As my esteemed colleague Rich Stanton put it, it has now been  days since restricted military documents have been leaked in the War Thunder forums. As reported by Task and Purpose, this latest incident relates to the M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, a tracked AIFV that first went into service with the US military in 1981.
Two pages of the Bradley’s technical manual, with details on the commander’s hatch, turret assembly, and spall liner—a liner inside armored vehicles designed to reduce the internal damage caused when armor is penetrated—were posted to War Thunder’s “Machinery of War” forum, according to the report. The material was taken down by moderators after “several minutes.”
The document in question isn’t actually classified, but it is restricted, and is only meant to be accessed by specifically noted people or groups, including the Department of Defense and DoD contractors. That means, in case it’s not sufficiently clear (and apparently it is not), that sharing it on the War Thunder forums is a no-no; accordingly, the user who posted the material has been banned.
“There was a post containing classified or restricted information regarding Bradley on December 12th,” Gaijin Entertainment founder Anton Yudintsev said in a statement provided to PC Gamer. “Our moderation team acted according to the protocols: they deleted the document within minutes, banned the user permanently, and explained the rules again to the other players.
“While we do our best to react swiftly in situations like this and educate the users on the consequences, no social media platform can completely prevent their users from posting things. They can do this on War Thunder forums, Reddit, Discord, Twitter, etc. The key difference here is how strictly the platform is moderated and how swiftly the information is deleted. War Thunder forum is definitely one of the strictest on Earth in that regard”.
And in this case, the leaked information had apparently been floating around on Reddit and Discord before making its way to its more natural home on the War Thunder forums. “It was published online on December 8th or even earlier and has been spreading on various platforms for days until it landed on War Thunder forums,” Yudintsev told Task and Purpose. “While we did our part in helping to limit the leak spreading further by deleting that post, we can do nothing with what’s happening on other platforms.”
That might explain why the leaker saw fit to post the Bradley docs: Since nobody was doing anything about their presence on other sites, it may have seemed reasonable to assume that they were safe to share. But by now, anyone playing War Thunder should know better: Gaijin has a pretty consistent record of erring on the side of caution when it comes to handling official military documents. Yet for some reason, people keep doing it—over the past two years alone, we’ve seen leaks of material relating to:
There’s more—Task and Purpose says the Bradley leak represents the 14th time a War Thunder player did something wrong just to prove they were right—and, as we said in September when the Longbow docs were posted, at this point it seems to happen so often that almost nobody, aside from aggrieved War Thunder forum moderators and us, seems to take notice. Still, it clearly bears repeating: If you have a manual for military hardware in your possession, don’t post it on the War Thunder forums.