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    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Heart of Dixie

    Alabama National Guard to soldiers: Keep your thoughts on Democrats, guns and Barack

    Alabama National Guard to soldiers: Keep your thoughts on Democrats, guns and Barack Obama to yourself

    By Leada Gore |
    on June 08, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    Soldiers using social media should avoid comments on gun control, Democrats, President Barack Obama or personal opinions about state and federal government, according to an email sent to an Alabama National Guard member and covered on the Military Times blog Outside the Wire.

    The email was sent from a first sergeant to a member of the Alabama National Guard in January but only recently forwarded to Military Times. With the subject line "Social Networking," the email offers what it says are dos for posting (saying happy birthday to a friend, for example) and don'ts (political commentary of just about any type.)

    A copy of the email as printed in Military Times is below:

    From: (Redacted) 1SG USARMY NG ALARNG (US)

    Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2013 4:44 p.m.
    To: Subject: Social networking (Unclassified)
    Classification: Unclassified
    Caveats: None

    [Unit Redacted] conducted a social network brief during the Jan. (Inactive Duty Training.) The ideas, do's and don't's, what can and cannot be posted, were explained in what I believe was a very elementary level. When asked if anyone had any questions, comments or complaints, no one raised their hands. I made the assumption that there was a clear and concise understanding concerning everyone's actions and responsibilities.

    Apparently I made a miscalculation in my assumption. Here it is again, for the last time.


    Update personal status, ie "at the mall"

    Comment on friend's status, ie "happy birthday"


    Comment or add posts concerning gun control, the Democrats, the President, Congress, or personal opinions about state or federal government matters.

    What you do on face book, twitter, or anything else that is available to the public is a direct reflection on this unit and you as a soldier. If you have a question about a post, give me a call and I will let you know if it violates anything. This also includes "likes" post on other friend's pages. I do not care or want to hear about someone from another unit outside the (unit redacted.) My concern is with members (unit redacted) and (unit redacted.)

    By all means have fun with the networking, but stay away from volatile subjects. Don't be that guy.

    This is not an infringement on anyone's right to free speech or personal freedoms. We must abide by a higher standard, while serving in the Army National Guard and the United States Army.

    The letter was signed by the unit's first sergeant.

    Guard says email part of ongoing briefings

    The Army outlines its social media policies in an annual guide produced by its Office of Public Affairs.

    Most of the information is about operational security, but it does say all soldiers using social media must abide by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, even if they are off duty. This prohibits them from saying negative things about supervisors or revealing sensitive information but does not specifically prohibit soldiers from commenting on politics or social issues.

    In a written statement issued Friday afternoon, the Alabama Army National Guard said if taken alone, the email "does to seem to restrict soldiers more than the Army policy does."

    "However, it was written in the context of briefings and discussion about soldiers' conduct in uniform as representatives of the military," the statement notes.

    The guard said the email was written as part of on-going social media briefings and conversations in the unit. Some of these conversations were routine, according to the guard, and others were because of violations in policy and "the use of poor judgment in social media usage."

    The statement said while it is "inappropriate" for a soldier in uniform to endorse a certain political candidate or agency in public, it is "appropriate" for soldiers to discuss political situations and campaign for candidates as long as they did so on their own time and in civilian attire.

    "The letter was also to reinforce the previously given encouragement to be careful what one posts from a personal standpoint in order to protect a soldier and his or her reputation. Alabama National Guard leaders constantly work to develop their subordinates, personally and professionally. In this context, it was appropriate for the first sergeant to remind his troops to be careful and cautious with what they put in a public forum in order to protect themselves and their reputations as individuals and soldiers. We will continue to educate all of our personnel concerning the proper use of social media, while striving to convey and instill a sense of free expression within prescribed policy," guard officials said.

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