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Air Force officials take 'strategic communication to next level'

At a strategic communication summit held at the Pentagon Dec. 19, top Air Force leaders outlined an ambitious blueprint for Airmen to tell the nation about the service's contributions to the war on terrorism.  (U.S. Air Force illustration/Mike Carabajal)

At a strategic communication summit held at the Pentagon Dec. 19, top Air Force leaders outlined an ambitious blueprint for Airmen to tell the nation about the service's contributions to the war on terrorism. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Mike Carabajal)

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Top Air Force leaders attending a strategic communication summit here Dec. 19 outlined an ambitious blueprint for Airmen to tell the nation about their service's contributions to the war on terrorism.

In a day-long, wide-ranging discussion, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley said they want to move decisively over the course of the next year to empower Airmen at all levels to explain what the Air Force brings to the fight and how Airmen are serving heroically alongside their Army, Navy and Marine partners.

"Our major challenge is a lack of awareness of what the Air Force does," Gen. Moseley said.

The chief of staff noted that in some ways the Air Force has been a victim of its own success in providing everything from refueling and airlift to air and space dominance for the nation.

"We make it look easy. It's not easy," he said.

A panel of prominent journalists urged General Moseley and Secretary Wynne to be far more aggressive in meeting with media and telling the Air Force's story to a public that is often unaware of the service's contributions. The journalists told Air Force leaders that it is not self-serving to explain the service's roles in the war on terrorism and doing so does not diminish the other services' contributions.

Peter Spiegel, Pentagon reporter for the Los Angeles Times, told attendees "I don't think advocating for the Air Force is speaking against the other services. It's a disservice if you don't tell the story."

General Moseley and Secretary Wynne agreed the Air Force as an institution can be more forward-leaning in showing how air power is essential to assuring an American way of life. They both said the public often overlooks the Air Force's roles because the service has been so dominant in the sky for so long.

"American soldiers have not been attacked by air since the Korean War," General Moseley said.

Those attending the Summit also heard from a panel of marketing and branding experts who advocated for a consistent internal and external message effort. They noted that the Air Force has many stories to tell; but it's important to target relevant stories to specific audiences to heighten the impact of the messages.

Additionally, in support of an effort to enhance the Air Force brand, the panel recommended identifying and highlighting the different ways the Air Force is engaged in the fight and the capabilities it brings. The gathering allowed Air Force strategic communications and public affairs leaders to lay out a plan to increase public awareness of the Air Force's roles in wartime while helping to shape the future debate about military roles and missions.

"It's time to take strategic communication to the next level," General Moseley said.

Senior leaders described the next year as critical in explaining the vital role that airpower plays in the joint fight and convincing Congress and the public that a recapitalized and vibrant Air Force is critical to the nation's security.

"I'm not going to pull back the throttle," General Moseley said, referring to his belief that the Air Force must aggressively tell its story.

Secretary Wynne said he has been impressed by the Air Force's ability to fight current wars while preserving future dominance.

"Five years from now, we need to be driving an innovative Air Force," Secretary Wynne said, noting that when he assumed office he was gravely concerned the Air Force had lost its spark of innovation.

Instead, he found a group willing to engage in the necessary research and development to build a future force that can fight in air, space and cyberspace.

General Moseley said he wants airmen to deliver a "constant and unrelenting" message about the Air Force's roles not just in the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in the fight to provide for the strategic defense of America now and in the future.

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