PA ensures communication, discourse

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kim Wheeler
  • ARPC Chief of Public Affairs
As anybody who has taken a professional military education course will tell you, Prussian soldier and intellectual Carl Phillip von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was "the man." 

His primary work, On War, presents theories on warfare and strategy. Some of his concepts that continue in today's mainstream military planning and operations include the strategic and operational "centers of gravity" - a country's decisive points of power that provide moral or physical strength, freedom of action or will to act and the "fog of war," or the uncertainty of the ever changing battlefi eld experienced by military members during operations. 

One of Mr. Clausewitz' lessons that has remained with me is the "trinity" - a triangle with its lines representing: the people, the government and the military. The most important piece of this trinity is the connection among these three groups, communication. 

If the public is to understand national security issues, participate in a policy debate around those issues and support the military should that debate lead to the use of armed force, then constant information and awareness is needed to keep this trinity healthy and ever evolving. This is where military Public Affairs professionals, or PAs, play a critical role. 

Each military service has PAs sustaining the trinity through several avenues: developing relationships with community leaders and news media representatives, maintaining a robust community relations program, fostering relationships with other government agencies and keeping internal and external audiences informed on issues that may affect them. At ARPC, this is done through publications such as the weekly Center Scene and the bi-monthly ARP Update and orchestrating events such as the quarterly Warrior Day and Commander's Calls. 

PAs also prepare information relative to unit participation in military operations and world events through news releases, special activities, photographs, radio and television, and other informational material, such as "The 2007 Guard and Reserve Fact Sheets." PAs also review materials such as speeches, news articles, for security, policy and integration with overall Air Force objectives. 

In recent years, PA has also taken on an oversight role as Web master of organizational public Web sites. 

The demands of the trinity never cease - the ferocity of 24 - hour news networks as well as news at your fingertips through online media Web sites, make a PA's life challenging. In the past, a PA may have had a duty day, depending on complexity, to research and coordinate a response to a media query; now that news cycle has shrunk to minutes. 

A benefi t of the quick cycle and the power of the Web is the ability for PAs to market "hot" stories to a wider audience and "push" them to subscribers. Last July was the launch of ARPC News Service. Now there are 40,000 standing subscribers. 

Another priceless capability is ARPC's Public Web site, which serves as a precious resource to a mobile diverse audience 970,000 strong. With more than 2,000 pages of information, receiving 48.9 million hits in 2005 and 65.2 million in 2006, it serves as a 24-hour lifeline and as the gateway to the virtual Personnel Center - Guard and Reserve. 

A cross-functional team, led by PA, stood up this past fall, the Content Management Operations Group, whose primary goal is to provide structure and control for content, enabling ARPC to standardize content and improve the customer experience by aligning Web site content management with ARPC operations. 

The bottomline being, the ARPC Web site is powerful. The more accurate and up to date the data is, the better our customers are served. 

Mr. Clausewitz' vision of the trinity may be 200 years old, but ARPC's strategic communications efforts today ensure it remains viable and strong.