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“In this environment, the old adage that ‘A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth has its boots on’ becomes doubly true with today’s technologies…the longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place.”
--- Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, Remarks delivered at Harold Pratt House, New York, N.Y., Feb. 17, 2006

"...with electricity and automation, the technology of fragmented processes suddenly fused with the human dialogue and the need for over-all considerations of human unity. Men are suddenly nomadic gatherers of knowledge, nomadic as never before, informed as never before, free from fragmentary specialization as never before - but also involved in the total social process as never before, since with electricity we extend our central nervous system globally, instantly interrelating every human experience."
--- Marshall McLuhan, in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964

DefinitionsBack to Top

  • 16 Mar 2010 report to Congress from the President regarding his administration's interagency efforts in strategic communication
    • Pursuant to section 1055 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417), I am providing a report on my Administration's comprehensive interagency strategy for public diplomacy and strategic communication of the Federal Government. [from 16 Mar 2010 text of letter on White House website]
    • White House Strategic Communications report to Congress (local copy), dated 16 Mar 2010, released 17 Mar 2010
      • Over the last few years, the term "strategic communication" has become increasingly popular. However, different uses of the term "strategic communication" have led to significant confusion. As a result, we believe it is necessary to begin this report by clarifying what we mean by strategic communication. By "strategic communication(s)" we refer to: (a) the synchronization of words and deeds and how they will be perceived by selected audiences, as well as (b) programs and activities deliberately aimed at communicating and engaging with intended audiences, including those implemented by public affairs, public diplomacy, and information operations professionals.
        • Synchronization. Coordinating words and deeds, including the active consideration of how our actions and policies will be interpreted by public audiences as an organic part of decision-making, is an important task. This understanding of strategic communication is driven by a recognition that what we do is often more important than what we say because actions have communicative value and send messages. Achieving strategic communication, in this sense, is a shared responsibility. It requires fostering a culture of communication that values this type of synchronization and encourages decision-makers to take the communicative value of actions into account during their decision-making. The most senior levels of government must advocate and implement a culture of communication that is reinforced through mechanisms and processes.
        • Deliberate Communication and Engagement. The United States Government has a wide range of programs and activities deliberately focused on understanding, engaging, informing, influencing, and communicating with people through public affairs, public diplomacy, information operations and other efforts.

  • Definition from 2006 QDR Strategic Communication Execution Roadmap
    • Focused United States Government processes and efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen or preserve conditions favorable to advance national interests and objectives through the use of coordinated information, themes, plans, programs, and actions synchronized with other elements of national power.

  • Joint definition, from JP 5-0, Joint Operations Planning - 26 Dec 2006
    • strategic communication — Focused US Government efforts to understand and engage key audiences in order to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of US Government interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power.

  • Air Force definition, as of Jan 06, as verified by SAF/CM on 3 Nov 06
    • Strategic Communication: Informing and appropriately influencing key audiences by synchronizing and integrating communication efforts to deliver truthful, timely, accurate, and credible information
      • Strategic refers to source of information, message, messenger, audience, timeframe, and/or effect
      • Communication refers to both what you say and what you do
      • Requires focus on both internal and external communication efforts
      • Requires both peacetime and wartime processes and capabilities

  • AFDD 3-61 Public Affairs Operations
    • The Air Force defines strategic communication as the process of informing and appropriately influencing key audiences by synchronizing and integrating communication efforts to deliver truthful, credible, accurate, and timely information. It entails coordinating words with actions, recognizing that what one does may resonate more with an audience than what one says.
    • As the Air Force‘s primary conduit for public information, PA plays a key role in the strategic communication process.

