Photo - Well Deck Exit
Book Review - "Dance of the Bones" by J.A. Jance

Gag Orders & More

In the comments below that I've not had time to address (yet, working on it), someone noted that we used to be the site where people could find out what the troops were thinking.  That is something Blackfive was (rightly) known for, and in my opinion a lot of good came out of it.  

That was a decade ago, and the times were very, very different.  Social media was new, and traditional communications was changing.  It still is, but...  One of the things that happened was that younger troops had embraced new means to keep in touch with family and friends, and as a result things that would not otherwise be known to the larger world could be, and were, shared.  One aspect was that needs of individual troops and units could be shared with a larger audience, and that resulted in an unprecedented outpouring of support, and "good" supplies/care packages/etc. reached those in need.  Indeed, a number of charities we highlighted and supported stood up to make sure that troops got letters, packages, and more.  

It also highlighted problems in the supply chain, doctrine, and more -- and again charities and individuals stood up in a huge way.  Everything from tools to kevlar blankets reached those in need.  Where there were problems and issues, higher was made aware of them quickly and could deal with those as needed.  Smart commanders (at the time Petraeus, Odierno, and others) embraced it as they could not only deal with issues quickly and smartly, but they could, would, and did seize opportunities.  They encouraged the wise use of new and social media to add flexibility to the system, and got some amazing results.  

This was also the time that the administration and higher command reached out to Blackfive and others to formulate a very friendly policy that worked to prevent issues (and there were indeed a few issues with OPSEC and such) while making the most of the opportunity.  

That has changed.  The politics in the five-sided-puzzle-palace have always had a tendency towards what I will refer to as rear-echelon, and towards suppressing anything that has to do with problems of things potentially embarrassing to higher.  Better to hide it than to deal with it is something of a tradition in my opinion.  That early policy did not sit well with certain quarters, as it did highlight problems, issues, and flat-out failures in the tail that hurt the tooth.  Unsurprisingly to any student of history, the tide changed.  One need look no further than the previous SMA who was obsessed with tattoos, painting rocks, and awarding ARCOMs for trolling SHARP violations instead of focusing on training that could keep soldiers alive in combat as a perfect example of that symptom. I will note that I'm liking the current SMA a lot more.  

Right now is not a good time for troops at ANY level to be speaking out.  The social media policy has changed, and higher is coming down hard on things that used to be encouraged.  

Case in point:  SFC Charles Martland.  His case is more than disturbing (disgusting is one word I can use here given Blackfive's family friendly policy).  Even more disturbing, higher has put in place a 'gag order' and is prepared to hammer flat anyone who comes to his defense.  There is some reason to believe such has already happened, and the word is out that speaking out would be a very bad thing for those who do so.  

Whatever the official policy, the unofficial policy is that troops speaking out is a great way to end a career.  Given the draconian cuts in play (and more on that horrendous, idiotic, and flat-out foolish thing in other posts), it is not a good time for the troops and not a good time for honest and full discussions (IMO).  I know I am going to be very careful about sharing some things, so as to make sure that those sharing can't be identified.  

Personally, I think it is time for the tide to change again.  How to make that happen depends on a lot on things outside the puzzle palace, and not just within.  My hope is that we can share information to encourage that, and be a part of a good solution once again.