The Selling Of Military Operations Other Than War
SUBJECT AREA - Operations
Title: THE SELLING OF MILITARY OPERATIONS OTHER THAN WAR
Author: Major James F. Jamison, United States Marine Corps
Problem: Military Operations Other Than War can take years
to accomplish. The support of the American people is key to
their successful completion. In the past, the selling of
those operations to the public, particularly the effort at
the national level, has been inadequate.
Discussion: Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) are
an integral part of our national security strategy of
Engagement and Enlargement. Unlike war, MOOTW rarely
generates the national will required to stay engaged in the
expenditure of human and monetary resources. The American
people have the power to grant patience and persistence to
U.S. military forces, who are often the major players in
providing presence in the MOOTW area of operations.
Today's post-Cold War domestic marketing environment is
characterized by pragmatic rather than ideological
priorities. At the national level, poor presentation of the
cost-to-benefit ratio has resulted in the public's lukewarm
embrace of MOOTW.
This paper analyzes the obstacles that must be overcome
to sell MOOTW to the American people. It then presents
techniques, borrowed from the commercial advertising and
mass communications worlds, required to advertise MOOTW to
the American people--to convince them of MOOTW's positive
cost-to-benefit ratio. An analysis of failures and
successes in the employment of the above techniques, as seen
in Somalia and Haiti operations, is included. Finally, this
paper examines the integration of advertising techniques in
a strategic framework called "advertising-based public
relations." Key to this concept is the critical link
between strategic, operational, and tactical public
relations efforts. What is "advertised" at the national
level must be reflected by the actions and words of those
forces actually executing the MOOTW.
Thesis: Advertising-based public relations campaigns,
successfully employed at the national level, are critical to
the success of future Military Operations Other Than War.
The American people are the final judges of the United
States' MOOTW engagement. In the future, public relations
efforts must be greater and more consistent than in the past
if the American people are going to allow continued
employment of MOOTW as part of our national security
strategy of Engagement and Enlargement.
1. INTRODUCTION 1
2. PUBLIC OPINION AS AN ENABLER 4
If Its Not War, What Is It? 6
Advertising-based Public Relations For MOOTW, 8
Public Relations Is Not
Propaganda--A Disclaimer, 11
The Three P's, 12
The Buck (and Ad) Stops Here, 14
3. MILITARY OPERATIONS OTHER THAN WAR ARE
HARD TO SELL 18
The Lost Specter of the Soviet Union, 18
Where's the Beef?, 19
535 Secretaries of MOOTW, 21
A Quagmire From Which Even The Operators Shy, 23
All Is Not Lost, 24
Overcome The Hurdles of Mass Communication, 25
Attract Attention, 25
Public Acceptance, 26
A Rose By Any Other Name, 27
Interpreted and Stored For Later Use, 28
4. MOOTW PUBLIC RELATIONS PRINCIPLES 30
Strategic Approach to Public Relations, 30
The Government Does Advertise, 33
Advertising Is Part of American Life, 35
Advertising-based Public Relations Techniques, 38
Find the Need and Fill It, 38
Positioning the Operation Positively, 42
Create the Right Image, 46
Be Sensitive to Your Audience, 50
Spread Your Story First, 52
Know The Product, 54
Clear Message By The Right Spokesperson, 55
Not All Operations Other Than War Can Be Sold, 58
Vacillation Blurs The Message, 60
1,2,3,4, What The Hell Are We MOOTW-ing For? 61
5. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MOOTW PUBLIC RELATIONS 64
Recommendations For Strategic Public Relations, 65
Undersecretary of State For Public Diplomacy, 67
Director Of Public Diplomacy And information, 68
Crafting Successful Advertising-based
Public Relations Campaigns, 70
Recommendations For Operational Public Relations, 71
Public Relations In A Crisis, 73
Train The Troops, 75
MOOTW And The Media, 77
Wargame Public Relations For OOTW, 78
Future MOOTW Communications, 79
Rules Of Engagement, 79
Information Superhighway, 80
The Military's CNN, 81
6. CONCLUSION 82
THE SELLING OF MILITARY OPERATIONS OTHER THAN WAR
If I were starting my life over again, I am inclined to
think I would go into the advertising business in preference
to almost any other.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) have become
a major tool used to support the United States' National
Security Strategy (NSS). Increasingly more important, and
certainly more visible, MOOTW is specifically addressed in
the 1994 NSS of Engagement and Enlargement. In the preface
to that document, President Bill Clinton states, "our nation
can only address this era's dangers and opportunities if we
remain actively involved in global affairs."1
To engage the world with our military in operations
other than war, the government must achieve the support of
the American people. The United States can only sustain the
necessary commitment to "our active engagement abroad," as
President Clinton makes clear, "with the broad, bi-partisan
support of the American people...."2 Unfortunately, the
government has not been consistently successful at this
endeavor. At the national level particularly, there seems
to be a lack of a strategic approach to public relations
that would ensure "the patient application of American
The uncertainty of the "new world order" and the
public's increased access to instant, powerful communication
mediums have further complicated the problem of convincing
the American people to support MOOTW involvement.
The less than adequate effort at convincing the people
of MOOTW's positive cost/benefit ratio has had a negative
effect on the long term success of past operations. It will
continue to cast a shadow over the future MOOTW unless we
find a solution to this dilemma.
The power of advertising techniques applied within the
framework of a strategic-to-operational public relations
plan may be part of the solution. What is referred to in
this paper as "advertising-based public relations" borrows
effective methods from the commercial advertising world and
marries them to the strategic and operational public affairs
considerations necessary to garner the people's support for
This paper investigates the importance of, and
approaches to, MOOTW public relations as they relate to the
American people's acceptance of those operations. Chapter
Two examines the context in which MOOTW fits today and
points to the importance of effectively advertising those
operations to the American people. Additionally, the
definitions of MOOTW and advertising-based public relations
are presented. Chapter Three addresses the difficulties
encountered when trying to convince the people that MOOTW is
something they should embrace. Chapter Four then
investigates the techniques of advertising-based public
relations and points to examples of failures and successes
in the "selling" of MOOTW that illustrate those methods. To
this end, operations in Somalia and Haiti provide many
current and relevant examples. Finally, Chapter Five
details, with an eye to future improvement, some strategic,
operational, and tactical considerations of advertising-
based public relations.
The concepts presented here have application for a
broad swath of military officers- - for commanders and staff
officers alike. Understanding the importance of public
opinion, as influenced by advertising-based public
relations, will be "critical to the success" of future
PUBLIC OPINION AS AN ENABLER
The success of Military Operations Other Than War
(MOOTW) depends largely upon the interest and resolve of the
people. Karl von Clausewitz gave us the concept of a
trinity (government, army and people), whose variable
energies, unpredictable interests and capricious priorities
often move politics along the horizontal continuum to war.
Somewhere along that line exist Military Operations Other
Than War. MOOTW employ the military as an instrument of
operational diplomacy that is short of limited war. It is
during the juxtaposition of military operations in an
endeavor innocuously titled "other than war" that the people
part of the trinity takes on even more influence than it has
in "real" war.5
There is an enabling force, in the absence of war, that
can bolster the elusive will of the American people. Given
the significance of "will," a successful "public relations"
strategy may be a prerequisite for the United States
government to employ military forces for the period of time
sufficient to accomplish a MOOTW. Specifically,
advertising-based public relations, when exercised with
integrity and finesse, has a galvanizing effect on public
Conversely, as is most commonly the case, ignoring this
critical facet of selling MOOTW on the national level can
result in failure regardless of the inherent value or
national interest of that operation. Public opinion, in
large part, is the score keeper of the success or failure
for all military applications in a society such as ours.
Therefore, public relations is an essential function
performed at the national level to ensure the American
people sanction the use of military forces for MOOTW.
Unfortunately, appreciation of this thesis is not always
enjoyed by those leading and serving in the U.S. government.
The "great drama" of war that Jomini saw as a stage for
heroes does not exist in MOOTW.6 The emotions evoked by war
are not stirred in the American people by MOOTW and thus
other, more pragmatic, views dominate. War tends to
solidify the people with anger and hostile rage. MOOTW,
while occasionally capable of arousing similar emotions, is
more likely to elicit sympathy, pity or compassion.
The speed of communications--with their near-universal
reach--has brought to the people raw information they use to
form opinions more quickly than before. These two together,
as John Keegan observed, have resulted in "the popular will,
often little more than a formulation of popular sentiment
under the influence of television," becoming "the most
potent of pressures on policy."7 Popular will is the force
that allows leaders to dictate international affairs with
confidence and soldiers to deploy with the hopes of a
Victory, by the traditional definition of war, is not
achievable in MOOTW. The American way of war has the
expectation of victory in unconditional terms by
overwhelming force.8 General U.S. Grant typified this
approach in 1862 when he sent word to Major General S. B.
Buckner, CSA, in Fort Donelson: "No terms except an
unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I
propose to move immediately upon your works."9 War provides
the promise of satisfaction. MOOTW will yield, even at
their most successful, only stabilization, settlement,
evacuation or neutralization. In short, MOOTW are exactly
that--other than war. MOOTW often share the mortal danger
of war without enjoying its potential for glory.
If It's Not War, What Is It?
A label that has a negative as its root is suspect.
"Other than War" leaves a reader with myriad definition
choices. MOOTW as a label however, does nothing more than
tell the reader what it is not. For the purposes of this
paper, the following definition, drawn from Army Field
Manual (FM) 100-5, Operations, is appropriate:
Operations other than war (MOOTW) may be of short
duration or extremely protracted. These operations may
require years to achieve the desired effects. The
underlying causes of confrontation and conflict rarely
have a clear beginning or a decisive resolution. In
MOOTW, other government agencies will often have the
lead. Operational commanders may find themselves
operating under restrictive rules of engagement. MOOTW
will not always be peaceful actions. However,
overwhelming force may complicate the process toward
the mission's objective. The principles that guide
MOOTW are: objective, unity of command, legitimacy,
perseverance, restraint, and security.
MOOTW include, but are not limited to, a long list of
activities: noncombatant evacuations, arms control, support
to domestic civil authorities, humanitarian assistance,
disaster relief, security assistance, nation assistance,
support to counterdrug operations, combatting terrorism,
support to diplomacy, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, show
of force, support for insurgencies and counterinsurgencies,
and attacks and raids. President George Bush referred to
the above list as "our most active threat for the remainder
of this century."10 It may well be the most active threat,
but it is not the most easily identifiable one.
