VADM Harvey’s not entirely on board for that whole “milblog” program:
With respect to your comment concerning participation in the blogosphere and the upcoming milbloggers conference, let me speak pretty plainly – most of the blogs I’ve dropped in on and read on a regular basis leave me pretty cold. Too many seem to be interested in scoring cheap, and anonymous, hits vice engaging in meaningful and professional exchanges. There is also a general lack of reverence for facts and an excess of emotion that, for me, really reduces the value of the blog. Incorrect/inaccurate data and lots of hype may be entertaining for some, but just doesn’t work for me.
You can’t please ‘em all.
Some of us choose anonymity to score cheap points and maybe some of us have axes to grind. For my own part, I blogged pseudonymously while on active duty because I deeply respected the flag officers I worked for and didn’t want any taint attaching to them because of any heterodoxy of official opinion. Equally, I didn’t want my occasional – very rare – tendency to indulge in political discourse embarass any of my subordinates, if they were to become familiar with them. I was already terminal grade when I started blogging, or very nearly. Wasn’t like they could chop my hair and send me to sea. Been there, done that.
Plus, I had a girl’s name.
But there are senior officers out there who would dearly like to constrain the limits of what’s considered acceptable debate. Used to be folks could vent on the pages of the Naval Institute Proceedings, and we could have a real professional discourse. Then a couple of heretics got burned, and everyone else got a whiff.
There aren’t any easy choices when you get to the three-star and above ranks: There are never enough resources to go around, someone has to decide, and everybody else is charged with making it happen. Otherwise it becomes the State Department, and we’ve already got one of those.
Still, there’s something to be said for transparency in the airing of alternate viewpoints. Flag officers, brilliant though they often are, tend to live in a bubble, surrounded by those who have a vested interest in ensuring them that everything’s fine, no reason to worry. Step away from the window.
Perhaps if he wasn’t so busy, Admiral Harvey could have engaged those whose writings he found objectionable on the merits of their argument rather than blithely dismissing them with a wave of the hand.
That’s how we do things ’round these parts, anyway.