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Media is the Battlefield

Newsletter 07-04
October 2006

CALL Handbook No. 06-08: Catastrophic Disaster Response Staff Officer's Handbook Cover

Public Affairs Operations: Brigade Task Force Level

Chapter 2

by MAJ Darryl Wright, Media-on-the-Battlefield Team,
Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) Operations Group

You (as a brigade task force [TF] commander) sit pensively, surveying your map. The graphics depict your command, arrayed across the battlefield. Your mind races through the hundreds of pre-battle preparations your unit has accomplished. Within minutes, you know the enemy will enter your sector and attack your Soldiers. Have you considered every contingency, every possible situation? Before you can answer, the executive officer approaches and says, “Sir, CNN is here.”

“Media Facilitation for the Infantry Company, Battalion and Brigade,” Infantry,
by MAJ Christopher C. Garver, former public affairs (PA) observer/controller, JRTC

This should sound familiar. What also should become familiar are the actions taken to facilitate, handle, and use media at the brigade TF level and below. Additionally, and more importantly, PA as an entire commodity must be used at the brigade TF level and below.

Note: Although this article concentrates on a brigade TF-level staff, the same considerations and processes discussed can be applied to other combat support (separate), combat service support (separate), and special operation forces units that do not have organic PA assets.

PA Assets

With the exception of joint, combined, unified brigade TF headquarters; separate or enhanced brigades; and armored cavalry regiments; there are no organic PA assets available below division-level units. However, this fact does not relieve the brigade TF commander of PA responsibilities. Brigade TF-size and smaller elements often work in an autonomous environment that is devoid of its habitual divisional relationship. There are instances when higher headquarters PA staff is unable to provide timely support and/or PA guidance. Perhaps the limited numbers of PA assets deployed are unable to provide support to battalion- and company-level units.

Doctrinally, the two sources for tactical PA support are PA sections organic to warfighting headquarters and PA units. The four basic PA units are: PA detachments, mobile PA detachments, PA operations center, and the broadcast operations detachment (Note: FM 3-61, Public Affairs Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures). Unfortunately, most brigade TF elements will not be provided any of these assets to assist in planning and synchronizing the brigades’ PA operations.

Synchronization of PA

CALL Newsletter 02-3, Targeting the Rakkasan Way: A Complete Guide on the Brigade-Level Targeting Process, contains a very informative article outlining the targeting process and explaining the integration of targeting into the military decision-making process. In fact, boldly stated in the article is the proposal to rename the targeting meeting or targeting process to the combat power synchronization meeting. The same process must be applied (simultaneously) when planning, executing, and assessing PA operations at the brigade TF level. Please refer to Chapter 2, Appendix A, “Targeting Process Matrix,” to understand the four-step targeting process (decide, detect, deliver, and assess) and see where PA operations fit.

Decide, detect, deliver, and assess

Decide: The basis for a PA plan is created during this phase. Remember, the end state is to issue a clear PA annex to the brigade TF operations order (OPORD) or fragmentary order (FRAGO). Avoid providing a Xerox copy of the division or higher headquarters’ PA annex and PA guidance (PAG). There are four products (appendices listed below are located at the end of this chapter) that will assist the brigade staff in creating a PA operations plan (PAOPLAN) and PA annex to the brigade TF order(s):

  • Targeting process matrix (Chapter 2, Appendix A)
  • PAOPLAN (Chapter 2, Appendix B) (Note: This product can be developed into the brigade TF PA annex for the brigade TF order.)
  • PA planning worksheet (Chapter 2, Appendix C).
  • Division (higher headquarters) PA annex to a current division (higher headquarters) OPORD or FRAGO. Higher headquarters PAG also should be available.

Focus on what is important to the brigade TF for PA operations. Consider the key talking points, themes, or messages for the brigade TF. Will these change from phase to phase of the operation? How long has the media been operating in sector? Who is the media’s audience? What is the media angle or slant on key events? Could PA tactical assets become operationally controlled by the brigade TF during certain periods of the operation?

