Tuesday, April 19, 2011

If DOD Civilians can help Afghan Ministries – Can Information Engagement Professions help MISO?

The Washington Post of April 18, 2011 featured an article: “Pentagon program has U.S. civilians advising Afghan ministries to improve cooperation, security” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pentagon-program-has-us-civilians-advising-afghan-ministries-to-improve-cooperation-security/2011/04/15/AFZIOR1D_story.html)

See also interview at: http://www.dvidshub.net/video/109022/frank-digiovanni-ministry-defense-advisors-interview.

The article talked about the Ministry of Defense Advisors (MoDA) wherein DOD Civilians at the GS-13 level commit to a year of service in Afghanistan. Anecdotal evidence in the article shows that civilian advisors are purported more flexible and credible than are untrained military personnel in the same slots.

It is implied that there is an easier bond between civilians and the ministry workers.

Could the same thing be true in the world of Military Information Support Operations (PSYOP) and strategic communications? Civilian contractors augment military forces almost everywhere – isn’t this the same thing?

Actually no. I’ve been in the position of being a government contractor and I’m hired based on my military experience. While my civilian marketing and legal background may be a plus – it’s my years in uniform that make me a good candidate for government contractor slots.

Unlike some other aspects of the military, the influence world (PSYOP, Public Affairs) has counterpart civilian careers. Civilians, like my former colleagues in Symantec’s consumer and enterprise marketing departments bring different talents and people skills into the equation than do former military personnel.

In Bosnia I found my ability to relate as a civilian to TV station personnel in particular was a strength because my civilian persona was far more akin to their perspective than yet another guy in uniform. There was also the ‘age thing’. A fair number of senior operating personnel at the station were over 50 placing an age barrier in place with junior officers and NCOs.

Perhaps the Department of State should offer a similar program to place marketing, sales and public relations officials in overseas slots – even if just at embassies to further the cross pollination and offer countries the option of civilian support as a supplement to their nation and skill building activities.

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