“Joint public affairs has the critical task of advancing consistent and credible information about U. S. joint forces to the American public and our allies via the news media and military journalist covering the operation,” (Joint Pub 3-61, p. v). Military Joint Information Bureaus are a necessary entity in Department of Defense (DoD) joint combat operations and are tasked with performing the arduous duties as prescribed above. With the growing number of civilian media representatives assigned to DOD media pools these tasks become even more difficult. All military services operate Joint Information Bureaus (JIB) under the same doctrine – Joint Publication 3-61- however, each branch has its own service-specific version of the publication.

· The Army developed Field Manual (FM) 46-1 Public Affairs Operations
· The Air Force developed Air Force Doctrine Document 2-5.4 Public Affairs Operations
· The Navy has SECNAVINST 5720.44A Public Affairs Policy & Regulations
· The Marine Corps has MCO 5720.71 Joint Public Affairs Operations and MCO 5720.72 Procedures for Joint Public Affairs

Note: the U. S. Coast Guard falls under the Department of the Navy during a world crisis.

“…the military services differ very little in the execution of their information policies, especially when conducting joint or combined operations and when the basic information is driven from the top (R. S. Pritchard, 18, 2002). Differences in each service’s adaptation of the Joint Publication, though minor in some aspects, can affect how each operates within DOD combat operations. These differences in retrospect can have an impact on the credibility of the military with civilian media during DOD combat operations. Keeping in mind operational security, one branch may allow the media more access and information whereas the others do not.
Most of the differences are not the interpretation of the doctrine, but because it a “joint” outfit different terminology and culture of the services tend to clash. For example, the Joint Doctrine lists nine DoD Guidelines for Media Coverage in Joint Operations. The Army’s versions reads: “News organizations will make their best efforts to assign experienced journalists to combat operations…”

The Department of the Navy’s version, which also covers the Marine Corps, states: “News organizations should be encouraged to assign experienced journalists to combat operations…” They both have basically the same verbiage but are different nonetheless. The Air Force on the other hand doesn’t list the guidelines at all. Of particular interest, the guidelines for media coverage in joint operations were developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and members of the nation’s major news organizations and adopted in April 1992 (Aukofer, Lawrence, 1995, p.20). After comparing the services’ adaptation of the Joint Publication, it was noted that there were some significant differences in each doctrine (see Attachment). The most significant was from the Air Force which suggested in its doctrine the reader refers to the Joint Publication for more information. The Navy noted another publication as well for the public affairs professional to refer to for more detailed information. The Army and Marine Corps are the same but differ in the last two guidelines. The Marine Corps combined the last guideline with another, but the Army dropped the last two altogether.

Our research indicated that policy differed among the services, and these minor differences could influence how Joint Information Bureaus operate/interact in a DOD Combined Operation (see Attachment 2). Note that the military services, in following the Joint Publication, also have a list titled “Department of Defense National Media Pool Support.” One of the support items on the list stood out on the list and has been the center of case studies between the military and media. The one support item reads:

“A free flow of general and military information shall be made available, without censorship or propaganda, to the men and women of the Armed Forces and their dependents.”

In researching the material to support this project there where at least one or more references made about the Army delaying the release of news stories they feared would generate adverse publicity, which got the stories spiked by deadline-driven editors, but consequently generated bad feelings between the Army and the press reporters (Stech, 1994, p. 9). With regard to operational security, and keeping in mind that all the services receive additional Public Affairs Guidance from the Department of Defense, are these operational differences significant enough to affect the Joint Information Bureaus’ credibility with the media?

In order to address these issues, our studies indicated that a comparison between the Joint Publication and the service-specific doctrines needed to be conducted, since it appeared that the root of the problem is not in the relationship between the military and the media, but between the differences in operational doctrine. It is significant to note that Joint Publication 3-61 states that if there is a conflict with the public affairs policies, then it overrides all others.



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