Detect: Allocation of resources should occur during this phase. Do not fixate on organic PA resources or assets. Information may be the most valuable resource that must be allocated within the TF. For example:

  • Is the key talking point during the defense portion of the operation focused on the fact that the brigade civil affairs teams’ primary focus is the safety of all civilians and civilian infrastructure?
  • Are units within the brigade able to support embedded media?
  • Is the local radio station a viable asset for use as a PA medium?

Deliver: Once again, CALL Newsletter 02-3 serves as the best reminder that attack assets can be both lethal and nonlethal. The intent of civil-military operations (CMO) is to obtain cooperation from the local populace. Integrating PA operations during the deliver phase serves as the marketing outlet to inform the populace (and peripheral audiences) of this cooperation, thus providing a wider basis of support. In this particular example, the PA asset or method that can best support CMO must be decided during the decide and detect phases.

Assess: This is probably the hardest phase, as you try to quantify or measure the success of PA operations, especially when it involves media facilitation. Arguably, this phase requires the most assistance from higher headquarters PA organic assets. Assessment has the biggest effect on future PA operations. Additionally, this is the phase where the military can exercise the least amount of control on what product the media finally “puts out.” By exercising careful, detailed planning during the previous three phases, even at the brigade TF level, you can control the results of PA operations. The focus during the assess phase must be based on the 50-percent rule – during any given media event, you control half and “they” control the other half. Appendix D of Chapter 2, below, is a sample format for a media analysis report, which is the most effective way of assessing PA operations. Do not forget to assess peripheral methods of sustaining PA operations. For example, everyone seems to have digital cameras. Did an industrious platoon sergeant provide the only photo taken of two Soldiers sharing a smile during joint training with a coalition force? Did the local press use it? Did the product in this example support the talking point identified in the detect phase of the targeting process?

Trends Suggest Key Issues

Who on the brigade TF staff gets assigned to deal with PA operations?

There is no doctrinal answer for who handles the PA portion of targeting and synchronization on a brigade TF staff. Frequently, the judge advocate general and/or the brigade TF adjutant serve as the unit PA representative (UPAR). However, the trend during rotations at the JRTC has been to assign either the brigade staff judge advocate or the brigade adjutant. In some instances, both have been assigned the task. Some additional points to consider include:

  • The staff officer or staff noncommissioned officer (NCO) assigned the additional task or duty of being the UPAR should be present during the planning, targeting, or synchronization process.
  • The staff officer or staff NCO assigned as the UPAR does not by default have to be the person responsible for physically escorting or facilitating the media; this is the role of the unit media facilitator (UMF). View the UPAR as the planner and the UMF as the executor of the PAOPLAN.

What products should be developed in targeting PA?

In the decide phase of targeting, the brigade TF UPAR is responsible for developing the brigade TF PA annex to the brigade TF order. As with any portion of the higher headquarters’ OPORD or FRAGO, it should serve as a base to create a brigade product. The same principle applies to PA operations. Too often at the JRTC, the substitute for a solid brigade PA annex is to Xerox the division or higher headquarters’ portion of the PA annex for distribution. The result is an unrefined product that brigade subordinate elements do not read. The example in Appendix B, Chapter 2 (PAOPLAN), is short and concise, ensuring that subordinate staff and commanders can easily use it to plan and execute of PA operations.

How can a brigade sustain effective PA training?

Often PA training is the last thing on the brigade’s agenda. Units that have the most success with PA operations have sustained frequent training within their units by doing the following:

  • Ensuring Soldiers (at all levels) gain confidence in talking with the media and telling their unit’s story. Incorporate this skill into the unit’s lanes training, in a media-on-the-battlefield environment, with assistance from local or home-station organic PA assets.
  • Training UPARs and UMFs with local or home-station organic PA assets to gain a better understanding of what installation or divisional PA assets do for a living. Some brigade TF staffs have successfully implemented processes or products in their unit smart books, devoting an entire section to PA operations.
  • Conducting proactive planning with local or home-station organic PA assets to invite the media to their unit in a training environment.
  • Conducting concurrent staff planning with the JRTC and other combat training centers during planning conferences and leader’s training programs prior to rotation (see Chapter 2, Appendix E, which offers a sample of the media guides the JRTC PA team offers).


