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Air Force communications directorate expands

10/28/2005 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The Air Force chief of staff announced plans today for an enhanced integrated communications capability that will enable the Air Force to better inform the American public about its engagement in the global war on terrorism and support to the nation.

The plan eventually calls for a two-star general to head this new, versatile communications capability as the director of communications with a one-star deputy dual-hatted as the director of Air Force public affairs. The first leaders named to this new organizational construct are Brig. Gen. Erwin F. "Erv" Lessel III and Col. Michelle D. Johnson. 

“The Air Force has a proud heritage and horizons full of promise. This new communication structure will help us effectively engage in today’s dynamic and demanding communications environment,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. “By ensuring Air Force public affairs professionals have an active role in all significant operational planning, decision and assessment points, the Air Force will have a formidable communication ability to proactively provide accurate, timely and focused information that its publics need to see and hear.”

Nearly doubling in size from the current structure, the communications directorate will significantly expand its scope to meet the exponentially increasing media demands and public expectations of responsive, precise and accurate information about America’s Air Force.

Pivotal to the new structure will be its strategic focus with people assigned to the major areas of future and current operations as well as outreach. The new organization will gain a highly qualified media expert to advise senior leadership on communication strategies and a communications integrator to ensure all efforts are planned and synchronized across the Air Staff for maximum effect.

General Lessel comes to this organization from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as the director of plans and programs at Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command. He served in a similar capacity as the deputy chief of staff for strategic communications, Multi-National Forces, Baghdad, Iraq, from July 2004 to February 2005. Colonel Johnson is currently the Headquarters Air Mobility Command director of personnel at Scott AFB, Ill.