Pentagon drops "strategic communication," but Washington will never let go of such a dubious concept.

Posted: 06 Dec 2012   Print   Send a link
USA Today, 3 Dec 2012, Tom Vanden Brook: "The Pentagon is banishing the term 'strategic communication,' putting an end to an initiative that had promised to streamline the military's messaging but instead led to bureaucratic bloat and confusion, according to a memo obtained by USA TODAY. Strategic communication had aimed to synchronize the military's messages with its actions. Instead, it led to creation of offices and staffs that duplicated efforts of traditional public affairs offices, according to the memo. In the memo, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs George Little wrote that over the past six years, strategic communication 'actually added a layer of staffing and planning that blurred roles and functions of traditional staff elements and resulted in confusion and inefficiencies.'"

The term "strategic communication" will not disappear. There are others in Washington who see opportunity in the "creation of offices and staffs that duplicate efforts." "Strategic communication" will probably move to another agency, or to a new agency that attempts to "coordinate" the international communication activities of the various agencies. If the US international broadcasting entities are serious about being news outlets, they must insist that practice of journalism is not consistent with "strategic communication."

Foreign Policy, 6 Dec 2012, Rosa Brooks: "[R]eports of strategic communication's demise are greatly exaggerated. The memo obtained by USA Today -- also obtained by yours truly, and available here -- isn't really about the demise of strategic communication at 'the Pentagon,' which is, after all, an awfully big building. On the contrary: this latest memo is just another shot fired in the ongoing skirmish between those who believe that strategic communication is merely an unnecessary euphemism for 'communications' -- meaning, basically, press statements and talking points -- and thus should be controlled by public affairs offices, and those who believe strategic communication is a confusing term, but one that has nonetheless come to stand for something complex and important, something that has more to do with 'strategy' than with 'communications.' I'm in the latter camp."