Seeing news that blogger Colby Buzzell is likely to be shipped back to Iraq, with the promise that the US military won’t like him even more this time, made me curious about the whole milblogging thing (Military Blogging).
There’s an index of milblogs at Milblogging.com that allows you to surf around the whole scene with little effort.
Some of it, like BLACKFIVE, is interesting in some aspects and seriously disturbing in others. Ever heard of a the Dead Tango Dance? Neither had I and I’m not so sure it was worth it.
BLACKFIVE is run by an ex-infrantry and armour-riding soldier who’s now an IT exec living in Chicago. I have no real way of knowing how typical it is, but it’s obviously not a frontline blog.
One post caught my eye. Uncle Jimbo, posting at BLACKFIVE, is selling DVDs of footage he calls Dead Tangos, set to music. I’ve put the link to a trailer for the DVD here, but I wouldn’t let your children see it.
It would be unfair to only talk about that aspect of the BLACKFIVE blog. You can also buy merchandise to support the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan like the fetching T-shirt design shown below.
There’s also some footage of marines on patrol along a road and searching for IEDs. This is interesting.
So, BLACKFIVE is basically OK about the war, but what else is there out in milblogland?
There’s I’m not cut out for being a military wife (Well, honey, “Who is?”). A strong Christian woman who believes her husband, Jon, has a place reserved in heaven should he not come home. I really hope he does come home lady, I really do.
This is at times a painful story to read. The title of the blog sums it up. This woman is struggling now that her husband is in Iraq. She’s been to counselling recently, and it is her faith alone that appears to keep her going.
So I truly have to give this over to God. The house going up for sale, the moving, Jon being in a war, what job he will have when he gets back. I surrender it, I have to…100%. Not a little, then scooping it back up and taking it on myself. It’s yours dear God. Do with us what you will. Because I have realized that ultimately my dreams and goals and the only way I will ever feel satisfied in this life is if I am serving you full time. Sure there are things I would like to do and have in the flesh but my true hearts desire is to serve You. Please open the doors to do that lead me down your path and close those ones that distract us from your purpose. My flesh is weak but my spirit is getting stronger.
On a different tack is Outside the wire, a milblog by a Canadian journalist, Doug Schmidt. I’m not sure this qualifies as a real military blog, but who am I to judge.
Schmidt is embedded with Canadian troops near Kandahar, Afghanistan. In a recent post he reports on the solemn ceremony to farewell two dead officers, who were killed in the line of duty.
I tried to connect to a number of blogs that were set up on the Xanga site. However, all of them (most in the top 100 milblogs on the Milblogging.com index) were disconnected. In each case, the error message said the site had been shut down by its owner.
In fact, all of the first ones I tried on the “Iraq” list were inactive, or as in the case of Greenzone Chaplain, hadn’t been updated for a while (a long while, since 2005 in this case). A piece in Wired from May 2005, perhaps sums up the situation then and now.
The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops’ online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.
However, Jake’s Life is currently being updated by his father. The most recent post was May 6, 2008 – a call out for supplies not available in the MREs.
I just received an email from Jake. He is unable to post to this blog for the reasons he explained earlier.
He has asked me to pass this on to all who have asked how they can help.
Dad- could you put up on the blog that we could use- jerky, sunflower seeds, gum, drink mixes, AAA/AA batteries, old books/magazines, protein powder packets (individual packets), copenhagen (not for me obviously), crossword/word game books, boot socks.
On behalf of Jake’s Mom and me, thank you for the support you have given all of us.
The explanation referred to by Badgerdad appears in a post dated 21 March, the eve of deployment to Afghanistan.
It is no secret that my unit is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. As I approach that date I have been thinking about how I am going to continue this blog while I’m deployed. For anyone that read this website while I was in Iraq you know that I wrote it like journal, because that is what it was to me, the writings that I have been keeping for years, simply with a publish button at the end of it. But, now that I am with a different unit, with a very different and unique mission to be accomplished on this deployment, I am at a crossroads. I cannot possibly continue this website like I did last year in Iraq, both for operational security reasons and for reasons of safety for my family and friends. So, with that being said, I regret to say that I will no longer be publishing anything that involves my involvement in the Marine Corps on this blog.
By this point I was getting a little frustrated. It seems that most of the blogs listed at Milblogging.com that are/were based in Iraq were active in 2005 and not many beyond that date. I know the US military went a little hard on them, but I hadn’t realised that the frontline bloggers had been effectively silenced.
Maybe I’m missing something, but internet searching is not that hard.
I eventually found a blog that had been updated only a couple of days ago (7 June), but the milblogger was on his way home to attend a family wedding. Damn. Anyway, here’s Afghanistan Without A Clue and for some reason it’s decorated with anime.
I got to AWAC from another indexing site, Military Blog, which appears to be sanctioned by the US Government (it should come with a health warning).
There’s recruiting and other army advertising all over it. Unfortunately the link from Military Blog that says Iraq frontlines or Afghanistan frontlines take you back to the Milblogging.com list of dead(ish) links. Bummed out dudes.
Finally, an interesting sideline, there’s going to be a milblogging stream at the Blogworld Expo in Las Vegas in September this year. I found a link to the conference agenda at a site called A soldier’s perspective. I think this might also be a sanctioned blog given the way the place is decorated and the URL.
The agenda looks interesting, including a session “Are milblogs still relevant?” A good question perhaps in light of my little adventure.