Taking the communication high ground: the case for a joint inter-agency task force for strategic communication.
[The following are views of the author and not necessarily shared by U.S. Northern Command, North American Aerospace Defense Command A bi-national command of the US and Canada that provides aerospace surveillance, warning and assessment of aerospace attack, and maintains the sovereignty of US and Canadian airspace. Also called NORAD. , or the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management.]
...The only place we can lose is if the country loses its will, and the determinant of that is what is played in the media. And therefore, the terrorists have media committees, and they plan it and they manipulate and manage to influence what the media carries throughout the world, and they do it very successfully. They're good at it ... And so we have to figure this [strategic communications] out, and, frankly, we have not done it. We have not done a good job trying to figure out how we can do what we need to do to compete in this struggle, which is going to take a long time. How do we compete in this struggle in a way that can counter the ability of the enemy to lie-which we can't do-the ability of the enemy to not have a free media criticizing them?...
[News briefing with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, February 1, 2006]
The United States Secretary of Defense The United States Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) is the head of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), concerned with the armed services and military matters. The role of the Secretary of Defense is to be the principal defense policy advisor to the President and is responsible for (SECDEF SECDEF Secretary of Defense ) Donald Rumsfeld's comments early this year make it clear that the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. faces serious challenges in executing what is commonly referred to as strategic communication. The Quadrennial Defense Review
The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is a report by the United States Department of Defense that analyzes strategic objectives and potential military describes strategic communication as:
Focused U.S. government efforts to understand and engage key audiences in order to create, strengthen or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of national interests and policies through the use of coordinated themes, plans, programs, and products integrated with the actions of all elements of national power.
That said, there are no focused, coordinated, national-level strategic communication efforts at this time. There have been various attempts by different government entities including the Department of State and the National Security Council to put together a strategic communication program of some sort but these have shown themselves to be limited in scope and ineffective in their outcomes. The consequences for the U.S. are significant.
* Not having a centralized, coordinated mechanism to develop and push communication objectives and themes leaves subordinate agencies (and audiences) without a message, or in a position of having to improvise
* Not identifying and promulgating clear objectives and themes causes agencies to hesitate before engaging in communication fearing negative public/media perceptions
* Adversary communications are perceived to be focused and effective in contrast to the apparent struggle the U.S. has to gain and hold the message 'high ground' among global audiences
The U.S. government will not solve its communication problems by simply increasing the number of messaging outlets. Instead it needs a high-level, centralized source for the development and promulgation PROMULGATION. The order given to cause a law to be executed, and to make it public it differs from publication. (q.v.) 1 Bl. Com. 45; Stat. 6 H. VI., c. 4.
2. of unifying objectives and themes that all federal departments and agencies can use. Establishing a Joint Inter-Agency Task Force for Strategic Communication (JIATF- SC) is something that would greatly improve the communication efforts of the U.S. Moreover, this kind of organization is something that is both needed and asked for by many in federal service.
Preliminary consideration of a national-level communication strategy may suggest having one entity (such as the Whitehouse) control the development of objectives and themes as useful in providing a centralized source for strategic communication. On closer examination, it becomes clear that having one organization comprised of several key claimants is a better construct. There are two reasons for this.
The first reason relates to the global nature of communication. With the evaporation of the traditional "news cycle" and the advent of the internet, there are no more boundaries or borders affecting communication. The line between foreign and domestic is more imaginary than it ever was. Any organization that seeks to develop and promulgate To officially announce, to publish, to make known to the public; to formally announce a statute or a decision by a court. communication objectives and themes for the U.S. needs to include representation from the various departments and agencies that are claimants to specific segments of global audiences, whether foreign or domestic.
