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Air Force Bans Blogs

5:32 PM, Feb 27, 2008 • By JOHN NOONAN
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The Air Force, which needs all the help it can get on the public relations front, has banned access to blogs:

The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so "utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream."

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service's new "Cyber Command," took over.

Cyber Command, which is a bureaucratic construct of questionable necessity built around the need for effective network defense, has now expanded its mission from network defense to regulating internet usage within the Air Force's Major Commands. It seems reasonable, then, to ask whether time spent policing the internet habits of those in the service will, by diverting scarce resources, undermine the command's ability to defend against legitimate cyberattacks, and to return fire.

Also problematic is the fact that USAF bloggers have been among the most credible advocates for force-modernization plans, offering their strong support for the acquisition of the full fleet of 380 F-22s in particular. The Air Force has in one fell swoop discarded a valuable media asset, forcing the public to rely on cumbersome--and typically boring--USAF press releases instead.

Because Air Force public relations isn't so much an effective media campaign as it is a crawl from one PR disaster to another, the service needs bloggers now more than ever. Which makes this a strange and almost certainly counterproductive move.