How One Special Forces Sergeant Is Using Social Media To Make PAOs Obsolete

Community
U.S. Marines attached to the Quantico Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy (SNCOA) take a selfie before taking off on a SNCOA monument run in Washington D.C., Sept. 21, 2016.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cristian L. Ricardo.

In today’s social media world, we see service members sharing more and more of their daily professional lives online. With the proliferation of sites like U.S. Army W.T.F. Moments, the general public gets a glimpse into the lives of everyday Americans who serve their country. Whether these posts be humorous, heroic, or just stupid and dangerous, they are out there and the trend is not going away.


Within this trend there has been a movement to highlight real professionalism of our military members on social media. Many sites and even more military members are using their platforms to highlight their professionalism. For example, within the special operations community, many service members have taken to social media to post videos on marksmanship, medical care, physical fitness, and equipment selection and maintenance.

These posts have the effect of reaching out to thousands and millions of followers and users, expanding the voice of a single service member who previously may have been simply relegated to telling only his friends what pistol to buy or what is the most effective way to transition from your rifle to a sidearm during range drills. 

The new social media platforms are important. These videos, and the men and women who are willing to share their thoughts, are opening up new avenues of communication between civilian and military members. These avenues help to build trust, maintain positive relationships, and help our military communities become more relatable to the outside world. Additionally, we could see positive effects on recruiting the next generation of an all-volunteer force if military members show the outside world what their standards-based methods are all about and how their lives are shaped positively by that belief system.

I recently sat down with one member of the special operations community, a Special Forces NCO who works at a premiere Army marksmanship school, to get his thoughts on why he shares his shooting videos online and why he thinks it is important to spread a message of professionalism and good marksmanship within the ranks.

Sgt. 1st Class “Diggler” shares his professional videos online. He mainly shares content concerning marksmanship, however he has ventured into physical fitness and combative videos. In this regard, he is one of thousands of service members who are taking part in this social media communications revolution — an army of makeshift public affair personnel who don’t need a MOS or duty title to tell a story.

Diggler explains that he shares his videos online because he was “fortunate enough to be hand-selected to be a combat rifle and pistol marksmanship and tactics instructor.” He stressed that it wasn’t because he could simply shoot well, but because he could teach and mentor. Shooting is also his hobby and in this regard posting videos online allows him to further his hobby and continue to teach and mentor to a larger audience.

Related: Is Your Social Media Presence Working Against You? »

He went on to stress that for non-military viewers, most “have a limited to basic understanding of what is entailed in weapons safety and operation.” He can use the videos to educate and demonstrate the importance of safety and operation, furthering his mentoring work.

U.S. Army Secretary Eric Fanning, center, takes a selfie with Soldiers from U.S. Army Central and the 77th Combat Aviation Brigade in a hangar Sept. 19 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard.

“Most public gun ranges forbid basic skills, such as drawing and engaging from the holster or multiple engagements,” Diggler said. “How does one truly understand the weapon system without being afforded the opportunity to properly train? It instills a false confidence. My videos show a basic capability I feel should be a standard if one decides to carry as a citizen or is required to be armed as a profession.”

Diggler feels that the military does not place enough emphasis on marksmanship training, though it depends upon the unit. But that is where his videos can step in: to fill a gap for all.

The Army's marksmanship skills deficit is mostly with support military occupational specialties, not combat ones, Diggler believes.

“Yes, most of these units do a fine job maintaining a unit standard of rifle qualification,” Diggler said, “but qualification is not training. Usually when a unit has met its task obligation, it moves on to other more pertinent things involving that unit’s purpose.”

On many of Diggler’s deployments, support attachments became gunners, security details, and attachments to his Special Forces team — some even earning valor awards for their work in combat.

Diggler shares his videos to promote a professionalism of arms within the military community but to the outside community, as well. In this way, he is shaping the military’s narrative on what a soldier is and helping his fellow brothers and sisters in arms build their professionalism to higher levels.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.

After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.

But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.

Read More Show Less

That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.

After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.

Read More Show Less

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.

"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.

Read More Show Less

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Air Force is reviewing whether some airmen's valor awards deserve to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday.

Goldfein revealed that several airmen are being considered for the nation's highest military award during a press conference at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. He declined to say exactly who could receive the Medal of Honor, pending the outcome of the review process.

Read More Show Less