Friday, July 27, 2012

Analysts use Social Media to Influence National Security

Analysts use Social Media to Influence National Security | Jul 10th 2012

This morning on Wired’s Danger Room blog, David Axe wrote about the rise of Information Dissemination, a blog dedicated to covering and analyzing updates in the U.S. Navy’s strategy, technology and communications. Led by New York City consultant Raymond Pritchett, the group of authors has actively covered updates in naval affairs for five years, and according to Wired, have become the “go-to site for meaningful public discussion of maritime strategy, [and] naval leadership.” According to Axe, the Navy’s recent decision to develop offshore bases for helicopters and other vessels may have been created through Navy policymakers reading Information Dissemination. Axe writes:

“In January the U.S. Navy announced a crash program to convert the USS Ponce, a 41-year-old amphibious transport, into a floating base for helicopters, minehunters and Navy SEALs in the Persian Gulf. Adm. John Harvey called the ship’s three-month conversion a “remarkable feat.”

Equally remarkable is whose idea it was, though not exclusively. For decades the Navy has occasionally used big, cheap, mostly empty vessels to stage troops, boats and copters in conflict zones. But in recent years these motherships have become a core Navy concept, thanks in part to steady cheerleading by a 36-year-old, New York-based civilian IT consultant and part-time blogger with no military experience or college degree.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Defense policymakers have relied on social media tools to read, analyze and debate policy. For years, counterterrorism aficionados have followed Abu Muquwama¸ the blog written by Center for a New American Security Senior Fellow Andrew Exum. Alongside Exum’s blog, Small Wars Journal has helped to curate much of the debate surrounding counterinsurgency, asymmetric warfare, and strategy. Former Washington Post journalist Tom Ricks maintains a steady and active following of current and former military personnel on his Best Defense blog on the website of Foreign Policy magazine. Just several weeks ago, the New York Times’ Media Decoder covered the impact that Wired’s Danger Room was having on the Pentagon’s brass. According to the Times, the blog encouraged then Secretary Robert Gates to give an exclusive interview to Wired magazine.

Beyond that, it’s telling that the line between military enthusiasts and defense policymakers has gradually grayed. What used to be solely in the territory of former military personnel and academics has now expanded to include people like Information Dissemination’s Raymond Pritchett, thanks to the Internet and social media. If you’re interested in becoming involved in this vibrant community, Mike Jones wrote about the 10 best blogs to follow for national security issues.

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