Warblog

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A warblog or milblog is a weblog devoted mostly or wholly to covering news events concerning an ongoing war. Sometimes the use of the term "warblog" implies that the blog concerned has a pro-war slant. The use of the term "milblog" implies that the author is with the military.

Description and origins[edit]

Warblogs first appeared during the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and attained maturity during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. While some warblogs arise out of and are directly limited in their coverage to the war in question, others expand their coverage to related political, social and cultural issues and continue commentating beyond the end of the war. Likewise, blogs that ordinarily cover non-war issues may dedicate their coverage during a time of war to the conflict, with some reverting to their previous missions at the end of the war, and others retaining their new character.

The term "Warblog" was coined by Matt Welch, who launched his warblog on September 17, 2001.

The term "MilBlog" was coined by JP of Milblogging.com, during his combat tour in Iraq. It describes a blog primarily focused on the events of the military, written about by those with inside knowledge of the military, whether an active soldier, a veteran of the military, a spouse of a soldier, or a civilian with a special connection to the military.

""MilBlogs" (Military Blogs) began to share stories, mostly because they didn't get reported. Matt Burden of Black Five began what has become the biggest (by readership) MilBlog because the main stream media didn't even report the passing of his friend in combat. He decided not only would the name of Army Maj. Mathew E. Schram wouldn't be forgotten, but the regular fare of the early days of Black Five were the "Someone You Should Know" category of posts. Over the years, some living, some casualties of war, all placed on the web, so they would not be forgotten. Matt wasn't alone, and about 6 years ago, there were about 200 MilBlogs."[1]

Unlike, most blogs which discussed normal (or abnormal) routines of the authors, milblogs were writing to correct the story:

"In the case of military bloggers, several began blogs because they were unhappy with mainstream media coverage of the wars in Afghanistan, and particularly, Iraq. Consequently military blogs often criticised mainstream media coverage (and they still do). But rather than merely sniping from the sidelines they have become media players in their own right. To cast their relationship with the rest of the media merely as oppositional does not do justice to the complex picture that is emerging."[2]
"This blog started out as a way to write about military related issues. It turned into a way for Bouhammer to document his 16 month tour as an ETT leader in Afghanistan for family and friends." [3]

For Matt Burden, of Blackfive.net, a specific event sparked his motivation to fill the media void. His personal friend was killed protecting a journalist, but that valor was not noted by the world of journalism.

"I started Blackfive and decided to write about Mat and other Americans like him - people that the media would never tell you about." [4]
"I have found a way to keep the American People informed without endangering our Troops or Monday Morning Quarterbacking our Generals. I deal in facts...We are real people with real experiences and provide this information as an educational service to the American People who wish to know the true story of Iraq and Afghanistan" [5]

Other milblogs have similar explanations for their motivations.

In short, the objective of milblogs was to report the news that they did not feel the mainstream media was reporting.

Though the U.S. Department of Defense initially opposed milblogs as a potential OPSEC violation, it eventually embraced the concept and attempted to implement official versions of milblogs.[6] Official milblogs did not receive the same reception or popularity of the unofficial milblogs as they were written in the same dull language as other official publications of the Defense Department.

Growth of warblogging/milblogging[edit]

Warblogging was popularized by Glenn Reynolds,[citation needed] whose Instapundit has become one of the most popular political blogs on the web. Some prominent warblogs like USS Clueless by Steven Den Beste existed before September 11, but made the war on terror their primary focus afterwards.[citation needed]

In 2005, there were fewer than 200 "milblogs" in existence.[7] As of mid February, 2011, Milblogging.com listed 2,948 milblogs in 45 countries, and 14,137 registered members of the site.[8] The top 5 locations were US, Iraq, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

New entries range from those currently serving in Afghanistan[9] to spouses dealing with military life and sharing secrets on surviving it as a couple and family.[10]

Older entries include mothers who lost their sons in war,[11] wives of the wounded,[12] veterans reporting world news and war news,[13] and citizens of other Nations that support the Honor of troops of many nations [14]

Readership of milblogs varies from family members to millions a year.

Current relevance[edit]

"MilBlogs" developed a relevance by providing citizens what the main stream media was not; true stories of what was actually occurring on the battlefield. Many milbloggers found it difficult to translate those wartime stories into their non-combat voice, but as one milblog fell silent, ten more popped up. Of the ten soldiers that returned, one would find relevance in home country reporting. Many of those that maintained their sites upon return, turned to the politics of National Defense and Veterans Affairs. Others directly addressed cases of "Stolen Valor" and the anti-war movement.[15]

Citizen authored milblogs often did not have this issue, where the focus was solely on the reporting of a particular aspect of the military, such as the Navy.[16]

MilBlogs appear to have established their relevance and the future of milblogs may only be threatened by a diminished role of the military itself.

Some believe the term "warblog" has become something of an anachronism—a reflection of the speed with which things change in the world of the Internet. Most blogs that gained popularity as "warblogs" have far expanded their focus to politics and general news. Many warblogs became a focus of attention for frequently updated information related to the election during the 2004 campaign. Others, however, note that the warblogs' level of focus on the war remains a distinguishing feature, and separates them from blogs whose political coverage is mostly domestic in nature.

The field has also birthed a related subsidiary class of webblogs known as "MilBlogs," which also tend to focus on the war. These blogs are written by serving or retired military personnel, or have members on their team blog that fit this description.

Blogging has also extended to people living in current or potential combat zones, with the growth of blogs by Iraqis, Afghans, and especially Iranian blogs in English. While these are not warblogs, there have been longstanding ties, including encouragement and material support of these activities by warbloggers; and warblog readers have often contributed a significant proportion of their English language audiences.

The U.S. Department of Defense has taken notice of the growing trend of 'warblogging' and has begun to monitor warblogs.[citation needed] They have established a team consisting of ten Virginia National Guard personnel to routinely monitor the online activities of U.S. Service men & women, including warblogs and the posting of war videos and photos.[citation needed] Some warbloggers have pre-emptively taken their blogs down out of a fear of potential reprisals from their Chain of Command.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

MRDI Government Procurement