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Pentagon opens ‘Tweet’ offensive in cyberspace

- The Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2012

The Pentagon on Monday launched a new campaign — in bursts of 140 characters per message.

The Defense Department (@DeptofDefense) held its first Twitter town hall, and the nearly hour-long session addressed questions from "don't ask, don't tell" to the Middle East to cyber security.

"...important to discuss national security matters with American public, service members, and #milfams #isthatallyougot?#askdod," Pentagon press secretary George Little, or @PentagonPresSec, tweeted.

On Syria, Mr. Little first tweeted: "@13monsters asks about Libya v. Syria. Each difficult situation, but approaches to dealing with crises must be case-by-case."

He followed up with: "U.S. has made clear that Syrian regime must stop its ruthlessness, and we condemn violence against innocents."

On Iran, he tweeted: "Our focus is on diplomatic and economic pressure, which appears to be working."

@PentagonPresSec also addressed budget cuts, tweeting that further defense cuts would be "disastrous" for national defense and military families: "if Congress doesn't act DoD will face over $1T in cuts. That'd be disastrous for ntnl defense and #milfam."

Brevity is essential in using Twitter. The mini-blogging social network limits individual messages to 140 characters.

Mr. Little gave a shout-out to @Military1Source, which he said helps troops and their families avoid money problems by offering 12-session finance classes free. He also referred them to @DCoEpage and @DeptVetAffairs for more information on post traumatic stress.

Mr. Little engaged in a back-and-forth with one tweeter over the Pentagon's recently repealed ban on openly serving gays, known as "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT).

"@JoshSeefried asks about #DADT benefits for same sex partners in mil. #troops can desig[nate] some bnefits regrdlss of sexual orientation," Mr. Little tweeted.

@DeptofDefense followed with a link to a website with more information on designating benefits to partners.

Still, Josh Seefried, co-founder and co-director of OutServe, an association serving active duty gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members, said he got no answer.

"No Answer. The [Comprehensive Review Working Group] outlined benefits such as mil-mil asignmts that could b given for same-sex couples, that was my question," he told the Washington Times.

Despite being unable to receive a satisfactory answer in 140 characters, Mr. Seefried managed to elicit a response from the bombarded Mr. Little, who answered very few questions from the news media during the session.

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