In a blog post this week, U.S. Navy CIO Rob Carey wrote that social media is a resource for the American military that should be used to build trust and collaboration, both within and outside the organization.

In attempts to balance communication, transparency, and operational security, the military has encountered both practical obstacles and general criticism. In a recent podcast, Carey said, “Most social networking tools come with no rules of the road. As the Internet moves towards user-generated content, we thought there was a void we could fill… to mitigate some of the security risks associated with social media.”

Beyond risk management, Carey said, “Social media has a powerful collaboration engine associated with it.”

Generally, military organizations have the options to reach out directly to large IT companies to configure customized security profiles and inherent OPSEC protection for personnel; traditionally, however, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have not been particularly receptive to working within that type of culture or framework. From the sharing-and-access social media pole to the security/military pole, both sides are resistant to different approaches to shared and social information. Still, Carey is an advocate for the usefulness of these tools, even behind a military firewall.

“We must remain a learning organization. As the Internet evolves, so must our workforce and its associated skills. To that end, we must be able to embrace change,” Carey wrote in his blog post. “Many of our processes are rooted in the Industrial Age and will need to move toward the Information Age to remain relevant in the coming years.”

With specific regard to social media and the American military, Carey stated, “Social media is an inherent part of the toolbox for members of the millennial workforce, while baby boomers are just adopting it. Social media tools should become the standard by which we can share and collaborate on information inside and outside the network boundaries.”

He also highlighted green initiatives, mobile working, and the use of modern technological tools in recruitment efforts.

To see Carey’s office’s Policy and Guidelines for Secure Use of Social Media by Federal Departments and Agencies, click here for a full PDF.

While Carey’s optimism is to be applauded, one wonders what our military-minded friends will have to say about OPSEC vis-a-vis social media. The battlefield isn’t really Foursquare-compatible, and the military might actually have the last plausible use case for censorship. Every servicemember is probably aware of existing regulations for Internet and social media use; how do you think Carey’s goals and statements will affect the state of affairs on the ground, and do you feel such a shift is needed or welcomed? Let us know your opinions in the comments.