In large part, the difficulty in successfully devising
an advertising-based, public relations campaign for MOOTW
may lie in the vagueness of its operational definition and
the cloudiness of the threat. The wide range of stated and
implied tasks required to accomplish myriad missions that
may be short or long, peaceful or confrontational, complex
or simple, sudden or well-planned, have tended to confuse
the issue. It is the job of advertising-based public
relations to alleviate the American people's confusion over
Advertising-based Public Relations for MOOTW
Public relations is "the attempt, by information,
persuasion, and adjustment, to engineer public support for
an activity, cause movement, or institution."11
Its activities should be planned and executed by trained
professionals based on both scientific principles and the
social priorities of the age. A dispassionate approach,
similar to that of the engineer solving physical science
dilemmas, characterize the most successful public relation
Americans have been inundated with commercial
advertising for years.13 It has permeated almost all
aspects of life: roadside billboards, direct mailings that
clog the post box, unsolicited FAX advertisements, flyers
placed under windshield wipers, 30-second TV commercials
that cost more to produce than the show they sponsor, the
popular soda can that briefly appears in a feature film
star's hand and info-mercials that cross the line between
entertainment and advertising. These are but a few
examples. To reach the public through this advertising
cacophony, MOOTW messages must be framed in imaginative
vehicles and distributed by efficient media.
What is required to educate and inform the public is so
much more than just traditional military public affairs.
Public relations is not public affairs. The definition of
the two is separated by one key element--advertising. The
field of public affairs in its military definition has no
bias or interest in attitude adjustment or persuasion; and,
it is oriented on the media. The media frame the message,
edit it and deliver it. Public relations for MOOTW, on the
other hand, should use advertising to compete for the ear of
the American people--it is oriented on the people. While
the media may still deliver the message, it has been
initiated, framed and edited by those who direct and conduct
Secretary of State Warren Christopher, in his first
statement before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
State, and Judiciary, struck to the heart of this concept:
I think we have a responsibility to try to define our
foreign policy to the American people and to define
America's role in the new world. I intend to travel
around the country to explain our foreign policy
initiatives and seek the support of the American
Rosser Reeves, a respected American advertising man,
referred to advertising as "the act of moving an idea from
the head of one man into the head of another."15 According
to Eric Clark, author of The Want Makers, advertising
combines "the passion of Patton with the cunning of
Rommel."16 Unlike propaganda, however, advertising is
something the public is comfortable with. The American
Heritage Dictionary defines advertising as "the action of
attracting public attention to a product or business."17
The 1994 National Security Strategy implies MOOTW are the
business of the engagement half of "Engagement and
Enlargement." As such, they constitute what the same source
defines business to be: "our rightful concern, interest or
The definition applied to advertising MOOTW in this
paper is a hybrid of those quoted above, incorporated with
some of the thoughts presented to the International
Advertising Association at its 1984 conference:
Advertising-based public relations is the
overarching term that encompasses the methods of
education and conduits for the communication of
information that are critical to the American peoples'
understanding of complex and emotionally charged
subjects. It utilizes non-competitive techniques of
commercial advertising short of intentional
manipulation for persuasive purposes and is as
politically non-partisan as feasible. Within the
framework of the National Security Strategy it falls
under the purview of the psychological element of
All advertising can be categorized as either generic or
competitive. Competitive advertising is characterized by
direct comparison to another product. Pain relievers often
use this type, as do politicians. The competitive approach
is less interested in pointing out the merits of the product
than it is in hawking the relative quality and value
compared to rival brands. Generic advertising is concerned
with presenting information about the concerned product,
service, or endeavor. This is not to say that generic is
less powerful than competitive advertising. However,
advertising for MOOTW must remain generic lest it be
categorized as partisan.
The line that separates advertising and propaganda is
thin. It has even been argued effectively that there is no
difference.20 For the purposes of advertising MOOTW, the
cynic and the naive alike must be persuaded.
Public Relations Is Not Propaganda--A Disclaimer
This paper in no way advocates the use of domestic
propaganda or covert manipulation of information. Clearly,
either of the above would alienate the American people
rather than persuade them to "buy into" the commitment
required to accomplish MOOTW (and goes against the
traditions of American democracy). Donald T. Poe emphasizes
the primacy of credibility when he writes:
Too many times in the past it was thought that the
American people were incapable of understanding the
problem or reasons for action and the leadership
succumbed to paternalism. In some cases it appears
that the leadership has attempted to manipulate the
American people rather than lead by means of the
objective traits of credibility and honesty. The
people innately want to believe in the President. If
he demonstrates credibility he will be believed, as no
source of information is given greater weight than is
The American people are predisposed, according to Poe,
to have faith in their leaders, particularly the President,
in international matters. In today's open and democratic
society the people have far too many sources of instant and
open information bombarding them to fall victim to
propaganda. On the strategic level, the National Command
Authority possesses the most powerful tool an advertiser can
bring to the situation--credibility. To risk the loss of
credibility through the use of propaganda or manipulation of
information would be counterproductive.
Emphasizing the positive while simultaneously
recognizing the negatives of an operation would help
persuade without the loss of credibility. A public
relations campaign for MOOTW must have the truth at its
root. The timing and presentation of that truth are
essential to the successful selling of MOOTW.
The Three "P's"
Successful MOOTW require presence, persistence, and
patience. These so called "three P's," are strongly
affected by public opinion.22 The National Command
Authority can order a military presence, but the American
people must be sold on the value of the operation for the
last two P's, persistence and patience, to be granted.
As Harry G. Summers, Jr. observed, the object (end
state) of a military operation must be agreed upon prior to
the commitment of forces. The value of that objective must
then be determined. Next, the costs, both practical and
moral, must be calculated and compared to that value. An
operation should only be joined if the benefits exceed the
The United States turned the Haiti peacekeeping
operation over to the United Nations in March 1995. This
act provides an excellent example of the above argument.
President Clinton ordered the presence of American troops in
Haiti on 19 September 1994. "The mission was narrowly
defined" and, using those simple goals as a measure, "a
success."24 But peacekeeping is a mission that can, and
has, required years to accomplish properly. The situation
in Haiti, for example, does not lend itself to short-term
solutions. The small nation is facing an ever-rising tide
of criminal violence--including the recent political
assassination of a high-profile opponent of the Aristide
government, Mireille Durocher Bertin, in March 1995. The
rate of unemployment is stationary at seventy-five percent,
and the judicial system has yet to try a case. Haiti is not
ready for the U.S. to turn the mission over to 6,000 U.N.
peacekeepers. Chavannes Jean-Baptise, a backer of President
Aristide, states, "President Clinton wants to portray this
as a success, but for the Haitian people it has not been a
The United States, however, is abandoning the Haitian
mission "in part because of the lack of support by the
American people...."26 It is that support which grants
patience to the State Department and persistence to the U.S.
forces responding to the MOOTW. Without public support,
MOOTW is destined to be limited in scope and time.
Unfortunately, MOOTW takes both to be truly successful.
The Buck (and the Ad) Stops Here
Public relations has been, and is currently, employed
as an influencer of national power. Advertising-based
public relations resides in the psychological portion of the
elements of National Strategy. The executive branch must
harness this power to solve the "increasingly difficult
problem of obtaining domestic legitimacy" for a strategy
that involves MOOTW as a part of its implementation.27 It
has been argued that public relations is a facilitating
force in all four elements of national strategy: economic,
political, psychological and military.28 For the purposes
of this paper, however, advertising-based public relations
is treated as an enabler for the psychological element of
power as the latter depends on the American people's will.
The proper use of public relations and advertising
techniques by the NCA will help ensure the American people
are aware that cost/benefit calculations have been made and
thus provide the information that will equip them to justify
short-term costs for long-term gains. "The American
taxpayer," according to a senior Army officer who addressed
the Command and Staff College in 1995, "is being asked to
pay the price of MOOTW--in terms of decreased military
readiness and increased fiscal costs--without benefit of a
coherent explanation." Of Donald T. Poe's four requisites
to bring the country into military operations, perhaps the
most important is to "keep the goals honest and ensure that
they are understood by the American people."29
The will of the American people is recognized worldwide
as the United States' strategic center of gravity.30 It is
ironic that this nation's defining principle, freedom of
speech, is also a critical vulnerability that can be
exploited by those external forces who would manipulate
Players involved in the drama of conflict and the
tragedy of MOOTW are currently employing public relations
firms in an effort to influence the American's public
opinion.31 This source of power has long been recognized.
Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense during the
1962 Cuban crisis, for example, said, "News flowing from
actions taken by the government is part of the weaponry."32
Those firms are attacking the critical vulnerability to
spread their story; to further their cause on the world--and
particularly the American--stage. Bard E. O'Neill writes of
Propaganda directed at groups inside external-
support states, particularly in pluralistic
democracies, may also be somewhat effective; witness
the Nicaraguan government's successful 1984-1985
campaign to influence American political leaders and
the attentive public by criticizing both the Contras'
human rights abuses and their attempt to overthrow the
Sandinista government. Other examples of efforts to
deny external support to insurgent groups through the
use of international publicity efforts are the
depiction and excoriation of terrorist acts of the PLO
by Israel and of the IRA by Britain. That the
existence, content, and effectiveness of communications
efforts vary considerably from situation to situation
does not mean they can be overlooked by analysts, since
in specific cases they could be important.33
It is recognized that the United States government is
often the sole director of the play, but the American people
have the right of script approval. By bringing the power of
American public opinion to bear, the strategy goes, whatever
ideological, cultural, religious, or national disagreement
in which your region is embroiled has a better chance of
being resolved in your favor. Major General James Jones,
after two years of study and twenty trips in-country, said
of the actors in Boznia-Herzagovina, "each side played the
world press masterfully. They attempted to manipulate
public opinion to the point that no one held the moral high
The U.S. government must maintain the moral high ground
when it is seeking public support for MOOTW. Even when this
is accomplished, however, there are other dilemmas to solve
and obstacles to overcome if MOOTW is to have the will of
the people providing its forces with persistence and
MOOTW are a major manifestation of the National
Security Strategy's engagement. With this in mind, the
connection between MOOTW and advertising-based public
relations resides at the national level. However, the speed
and access of modern communications and the open nature of
MOOTW public relations has connected the strategic to the
operational (and even tactical) levels. Commanders at all
levels must understand the power of advertising-based public
relations to influence the will of the American people.
For the American people to support an enterprise, they
first must understand it. Advertising-based public
relations attempts to educate and persuade by providing that
understanding. And that is no easy task.
MILITARY OPERATIONS OTHER THAN WAR ARE HARD TO SELL
Public relations and advertising techniques, so
effective in other aspects of our capitalistic society, have
been applied (although often ignored) to MOOTW with varying
degrees of success. MOOTW must be presented to the American
people differently today than in the past for a variety of
reasons. Four factors lead the list. First, the Soviet
Union no longer exists; the umbrella of the Cold War no
longer shades the cost of military operations. Second, the
nation as a whole has become much more price-conscious; they
demand that national interests be involved. Third, foreign
affairs, once the exclusive purview of the Administration,
have become fertile ground for Congressional partisan in-
fighting. Finally, the speed of communication and the
people's ever-increasing access to open news sources, in
combination with the first three, have complicated MOOTW
The Lost Specter of the Soviet Union
LtGen Robert B. Johnston, Commander of the Marine
Expeditionary Force that reacted initially to the Somalia
humanitarian operation, recently assessed: "the attitudes of
Americans... have been forever changed by the elimination of
the Soviet menace."35 The National Strategy was in harmony
with the "strategic culture of the people it served" during
the Cold War; there was a national "consensus generally
obtained throughout the period in terms of the overall
objective of containment."36 Along with the demise of the
Soviet Union went the blanket justification for the use of
military forces that was so prevalent during the Cold War.
