Web Brings War Home - InformationWeek

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7/28/2006
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Web Brings War Home

It has become common for soldiers to take digital cameras, video equipment, and laptops to war. They carry the devices or attach them to their gear and capture sights and sounds that range from gory to mundane, and then share their images via the Internet.

Generations of soldiers have returned home unable to find the words to explain to civilians what they lived through during combat.

As video sharing Web sites like YouTube grow in popularity, troops have begun to give large civilian audiences a soldier's-eye view of what it's like to live through war.

Many of the military members in Iraq have grown up with digital cameras, Internet access and high-tech devices. Several military spokespeople said it has become common for soldiers to take digital cameras, video equipment and laptops to war. Once there, they carry the devices or attach them to their gear and capture sights and sounds that range from gory to mundane.

Though it's not easy to upload large files to the Internet from Iraq, many soldiers are posting still and video images once they return home. The practice is gaining the attention of media, military leaders, civil rights advocates, viewers around the globe.

Recent press reports have stated that the U.S. military is attempting to restrict the content out of fear it could be perceived as anti-Arab, but Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a Department of Defense spokesperson, said the Pentagon is not considering a new code of conduct regarding video posting. Official spokespersons for the Multi-National Corps in Iraq (MNC-I) said they aren't aware of any such orders on the ground either.

However, commanders in war zones are warning soldiers to make sure the videos and photographs do not provide insurgents with information about their tactics, techniques or procedures, Army Major Joseph Breasseale, said Friday during a phone interview from Baghdad.

"We're dealing an enemy that is incredibly intelligent, though wildly cowardly," he said.

The Multi-National Corps " Iraq's Policy #9 states that soldier owned and maintained Web sites must be registered with the unit chain-of command. Military personnel owning Web pages, portals or sites must provide their unit, location, the webmaster's name and telephone number. Lt. Ingrid Muhling, a member of the MNC in Iraq and the Estonian Navy, said that applies to both official and unofficial sites.

Military personnel posting blogs and editorial content on others' pages or Web sites also must register the URL and make sure prohibited information is not posted on websites. All information sent or received on the Department of Defense's computer systems may be monitored.

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