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Chapter 1

Public Affairs Fundamentals

Public Affairs fulfills the Army's obligation to keep the American people and the Army informed and helps establish the conditions that lead to confidence in America's Army and its readiness to conduct operations in peacetime, conflict and war.
FM 3-61 (46-1), Public Affairs Operations


1-1. The American public, internal Army audiences, allies, adversaries and other critical audiences have access to an ever expanding array of public and military media. Newspapers, magazines, radio, television and electronic media are independent conduits of information. They provide news, analysis, interpretation and commentary and serve as a forum for ideas, opinions and public debate. What appears in the media, both civilian and military, shapes perceptions, attitudes and opinions, and can have a direct impact on mission success.

1-2. The vast majority of both civilian and military media representatives are committed to providing responsible, accurate, balanced coverage. Although there are exceptions, most media representatives, even when editorializing, are focused on achieving a credible presentation. To accomplish this, media representatives investigate issues, ask tough, challenging questions, and pursue verifiable answers. They seek information, interpretation and perspective. Army leaders at all levels need to educate media representatives and facilitate their efforts to provide an accurate, balanced and credible presentation of timely information.

1-3. Army leaders do this by integrating public affairs into the planning process and synchronizing PA operations with other facets of the operation. Integrating and synchronizing public affairs issues allows commanders to communicate their perspective and achieve a balanced, accurate, credible information presentation.

1.4 The PA mission identifies the essential contribution that PA makes to America's Army. The mission and the strategic goals derived from it provide the foundation on which public affairs operations are built. Strategies, which are developed from the perspective that every aspect of every operation could become an issue of interest in the global information environment, are the most successful. Developing such strategies requires that PA personnel access, analyze and anticipate potential issues by conducting a thorough mission analysis.

1-5. The challenge for commanders, and personnel supporting them, is to plan and execute operations, which accomplish this mission and support these goals. To do this, PA must be integrated into the planning and decision-making process from receipt of the mission.

1-6. The need to integrate and synchronize PA early derives from the fact that in most situations media representatives will be present in an area of operations before the arrival of Army forces. They will know the area of operations and because they are covering the story as it evolves, will have an understanding of, and opinion about, the situation.

1-7. Media interest will normally be the most intense at the onset of operations. Media representatives will cover the deployment of Army forces, their arrival in the area and their initial conduct. To support the commander and the force in their interactions with media representatives during these early stages, public affairs personnel should be deployed in the first days, if not hours, of the operation. Dealing with a large international press corps constitutes the most immediate public affairs challenge facing the commander during contingency.


1-8. The changing information environment in which the Army conducts war and stability and support operations makes it necessary for PA officers, NCOs and specialists to respond to increasingly complex,demanding challenges. They must be prepared to support the commander with a wide range of knowledge about and understanding of the communication process, the global information environment (GIE) and its potential impact on operations.

1-9. PA personnel must also thoroughly understand the fundamentals of Army operations and the strategic context within which the Army conducts operations. As the GIE compresses the strategic, operational and tactical levels of operations, PA personnel need to appreciate the linkage between public opinion, political decision-making and the national security strategy. They must understand the Army's approach to fighting, influencing events in operations other than war and deterring actions detrimental to national interests.

1-10. PA leaders must, therefore, be among the most informed people in the command. They must be thoroughly aware of all aspects of the operation. They need to know what is being reported about the operation in the global news media and how internal and external audiences are reacting to that information.

1-11. The Public Affairs Officer. The PAO's primary mission is to assess the PA situation, advise the commander on PA issues, assist him in making the best possible decisions, and translate his decision into effective PA operations. PAOs employ the decision-making process to plan, coordinate and supervise the implementation of a PA strategy that helps the commander meet his obligation to communicate with the American public, soldiers, home station communities and the Department of the Army community. PAOs analyze the situation, anticipate issues, assess implications, and develop comprehensive operations, which meet the news and information needs of internal and external audiences and facilitate media operations.

1-12. The Public Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer. The strength of the Public Affairs functional area is its non-commissioned officer corps. PA NCOs are experts on the global information environment, media operations, information strategies, and PA training. They are integral to all facets of the PA planning and decision-making process and provide the essential functional area expertise and continuity required for successful PA operations.

1-13. PA NCOs work closely with the PAO, and in many situations, a PA NCO is the commander's senior PA advisor. Therefore, PA NCOs are fully prepared to assess the PA situation, develop, synchronize and coordinate a PA strategy, implement and monitor PA operations, and measure and evaluate the success of the PA effort.

