The US military has taken the war in Iraq into cyberspace, with the launch of its own channel on the video-sharing website YouTube.
Its 25 brief clips include footage of US soldiers firing at unseen snipers in Baghdad, handing out footballs to Iraqi children and rescuing an Iraqi family injured by an explosive device.
In two months, the Multi-National Force-Iraq channel has climbed to 16th in YouTube’s most subscribed-to listing and has, the military says, just passed the 1 million video views mark.
With titles like Battle on Haifa Street and Iraqi Boy Scouts Prepare for Jamboree, the clips are intended to show a “boots on the ground” perspective of Iraq, a statement on the site says.
So what is the reaction in the blogosphere to the military establishment’s own move into the internet “battle space”?
Blogger, writer and former US soldier Bill Roggio says it is really just an extension of the US military’s attempt to reach the public through mainstream media.
“It’s really a smart move. One thing that al-Qaeda does very well is put its own videos of attacks on Americans or Iraqis up on their own websites. They dominate that terrain and they get the hits.”
By getting a good YouTube and Google rating, the US military will improve the chances of theirs being the first site people go to when they search on topics relating to Iraq, he says.
“They are very slow, very behind the times in things like blogs,” he argues. “But they are starting to move forward and recognising the medium – they have to, the enemy is doing it and they have to counter that.”
I love Bill Faith’s comment about this article. “A stopped clock is still right twice a day (‘ceptin’ those new fangled digital thingies), a blind squirrel still gets some lovin’ now and then, and the Beeb occasionally slips up and posts something worth reading.”