That's a question that was posed on the Thunder Run Here.
There's a special place in my heart for the Thunder Run because when I first started off with all this, they were one of the first sites to link to my posts. They were one of the first to start spreading Embrace the Suck all over the place until I got into trouble.
Somewhere around December 3, 2008. I was less than a month in country and I was already garnering attention. But that's in the past.
The question is, why isn't anyone doing what I and so many just like me were doing in 2008?
The rules were pretty simple back then. (Can I use the phrase "back then" for 4 years ago?) Anyway, you had to show what you were writing to your commander or his/her designee, and they would have to sift through it for OPSEC violations.
So basically, if you left out any and all names, any and all places, and any real hard and fast specifics, you were pretty much in the clear. At first I thought, "Well what the fuck am I going to write? They just took it all."
Little drama queen was I. I learned my way around it. Leave out names, bullshit I'll just make them up! Leave out places, okay, half the time I didn't know where the hell I was anyway. Leave out specifics, ya know like number of guys, weapons, ammo, and the like. Well shiver me timbers, who in the hell would want to read a blog full of troop numbers, weapons statuses, and ammo counts? Well, sure the terrorists would, but honestly did they really think they were going to have a huge problem with this? I'm sure we've got a few terrorists in the military somewhere, but I figure they have other ways of passing information to their burqa wearing buddies. I mean you need to seriously reevaluate your social skills and standing if the first thing you want to write home is "MY WHOLE SQUAD IS GREEN ON AMMO AND WATER, MOM!!!"
Not to mention, and this is a question for all the GI's reading this. Did you ever find it humorous that they would pound OPSEC into our heads, and rip you a new one if they found out you told your mom what time you were flying to Qatar for pass, but they wouldn't let us do anything about the little T.I.T. (Taliban in Training aka "kid") outside the front gate watching and counting, then calling on his cell every time we rolled out the gate?
Now why aren't the soldiers doing it anymore? Or at least not in the same volume as before? Well, first of all the novelty of it all wore off, not to mention there's some pretty stiff competition out there. I mean throwing a few thousand words into the blogosphere is like chucking a grain of sand into space. Chances are pretty good it won't get noticed. So I think that might be a part of it.
Then they can get into more trouble, which is the theory posited by the Thunder Run. Makes sense, soldiers (for the most part) don't like stirring up unnecessary shit. My own proclivities notwithstanding, most guys figure its difficult enough over here, why make it worse.
And in the same vein, I'm sure they've either seen or heard about some poor schmuck getting hemmed up over something he wrote on the internet. The way I figured it, I could maintain at least a semblance of anonymity on a blog. Some of these guys are writing on their Facebook page that "Commander So and So is a douchenozzle!" First things first, morons. Your Facebook page um, well, it HAS YOUR FUCKING NAME ON IT!!! So I do in fact believe that guys in that situation should not be punished for disrespect or whatever, they should be sterilized and forced into 10 years of hard labor for being that colossally stupid. At least with a blog, unless you let it slip, you can keep a distance between you and your material. My name's Mud Puppy. Simple as that, unless I tell you different. Which I have, to some. But not all. Funny part is, I'll most likely keep that up after I'm out. All without even thinking about it, kinda like curling my fingers when I walk.
I'm also wondering if another reason the blogs are drying up is a lack of material coming out of Afghanistan. I've heard, now I don't know this for sure, but I've heard, that more and more of the mission over there is being run by Special Forces, or at least the Special Operations community. S.O.A.R., Rangers, Seals, PJ's, Green Berets, and all those guys. Now for the most part, they aren't going to talk, mostly because their op-tempo is so high I'm not sure they even remember how to sit down. So I figure a lot of the regular soldiers don't think that their experiences there are worth writing about. To which I say, "I managed to make a trip to Subway flipping hilarious! You've got plenty to write about."
You know what, that's all just beating around it. The bush that is. Here's why soldiers aren't writing, and this can be applied across the services.
Mother Army scared them. She threw up a little power point presentation that will scare enough soldiers to be worth making it mandatory part of mobilization. And then when they found a soldier or two that wasn't scared they took them and slapped them with an article 15 or two and that scared a whole bunch more soldiers, and the last few that weren't scared they found one and sent his ass to court martial and made an example of him. Sometimes all it takes is for a Commander to say in formation, "I catch anyone writing anything about this deployment and its your ass" Anyone think that doesn't happen? Good.
All I can tell anyone writing a blog now is this, just keep it vague. Don't use your name, it'll give them a reason to watch everything you do instead of paying attention to the writing. Don't use place names, I mean how hard is it really to describe Afghanistan, besides its mostly better to let your readers dream the landscape up in their head. Don't use any numbers. We've each got 7589 rounds. Yeah, bad idea. Oh and most importantly, if you're going to bitch about your commander, or your team leader, squad leader, platoon leader, or who the fuck ever, do NOT put their name in there. Do NOT put their name in there. Make something up. Sergeant Horse Face, Captain Cock bag, Lieutenant CAB chaser. (All guys in my unit by the way) Just make sure you can deny it and they'll have a hard time pinning it to you. I did that and I still had to take my blog underground for a while.
I don't think my little rant will make much of a dent. I think the blogs are losing their avante garde status. (I don't think I spelled that right but whatever) I wish these kids would show a little chutzpah and let us all know what's really going on.
But hey, I'm just some chucklehead who's only got 3 months to go. What the hell do I know?
I love you Mom...