Details for Commander’s Handbook for Strategic Communication
|Name:||Commander’s Handbook for Strategic Communication|
Author: US Joint Forces Command
The February 2006 US Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) identified five areas for particular emphasis, and Strategic Communication was one of them, leading to the publication of this handbook. The handbook attempts to offer some background and definitions for Strategic Communication and shows some planning tools that attempt to synchronise themes, messages and actions, underneath an enduring narrative, offering best practices from Iraq
Strategic Communication requires a ‘whole of Government approach’ that seeks to focus ‘United States Government efforts to understand and engage key audiences’. The US approach sees this as a Department of State lead, but the Department for Defence has established new staff organisations and has seen some significant progress.
Strategic Communication messages and themes must ‘nest’ under an enduring narrative and it is this ‘battle of the narrative’, a ‘full blown battle in the cognitive dimension’, that is key. This must be driven by the Commander, who must synchronise themes, messages, images and (most importantly) actions. Key Leader Engagement (KLE) needs to be broader and deeper and is not just about crisis engagement, but building relations over time so that they support us in times of crisis.
The handbook acknowledges that it is a struggle to implement Strategic Communication planning and understanding the ‘cognitive dimension’ often requires expertise that is outside of the military, from anthropologists, linguistic and regional experts to experts in marketing and diplomacy. There is also the challenge of measuring progress in the ‘cognitive dimension’, and resourcing this is an issue.
The handbook offers planning tools and example products as well as demonstrating a ‘process map’ for developing a communications strategy. It also offers thirteen examples of ‘best practice’ from Iraq, taken from Multinational Force-Iraq, Multinational Corps-Iraq and the US embassy.