MoD press chief endorses soldiers on Facebook

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) claims it has 'no problem' with servicemen and women publishing comments on social networking sites.

Recent reports have told how the MoD is starting an "offensive" against soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who use Facebook and MySpace to complain about poor equipment, accommodation and pay - in turn causing a run of negative news stories.

But MoD director of news James Shelley insisted: 'We recognise that web 2.0 is a growing way of communicating and we don't have a problem with that.

'We have a desire for servicemen to get the recognition they deserve. We have to allow them room to manoeuvre. But it's a balance - the balance is that we have security requirements.'

The response follows news of documents released by the MoD under the Freedom of Information Act, revealing that ministers are concerned about social networking sites fuelling public opposition to Britain's role in Iraq and Afghanistan. One strategy paper published last August acknowledges that 'internal comms has tended to come second to our engagement with the media'.

Shelley responded: 'We are a large organisation. Internal comms can always be improved on. I don't think we're bad at it, but there's room for improvement.'

The comments come as the press office prepares for the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War.

The MoD is hoping that next month's anniversary does not cause a fresh wave of negative publicity.

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