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The Facebook Army? How the US military embraced social networking

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The US military is apparently making good use of a secure Facebook-like system for networking which already has hundreds of user groups and thousands of members. Known as "milBook" the system has been embraced by the Department of Defense for the way it can open up safer avenues of communications amongst personnel. Previously, the department lacked a medium for employees to share official and sometimes sensitive information. MilBook provides several options for users who wish to share information with specific individuals. By creating discussion threads, they can exchange ideas among specific, self-created groups on topics such as Army policies.

"The milSuite application allows the professional ‘DOD’ community to share information amongst themselves that is only intended for the internal community" said Justin Filler, deputy director of the MilTech Solutions Office, an Army organization. MilBook, which has reached 18,000 users since its inception in October 2009, is part of a suite of tools known as milSuite that also includes a blog and wiki.

"These technologies help those working on similar projects across ‘DoD’ to connect, share information, incubate new ideas, and help build the ‘DoD's’ body of knowledge and expertise, while generating organizational learning" said Todd Miller, an Army contractor. "People across the DoD can find professional working groups on various programs and efforts and join within seconds" Miller adds, "MilBook not only connects people, it connects those people to military topics so that ideas and information are shared across the Armed Services".

MilBook is also an effective tool for locating Soldiers who might have switched headquarters due to reassignment or for personnel who wish to obtain the knowledge of a subject matter expert.
Since its inception more than a year ago, the Army’s wiki or milWiki has surpassed more than 40,000 users, 10,000 pages, and 4,900 individual articles and is on target as a pilot effort to become a centralized point for updating Army field manual doctrine.

In June, the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC), at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., launched a test that allowed Soldiers and leaders to make real-time updates to the Army’s tactics, techniques and procedures (ATTP) via milWiki.

"The purpose of the portal is to incorporate insights and lessons-learned from Soldiers and officers, based upon recent experiences in theater; but the goal is to ensure tactics, techniques and procedures remain relevant" said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, during his final remarks at the LandWarNet Conference held last year in Fort Lauderdale. "A Soldier redeployed from Afghanistan, for example, could access the ATTP for site exploitation operations, make changes and add new material based on firsthand experiences in the country".

The third portion of milSuite, known as milBlog, allows users to share news, photos, ideas and insight in real-time, with the capability to comment on one another’s feedback. MilSuite is assigned to the MilTech Solutions Office, a government organization of the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) working in partnership with Product Manager, Acquisition Business.

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If it helps with communication, then I like the fact that the military is embracing social media. I do hope that other governmental agencies adopt a similar network to facilitate communication and resources.

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