In The Dark

There has already been a round up by Max Fisher at The Atlantic:

Army Master Sargaent C.J. Grisham, an Iraq veteran, ran one of the most influential of a vibrant community of military blogs–until, he says, pressure from his superiors forced him out. Today, the military blogosphere is going dark in protest. Military blogs have been a valuable forum for discussion within the community and, for civilian readers, an invaluable perspective on news that involves the military. Their reactions to the Fort Hood shooting and President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan brought a new dimension to those stories. They gave non-military readers insight into the soldiers whose lives are at stake.

Today’s blackout illustrates the complex relationship between these blogs, their predominately military readership, and the military establishment made nervous by social media. When a soldier writes about controversial military matters, is it dissent among the ranks or just an expression of free speech? Where does the uniform end and the American citizen begin?

CJ Grisham at A Soldier’s Perspective:

Instead of just a screen, we want people to have access to the archives, so we’re just posting the main screen as a separate post. That way you can also leave your comments.

Blogging is no longer worth the trouble. Everything is fine as long as the stories are happy and positive. The military wants happy stories, not honest stories. Everything must be 100% in concert with the Army spin. If it’s not, you’re considered an “embarrassment” to the Army, the installation, and/or the NCO Corps. Integrity is no longer an accepted method of leadership. If I can’t be honest and open, I won’t write at all. I refuse to allow my private blog’s message to be dictated with threats and intimidation. It’s been a fun six years!

-CJ

I’ve been pretty absent from writing here at ASP for quite some time. I really appreciate CJ for being a great “boss” for the last few years, and have found an extended family in CJ, Emily, and their wonderful children that I couldn’t imagine not knowing. While I wish the last year was easier for us here at ASP, I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet some amazing people and form friendships that will last for a very long time. Thanks to everyone for the great ride!

-Marcus

Update from Marcus: Thank you to everyone for your comments supporting CJ. I spoke with him this afternoon and I’m going to give one last post for the site. I’ve also made this a “sticky” post so it will sit atop anything else that is written here on the blog. Look for it soon(ish).

Once again, thank you all for your support.

Jon Anderson at Army Times:

Pugnacious, deeply patriotic, pro-Army yet prolific in both his praise and criticism, Grisham has helped launch four successful blogs and a weekly Internet radio show. He mostly focuses on raising awareness (and often money) for veterans issues, but he also patrols through theminefields of local and national politics.

Indeed, he is an unabashed conservative with razor-wire wit who has cast stones at what he calls “Repugnicans” and “Dumbocrats” alike but has also been to the White House twice — invited first by President George W. Bush, and more recently by President Barack Obama — for roundtable discussions on military outreach.

All this while remaining a top-rated senior noncommissioned officer, a troop-leading first sergeant and an active counterintelligence agent, according to his fitness reports. “A true Soldiers’ Soldier. Promote to SGM immediately,” gushed his senior rater in Grisham’s most recent evaluation in June.

Yet after nearly six years of active blogging, in recent months Grisham has found himself the target of an inspector general investigation and a threatened general letter of reprimand. Now his command is exploring formal charges against him.

A summer of dissed content

Last summer Grisham got into hot water when someone complained to officials that he encouraged readers to vote against gun control measures, called for a wholesale changing of the guard in Congress and questioned Obama’s truthfulness.

In a blog section titled “Obama is wrong for America,” he wrote: “The reality is that the American people can NOT take the President at his word.”

At least that’s what he assumes was the problem based on the questions investigators with the Army Intelligence and Security Command’s inspector general asked him.

The IG closed the case without further action. Grisham filed a request for a copy of the report but still hasn’t seen it. “Four months later I have yet to actually see any of the IG complaints against me or where I might have done anything wrong,” he said.

The IG’s office did not return phone calls requesting comment.

Not long after, Grisham was fired from his job as an intelligence company first sergeant at Redstone and punted to a garrison position. The firing also came not long after he announced on his radio show — during an interview with Gen. Peter Chiarelli — that he was wrestling with post-traumatic stress disorder and planned to seek help. During the show, Grisham said he wanted to leadfrom the front when it came to reducing the stigma of PTSD.

