4 years, 9 months ago
Joshua Foust and I were engaging in some friendly jousting over a few articles we had written (and found much more on which to agree than disagree), and some interesting information came to light. You see, Joshua is currently in Afghanistan, and he responded to me that he couldn’t get to my web site as it was locally blocked by S6 (or otherwise CJ6 or J6, which is Army IT Staff).
I immediately copied the article into an e-mail and sent it on its way, but only later did the importance what Joshua said dawn on me. Pressing him for more data and information, Josh responded with an article of his own. The results of his little investigation are striking.
Blackfive is blocked, as is Abu Muqawama, Global Guerrillas, and our very own The Captain’s Journal. This list is not comprehensive. Allowed are Small Wars Journal, The Long War Journal, and rather interestingly, Bouhammer, whose URL has the word ‘blog’ in it. I use WordPress to create articles, but I am not associated with WordPress and the Army would have no way of knowing what software I use.
The Captain’s Journal hasn’t been swept up in some doltish group block such as with Twitter. No, we have been specially selected. Says Joshua:
On a personal level, Registan.net is blocked. This is not an automatic block, as the category used in the reason line is “local blocks,” or it was manually added. Why an S6 would want to block this blog from being read on Army computers escapes me, but it is nevertheless the case. Many other blogs, including everything on blogspot, are also inaccessible … I see no noticeable rhyme or reason to this, aside from some local blocks, like Captain’s Journal, that are deeply puzzling. But it also speaks to a deeper problem in how the military in general is approaching IT issues in the field: it makes absolutely no sense. Many of the blocked blogs are sources for deep, intelligent, and even essential analysis, news, and discussions. In fact, I only know they are blocked because I read them and see value in them.
Someone in the Army in Afghanistan, after reading our content, has made the decision to initiate a local block of The Captain’s Journal. Is it a field grade officer? Is it a member of Army IT staff? We don’t yet know. But we do know that this is not accidental.
Now, we have been critical of the failure to look forward and plan for problems in logistics in Afghanistan, given that we pointed out the strategy now being employed by the Taliban one year ago in Taliban and al Qaeda Strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We also shot straight with Major General David Rodriguez (and Army intelligence) for ignoring the signs and even arguing that there wouldn’t be a Taliban spring offensive in 2008. And while we praised certain parts of the campaign such as the Marine Corps operation in Helmand, we were also critical of certain other parts such as the disaster at the Battle of Wanat, especially focusing on the lack of control over the terrain at Observation Post Top Side.
But there are bright aspects of our prose, such as our almost constantly reminding command that Afghanistan needs more troops along with Generals McNeill and McKiernan. We don’t apologize for any of it. We aren’t a cheerleader site. We don’t try to beat other web sites with breaking news. We don’t regurgitate talking points. We are an analysis and advocacy web site. Our track record is impeccable, from advocating troop increases in Iraq before the word “surge” had ever been heard, to predicting the interdiction of logistical routes through the Khyber pass.
The troubling aspect of The Captain’s Journal being blocked isn’t our own reputation. We won’t change, and we will only do what we can do to influence policy, logistics, strategy and tactics. We are still a relatively small blog, but we have been contacted by a number of military both in Afghanistan (before we were blocked) and after coming back stateside. We have been told that we are one of the more “squared away” web sites on Afghanistan.
But even if it’s unlikely that The Captain’s Journal could make any substantive difference in the state of affairs – and we are not convinced that this is so – the troubling aspect of being blocked is what it says about the Army and its institutional intransigence. I already have had such experiences with the Marine Corps, and my relationship with PAOs has probably been irrevocably harmed as a result.
But when the Army’s own Command General Staff College is now requiring its officers to blog, what does this say about their own ability to listen to constructive criticism when they apparently cannot bear the scrutiny of The Captain’s Journal? This is not a good sign.
Joshua Foust, Registan, Dispatches from FOBistan
Wings Over Iraq, Regarding Proxy Servers and Blocked Websites
David Axe, War is Boring Blocked!
The Captain’s Journal, Thoughts on the New Media and Military Blogging