Information operations · Public Diplomacy · inform and influence activities · Information Warfare · Influence · Broadcasting Board of Governors · Psychological Operations · Political Warfare

Spotlight: Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications

Dear Mr. President,

Attention: the future National Security Advisor

For the past eight years, the position of Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications was not filled properly and was not executed, almost not at all. As a result, the Strategic Communications community and capabilities of the United States suffered. This came at a tremendous cost to the United States of America.  The narrative emerging from our disparate, unsynchronized, and uncoordinated strategic communications mechanisms were perceived as dysfunctional, the message conflicting, garbled, and incomplete, and our actions said one thing while our words said another.  As a country, we were widely perceived as feckless, unreliable, and weak.

Choosing a Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications is a matter of national importance, especially for the entire national security team. The person selected should not be a news anchor, a speechwriter, nor a person of singular focus.  The person needs a strong background in strategic communications, public diplomacy, information operations, international broadcasting, and counter-state disinformation and propaganda.

As can be seen in the primer, below, the person must also lead the entire US strategic communications community, including an Interagency Policy Committee (IPC), which includes both overt and covert efforts. The person must, therefore, possess leadership capabilities, knowledge, and expertise.

There is no “Handbook for Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications” sitting in the National Security Council, so I am putting together a very small primer to aid you in your decision.  Here are some very short job descriptions.

The best is written by Dr. Christopher Paul and published in 2011:

The Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications (DNSA/SC) serves as the National Security Advisor’s principal advisor for strategic communications.  The Senior Director for Global Engagement (SDGE) is the principal deputy to the DNSA/SC. Together they are responsible for ensuring that a) the message-value and the communicative impact of actions are considered during the decision making of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council, b) the mechanisms to promote strategic communications are in place within the National Security Staff (NSS) and c) similar mechanisms are developed across the interagency. The DNSA/SDGE are also responsible for guiding and coordinating interagency deliberate communication and engagement efforts, and execute the responsibility through the NSS Directorate for Global Engagements (NSS/GE) and through the Interagency Policy Committee (IPCs) on Strategic Communications, which they chair. (Strategic Communication: Origins, Concepts, and Current Debates.  Author: Christopher Paul, Publisher: Praeger April 7, 2011. pages 201-211)

This described the teamwork by Mark Pfeifle and Kevin McCarty during the Bush Administration. Together, their approach was remarkably different from their predecessor, Jeff Jones.  and: 

…principal interagency coordinator for national security outreach and communication strategy from 2007 to the end of the George W. Bush administration. Pfeifle led the successful communication effort to promote Bush’s “surge” of U.S. forces into Iraq,[2] including a month-long stint in Baghdad.[3] He worked on international communication initiatives to de-legitimize al Qaeda, to stop Iran from enriching uranium, to denuclearize North Korea, to achieve fair and free trade agreements and to advocate the causes of freedom, liberty and human rights to those suffering under brutal dictatorships.[4]

The late legendary Jeff Jones, COL, USA (ret) held the position when the title was known as Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Information.

Since both teams held this position, the world has changed. No longer is a teletype the focal point of incoming messages (and it wasn’t then).  Now we have email, Twitter, Facebook, and all sort of classified communications. Now we have NRT-optical links via UAVs and drones.  We no longer have a news cycle, now we have nearly instantaneous reporting, fake news, and a constant barrage of propaganda.

We no longer have an iron curtain but we still have denied areas, where information is denied, controlled, and manipulated.  The news their populations read is filtered, and the news reported to us from foreign countries is sometimes manufactured.

Sir, you have a number of tools at your disposal, and you have an obligation to release fair, objective, unbiased, and complete information, as best you can.

We can help.




4 thoughts on “Spotlight: Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications

  1. All : Joel has written his own job description. That makes things easier, but there’s no Nationa Security Advisor he can talk to.


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