Capt. David Nevers; Kalsu, Iraq

Public Affairs Officer 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq

Public Affairs Officer 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq

Q. What country/area are you stationed in? A. I am stationed in Iraq, about 35 miles south of Baghdad. Q. What is your primary duty? A. To inform the American public about the operations and activities of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Q. What has been the most rewarding experience from your time abroad? A. The greatest reward comes from being part of an extraordinary fraternity, serving in a superb unit with a sense of purpose, and making a contribution to the most important cause of our time, the War on Terror. Q. What do you miss most about the states? A. My wife, Lesley, and my kids, Clay and Lane. Q. When do you expect to be home? A. In a couple of months. Q. Who would you like to send your holiday wishes to? A. Merry Christmas to my family and friends back home in North Carolina and Illinois. Thanks for all your support. Q. What was your last (if any) public sector job? A. None before I joined the Marine Corps. Q. What is the biggest challenge you face in your job? A. Encouraging the media to balance their necessary coverage of the violence in Iraq with even a few "dog bites man" stories - the relatively boring but extremely important work being done by American troops to rebuild the country. A recent request to embed with us crystallizes the conventional criticism of the media. "We are more interested in filming the military engaging the enemy rather than humanitarian missions or rebuilding projects," a TV producer wrote. He was asking to be with us a week and was hastening to make clear that it was bang-bang or bust. Q. What is different about communicating to a US audience, and communicating where you are stationed? A. The most obvious challenges in communicating to the Iraqi people are the language barrier and cultural differences. Speaking to our countrymen comes naturally. Here, we have to think more carefully about how best to reach the local populace and the wider Arab world. How are they receiving information? Will it make sense to them? What resonates? The difference lies not in what information we're communicating but in how we communicate it. Q. Do you enjoy what you do? Why? A. Immensely. First of all, I love being a Marine and am proud to serve my country. There is a tremendous sense of fulfillment that comes with national service. Beyond that, I benefit as a public affairs officer from the Marine Corps' historically good relationship with the press. Our institutional mindset reflects a couple of basic assumptions: that the media represent the American people, who have every right to see how we do business on their behalf; and that the media are the best means of communicating with them. I don't have to spend much time explaining to Marine leaders why it's our responsibility and in our best interest to be so accessible to the press. Q. Is the US winning the communications battle abroad? A. I sense we're holding our own, but I'm not sure how to measure success. What constitutes "winning?" If news reporting focuses on the visually compelling setbacks but gives short shrift to the mundane progress, creating a distorted picture, is that our failure or the media's? Does it mean we're losing? Like the broader war, the communications effort requires patience and persistence. If we keep informing and educating with integrity, while we keep capturing and killing the irredeemable, we stand a good chance of coaxing the fence-sitters over to the side of peace and stability. When that happens, we will have won.

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