MarketingBack to Top
  • Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation, by Helmus et al, RAND report, 2007 [quotes below are from the study and from RAND descriptions of the study]
    • An adversary who is equally eager to shape public opinion further challenges U.S. military operations. Adversaries’ shaping tools include intimidation, publicity for anti-U.S. attacks, disinformation, and the provision of basic humanitarian assistance in an effort to undermine U.S. assistance efforts, to name but a few. The nature of contemporary news reporting further complicates U.S. efforts. The 24-hour news cycle creates a rush to report without verification. Retractions, when made, are often weak and low profile; real bias and adversary disinformation regularly appear in the news. The military often gets a rough ride in the press when these factors are coupled with the perception of a domestic press corps acting as the people’s watchdog over the government and the military. Finally, in today’s global media environment, messages are spread to audiences broader than originally intended, with potentially negative consequences. Culturally based perceptions can compound these negative effects as audiences perceive messages and actions in ways not intended.
    • The study recommends the use of the following marketing concepts in war zones:
      • Branding. Just as people think “safety” when they think of Volvo automobiles, the U.S. military needs to establish a strong brand identity that is consistently communicated through all U.S. force actions and messages. U.S. forces entered Iraq with a “force of might” brand identity ill-suited to earning local support. The armed forces should craft a new brand identity that incorporates their civilian shaping mission into their war-fighting role.
      • Instilling customer satisfaction. The armed forces should manage civilian expectations by not making promises they can't keep. They also should monitor civilian satisfaction through town hall meetings and other venues to continually improve operations and services.
      • Customer-informed decision-making. Occupying a foreign territory automatically makes U.S. forces a target of resentment, but the U.S. military can help reduce this by making sure civilians are consulted on governance, civil affairs and reconstruction projects. Problems can ensue when U.S. and allied forces assume they know what the local civilians want, much like American businesses that mistakenly adopt an “if we build it, they will come” strategy.
      • Harnessing the power of influencers. Many U.S. businesses have blogs or journals written on the Internet. Often, these are written by employees who follow a set of guidelines but are allowed to both praise and criticize the company. Criticism gives the bloggers a dose of credibility. Blogging provides a unique opportunity for indigenous civilians and government employees to express their opinions relatively safely and anonymously on the Internet without the risk of being killed by insurgents.
      • Social marketing. In order to get civilians to cooperate with coalition forces, the U.S. military needs to identify and emphasize the benefits of doing so in a way that motivates the population. For example, providing tips on insurgents can improve civilians' safety, if safety is a motivating benefit.
    • There are a number of challenges to adopting Madison Avenue tactics. Businesses rarely operate in environments as complex and dangerous as war zones and they enjoy relatively straightforward market research access to target audiences. In addition, businesses do not need to address complications arising from the use of force.

  • Marketing Terror: Effects of Anti-Messaging on GSPC Recruitment (local copy), by Fahoum and Width, in Strategic Insights, Naval Postgraduate School, Nov 2006

  • Are You Sticky? A psychologist and an education expert explain how to get people to pay attention to what you say, by Kiviat, in TIME magazine, posted 29 Oct 2006

  • Marketing as an Element of Strategic Communications (local copy), by Matchette, US Army War College paper, Apr 2006 (DOC version)

  • Marketing: an Overlooked Aspect of Information Operations (local copy), by Trent and Doty, in Military Review, Jul-Aug 2005

  • Strategic Communication (local copy), Defense Science Board, Sep 2004 - includes in Appendix E a list of government and independent studies of strategic communication and public diplomacy, Sep 2001 - Sep 2004
    • Put simply, winning the global struggle for ideas requires waging a much more effective strategic communication effort here and abroad. There is widespread agreement on this point. To do this, however, we must give up the assumed advantages of the “incumbent” and trade them for the real edge of the “insurgent” in the information age. Building an insurgent global strategic communication culture that borrows the most effective private sector marketing and political campaign techniques will be at the core of rebuilding and reinventing the way the U.S. listens, engages, and communicates with the world.

White House resourcesBack to Top State Department resourcesBack to Top Funded BroadcastsBack to Top
  • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)
    • The BBG assumed sole supervision of nonmilitary U.S. international broadcasting in accordance with the 1998 Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act (P.L. 105-277).

    • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual reports
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 2008
        • The BBG’s 2008-2013 Strategic Plan emphasizes our dedication to promoting freedom and democracy and enhancing understanding through the broadcast of accurate news and information. The plan renews our commitment to engaging strategic audiences in dialogue using the most effective broadcast technologies.
        • This means expanding use of new media and Internet broadcasting to reach younger and more diverse audiences, utilizing popular media such as satellite television in well-established markets like Iran, and capitalizing on proven delivery platforms such as shortwave and medium wave (AM) radio to reach isolated places such as North Korea. From Alhurra Television’s new online streaming video to VOA and RFA’s presence on the microblogging site Twitter, new technologies are providing our audiences more ways to find and interact with BBG content.
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 2007
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 2006
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 2005
        • Year 2005 saw the increasing impact of our broadcasting services on countries targeted in the War on Terror. In the Middle East, new surveys showed substantial increases in audience levels from 2004.Together, Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television now reach a total unduplicated weekly audience of 35 million people. In Iran, live Persian satellite television programming was doubled to one hour and the groundwork was laid for a gradual increase to four hours in 2006. Our broadcasts to Afghanistan have attracted three quarters of the listening population. In Pakistan, Urdu speakers now have a VOA-produced current events magazine to watch. Since the May 2004 launch of Radio Aap ki Dunyaa, a 12-hour-a-day broadcast stream in Urdu,VOA has more than doubled its Pakistani listening audience.
        • The success of these still-young broadcasting services reinforces our commitment to our two missions:
          • Serving information-deprived societies that depend on outside broadcasts to learn what is happening in their own country and the outside world;
          • Serving as the beacon of freedom and democracy in areas where the local news media does not always reflect those traditions.
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 2004
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 2003
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 2002
        • “We need to understand the importance of maintaining the strength of public diplomacy and the traditions of international broadcasting. I am convinced that we will not be successful in our overall mission of delivering our message to the world if we fail to grasp that these are two different spheres and that they operate according to two different sets of rules.
          It is very important that government spokesmen take America’s message to the world— passionately and relentlessly. We should not be ashamed of public advocacy on behalf of freedom and democracy and the United States of America.
          International broadcasting on the other hand is called upon to reflect the highest standards of independent journalism as the best means of convincing international audiences that truth is on the side of democratic values.
          These arms of public diplomacy should be parallel pursuits because the effectiveness of either is adversely affected when one attempts to impose its approach on the other.”
            —Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Chairman, Broadcasting Board of Governors, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 2001
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 2000
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 1999
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 1998
      • Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) annual report 1997

