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 media interest.

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 JIB.

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.



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