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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Social media opens up on AF bases, including Maxwell

What's that? Facebook on a Department of Defense computer?

Yup, it's happening.

The Air Force began this week to open access to social media sites.

Pacific Air Forces bases gained access earlier as the test run of the Air Force-wide initiative, according to an Air Force release.

Air Force Space Command, Air Education and Training Command and Air Mobility Command bases began getting access to social media sites April 26. Maxwell Air Force Base now has access.

Air Combat Command, Air Force Reserve Command, Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and United States Air Forces in Europe will get access beginning May 1. During the final phase, Air National Guard bases will get access beginning May 6.


It will take up to five business days to open up every base in each major command because technicians in the Integrated Network Operations and Security Centers responsible for opening social media access must account for the different major command network infrastructures, according to the AF release. They also must allow members of the Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team to provide required services to each MAJCOM as they are granted access.

Earlier this spring, DoD released
the beginnings of policy for social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online social networking sites.

I reported in March on the policy, known as Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026, which is nine pages laying out basic rules for military members and DoD staffers using social network sites.

It came after a year of policy reversals by the different military branches and DoD as a whole that seemed a bit schizophrenic.

Last summer, the Army lifted its ban on some social media, but the Marine Corps banned all social media sites. Then DoD contemplated a department-wide ban on all social media.

The Air Force was hit or miss in accessibility. Some bases and commands allowed access; others did not. But the Air Force did create the Emerging Technology division of its Public Affairs Agency at the Pentagon.

And at Maxwell Air Force Base, the Web site was redesigned and a Twitter account launched.

The ambiguous policies came as public affairs officers, commanders and military units were launching blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. The Air Force created and launched its own version of YouTube, known as BlueTube.

The new DTM set the military default switch to open access, Price Floyd said during a bloggers roundtable on the policy earlier this year. He was hired in June as DoD's principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.

Security of course, is still priority uno.

DoD officials are working on more detailed regulations, educating troops on the new policies and figuring out the record keeping of what's said through social media. Some of those details include guidance for commanders in the field, like Afghanistan and Iraq, where bandwidth is limited and security concerns heightened. Access to social media can be restricted temporarily, the new policy states, but there's no definition yet as to what is considered temporary.

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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 


As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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