So, is that a “yes” or a “no”?
I’ve been trying to get clarification on this whole “soldiers can’t make any public statements” thing, as was seemingly spelled out (if taken at face value) in a recent revision to AR 530-1 (see previous post).
The Army is definitely feeling some heat from this. There are letter-writing campaigns and editorials appearing far and wide, blasting the Army for restricting and outlawing a soldier’s freedom of speech. In an effort to back peddle a bit, the Army issued a “fact sheet” concerning the regulation, saying, among other things, that the guidelines spelled out in AR 530-1 aren’t meant to apply to every blog entry/update, that the AR is supposed to be “flexible,” etc.
Which is their way of saying, “Wow, we had no idea you people even read regulations. Sure, we were trying to shut up soldiers–can’t have uneducated ‘common’ soldiers writing things the public reads. But now that the media is pointing out how unfair, unethical and unconstitutional it is to rob American citizens of their right to free speech; we suppose we can lighten up a little bit. Yikes. Chill out and go back to ‘American Idol’ why don’t you?”
Ha, yeah melodrama alert. Sorry, I got carried away. Enforcement of this regulation will depend on the commander. Some may think it’s easier to just outright forbid their soldiers from blogging (if the soldiers take it on themselves to report their blogs), others might not care, others might want to use blogs to get good-news stories out, etc. We’ll just have to wait and see.
The Army is trying very hard to ease the media’s “big brother” fears over the whole thing.
I did talk to my S2 intelligence “OPSEC” people and they said as long as I don’t use any names, times, locations, identifying characteristics, etc…then I’m okay. Which, honestly, confused me a little more.
So I’m going to try to get additional further clarification, otherwise I’ll have to hide my face, remove my links to my Army articles, black out any faces of any pictures I post, etc. And then I’ll have to sanitize my entries when I talk about anything I ever do.
Instead of, “Last Monday when I went to our motor pool, I saw my boss checking one of our humvees;” it will be something like, “Last xxxxxx when I went to our xxxxxx I saw xxxxxx checking out xxx of our xxxxxx;” which wouldn’t be terrible, albeit a little hard to follow.
I can escape the whole lock-down scene by not writing about anything military-related, which I suppose I could do. I would still be me, of course, but the writing would go in other directions. Maybe I’ll start a blog about writing, or photography…maybe it’s time to retire from documenting the life-siphoning crap of military life.
All that to say maybe it’s time for a fresh start. If “Talking Salmons” is no longer viable, maybe I’ll find another home.