1-14. The Public Affairs Specialist. In addition to learning traditional soldier skills, PA specialists are trained to support the entire spectrum of PA operations conducted in the global information environment. They are trained on news media operations, news media facilitation, information strategies and information provision. They register media representatives, gather information, develop information products, support news media briefings, respond to news media inquiries and requests for assistance, and track and monitor news media activities throughout the area of operations. They work with news media representatives to gather accurate information and provide timely, balanced coverage of the operation.

1-15. The Department of the Army Public Affairs Civilian. Civilian PA practitioners assigned to Tables of Distribution and Allowances (TDAs) have the same skills as military PA personnel. They provide critical support during war and non-combat operations by providing a vital link between deployed forces and the home station community, and in many situations, may be called upon to deploy with the units they support, or as individual augmentees.


1-16. Battlefield commanders have two sources for tactical PA support. The first is the PA section organic to a warfighting headquarters. The second is the PA unit, which is attached to a headquarters to augment the command's PA capability.

1-17. Conducting PA planning, facilitating news media operations on the battlefield, providing news and information, and executing PA training and support operations is manpower intensive. The austerely staffed PA sections organic to warfighting headquarters will nearly always be overwhelmed trying to meet PA requirements in war and other operations. PA staff sections, therefore, rely on early augmentation by PA units, or individual augmentation if appropriate, to accomplish the battlefield PA mission.

1-18. Organic Public Affairs Sections. Organic PA sections are found in warfighting headquarters at various levels including brigades, divisions and corps throughout the Army. Army PA personnel are also assigned to the organic PA sections of joint and combined headquarters.

1-19. In headquarters without organic PA sections, the commander is responsible for PA and must plan and execute PA operations or assign responsibility for PA operations as a special or additional duty to an officer or senior NCO in the command.

1-20. Regardless of the echelon, the PA staff section's primary responsibility is to assist the commander in accomplishing his mission. The staff:

  • provides PA information expertise and advice
  • conducts PA assessments
  • provides analysis of the information environment
  • conducts PA planning
  • develops information strategies and guidance
  • implements PA operations
  • measures the effectiveness of the PA effort
  • conducts PA training

1-21. The PA staff element controls augmenting PA units. It determines requirements, defines priorities and assigns missions to the augmenting unit. In conjunction with the augmenting unit commander, the staff element task organizes the unit, allocating personnel and equipment to accomplish objectives. If the PA staff element is a Public Affairs Operations Center or a Task Force Headquarters, it will coordinate Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) support activities for the command.

1-22. Public Affairs Units. PA units are fully deployable TOE organizations designed to augment the PA staff sections of warfighting units, although they can operate independently in certain limited situations. When a PA unit is deployed to augment a PA staff section, the personnel in the unit cannot be reassigned as replacements or employed as individual fillers for other public affairs elements.

1-23. PA units depend upon the unit they augment for personnel administration, finance, legal and health services, communications, food service, unit maintenance, and supplemental transportation support. PA units operating at corps and below must have the capability to transport all of their TOE equipment in a single lift using authorized organic vehicles.

1-24. There are currently four types of PA units:

  • Public Affairs Detachment (PAD)
  • Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (MPAD)
  • Public Affairs Operations Center (PAOC)
  • Broadcast Operations Detachment (BOD)

1-25. Public Affairs Detachment (SRC 45500AA00). The smallest of the PA units, the Public Affairs Detachment (PAD) (Figure 1-1) is commanded by a captain and includes seven PA soldiers.

Figure 1-1. PAD

1-26. The PAD normally augments a division, separate brigade and armored cavalry regiments and deploys in support of combined, unified or joint operations.

1-27. The PAD commander assumes responsibilities as the PAO or deputy PAO, and the PAD PA personnel are integrated into the supported command's PA section based on operational requirements.

Historical Perspective
The 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., arrived in Somalia with hundreds of reporters already there, and absolutely no public affairs personnel accompanying them. The first public affairs support arrived at the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, 10 days later and only because the JIB dispatched one of its own PADs.
(PA After Action Report, Operation Restore Hope, 10th Mountain Division, Dec 1992)

1-28. Because of the size of the unit, the PAD provides limited:

  • Personnel and equipment for digital imagery and audio acquisition.
  • Personnel for media escort within the supported unit's area of operations
  • Coordination of an information product distribution system that can relay news and information products to members of the supported unit, higher echelons and home station.
  • Planning, developing and implementing strategy to support civilian news media and facilitate news gathering efforts throughout the supported unit's area of operations
  • Personnel and equipment to coordinate, assist or conduct press conferences and briefings
  • Personnel to train, advise and assist leaders and soldiers interacting with or supporting civilian news media within the supported unit's area of operations.

1-29. Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (SRC 45413A000). The workhorse of PA units, the Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (MPAD) is a modular, task organizable unit, which provides the full range of PA services. (Figure 1-2). The MPAD is commanded by a major and includes 20 soldiers.