  • International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB)
    • Under the supervision of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) provides the administrative and engineering support for U.S. government-funded non-military international broadcast services.

    • Voice of America (VoA), programming in over 50 languages
        Adhering to the principles outlined in the [VOA] Charter, VOA reporters and broadcasters must strive for accuracy and objectivity in all their work. They do not speak for the U.S. government. They accept no treatment or assistance from U.S. government officials or agencies that is more favorable or less favorable than that granted to staff of private-sector news agencies.
    • Radio Sawa, Arabic broadcasts throughout Middle East
        Radio Sawa is a service of U.S. International Broadcasting, which is operated and funded by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an agency of the U.S. Government. The BBG serves as a firewall to protect the professional independence and integrity of the broadcasters.
    • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, including broadcasts in at least 27 languages throughout Central and Southwest Asia
        Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a private, international communications service to Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East, funded by the United States Congress.
    • Radio Free Asia, broadcasting in Eastern Asia in at least nine languages
        None of our staff are government employees. And I am proud to say we live by rigid standards of journalistic objectivity. Our job: quite simply, to bring news and information about their own country to populations denied the benefits of freedom of information by their governments.
    • Radio / TV Marti, broadcasts to Cuba
        En el mantenimiento de los principios establecidos por la legislación que creó a La Voz de América, VOA , ambas estaciones transmiten noticias e informaciones verídicas y objetivas sobre temas de interés para el pueblo de Cuba.
    • Worldnet Television, broadcasting over the Internet - including African Journal, Latin American programming, Eastern Europe programming, and more -- merged with VoA in May 2004.

GAO resourcesBack to Top Other Federal resourcesBack to Top NATO resourcesBack to Top
  • NATO Review, in 20+ languages
    • How to take the media battle to the Taliban, by Foxley, in NATO Review, Sep 2008
      • Tim Foxley argues that too little time, effort and analytical resources are dedicated to understanding what the Taliban are saying - and that a change in this approach could lead to a change in the war
    • New media: weapons of mass communication? - theme of NATO Review, Feb 2008 issue
    • Bridging cultural divisions, by Ghilès, in NATO Review, Spring 2005
      • Francis Ghilès examines relations between the Arab world and the West and considers how NATO might improve its image among Arabs.
      • "For the longer term, we in the West will communicate better if we learn more about Arab history, do not forget the wounds we inflicted upon many people in the region and, crucially, if we appreciate that the sine qua non of improved relations dictates that we empathise and dialogue with the citizens of these countries. Investing in dialogue will bear fruit, but not if we limit such contacts to elites which, all too often, are unrepresentative of the complex societies they run."
    • Arab perspectives on NATO, by Alani, in NATO Review, Spring 2005
      • Mustafa Alani presents his analysis of Arab attitudes to NATO and how the Alliance may seek to overcome stereotypes and prejudices.
      • "For the Arab public, NATO has no separate identity from those of the Western powers that created the Alliance."
    • Mind games, by Collins, in NATO Review, Summer 2003
      • Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Collins assesses the Coalition's perception-management operations before, during and after Operation Iraqi Freedom and their implications for NATO.
    • Assessing NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, by Said, in NATO Review, Spring 2004
    • Enhancing NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, by Bin, in NATO Review, Spring 2003

Interagency ResourcesBack to Top Joint ResourcesBack to Top
  • SCLink - DoD Strategic Communication Home Page

  • DoD Report on Strategic Communication, Dec 2009 (local copy), to House Armed Services Committee, released 11 Feb 2010

