Document created: 1 March 06
Air & Space Power Journal - Spring 2006
|Editor’s Note: PIREP is aviation shorthand for pilot report. It’s a means for one pilot to pass on current, potentially useful information to other pilots. In the same fashion, we intend to use this department to let readers know about air and space power items of interest.|
Capt David Faggard, USAF*
Operation Resultant Fury successfully demonstrated to US citizens, allies, and potential adversaries that the US military has the ability to find, fix, track, target, engage, and destroy a number of moving maritime targets in any type of weather, day or night, across vast distances, using satellite-guided weapons. The operation sought to use available air, space, and ground platforms and then link them together with multiple data-link and command-and-control technologies incorporating Joint Direct Attack Munitions upgraded by the Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement system to bring precision force to bear rapidly on maritime aggression. Leading other staff elements of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), the command’s director of air and space operations (DO), supported by contractors, assembled a plan to successfully achieve this aviation first in a short period of time. Resultant Fury proved that US bombers could engage surface vessels used by enemy combatants, terrorists, or pirates, thus providing the combatant commander the fastest option to attack a seaborne threat. This article explains how an effects-driven plan served to operationalize the public affairs (PA) function with PACAF’s DO and information operations (IO) organizations to influence the information battlespace.
Air Force PA seeks to provide trusted counsel to leaders, strengthen Airmen’s morale and readiness, enhance public trust and support, and achieve global influence and deterrence while enhancing the service’s credibility.1 Specifically, when targeting a strategic entity such as the news media for global deterrence, one must examine Air Force PA’s core competency of global influence and deterrence: “Public Affairs develops and implements communication strategies targeted toward informing national and international audiences about air and space power’s impact on global events. . . . Educating international audiences about Air Force core competencies deters potential adversaries.”2 The application of nonkinetic effects or means to the information battlespace can deter such opponents before hostilities begin. In lieu of using traditional or kinetic-driven operations, one may easily deter and dissuade them by employing the objectives of strategic communications to shape the battlefield.
In order to understand why PA must operationalize and become effects driven, one needs to understand the nature of effects. An effect—typically defined by a dictionary as the way in which something acts on or influences, or something that produces a specific impression or supports a general design or intention—“ ‘may be either kinetic or non-kinetic, and may equally be either physical or psychological/cognitive in nature.’ ”3 PA actions, designed to affect or influence something or someone in the information battlespace, aim to exert global influence and deter a potential adversary as directed and sanctioned by the Air Force. In fact, they are building blocks that support traditional Air Force PA doctrine—the core competency of global influence and deterrence.
One encounters ongoing debates in both government and civilian news organizations about integrating PA and IO, the latter defined as the “integrated employment of the capabilities . . . to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.”4 IO does not have sole responsibility for influencing targeted audiences; rather, PA should integrate with IO to ensure the preservation of truth while informing potential adversaries of US missions, weapons platforms, and capabilities—thereby fulfilling Air Force PA’s core competency of global influence and deterrence. According to Air Force doctrine, “Public Affairs, while a component of influence operations, is predicated on its ability to project truthful information to a variety of audiences.”5 The interaction of PA and IO is paramount to achieving the commander’s intent. For Resultant Fury, a dedicated PA-plans Airman had responsibility for constant coordination among PA, IO, DO, and an information-warfare flight. This individual, who did not interact with the media at all and remained totally separate from the PA media-operations cell, assured the truthfulness of messages and provided overall PA command and control in the planning effort for the demonstration.
Was it in the best interest of the Air Force to integrate with the DO and IO? To answer this question, one needs to consider the effect or outcome required from specific actions, consistent with PA’s core competencies of public trust and support, as well as global influence and deterrence. The operation adhered to the DO’s intent of “sinking moving ships in all weather, day or night, across vast distances in a short period of time, while telling our enemies we can sink them.”6 It also achieved the primary effect of dissuading and deterring potential enemies from using maritime vessels to attack “friendlies” by fulfilling three goals. First, Resultant Fury made such adversaries aware of this new maritime interdiction (MI) capability, thus dissuading them from planning and/or taking hostile actions on or from the sea. Second, it informed American taxpayers of the Air Force’s MI mission, showing them what the service spent their money on—using airpower to defend the nation from seaborne threats. It did so through the media as well as public information briefings to selected key civic and elected officials. Third, the operation implemented nontraditional PA marketing tactics and attained the first two goals by means of a push-pull method of marketing that employed integrated Web design and “blogging.” Furthermore, Resultant Fury produced a secondary effect by enhancing US citizens’ awareness of potential threats from the sea, as well as the Air Force’s ability to counter those threats.
