The First Five Years Are The Hardest

So… Five years ago, after a half decade of reading and commenting at various blogs, I decided that just maybe, I had something to say. I don’t think I’ve ever come up with anything terribly profound, but I do like to think I’ve added a little something to the conversation.

Along the way, I’ve picked up some terrific commenters, a handful of fantastic co-authors, and a core of loyal readers, to whom I’m very grateful.

I’ve had an a few Ace-O-Lanches, and even an Instalanche. Incredibly, the blog has also been cited as a source in Wikipedia. The very post cited, ironically, drew heavily from the very wiki entry that now cites us.

My  very first post was quite modest.

The first person to ever enlighten me to the word “Blog” was Hugh Hewitt. I knew him from Church. What I didn’t know was that he was a prominent radio personality and early political center-right blogger. Finally, after reading and commenting all over the blogosphere for five years, I giving this a try. Ideally, I’d like to bring my perspectives on politics and the military to bear on the issues of the day.

And, of course, included a typo.

The blog tends to get anywhere from 2-3000 page views a day, with around 1000 to 1500 unique visitors. The blog very recently passed 5,000,000 pageviews.  The single best day of traffic?  Well, Marge Helgenberger showed up in the news one day. And the blog happened to be right near the top for image searches, garnering us a nice 51,073 views.

I’ve written on serious issues, and silly ones alike. I’ve tried to share with the civilian a small taste of what Army life is, and isn’t.

One thing I didn’t realize before starting was that writing the blog is very much a learning experience. Reading about something might cause you to think, but writing about it will definitely force you to think. I may be wrong quite often, and perhaps my thinking on some subjects is shallow, but at least I’ve pondered a bit. And I’ve learned so much.

I’m a very shy, quiet person. Socializing with new acquaintances is hard for me. But the process of writing for the blog has actually made that somewhat easier.  It has given me greater insight into myself, and my fellow man.  I may gnash my teeth at much of the idiocy that seems to surround us all, but I’m also able to note the many, many wonderful Americans around the internets, and indeed, the many fine folks from around the world that I’ve also been fortunate enough to interact with and make friends with.

It has been, and continues to be, my pleasure and privilege to write for you.

Thank you.

Hey, First Sergeant…

If you’re going to send an email to your troops about the Army social media policy, and how your troops don’t seem to understand it, you might want to make sure YOU have a clear understanding.

Earlier today, a disgruntled member of an Alabama Army National Guard unit forwarded the e-mail below from a first sergeant outlining the do’s and don’t of social media with the subject line, “Troops 1st Amendment Rights being denied.”

The email cautions troops to steer clear of posts about “gun control, the Democrats, the President, Congress, or personal opinions about STATE or FEDERAL GOVERNMENT matters.”

First, you’re the 1SG of an Alabama Army National Guard unit. Unless your unit has been Title 10 federalized, your troops don’t fall under UCMJ.

Second, while soldiers on social media DO represent the Army, the policy does not prohibit any of the topics you specified.

From the Army Social Media Handbook 2013:

However, Soldiers are subject to UCMJ even when off duty, so talking negatively about supervisors or releasing sensitive information is punishable under the UCMJ.

If these NG troops were under UCMJ, it would be inappropriate for them to publicly post that 1SG (Redacted) was a censorious twit who couldn’t read the policy without moving his lips.  But those troops have every right to comment on the topics that interest them. Provided they adhere to OPSEC, they still retain their 1st Amendment Rights.

Maybe Top should have spent more time listening to the training, and less time worrying about reflective belts.