Inside The Pentagon reported on the White House’s Section 1055 report intended to be a “comprehensive interagency strategy for public diplomacy and strategic communication of the Federal Government.” In “White House Mulls Military, Civilian Strategic Communication Initiatives” dated 25 March 2010, reporter Fawzia Sheikh wrote:
The White House plans to appraise military communication and engagement programs and related investments to identify those that may be more appropriately funded or implemented by civilian departments and agencies, particularly outside theaters of conflict.
An interagency working group is looking at how to allocate financial resources, quickly streamline or eliminate programs, preserve important capacities and expedite strengthening civilian agency capabilities, according to the administration's interagency strategy for public diplomacy and strategic communication, unveiled March 17. The report was mandated by section 1055 of the Fiscal Year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act.
The working group is developing short-, medium- and long-term options, the White House notes.
Accountability, assessment and reporting are "critical aspects" of the White House's new planning process to ensure "all major deliberate" communication and engagement efforts are coordinated and effective, according to the report. The administration is "aware of concerns that the resources for our efforts need to be re-balanced according to established roles and responsibilities," it states.
Matt Armstrong, a consultant on strategic communication who operates the Mountain Runner blog, wrote last week that the working group's fourth task "deserves special attention." This task concerns "how best to expedite revitalizing and strengthening civilian department and agency capabilities, both qualitatively and quantitatively, to enable them to effectively execute these programs and activities," the report states.
The issue of quality is "tremendously important," Armstrong writes. "We already know that public diplomacy personnel at the State Department are limited in their ability to conceive and execute programs based on limited resources and appreciation of the practice from a managerial point aspect."
More than establishing new positions, this is about determining why the State Department and other agencies are not attracting "the best and the brightest that want to make public diplomacy their career," he states.
Over the years, the "popular" strategic communication term has led to "significant confusion," according to the administration's report. The White House study revealed the need to "clarify what strategic communication means" and how communications efforts are guided.
Strategic communication is defined in the report as the "synchronization" of words and deeds as well as deliberate efforts to communicate and engage with intended audiences. The report does not advocate new concepts or organizations.
But the White House writes that synchronization means actively considering how U.S. government actions and policies will be "interpreted by public audiences as an organic part of decision-making." The most "senior levels of government" must advocate and implement a culture of communication reinforced through "mechanisms and processes," the report urges.
Deliberate communication and engagement refers to the government's range of programs and activities focused on "understanding, engaging, informing, influencing, and communicating" with people through public affairs, public diplomacy, information operations and other efforts. The initiatives must articulate "what the United States is for, not just what we are against," the administration notes.
The report, moreover, lays out the roles and responsibilities for all government agencies, including the Pentagon.
Rosa Brooks advises Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy on strategic communication and heads the office's Global Strategic Engagement Team. The team facilitates the strategic communication process within the policy shop and liaises with other DOD agencies, according to the White House.
Janine Davidson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans, has the primary responsibility to ensure that guidance for strategic communication is included in strategic planning guidance documents, such as the Guidance for the Employment of the Force and the global force posture, notes the White House.
Last December, DOD wrapped up a report on strategic communication. The State Department in recent weeks also completed its own public diplomacy plan.