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CALL Newsletter 04-13
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Chapter 1: Information Operations
Topic C: Public Affairs and the Media

Some U.S. units are conducting media analysis, despite no doctrinal requirement for a PAO or S1 to do so, and it has been very valuable to commanders. In addition, Soldiers that are acting as the PAO have not been trained in PA or in conducting media analysis. One brigade PAO maintained every news piece that was written about her unit, which was a useful tool for dealing with future visits from organizations that report either positively or negatively. On the positive side, the unit may want to maintain a relationship with the media and leverage them when they need to get a release for a story. In one particular unit, the reporter really embraced the unit and it led to public relations benefits. On the negative side, units can see who the unfriendly or hostile organizations are, or the ones that tend to report false information. That gives them an advantage in developing COAs for dealing with the media in the future. For example, units can simply deny them access to embed or be prepared to debunk any false information they release.

The biggest impact the media has on the battlefield is relaying to the public what is actually happening on the ground. Some units put a lot of energy into working with the media and it paid off in dividends. They went beyond simply accommodating the media to actually integrating/ embracing them into the unit. The PAO emphasized the good news events ongoing in the unit's AO. The establishment of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) was a concept that was very useful in countering negative publicity. Establishment of the ICDC reinforced the Coalition message that we are working to rebuild their country and turn it back over to them. There are great benefits to embracing the media. It is human nature to lean more positively toward people or an organization that treats you right. There will still be media coming to units with a preconceived agenda, counter to U.S. interests, and working to satisfy that agenda. It is important to work with the media, whether they have an agenda or not, because they are going to get and report their story one way or another. Embracing the media has greatly assisted U.S. forces in communicating our message.

Many times, media will report or focus on only the negative things that are ongoing in an AO. A U.S. brigade commander made an insightful comment that is very relevant: "The media are not there for us. They are there to sell a product. And it seems to me that more often than not, it has to have a negative twist to it to cause enough sensationalism to sell." This brigade's PAO was very active and aggressive in knowing what was going on in her AO. For example, she would go on missions with their CA assets which gave her an understanding of the good things going on. It paid off well. When media would put out a negative piece in an area, she was able to counter it by getting other media out to the areas and having them report on ongoing positives such as school restoration or re-openings. One of their biggest challenges was getting out the good news stories.

One PAO was aggressive in encouraging media to venture out during the day. Usually, members of the media would tend to focus on combat operations at night and miss out on all the operations that were ongoing. The PAO was very persistent in this encouragement and it paid off. Major media outlets such as ABC and AP covered these stories. One of the biggest challenges was getting the media to bring and wear the proper uniform/equipment for force protection purposes. Again, this was overcome by the fact that the unit would actually integrate the media into the unit. The unit would normally in-brief all embeds, which included an AO brief, force protection requirement, and so on. Once again, persistence paid off. Translation was also a challenge. All the media could speak English, but at times subtleties in the language were missed in translation. The PAO would work to overcome this by finding personnel within the unit that spoke the language and have them present when the journalists were interviewing. This not only helps for translation purposes, but people tend to be friendlier if they have someone around that speaks their native language. Units were also accepting of foreign journalists. They found it was a benefit to have them on our side. They also brought in outlets that are traditionally hostile to our operations, such as Al Jazeera. Again, the media will get their story one way or another, so it was helpful when we gave them our side. One PAO used some innovative techniques in dealing with foreign/international journalists. The PAO hosted a media luncheon with key media players including foreign and U.S. journalists from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. The discussion during the luncheon was informal, and toward the end, one of the unit's Generals (GO) will answer questions both on and off the record. This kind of event gives a unit the ability to get the whole story out to the press from the unit's pewrspective. There is always GO involvement at these luncheons. The PAO stated they have been able to mitigate several things that may have come up in the press by use of these luncheons. The luncheons have been held at a former Republican Guards Officer's Club, which has been converted to a rest and recuperation (R&R) center for the Soldiers.