The fight to contain the Soviet communists was the clear
objective; the value was nearly unarguable. Thus, by 1995
standards, high human and monetary costs were often
acceptable to obtain containment goals that were arguably
outside the national interest.
When the Berlin wall fell in 1989, it signalled a new
and much lower cost-to-value ratio that is applied to MOOTW
today. The "peace dividend" has not been as much a
financial gain as a shift in the national mood. The
"domino" theory, for example, once used so effectively to
justify the commitment of troops and expenditure of funds,
no longer applies in the post-Cold War world.
Where's The Beef?
The American economic experience at mid-decade reveals
a society bombarded by prophecies of doom at the hands of
trillion dollar deficits. Real earnings adjusted for
inflation have been flat for half a decade; people are
working more hours to earn the same wages. The media has
dubbed the "middle class wage earners" (below $75,000 per
annum) as the "anxious class." All this uneasiness goes a
long way in explaining the new-found popularity of no-frill
malls and super discount outlets in the nineties. Americans
are looking for value; they want their diminishing dollar to
stretch a bit further. These same people see the urban
blight, perceived increase in violent crime, and moral decay
depicted on the nightly news and daily papers. They pay
their federal taxes and look for the fruits of this payment.
Despite record tax rates, the Federal debt is now so
high that an increase of just one point in interest rates
will propel the deficit $142 billion higher than projected
for 1996.37 With these dismal figures topping the American
political agenda, it is difficult to justify a half billion
dollar expenditure on an operation halfway around the world
that yields no apparent benefit to Americans. They want a
tangible return for their foreign investment dollar.
Unveiled on the 7th of February, 1995, President
Clinton's proposed budget has just two double-digit percent
change categories. A twelve-percent increase was allocated
to justice and law enforcement while an equivalent
percentage was slashed from international affairs and
economic aid.38 This transposition has vaulted internally
spent justice money totals over those spent engaging the
world with international government spending for the first
time in decades. The largest area of increase within the
justice category is over one billion additional dollars to
help the INS seal our borders.
President Clinton's proposed budget for 1996 reflects
an appreciation for the country's concerns. The document,
however, only indicates the cost of engagement. It does not
address the benefits. Over 16.7 billion international
affairs dollars are spent on engagement, of which MOOTW are
a part. Additionally, unspecified chunks of the defense and
transportation budgets are similarly committed. The
American people are starting to demand, as a recent
competitive hamburger advertisement asked, "Where's the
Five Hundred And Thirty Five Secretaries Of MOOTW
The old, and perhaps never quite correct, rule that
"politics ends at the water's edge" has little meaning for
today's MOOTW. The executive branch no longer enjoys "the
Kissinger era of White House Dominance of Foreign policy."39
When the exposure of the "Iran-Contra episode helped to
obscure as much as highlight" the executive's limitations
(and liabilities) as exclusive foreign policy formulator,
members of the House and Senate gladly filled the gap.
Every senator and representative, it seems, has a staff that
is concerned as much with the events of the world as they
are with those in their bosses' states and districts.40
The Congress, according to Carnes Lord, is now
competing in an area that once was nearly the exclusive
domain of the executive branch--initiation and sustainment
Congress is very much part of the problem rather than
part of the solution. The fragmentation of authority
as between foreign relations, armed services, and
intelligence committees, not to mention appropriations
and budget committees, in both houses exacerbates the
fragmentation of decision-making authority within the
executive branch in the national security area.41
The Secretary of Defense, William Perry, also recognized
this phenomenon and railed against it. The 1994 Republican
"Contract With America" provision for a strong defense
policy carried with it a contentious implication. Secretary
Perry has stated his opposition to the efforts of Congress
to take a more active role in the formulation and
implementation of foreign policy. In a February, 1995
interview with Jane's Defence Weekly, he emotionally
addressed a congressional proposal to create a commission to
review national needs: "If you find that I am incapable or
unwilling to meet those responsibilities, you should ask me
to step down as Secretary of Defense."42
President Clinton complained that his "constitutional
responsibility to conduct U.S. foreign policy" was severely
hampered by proposed "restrictions on U.S. participation in
United Nations peacekeeping operations."43 In an effort to
balance the Federal budget by the year 2002, the House of
representatives plans to dictate via its purse strings what
particular MOOTW, among other initiatives, the executive
branch can use to engage the world.
A Quagmire From Which Even The Operators Shy
The chapter on OOTW in the Army's FM 100-5, Operations
opens and closes with an admonition to its readers: "The
Army's primary focus is to fight and win the nation's wars.
The Army organizes, trains and equips to fight and win the
nation's wars. This remains its primary mission." (emphasis
added). The current ...From The Sea Navy/Marine Corps
doctrine, for all intents and purposes, ignores MOOTW.
In other words, the military does MOOTW when it has to, but,
apparently with less than enthusiastic effort.
MOOTW is not war. The military, generally slow to
adjust structurally, is having some difficulty determining
the correct forces and training required to best accomplish
the myriad MOOTW missions. During this transition, the
public relations effort can be affected adversely. For
example, in reference to the Marines' adaptation of less-
than-lethal weapons (pepper spray, bean bag ammunition,
etc.) for Operation United Shield, a Marine colonel recently
sarcastically quipped, "If we just fired beans instead of
bean bags, we could call it a feeding program."44
On the eve of the U.S. Marine landing in Somalia during
Operation United Shield, LtGen A. C. Zinni, the operational
commander, recognized the drastic shift from war to MOOTW:
"I think the whole nature of warfare is changing--the
military probably shouldn't fight it."45 While the above is
less than an enthusiastic embrace, it is clear that in an
era of diminishing defense budgets, the service that can
perform MOOTW will survive.
The lukewarm MOOTW endorsement by operational forces,
however, has not precluded every lobbyist to the Roles and
Missions Commission from exalting their services' inherent
ability to perform what has not been funded and trained
All Is Not Lost
Today's MOOTW public relations must rely on appeals to
the tangible economic and political benefits rather than
lofty, idealistic goals. The monumental shift in the world
order, in combination with a pragmatic, well-informed, and
sometimes cynical public has forced national security
interests into a harsh light. For these reasons, the NCA
must muster the support of the people when it commits the
military to MOOTW.
There is still opportunity, however, to engage the
military and also have the popular support required for
success. The American people remain as committed today to
an active world affairs role as they were in the 1980's.47
However, the commitment is of a different nature. As
Patrick Cronin noted: "Fighting ideological battles with
Communist states has decreased in priority; protecting
American economic interests and maintaining a global
military, economic and political position continues as a
high priority."48 A MOOTW public relations campaign must
tap into this pragmatic predisposition for international
engagement rather than alienate the consumers.
Overcome the Hurdles of Mass Communication
Advertising-based public relations is dependent upon
communication. The majority of Americans "depend upon mass-
communication products for a large majority of all the
information we receive during life."49 To succeed in
persuasive communication, "four hurdles have to be cleared:
it must (1) attract attention, (2) be accepted, (3) be
interpreted, and (4) be stored for use."50 Interestingly,
the four-step communication model is applicable to both
inter-personal and mass communications:
Mass Communication faces the same defenses and
must leap the same hurdles: attention, acceptance,
interpretation, and storing. It requires the same
kinds of contracts between sender and receiver for
entertainment and instruction. It must depend upon
activating the same kinds of psychological dynamics if
it is to persuade.51
Attract Attention. For MOOTW, the first step, to
attract attention, is often the least burdensome. In the
past, unfiltered images from commercial media sources have
been instrumental in gaining attention for particular MOOTW.
In fact, it is often that initial coverage which is the
primary cause of the government's interest. The phenomenon
of CNN-ization is a powerful attention getter. The images
in print, television and radio are often portrayed in such
compelling terms that the most basic emotions of the public
are touched. Guilt, sympathy and frustration are at the
root of public outcries for the government to do something--
anything--to alleviate the suffering or right the wrong.
Even so, MOOTW must still fight for its place at the
public's interest table. Edward Bernays argues that
"competition for the attention of the public has been
continually broadened and intensified because the public
decides whether an enterprise is to succeed or fail."52
Once that attention is gained, the message must be delivered
in such a form that the majority of Americans can accept it.
Public Acceptance. Overly sophisticated and complex
approaches to educating the public on MOOTW via public
relations is counterproductive. Gaining acceptance, once
attention is gained, relies on the clarity, perhaps even the
simplicity, of the message. Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot
Aronson argue that although access to more political affairs
information has increased in the last twenty years, public
interest in and knowledge of such affairs has not increased
and may actually have decreased.53 The reason for this
decline may lie in the cyclic process of gaining acceptance
through simplistic or attention-getting methods common to
the highly competitive media marketplace:
The public, press, and political leaders are
caught in a spiral. Sophisticated news coverage
requires an interested and informed public.
Without an educated audience, journalists and
leaders must simplify their message and package it
as "entertainment," thus reducing further the
sophistication of the public at large.54
Acceptance is important enough to simplify--not
oversimplify--a MOOTW. The message, however, does not need
to be watered down to the lowest common denominator. As
discussed in the next Chapter, the "attentive public" and
the "elites" should be targeted, and the message designed to
meet their needs. From their acceptance of a MOOTW will
flow that of the "general public's."
A Rose By Any Other Name. In an effort to gain
legitimacy for an operation and thus be accepted within the
public mind, MOOTW have been "code-named" with more than
mere attention-getting as the intent--the very name must
also aid in the operation's acceptance. The days of naming
operations based on computer-generated random labels are
gone. Operation Overlord of WWII had a very dignified name,
yet did nothing to describe its goals or methods.
Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson write:
"Advertisers know the power of naming and select brand names
for their products--such as Head & Shoulders shampoo,
DieHard battery, Close-up toothpaste, that draw attention to
the brand's major selling benefit."55 Today MOOTW names
such as Restore Hope, Provide Comfort, and Restore Democracy
reach out to the public for acceptance of the virtuous cause
in which that operation is involved.
The labels of MOOTW are a two-edged sword. A well-
chosen label will help people identify with the MOOTW
"product." In turn, this will aid in building public
support for the MOOTW. The American people, however, will
expect the military to deliver the operation "as advertised"
by the government. In the minds of the American people, the
Marines intervened in Somalia (Operation Provide Hope) in
order to restore the hope of the Somali people. When the
bodies of American soldiers were depicted being dehumanized
by the "hopeful" Somalis, the American people realized the
advertised operation--Provide Hope--was not the product they
had ended up with.
Interpreted and Stored for Later Use. The public
interprets the accepted messages based on three public
relations factors: adjustment, information and persuasion.56
The American people can adjust to changing situations very
well. Cultural, religious and ethnic diversity have trained
the public over the years to adjust to, rather than
confront, changing situations. However, information must be
presented that is pertinent, understandable and not beyond
the range of adjustment. In other words, the message and
image of MOOTW must not be beyond the scope of already pre-
adjusted information. Psychologist Gordon Allport points out
that it is the nature of Americans to divide up and
categorize the "buzzing boom of information" that is
directed at them.57 To be interpreted and stored,
psychologists argue, information must be able to fit in one
of the brain's storage bins that have been pre-adjusted.
