To investigate the hypothesis, a further operationalization of the independent
variable is necessary. The literature reviewed identified the following
characteristics of a public affairs response:
PLANNING STAGE + EXECUTION STAGE = RESPONSE
Formation of a team Understanding of media Prompt, coordinated
Cohesive training Speed, On Scene salient, response
The level of response can be based on the presence or absence of these characteristics in a particular military crisis situation which can be accomplished by way of a survey.
Response Characteristics Survey
Sommer and Sommer (1997) suggest that a survey would be an appropriate method for determining the need for further research, experimentation, and study of a research question proposed. As part of this overall research effort, a survey like the one proposed in this report should be fielded to a sample from each of the component services in the Department of Defense. An initial employment of this survey should be to no fewer than 20 officers from each service, and all respondents must have been deployed in the initial stages of a crisis situation. For purposes of this survey, these officers should be considered to be combat arms officers or significant leaders within the task force leadership. A like sample of 20 officers or senior Non-Commissioned Officers from each service who is serving in Public Affairs billets would also be queried.
Using methodology found in works like Sommer and Sommer (1997), the results and feedback provided by this two-page survey would provide a more accurate sensing of the state of expectation and actual experience from the field, and would be a strong indicator of the need or lack of need for changes in the organization, staffing, and equipping of PA organizations to meet the needs of supporting a force during the critical opening hours of a deployment. While this survey lacks the external validity of an established set of questions which have been well-proven through extensive research efforts, it should at least provide the basis for further questions and information gathering efforts. In addition, the results of such a survey, when combined with a content analysis covering the same contingency, adds the ability to control future crises. This comes from the ability to gauge the timing of previous deployments of military public affairs officials and media framing. An analysis of the results should consist of a factor analysis, which should indicate that the independent variable can be operationalized in levels. These levels of response will vary from no public affairs presence through levels of increased uses of planning and execution characteristics identified from the private sector. Therefore, further analysis should include a factorial design that can be measured through an analysis of variation (ANOVA) or multiple regression, depending on the levels of measurement most appropriate.
It is the opinion of the authors that the results will show that the more characteristics of a prompt, coordinated, and salient response are present during the initial stages of a rapidly developing crisis situation, the more likely it is that there will be an increase in positive media framing. Therefore, it is recommended that an organization encompassing all of these characteristics be developed and tested.
Provisional JCIRT Proposed Organization
In comparing military public affairs doctrine with current civilian crisis management theory and methodology, organizational PA shortcoming in dealing with crisis communications during the initial deployment of forces in combat or contingency operations was discovered. Joint Pub 1 (1995) calls for trained and ready forces from the component services for introduction into combat, crisis, or contingency operations. The supporting joint and component doctrine expands on the need for individuals, units, and organizations to train as they would fight, and to have strong cohesion.
Joint Pub 3-61 (1997) stresses the need for trained and ready PA assets that have detailed planning preparation that is developed at the same time as the overall operational plan. These plans must address all aspect of PA support, from logistics and transportation to strategic communications goals and command messages. However, the real and draining constraints that impact embedded and organic PA assets within an organization, leave little time or resources to plan and prepare for contingency operations.
In order to address this delta between the need for a trained and ready crisis communication response capability and existing PA force structure and assets, research is required, including establishment of a Provisional (Test) JCIRT under Department of Defense operational control. The JCIRT would be organized in modular form and would be a standing organization equipped with state-of-the-art electronic, communication, and lightweight air transportable vehicles. Ideal stationing for the JCIRT would be on or adjacent to a large U.S. Air Force base that has strategic aircraft available for rapid deployment in contingency operations.
The JCIRT would form and train as an organization, preparing for short- and no-notice deployments to meet mission needs and requirements worldwide (Joint Pub 3-61, 1997). The modular teams would be cross-trained and have equal capability for internal information, public communication, and limited media facilitation and support To meet the organizational structure needs suggested by Perea and Morrison (1997) and Sconyers (1995), the creation and staffing of the JCIRT would create an environment for the establishing of a cohesive crisis communications team. The JCIRT would consist of 8 officers and 10 enlisted personnel, each drawn from the component services on a fair-share basis. The addition of a planned inclusion of an American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) Deploy Team into the JCIRT structure would take the overall strength to 21, but this AFRTS Deploy Team would habitually train with JCIRT, and not be included in the overall end-strength. The inclusion of the AFRTS assets in the JCIRT model is based on feedback from after-action reviews and strongly suggested by Sconyers (1995)
Closely linked to the discussion regarding the staffing of the JCIRT is the selection and composition of the equipment to be used by the team. Joint Pub 3-61 (1997) and Sconyers (1995) suggest that these PA organizations be robustly equipped with equipment to conduct effective PA operations in support of national and command communications efforts to reach target audiences.