The intent of this article is not to template a brigade TF-level PA office. Rather, it provides a systematic approach to synchronize PA within the planning process and mesh it with what the rest of the brigade TF is doing. Too often, PA is not part of the synchronization process. It becomes an afterthought or an isolated decision that does not meet expectations. Include PA in the targeting process; rely on organic higher headquarters’ PA assets to answer the hard subject-matter-expert questions.

This article also should drive home that synchronization is the key to a proactive PAOPLAN. For example, a proactive PAOPLAN takes the guesswork out of determining when and if higher headquarters is going to “make” the brigade TF embed media. Seeing where PA fits into the brigade TF plan at least 24 to 48 hours out provides the brigade staff options on how to best meet higher headquarters’ intent for PA.

Incorporating media-on-the-battlefield training is important. Get all Soldiers comfortable with the fact that working with the media is a critical factor in mission accomplishment. UPARs and UMFs need additional training from organic PA assets.

Plan to see more PA operations and media events at the brigade TF level and below. PA can be a primary nonlethal delivery asset. The key rule to remember is that PA is a process, not a decision.

Public Affairs Operations: Brigade Task Force Level 
Appendix A

Targeting Process Matrix

Chart illustrating the targeting process matrix
Figure 2A-1

Public Affairs Operations: Brigade Task Force Level
Appendix B

Public Affairs Operations Plan (PAOPLAN)

REF: Time Zone: DTG: Copy:              of
Annex V:
Public Affairs (PA)
Brigade (BDE) Mission: Commander’s (CDR’s) Intent:

PA assets in area of operations (AO):

1. (Media relations, support) 45th National Guard PA Bureau (White cell/Joint Information Bureau)

2. (Media relations) Rob Martindale, reporter, Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK

Enemy situation:

Friendly situation:


PA mission (higher headquarters):

BDE CDR’s intent for PA operations:

Concept of operations:
PA posture: Primary audience: External: American public, international Internal: Soldiers, families, civilian employees
Key talking points:      
Supporting staff functions: CMO
Coordinating instructions:      
Reporting: Report all crisis action events, serious incidents to the BDE UPAR for appropriate response and action.

Report any and all media events to the BDE UPAR if any of these criteria apply:

1. Unescorted media
2. Uncredentialed media
3. Unscheduled media

No one at any given time retains the right to confiscate any media film, notes, or videotapes. Do not touch or threaten any media at any time. Call the BDE UPAR for assistance if this type of activity is to ensue.

Report any operations security violations involving media to the BDE UPAR immediately.

Uncredentialed media: Service support:

Command and signal:

Force protection:



Brigade Task Force (TF) UPAR:

Brigade TF CDR:

Consider using this form or template for creating a brief and concise PA plan (annex) and product to execute brigade PA operations. This form is only a sample. Tailoring it to meet the needs of the brigade TF staff is highly encouraged.

As this form covers most generic operations order annex information, only the PA-specific portions will be explained below:

