Social Media and the Military

I am working on a project for a digital media company and part of the project is to research the latest trends on social media in the military.  I ran across some interesting information and links, and would like to share them so others can see the progress being made by our military institutions.

All of this begs the question – if large traditional and conservative organizations like the US Army are experimenting with social media, why aren’t you?

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US Army – Leading the charge for the Army’s social media initiatives is LTG William Caldwell of the Central Army Command at Fort Leavenworth.  He published a memorandum in April directed to all personnel under his command at the CAC including CAC subordinate organizations.

Interactive internet activities are an essential part of our responsibilities to provide information to the public, usher in a culture of chage within our Army’s officer Leadership, Development and Education and support military operations.  Leaders within the Army need to understand the power of the internet and leverage as many communications as a means as possible to community what the CAC is doing, and more importantly to “Share the Story” of those serving in uniform and highlight the incredible sacrifices they and their families are making.

In addition, the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren, spoke at the 3rd annual MilBloggers conference last month.  I have copied the quote below which sums up his thoughts on social media:

We’ve got to embrace every form of media, and this new medium – and particularly blogging, for many people – has replaced traditional media as a way to get news.  And not only to get news, but to educate themselves, the back and forth that blogs offer. So I see it as an addition of what we’re doing, and a mechanism to reach some people who you don’t reach at all through so-called traditional media.

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US Coast Guard – My nephew Zeke is in the Coast Guard and he sent me a link to the new Facebook page set up by the Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen last month.  In his opening comments on September 28th, Thad mentions:

Today we activated several new social utilities to help the Coast Guard as an organization, and myself as the Service Chief, to better communicate and collaborate, both amongst ourselves and with the many publics we proudly serve.

Included in the Coast Guard social media initiative are the following sites.

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US Navy Website for Heroes – Taking a different angle, the US Navy has created a website called Websites for Heros that allows for deployed Navy and Marine personnel to maintain close family ties with their loved ones beyond the occasional phone call or e-mail.  The Department of Defense blocked many popular social networking sites last year to protect internet bandwidth for mission-critical functions, so this site fills the void to keep families connected.

More on the program is available from this press release.

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US Military Academy at West Point and CCL – While following links, I ran across an article that discussed the efforts of Lt. Col. Tony Burgess and Lt. Col. Pete Kilner who oversee a family of password-protected, Army-sanctioned, Web-based forums that connect officers all over the world.  Their “Center for Company-level Leaders” or CCL is based at West Point.  From the FAQs on the public part of their website, the CCL is described as follows:

One way that leaders are connecting in conversation is through online professional forums (aka online communities) like the Company Command (CC) and Platoon Leader (PL) forums. These forums bring together leaders from across the Army to share ideas and experiences and to improve our collective effectiveness. The PL forum specifically also gives cadets at West Point and in ROTC unprecedented access to the ongoing conversation of the profession they are preparing to join.

The program sounds like a great way to share important information with up-and-coming military leaders.

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Milblogging – Finally, there is a website called Milblogging that serves as an index of more than 2000 blogs written by military personnel from around the world. If you are looking to read personal accounts of what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, this is a great place to start.

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I am sure there are other initiatives in the military, but these are the ones that crossed my path in the last week.  If you know of others, please add them in the comment section.

10 thoughts on “Social Media and the Military

  1. I just ran across the Pentagon Channel which is a repository for audio and video podcasts.

    http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/podcast.aspx

    The Pentagon Channel broadcasts military news and information for the 2.6 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces through programming including:
    • Department of Defense news briefings
    • Military news
    • Interviews with top Defense officials
    • Short stories about the work of our military

    In addition to enhancing Department of Defense communications with the 1.4 million active duty service members, the Pentagon Channel will provide the 1.2 million members of the National Guard and Reserve and the 650,000 civilian employees of the Department of Defense more timely access to military information and news.

  2. I just discovered some info on Web 2.0 in the Air Force.

    According to Randy Adkins, director of the Air Force’s Center of Excellence for Knowledge Management., the Air Force is deploing new Web 2.0 techniques, including blogs, wikis and personal profiles as part of an initiative by Air Force Knowledge Now (AFKN), a resource provided on the Department of Defense (DOD) intranet.

    However, the Air Force seems to be keeping their social media tools behind the .mil firewall for now. Adkins said, “the critical factor in the Air Force’s new Web 2.0 tools is that they aren’t on the open Web – only service members or civilian employees who can get through the .mil firewall have access to any of them.”

    More info can be found at http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/148571/us_air_force_lets_web_20_flourish_behind_walls.html.

  3. I saw this Air Force update on LinkedIn (Social Media News group) today from Captain David Fraggert.

    The US Air Force Entering Social/New Media World

    All — for years the Air Force has been cautious in entering the social/new media world due to security, classified information, etc…. well, we think we’re getting close to building a national strategy to engage this domain. Wanted some feedback on a few products if possible:

    http://www.airforcelive.blogspot.com

    http://www.youtube.com/afbluetube

    Facebook: Hap Arnold.

    Thanks,

    Captain David Faggard
    Air Force Public Affairs

  4. Pingback: Who is leveraging social media? The MILITARY! :: Scott’s Morning Brew

  5. GreatAmericans.com was launched on Veterans Day this year. It’s a community site celebrating those in uniform who serve our country. It is not censored by nor is it an official government site.

    Lots of great video clips, forums, and a special section where users can upload clips, photos, and stories of fallen and wounded heroes.

    Check it out!

  6. From a civilian perspective, it may be hard to understand the challenge of constant relocation that comes with military service. Finding new schools, identifying new organizations to join and tracking down a safe neighborhood can be an overwhelming process. As a result, many military families turn to others in the military community for information and resources. We created http://www.MilitaryAvenue.com to assist families by using new social media tools. Here is an interesting article on Defenselink.mil about MilitaryAvenue:

    http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=52160

    We have created our new Answers section for the military community to ask questions and more importantly to be able to answer questions of other military families.

    I would love any feedback and suggestions you may have. Here are a few other articles of interest:

    http://www.americasupportsyou.mil/AmericaSupportsYou/PressRelease.aspx?ID=181

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/22/AR2006102201014.html

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