WASHINGTON: PR at the US Air Force got a whole lot "leaner and meanerlast week, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put it.
The entirety of the Air Force's communications functions have been culled together under one roof as of March 15. The new office, for now referred to simply as the Communications Directorate, is an outgrowth of a top-to-bottom review of the entire Defense Department, launched by Rumsfeld when he assumed his position in January, 2001.
In an effort to ensure a smooth transition and improve consistency of its message, the Air Force also created the position of Director of Air Force Communications to preside over the entire office. William Bodie, until recently the assistant to the secretary of the Air Force for policy and planning, will assume that role. He previously served as a spokesman for James Roche, now secretary of the Air Force, at Northrop Grumman.
Functions to be performed in the new office include public affairs, media relations, recruitment and retention initiatives, internal communications, integrated marketing, community outreach, and research.
It is unclear at this time what effect, if any, the move will have on the budgets for these previously separate functions.
"The Air Force has a terrific story to tell our people, our fellow citizens, and our friends around the world,
said chief of staff General John Jumper.
"Bill Bodie and his team will apply the extraordinary talents of our communicators to deliver that story with energy, creativity and, above all, integrity.
The Department of Health and Human Services is currently undergoing a similar consolidation, wherein the public affairs functions of its 12 separate agencies are being brought together into a single office. That effort, however, is believed to be spawned at least in part by confusion created by the conflicting messages put out during last year's anthrax scare.