Once this process is complete, persuasion can then take
Stored information that is communicated via
advertising-based public relations is another way of
positioning an operation. The general value that an entity
has will be stored without regard to particular facts or
justification. This generalization defines the public's
tolerance datum. Once the public has established a general
position on MOOTW, either positive or negative, public
relations efforts must recognize this as the basic starting
point for a campaign.
MOOTW PUBLIC RELATIONS PRINCIPLES
Strategic Approach to Public Relations
In 1942, Admiral Ernest J. King was asked to state the
Navy's public relations policy. He answered "Don't tell
them anything. When it's over, tell them who won."58 That
probably worked well then. The nation was at war and the
American people understood that information presented before
an operation was completed carried a heavy price--
compromised plans. Even if the people did demand more than
this, communication means would have been too slow to
respond. This is not the case for today's MOOTW.
Today, a more proactive, strategic plan for
advertising-based public relations is required. Admiral
King's approach will not stand up under the harsh glare of
TV lights, editorialized video feeds, or the speed of
satellite communications that characterize today's MOOTW
The best time to create the foundation for public
relations is prior to an individual MOOTW. The individual
use of the techniques discussed here is not necessarily
enough to result in successful advertising-based public
relations. A proactive strategy is the mortar that holds
the principles together and allows the NCA to get out ahead
of the problems inherent in advertising MOOTW. Sun Tzu
captured this general principle over two thousand years ago:
Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do
what is great while it is small. The most difficult
things in the world must be done while they are still
easy, the greatest things in the world must be done
while they are still small.59
It is often too late to effectively engage in
advertising-based public relations after a crisis has
erupted. Indeed, a public relations campaign becomes
proportionally more difficult to implement as the time from
crisis to action increases.60 The best that can be
accomplished when a plan is not in place is spinning a
positive thread through the sequence of unanticipated
Edward L. Bernays stresses the importance of
establishing a clear sense of direction early in the
process: "Every successful public relations campaign must be
predicated on laying out in advance a whole series of
objectives to be attained in orderly fashion. The
cumulative effect of their total realization is the
achievement of the ultimate overall goal."61 In today's
Total Quality Management parlance, it is obvious that
Bernays' "overall goal" is the leader's vision. It is
imperative that this vision translate via the distribution
of information--advertising--to the American people.
As important as a coherent plan is, MOOTW public
relations must be based on the truth. As Bernays writes:
Public Relations strategists are concerned with
truth always, for they must be realists. But they
are equally concerned with the people's
interpretation of the truth.62
It is that "interpretation of the truth" that gives
advertising-based public relations its mission--to educate
and inform the American people. When this is accomplished
with skill and integrity, the difference between the truth
and the perception of the truth are very hard to discern.
When ineptly presented, on the other hand, "telling a man a
truth he rejects may only make him more set in his ways."63
The encompassing goal of advertising MOOTW is to create
a strategic consensus in the absence of an identifiable,
unambiguous strategic threat. The American people must buy
what the government is selling and the military promises to
deliver. These three entities, the people, government and
military, need to be aligned strategically to ensure the
necessary staying power for MOOTW.
Military strategist David Jablonsky, recognizes the
primacy of this alignment in his essay, "Why Is Strategy
Difficult?" As he stresses, "the key to maintaining balance
today in the U.S. national strategic calculus" is to
generate "a strategic consensus that counteracts the
centrifugal forces playing on the elements of the American
version of the Clausewitzian trinity."64 That balance must
be established by the NCA via advertising-based public
The Government Does Advertise. The United States
government is no stranger to advertising, particularly when
the definition used in this paper is considered. Indeed,
the government is already fighting a war using
advertisements as a primary weapon: the war on drugs. This
is a multi-billion dollar struggle that has been waged on
many fronts. Anyone who has viewed a "this is your brain
... this is your brain on drugs ... questions?" commercial
will realize that the government is involved in the business
Eric Clark recognizes the image-building power of
advertising when he writes:
Advertising is attractive to both government and
the agencies. For the government it allows it to
project the image it wants. Whether an
advertising campaign against heroin is the best
way of spending the money is debatable, but it
allows the government to be seen caring.65
The quality of these advertisements, in the parlance of
the adman, is "slick" and speaks volumes to the ability the
government can show when it applies itself. The selection
of the label "The War Against Drugs" itself, underlines the
emotion evoking nature of war as opposed to MOOTW. The
framers of the strategy to expend billions of counterdrug
money, no doubt, recognized "Actions to Prevent Drug Abuse"
as a title for the collective fight against illegal drugs
would leave the American people little to rally behind.66
The United States has recognized the value of public
relations in one form or another for years. In fact, in
1936 President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the
employment of over 200 publicity agents, writing an average
1,600 press releases a month, in an attempt to encourage the
media to convince the American People of the need for the
New Deal.67 An approach this heavy-handed is likely to fail
today for its propaganda-like nature. Yet the primacy of
setting the public relations strategy from the top and the
importance of public opinion in accomplishing any endeavor
still ring true. The Government, however still does
advertise internationally as blatantly as FDR did.
The entity charged with international public relations
is the 8000-employee strong United States Information
Agency.68 A bronze plaque near the entrance of its
Washington, D.C. headquarters proclaims, "USIA - Telling
America's Story to the World." Provisions of the Smith-
Mundt Act restrict, by law, the USIA from exercising its
powers within the borders of the United States. An agency
charged with promoting the "primacy of democracy abroad" is
barred from communicating that same message within U.S.
borders. There is no equivalent organization to USIA that
is charged with advertising-based public relations
The public understands the language of advertising.
Advertising-based public relations would be accepted by the
American people, without the fear of propaganda that limits
the USIA. It has been argued that advertisements trace our
sociological history as a panorama of life as it was lived.
American society could be better judged by observing the
advertisements in the newspaper rather than the news
Advertising is a part of life in America. The public
views advertising as both the exercise of domestic political
power and as a part of the normal course of living in the
United States.70 The typical American watches thirty hours
of television a week; that equates to 37,822 television
advertisements. Add to that the din created by 9,872
commercial radio stations, 482 newspapers, and 11,328
magazines and Americans are constantly exposed to some form
of persuasive medium during their waking hours.71 Although
the United States represents a mere six percent of the
world's population, over fifty-six percent of the world's
advertising budget is spent here.72 World-wide advertising
expenditure recently "topped $225 billion, more than the
gross national products of Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Israel
and Kenya added together."73
Of that annual amount, $45 billion is spent on
advertising and $60 billion on product promotions (coupons,
free samples, rebates, etc) in the United States.74 It is
no wonder that many Americans comprehend the language of
advertising so well.
In the broadest sense, MOOTW must be advertised
starting from the national and moving to the operational
level with a top-down approach to ensure strategic to
tactical continuity. Domestic public relations at the
national level is the nuts and bolts of "strategic public
affairs."75 The strategic approach to public relations, by
Carnes Lord's definition, is distinguished from the public
affairs activities commonly discharged by various government
agencies. It attempts to generate strategic approaches to
shaping the domestic political itinerary and to engaging the
public more actively in serious consideration of fundamental
security issues.76 Advertising-based public relations is
the general rubric under which are found the principles for
To formulate the strategy Lord speaks of, the lessons
of the commercial world may be applicable to the MOOTW
sphere. There are many identifiable advertising tactics
that translate from the commercial world to the language of
selling MOOTW. When blended together and framed within the
public relations strategy, the void between commercial
advertising and MOOTW advertising is not as large as it
There are, however, some key differences. First,
commercial advertising is paid for by the producer or
marketer and MOOTW public relations, per se, are unfunded.
However, just like Ford, Nissan or Proctor and Gamble, the
NCA will be held responsible for the advertising used and
the delivery of the product. Second, the American public
will hold the government and its representatives to a higher
standard than it will commercial hawkers. As discussed in
Chapter Two, the use of propaganda, information
manipulation, and subliminal persuasion are not advisable in
selling MOOTW. For this reason, many of the most effective
methods commonly used commercially can not be included in
the MOOTW public relations strategy. There are, however,
many that legitimately can and need to be borrowed from the
commercial world for use in MOOTW advertising-based public
Both commercial advertising and MOOTW advertising
require identifying target audiences and concentrating the
focus of effort on those demographically disposed to use the
product being sold. MOOTW, as the product of the engagement
portion of our 1994 National Security Strategy, should be
the concern of all citizens. Unlike the relatively
homogeneous demographic slice of the population that would
buy Efferdent for example, consumers of MOOTW represent the
entire American political, economic, and cultural pie.
Some of the applicable techniques have been widely used
in the selling of political candidates since General Dwight
Eisenhower first successfully utilized TV "spot" advertising
in l952.77 The American people have become used to, and
thus tolerant of, the use of these advertising methods for
other than commercial products. Of course, a MOOTW is not a
political candidate or a tube of toothpaste. When MOOTW are
advertised, the trust of the American people is the action
sought. An operation conducted as it was advertised is what
the American people will expect in return.
Advertising-based Public Relations Techniques
The first of the advertising-based public relations
techniques is to Find the Need and Fill It. For MOOTW
sales, this is focused around the determination of the
general overarching desires of the people. Satisfying those
desires is accomplished via the application of the other six
techniques: Position the Operation Positively, Create the
Right Image, Be Sensitive To Your Audience, Tell Your Story
First, Know the Product, and Clear Message Sent by The Right
Spokesperson. When thoughtfully applied, these techniques
can spell the difference between success and failure of a
MOOTW, for the final judges (and consumers) are the American
The following sections will identify the above
techniques and analyze them in the context of operations in
Somalia and Haiti.
Find the Need And Fill It. "To advertise effectively
today, you have to get off your pedestal and put your ear to
the ground. You have to get on the same wavelength as the
prospect."78 The most basic principle of salesmanship is
finding the need and then filling it. Advertising, by
extension, is the tool with which the salesman presents the
product to appeal to the prospect's needs.
The consumers of denture cleaners, the majority of
which fall into a relatively narrow demographic group, have
needs that Proctor and Gamble, among others, have
identified. Market analysis firms spend millions of dollars
annually determining what should sell. Advertisers then
spend billions ensuring it does. The survey method of
canvassing preferences, both telephonic and written, has
served the business world well for decades. These methods
tap into a relatively benign list of preferences (e.g., the
50-66 year-old age group from middle-income households
prefer unflavored liquid laxatives to those with cherry
flavor.) While this information is valuable to laxative
producers, something broader is needed for advertising
MOOTW. Unfortunately, the need expressed for MOOTW is less
an opinion of convenience and more a gauge of emotion.
Consumers of MOOTW represent all slices of America's voting
demographic pie and thus traditional target-based
advertising will not be effective. An effective way of
categorizing the public toward which to target MOOTW
advertising is the four-division model:79
General Public Variety of interests; probably
no strong beliefs; at least
not for significant lengths of
time or farther afield than
Attentive Public Informed and interested in
national problems; deeply held
convictions; education level
average to above average
Elite Public Policy and opinion leaders;
argues the issues; high
degree of influence on
decisionmakers; well educated
The fourth strata in the above model consists of the
decision makers--the official or executive leadership.
