Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Strategic Communication for Security & National Defense: Proposal for an Interdisciplinary Approach

Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Strategic Communication for Security & National Defense: Proposal for an Interdisciplinary Approach

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

Most recent military actions have provided stark examples of the increasing power of communications in the public and governmental arena regarding the role that direct actors play in disputes characterized as "conflicts of interests." These examples have also shown how communications can directly influence perceptions within the international system and among those who enjoy "freedom of action," who are always pursued by an arsenal of immediate media technology. However, in a conflict of interests, nation-states act along political lines and use the tools of the "fields of action" (internal, external, economic, and defense) to execute their national strategies, with the objective of maintaining or pursuing political and strategic objectives. But how can we defend ourselves against communications, or use them to benefit our political-strategic interests?

After the terrorist attacks of September 2001, three capabilities concerning communication began to develop within the George W. Bush Administration in the U.S.: "Information Operations and Psychological Operations" (IO and PSYOPS); "Public Affairs" (PA); and "Defense Support to Public Diplomacy" (DSPD). This was done by dedicating integrated communications technologies for use in pursuing specific tactics, operations, and other elements of the national strategy in this so-called "war of perceptions," with the objective of achieving credibility and thus freedom of action. In that moment the concept of "strategic communication" started to appear in the vocabulary of many people linked to security and national defense issues.

Between 2002 and 2004, after many reports, studies, and drafts of the definition of strategic communication in the area of defense, the concept migrated to other areas such as business, public relations, and social communication, generating dissonance within the concept. Meanwhile, another concept, called "strategic communications" (the only difference being the "s") was bom, causing even more confusion.

This article intends to offer an interdisciplinary approach to strategy and mass communication in the field of security and national defense and to define, by means of hermeneutical, qualitative, and quantitative research techniques, the definitions, missions and lineaments of strategic communication. It will create a model proposal for "Strategic Communication for Security and National Defense," with the objective of tracing the guidelines of this vital tool for pursuing and maintaining permanent national objectives, including peacekeeping. We will begin with a look at this concept, its evolution and attempts of definitions in recent years.

The Evolution of the Definition of Strategic Communication

The Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication in the year 2004 defined strategic communication as follows:

Strategic communication is a vital component of U.S. national security. It is in crisis, and it must be transformed with a strength of purpose that matches our commitment to diplomacy, defense, intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security. Presidential leadership and the bipartisan political will of Congress are essential. Collaboration between government and the private sector on an unprecedented scale is imperative. ... Moreover, strategic communication efforts must reinforce key themes and messages and constantly be measured against defined objectives. As a result, adjustments must be made and those responsible for implementation held accountable.1

This shows that strategic communication "efforts" are a vital component of U.S. national security.

Moreover, in 2005 the Director of Strategic Communications and Information at the National Security Council (NSC), Jeff Jones, pointed out the importance of strategic communication by saying: "There is little evidence of cooperation, coordination, or even more, the appreciation of the impact of strategic communication. …

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