Information operations

Baghdad Ten Years Ago – 21 Oct 07

WEEK 49: The boss approved Mission Branding – Whoop!

Strike up the Band

It is official folks.  The Division Commander approved the recommended Mission Branding: Coalition Forces support Iraqis for a secure and unified Iraq.  I guess the timing was right or I adequately prepped the leadership.  Everybody grasped the concept and purpose of Mission Branding and the brief went well.  I had an easier time than I thought I would have.

Now comes the hard part.  We have to synchronize and coordinate our efforts across the Division with the Brigades, the Public Affairs, even the units back in the States destined for Iraq.  We’ll need to have our higher headquarters push this message up to ensure it doesn’t conflict with their strategic message.  What is our strategic message again?  Perhaps we will all have one message, but for now this is ours:  Coalition Forces support Iraqis for a secure and unified Iraq.

Within the Division, we need to think of mission branding as the mother of all messages.  It is non-negotiable and our derivative talking points ought to be very closely related.  We need to use it whenever practical and possible.  For starters, we can use this during the multitude of this week’s media engagements for the Brigade Commander’s.

An interview with a US reporter might go like this, “Colonel, what is your Brigade doing to bring stability to the people of Baghdad.”

Jane Curtin was a staple anchor on SNL’s Weekend Update.

“Well Jane, that’s a great question.  This Brigade is supporting the Iraqi’s in building a secure and unified Iraq by training the Iraqi Security Forces, blah, blah, blah.”  “But Colonel, how can all of these concrete barriers help unify the people of this once proud city.”  “Jane, that’s another great question. You are a very observant individual. These barriers are a temporary measure to defeat those individuals and organizations, like Al Qaeda and the militias, who threaten the local security and foster sectarianism, the ultimate divide.”

Back in the states, a commander prepping to deploy might stand up in front of his troops and say, “Troopers, we are deploying to Iraq to support the Iraqis in providing a secure and unified country.”  If he is asked by our ever ubiquitous reporter, “General, why is your Division deploying to Iraq, AGAIN?”, he could reply as such.   “Jane, we are going to support the Iraqis for a secure and unified Iraq.”  You may want your boss to lighten up on the sarcasm and remind him to not dip before the interview, but you should get the drift.

If replying to a local reporter, the military interviewee who just arrived may reply with this statement. “Thank you for this thoughtful question.  We are invited guests of the Government of Iraq and I thank you for having me as a guest in your country.  Coalition Forces (note I didn’t say the Brigade mascot) are here to support Iraqis for a secure and unified Iraq.”

Mission Branding doesn’t end with interviews.  It should pervade certain information products as well.  Hadi, one of my favorite Iraqi reporters, once asked me what is the Baghdad Now’s message?  If the New York Times is “All the news that is fit to print”, then consider the Baghdad Now to be “News for a Secure and Unified Iraq” or something close to it following a rigorous post-testing.

Yes, democracy is the ultimate goal but we are still a ways off from a functioning democratic government.  This mission brand addresses the current and near future situation but leaves room for evolution.  In six to eight months, we might say we support Iraqis for a unified and self-sufficient Iraq.  After that, it might be a self-sufficient and democratic Iraq.

As I mentioned earlier, the tough part is coordinating this so we all speak with one voice. I’m not talking about the one empty voice calling, “Buehler. Buehler. Buehler.”


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