The move also came just days after being quoted in a Military Times feature story on the changing landscape of social media inside the ranks.

“The upper echelon gets it, the lower echelon gets it,” Grisham said at the time, “but it’s the middle ranks in between — the O-5s and O-6s — that are still really struggling with whether or not this is a good thing.”

Uniform dissent

Grisham’s most recent battle with his superiors grew out of his blogging about disagreements he had with the local school board after they decided to implement a student uniform policy halfway into the year without input from parents. Grisham, who had two kids in the school, posted unflattering video he shot of school officials fumbling through a meeting. School officials called the Army to complain. His company commander, Capt. Brian Hawkins, called Grisham in to talk about it.

“I felt like this was a matter between him and the school,” Hawkins said. “They were concerned about him being a threat. I can tell you he’s not a threat. I read what he wrote. I didn’t take it as threatening.”

Hawkins’ message to the school: “If you feel threatened by him, if you feel threatened by anyone, you should call the police.”

school officials instead took their complaints up the chain of command.

Blackfive:

The catalyst has been the treatment of milblogger C.J. Grisham of A Soldier’s Perspective (http://www.soldiersperspective.us/).  C.J. has earned accolades and respect, from the White House on down for his honest, and sometimes blunt, discussion of issues — particularly PTSD.  In the last few months, C.J. has seen an issue with a local school taken to his command who failed to back him, and has even seen his effort to deal with PTSD, and lead his men in same by example, used against him as a part of this.  Ultimately, C.J. has had to sell his blog to help raise funds for his defense in this matter.

An excellent story on the situation with C.J. can be found at Military Times:
http://www.armytimes.com/offduty/technology/offduty_blogger_120809/
While there have been new developments, the core problem remains, and C.J. is having to raise funds to cover legal expenses to protect both his good name and his career.

One need only look at the number of blogs by active duty military in combat zones and compare it to just a few years ago to see the chilling effect that is taking place.

Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to the public.  They have provided vital context and analysis on issues critical to operations and to the informed electorate critical to the Republic.

On Wednesday 16 December, readers will have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it.  Those participating are urging their readers to contact their elected representatives in Congress, and to let their opinions be known to them and to other leaders in Washington.

Some milblogs will remain silent for several days; some just for the day.  All have agreed to keep the post about the silence and C.J. at the top of their blogs until Friday 18 December.
The issues go beyond C.J., and deserve careful consideration and discussion.  We hope that you will cover this event, and explore the issues that lie at the heart of the matter.  Contact the milbloggers in your area or that you know, and hear the story that lies within.

Jonn Lilyea:

The Army has been doing a lot stupid crap and this is just the latest. This Ain’t Hell has had to deal with some stupid shit from the Army lately that we’re not ready to talk about yet. So as a show of solidarity with CJ and a few other blogger friends who have been persecuted by the Army lately, we’re going silent today.

If you’ve got a few loose bucks throw it in CJ’s direction for his legal defense.

Ace of Spades:

Milbloggers have served an important function since their rise to prominence. As someone will no military experience I’ve found their insights invaluable to understanding and appreciating the men and women who serve our nation in this time of war.

As a blogger here at the HQ, I’ve been able to find stories that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about or been able to add details and perspective that simply aren’t available from other sources.

To my mind, their most important contribution has been in countering the various slanders the left and the media have attempted to lay on this generation of servicemen and women. Thanks to milbloggers, the Scott Beauchamps and Jessie MacBeths of the world are exposed for what they are and this generation of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen won’t be defined by those hostile to them.

Change is scary for any organization and as I’m sure the milbloggers will tell you, there are many in the military who ‘get’ what they do and value their efforts. No doubt they also understand there are rightfully lines that have to be drawn and not crossed.

Hugh Hewitt

The Mudville Gazette

Michelle Malkin

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3 Comments

Filed under Military Issues, New Media

3 responses to “In The Dark

  1. Pingback: This ain’t Hell, but you can see it from here » Blog Archive » Milblogs Go Silent

  2. Pingback: Comm Silent | A Soldier's Perspective

  3. Pingback: White Rose Adventures » In Support of CJ at “A Soldier’s Perspective”

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