The April 2010 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette includes a discussion on the need for increased integration – doctrinal and operational – between public affairs and information operations. Public Affairs and Information Operations: An Influence Activity, written by Lieutenant Colonel Matt Morgan, USMC, and Major Jeff Pool, USMC, discusses the ideological struggle between military public affairs officers and others of whether public affairs is to “inform but not influence,” an impossible task since the intent of informing is to influence. Appreciation for the conditions and requirements of the modern age of global and instant information has yet to be fully understood in ways that can break down the firewalls between “inform” and “influence.” As Matt and Jeff point out, it is time that truthful and attributed information not be segregated or tainted by whether its delivery mechanism is active or passive – the real delineation between “inform” and “influence.”
For more than a decade the Marine Corps PA community has struggled to operationalize its career force in the interest of enhancing its warfighting relevance and the Marine Corps’ communications capacity. Unfortunately, this otherwise important effort has been inhibited by an all too common mindset that refuses to approach PA as an influence capability, thereby divorcing PA information efforts from any discernable intent and creating a barrier to integration with other [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] actions. The source of this unfortunate attitude is, in part, outdated doctrine that equates influence with publicity and propaganda.
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