Pentagon's new PR strategy deflects criticism of missiles

ARLINGTON, VA: The US Department of Defense (DoD) used a new PR

strategy to publicize the latest round of testing of the national

missile defense system two weeks ago.



The test was the first to take place since July 2000, and a high-profile

event because of the Bush administration's commitment to the

program.



The DoD has adopted a position of transparency regarding the testing

process, which will continue for the next 18 months.



"We tried to make this as easy to cover as we could," said Rear Admiral

Craig Quigley, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public

affairs.



On July 13, two days prior to the test, Lt. Gen Ronald Kadish, director

of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, held a news conference to

explain in layman's terms exactly what would occur during the test.



For the first time, journalists were invited to view the testing via

satellite from the Pentagon. The 40 or so who attended were promised

that they would be given a preliminary briefing on the success or

failure of the test within an hour of its completion.



That was not the case a year ago, when the results were ambiguous. Also,

reporters who wanted to watch the test had to do so from another

location in Roslyn, VA, and then go to the briefing room at the

Pentagon.



Forty minutes after the 11:10pm launch, the press was told that

preliminary reports indicated the test was a success. "I don't know of

anyone whose filing deadlines were not made that night," Quigley said.

He added that the new strategy is designed to thwart rumors and

misinformation about the often-criticized program.



"I guess it's a belief that the best way to describe what it is we are

doing, to dispel myths about what it is and what it isn't (both to the

citizens of the US and other nations around the world), is to be very

clear and open about what we are doing," Quigley said. "It's sort of

Communications 101."



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