Monday, January 01, 2007

The U.S. Military and the Blogosphere, Part II

Several days ago, I wrote about the United States military and the blogosphere; in the time since that post I have come across several controversial yet seemingly unrelated media reports bolstering my view that the military needs to dramatically increase its presence in the infosphere:

  • The public editor (ombudsman) of the New York Times identifies serious factual errors in a cover story, and the editors take no action in terms of a note, retraction, or update to address reader's concerns (Read here, here or here for some excellent commentary on this story in the blogosphere, by the way).
  • Meanwhile, in Iraq, what the military described as a firefight with insurgents is also regarded as an airstrike that killed civilians in a Reuters report.
  • And of course, once again in Iraq, there is the Associated Press story of Sunnis being burned alive, based on an eyewitness account of one Jamil Hussein who, despite fervent assurances from the AP, has yet to be found.
The insurgency in Iraq is being fought in many disparate places. Infantrymen conducting raids on suspected insurgent safehouses certainly have a clear perspective on what the war is about. But the effects of that raid resonate far beyond the geographical confines of the ground where it transpired.

The reports of the raid in the media span across the globe, and shape the narrative of how the war is being fought, and who is winning. The aforementioned raid, whether it was successful or not, is now in the minds of many mired in uncertainty, because the media reports that civilians were killed as a result of US actions.

Right now, the military has marginal presence in the infosphere; Commanders issue a press release, and then rely upon the media to receive the release and disseminate it widely, and rely largely on the media to interpret the facts, resolve any amiguities, and to assign relevance to the press release.

The military is thus waging a proxy war in the infosphere, relying on the conventional media outlets to drive their narrative, despite the fact that these same entities have in recent times been proven to play loose with the facts, often to the detriment of the military's efforts.

If we are to be successful in "The Long War" it is past time for the military to establish a robust presence in the informational realm, and quit relying on fickle media proxies to drive the war's narrative.

AND so I ask once again, where are CENTCOM's Blogs?

3 comments:

2164th said...

This is a good post. It deserves more exposure. Anytime you want something to double post here and at the elephant let me know.

Bob W. said...

2164th,

You are more than welcome to post this or anything else I write over at Elephant Bar; please just provide a link back to this site so I can build readership.

Thanks again,

Bob W

2164th said...

Will do, you have a good site and are already welcomed and visisted by some at the bar.