Military, corporations face similar media issues

How does one refocus after experiencing a full-throttle takeoff?

How does one refocus after experiencing a full-throttle takeoff? This is the same type of takeoff used in Iraq and Afghanistan: bump the engines up to maximum speed and pull the throttle hard. Pretty impressive stuff.

Just as impressive is the depth of the military's communications function and specialists. This week, I attended the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference as a guest of the US Special Operations Command

The military has public affairs officers, community relations officers, service liaisons, and “corporate” and “field” personnel. It's an incredibly complex chain with both autonomy and accountability. 

While at the US Coast Guard's Virginia sector base, I had the opportunity to ask about the Coast Guard's widely reported September 11, 2009 training exercise on the Potomac River.

It began as a routine training exercise for the Baltimore sector when CNN overheard radio traffic and called for comment. Not more than 30 minutes after the call and while Coast Guard was investigating, CNN broadcast the unconfirmed story. 

Like many corporations, the Coast Guard decentralizes its geographic regions to be more nimble and these regions operate, to a large degree, under their own authority. A low-level training exercise does not rise to the level of a “headquarters event” and therefore takes time to track down. 

Ironically, that same day, another training exercise was held in southern Virginia. The Virginia sector already had a radio warning system in place, but it also adjusted by switching radio frequencies and using cell phones to communicate as much as possible.

I've learned quite a bit this week about our military services. They are an impressive group of individuals. Exceedingly well-trained. Capable. Welcoming. Curious. Dedicated.

Lt. General John Mulholland, commanding general of the US Army Special Operations Command, said it best: “You'll hear me say ‘the world's finest' a lot. But it is not hyperbole. It is gospel truth.” 

If you had the chance to experience this week with the US military as I did, I believe you'd be convinced too.  

Marie Manning, who is blogging about the program here, is a VP of public affairs for Ogilvy PR Worldwide.

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