Hit or Miss? - Government announces air strikes against Libya

Off Target: The announcement of air strikes being launched against Libya on Sunday was fraught with comms difficulties.

A clash of views surfaced between the UK's political and military leadership on Monday over whether the Libyan leader was a legitimate target. Chief of the Defence Staff Sir David Richards said Gaddafi was 'absolutely not' a target, but Defence Secretary Liam Fox and Foreign Secretary William Hague suggested otherwise.

HOW I SEE IT - Lucian Hudson, MD, Cornerstone Global Associates (and former FCO director of comms)

The three tests Cameron has set out for justifying intervention - need, support and legality - must underpin all comms. The strategic end should be kept simple: to protect civilians. Colonel Gaddafi might or might not get hit as the intervention unfolds, but the intent cannot be to remove him and change the regime.

It is up to the Libyan people to decide their future. Government ministers and top military officers should give fewer interviews. But those they do give should convey an agreed simple strategic aim, sensitivity to the risks, and appreciation that it is a collective effort. It is bad show to slap down in public the Chief of Defence Staff, Sir David Richards.

The coverage needs to focus on the operation and the politics should be kept to a minimum. This is not a time for competing messages.


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