In the pluralistic American society of the late
twentieth century, an advertiser representing the fourth
strata must be concerned with all three public divisions.
The best way to influence the opinions of the general and
elite publics is to target the middle attentive public. The
general public will follow their example and the elites will
react to the consensus they build.
Voting trends and polls can serve the advertiser of
MOOTW equally as well as surveys do their commercial
counterparts. Analysis of these trends and poll results
"provide the lowest level of transferability of quantitative
data to preference evaluations."80
Of course, MOOTW must be selected on criteria based on
the National Security Strategy--not on an ability to
advertise it to the American people. Once the course is
set, however, the support of the American people must be
rallied. An advertising-based public relations campaign,
targeted at all three levels of political influence with the
priority on the attentive public, will yield the best
results. When the crisis in Somalia came to its height in
1992 the Administration gauged the need of the American
people and attempted to fill that need.
The execution of Operation Restore Hope fell on the
seam between U.S. administrations. A little over a month
after the first landings, a new President, with a green
staff, sat in the White House. It seems certain that the
original mission was understood. The American people's need
was to provide humanitarian relief. To fill that need,
Operation Restore Hope was embarked upon. It is not as
clear, however, that the conditions required to transition
from a U.S. to a U.N. -led coalition were equally well
understood. As was discussed earlier, a coherent, top-down
strategy is key to a successful advertising-based public
In reference to filling the need, Americans expressed a
desire to not get mired in long-term Somalia operations.
Then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Colin Powell
also stressed the importance of stating the exit strategy up
front and questioned "whether conditions in Somalia would
permit a smooth handoff to U.N. peacekeeping forces" after
the desired "relatively brief deployment of U.S. troops."81
While the operation was filling the need in the minds
of the American people by strong efforts at the national
level, when the mission "crept" the initial good ground work
was actually counterproductive from a purely public
relations standpoint. President Bush sent our troops to
accomplish "a definable, doable mission" because our
benevolent, powerful country wanted to do that which "no
other country...would undertake."82 Perhaps the above
concern, from an advertising point of view, was well founded
considering the American public's reaction not only to their
soldiers' being killed while involved in a humanitarian
operation, but also while under the control of a foreign
Position the Operation Positively. The relatively new
advertising principle of "positioning" has applicability to
the selling of MOOTW. Positioning "is not what you do to a
product. Positioning is what you do to the minds of the
prospects."83 In other words, by properly defining the
value and concept of a MOOTW as positive in the public's
collective mind, the need to satisfy the consumer value to
expense ratio will be filled.
To successfully advertise MOOTW today, reality must be
at the forefront of a positioning campaign. American people
generally tend to be pragmatic. This is particularly true
when considering MOOTW where the national interest does not
appear to be vital. They demand to know the "why" and "what
is in it for us" before they will be sold on anything.
Reality is what is already in the mind. An advertiser can
not change a product; he must, therefore, change the mind of
the buyer and what he/she accepts as reality. Positioning
merely "reties" the connection between what is needed and
what is being sold rather than "creating something that
doesn't already exist" in the collective conscience.84
Thus, to connect MOOTW to the needs of the people, the
value of that operation must be defined as more tangible
than idealistic in nature. To justify the recent operations
in Haiti, for example, the Administration stressed the
importance of helping a country establish and maintain
democracy within its borders.85 At one time, prior to the
fall of the Berlin Wall, this would have been positioned in
the positive sector of the majority of American voters'
minds. The fact is, however, that the benefit did not
measure up or "connect" to the cost, and it was rejected by
Operation Restore Hope suffered from a disconnect
between strategic goals and the perception of its
operational execution and proves to be a good example of the
above analysis. The result was an operation that was
positioned one way and executed another. Robert B. Oakley,
Presidential Envoy to Somalia, said of the decision to
commit U.S. ground troops to a multilateral coalition in
Somalia: "It would be up to him [President Bush] to make the
decision. He chose the strongest option and the United
States embarked upon a major humanitarian intervention."87
That vision was depicted to the American people in terms of
dying adults and, even more powerfully, as "more than 70
percent of the children" dead.88 The media images keyed on
what was sensational and accessible--the suffering--but paid
only cursory attention to the clan in-fighting. In the end,
Ambassador Oakley conceded, the administration embarked on
Operation Restore Hope "with a perception that we could
actually help in Muslim Somalia" which was fueled by the
"media-driven desire for a fresh look" at getting
Although there is evidence that the advertised
strategic vision did include an "end to clan fighting," the
focus of the intervention initially was the one million
people on the edge of survival.90 F. M. Lorenz writes:
Media coverage centered on the tremendous suffering and
starvation in the interior of the country. The faces
of starving children on the evening news were important
factors behind the deployment....91
According to Ambassador Oakley, President Bush was finally
led to launch Operation Restore Hope based on "public
opinion and conviction."92 Public Opinion favored feeding
the Somalis. However, the operational methods to accomplish
the feeding were clear to the CINCENT, but were not
necessarily shared by the public.93
Thus, public expectations--really what was advertised
to them and thus positioned in their minds--revolved around
humanitarian relief. The Pentagon, on the other hand, had
determined a course that would use "overwhelming force."
As then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney said, "there
will be no question in the mind of any faction leaders in
Somalia that we would have the ability to impose a stable
situation if it came to that, without their cooperation."94
The images of the camouflaged Marines and Navy SEALs
climbing out of the blackness of the night in the Indian
Ocean and into a flood of camera lights from the
international press serves as a searing benchmark of
disconnect between the positioned strategic vision and
operational realities. The night vision goggle-bedecked
forces had good reason to come ashore prepared for the worst
case. However, the public was promised good Samaritans and
the media was there to bring their compelling story.
The media captured images of operational competence,
according to a senior Marine officer who addressed the
Command and Staff College, that were disconnected from the
humanitarian show the Administration expected on the beach.
Clearly, the operational actions did not echo the
national advertising-based public relations effort that
concentrated more on the logistical aspects of relief and
less on a midnight forced entry from the sea by elite
forces. It is this juxtaposition of military force in
"other than war" operations that must be dealt with at the
The advertising principles of Know The Product and
Creating The Right Image were violated. That said, however,
the American public was still prepared to give humanitarian
aid a chance largely because of the public relations
principles that were followed. There were bright spots on
both the national and operational levels.
Create The Right Image. Image is very important in
things political. In 1980, then-Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher was taught to modulate her extremely shrill and
non-commanding voice to help carry the election. In France
the next year, Francois Mitterrand agreed to change his
appearance at the urging of image-maker Jacques Seguela.
After detailed research, a series of posters depicting him
as la force tranquille were widely distributed.95 In
essence, Mitterrand was a product. He changed himself to
fit the image that would sell and he won the election.
The image of an individual MOOTW is not so easily
changed. The operation as a product is what the advertiser
has to work with; the image cannot be defined or altered
much once forces are flowing to the hot spot. The genesis
of the operation, however, is susceptible to image-building.
In the absence of a general national-level image of MOOTW,
an image will be created by the international media or
actions at the United Nations prior to the commitment of US
forces. The image for MOOTW thus must be created in the
general sense prior to the eruption of the crisis that is
the genesis of the operation. Once that general image is
created, however, it is easily changed by reported actions
from the MOOTW area.
When the Special Marine Air Ground Task Force landed on
the beach in amphibious assault vehicles and touched down at
the Mogadishu airport in helicopters, there were fifty-two
"troops" without weapons. They were neither Marines nor
sailors. They were reporters and photographers--armed with
microphones, word processors and cameras--there at the
expressed invitation and near insistence--of the Marine
Landing Force Commander.96
As stated earlier, the restrictions that the media will
accept on their movements during MOOTW are much less
restrictive than those during war. The leadership of
Operation Restore Hope, realizing the image creating power
of the media, took extraordinary measures to reach out to
the press corps. Rather than resent their presence, the
Joint Task Force embraced them; they put one on each
helicopter and amphibious vehicle. The press was given
detailed pre-event operational briefings, often receiving
the information at the same time as the subordinate military
commanders who would execute the mission.97
This openness gained the trust of the media. More
important than their trust however, was that it helped make
them part of the team. The media is crucial to creating and
maintaining the correct image, for it was literally their
individual "images" shown on television, magazines, and in
newspapers that collectively formed the image the American
public had of the operation.
As FM 100-23 states, the effort to "keep the public
informed" prevented "voids in information supplied to the
media by the military" from being filled "with hostile
propaganda or media speculation." A Marine officer who
assisted in supporting the members of the media during
Operation Restore Hope writes:
Opening up all aspects of the operation to the media,
the press generally responded with fair and accurate
reporting. The operation's public affairs officer,
Colonel Fred Peck, USMC was in theater before the
operation began. He escorted members of the press
aboard the USS Tripoli on 8 December for what was to
become the norm for Operation Restore Hope, a complete
briefing on the next morning's assault by the 15th
MEU(SOC) Commander and the Commander, Amphibious
Early in the execution of Operation Restore Hope an
incident occurred that could have had devastating public
relations consequences for the created image of the
operation. At a checkpoint in Mogadishu, a truck carrying
several Somali youths came careening down the road. The
driver was unresponsive to slow down signals from the
military members manning the checkpoint. In a split-second
decision, the non-commissioned-officer-in-charge of the
checkpoint had his men fire on the truck for fear that the
driver was acting with malice. Several Somali teens met
their death in grizzly fashion.
A post-incident investigation revealed that rather than
wishing the military harm, the brakes on the truck had
failed and the driver had simply lost control. A senior
Marine commander of Operation Restore Hope said that the
only reason the media did not lambast the military for
shooting and killing the teens was the relationship that had
been fostered between the military and the media.99 It was
that relationship that aligned the image with the reality.
The media were intimately aware of the difficulty
facing the young soldiers and Marines because they were
right there with them--from the briefing tents to the city
patrols. The final draft of "Lessons Learned Somalia: A
First Look" written for the Institute for National Strategic
The responsibility of sharing situational awareness
with the media is a basic and most important function
in an age where information influences everything but
especially affects those military activities carried
out with the concurrence of the International
The media in Somalia were given that situational awareness
and were therefore inclined to give balanced reports based
primarily on the mutual respect the operational commander
and his subordinates had encouraged in word and deed. Army
Field Manual 100-23, Peace Operations makes it clear:
The media is an important channel to the American
public. In the high visibility, politically sensitive
peace operation environment, public opinion is a
critical element. By proactively assisting news media
representatives, commanders help them understand the
Army role in peace operations and produce stories that
foster the confidence of the American public.
Be Sensitive To Your Audience. There is a danger in
generalizing the American people's behavior as if they were
a homogeneous social entity. As William N. McPhee writes in
Formal Theories of Mass Behavior: "Powerful social systems
are complicated and therefore tend to be complicated
uniquely."101 That said, however, generality must be
applied in some degree to model, and thus understand, the
public's reaction to potential advertising options.