  • Strategic Communication Joint Integrating Concept (local copy), 7 Oct 2009

  • DoD Principles of Strategic Communication (local copy), Aug 2008

  • Strategic Communication Management Board
    • Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, Subtitle D - Boards and Commissions, Section 1031 - "Directs the Secretary to establish a Strategic Communication Management Board, to be chaired by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, to advise the Secretary on strategic direction and to help establish priorities for strategic communication activities. " [from Congressional Research Service summary]

  • Next-Generation Strategic Communication: Building Influence Through Online Social Networking (local copy), by Gendron et al, Joint Forces Staff College, 1 June 2009

  • Commander's Handbook for Strategic Communication and Communication Strategy (local copy), JFCOM, 24 Jun 2010

  • JP 5-0, Joint Operations Planning - 26 Dec 2006 - from Chapter II (see also the definintion of strategic communications from this chapter, in the definitions section above)
    1. Strategic communication (SC) is a natural extension of strategic direction, and supports the President’s strategic guidance, the SecDef’s NDS, and the CJCS’s NMS. SC planning and execution focus capabilities that apply information as an instrument of national power to create, strengthen, or preserve an information environment favorable to US national interests. SC planning establishes unity of US themes and messages, emphasizes success, accurately confirms or refutes external reporting on US operations, and reinforces the legitimacy of US goals. This is an interagency effort, which provides an opportunity to advance US regional and global partnerships. Coordination, approval, and implementation of an SC strategy and specific information objectives, audiences, themes, and actions will be developed and synchronized with other US agencies and approved by SecDef.
    2. Joint operation planning must include appropriate SC components and ensure collaboration with the Department of State’s (DOS’s) diplomatic missions. CCDRs consider SC during peacetime security cooperation planning, and incorporate themes, messages, and other relevant factors in their security cooperation plans (SCPs). During contingency and CAP, CCDRs review SC guidance during mission analysis, and their staffs address SC issues, as appropriate, in their staff estimates. CCDRs will brief the SecDef on their SC planning during contingency planning and CAP IPRs.
    3. The predominant military activities that promote SC themes and messages are information operations (IO), public affairs (PA), and defense support to public diplomacy (DSPD).
      • (1) PA and IO Relationship. PA has a role in all aspects of DOD’s missions and functions. Communication of operational matters to internal and external audiences is one part of PA’s function. In performing duties as one of the primary spokesmen, the public affairs officer’s interaction with the IO staff enables PA activities to be coordinated and deconflicted with IO. While audiences and intent differ, both PA and IO ultimately support the dissemination of information, themes, and messages adapted to their audiences. Many of the nation’s adversaries’ leaders rely on limiting their population’s knowledge to remain in power; PA and IO provide ways to get the joint forces’ messages to these populations. There also is a mutually supporting relationship between the military’s PA and DSPD efforts and similar PA and PD activities conducted by US embassies and other agencies.
      • (2) Synchronization. Synchronized planning of PA, DSPD, and IO is essential for effective SC. Interagency efforts provide and promote international support for nations in the region and provide an opportunity to advance our regional and global partnerships. CCDRs should ensure that their IO, PA, and DSPD planning is consistent with overall USG SC objectives. Since PA and IO both ultimately support the dissemination of information, themes, and messages adapted to their audiences, their activities must be closely coordinated and synchronized to ensure consistent themes and messages are communicated to avoid credibility losses for both the joint force and PA spokesmen.
    4. Level 3 (CONPLAN) and level 4 (OPLAN) plans include an annex Y (Strategic Communication). This annex will contain a proposed SC strategy, which includes synchronized information objectives, audiences, themes, and actions to deliver these communications for interagency coordination and implementation. The SC matrix in JOPES Volume I offers a worksheet to ensure key SC points are considered.
    5. Implementation of a SC strategy requires multiple assets and associated activities to deliver themes and messages. These can include US and international public diplomacy means such as senior communicators and figures at home and abroad, respective US and other foreign embassies in the participating nations, public affairs activities, and specific marketing initiatives.

  • DoD Strategic Communication Plan for Afghanistan

  • News Media and Strategic Communications Industry, Spring 2008 Industry Study, ICAF

  • Communicating with Intent: DoD and Strategic Communication, by Borg, Air Force Fellow, 2007

  • Strategic Communication: A Department of Defense Approach (local copy), by Stovicek, US Army War College, 30 Mar 2007
    • DoD has developed a SC Roadmap in order to institutionalize a Strategic Communication process within DoD. This focus on SC as a distinct executable process, rather than an outcome, is an impediment to progress toward achieving SC goals. The SC Roadmap fails to implement the Quadrennial Defense Review’s vision for SC, and neglects proper strategic controls to ensure unity of effort is maintained in DOD support to SC. These failures degrade the competitive position of the U.S. in the international information environment. This essay will show why an effective USG SC strategy is necessary, and will seek to define DOD support to SC. Further, this essay will show that effective DOD support to SC can only be achieved by developing an SC culture within DOD, and that existing capabilities must be strengthened in order to ensure strategic competitiveness and effective USG SC during the next century.

