Task Force Southwest – US Marine Advisers Abruptly Shut Down Facebook Account
Task Force Southwest, a group of US Marine advisers in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, has yanked its Facebook Page, citing “operational security” issues.[Everybody has security issues with Facebook. Just sayin’.]
They are in their 3rd deployment rotation in the country, and previously had a Facebook page which released information and photos showing them working with Afghan nationals in the advisory capacity. Independent Military news sites suggested they were not being as transparent as they were before.
“With regards to our Facebook page, we are currently re-evaluating how we are disseminating information, especially given operational security concerns. We will still continue to publish releasable content on DVIDS and through the Resolute Support social media accounts.” Capt. Peter Koerner, Task Force Southwest
Marine Corps Times reported,
Task Force Southwest’s social media accounts have been helpful in disseminating information and updates about the progress and mission of the Marines in Helmand as they continue to rebuild and advise Afghan security forces in the volatile province.
The sudden removal of the account calls into question transparency concerns regarding the Corps’ combat missions overseas. While Task Force Southwest’s Twitter account is still active, the account hasn’t posted anything since mid-September.
The Army’s Facebook account for its conventional advisers, known as the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB, is still active. Members of the 1st SFAB just returned home from a near yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
But, on deck for the next Army rotation to Afghanistan is the the 2nd SFAB, which is slated to deploy to the region sometime in spring 2019. That unit doesn’t have a Facebook account.
The Security Force Assistance Command told Army Times that it is up to individual commanders to determine whether the unit creates a Facebook account.
So what kind of “operational security issues” could have led to the shutdown?
One issue noted was the face of an Afghan interpreter being shown. Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and their families are instant targets for terrorist groups. Protecting their identities is important, but it was listed as one “operational security” issue. Blurring out a face is easy. Yanking one photo is also easy. Why would that entail taking down an entire Facebook page?
Is the Marine Corps scrubbing photos because it’s trying to cover up the idea that things aren’t going well in Afghanistan, or even Syria? The Marine Corps Times reported that even a DVIDS post in June was scrubbed because it was about a visit by Lt Gen William Beydler to the Operation Inherent Resolve theater.
The Marine Corps Task Force Southwest may have finally realized that terrorists also have cell phones and computers, and there are a lot of Afghani nationals on Facebook, and even Twitter. A public page would have allowed them access…not necessarily a good thing. Some kinds of “transparency” can be deadly.
Featured photo: A U.S. Marine with Task Force Southwest looks at a 120mm mortar illumination round fired on Bost Airfield, Afghanistan, April 24, 2018. (Cpl. Roderick L. Jacquote/Marine Corps)