquiry into Private Jake Kovco’s death in Baghdad.
Australia’s leading defence think-tank, a civil libertarian and an internet expert have blasted the move as heavy-handed, saying it denied freedom of speech and destroyed Australian history.
I fully understand the fears that senior leadership have about their servicemen blogging. There is a legitimate concern about operational security – OPSEC – but if you can teach a man to decide the fate of others in a split second, you can teach him to avoid writing about critical tactics, techniques and procedures in his blog when he has the leisure of reflection.
Less noble a sentiment is leadership’s fear of losing control over the message. This certainly seems to be the case with the ADF decision, tied as it apparently is to the tragic but accidental shooting death of an Aussie soldier in Bagdhad.
Bad news, certainly. But everyone knows by now that bad news doesn’t get any better with age – bad news locked up tight will eventually blow up in your face – while good news is ephemeral, and must be told as it comes.
There’s a certain unvarnished immediacy to stories from the front, told in near-real time by those who are fighting the good fight. A kind of hard grit veracity that can make the casual journalist’s work look like dilletantism. Australia has a great deal to be proud of in their diggers: bold men, good fighters, great blokes. They have entrusted these men with their security, entrusted them with lives. That trust has not been misplaced.
They should trust them to tell their stories.
(H/T to Andi for the link)