  • The Missing Components of U.S. Strategic Communications (local copy), by Darley, in Joint Force Quarterly, Fall 2007

  • DOD beefing up public affairs staff; quick response is among goals, by Schogol, in Stars & Stripes, 1 Nov 06

  • Joint Forces Experiment Looks at Gaps in Urban Warfare, by Garamone, American Forces Press Service, 19 Oct 06
    • The experiment [Urban Resolve 2015] is testing seven solutions for urban operations capability gaps ...
    • A second solution is the Communication Strategy Board. This enables commanders to develop a coherent communications strategy using information operations, public affairs, special staffs and other to influence public opinion and keep all populations informed.

  • Choosing Words Carefully: Language to Help Fight Islamic Terrorism (local copy), by Streusand and Tunnell, NDU, July 2006

  • 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Report (local copy), Feb 2006
    • The QDR identified capability gaps in each of the primary supporting capabilities of Public Affairs, Defense Support to Public Diplomacy, Military Diplomacy and Information Operations, including Psychological Operations. To close those gaps, the Department will focus on properly organizing, training, equipping and resourcing the key communication capabilities. This effort will include developing new tools and processes for assessing, analyzing and delivering information to key audiences as well as improving linguistic skills and cultural competence. These primary supporting communication capabilities will be developed with the goal of achieving a seamless communication across the U.S. Government.
    • Finally, by emphasizing greater cultural awareness and language skills, the QDR acknowledges that victory in this long war depends on information, perception, and how and what we communicate as much as application of kinetic effects. These cultural and language capabilities also enhance effectiveness in a coalition setting during conventional operations.

  • National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism (local copy, 4 Mb), Feb 2006 - Annex H is Strategic Communication
    • The U.S. military, in coordination with interagency and Coalition partners, will support a U.S. Government strategic communication strategy for the Global War on Terrorism. This strategy will guide Public Affairs (PA), Information Operations (IO), military support to public diplomacy (MSPD), and military diplomacy (MD) toward GWOT strategic goals.
    • The Defense Department’s strategic communication objectives in the GWOT are to align Coalition and partner nations against violent extremism, provide support for moderate voices, dissuade enablers and supporters of extremists, deter and disrupt terrorist acts, and counter ideological support for terrorism.
    • A successful strategic communication strategy will insure maximum beneficial impact on the perceptions of target audiences, capitalize on truthful information, and exploit enemy exorbitance.
    • The DoD elements of strategic communication are PA, PD, and IO, as shown in figure H-1. The U.S. military specific disciplines are also shown; military PA, MSPD, MD, and military IO. The chart shows the need for integration and informed interaction among the four disciplines.

  • Rumsfeld speech at Army War College (local copy), 27 Mar 06, DoD transcript - excerpts below
    • If I were rating, I would say we probably deserve a D or D+ as a country as how well we're doing in the battle of ideas that's taking place. I'm not going to suggest that it's easy, but we have not found the formula as a country.
    • ... [discussion of items such as process of getting true good news stories into local press in Iraq] ...
    • So we're going to have to find better ways to do it and thus far we haven't as a government. The government's not well organized to do it. I worry, frankly, about people because of the fact that we do need the ability to communicate more effectively as a country, and people in the military have to be willing to do that. If every time anyone in the military sticks their head up they get penalized for having touched the third rail, namely done something with the media, that's not a great incentive for you folks. Right? But it's critically important that each of you have the ability to communicate, to deal with the press, and to understand where the red lines are and where the lanes are that we have to stay in because in our society we have to find them. The problem is that we've not yet adapted to all of these new realities that exist and we're going to have to do a much better job of it.

