US soldiers will still be able to e-mail home, and army bloggers should
still be able to post, but the web may become a quieter place after
this week's Pentagon clampdown, writes Patrick Jackson on the BBC's website.


Thirteen sites have been declared off-limits on Department of Defense computer systems, ranging from MySpace to MTV.

The official reason given is that too much military bandwidth is being hogged to share photos, video clips and messages.

Ironically, the US military itself has just launched its own channel on YouTube, uploading clips of fire fights and troops helping civilians in Iraq.

"The US Army's not going to pay the bill for you to get on MySpace and YouTube," was how Maj Bruce Mumford, a communications officer serving in Iraq, explained the curbs to the Associated Press.

The decision is likely to damage morale for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, US military bloggers, including Colby Buzzell, latest winner of the Blooker Prize, the internet blog equivalent of the Booker, have told the BBC.

Yet the US and other countries with armies in the field today have genuine concerns about how the YouTube generation makes war, and particularly the impact on public opinion of raw video recorded by troops during combat.

Footage that makes its way on to the internet usually goes through unedited. It has content that can at times be graphic and is often accompanied by foul-mouthed real-time commentaries by the soldiers involved.

Colby Buzzell, author of blog-based war memoirs My War: Killing Time In Iraq, believes internet networking sites provide a vital breathing-space for troops in Iraq, and that the clampdown is a disaster.

"I think it's going to totally destroy their morale – you have soldiers out there for their second, third, even fourth time," he told the BBC News website.

"A lot of them have lost fellow soldiers. One of the few luxuries you have over there is the internet cafes – it gives you a sense of normalcy to go on websites and follow the news, be in touch with family and friends."

Click here to read the full report, posted on the BBC's website.