Performing market analysis on subunits within the United
States yields little that is useful to the development of a
public relations strategy. But, "within a larger model one
notices many things that are general."102 These
generalities must be acknowledged by the advertiser and made
the foci of the public relations campaign.
The American people are notoriously fickle and short on
collective memory. Donald Poe discusses this trend:
Public opinion tends to be regarded by policy
makers as mercurial. Whatever the polls may show at
any moment about levels of support for defense
spending, foreign aid, international military
involvement, and the like, the fact is that opinions
are likely to fluctuate wildly in response to immediate
international stimuli, regardless of contrary views
solicited in the abstract.103
In other words, an advertiser would be foolish to base a
campaign on a single poll or series of polls immediately
after a crisis erupts. The information that people need
would be more successfully viewed "as an integral part of a
sustained program of planning, rather than as a 'one-shot'
device to meet an emergency."104 Successfully handling a
single public relations battle is not the goal; rather, the
campaign to sell MOOTW must succeed over the long-term. The
American people "are generally short-term thinkers; this
causes problems when long-term situations are
encountered."105 MOOTW are often conducted in response to
the culmination of a festering situation. The typically
dramatic crisis that draws the United States into action
usually has been years in the making.
More importantly, according to Army Field Manual 100-5,
some MOOTW "may require years to achieve the desired
result," requiring the application of the three P's
discussed in Chapter Two. The American way of war, the
application of overwhelming force, does not work
particularly well in engagements that require more patience
than firepower. Advertising is the force that bridges the
gap between long-term operations and the American short-term
fix it and forget it approach.
There is another factor affecting American culture that
must be considered when designing an appealing campaign. As
individualistic as Americans may perceive themselves to be,
in reality they are joiners. They join churches, softball
teams, veterans organizations, environmental groups,
political committees, neighborhood crime watches, and bridge
and poker nights. Generally, Americans "are group animals;
they want to be in the mainstream."106 This mentality
drives commercial advertisers to use team and consensus-type
approaches to frame their messages. For example, it is
common to hear the words "most popular," "best selling," or
"number one seller in its class."
Despite Robert Putnam's recent argument to the contrary
in his paper, "Bowling Alone: Democracy in America in the
End of the Twentieth Century," Americans still enjoy that
old propensity for forming associations.107 Alexis de
Tocqueville raved about it in the 1830's and President
Clinton emphasized its importance in his 1995 State of the
Union Address: Americans have a need and "an ability to
associate with people" to solve problems and answer
questions.108 Advertisers of MOOTW would do well to keep
this in mind when framing their messages.
Spread Your Story First. LtGen A. C. Zinni highlighted
one of the most elusive, yet important, enabling functions
of conducting MOOTW: "when something [news] breaks, you
[the commander] have to get control of the storyline
first."109 In positioning an operation in the minds of the
American people, "there is no substitute for being there
The chief pressures are on the wire services; a beat of
two or three minutes by the Associated Press or United
Press International may determine which service is used
by hundreds of newspapers, radio and television
stations, and networks and syndicates.111
This kind of competition is what has driven today's media to
be nicknamed "journalism in a hurry." In MOOTW this speed
can be critical because accuracy, in many journalists'
approaches, has been replaced by "firstness." Operational
commanders must be aware of this and correct inaccuracies
swiftly and surely.
In combination with being forthright with the press,
maintaining the initiative and setting the agenda form the
base for mutually satisfying press relations. Of course,
getting "control" of the storyline is more difficult during
MOOTW than during war. The genesis of a requirement to
conduct a MOOTW is often also the exact sensational crisis
to which the media flocks (or has already flocked). Major
General Jones, CG 2ndMARDIV, described this phenomenon for
the MOOTW in Northern Iraq: "I give the press a great deal
of credit for getting us into this operation [Provide
Comfort]. They galvanized....public opinion and drove us
[the U.S.] to act."112
An excellent example of gaining "control" by telling
your story first can be seen in the landing at Mogadishu,
Somalia in December of 1992. It was discovered that the
originally planned L-hour coincided with a time in U.S.
television markets which would provide little live coverage.
Action was taken to spread the Administration's story first
by ensuring the live images of the operation were shown
rather than having the public's first view be through the
media's "filter." The landing was delayed three days, from
the sixth to the ninth of December to accommodate a larger
television audience in the United States.113 The mission
was not compromised, yet the primacy of the American
people's support was considered essential at the national
level. A successful example of telling your story first,
this action demonstrated the power of controlling the tempo
of advertising-based public relations.
Know The Product. The product is more important than
the manufacturing process that brought it to market.
Leaders, as Clausewitz tells us, must recognize the type of
war they are fighting. So too must the framers of an
advertising campaign for MOOTW. It is essential to avoid
advertising one product only to deliver another. "Bait and
switch" may work short-term. As stated earlier, however,
MOOTW is the business end of engagement and will be with us
for the long term--as long as our National Security Strategy
From a purely public relations viewpoint, the execution
of operations in Somalia were a success. At the national
level, however, the disconnect between strategic advertising
and operational product was too great for the American
people to reconcile and they withdrew their support.114 The
final result was that all operations in Somalia with
American troops in the balance came to an end before the
mission was complete. As Dan Simpson, U.S. Special Envoy to
Somalia, understated, "The world may have bitten off more
than it could chew in terms of trying to bring the Somalis
to a government."115 It seems clear that the American
people did not know what they were "taking a bite of."
Knowing the product is essential to the MOOTW public
relations effort. Unless the product's qualities and
deficiencies are understood, advertising-based public
relations efforts may well advertise something that doesn't
An appropriate accounting for the failure to "sell" the
American people on the "product" of Somalia operations came,
when addressing the 10th Mountain Division in March, 1993,
President Clinton said: "If there are any debates still to
be had about our mission in Somalia, let people have those
debates with me. But let there be no debate about how you
carried out your mission...."116
Clear Message by the Right Spokesperson. "In the
absence of a coherent explanation" of why the military is
being committed "even talk show hosts can turn the American
people around on a dime."117 Peacekeeping is one of several
missions under the umbrella of MOOTW. It is not an over-
simplification to ensure that the American people
understand, via the press corps, why the Marine Corps, not
the Peace Corps, will be keeping the peace. These elements
of information need to be imparted to sell a MOOTW; they
follow time-tested principles used to hawk everything from
laundry soap to luxury cars.
The person in front of the camera or quoted in the
paper has an immediate and powerful effect on the message
that is being transmitted. On a national level, the
spokesperson should be chosen carefully. Commercial
advertisers have long recognized the connection between the
spokesperson and the positioning of the product in the minds
of the target audience. The Marlboro Man is not frail; the
Virginia Slims lady is far from unattractive. That said,
however, the most important quality a spokesperson can have
is the confidence of the people.118
Of all the American institutions, the most trusted by
the American people is the military. In addition, the
credibility of subject matter that a military spokesperson
brings to the podium acts as a force doubler. Back in
Washington, all other things being close to equal, both the
trust and credibility cards are played with a military
spokesperson out front. At the site of the MOOTW, the
spokesperson should either be military or State Department--
preferably the former. Often the commander will not be able
to choose who is "in front of the camera."
The 28 February, 1995 Washington Post front-page story
covering the progress of Operation United Shield, the U.S. -
led withdrawal of UN forces from Somalia, proves that no
matter how well trained the Public Affairs Officer is, he
may not be the one "in front of the camera." It is a good
example of the type of "soldier commentary" that FM 100-23
discusses. Staff Sergeant Matt Mutarelli, a Special Forces
soldier, was quoted three times in the above Washington Post
article, the official U.N. Commander once. The Sergeant's
interview was not human interest pablum. On the contrary,
he provided an evaluation of not only the military
capability of the clan forces arrayed across from his
position on the Mogadishu airport, but also his insight into
their intentions. Finally, the Sergeant defined for the
Post's readers, presumably as the resident expert, what the
endstate of the clan fighting would be.119
To read what the U.N. spokesman had to say in the above
article, one had to turn to page A14. Even then, the
official spokesman's remarks were used only to report the
historical average wage of a Somali. The significance of
the situation illustrated above is not whether the Sergeant
was correct or not. In fact, his opinions in this case did
match the commander's reported position.
The point is that the media would quote any source that
would answer their questions about Somalia. Often, these
opinions were given as much exposure and as much weight as
To a military reader, the Sergeant's comments were his
own--not the official position of the command. However, it
is often difficult for the attentive public, generally
unfamiliar with rank structure or military billets, to
attribute the correct weight to statements from the
commander, his spokesmen, or the Marine that just happens to
be collared by a reporter.
All of the advertising-based public relations
techniques discussed above are powerful tools. They must be
utilized, however, with integrity if they are to remain in
the nation's "tool box."
Not All Operations Other Than War Can Be Sold
The above discussion in no way means to intimate that a
MOOTW which is flawed in its most basic objectives or
fundamental execution can, or should be, "sold" using these
persuasion techniques. Legendary advertising man Leo
Burnett remarked: "anyone who thinks that people can be
fooled or pushed around has an inaccurate and low estimate
of the people--and he won't do very well in advertising."120
The MOOTW product is unlike an automobile product. However,
the techniques of selling them in many ways bridge the huge
gap between the two, just as the failed campaign to sell the
Edsel by Ford in the 1950's was doomed because the product
was unneeded (besides being considered by some to be one of
the most unattractive cars ever built). Unprecedented
investment was made in the creation of six new plants and
four thousand new dealerships to give the Edsel the image of
Similarly, a MOOTW that has questionable success
possibilities, or is domestically divisive without other
overriding redeeming qualities in the eyes of the American
people, cannot be "sold." Without proper public relations
and advertising support, however, MOOTW's that do have merit
and are integral to the National Strategy may go unsold
also. This goes to the heart of this paper's purpose and
beyond merely identifying the advertising techniques. An
example of this latter category of MOOTW is underway in
Haiti as this paper is being written.