  • Rumsfeld speech to Council on Foreign Relations (local copy), 17 Feb 06, DoD transcript - excerpts below
    • We meet today in the sixth year in which our nation has been engaged in what promises to be a long struggle against an enemy that in many ways is unlike any our country has ever faced. And in this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms -- in places like New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere.
    • I mention this because I want to talk today about something that at first might seem obvious -- but it isn’t. Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part we -- our country -- has not -- whether our government, the media or our society generally.
    • Consider that the violent extremist have established “media relations committees” -- and have proven to be highly successful at manipulating opinion elites. They plan and design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communications to intimidate and break the collective will of free people.
    • They know that communications transcend borders -- and that a single news story, handled skillfully, can be as damaging to our cause and as helpful to theirs, as any other method of military attack. And they are doing it.
    • They are able to act quickly with relatively few people, and with modest resources compared to the vast -- and expensive -- bureaucracies of western governments.
    • Our federal government is only beginning to adapt our operations for the 21st Century. For the most part, the U.S. Government still functions as a “five and dime” store in an E-Bay world.
    • We must get a great deal better at:
      • Engaging experts from both within and outside of government to help to communicate;
      • Rapidly deploying the best military communications capabilities to new theaters of operation; and
      • Developing and executing multifaceted media campaigns -- print, radio, television and Internet.
    • Let there be no doubt -- the longer it takes to put a strategic communications framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers, that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place.

  • search of MIL sites for "strategic communications"
  • search of MIL sites for "strategic communication"

Defense Science Board (DSB)Back to Top Air Force resourcesBack to Top Army ResourcesBack to Top
  • Military Review, in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic

  • Strategic Communication, by Halloran, in Parameters, Autumn 2007
    • For five years, Americans have been struggling to comprehend strategic communication as they have seen the standing of the nation plummet around the world and political support at home evaporate for the war in Iraq. They have lamented the seeming failure of their government to persuade the Islamic world of America’s good intentions while Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda operate in the best fashion of Madison Avenue. A perceptive Singaporean diplomat and scholar, Kishore Mahbubani, was asked two years ago what puzzled him about America’s competition with Osama bin Laden. Mahbubani replied: “How has one man in a cave managed to out-communicate the world’s greatest communication society?”

  • Information as Power, An Anthology of Selected United States Army War College Student Papers - examining public diplomacy, information operations, strategic communications, perceptions, cyber warfare, and more

  • Strategic Communication: Who Should Lead the Long War of Ideas (local copy), by Ludowese, US Army War College paper, Mar 2006
    • While we have further developed and funded our political/diplomatic, military and economic institutions to project our influence during the opening decade of the 21st Century, we have not developed a coherent strategy to communicate effectively with world audiences. If the War on Terror is a struggle of ideas, then strategic communication is an area where we must excel. This paper will review past government initiatives to integrate strategic communication and analyze which government agency would be best suited to craft our national communication strategy and lead the strategic communication interagency effort: the Department of State, the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, or a separate Executive agency.

  • Marketing as an Element of Strategic Communications (local copy), by Matchette, US Army War College paper, Apr 2006 (DOC version)
    • The United States Government markets Freedom, Democracy, Security, and Stability. We desire other countries of the world to “buy these products” for if they do, we believe, we will reap the benefits of a safer world, greater political freedoms and economic growth for all peoples, and a strengthened ability to defeat global terrorism. However, the United States is losing credibility world wide to the point that we have significant problems influencing actions of other peoples and governments.
    • The United States Government and Department of Defense could reap the same benefits by applying industry accepted practices to our diplomatic, military diplomacy, and strategic communication activities. A corporate marketing approach to our military strategic communications can be effective and bring desired results.

  • Advice for Advisors

  • search of ARMY.MIL sites for "strategic communications"
  • search of ARMY.MIL sites for "strategic communication"

Navy ResourcesBack to Top Marine ResourcesBack to Top Iraq & InsurgenciesBack to Top
  • Renewal in Iraq - White House postings

  • ABC Nightline video about insurgent use of internet
  • In Their Own Words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency - report by International Crisis Group, examining info-savvy insurgents - cited in above ABC news video
    • Several important conclusions emerge: (discussed in the report)
      • The insurgency increasingly is dominated by a few large groups with sophisticated communications.
      • There has been gradual convergence around more unified practices and discourse, and predominantly Sunni Arab identity
      • Despite recurring contrary reports, there is little sign of willingness by any significant insurgent element to join the political process or negotiate with the U.S.
      • The groups appear acutely aware of public opinion and increasingly mindful of their image.
      • The insurgents have yet to put forward a clear political program or long-term vision for Iraq.
      • The insurgency is increasingly optimistic about victory.

Perceptions of the U.S.Back to Top
  • Open Source Center (OSC), formerly FBIS
    - "provides foreign media reporting and analysis to policymakers, government institutions and strategic partners. We deliver targeted, timely and authoritative open source intelligence for analysis, operations and policymaking."

