Navy Public Affairs Paradigm Shift: A Proposal to Realign Navy Strategic Communications for Great Information Power Competition

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew A. Stroup writes in the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) blog about his proposal for the Navy to invest in expanding and embedding Public Affairs (PA) capabilities into Navy Warfighting Development Centers (WDC).

“The time to include PA considerations holistically in the fleet readiness development cycle is now – and the Navy’s expansion of the Vietnam-era TOPGUN model to Warfighting Development Centers (WDC) is the way to do it,” writes Lt. Cmdr. Stroup. “Therefore, to support [Chief Information Officer] CHINFO, Fleet Commander, and [Type Commander] TYCOM efforts to develop Fleet-wide PA/VI warfighting capability, PAOs and mass communication specialists should serve at each of the Navy’s five WDCs to develop PA warfighting capability and align tactics across the readiness generation cycle with the Afloat Training Groups in the basic phase of training, and Carrier Strike Groups 4 and 15 in the integrated phase.”

Stroup notes that WDC alignment and synchronization of public affairs tied to the fleet’s readiness generation cycle is far from the current model, but that aligning PA with warfighting development would improve organizational behavior, such as leadership decision making, training, and planning.  It would also give rising Navy senior leaders support and operational experience with PA before taking flag officer roles.

The type of operational PA development and training Stroup recommends would ensure that “ships and squadrons can match PA doctrine and policy to harness the imagery from electro-optical and weapons systems required to communicate with myriad audiences faster than our strategic competitors.”

Stroup highlights the challenge of the current information environment, where the communications professional has to fill many roles and be expert in media that previously did not exist.

“In today’s information environment, PA/VI practitioners must simultaneously be information warfighters, readiness generators, special advisers to commanders, and staff officers. Modest investments in PA/VI through an existing WDC construct will deliver peak value for commanders and the nation.”

Read the full post on CIMSEC here.