The second reason can be summarized as "No Communication Without Representation." There will be considerable resentment and frustration among the several departments and agencies if they are simply told what to say to their respective audiences without being able to bring their specific knowledge of the audience to the development table. Much time and effort can be saved by having representatives from many agencies at the table to deconflict and synchronize national-level objectives and themes. When the objectives and themes are finally promulgated prom·ul·gate
tr.v. prom·ul·gat·ed, prom·ul·gat·ing, prom·ul·gates
1. To make known (a decree, for example) by public declaration; announce officially. See Synonyms at announce.
2. throughout the federal pantheon, the recipients can know that their agency interests have already been voiced.
A JIATF-SC should be more inclusive than exclusive. Members should include representatives from the Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Central Intelligence Agency, and National Security Council, to name just a few obvious organizations. There should also be representation from the Department of Homeland Security Noun 1. Department of Homeland Security - the federal department that administers all matters relating to homeland security
executive department - a federal department in the executive branch of the government of the United States (DHS DHS Department of Homeland Security (USA)
DHS Department of Human Services
DHS Department of Health Services
DHS Demographic and Health Surveys
DHS Dirhams (Morocco national currency) ). Indeed, the Homeland Security Act The Homeland Security Act (HSA) of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135 (Nov. 25, 2002), introduced in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, created the Department of Homeland Security in the largest government reorganization in 50 years, since the Department of of 2002 that established DHS opens the door for the creation of such a JIATF JIATF Joint Inter-Agency Task Force under the purview The part of a statute or a law that delineates its purpose and scope.
Purview refers to the enacting part of a statute. It generally begins with the words be it enacted and continues as far as the repealing clause. of the DHS Secretary:
The Secretary may establish and operate a permanent Joint Interagency Homeland Security Task Force composed of representatives from military and civilian agencies of the United States Government for the purposes of anticipating terrorist threats against the United States and taking appropriate actions to prevent harm to the United States...
As SECDEF indicated, the U.S. is not at any disadvantage when exerting our military might on the battlefield. Our disadvantages relate to our national difficulty in countering adversary communications while competently and consistently asserting our own messages to global audiences. A JIATF-SC would provide the U.S. with a strong command-and-control organization for the development and promulgation of a national strategic communication strategy.
It is important not to allow any one department or agency to posture itself for control of a JIATF-SC. The President should be seen as the head of the JIATF and ultimate authority for the approval of objectives and themes. Those organizations comprising JIATF-SC would participate as equals and would as a body report to the President. Keeping the President as the titular tit·u·lar
1. Relating to, having the nature of, or constituting a title.
a. Existing in name only; nominal: the titular head of the family.
b. head of the JIATF-SC will help solidify all that the JIATF does and preempt pre·empt or pre-empt
v. pre·empt·ed, pre·empt·ing, pre·empts
1. To appropriate, seize, or take for oneself before others. See Synonyms at appropriate.
a. attempts at lower levels to deflect or debate the JIATF's products.
Certainly there is ample room for debate about the merits of establishing a JIATF-SC and how it should be structured. That said, the debate should begin with the acknowledgment that whatever we as a nation are doing to develop or support national-level communication is not working in the global arena. It may seem an over simplification to say improvement requires change but our collective national actions regarding strategic communication suggest we do not understand or accept this truism yet. We know what we are doing is not working the way we want it to, and we sense that there will be tremendous benefits that come from having a solid strategic communication program at the national level. A JIATF-SC is the right bridge for these two points and will be an effective means for shaping and promulgating strategic communication.
Curtis Jenkins is a systems engineer with Lockheed Martin For the former company, see .
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is a leading multinational aerospace manufacturer and advanced technology company formed in 1995 by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta. working on site at the NORAD NORAD
North American Aerospace (formerly Air) Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command's Directorate of Operations in the Information Operations Actions taken to affect adversary information and information systems while defending one's own information and information systems. Also called IO. See also defensive information operations; information; offensive information operations; operation. Division. He is also a Commander in the Navy's Reserve Component and a seventeen-year veteran public affairs officer. He supports the NORAD and U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs Directorate as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee An individual reservist attending drills who receives training and is preassigned to an Active Component organization, a Selective Service System, or a Federal Emergency Management Agency billet that must be filled on, or shortly after, mobilization. .