INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Ex-defense official attacks NATO effort

WASHINGTON, DC: Former Deputy Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Michael Doubleday has publicly criticized NATO’s PR efforts during the Kosovo conflict, describing them as ’imprecise and inept.’

WASHINGTON, DC: Former Deputy Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Michael Doubleday has publicly criticized NATO’s PR efforts during the Kosovo conflict, describing them as ’imprecise and inept.’

WASHINGTON, DC: Former Deputy Secretary of Defense for Public

Affairs Michael Doubleday has publicly criticized NATO’s PR efforts

during the Kosovo conflict, describing them as ’imprecise and

inept.’



Speaking before a PRSA National Capitol Chapter International Committee

forum, the former Pentagon official painted a flawed picture of NATO’s

communications operations.



’It was clear that NATO had not developed an apparatus to address the

many challenges that would come up,’ he said.



While NATO had a public affairs operation, it was not sufficiently large

or adequately staffed to deal with the operation. Problems included an

inability to ’de-conflict’ how Allied nations reported the operations,

and difficulty in rebutting Serbia’s assertions.



The Serbs, Doubleday said, proved surprisingly effective at playing upon

people’s sympathies when Allied precision bombing missed its

targets.



But at the same time, they aggressively monitored the media, expelling

50 journalists for reports that were not approved by Serbian

officials.



Doubleday said that Allied publicists learned several lessons that might

be applied to future conflicts, the most important being that ’pictures

rule.’ Failure to have pictures, he argued, will make communicating a

story an uphill battle.



To illustrate this, he recalled an incident in which a tractor convoy

was mistakenly blown up, killing up to 20 people. Although at the same

time the Serbs were displacing 200,000 Kosovars, Doubleday noted that

’because of the pictures, the story became the people killed in the

convoy.’



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