The push-pull tactic of marketing emerged in response to the lack of PA manpower and funding. PA pushed 20 percent of “key” (subscription-based) reporters with information, thereby spurring news-media interest in the remaining 80 percent (pull). In fact, PA’s use of subscription-based media such as the Associated Press and Reuters proved crucial to bringing Resultant Fury to the attention of global audiences. Clearly, interviews with these news services, which feed thousands of global newspapers, have greater global impact than individual interviews with local media outlets.
The success of Resultant Fury’s communication plan depended upon an integrated Web design that offered more than 22,000 reporters and civilians timely, relevant data. Declassifying the combat-strike footage in one hour and releasing it via a commercially procured wideband video-delivery system on the Web proved critically important to the demonstration and allowed reporters to include information on their news cycles prior to their deadlines. Developing a detailed section of “Senior Leaders’ Comments” also afforded reporters the opportunity to use facts, quotations, comments, and information from key Air Force leaders without having to wait for interviews. The Web site also posted news releases, photos, and other data.7
The newest form of Air Force PA marketing occurred via Web logs, also known as blogging—inputting personal or public information on Web sites. Similar to online chat rooms or an online diary, blogs are accessible to Web users. By making them available in US and major Asian cities, especially those with state—sponsored media, Air Force PA provided leaders and citizens in both free-press and nondemocratic societies with accurate information about Resultant Fury. These online rooms also gave the world’s media access to credible, truthful information—not the state-sponsored propaganda that exists in some countries. Whenever PA blogged, the message was clear: Resultant Fury is a demonstration to US allies and potential adversaries that we have the capability to strike numerous mobile maritime targets in any weather at any time. Moreover, every blog identified PA as a spokesperson for PACAF, ensuring readers that the information came from a credible, trustworthy source.
During Resultant Fury, Air Force PA’s efforts—constituting the most media coverage of a single planned event in the Pacific in recent years—possibly caused a change in an enemy’s course of action. Specifically, PA produced 149 balanced international articles and newscasts on the demonstration and garnered more than 26 broadcasts through the world’s largest television news agency, with over 169 bureaus supplying news through more than 400 networks, 500,000 subscribers, and affiliate stations to an audience including viewers in -Russia, Abu Dhabi, the Sudan, China, and -Singapore, just to name a few. Proactive PA planning and integration with other staff agencies, as well as informing target audiences of these capabilities, give the joint force commander another tool for defeating terrorists, enemy naval combatants, and pirates. Although we may never know if Resultant Fury did in fact deter or dissuade potential enemies, no one can deny that they are now aware of the Air Force’s MI capability and that indirect effects from the demonstration will continue changing American and enemy battlefield tactics, especially in terms of influence.8
Resultant Fury not only demonstrated airpower’s ability to sink maritime targets anywhere in a matter of hours but also showcased the importance of effects-driven PA. Although the latter’s role in combat will not replace kinetic means of warfare, it does offer the commander a useful tool for realizing his or her military objectives.9 By influencing and affecting information in the strategic battlespace, PA proved its value as a key element in an operational environment. However, we need a change in culture and doctrine to bring PA capabilities to the forefront of options available to commanders as they determine how best to produce an effect, whether on the kinetic or information battlefield.
*The author is chief, Public Affairs, 314th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. He was assigned to Headquarters Pacific Air Forces when he wrote this article.
1. See Department of Defense Directive (DODD) 5122.5, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (ASD[PA]), 27 September 2000, 8.
2. Air Force Instruction (AFI) 35-101, Public Affairs Policies and Procedures, 26 July 2001, 25.
3. Donald Lowe and Simon Ng, Effects-Based Operations: Language, Meaning and the Effects-Based Approach (Canberra, Australia: Department of Defence, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, 2004), 3, http://www.dodccrp.org/events/2004/CCRTS_San_Diego/CD/papers/207.pdf.
4. Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 2-5, Information Operations, 11 January 2005, 1.
5. Ibid., 5.
6. Maj Gen David Deptula, director, PACAF Air and Space Operations, interviews by the author, November 2004–March 2005.
7. See “Resultant Fury 05,” Pacific Air Forces, http://www2.hickam.af.mil/pacaf/news/rf.htm.
8. See Edward C. Mann III, Gary Endersby, and Thomas R. Searle, Thinking Effects: Effects-Based Methodology for Joint Operations, CADRE Paper no. 15 (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 2002).
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University
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