Small Wars Journal

Thoughts on the "New Media" (Updated)

Tue, 03/03/2009 - 5:52pm
Thoughts on the "New Media" - compiled by Small Wars Journal

Last weekend I sent out the following "RFI" to a number of bloggers I know:

Andrew Exum's post / review of Tom Ricks' The Gamble several weeks ago at Abu Muqawama got me thinking (once again) about the impact of the "new media" on issues concerning national security, military doctrine and concept development, as well as lessons learned. As one part of this new media I'm not sure I fully grasp our influence -- though I am often told we are, quote -- "making a difference". Here is the excerpt from the AM post that got me thinking about this.

"The New Media: Ricks cited a discussion on Small Wars Journal once and also cited some things on but never considered the way in which the new media has revolutionized the lessons learned process in the U.S. military. (Forget Abu Muqawama, though, because this lowly blog started around the same time as the surge.) Instead of just feeding information to the Center for Army Lessons Learned and waiting for lessons to be disseminated, junior officers are now debating what works and what doesn't on closed internet fora -- such as PlatoonLeader and CompanyCommand -- and open fora, such as the discussion threads on Small Wars Journal. The effect of the new media on the junior officers fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was left curiously unexplored by Ricks, now a famous blogger himself."

I'd like to get your thoughts on this - nothing elaborate -- maybe a paragraph or two on the core issues concerning the new media and it impact on the military. I'd then like to post the responses I get as one post on SWJ.

Appreciate the consideration.

What follows are the replies I received through yesterday. Some stuck to the one-two requested paragraphs, some sent more. Rather than attempt to "over edit" and get some uniformity I opted to go with this initial batch of thoughts on this issue.

All good stuff that hopefully energizes a discourse on the impact of new media and its influence on military doctrine, concept development, training, education, and lessons learned. Without further ado (and in alphabetical order) here is Spencer Ackerman, Tom Barnett, Janine Davidson, Andrew Exum, Grim, Judah Grunstein, Dave Kilcullen, Raymond Pritchett, Mark Safranski, Herschel Smith, Starbuck, Michael Tanji, and Michael Yon...

Thoughts on the "New Media" - compiled by Small Wars Journal


Counterinsurgency and the New Media - Andrew Exum, Abu Muqawama

New Media Poised to Change the Future National Security Debate - Raymond Pritchett, Information Dissemination

SWJ, New Media and COIN - Judah Grunstein, World Politics Review

Thoughts on the New Media and Military Blogging - Herschel Smith, The Captain's Journal

New Media + Old Military = New Military - Jules Crittenden, Forward Movement

The "New Media," the Surge, and the Writing of History - Mark Grimsley, Cliopatria

Media Blitz - Spencer Ackerman, Attackerman

New Media and Modern War - Joshua Foust, Registan

Legacy Futures in Cyberspace - Adam Elkus, ThreatsWatch

Small Wars Invitational on The Surge and New Media - Grim, Blackfive

The Difference - Greyhawk, Mudville Gazette

Recommended Reading - Mark Safranski, Zenpundit

Counterinsurgency and the New Media - Starbuck, Wings Over Iraq


S Schill

Thu, 03/05/2009 - 10:09am

Dear Dave,

Thanks for kicking this discussion off. I'm currently working on a paper about 'organizational learning' within the military on the example of Iraq... and one of the factors I was coming up with was what you call "the new media". You and all other bloggers who answered (thanks to all of you) provided me with great insights and thus gave me some validation for my hypothesis.



Let me add, MilBlogs have afforded the American People a direct connection to the true experts in the field. No longer must they trust the pundits on TV or the "journalists" in papers to tell them the realities on the ground.

Indeed, it was our Viet Nam era Brothers that first applied the lessons learned from the era: that the "anti-war" crowd could not be allowed to hog the podium. They showed up en masse with organizations like the Gathering of Eagles, Move America Forward, and the Patriot Guard, to watch our six while we fought the enemy, and the current generation of Warriors joined them in the blogosphere to confront the threat more completely, wherever the anti-troop propaganda raised its ugly head.

There is a wide range of "milblogs" with a wide range of focuses and a wide range of target audiences, from those of the direct family to the world opinion. There are those that merely wish to share their experience and those that wish to demonstrate the reason for their experience. There are those that wish to share the pain and those that wish to share the glory.

The "new media" will replace the "old media" or be consumed by it. The old vanguard feels threatened by the new, but has misplaced the reasons for the failing numbers. It is not simply the cost of a 50 cent paper while a citizen buys a $4 cup of coffee. It is that citizens no longer trust the "main stream media" to provide them the objective and complete truth.

If given the choice between reading a stale headline of the number of accumulated brave Troops who have given their lives for Freedom and Security of the Nation in far away lands, or reading of their accomplishments, of the number of terrorists they killed and captured, of the valor and generosity of those Troops in life, for free, and on demand, who would pick up that stale headline of doom? With the realization that the MSM has become the propaganda wing of political parties motivated by profit, why would a citizen choose the NYTimes over War On Terror News?

If one is struggling to understand the difficulties of finding OBL in the mountains of Afghanistan, would they trust Kevin Sites with his few days in the area or Bouhammer and Vampire-6 who lived and fought alongside Afghans?