  • Watching America - "Discover what the world thinks about the U.S." - translated foreign news

  • How U.S. is perceived in Arab and Muslim world (local copy), by Kohut, Pew Global Attitudes Project, testimony to Congress, 10 Nov 2005

Combating TerrorismBack to Top
  • see also Terrorism Studies

  • Out of Their Heads and Into Their Conversation: Countering Extremist Ideology, by Trethewey et al, Consortium for Strategic Communication, Arizona State University, 14 Sep 2009

  • RAND

  • al-Qaeda communications
    • The Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Umma Will Pass, by Abu Bakr Naji, translated by William McCants - "Translation of Major al-Qaeda Book that Outlines Its Plan for Defeating U.S. and Its Allies"
      • The Olin Institute, in collaboration with West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, is making this translation available online for free. Writing as a high-level insider, Naji explains how al-Qaeda plans to defeat the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East, establish sanctuaries for Jihadis, correct organizational problems, and create better propaganda. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the strategic thinking of al-Qaeda’s leadership and the future of the jihadi movement.

    • DoJ posted copy of Al Qaeda training manual (local copy)

  • Aligning the Interagency Process for the War on Terrorism (local copy), by Tussing and Butts, summary of 2005 Annual Collins Center Senior Symposium, Center for Strategic Leadership, U.S. Army War College, June 2005
    • The overwhelming consensus of the forum was that the United States government is not doing a good job of managing its message to the world. Numerous organizations and entities have recently been established within the U.S. Government to coordinate, integrate and synchronize our strategic themes and messages. Among these are the Office of Global Communication and several policy coordinating committees under the leadership of the Office of the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Unfortunately, and for a variety of reasons, all of these have failed to implement a national communication strategy. In fact, a Defense Science Board Study published in September 2004 states that U.S. strategic communication is “in crisis.” One participant attempted to frame the dilemma: “What do we want the world to think about us? Do we want to be liked, understood, or respected? Our vision must state this clearly, and become the foundation of a strategic communication plan.”
    • The forum agreed that there should be two elements to a Counterterrorism (CT) Strategic Communication Plan— Domestic and international. In both, one participant noted, “we must convey the notion that we control the moral high ground and, beyond the message, we must genuinely believe we are there.” Domestically, panelists agreed that we must make our people clearly aware that we cannot “protect everything all the time;” that another attack, in spite of all efforts, could well occur again. But they noted that the Nation should not be hamstrung from an inability to decipher the “possible from the probable;” that a certain element of acceptable risk would have to become a part of our realistic hopes to prepare and (if necessary) respond.
    • ...there still exists no State Department counterpart to the Regional Combatant Commander. The forum suggested that executing proactive measures to address terrorism and/or its causes at a regional level will require artistry and the authority to overcome a diplomatic structure bounded solely by borders. One suggestion for overcoming this Westphalian paralysis was to establish a “regional ombudsman.” This individual would be a Presidential appointee who would work closely with the regional bureaus, but would ultimately be responsible for crafting strategies that utilize the breadth of the interagency’s capabilities to deal with terrorism, and the conditions that foster terrorism, within the regions. Working in concert with the theater’s combatant commander, this official could devise means of implementing national strategies and develop measures of effectiveness to gauge success in achieving unique regional objectives.

University resourcesBack to Top
  • search results for "strategic communications" at universities
  • search results for "strategic communication" at universities

  • spiffy Phil Taylor's Web Site, The Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds, UK

  • USC Center on Public Diplomacy
    • The University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy is a joint academic research, teaching and training Center created and run jointly by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences School of International Relations.

  • Consortium for Strategic Communication, at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University
    • This strategic initiative promotes advanced research, teaching, and public discussions of the role of communication in combating terrorism, promoting national security, and successfully engaging in public diplomacy worldwide.
    • Our initiative was launched during the spring of 2005 with a public lecture series that brought to the ASU campus recognized experts and distinguished spokespersons drawn from government, military, academic, and first-responder communities. The lectures are available in podcast/MP3 formats in the Public Lectures section.
    • During the fall semester of 2005 we expanded the initiative by creating a Consortium for Strategic Communication working group. Current partners include the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

    • COMOPS Journal - "Analysis, Commentary, and News from the World of Strategic Communication"

    • Out of Their Heads and Into Their Conversation: Countering Extremist Ideology, by Trethewey et al, Consortium for Strategic Communication, Arizona State University, 14 Sep 2009
      • We advocate a different view of ideology, as a system of ideas about how things are or ought to be that circulates in social discourse. This is a more practical view because it treats ideology not as an idea stuck in someone?s head, but as something that is subject to influence through strategic communication. To be effective in these efforts we must understand culture and narrative, and have a clear grasp of what ideology does.
      • Ideology has four functions. We illustrate these with detailed examples. Naturalizing means turning socially constructed, politically-motivated, and fluid ideas into taken-for-granted assumptions, beliefs, and meanings. Doing so makes them seem fixed, objective, and “naturally occurring.” Obscuring is denying or hiding contradictions in ongoing systems of meaning, making them seem to be seamless, coherent, and unified worldviews. Universalizing means presenting the interests or concerns of those in power as the interests of all group members. And structuring involves creating rules and resources in a social system that preserve an ideology.

