ANALYSIS: Profile - Army PR man unleashes the heavy artillery. Ofthe many tough battles waged by the US Army, among the hardest areenlisting recruits and educating the public...

The army's logo for public affairs places a sword in the foreground

and a pen in the background. But the pen is growing in importance as the

army places increasing reliance on public affairs officers like Lt.

Colonel Lewis Boone to convince the public about the need to be


Boone is the special assistant for public affairs to army chief of staff

Eric Shinseki, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Shinseki bears

responsibility for the recruiting, training, equipping, and deployment

of his service.

But his style of dealing with the media is markedly different from some

of his predecessors who were more active in courting the news media.

Boone, married to a freelance ABC News correspondent Monica Shuman, whom

he met while she was covering Operation Desert Shield, says,

'Shin-seki's strength is not in going behind the podium at a defense

department briefing room where he has 30 reporters crowding around.'

So Boone organizes media breakfasts, smaller news conferences and plane

trips with select reporters. But local media are treated just as well as

top tier outlets. When Shinseki visited Fort Bragg in February, Boone

set up a meeting with a local paper to reassure active and retired army

personnel that plans for transforming the army still include a vital

role for paratroopers.

As well as external press, Boone also deals with the military media,

including in-house army TV and radio, in order to promote plans for a

transformational army. But generally Boone steers away from the TV


'TV's time constraints aren't very conducive to the complicated and

complex message we have.' Boone, however, will set up the occasional TV


For example, Shinseki did agree to be interviewed for over two hours for

a Frontline PBS documentary on the future of war that aired last


Ideally Boone would like to see his boss on NPR's Morning Edition or All

Things Considered, seeing those shows as a great way to reach opinion


Boone has to manage the give and take between being open and the

military's natural inclination to exert tight control over


Jim Fetig, now director of media relations for Lockheed Martin, was the

first to hold the position of special assistant for public affairs to

the chief of staff. He explains the difficulties of doing army PR. 'The

hallmark of military service is selfless service. Within the military

culture you don't show off.'

However the army realizes that convincing the public, Capitol Hill, and

opinion makers about the importance of military preparedness, should

remain an important objective.

And as Fetig's immediate successor, Don McGrath, director of global

media relations at electronic company Rockwell, asks rhetorically:

'Who's a better person to tell the Army's story than the chief of


Boone jumped into his role with the gusto of the paratrooper he had

originally trained to be. But he initially had to make some adjustments

to his approach, 'In practice, we're trained to speak for the

organization, not the individual,' says Boone, noting that there is a

learning curve when it comes to 'who your boss is and what are his likes

and dislikes.'

As well as working hard on messaging, Boone has to react to leaks such

as one in February about the proposed basing of two 'interim' brigade

combat teams. These teams are designed to provide rapid response

capabilities that are indicative of the changes underway in the new

'transformational' army (an ambitious project aimed at preparing the

army to handle an anticipated wider variety of missions than it faced

during the Cold War).

Boone was contacted by an Army Times reporter who received information

about where brigades would be located. Boone arranged to have background

provided to ensure the story was reported accurately, as opposed to

based on speculation. But army public affairs officers were worried

about the flack they'd received over what had happened. 'You've got to

tell the truth, right?' Boone says in an assertive tone. 'The American

people have a right to know what their military is doing. They pay for

the military.'

While this particular leak was a good story for the army, there are

other issues to deal with. 'That was information not meant for the

general public at this early date.' Congress had not even been

officially informed of the plans, but Boone sticks by his decision to

give factual background once leaks are out.

Boone admits the army has not always done the best job in public

affairs, even compared to other services. But he sees that changing. Now

officers in mock combat exercises find themselves not only having to

deal with the 'enemy' but also the media and civilians, as they have in

conflicts such as Bosnia and Operation Desert Storm.

Boone's own days at the Pentagon start at 6am and go on until the early

evening. He often meets with other army public affairs officials to

coordinate on messaging. Then, he goes home to his wife and son. Shuman

says there are some things she knows not to press him on. 'We're very,

very good at keeping work at work,' she says.

Boone sees his job as important, noting that the American leadership had

little idea in 1900 that they would soon find themselves fighting a

World War.

Boone, always the spokesman, says: '(Shinseki) likes to use it as an

example because we sit at the beginning of the 21st Century without any

idea whatsoever what the next 10 or 15 years holds.' In Boone's mind,

it's his job to make sure America learns it must be prepared to meet the




Army infantry officer and PA officer


Fort Bragg, NC. 82nd Airborne Division, public affairs officer


US European Command, action officer/chief media relations


Office of the chief of public affairs, action officer, media relations



Special assistant for public affairs to Eric Shinseki, chief of staff of

the army.

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