On April 19th, the U.S. Army pissed
off its most articulate troops, and many overworked junior officers, by issuing
new regulations that require troops to get an officers permission before they
write anything that might violate OPSEC (Operations Security) in a blog, email,
BBS posting, and so on. This means thousands of junior officers have yet
another job, that of censoring subordinates Internet activity. Troops who post
information without first getting it cleared by their OPSEC officer, can be
punished. Exactly how much, is unclear, but apparently it could be as bad as a
court-martial, depending on whose feathers you ruffle.
The reality is that troops will continue doing what
they have long been doing, posting under an alias, and not identifying
themselves. They will just do it more frequently. Back in the 1990s, when word
got around that the army was filtering all email sent by .mil accounts, troops
began to get civilian email accounts, just to be on the safe side. That trend
will continue, and much of the same information will get out there, but very
little of it from someone who openly admits they are in the army.
The bad guys will have the same access to what the
troops are saying on the Internet. The army will be able to hunt down and
identify some troops posting stuff via civilian email accounts. Attempts to
punish these troops will cause a major "free speech" furor. Everyone, except
the journalists and advertising sales people, will be unhappy. Questions will be raised about who came up
with this idea, and the answers will prove interesting. Maybe even interesting.
There might even be tears.
And that's exactly what happened. After about a
week, the army rushed out some clarifications. Troops don't have to get every
message cleared, but they must "consult" with their commanders about their
online activity. This seems to imply some kind of telepathy, but the army made
reference to establishing "trust." There still might be tears.
What there will be in a greater implied threat of
retribution if troops say something the brass don't like. Note that, when you
are in the military, you don't have the same constitutional rights as