Defense Department releases its Section 1055 report on strategic communication

According to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, the Defense Department was required to provide a report on

the organizational structure within the Department of Defense for advising the Secretary on the direction and priorities for strategic communication activities, including an assessment of the option of establishing a board, composed of representatives from among the organizations within the Department responsible for strategic communications, public diplomacy, and public affairs, and including advisory members from the broader interagency community as appropriate, for purposes of (1) providing strategic direction for Department of Defense efforts related to strategic communications and public diplomacy; and (2) setting priorities for the Department of Defense in the areas of strategic communications and public diplomacy.

This report (PDF, 660kb) is known as the 1055 report, after the section of the NDAA that called for it.

DOD sees strategic communication as a process to synchronize efforts in order to

  • Improve U.S. credibility and legitimacy;
  • Weaken an adversary’s credibility and legitimacy;
  • Convince selected audiences to take specific actions that support U.S. or international
  • Cause a competitor or adversary to take (or refrain from taking) specific actions.

The Defense Department’s vision of strategic communication relies on "both horizontal coordination (across DoD and the U.S. Government, as well as with international partners when appropriate) and vertical coordination (up and down the chain of command)."

The report mentions the current Strategic Communication Capability-Based Assessment, which is one of about a half-dozen similar CBA’s on various components of the Pentagon’s "strategic global engagement."

In a July 2009 report, the House Armed Services Committee made a point to refer to "military public diplomacy." The 1055 report takes a different perspective.

DoD does not engage directly in public diplomacy, which is the purview of the State Department, but numerous DoD activities are designed specifically to support the State Department’s public diplomacy efforts and objectives, which in turn support national objectives. DoD refers to these activities as "Defense Support to Public Diplomacy" (DSPD). Many of these DSPD activities are initiated via direct request to DoD or a Geographic Combatant Command from a U.S. Embassy, from the applicable regional bureau in the State Department, or from the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Some DSPD activities are initiated by DoD or Geographic Combatant Command recommendation to the State Department.

The report states that while "virtually every DoD office has a role in the strategic communication process", there are certain offices that are "key drivers and leaders of the process." The offices are:

  • Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P));
  • Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (ASD(PA));
  • Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD(D));
  • Joint Staff;
  • Global Engagement Strategy Coordination Committee (GESCC) :: meets on a biweekly basis to identify emerging issues, exchanges information on key actions being worked across the staffs;

As promised, the report describes the organizational structure supporting the process of strategic communication at the Defense Department.