The Blogs of War

For now, the Pentagon officially tolerates this free-form online journalism and in-house peanut gallery, even as the brass takes cautious steps to control it. A new policy instituted this spring requires all military bloggers inside Iraq to register with their units. It directs commanders to conduct quarterly reviews to make sure bloggers aren’t giving out casualty information or violating operational security or privacy rules. Commanding officers shut down a blog that reported on the medical response to a suicide bombing late last year in Mosul. The Army has also created the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell to monitor compliance. And Wired has learned that a Pentagon review is under way to better understand the overall implications of blogging and other Internet communications in combat zones.

“It’s a new world out there,” says Christopher Conway, a lieutenant colonel and DOD spokesperson. “Before, you would have to shake down your soldiers for matches that might light up and betray a position. Today, every soldier has a cell phone, beeper, game device, or laptop, any one of which could pop off without warning. Blogging is just one piece of the puzzle.” —John HockenberryThe Blogs of War (Wired)