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
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
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
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