Objectively, Operation Restore Democracy should be a
success in the eyes of the American people. The goals of
returning order, food and Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti
have been accomplished. Democratic elections are scheduled
for April, 1995. At this writing only one American has died
directly from those efforts. Why then is it a failure in
the minds of most "judges" of MOOTW--the American people?121
Many of the positive operational lessons learned from
Somalia have been refined and applied in Haiti. However,
advertising-based public relations errors at the national
level have relegated Operation Restore Democracy to the
fast-growing heap of questionable American MOOTW hardly
before the first Blackhawk helicopter had landed in Port-au-
Vacillation Blurs the Message. The halting manner in
which the United States took military action in Haiti tended
to open the policy up to criticism from the "535 Secretaries
of MOOTW." Unlike the publicly perceived swift action
taken in earlier Latin American MOOTW (e.g., Operation
Urgent Fury), Operation Restore Democracy can trace its
public relations roots back over a year prior to the
execution. William Safire writes:
By stretching the squishy ultimatums over a year, by
his own body language of apology and agonized
reluctance in making his case to Americans, Mr. Clinton
gave up some of his Presidential war power to Congress
while constricting the United States' freedom of action
in hemispheric affairs.122
The final months were characterized by an odd
combination of forces standing by off-shore and in the U.S.,
saber rattling, and last minute negotiations led by former
President Jimmy Carter. He was certainly the right
spokesperson, but was not armed with a clear message. Just
weeks after President Clinton called General Cedras and his
partners "thugs and murderers," the American people had a
hard time reconciling the former president's deal which
included the purchase of several of the "murderers'" beach
All the while, every politician with access to a
microphone weighed in with his/her opinion. Everybody was
trying to tell his story first; the result was a cacophony
of competing public relations efforts that left pre-
operation public approval for the operation, a good gauge of
the image created, at less than thirty one percent.124
1,2,3,4, What the Hell Are We MOOTW-ing For? There was
no coherent, long-term public relations strategy for
educating the American people as to the driving reason for
our involvement in Haiti. As discussed earlier, the public
might well have responded well to the pragmatic. Indeed,
eventually a reason for the operation was offered--protect
the borders from illegal immigrants--that may have formed a
rallying cry. Unfortunately, the Administration, apparently
not sensitive to its audience, attempted to persuade the
American people with lofty "restoration of democracy" that
fell on the deaf ears of Americans who were more interested
in the solution to domestic problems.125 Add to this the
short-lived public relations theme that General Cedras and
company were brutal killers and credibility was sure to be
lost if a bargain to work with them was struck. The
American people like their villains to remain villains and
not turn into "o.k." guys from whom we buy beach houses.
When asked if the Administration intended to continue
the use of military action without the consent of the
American people, he replied:
In terms of popular approval, the American people,
probably wisely, are almost always against any kind of
military action when they first hear about it, unless
our people are directly attacked. And they
historically felt that way, and obviously at the end of
the Cold War, they may be more inclined to feel that
way. The job of the president is to do what is
The support of the American people was not forth-coming
because the operation was not positioned properly. A clear
message was not sent at the national level. The American
people were never convinced about "what is right" for
operations in Haiti. Consequently, the right image was not
created. Although the operation to this point must be
characterized by almost all possible measures as a success,
the fact that the people's consent was never asked for, nor
given, is a harbinger of doom.
The patience and Dersistence discussed in Chapter Two
has not been granted by the American people. U.S. forces
are being pulled out of Haiti ahead of schedule, partially
because the Administration realizes that without popular
support the operation is a liability. At this writing, the
Haitians are not fully prepared to have the Americans leave.
The presence ordered by the NCA may well prove inadequate
for the long-term success of Operation Restore Democracy
because the American people were never convinced there
existed a positive cost/benefit ratio for military
operations in Haiti. A coherent advertising-based public
relations campaign might have delivered the American "will"
and in turn, patience and persistence.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MOOTW PUBLIC RELATIONS
Future security strategies will probably have the
engagement portion of our current NSS as a common
denominator. Advertising-based public relations will
continue to be an enabling force. Many of the past MOOTW
advertising shortfalls on the national level have at their
root a lack of a single source, accountable structure for
strategic public relations. The future selling of MOOTW
must recognize and correct this deficiency.
It is clear that, for the military, MOOTW is the
functional arm of the engagement strategy. To say that
MOOTW is solely a military function, however, is to ignore
the lessons of the past. The future of MOOTW must recognize
the primacy of public support to its success. That support
must be garnered strategically by the civilian leadership
and supported operationally by the actions of the military
commander and State Department personnel in the MOOTW area
of operations. Advertising-based public relations will be a
key element in the implementation of our future National
Security Strategies' business of engagement.
The future of MOOTW advertising will be dependent on
the larger strategic reorganization of the functions
associated with a "stronger strategic planning effort at the
national level."127 The military will need to change also.
This change will not be structural but, rather, in approach.
Public affairs officers will need to be included as equal
battlefield activities players during the planning for and
execution of MOOTW. The nature of their functions will not
be limited to traditional liaison to the media. Rather a
more robust mission of public relations--vice affairs--will
need to be planned for and implemented.
Former Commander-In-Chief of U.S. Central Command,
General Joseph P. Hoar writes: "developing a comprehensive
strategy that coordinates all the instruments of national
power--not just the military--greatly enhances the
probability of achieving the stated objectives."128
Advertising-based public relations is one of those
"instruments of national power," and if not utilized may
result in a MOOTW not achieving its objectives.
Recommendations For Strategic Public Relations
As discussed in Chapter Two, strategic public affairs
and advertising-based public relations are key to engaging
public consideration of security issues. President Clinton,
in the conclusion of his 1994 National Security Strategy,
addressed the importance of the support of the American
people in "engagement abroad":
Of all the elements contained in this strategy, none is
more important than this: our Administration is
committed to explaining our security interests and
objectives to the nation; to seeking the broadest
public...support for our security programs and
The President's commitment today must be backed by an
organization that can implement and integrate the public
relations "lessons learned" from our early forays into MOOTW
that will result in future public support for this active
The White House, however, is not that organization.
White House officials are often more "interested in short-
term public relations" than the extended, strategic
considerations and planning for MOOTW.130 The heavily
partisan approach to national governance that has
characterized the twentieth century's second half makes the
White House's direct actions suspect in the "selling" of the
long-term strategy of MOOTW to the American people. In
order to best address past MOOTW public relations
shortcomings, a future reorganization of the
Administration's indirect arms should be undertaken--they
may hold the key to this dilemma.
Reorganization. The State Department, National
Security Council, and the United States Information Agency
all have a stake in the selling of MOOTW. Internationally,
the reintegration of many USIA functions into the State
Department, while sacrificing some of the independence of
USIA, will have the net effect of "building a new public
consensus to sustain our engagement abroad," as sought in
the NSS. The State Department, with its traditionally
lackluster institutional attitude towards public diplomacy,
and particularly toward strategic political affairs, would
be infused with the passion the USIA has shown in this
role.131 USIA, while stripped of its public diplomacy
duties, would still be a relatively independent and viable,
albeit smaller, operational partner of the State Department.
Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy. A
suggested approach to the above proposal involves the
creation of a new Under Secretary of State for Public
Diplomacy, with authority over the Department's bureaus of
Public Affairs, International Communications and Information
Policy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, and a new
bureau which would be responsible for international
information, international political affairs and education
and cultural affairs.132 This would elevate public
diplomacy and, more importantly, MOOTW advertising from its
sub-category of strategic public affairs, to the
Departmental level where it is under the direct influence of
Currently, the State Department's Public Affairs Office
is at the Assistant Secretary level--right next to the
"Chief of Protocol" in the wire diagram.133 The strategic-
to-operational public relations disconnect that
characterized the Somalia operations might have been avoided
had the State Department Public Affairs section had more
influence early in the planning process. From another
perspective, the above reorganization would give strategic
public affairs a much needed home and transform it from a
theoretical to an actual sub-element of National Power.
Director of Public Diplomacy and Information. Those
responsible for White House public affairs tend to be
cautious, reactive, and short-term oriented.134
Additionally, there is the institutional pitfall of being
overly responsive to their most visible and immediate
constituency--the national media. For this reason, it is
vital that the NSC work closely with the White House. The
public relations disconnect between the strategic
humanitarian flavor and the operational realities of Somalia
might have been avoided if the NCA had the long-term
advertising advice that should be a part of standing
considerations for involvement in MOOTW.
The creation of a permanent directorate titled
"Director of Public Diplomacy and Information" would ensure
the president would be advised on this vital area for MOOTW
by a source dedicated to strategic public affairs. Since
1982, when a formal committee under the rubric of the
Special Planning Group for Public Diplomacy was formed,
certain ad hoc public affairs and public liaison activities
have assisted in handling issues of salience from a White
House point of view.135 Overall, however, a great deal more
could be done in the future to foster an Administration's
strategic approach to public affairs if a separate and
permanent seat at the NSC table was reserved for issues
involving public diplomacy and information. The White House
and, by extension, the NSC should have the leading role in
Tomorrow's NSC public relations needs, particularly for
MOOTW, will be equal to or greater than those of today. The
reasons for this, delineated earlier in Chapter Three, are
unlikely to change in the future.
Domestically, the above proposals would enhance the
President's access to the Strategic Public Affairs Bureau at
the State Department and the crisis MOOTW public relations
efforts at the NSC. Both effects will tend to shorten
reaction time to a coming MOOTW and, with the proper
coordination, would ensure unity of effort in the
initiation, development and dissemination of the national
public relations campaign for a particular MOOTW. This
approach would help alleviate the perceived vacillation on
the commitment of forces to Haiti discussed in Chapter Four.
Additionally, the unified effort among the NCA, NSC and
State Department would shield the campaign from the "five
hundred and thirty five secretaries of MOOTW"--Congress--
until the momentum of a national approach to a particular
MOOTW was well developed. As argued earlier, the momentum
for Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti never quite got
moving, thus the support of the public was never garnered.
The shorter reaction time gained from the above
reorganization may have allowed a more unified
Administration public relations approach and resulted in
greater public approval of the operation.
Crafting Successful Advertising-based Public Relations
Campaigns. When advertising-based public relations is at
its most persuasive, and the principles enumerated earlier
in Chapter Four are scrupulously followed, the possibility
that the American people will "buy" a MOOTW is increased.
As discussed, to persuade the American people to support
MOOTW, the NCA must educate and inform the public about the
cost/benefit ratio. This is a two-step process. First, the
positioning of MOOTW in general as the business of our
engagement policy must be made early and consistently.
Next, the operational commander must make good on the
positioning efforts made by the NCA with the actions and
non-actions of the forces sent to the MOOTW area.
The NCA's vision for the operation must be clear if the
message is to get through to the public. Equally important,
the message to the public must align with the "commander's
intent" to ensure the "product delivered" is the same as
the "product advertised." The minimum information that
should be encapsulated in the separate foci of a campaign
are as follows:
+ What Enduring National Interest Is Involved
- survival as a free and
- a healthy and growing economy
- good relations with allied and friendly
- a stable and secure world environment
+ What is the practical benefit to the United States
+ What are the short and long term costs
- military deployment
- depreciation of equipment
- risk to deployed personnel
- the context of benefits
+ What is the desired endstate
- degree of relief
+ Why the United States should do it, as opposed to
someone else. And why it should be done now.
These elements need to be integrated in a coherent
justification for action that appeals to the pragmatic
public. Ideology is fine. It should be introduced,
however, only to gain the moral high ground, rather than as
an end or justification in and of itself for a MOOTW.
Recommendations For Operational-Level Public Relations
Looking specifically at the Marine Corps, there is
evidence that a strong appreciation of the value of
advertising-based public relations for MOOTW is beginning to
be understood. However, the formalization process is in its
The Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Staff
Training Program (MSTP) was created to teach the commanders
and staffs of the three Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF)
techniques for planning and fighting wars. A key principle
of the planning is the division of "battlespace activities"
into seven functional areas: Command and control support,
maneuver, fires, aviation, intelligence, mobility-
countermobility-survivability and combat service support.
For MOOTW, however, these seven categories do not cover one
of the most important considerations--public relations.
