Academic journal article Military Review

Letters

Academic journal article Military Review

Letters

Article excerpt

Telling the Afghan Military Story

Lieutenant Colonel Pamela Keeton, U.S. Army Reserve, Retired-Having served in CFC-A public affairs during 2004-2005, I read with interest Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Rick's March-April 2006 Military Review article "Telling the Afghan Military Story ... Their Way!" Everyone who has served in public affairs in Afghanistan has faced similar challenges: how to reach the media with news and information, how to work at an appropriate level with the developing government of Afghanistan, and how to reach the Afghan people with accurate and timely information. The lessons learned by Ricks and others who have served there are valuable to future PAOs who will serve in places like Afghanistan. I wish to correct three points made by Ricks.

First, while my staff didn't use a bicycle to deliver CFC-A press releases to the Afghan media, we didn't rely solely on technology either, because we knew many local media did not have access to the Internet. We hired a contract driver to hand-deliver our press releases to the Afghan media outlets, and we employed a wonderful young Afghan interpreter to make sure our releases were structured in a way that would be understood by the Afghans. If requested, this same driver would transport Afghan reporters to our press conferences because many did not have access to transportation.

Second, while the CFC-A public affairs office was available at the media operations center during the presidential elections to answer questions regarding the coalition's role in the election, we did not write messages for General Zaher Azimi or any other Afghan government spokesmen. Our presence at the media center was very limited.

And finally, a large committee of representatives from many international and U.S. agencies worked with the palace staff to help them plan media operations for the inauguration. It was Afghan President Hamid Karzai's desire to have as many officials from the provinces as possible witness the inauguration; unfortunately the inaugural hall would only hold approximately 300 people. …

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