Every day the men and women of America’s armed forces complete
their various roles and tasks away from the spotlight of public
attention. The media is seldom interested in the routine, and
often mundane, tasks soldiers, sailors, coasties, Marines and
airmen perform as part of their daily duties.
CNN, USA Today and thousands of other media outlets have
very little interest in a routine Army patrol exercise, a scheduled
Navy ship repair, Coast Guard training exercises, a Marine barracks
inspection, or a normal Air Force mid-air refueling mission. Literally
thousands of events like these occur everyday, and the professionals
serving in our armed forces are rarely the top newsmakers of any
given broadcast or publication.
However, during a major event, crisis or wartime operation, the
various armed forces come together to provide our country’s
senior leadership with unmatched expertise in thousands of skills.
These events by their nature attract public attention and intense
When more than one component of the nation’s armed forces
is assigned to work with another, this is called a joint operation.
For example, during Operation Condor, ground-based Marine and
Army units in the mountains of Afghanistan directed Navy and Air
Force aircraft to targets located hundreds of miles away from
their carriers and airfields.
Both the ground units and the air combat support teams have established
doctrine allowing them to integrate their operations and maximize
the abilities of their individual units – by working together
as a team to reach a common objective.
Commanders of all joint units are trained in how to interact with
their various service counterparts to properly communicate and
relay their needs so the assigned mission is accomplished swiftly,
safely, and successfully.
Underneath the umbrella of these operations, a Joint Information
Bureau (JIB) is often formed. When created by the operational
commander, the JIB is designed to bring to bear the various service’s
public affairs professionals to create a single-point clearing
house of media and public information about the operation.
However, unlike their battlefield brethren, the tasks and roles
of individual JIB components are rarely well-integrated into the
overall mission of the unit. Each uniformed service brings it’s
own doctrine to the formation of the JIB, and in many cases individual
service policies and actions co-opt the intended purpose of the
Instead of acting as a single-point liaison for the media and
public, the JIB often becomes only a single reference for information
about the operations and actions being performed by the various
services in the field. This often creates conflicting messages
and information being released to various publics and jeopardizes
the credibility of both the JIB and the individual services.
The objective of this capstone project is to analyze the causes
and effects of this phenomenon, and identify solutions based on
application of communication theory. It is hoped that future leaders
and JIB members can use the information provided in this capstone
project to improve information flow through the JIB. This will
enhance the mission of not only the JIB itself, but help maintain
the credibility of units involved in future joint operations.