Tuesday, May 23, 2006

New Offensives in The Propaganda War

The Propaganda War: What will it take to win?

People at the Pentagon are working on its strategic communications roadmap, one of the goals of which is to reduce cross-service stress, thus making our nation's strategic communications more effective.

Now, I don't know how much of a problem this is at the joint level...I don't work there and it's outside my lane. But my first reaction is that this is something that's long overdue. We need to understand that effective communication-call it strategic communication or a rose by any other name-requires all of the players to be involved. The biggest impediment to strategic communications is the lack of coordination...everyone's off doing their best, but often doing it in a vacuum.

This is something near and dear to my heart so I'm going to take the next few days to discuss a few of the issues this article raises-or fails to raise. This will keep me from posting one monster post that most folks won't get through, including me :)

Today's point is about tasking authority.

One of the obstacles to integrated strategic communications-from the public affairs standpoint-is getting the communications plans successfully integrated into the operational plans. If you're a PAO, you have had this happen: your higher headquarters in the public affairs chain will often call and say "hey, it'd be great if your unit could try to do this project, which will really help the Army's overall communications efforts." In all fairness, it usually is a pretty good idea-from their level.

Now anyone who has been in the Army more than a day knows that at this point it's all about the individual public affairs officer and whether or not they can make this happen.

The problem arises when the PAO goes to try and talk the unit into supporting this mission. The unit operations officer is going to say-and rightfully so, "If this is so damn important, why didn't we get a tasker to make it happen?"

This is a good question and critical to the successful integration of communications. The Army runs on paperwork and the king of paperwork is the tasking document. For most purposes, when you get a tasking document it's official that you actually have to do something.

So one of the first things we're going to have to fix is getting these great ideas into the tasking chain. When we identify a key stakeholder-which I define as an individual or group that can have a significant impact upon our mission accomplishment-which a subordinate unit can engage in communication that's advantageous to the bigger mission, we need to be able to task them to do so.

Some people will say, "We don't want to nickel and dime subordinates. We don't need to be "micromanaging" subordinate units and bases and telling them how to do their job. These folks have a lot on their plate and they don't need us calling them with taskers for simple things."

Well, isn't that what we're doing when we call the PAO? Only then the problem is that we want the PAO to accomplish the exact same thing without the benefit of tasking authority. For those unfamiliar with this process, PAOs have no tasking authority over subordinate units/personnel.

Other might say, "This is exactly what we're trying to prevent, having subordinates engage in what is our fight. We should be doing this at our level and protecting our subordinates."

I couldn't disagree more.
This is NOT like the division headquarters saying, "We're not going to tell battalions how to fight." The division headquarters should not be telling the battalion HOW to fight, but you can certainly bet that division HQ will tell them WHERE to fight and WHAT they are supposed to accomplish.

For instance, the joint force headquarters says, "We want this person or group to have a better understanding of what we do and why. We have identified them as critical to our communications efforts. Let's have the local Army base engage this group to accomplish this mission."

This is NOT telling the local army base how to fight their communications battles. This is telling them the WHERE and hopefully, the WHY.

If we are going to truly embrace and accomplish integrated strategic communications, we are obligated to bring the same effective processes to communications that we bring to everything else that we do. That means having the authority to make the right things happen.

That's enough for now...more later.

3 Comments:

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Have they figured out who is supposed to be countering enemy PSYOPs directed at the American people?

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when politicians and it seems officers begin to tell soldiers how to operate under fire there is something rotten in denmark.
when terrorists have the freedom of movement with civilian areas it is the direct help of those civilians that allows it, hence in a fire fight a great general once said in war there is no such thing as an innocent civilian!!!!!

 
At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop worrying about the enemy and start worrying how to protect our own...kind of like our border and the people crossing it...we have lost our focus..and reasoning of national rights.
when our boys die from IED;s and from terrorists moving around with the help of????? we need to do what needs to be done ....the rules of engagement need to change and the way we conduct ops needs to change as well..if you have constant EID's on one stretch of 5 mile road..gee...think an officer can figure out how to stop it?..night ops?..ambushes?...take every freaking car away from every iraq?,,let them walk or take specific means OF TRANSPORT. set up more check points, smaller areas of movement..more roof top observations...more small amored forts..constant house to house searches...area lock downs and searches...execution of those caught aiding and helping...just to sit in zones..and have some ops...is nuts...it only allows the enemy to roam free and build ..don't know whose fault..but we are doing something wrong...

 

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