Blogs offer taste of war - By Kevin Anderson
Kevin Anderson of the BBC has put together an article featuring some Military Blogs like Blackfive. I was interviewed for the article.
I'll put my email interview in the Extended Section so you can see that the article was fairly written. Mr. Anderson treated us a lot better than most journalists, I think.
Also, Kevin Anderson sends this about BBC Radio interviewing some Military Bloggers today:
We'll also be talking about milblogging on a World Service radio programme that I work on today, World Have Your Say. We're going to have Sgt Trevor Snyder of The Will to Exist, Spc Stacy Sanning of My Iraqi Saga and hopefully Brian Kennedy, who blogs under his Marine pilot call sign Howdy.The discussion will happen between 1800 and 1830 GMT today Thursday 29 December. You can find out more details here:We'll discuss milblogging in general but also specifically about the balance between operational security and self expression. Sgt Snyder says he keeps a copy o the new guidelines on blogging on his computer.
Why did you start BlackFive?
A good friend of mine, Major Mathew Schram, was killed on Memorial Day, 2003. In fighting his way out of an ambush, he saved the life of a Newsweek reporter who never wrote a story about Mat.
Newsweek really pissed me off, and I started blogging about the good, the bad, the humorous and the ugly of military life because most Main Stream Media (MSM) outlets like Newsweek weren't. If it didn't fit the template of "President Bush sucks, the war sucks, the military is failing", then it didn't get published by most of the MSM.
Soon after the start of Blackfive, there was a distinct void of coverage of what was actually happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. My friends were sending positive emails that were contradicting what I was reading in the NYTimes and the WashPo. So I started posting those.
Tell me a little bit about BlackFive.
Blackfive.net is MilBlog that highlights the good that the military has done in the War on Terror. Also, unlike a lot of MSM outlets, it highlights the individual accomplishments of our soldiers (I've also highlighted British, El Salvadoran and others in the Coalition). MilBlogs bring a closer focus on the men and women fighting the war. They are amazing people doing incredible things everyday...and not many people back home know that.
Blackfive.net was voted the most popular MilBlog in the 2004 Weblog Awards.
What's your military background.
I enlisted as a paratrooper when I was seventeen. [Then] I was a Sergeant. Then, the Army paid for me to attend the University of Illinois. After graduation, I became an Officer. Overall, I served sixteen years on Active Duty and in the Army Reserves.
I have served in Infantry, Cavalry, Special Operations and Military Intelligence units throughout the world.
Do you know how the milblogging phenemenon started?
At first, in late 2002-2003, there were only a few Military Bloggers. Sergeant Stryker's, Mudville Gazette, Sergeant Hook, The Indepundit, DocInTheBox and Counter Column to name a few...Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette coined the term "MilBlogger" and began banding us together...and we began to attract the notice of other bloggers and the media.
From the milbloggers you're in touch with, why do they blog?
I'm in touch with many milbloggers. They all blog for different reasons. Many blog to keep their families and friends appraised of their life in a war zone, others do it as an exercise of reflection (maybe even theraputic), and others are just great writers looking for an outlet for their thoughts and feelings.
What are your favourite blogs?
See the originals above. I also like other blogs that are not your typical military fare: military spouses like ArmyWifeToddlerMom and Trying to Grok , chaplains like TrainingForEternity and nurses/doctor blogs like Magic in the Baghdad Cafe' are interesting to me. Chuck's recovery from his wounds at TCOverride is unique.
And then of course, there are the guys doing the fighting:
Danjel Bout's 365 and a Wakeup is awesome. Soul of a poet in a soldier's guise. The epitome of the reluctant warrior. Good guy, leader, soldier, etc. And he's got a great use of language.
Neil Prakash's Armor Geddon is great. Soul of a tobasco-chugging, HEAT-firing tanker, Neil writes some of the best combat action experience pieces that I've ever read. And he writes about his men and how hilarious they are...Every time that I read Neil's writing, I really miss leading my first Cav Scout platoon.
There are many, many more.
What impact do you think milblogs have had on the war in Iraq?
It is too early to determine that, I think. That said, I believe that we've offered a real, unfilterd, immediate and direct look at the cost of the war, it's successes as well as it's failures, through the eyes of those doing the heavy lifting, the fighting. People read about the war online direct from those who's live are on the line.
I saw from an interview that you did on milblogging.com that new rules and concerns about operational security have impacted blogs. How?
The new rules will keep the combat action pieces from being posted due to security concerns. They will also reduce the amount of photos and real time viewing of the war. These are very popular pieces in MilBlogging. The Operational Security rules are needed to ensure the enemy can't assess it's successes or failures along with learning more about our tactics and strategies. But it is unfortunate as the information will either cease or slow down a bit from the battlefield.
Thanks. Let me know if you need me to expand on these if they aren't clear.