Join Date: Mar 2009
US Strategic Communications
On March 28, 2009 MSNBC aired a presentation titled, “Can the US win the war in Afghanistan?” The story stated that President Obama has no exit plan, and the cost of continuing will be too great. The title alone gives the listeners doubt that this conflict can be won.
Similar reports came after the June 2004 Washington Post report that broke with the story of misconduct among the US military at Abu Graib portraying US service members as incompetent. This also caused the Iraqi people and the American people to have a negative view of the American military. Although the facts of the story cannot be disputed, they can be put into perspective. The U.S. military as a whole has an outstanding reputation. According to James Lacey from Naval Institute Proceedings, only 0.05% of soldiers in Iraq were accused of any misconduct toward Iraqis in 2004. In Lacey’s words, “In an environment at least 850 times as deadly as New York City, with a force of tens of thousands of teenagers who have no police training and who are working in communities where they do not even know the language, the U.S. military has done its policing job with 1/330th of the complaints that NYPD receives annually.”
There is another news story about an Army National Guard Civil Support Team truck that ran into a parade horse during President Obama’s inauguration. Omitted from the facts was that the truck was parked with chalk blocks and could not have hit the horse. The fact was that the horse was spooked and backed into the truck becoming entangled in the brush guard. It just made a better story to leave out a small bit of the facts while making the National Guard unit appear at fault. http://tailsmagazines.wordpress.com/...horse-injured/
The problem is that the U.S. relies on a for profit organization to relay what that organization thinks about the U.S. strategy in the war on terrorism. This organization is the U.S. media. Its goal is to make a profit through reporting; hence the media reports what it thinks will make a “better” story rather than a completely true story or one that will help shape a positive view on the U.S. strategy. Strategic communications is a vital component of U.S. national security. The U.S. government needs to be proactive and seek to quell the run amuck press that is influencing the U.S. population and develop a better process; however, the government cannot do it alone.
The Defense Science Board, which advises the Pentagon on matters of special interest to the Department of Defense, recommended the creation of a separate, non partisan, not for profit organization responsible for US strategic communications – the Center for Global Engagement (CGE). According to Mac Thornberry, Texas Congressman, the CGE would: 1. Provide information and analysis to decision makers 2. Help develop the plans, products, themes, and programs that would support out national security objectives, and 3. Support government strategic communications through services provided on a cost reimbursement basis. This is important as American interests come more and more in contact with other cultures. The purpose is to understand the culture of regional areas and better present our concerns to a population, including our own, on how to defeat terrorism. At this point, I see little assistance from the press to help US service men and women defeat terrorism, nor provide any positive strategic communications. The biggest problem, however, is that the very process that has been identified to help get the word out is unknown to most people. I am an Army officer who has received a block of instruction on the importance of Strategic Communication. I had never heard of the Center for Global Engagement until after I conducted this research.
MAJ JE Smith, Jr.
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