This PAO also set up an open house for the local Baghdad correspondents. As they saw with other Iraqi journalists, the local media had very little training or experience in how to do real reporting. This event helped them see the kinds of things the Coalition was doing, as well as some of our capabilities and equipment. They had static equipment displays and offered Blackhawk rides. They also got all the contact information for the journalists so they could use them for future events. The PAO stated they have never had a problem with the media releasing information designated as "off the record." One GO reminded the PAO to be careful and not get too relaxed in dealing with the media, the implication being that the media still have their own job to do, and a lot of times they are pursuing an agenda that often conflicts with the missions the Army is conducting.

In the summer of 2003, one unit established a media operations center (MOC) in Baghdad, which is used by both IO and PAO personnel. The MOC serves several functions, but is primarily a work area for the IO and PAO staffs. They hired several locals as interpreters. One innovative action of the PAO was the establishment of a journalism school for local Iraqi writers. When the MOC was established, local Baghdad journalists were hired to write articles for division-sponsored periodicals. The journalists were not well-schooled in journalistic techniques because of all their training and experience with the former regime. The division set up a six-week journalism school for the journalists to give them a good base knowledge in media correspondence. The PAO NCOIC ran the school. The journalists worked primarily for the IO section, as most of their work was oriented toward the Baghdad population.

U.S. division IO staff has developed relationships with numerous newspapers in their AO. As a result, they use them as a method of getting their messages to the local population. The IO officer is very aggressive in writing articles on significant events and running them in the newspapers. The articles normally have about a 2-3 day turn-around time from submission to publication. They also use these papers for public service announcements. In one article, they commented on the Coalition Provisional Authority's Article 19, Freedom of Assembly. Although they use several newspapers, they use the biggest three to get the most distribution. These are Al Sabah, Al Manar, and Azzaman.

One brigade requires its subordinate units to write articles for the local papers. This is well-received by the local newspapers, because it takes a lot to put out a paper everyday. The locals welcome the assistance. Each week, the task forces turn in a local good news story from their AO. The brigade IO officer submits these for publication in the paper. They will include pictures as well. The local newspapers all have internet addresses, so the IO officer will just send them the story to include in the next edition via the internet.

One PAO stated that it would be beneficial to integrate IO/PA/CA play into the mission rehearsal exercises (MRE) in order to develop and sustain a solid working relationship. This PAO observed that such integration did not take place in the MREs leading to this deployment. Several of the brigade level PAOs (additional duty appointees) offered that the brigade MTOE should authorize a trained PAO slot to that level.

Lessons Learned

  • Some PAOs, even though not trained, are conducting media analysis and deriving benefits from it. PAOs need to be trained in media analysis.
  • It is important to develop good working relationships with the media. Always be cautious and avoid releasing sensitive/classified information.
  • An advantage of embedded media is that many of them embrace the unit; this translated well into future reporting on the unit.
  • Training local Iraqis to be journalists and then using them to write stories in Coalition periodicals has proven to very successful.
  • Developing good relationships with local host country newspapers is an effective method for distributing IO messages. Local papers in host country nations want to make money and fill out all of the pages just like in the United States.
  • All elements of IO should be incorporated into MREs and warfighter exercises (WFX). The scenarios should force the IO elements to interact with each other, the staffs, and the supported commander.
  • The PAO should be a full-time authorized MTOE position at brigade level.

DOTMLPF Implications

Doctrine: Include the use of an operational analysis (OA) cell in doctrine as a tool of a successful process to develop and analyze measures of effectiveness (MOE).

Doctrine: Incorporate the integration of the goals and objectives, from Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) level to tactical unit level, into the development of the IO goals, objectives, and themes.

Organization: Review and revise BCT and below organizations/MTOEs to incorporate necessary personnel and equipment, to support new doctrinal concepts (when approved), such as OA cells and MOE feedback databases.

Training: Incorporate robust development of MOE and collection plan integration of the MOE into training scenarios and events.

Table of Supporting Observations

Observation Title CALLCOMS
File Number
Brigade Media Analysis 10000-09139
Media on the Battlefield 10000-02419
Media on the Battlefield 10000-08467
PA Training 10000-06989
Dealing with Foreign Media 10000-86659
Media Operations Center 10000-09792
Using Media to Send IO Messages/Themes 10000-57120
Newspaper 10001-89805

Table of Contents
Chapter 1-Topic B: Information Operations and Intelligence
Chapter 1-Topic D: Measures of Effectiveness (MOE)

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