People serving in the U.S. military now have their own Web site where they can upload, share, and watch videos.
Announced yesterday, the new MilTube site has been set up as a safer, more secure alternative to YouTube, with content protected behind firewalls. As such, it's designed to serve the interests of military personnel who want to share videos but also satisfy the concerns of the Department of Defense (DOD), which has never been comfortable with access to commercial social network and sharing sites.
"Video is an extremely powerful tool for storytelling and sharing information among personnel," Justin Filler, deputy director of Army organization MilTech Solutions Office, said in a statement. "MilTube provides a secure, internal environment for those connections to take place across the Armed Services."
MilTube joins a suite of other Web 2.0 tools offered to the military, including MilBook, MilWiki, and MilBlog. Known collectively as MilSuite, these services are all part of the DOD's effort to provide more secure alternatives to commercial wikis, blogs, and social network sites.
MilTube and the entire MilSuite were originally designed by MilTech, a communications branch of the Army, a MilTech public affairs officer told CNET. But in an attempt to generate collaboration across the entire military, the tools were made available on a wider scale to personnel throughout the armed forces. MilSuite is currently available to anyone with the proper access and authentication, including service members, civilian employees, and support contractors, and now has more than 88,500 users.
With the government trying to cut costs, the military is looking at MilTube as a way to save money by setting up a dynamic site where personnel can create, learn, and share information with colleagues around the world. The DOD also sees MilTube as a way to share training footage, news clips, and other videos made directly by the military.
Like YouTube, MilTube offers a variety of channels, categories, and tags, allowing people to not only upload and watch videos but also search for and sort them, according to MilTech. With bandwidth at a premium at certain military bases, MilTube can scale its performance so that people can watch and upload videos at any location. The site supports a variety of video formats as well as audio-only streams and can run on both desktop PCs and mobile devices.
Over the past year, the DOD has loosened up its bans on access to social networks, now allowing military people to use sites like Facebook and Twitter. But access to these sites across the Armed Forces is still subject to a variety of caveats and stipulations, leaving many personnel unable to take full advantage of them.