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Why the Military Needs Social Media, Part One (What do you think?)

To cut to the chase: I’ve seen the power and strategic potential of social media in the military while contracting for DoD for 18+ months. I have a new post up about this at my other blog: Frontlines Social Media.

DoD should embrace social media — not push it away. Leaders such as Price Floyd, Jack Holt and Lindy Kyzer make me very, very hopeful… but then news like this comes down the pike:

“The Department of Defense, says the New York Times in a recent article, “citing growing concerns about cybersecurity, plans to issue a new policy in the coming weeks that is widely expected to set departmentwide restrictions on access to social networking sites from military computers. People involved with the department’s review say the new policy may limit access to social media sites to those who can demonstrate a clear work need, like public information officers or family counselors.

“If that is the case, many officials say, it will significantly set back efforts to expand and modernize the military’s use of the Web just as those efforts are gaining momentum. And while the new policy would not apply to troops who use private Internet providers, a large number of military personnel on bases and ships across the world depend on their work computers to gain access to the Internet.

“To many analysts and officers, the debate reflects a broader clash of cultures: between the anarchic, unfiltered, bottom-up nature of the Web and the hierarchical, tightly controlled, top-down tradition of the military.”

I understand the need to control mission-sensitive data and thereby keep our people safe. I get that every troop can’t live-blog his or her location, mission, colleagues, conversations, etc. And here’s the thing — the troops get it too. They’re not tweeting and blogging to spoil a mission or endanger a colleague, they’re the connected generation trying to stay connected to their friends and family while deployed. And military leaders are some of the smartest, savviest people in government. I think together we can solve it without severe strictures and blackouts.

I’d love your feedback about this, and my longer blog at Frontlines Social Media. More later this week, plus suggested solutions.

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