Strategic Communications: The Enemy is Us

BRIAN BERUBE  –  Apr 18, 2016

The NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, based in Riga, Latvia, has published online a major study of the NATO campaign in Afghanistan, authored by Brett Boudreau, a Canadian former senior military officer and current FrontLine Defence editorial advisor.

"We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us" is a 415-page treatment of Alliance communications efforts during the 2003-2014 NATO-led campaign. Mark Laity, a former defence reporter for the BBC and now a senior NATO official working for Supreme Allied Command Europe, says, "I doubt we will ever again get such a comprehensive analysis of the communications effort of a major military operation."

The book, expected to be available in print in May, goes well beyond a traditional examination of the subject by exploring the interplay between policy choice, operational execution and strategic communications during the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) campaign. It details the evolution of strategic communications at NATO Headquarters, and charts the ISAF mission command by command as it evolved. The book outlines the challenges of finding solutions in the face of differing views in NATO and nations about whether strategic communications is a process, mindset, capability – or a combination of the three – the answer to which affects doctrine, structure and resources.

Its most unique element, though, is a communications performance assessment of 69 factors related to strategic communications over five specific periods of the mission and an overall mission score, to deduce how effective communications were, and why there were both successes and shortcomings.

To the small cadre of seasoned military communications officers, this report may be a detailed affirmation of what many suspected.  For non-military communications experts, this report educates. And, unlike so many other assessments by insiders, it challenges. But, more important from a general communications perspective, it demonstrates the importance of strategic communications in shaping opinion and how the lack of effect can seriously influence operational outcome. As such, this report offers lessons learned for the private sector, particularly in an age of social media and other instant communications.

Read the full report: http://www.stratcomcoe.org/we-have-met-enemy-and-he-us-analysis-nato-strategic-communications-international-security-assistance

The report is expected out in print shortly, for more info on a print version, contact: info@stratcomcoe.org