Consider, before you Twitter

Story by Sgt. Keith S. VanKlompenberg
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The Internet has become an indispensible tool for Soldiers, allowing them to keep in contact with friends and family and share deployment stories from across the globe through social networking sites and blogs.

Maj. Brian Nomi, chief of client services for the consolidated legal center at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, said he started his blog August 2008 after being notified he would be deploying.

“My blog depicts what life is like for a Soldier in Iraq,” said Nomi, a Camarillo, Calif., native. “It shows people back home what life is like and helps them support us better.”

The Army respects every Soldier’s First Amendment rights to publish what they want as long as operational security is enforced, according to Army regulation 530-1.

“If a Soldier is going to start a blog or Web site, they need to make sure their chain of command is notified,” said Staff Sgt. Samuel Shoemate, the noncommissioned officer in charge of intelligence and security, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

According to the regulation, Soldiers are required to report to their immediate supervisor and OPSEC officer about their wishes to publish military-related content in any public forum.

Once the chain of command has been notified, they must register the Web site with Multi-National Corps-Iraq. The supervisor must then train the Soldier on the importance of OPSEC.

MNC-I does not require that every online post by a Soldier be monitored or approved.

“Soldiers need to use common sense and decide for themselves, before posting, what affects the mission and what doesn’t,” said Shoemate.

Shoemate said the most common mistake Soldiers make, in regards to OPSEC, is posting flight times and leave dates on social networking sites.

“It’s usually unintentional,” Shoemate said, “but all it takes is someone to dig a bit deeper.”

Foreign intelligence agencies regularly monitor social networking sites for any information they can use against Coalition forces, said Shoemate.

“If you put this stuff out there, you run the risk of getting your buddy killed,” he said.

The Army is still reviewing its policy for Internet use which approves the use of social networking sites.

Nomi, whose blog can be found at, said Soldiers should review MNC-I policy letter 9 themselves, to get a better idea of the policy on blogging.

“It’s the best four pages you can read before you start a blog,” he said.