Gen. Carter Ham, the next commander of all U.S. troops in Africa, and chief of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” study, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of Training and Doctrine Command, both made the influential Danger Room‘s worst military tweeters list. It’s all about missed opportunities and, for all the knowledge of these generals, an apparent failure to understand the medium. Danger Room‘s Spencer Ackerman lauds Adm. Mike Mullen for tweeting his way through the DADT controversy and racking up more than 32,000 followers. (And don’t forget Donald Rumsfeld.) But it also offers measured criticism for Ham, Dempsey and a few officials from the other services.
Ham tweeted only a few times as troops were supposed to take the DADT survey, missed opportunities to post links to the survey, and never posted using the #DADT hashtag. He’s posted about a Coast Guard forum’s “insightful comments and questions,” and that Fort Hood’s “lively” discussion, making it “easy to see why they call it ‘The Great Place!’” But what did people say?
Dempsey gets knocked for using Twitter to spout about of Fort Monroe’s rich heritage or a TRADOC Senior Leaders Conference in Williamsburg, Va. Nowhere do we see Dempsey using hashtags and rarely does he use Twitter to interact with anyone directly or even solicit opinions. Dempsey could have used Twitter to provide a glimpse into the Army’s discussions of several topics near and dear to him: the Army profession, leader development and decentralization. But no there’s dialogue.
“All told, he asked for soldiers’ input a grand total of twice, and didn’t retweet a single reply. For TRADOC not to cash in on a transformative technological innovation is just too ironic,” Ackerman writes.
Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, of the Kentucky Guard–not mentioned in Danger Room–could have used Twitter to disseminate information during July’s flood relief. Instead, he tweeted only twice in three days. Social media’s role in Haitian relief suggests he could have done better.
Let’s be realistic. Senior Army leaders are probably not going to get comfortable overnight with a medium that encourages candor and open dialogue with, well, the planet. But Twitter is way too powerful a platform just to be used for the occasional thank you message or vague back-slappy missive.