Some of the US militaryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top flag officers are becoming dedicated bloggers and attempting to change the military and extend their reach, one Facebook Ã¢â‚¬Å“friendÃ¢â‚¬Â at a time.
They are using the Internet and social media to reach down within their own traditionally top-down organizations Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and outside them, too Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to do something the military isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t known for: creating more transparency to empower young military leaders and the public.
Some senior officers say transforming the military means more than buying next-generation vehicles or developing new training. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s giving more people more access to what theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing and thinking. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s already happening as top officers create their own blog sites and Facebook pages in order to keep pace with the plugged-in, hyperconnected charges they lead.
Allen wants to make junior leaders smarter about where he is taking his organization, thus empowering them to interpret his message to act on their own. That means, in part, daily blogging on his site about his travels, his thoughts, and people he meets.
Allen…as in, Adm. Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard. This is interesting, because the value of blogging in this case is framed in terms of commander’s intent and the promotion of initiative at lower levels. Commander’s intent and initiative are not new concepts. Rather, they have been key ideas in 20th century military thought, especially among WWII-era German military thinkers and American advocates of maneuver warfare and AirLand Battle during the 1980s. These ideas continue to be widely accepted within U.S. military discourse. – post by TransTracker
But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more than just a barrage of his thoughts in daily bytes and pieces. Some senior officers like Allen want to see the military harness social media like blogs and Facebook to help shape the public debate about national security policy by providing more information to those with a vested interest in a given topic.
There seems to be an issue developing over the internal versus external value of blogs and other social media. In the case of Adm. Allen, the main identified value is mainly internal–i.e. internal to the military organization itself. In this case, public affairs in more external. However, because social media takes place publicly–i.e. even a commander blog meant for internal consumption would be publicly available–then the internal/external boundary blurs to a significant degree. But it’s that blurring that helps to add legitimacy and to spark interest among potential readers. Where the military is concerned, readers will be more interested if they think they are getting an “inside scoop” not previously available to them. Those blogs that have more of a personal, insider kind of feel will likely be more successful than those blogs that really just use a new delivery mechanism to deliver the same old press releases, etc. – post by TransTracker
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think we need Ã¢â‚¬ËœwikiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ security,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Admiral Stavridis, head of US Southern Command, whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an avid blogger with 249 friends on his Facebook page. Last week, he noted on Facebook that he would be traveling to Washington for a conference on deterrence. That posting alone could lead any one of his Facebook friends to post a thought on national security or provide other feedback that could help influence his thinking as a senior leader. Ã¢â‚¬Å“In so many areas, I think you can be transparent,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says.
“Wiki security”….that’s a new term for me! Interesting idea. Not entirely well thought-out yet, but interesting nonetheless and not entirely without promise.
The other interesting thing here, however, is the conflation of blogging and Facebook. That seems to happen repeatedly in this article. Is that a result of the reporter conflating the two, or him reflecting his military subjects conflating the two? – post by TransTracker
Mr. Nagl says such discourse throws military conventions on their head and challenges the traditions of chain of command that assume the smartest people able to make the best decisions are at the top. Yet all agree that social networks like Facebook and media such as Small Wars Journal will play a large role in the future.
John Nagl is refering here to the Small Wars Journal. I don’t think he’s entirely correct, however. Though SMJ has created more and faster discourse, it is not entirely accurate to imply that discourse was discouraged before. One thing that I found in my disssertation research is that “the military” is a much more open place than most would assume. There is a lot of debate, idea generation, etc. that happens both “inside” and “outside” the military, which ultimately impacts doctrine and strategy. This was especially the case during the debates over maneuver warfare and AirLand Battle during the 1980s. Though there have been setbacks along the way, in general, the military has become progressively both more open to “outsiders,” as well as more an intellectual, debate-prone arena between 1945 and the present. – post by TransTracker