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Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyrone Wigfall isn’t a fanatic about military blogs, but he periodically checks them out.

"Every now and then, I’ll read some just to see what some of the opinions are about the military," said Wigfall, an information systems technician with Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, Naples, Italy. "There are opinions about a lot of different issues, but I find it’s mostly all just ranting and raving.

"Once in a while, you’ll have a good, enlightened opinion by someone who has done some research and is well informed, and then, you do get a new perspective."

Blogs neither help nor hurt the military, the 34-year-old sailor said.

"It’s just another avenue for people to vent and give their opinions," he said, adding that readers should remember to consider the source.

"I do think that they should be able to get their opinion out there," Staff Sgt. Kira Loera said of military bloggers.

But, she said, the blog content should keep within the military’s rules "because there are some things that can get us all into trouble."

The 23-year-old stationed at Osan Air Base, South Korea, pointed to matters of operational security, for example.

Pfc. Michelle Clifton said she’s never read a military blog, but thinks they’re really little more than public diaries of personal experiences and beliefs.

The 22-year-old of the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion, Darmstadt, Germany, said, however, that people could get carried away and post details that could compromise a military mission.

"People who do that, I think they’re wrong," Clifton said.

But she hasn’t seen or heard of anything crossing that line, and besides, blogs aren’t much more than people ranting "just about the randomness of the day," she said.

Senior Airman David Walton, 23, reads military blogs weekly and is undecided on whether they’re good or bad for the military.

"I think it has mixed outcomes," Walton said.

The aerospace ground equipment mechanic with Osan’s 51st Maintenance Squadron said he has misgivings about servicemembers who might use a blog to divulge details of military life that might "embarrass" the service.

On the other hand, military blogging could be a good thing, partly because it could pass on information of use to other servicemembers, Walton said.

"To me, it all goes back to freedom of speech, because every individual should have the right to speak their mind," he said.

And the blogs can be a way for servicemembers to get certain things said that might not be easy to put before their chain of command, Walton added.

Two airmen based in England think blogs should give practical insight that helps the military, not bash it.

"As long as it’s legitimate and not slander," Staff Sgt. Jason Grant, of the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, said of blog contents. "It brings [problems] out into the open and lets the military figure out how to deal with it."

Constructive criticism for the military can be good, said Staff Sgt. Nathan Bodkins, of the 48th Component Maintenance Squadron.

"Whatever criticism is out there could affect a leadership’s decision on what and what not to change," the RAF Lakenheath airman explained.

"You can’t be critical of the Army; you can just be honest about your experiences," Army Pfc. Jaclyn Lodigkeit, 21, said, adding that it would be absurd for anybody to base his or her opinion of something on just one other person’s belief.

"Everyone’s experience is different," said Lodigkeit, who is attached to 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion.

Stars and Stripes reporters Matt Millham, Sandra Jontz, Franklin Fisher and Sean Kimmonscontributed to this report.


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