Figure 1-2. MPAD

1-30. The MPAD normally augments a Corps PA section or a Public Affairs Operations Center (PAOC). In support of a PAOC, it provides manpower and equipment to establish and operate a media center at Theater Army, TAACOM and Corps.

1-31. It may also be deployed to directly support a joint service task force or non-DoD governmental agency conducting disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, counter drug, peacekeeping, or other contingency operations.

1-32. MPADs in direct support of a gaining command PAO provide acquisition capability for print, audio and video.

1-33. Additional MPADs in direct support can expand the media escort capability of the supported PAO, augment divisions and other elements in theater and provide the PAO with staff augmentation. MPADs may be deployed forward to establish media centers or a sub-JIB in a joint environment.

1-34. MPADs have the capability to:

  • Monitor and assess the perceptions of external audiences through access to civilian commercial news sources.
  • Conduct assessments of the information environment, to include development of a PA estimate of the situation, as the initial part of operational planning.
  • Assist the PAO in operational planning and policy and ground rules for media, coordination for logistical support to PA, and coordination of PA operations with higher and subordinate headquarters.
  • Plan and develop information products, which will be produced through contracted services and/or the use of organic equipment and facilities.
  • Acquire, produce and transmit information products throughout the theater, between the theater and home station, and between the theater and HQDA.
  • Create and disseminate print, photographic, audio and video products for external release directly to civilian media who do not have representatives within the theater of operations. Conduct media facilitation and develop information strategies.
  • Prepare commanders, staff personnel and other command members for interviews, press conferences, and similar media interaction.

1-35. Public Affairs Operations Center (SRC 45423A000). The Public Affairs Operations Center (PAOC) consists of command, media facilitation and post-production sections (Figure 1-3). It is commanded by a lieutenant colonel and includes 32 soldiers.

Figure 1-3. PAOC

1-36. The PAOC normally augments the PA staff section at echelons above division to establish and operate a media center in support of civilian and military media representatives working in the theater.

1-37. The PAOC commander serves as the media center commander but works under the control of the PAO of the supported unit or task force.

1-38. In joint or combined operations, a PAOC serves as the Army element of the joint media operations center.

1-39. When the PAOC functions as the Army element of a joint or combined media center, the PAOC commander works for the joint or combined media center commander.

1-40. For major operations in which there is a significant media interest, the PAOC is augmented by up to three MPADs. The MPADs are either integrated into the main media center operation or tasked to operate subordinate media centers at outlying locations. A PAOC can support up to 100 news media representatives. When augmented by three MPADs, the PAOC can support up to 300 news media representatives.

1-41. PAOCs are modular, task organizable units having the capability to:

  • Implement the theater or corps strategy to support civilian news media and facilitate news gathering efforts in theater.
  • Coordinate and provide services to registered civilian news media sponsored by the command.
  • Provide the personnel and equipment to coordinate and conduct media support within the theater of operations.
  • Provide personnel and equipment to plan and conduct daily news media briefings.
  • Provide personnel to train, advise and assist leaders and soldiers interacting with or supporting civilian news media representatives.

1-42. Broadcast Operations Detachment (SRC 45607A00). The BOD consists of a command element, two broadcast teams and a maintenance team. (Figure 1-4). It is commanded by a major and includes 26 soldiers.

1-43. The BOD augments a fixed or field expedient AFRTS facility under the control of a senior AFRTS facility commander, or it can establish and operate a separate radio and/or television broadcast facility to support theater level operations.

Figure 1-4. BOD

1-44. The BODs must be authorized and equipped by AFRTS to perform this mission. When deployed to perform this mission, the BODs are assigned to the PAOC supporting the command.

1-45. BODs have the capability to:

  • Provide on-air broadcasters recorded materials and satellite down links to operate a 24-hour a day radio outlet.
  • Provide on-air broadcasters, recorded materials and satellite down links to operate a television station.
  • Originate audio and video news, feature and entertainment programming from within theater.
  • Provide post production services for audio and video news and feature material supplied in unedited format.
  • Provide limited audio and video materials to other public affairs operations for dissemination outside the theater.
  • Acquire audio and video electronic newsgathering coverage of operations in the theater for use in internal and external information programs.
  • Perform field maintenance and repair above operator level to broadcast equipment organic to the unit.
  • Provide the commander with an alternate means of communications when tactical communications are not adequate or not available.

1-46. Public Affairs organizations are built around a force of soldiers who are selected and trained to articulate the goals and missions of the Army.

1-47. More than 65 percent of the total public affairs force and 85 percent of the deployable TOE unit structure is positioned in the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard. These reserve units and personnel must be seamlessly integrated with the active component and focused on supporting the overall Army goals and objectives.

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