    • Strategic Communication on a Rugged Landscape Principles for Finding the Right Message, by Corman and Dooley, Jan 2008
      • For approximately the last decade, the United States has been moving to centralize and more tightly control its messages. Accelerating this trend, U.S. strategic communication efforts under the current administration follow the dictum that effectiveness equals control of a singular message. The problems with this approach were described in a previous CSC white paper. But there is also a more basic issue: How do we know when we have the best message? Is there only one best message? A control-oriented approach to these questions means that the optimal message or combination of messages will probably never be found in the “war of ideas” with terrorist groups and hostile governments.
      • This paper addresses this issue by applying the concept of rugged landscapes to the problem of finding the right message(s) in strategic communication. The current U.S. approach assumes that the landscape is simple, consisting of a single, modular solution that can be optimized by a controlled, systematic search. However, the situation is more accurately described as a complex, rugged landscape, with multiple integral solutions. This means the optimal solution can only be found by an evolutionary approach using multiple, diverse search methods.
      • Treating a rugged landscape as simple leads to inappropriate search strategies that virtually guarantee suboptimal performance. To improve its chances of success in the search for the right message(s), we recommend that the United States reform its current control oriented strategies by applying four principles:
        • Leap before You Look: Abandon systematic search methods in favor of techniques based on random jumps and multi-variable optimization.
        • Use the Force: Accept, expect, and seek to exploit interdependencies in the communication system.
        • Simplify Structure: Take steps to reduce legal and organizational interdependencies that make the landscape more complex.
        • Accept Downside Risk: Promote changes in an organizational culture that is reluctant to tolerate the temporary performance decreases that are inherent in complex landscape searches.

    • A 21st Century Model for Communication in the Global War of Ideas: From Simplistic Influence to Pragmatic Complexity, by Corman, Trethewey, and Goodall, April 2007
      • In this paper we explain why message influence strategies fail and what must be done to break the cycle of communication dysfunction. Changing communication systems requires, first, understanding the dynamics at work; and, second, using communication as a strategy to disrupt and perturb existing systems such that they can begin to organize around new meaning-making frameworks. After describing a new pragmatic complexity model, we offer four principles of effective communication in the global war of ideas based on this model:
          (1) Deemphasize control and embrace complexity,
          (2) replace repetition with variation,
          (3) consider disruptive moves, and
          (4) expect and plan for failure.
    • Credibility in the Global War on Terrorism: Strategic Principles and Research Agenda, by Corman, Hess, and Justus, 9 June 2006
      • The perceived credibility of the United States government on the global stage has never been lower. This impedes its ability to fight, much less to win, the “war of ideas” that is so much a part of the global war on terrorism. Cultivating improved credibility is a long-term effort, but it stands to benefit from a large body of existing research.
      • This body of research indicates that there are three key dimensions of credibility: trustworthiness, competence, and goodwill. These three dimensions are not empirical realities but perceptions that can be created, managed, and cultivated. This requires a coordinated approach to message design, delivery, and—most importantly—adaptation to the given audience and current media situation.
      • spiffy Notwithstanding the need for further research, known principles of credibility point to four recommendations for deployment of messages and communication policy while longer term efforts to improve credibility proceed:
          (1) Recognize, accept, and adjust for low credibility in the short term,
          (2) involve sympathetic Muslims, especially those in the United States, in an effort to find more persuasive sources and messages,
          (3) concentrate on degrading the credibility of opponents,
          (4) when directly claiming ownership of a message, use lower level officers or trusted third-parties to convey it.
    • Communication and Media Strategy in the Jihadi War of Ideas, by Corman and Schiefelbein, 20 Apr 2006

  • Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication: Cultures, Firewalls, and Imported Norms, by Gregory, George Washington University, August 2005
    • This paper uses public diplomacy and strategic communication to describe an instrument of statecraft that embraces diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, international broadcasting, political communication, democracy building, and open military information operations. Each element is instrumental in its core, but each imports discourse norms requiring limited firewalls to be successful. Because U.S. public diplomacy is characterized by episodic commitment, organizational stovepipes, tribal cultures, and excessive reliance on “accidental” personalities, reforms of unusual duration and scale are required in a world where geography and military dominance no longer ensure America’s security. To transform the intent of political leaders and some thirty expert studies since 9/11 into action, a business plan is needed to map policy and public diplomacy connections, replace coordination with strategic direction, marshal private sector creativity, and institutionalize planning.

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