  • PA resources in the AO: Explains what higher headquarters’ PA assets are working in the brigade’s AO. Also lists which media outlets are operating within the AO. Pertinent information should be available in the higher headquarters’ (division) PA annex.
  • Enemy situation: Does the enemy’s use of PA operations or media pose a threat to the brigade? If so, how is it a threat?
  • Friendly situation: Explains higher headquarters’ PA assets within the AO and what bearing they may have on brigade TF PA operations.
  • Theme, talking point: What is the brigade’s main theme, talking point, or command message during this operation? Pertinent information should be available in the higher headquarters’ (division) PA annex.
  • PA mission (higher headquarters); BDE CDR’s intent for PA operations: Always know higher headquarters’ mission, found in higher headquarters’ (division) PA annex. All Soldiers must know BDE CDR’s intent for PA operations.
  • Concept of the operation: Could be as simple as informing all Soldiers of the pertinent talking points or themes. May involve facilitating media.
  • PA posture; primary audiences (in priority), external, internal: Pertinent information should be available in the higher headquarters’ (division) PA annex.
  • Key media themes: This allows focus or a selection of other themes that may be pertinent during the operation.
  • Supporting staff functions: As the target synchronization meeting progresses, the roles that other members of the brigade TF staff play in PA operations will become evident.
  • Coordinating instructions, reporting, uncredentialed media, service support: These areas of the PAOPLAN or annex allow further explanation of the contents of the higher headquarters’ PA guidance, reporting procedures for PA operations, and other requirements as needed (for example, service support requirements for embedded media).

Public Affairs Operations: Brigade Task Force Level
Appendix C

Public Affairs (PA) Planning Worksheet

This is a sample copy of a PA planning worksheet. It is a good tool to use when higher headquarters is giving direct control to the brigade task force (TF) over organic PA assets or the brigade TF is responsible for facilitating media.

This is a tool for both the unit PA representative and the unit media facilitator.

Commander’s intent for interview (themes to stress)

Date-Time Group:

Higher HQ PA Rep:

Higher HQ PA Rep:

Reporters Expected

Name News
Storyline Notes Name News
Storyline Notes

Proposed Itinerary



Responsible Person



Proposed Interviews

Proposed Video/Photography Opportunities


to stress

to discuss



to stress


Point of Contact


Public Affairs Operations: Brigade Task Force Level
Appendix D

Media Analysis Report (Sample)

The following is a sample format for a media analysis report. If available, the news article can be attached to the report. The intent is to provide the brigade task force (TF) with a means of assessing public affairs (PA) operations. Higher headquarters’ organic PA assets may not be present during key PA operations or media events within the brigade TF.

Notice the “Summary” section of this report. The length of this will vary, depending upon the expectations or criteria established during the decide, detect, and deliver phases of the targeting process.

If civilian facilitation is part of the assessment and media analysis, remember to remain objective with the analysis.

Media analysis – Media in Cortina, 11 May 2002

Reporter: Julie Rose

Medium: Newspaper reporter, town population more than 1,000,000

Job title: Staff reporter

Focus: Crime in the city, Irish-American community in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.

Focus of article:

A. Interview w/Charlie Company/1-82d Aviation Regiment – Pilots in Cortina. Article focused on the effect air missions in Cortina had on the local populace.

B. Interview w/Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Alpha Company, 307th Forward Support Battalion (FSB) – Article focuses on some of the duties that a FSB has in the daily operations of the division.

Summary: Military friendly, fair, and objective

Number of articles composed in country: Two (with these stories)


Reporter: Joshua Book

Medium: Newspaper reporter, town population less than 75,000

Job Title: Journalist

Focus: World affairs

Photo essay focused on: Interview w/307th FSB – Article features some of the duties and responsibilities that the FSB has here in Cortina.

Summary: Military friendly, fair, and objective

Number of articles composed in country: Six (with this one)

Five – written stories

One – photo essay

File Name:
Media Analysis 11May.doc

Public Affairs Operations: Brigade Task Force Level
Appendix E

Media Facilitation Guide

Below is a sample Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) reference guide for conducting media facilitation and escort operations. Remember that media facilitation is a small part of public affairs (PA) operations, but often the most important.

This card is a suitable tool for unit media facilitators and for issue to all Soldiers within the unit for quick reference. This is one of the products that should be provided to units training PA operations at home station.

Page 1 of JRTC smartcard on media facilitation and media escort operations
Figure 2E-1

Page 2 of JRTC smartcard on media facilitation and media escort operations
Figure 2E-2

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