Major Sean Clements; Al Asad base, Iraq

Wing PAO (Fwd) 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Wing PAO (Fwd) 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Q. What country/area are you stationed in? A. I am currently stationed at Al Asad air base in Iraq. Q. What is your primary duty? A. I am the public affairs officer for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, a Marine command of more than 7,500 marines, sailors and soldiers, and more than 200 aircraft. Q. What has been the most rewarding experience from your time abroad? A. During the battle of Fallujah, I was tasked with organizing and facilitating the first-ever joint press conference between the new Iraqi army and the US forces. In addition to the personal reward of being present for history in the making, the conference was just one more sign of hope that progress is being made toward a self-sufficient and free Iraq. Q. What do you miss most about the states? A. I miss my wife and four children the most. Q. When do you expect to be home? A. We expect to rotate back to the states in early March. Q. Who would you like to send your holiday wishes to? A. I would like to extend my gratitude to the thousands of Americans who have communicated their support to us, while being away from home. From care packages of personal items and food to heartfelt letters of support from school children, the thoughts from home humble us. We are indebted to them. Q. What was your last (if any) public sector job? A. Being a reservist, I actually have a full-time position at a communications agency in Philadelphia. This has been a refreshing break. The pace is much quicker and more engaging. Q. What have your learned about public affairs/public relations from your work abroad? A. Despite our common goal, there are still competing interests and sensitivities when dealing with many parties. Seeking a balance amongst them is the toughest challenge. Q. What is the biggest challenge you face in your job? A. Primarily, we are still communicating with a western audience here. The Arab media have a different perspective on your story regardless of the details. Additionally, Arab mass media is still a fledgling means of communication. The culture here relies on word of mouth, from family to family and clan to clan. They also receive much information from their religious leaders. Because their communications network is so diffused, we try to help develop the Iraqi mass media so we can get the word out in the means we are used to. Q. What is different about communicating to a US audience, and communicating where you are stationed? A. Aside from being home with my family, there is no other job or mission that would give me the same satisfaction I am feeling right now. The Marines here are doing things you read about in history books and I hope to make sure that happens. Q. Is the US winning the communications battle abroad? A. It depends on the measure of success. If we were not doing some kind of good here, I would expect a higher level of anger in the Arab "street" in adjacent countries, [which] is not happening.

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