Lieutenant Colonel Steven A. Boylan; Baghdad, Iraq

Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Multi-National Forces-Iraq Public Affairs Director, Combined Press Information Center

Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Multi-National Forces-Iraq Public Affairs Director, Combined Press Information Center

Q. What country/area are you stationed in? A. Baghdad, Iraq. Q. What is your primary duty? A. I am the Director of the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) for Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I). This incorporates approximately 65 soldiers, airman and marines working 24 hours, seven days per week. We respond to all media in relation to operations and events in Iraq dealing with the 29-member coalition force operating within Iraq. I am lead spokesperson within the CPIC and one of the two main spokespersons for MNF-I. Q. What has been the most rewarding experience from your time abroad? A. Being a part of history in progress while, at the same time, training and demonstrating how our system of public affairs/media relations works to a new, forming government. Q. What do you miss most about the states? A. Besides my family, the ability to cook and ride my horses. Q. When do you expect to be home? A. I expect that I will rotate home sometime in the September 2005 timeframe. Q. Who would you like to send your holiday wishes to? A. My family in Wausau, WI. Q. What was your last (if any) public sector job? A. Last position within the military was as the Chief of Public Affairs for Eighth US Army (Korea). Q. What have your learned about public affairs/public relations from your work abroad? A. The key import of our actions. Our words are many times not heard or truly listened too, but our actions are. It goes to the adage of actions speak louder than words, and taken into account, if we go forward with a statement, we must be prepared to back it up and follow through with what has been said. Q. What is the biggest challenge you face in your job? A. The timeliness of information, which is difficult when in a combat environment where operational information and security are key components of our operations. Q. What is different about communicating to a US audience, and communicating where you are stationed? A. First and foremost is the cultural issues and language barriers. When in the US, it is relatively easy to communicate with the public as there are for the most part a common language and culture to draw from and as Americans, understanding the reasons why we say and do things. Here in Iraq, or any other location I have been overseas, the issues are cultural differences and language being the largest barrier to effectively communicating to the public. Q. Do you enjoy what you do? Why? A. Yes. I feel that I am in a position to make a difference and to inform the numerous publics about what we are doing here in Iraq and why. If the work the CPIC does informs the public on what we are doing and why and provides them the information to make rational and informed decisions, then I have met my mission and the reason for being here as this new country if formed. Q. Is the US winning the communications battle abroad? A. Yes and no, as it varies from time to time and circumstances. I believe the hardest part of the entire process is having enough patience to see the end results. We are facing a public that has had nothing but propaganda for at least two generations. That is extremely hard to overcome in short order. What "we" need (to include the US government, the military, etc.) is to be patient. The US is a society of people for good or bad that desires instant gratification. We want results now. What I have found in my three years in Japan, two years in Korea and now in Baghdad is we need to be patient and help nurture the process and look long-term for results. If we rush this too fast, this endeavor of having a free and democratic society in the region will fail. This is just like bringing a new child into the world. There is a learning process that needs to take place that we, as Americans, take for granted, which should not be taken for granted here or for that matter anywhere else there is not or has not been a free society in recent history.

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