Academic journal article Military Review

Public Affairs' Emerging Role in Information Management

Academic journal article Military Review

Public Affairs' Emerging Role in Information Management

Article excerpt

THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS (PA) apparatus for Task Force (TF) Eagle operating in a mature theater peace operation is a unique configuration that is not in any doctrinal manual. It is task organized to provide PA services in the areas of media relations and command information (CI) within the theater and for national and international media outlets. It also consists of an Armed Forces Network (AFN) affiliate station servicing the theater of operations. However, AFN is not under the direct supervisory control of the TF's Coalition Press Information Center (CPIC) director.

This aIe details the structures in the apparatus and its media relations, CT and AFN broadcast operations. Although this article centers on the operation's structure at the time of this writing, operational considerations for suther structure development were not examined :use it is unlikely this unique PA structure will be replicated in future operations.

The CPIC functions as a part of the division exercising command and control (C^sup 2^) of the US sector of responsibility and TF Eig,le. The structure includes international coalition elements. This article focuses exclusively on the American contribution to the division's PA operation. Each CPIC element contributes to the PA mission by bringing numerous necessary skills to fulfill the obligation of informing a vast array of internal and external publics. The mission depicted in Figure I focused on getting materials out quickly and accurately to any legitimate media source through the use of information technology (IT) such as E-mail, the Internet and on-site visits, briefings and interviews.

This complex peace operation led to multiple tasks for PA;personnel resulting in a task organization consisting of a mixture of US Army Reserve (USAR), Army National Guard (ARNG) and Active Component (AC) units. Because each organization was a crucial player in creating a solid PA program, the initial focus was on the CPIC headquarters and the Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (MPAD) that supported it. The focus then shifted to a multifunctional MPAD, which dispersed its three teams over a wide range of PA activities. The final concentration was on the efforts of an MPAD dedicated to an information acquisition mission in disparate parts of the country.

Conducting CPIC MPAD operations requires ingenuity on the part of commanders and soldiers. CPICs, by their nature, are ad hoc organizations, and organizing and maintaining coverage of all PA responsibilities requires constant refinement and task organizing as the situation develops. MPADs come primarily from the USAR and ARNG and usually deploy separately from their home state or regional organizations. While adjusting to emerging organizations, an MPAD soldier must demonstrate self-sufficiency and resolve to accomplish the PA mission.

CPIC Operations

The CPIC consists of an AC US Army lieutenant colonel as director and three MPAD officers in charge (OICs). The division PA officer (PAO) serves as the de facto deputy CPIC director and is the editor in chief of the weekly CI magazine. The relationship between the TF CPIC and higher headquarters Stabilization Force (SFOR) CPIC is one of information sharing only.

The CPIC director serves as the senior PA officer in the TF and is also the single conduit for providing updated information to the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs (ASD-PA). He conducts daily telephone conference calls with the ASD-PA and initiates the call to a conference bank each day at 1400 local time (0800 in the eastern United States), Monday through Friday. Joining the conference call is the ASD-PA and other government representatives. The CPIC director gives a brief synopsis of events that have potential media interest and then analyzes information appearing in the local and regional media. The ASD-PA sometimes asks questions or requests the collection of specific information for future conference calls. …

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