There are a couple of interesting angles to this. 1) While much of the discussion about milblogging often focuses on the civil-military or perception management aspects (i.e. communication from/about the military to/by the public), the concern here is with the use of blogs (and other social media, like chat) for internal communication, morale, and cohesion. 2) It seems that Maj. Gen. Oates has had more freedom to use social media in a war zone than he had state-side.
While most of the Army is still wringing its hands trying to figure out what to do about blogs and other social media, the two-star general overseeing 19,000 U.S. soldiers scattered across 17,000 square miles of southern and central Iraq has decided to start blogging himself and holding online chats with his troops.
Oates doesn’t seem bothered by the push-back. “I enjoy the open engagement with my soldiers. I’m interested in
hearing their thoughts. And I have no problem with challenging them in
an honest open fashion. I think this medium allows that,” he says.
had to wait until he got over to Iraq to start his social media push; a lumbering military bureaucracy kept him from blogging, while
his troops were stationed at Ft. Drum. “We did not get
anywhere with it while we were in the United States
because the rules, procedures, policies, and regulations are extremely
inhibiting to doing that sort of thing.”
decided to focus his efforts on this internal audience, as opposed to
some other military social media experiments, which try to persuade a
larger crowd. For now, he wants to unfiltered access to his troops.
And he wants them to talk right back. The chat gave junior officers and enlisted men a chance to talk
directly with their commanding general — which is unusual, offline. The
chat’s anonymity let them be frank, even about Oates’ beloved (and
ill-fated) Texas football teams.
The general shrugs the interactions off as no big deal. “Fundamentally what I’m doing is not new. What I’m doing is
communicating with my soldiers. What’s new is the medium in which we’re