Last November, citing bandwidth and security reasons, the military launched TroopTube, a video-sharing social Web site designed for service members, as the alternative to YouTube. Apparently, it now has had a change of heart.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. military in Afghanistan is launching a Facebook page, a YouTube site, and Twitter feeds as part of a new communication effort. Officials said this would help the military reach those who get their information online rather than via printed materials.
For now, the military's Facebook and Twitter sites in Afghanistan are still in a testing phase. Officials hope to attract thousands more users after a formal launch later this week.
The effort is primarily to counter Taliban propaganda, which some are saying routinely publicizes false claims about how many U.S. soldiers its forces have killed, or how many civilians might have died in an airstrike. This is the information war which, according to U.S. officials, the military has been losing.
The military will also use this new method of communication for other military-related news. For example, it announced on Monday news on Twitter about the death of U.S. service members the previous day from non-combat-related injuries in southern Afghanistan, hours before its formal press statement.
Service members are also encouraged to post photos and stories on Web sites to show daily life in Afghanistan, including content that does not make the news.
It's expected that this will be well-received by troops as many military commands and individual service members have long used social-networking sites to stay in touch with their families and friends. The Air Force and Army also already have Facebook pages.
Nonetheless, this communication effort in Afghanistan, which takes advantage of social-networking sites as a primary tools to release news, is the first that's been implemented in an active war zone.