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Air Guard officials open access to social media sites

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- Air National Guard officials have announced that access to popular social media networking sites would become available to all Airmen who use their network.

They began to allow access to popular social media networking sites May 10 and were scheduled to have access available to all bases and regions by May 14.

"These are tools and capabilities that the (Air Guard) can leverage and exploit in order to do the important jobs that they need to do," said Thomas Rogers, the chief technology officer for the Air National Guard.

"Social networking can be an environment where we can be more secure with our information in our military networks by taking out non-sensitive information and placing it into a more social environment," he said. "About 15 to 20 percent of business that is conducted on our network today is about our families, our communities and base communities and business that has nothing to do with sensitive information."

The move to allow access to social media platforms might be new to the Air Guard, but already officials can see the benefits of its use when working with state and federal first responders.

"This is an environment that is a need-to-share environment," Mr. Rogers said. "In a disaster, we can take a photo and share it with many different state and federal entities in real time.

"Today, we have many different radio frequencies (that exist among) all agencies during a disaster and an interoperability issue that already exists," he said. "We can do a lot more with a lot of information-sharing and photo-sharing of site-incident photos with all levels of response, and social media platforms can do that."

With social media platforms available to all Airmen, operational security and informational security is a major concern for Air Guard officials, but they have a program in place to educate Airmen about these cyber issues.

"We've had a program called 'Cyber Minuteman,' and we are now reinvigorating that program," Mr. Rogers said. "It is a marketing program that aggregates tips and things you should and should not do, and I can think of no better time to bring back this marketing campaign than now."

Though social networking is only a few days old in the Air Guard, officials are excited about what the future will bring and how social media will benefit them.

"Innovation happens at the edge," Mr. Rogers said. "We are excited to continue to partner with the National Guard Bureau and work to leverage and exploit these tools for the mission capabilities that we do during disaster recovery missions-our home games."