Planners for Operation Restore Hope did, however, add
another functional area entitled "media." While this does
not cover all the aspects of advertising-based public
relations, it does at least acknowledge the greater effect
the images from the MOOTW country will have on the people of
As argued earlier, the way an operation is perceived by
its sponsors--the American people--is influenced greatly by
the actions and non-actions as they are presented from the
MOOTW zone of interest. Air Force Pamphlet 3-20 makes this
In order to accomplish the larger objectives in
[MOOTW], military leaders must consider the effect of
all their actions on public opinion. The legitimacy of
the actions of an armed force, or even the individual
members of the force can have far-reaching effects on
the legitimacy of the political system that supports
the force. The leader must ensure that his troops
understand that a tactically successful operation can
also be strategically counterproductive because of the
way in which they executed it and how the people
perceived its execution.
Therefore, the volume and nature of the information passed
back to the consuming public demands the attention of the
Operational Commander. Today, the media cannot
realistically be herded in pools, have their releases
delayed, or be exposed to only the images chosen by the
commander. What, then, can be done operationally to ensure
the perceived execution is as legitimate as the actual
Public Relations in a Crisis. At the same time, on the
operational level, the response to a crisis must not be
purely reactive. The principles discussed in Chapter Four
translate, albeit in a compressed manner, to a crisis
scenario. The structure of that response in operational
terms is nearly as important as the substance of the public
relations copy. When integrated at the Marine Expeditionary
Force (or equivalent) Headquarters, the following
initiatives will enable the utilization of the advertising-
based public relations. First, develop, promulgate and
frequently review the unit's Public Relations Crisis
Response Plan. The commander must be involved in the
preparation of this document, for it is he/she advised by
the public affairs officer among others, who is the key
person during the response to a crisis. The commander is
also ideally the primary spokesman. His position gives him
the credibility and accountability that the American public
demands of our military leaders.
Second, initiate the announcement of the problem
swiftly. Credibility, according to Wayne L. Pines, is
enhanced if bad news is announced by the unit that is
potentially most apt to be blamed before it is made public
by other means.136 No matter what the damage may be, it is
always better to control the tempo of that story by being
first and forthright; it is counterproductive to wait for
someone else to break the story and then to react. That
approach results, unfortunately, in defensive, incomplete
information reaching the public.
Finally, when a crisis occurs, Pines writes, "don't try
to minimize the problem in the press release. It isn't
credible. The problem has to be described fully and
accurately." He emphasizes the importance of getting it
right and complete the first time when he writes, "don't
dribble a story out. If a crisis exists, try to tell the
entire story at once, rather than keeping it alive in the
media while additional facts are being announced." Several
small negative stories will have a greater impact on public
opinion than will one large negative one.137
Train the Troops. The media have no obligation to
speak to or quote the spokesperson designated by the
command. In fact, in a recent two-week period, Washington
Post articles covering active MOOTW in Somalia and Haiti
contained more substantive quotes from random enlisted and
staff officers than from official spokesmen or
Operationally then, the commander must ensure his
individual force members are trained to respond to media
inquiries. Other than restrictions on current operational
information and classified material, the commander need not
dictate what can and cannot be said by his forces. Rather,
the larger context of the commander's intent must be
understood by all involved in a MOOTW.
Much of the information the troops need in order to
reach this level of understanding could be disseminated with
the rules of engagement (ROE). An explanation of the "why"
behind the "what" of ROE will arm the troops with the
thought process of the commander and the overarching legal
and moral umbrella under which the operation receives its
credibility and legitimacy. Both of these are key
principles of "selling" MOOTW.139 Both the commander and
the Marine in the field can be sure the reporter asking the
questions is probably tuned more to the political reasons
for, rather than the military realities of the operation.
In educating the members of a MOOTW force as to
appropriate responses to media inquiries, the commander
would do well to remember what General Erwin Rommel said:
"The ordinary soldier has a surprisingly good nose for what
is true and what is false."140 In MOOTW in particular, it
is essential that a rose-colored version of a story is not
fed to the troops in the hopes that when asked, they will
regurgitate the same to the media. The truth the media is
in search of must be shared with the spokespersons--all the
members of the military involved in MOOTW.
Participating MOOTW members must be made to appreciate
the fact that the media--the prime conduit to the American
people--has no obligation to give balance. The media is
driven by two overarching desires. First, as the guardians
of the first amendment, they view themselves as the last
line of defense in the battle for the "truth."
Second, they are businesses, with bottom lines and
payrolls to meet. Media competition is intense. Being
"first" with the "most" translates to greater profit margins
for a news organization.
The operational commander, in particular, must
recognize these motivations if he/she is to understand their
needs. Access, to a member of the press, equates to
"product" which results in satisfying both needs--telling of
the "truth" and competitive business profit margin. When
both of these conditions are met, the commander and the
members of the media will be able to build a relationship of
trust based on open lines of communication.
MOOTW and the Media. MOOTW provide little opportunity
for isolation or pooling of the press once the latter do
arrive in the operational area. Generally, the nature of
the MOOTW threat will not support these restrictive
measures. The media pool system used successfully in
Grenada, for example, would actually have been
counterproductive in a relatively benign MOOTW scenario.
Media personnel would resent their incorporation, and
violations would lead to less cooperation and actually a
more dangerous situation for press members. The theater
commander is wise to garner the respect and cooperation of
the media--they tell the story to the American public.
Unlike a war zone, a MOOTW area of operations rarely
requires members of the press to depend upon military forces
for their entry. In fact, they will often be there to
report on the off-load. This is a critical time because
public relations are often built or destroyed on the
foundation of the public's first impressions of the MOOTW's
execution. Militarily, this phase is often confusing and
can appear disjointed. Neither of which is the image a
MOOTW commander wants satellite down-linked to the American
For these reasons, the story has to be developed
initially at the national rather than theater level. Once
the story outline exists, the theater commander must
maintain the momentum and "write the copy, not edit it."141
Simply stated, the operational commander must understand the
NCA's public relations intent and support it in word and
Unlike the NCA, however, the theater commander has no
direct conduit to the American people. He must depend on
communication vehicles that present themselves as targets of
opportunity. The most common of these is satellite-fed
television. The ideal situation is to have the press act as
a public relations campaign conduit from the area of
The media will always be a major player in every MOOTW.
The Commander that treats the media as a foe is asking for
trouble.142 "The media" are not monolithic entities. They
are many different businesses. Each employee is an
individual driven by his or her own ethics and ambitions.
Valerie A. Elbow writes: "Most media representatives are
professional and honest in their approach. Unfortunately
the few bad apples stand out."143
Wargame Public Relations for MOOTW. Marines have a
good habit of putting a sharp staff officer in a "red hat"
and requiring him to act as the enemy commander. For each
tactical move the U.S. operation plans call for, the
designated officer attempts to predict the enemy's reaction.
Armed with this countermove he "plays" it against the U.S.
plan. Holes and weaknesses, if any exist, are made
transparent in this forum rather in the face of the enemy.
Similarly, prepared public relations "copy"--
announcements, press releases, etc.--should be wargamed. A
senior officer, perhaps a PAO, who has not been involved in
the preparation of the copy should put on a "press hat."
He/she should then attempt to simulate the public's likely
reaction to that copy.
Before that information or copy is released, however,
it is crucial that the content be evaluated from as many
different "takes" as possible to ensure that the advertising
-based public relations elements are nested within the NCA's
public relations intent.
The inherent "filtering" the media will apply must also
be considered. Spokesmen should also be "grilled" by the
"press hat" as if they were appearing in the harsh glare of
a press conference--before they do.
Future MOOTW Communications
Rules of Engagement. MOOTW rules of engagement (ROE)
should be written more by Public Affairs Officers and less
by Military Lawyers. The commander should use the ROE to
express his intent and his vision for the operation. It
would then become the primary communication means that
ensures the public relations thread is woven from the NCA to
the operational commander to the Marine on the scene.
He/she will find it extremely important to have all members
of the force understand his overall goals and the way he
expects them to conduct themselves.
Because the media will be there, as they have been in
past MOOTW, to show the American people the actions of their
citizen-soldiers, the ROE will be the prime tool to ensure
those images are in line with the advertised mission.
Information Superhighway. Future advertising of MOOTW
will take place on communication conduits that are faster
and potentially more biased than those of today. The first
indications of this are the constantly widening web of the
As the cable, direct TV, network TV, talk radio, and
the Corporation for Public Broadcasting compete with
emerging on-line computer-based communication systems, the
diffusion of a MOOTW will become more likely. The security
strategy will reflect the need to engage not only the
governments of the world, but the people of the United
States. The communications superhighway will tend to blur
the lines between American public opinion and international
public opinion. To properly advertise MOOTW, the U.S.
government will tap into this emerging conduit to the
attentive public. This type of engagement is called
strategic public affairs and, as a part of public diplomacy,
will play a major role in overcoming the obstacles discussed
in Chapter Three.
The Military's CNN. The American military took its
first tentative step in early 1995 to truly compete with CNN
for "firstness." In Haiti, miniature video cameras were
fitted on the rifles of American soldiers.144 This
innovation will allow the NCA to take back control of the
tempo of advertising-based public relations. Rather than
defensive question answering, the NCA will pose the
questions, thus, allowing the NCA and the supporting
departments to frame proactive solutions for the American
people via the press.
Advertising-based public relations will depend on
innovations such as the one described above. Just as
surely, MOOTW will require the support of the American
people acquired through the honest application of public
relation principles within a strategic framework defined by
A major tool of the United States' National Security
Strategy (NSS), MOOTW are likely to remain one of the most
important and visible missions. With those visible missions
come a requirement to educate and persuade the American
people. Advertising-based public relations for MOOTW is a
means to that end.
After participating in the negotiations with General
Cedras in Haiti, General Colin Powell said:
The image that we were all afraid we would see sometime
this week has been avoided. And that image was of
American youngsters killing Haitian youngsters and
Haitian youngsters killing American youngsters.
Instead, what we see on our television screens this
morning are tentative beginnings of the new
It was not the death of the youngsters he said he was
afraid of, but rather "the image" of those deaths on
American "television screens" that scared him. The former
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was not being callous,
rather, he was merely acknowledging the power of public
opinion while conducting MOOTW.
When engaging the world with our military in operations
other than war, the United States government must achieve
the support of the American people. Only by convincing the
American people of MOOTW's favorable cost/benefit ratio can
the necessary commitment to "our active engagement abroad"
be attained.146 Without the support of the American people,
the NCA may be able to order presence of forces to a MOOTW,
but will not be granted the patience or persistence to
complete many of them.
The failure to convince the people of MOOTW's positive
cost/benefit ratio has been in part due to the less than
adequate effort, at the national level, to overcome the
obstacles created by the juxtaposition of military forces
involved in operations "other than war." When conducted in
the context of our communications-rich, post-Cold War world,
it is clear that a strategic approach to advertising-based
public relations is required.
Advertising techniques, applied within the framework of
a strategic-to-operational public relations, are crucial to
unlocking the psychological element of national power--the
will of the American people. This is accomplished by
borrowing effective methods from the commercial advertising
world and applying them to the strategic and operational
public affairs considerations necessary to garner the
people's support for MOOTW.
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