Blogs Chronicle War from Soldiers' Perspectives

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Nikki Schwab
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, May 2, 2007; 7:30 PM

When Capt. Danjel Bout lost three comrades in a single day while on an October 2005 mission in Baghdad, he stifled his grief and remained focused on what seemed to be the longest day of his life.

The next day, he let it out.

He went to his computer and wrote a detailed and emotional account of the losses in his blog, " 365 and a Wakeup."

For Bout, blogging was a way to get some emotional relief from the hardships of war; it was an "online therapy session" of sorts. For the more than 750,000 viewers of his blog, it has been a way for them to read a firsthand account of the Iraq war, according to Bout.

"Anytime I think a story gets personalized, I think people can see the emotion behind the cold hard facts," the California Army National Guardsman said.

Today, many of the stories coming from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are being written by those fighting them, in the form of thousands of soldiers' military blogs, or "milblogs." Their tales are unfolding as they occur, with limited censorship from the military, and they are attracting a growing readership from inside and outside the military.

Ward Carroll, the editor of military.com, an online military and veteran membership organization, said some of the best milbloggers have the ability to shape opinions on the war.

"If you are going to be informed, especially with something so controversial and polarizing as the Iraq war, you need to read one of these blogs along with The Washington Post and the New York Times," Carroll said.

Some prominent milbloggers started their sites to combat boredom during deployment or ease communication with family and friends at home, not expecting the blogs to become popular.

Bout began his blog in 2005 because he was "too lazy to e-mail everyone individually" and filled it with candid descriptions of patrolling Baghdad's Dora neighborhood. During his 18-month deployment to Iraq, the officer lost 17 comrades. In his blog, he described how fallen soldiers were honored.

Army Spc. Colby Buzzell began one of the first well-liked milblogs "My War: Killing Time in Iraq" in 2004 during month eight of his year-long deployment to Mosul.

Buzzell said he read a Time magazine article titled "Meet Joe Blog" and it encouraged him to start blogging under the pseudonym CBFTW, an acronym standing for his initials and the tattoo on his arm, "[expletive] the world."


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