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Public Affairs Crisis Management  
In A Multi-Service Atmosphere  

    This research paper analyzes military public affairs crisis management skills in a multi-service atmosphere and proposes a model as a basis for further research in ensuring clear, quick, accurate and specific communication. It addresses the lack of guidance and adequate understanding of joint operations in accomplishing public affairs actions in crisis situations overseas through the perspectives of the organizational, intercultural, and mass communication theory. Serving as a case study is the incident involving an EA-6B Prowler, an electronic warfare jet, near Cavalese, Italy, which led to the death of 20 passengers aboard a ski gondola. Poor cross-service crisis management plans, operationalized on five levels, is shown to have an effect on the crisis communication response by the military services based on three levels of measure. 
    E. W. Brody (1991) defines crises as a "decisive turning point in a condition or state of affairs. Crises occur where issues are neglected or otherwise mishandled. Crises produced by disasters should not create surprises" (pp. 175-176). Contrasting research includes characterizations of "a major, unpredictable event that has potentially negative results" (Guth, 1995, p. 124). The fact that an incident or emergency eventuates a crisis is adopted for the purpose of this paper. 
    Joint operations overseas serve as the foundation of military servicesí capacity for pragmatic training. Where training scenarios attempt to capture every possible abstract of war, the plausibility of mishap-induced crises exists and requires detailed public affairs planning. The lack of such planning in the EA-6B accident in Italy developed into a communication response crisis plagued by the absence of definitive guidance and fettered communication. 
     Established communication theory submits public affairs communication rationale during a crisis in a multi-service environment. Structural-functional systems theory addresses the intricacies of information networks and levels of command making up organizational communication. Anxiety/uncertainty management theory (Gudykunst, 1995) aims to diminish anxiety and uncertainty across intercultural groups while promoting a better understanding. The means by which information is disseminated and its planning utility for communicating choice messages is investigated through the diffusion of innovation theory (Rogers, 1983). 
     The research is applied to the four-phase crisis management model of Gonzalez-Herrero and Pratt (1995) in forming a crisis management model that incorporates the five operational levels of the independent variable.  The four phases of the crisis management process include:  issues management, planning-prevention, the crisis, and post-crisis. Exercising theoretical perspectives, the crisis management model (Table 1) serves as a basis for organizations throughout the Department of Defense to assess current crisis management practices and implement appropriate measures for strengthening or building a relationship with those agencies for which they will become dependent on in a time of crises.