Small Wars Journal

DoD Draft Policy on Social Networking

Via Noah Shachtman at Danger Room - Draft Policy Would OK Troops' Tweets.

The Defense Department may allow troops and military employees to freely access social networks - if a draft policy circulating around the Pentagon gets approved, that is.

For years, the armed services have put in place a series of confusing, overlapping policies for using sites like Twitter and Facebook. But a draft memo, obtained by Nextgov, allows members of the military to use Defense Department networks to get on the social media sites - as well as on "e-mail, instant messaging and discussion forums." ...

More at Danger Room.

Defense to Allow Troops, Family Members to Use Social Network Sites - Bob Brewin, NextGov.

The Defense Department, which had seen some services ban the use of social networking sites, will allow troops and their families to use the popular online communication tools such as Facebook and Twitter on its unclassified networks, according to a draft memo obtained by Nextgov.

The memo, written by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn III and due out in days, solidly backs the use of social network sites, which Lynn calls "Internet capabilities," for both official and unofficial purposes and envisions these tools as providing an information advantage for Defense.

The new policy "addresses important changes in the way the Department of Defense communicates and shares information on the Internet," Lynn wrote. "This policy recognizes that emerging Internet-based capabilities offer both opportunities and risks that need to be balanced in ways that provide an information advantage for our people and mission partners." ...

More at NextGov.

I'm following this closely as we have a stake in this fight -- the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) currently blocks our Small Wars Council discussion board. I am told our Blog, Journal and other pages are still accessible. It's also quite ironic -- the Army is taking full advantage (and here) of our reach and feedback capabilities while the Marine Corps sees fit to block what many call the most professional and useful social networking site concerning Irregular Warfare / Small Wars issues on the Internet. Go figure...


Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:30am

I think that the DoD Policy on social networkig sites should be relaxed unless there is evidence of malacious software on that particular website i.e.; maleware & viruses that may hinder an information structure, hence hindering mission readiness. Albeit Myspace, Facebook, Youtube or Twitter, if it will hinder the mission, then I am against it.

Dennis Collins (not verified)

Fri, 10/02/2009 - 2:19pm

I agree with Schmedlap. The issue with the military and social networking sites has to do with discipline. When you are supposed to be conducting official business on Govt networks or computers you should be doing so. During other times, especially when deployed you should be able to use social networking sites. Service members must however be educated to ensure that they are not endangering themselves, others or our military mission by putting exploitable personal information (theirs or anyone elses)or sensitive operational information on these sites. If bandwidth is an issue, then restrict use of these sites when bandwidth needs to be prioritized for the mission.

Anonymous (not verified)

Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:35am

Starbuck at Wings Over Iraq has a short blurb posted concerning this issue:

<a href="">Web 2.0 and Work</a>.

"... Much has been written about the US military's reluctance to embrace social networking, but let's not be too harsh on the military--the corporate sector can be just as bad about blogging..."

Schuyler (not verified)

Wed, 09/30/2009 - 8:10pm

This anticipated policy makes good sense. The Army needs to posture itself to embrace and leverage all available Internet, or information, capabilities. Social networking sites were an invaluable resource to recruiters, public affairs missions, and Army Family Readiness Groups prior to revisiting this policy. In addition, military families have relied heavily on the speedy communications social networking sites provide to stay in touch with their deployed Soldier. The fact that several high-ranking officers in the military, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commander of the Multi-National Force - Iraq, frequently utilize social networking sites indicates that the medium has extraordinary military application. That resourcefulness, however, comes with a potentially troublesome consequence; namely, diminished force protection. I am sure though that DOIM can amass enough 50-pound cyber brains to make the arrangement a win-win situation.

The Army is on Twitter at, and also on Facebook at Why should those sites be blocked on government computers? Do local DOIMs have more control than they should on what it accessed?

In "Social Software and National Security" Drapeau and Wells make a recommendation on social software that the DoD "embrace its responsible usage."…

Just as one example, at one time I had two PCs and two laptops as a contractor. (That doesn't include the access I had at home.) However, I was only allowed to check my Army email from one computer on post, and my contractor corporate email from one computer at my office in downtown Leavenworth. I wasn't on the SIPR Net. It wasn't practical. It didn't make any sense, especially since my job required me to collaborate and work with people in different time zones.

I would like to see a DoD policy that takes into consideration security issues and access.

Mick Lic (not verified)

Wed, 09/30/2009 - 4:58am

1.I don't think I understand what you are saying.

2.Is this an issue that the Navy/Marine Corps are not making your site available through DOD network?

3.Can the service member access this discussion board with a PC off DOD network?

4.Would you like to see DOD network linked up across the board?

5.How could this help make the United States stronger?

6.Is there a security issue?


Wed, 09/30/2009 - 1:02am

This seems like a basic discipline and leadership. Here is a simple policy: if you are supposed to be working, then quit playing around with Twitter and Facebook. If you are deployed and using a computer that is set aside specifically for emailing home and chatting and whatnot - then use social media all you want.

If your unit is aware of specific online threats and they put rules in place that your <strong><em>work</strong></em> computer is not to run certain programs or visit certain sites, then welcome to the fricken military.

Why is it so crazy to not allow certain programs or sites on <strong><em>work</em></strong> computers? When I was on staff, we were not allowed to access YouTube or a few other sites. But there were a few MWR computers set aside with no site restrictions. Likewise, we were not allowed to smoke cigarettes indoors, but there was a designated smoking area outside. Use social media when and where appropriate - just like we smoke cigarettes when and where appropriate. I don't understand the controversy.