More Anonymous COINdinistas

Go read the new counterinsurgency blog, “Ink Spots” – great name – that just kicked off in late June. The content looks good, written by five anonymous D.C. security industry types: “Gunslinger”, “Alma”, “Lil”, “Gulliver”, and “MK”. Lordy knows that some fresh energy is needed in this field, but I’m also exasperated at the anonymity thing. 

I sympathize/empathize with the perceived need of legions of bloggers to opt for the anonymat. But some of us with serious reputations and careers have also openly and clearly opted to identify ourselves, partly in an effort to lend credibility to this fantastically accessible medium called blogging. 

Maybe the joke’s on me. As with so many of these things, anonymity is a thin veneer, and real identities a poorly kept secret, bounced around freely behind the camo-curtain of the COIN echo chamber. Mostly I’m reluctant to contribute or comment openly when the original author hasn’t seen fit to do so –  too uneven a playing field, with all sorts of potential reputational consequences.

Ink Spots’ header description:

Ink Spots is a blog dedicated to the discussion of counterinsurgency, stability operations, post-conflict environments, and whatever other security issues we deem worthy of comment. Our contributors are security professionals – from think tanks, government, consulting, and nonprofit work. We hope this site will be not merely a soap box for the five of us, but a forum for discussion and debate on those issues that matter to us all.

And its opening post, penned by Gunslinger on 27 June:

While we continue to recruit a couple of folks to join us, I’ll jump on the proverbial grenade and take a first crack at Ink Spots. Our description gives the basic details of who we are and why we’re here, but I’ll elaborate a little futher just to get things started.

As mentioned, we all work in security affairs. I won’t say “national” security as not all of us work specifically on U.S. issues. But the bloggers here are a group of young, smart security professionals. We are all friends, but we are rarely of the same mind on the issues that matter most.

I’ll keep this simple just to kick things off, but we are excited to provide a forum for us to express ourselves and to allow you all to comment on what we have to say. In the short term, we look forward to many interesting events that will affect international security: the withdrawal of U.S. forces from urban centers in Iraq, the command review in Afghanistan, the constant shenanigans in the DRC (and most of sub-Saharan Africa for that matter, though I’m sure our Africanists can speak to it more eloquently than “shenanigans” in the future), and the shaping of the U.S. military with the coming budget fights and longer-term QDR.

We’ll start tackling the issues shortly. We hope that you find our postings and analysis useful and entertaining. And we also hope that you comment on it – otherwise I’m just yelling into an echo chamber.

5 comments

  1. Mike, thanks for the link.On the subject of anonymity: I wouldn’t like to speak for the others, but in my case I’ve chosen to remain anonymous for the simple reason that it eliminates even the faintest whiff of official imprimatur that one might accompany my true identity. I’ve blogged and commented extensively under my own name in the past and felt somewhat conflicted about the decision. Ultimately I enjoy the freedom to go off the talking points on work-related subjects that (this very, very thin cloak of) anonymity affords me. It’s not that I’m offering different opinions than I would if I were "on the record," but rather that I likely wouldn’t feel comfortable speaking on the record about the things I work on at the office. Working in or around government is slightly more restrictive on this point, perhaps, than if I were an academic or a journalist.

  2. Lil

    Thanks for linking Mike. I went for anonymity because I want to separate my published, peer reviewed, under my employer’s logo pubs from the much less thought through blog world. We put a lot of effort into the things we release publicly, there’s a lot of vetting and I don’t want to have to go through that every time I put up a blog post. I see the blog as a way to discuss things I find interesting and challenging in an informal setting.

  3. Curious that you have to dig pretty deep now to uncover Abu Muqawama IDs, since its move to the CNAS platform. I appreciate it was the worst-kept secret about AM’s identity but why conceal it again?Btw welcome, Gulliver, Lil and colleagues! Both to CTlab and the blogosphere.

  4. Mike Innes

    Gulliver, Lil, no need to explain. It’s a minor peeve, esp. compared to the echo chamber issue. Looking forward to reading your output.

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