The general equipment proposed outlines the basic PA unique equipment required for sustained PA operations in the field in a austere environment. Common military personal (uniforms, personal weapons, protective clothing, etc.) and organizational (tents, lights sets, field phones, etc.) requirements would have to be determined from tables of equipment or allocations by the component services. Regardless, the personnel assigned to the JCIRT would have to train and work with this equipment in periods preceding deployments.
The task organization and missions of the JCIRT would be developed in the form of contingency plans and JCIRT standard operating procedures, as generalized above (Sconyers, 1995; Stanton, 1989). The JCIRT could conduct training by sending teams to support joint command posts exercises, major training exercises, or other similar events in the United States and abroad.
The JCIRT personnel would have to maintain individual and team proficiency, as seen below, and would have to used these as the basis for collective tasks and objectives in team and JCIRT training scenarios.
Creation and implementation of the JCIRTS structure recommended here will serve as the independent variable to test out hypothesis. The dependent variable requiring measurement is the framing of the media. This can be operationalized as a news report of a military contingency or war operations on television or in the newspaper. The notion of framing relates to how the story is characterized, positive or negative. As a manipulation check, television and newspaper stories also need to be checked for their stated source (i.e. JCIRT members, Pentagon, or White House.)
Please answer the following survey questions based on your experiences or observations during the initial entry of a Joint Task Force or Combined Joint Task Force into an area of operation. For the purposes of this survey, consider both combat and operations other than war missions/deployments. The initial deployment period should be considered from initial entry to no more than 6 weeks. Your responses are anonymous but we ask for some very general demographic at the end of the survey
SA= Strongly Agree A= Agree N= Neither Agree/Disagree D= Disagree SD= Strongly Disagree
SA A N D SD [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] PA support during initial entry operations exceeded mission requirements and my expectations
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] PA organizations rapidly established operations without significant challenges in manpower
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] PA organizations rapidly established operations without significant challenges in vehicles/transportation
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] PA organizations rapidly established operations without significant challenges in equipment / communications
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] PA support organizations were ad-hoc, and lacked unit cohesion and organizational training
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] PA organization deployed without adequate organic tactical communication equipment
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] PA organization deployed without adequate vehicles and transport
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Media coverage of the operation was overall positive
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] The media never told the true story or accurately portrayed the operation to the American public
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Members of the task force did not get timely or accurate information about the operation
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] The PA organization quickly overcame equipment difficulties and it was not an issue during the operation
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] The command aggressively sought to use the media to accomplish or support mission objectives
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] PA organizations supporting deployment were robustly staffed and equipped
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Media interest and actions hampered the initial entry/deployment/employment of the operation
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] The PA organization / JIB was self-contained and needed only BASEOPs / logistic support
SA= Strongly Agree A= Agree N= Neither Agree/Disagree D= Disagree SD= Strongly Disagree SA A N D SD
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] The PA support was well-planned and executed
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] The first time I met the commander/PAO was during the deployment
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] I felt the PA organization was a cohesive team of professionals who had worked together before
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] PA assets should be included in the initial entry force
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Providing radio and television to keep troops informed is a critical part of morale and mission enhancement
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] The deployment to employment cycle for the PA elements allowed them ample time to begin operations
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] There were a large number of media waiting on the ground to cover the arrival of my JTF/Unit
For the following, please rank order the PA support functions during deployments from highest to lowest of importance, based on your experience / observations. Use a score or rating only once, with 5 being highest and 1 being lowest importance.
5 4 3 2 1 n/a
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Internal (Command) Information
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Media Escort / Facilitation
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Field Newspaper / Bulletin
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Answering Media Queries / Press Conferences
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Public Affairs planning support for operations
Timeliness Public Affairs assets/organization were on the ground within ____ hours / days of the initial deployment and were operational within ____ hours / days of arrival. (Please circle hours or days as appropriate)
Branch of Service (Please mark only one) [ ] U.S. Army [ ] U.S. Air Force [ ] U.S. Navy [ ] U.S. Marines
Position at time of deployment (Please mark only one, most current position) [ ] Commander [ ] Deputy Commander [ ] Operations Officer [ ] Public Affairs Officer [ ] JIB Director [ ] Deputy PAO / JIB Director
Rank at time of deployment [ ] General/Flag Officer [ ] Field Grade Officer [ ] Company Grade Officer [ ] NCO
For more information on military public affairs activities see one of the following homepages: