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Eleven students from the Air Force Air Command and Staff College visited CNN Headquarters
Eleven students from the Air Force Air Command and Staff College visited CNN Headquarters and the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System in Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 20, as part of their elective course “The War for Public Opinion.” The course, produced by the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Center of Excellence at The Air University, provides future leaders with an understanding of the impact of modern global information environment and the need for members of the armed forces at every level to be prepared to communicate effectively with the public they serve.
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ACSC students visit CNN Headquarters, discuss military-media relations

Posted 11/22/2013   Updated 11/22/2013 Email story   Print story


by Lt. Col. Don Langley
U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Center of Excellence

11/22/2013 - ATLANTA -- Eleven Air Command and Staff College students visited both the headquarters of CNN and a Defense Department news distribution operation, Nov. 20, as part of the elective "The War for Public Opinion," produced by the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Center of Excellence.

At CNN, the students were given an inside tour of the workings of the news network, and afforded an opportunity to discuss the military-media relationship with Mr. Jim LeMay, a consultant for CNN. LeMay is a great-nephew of U.S. Air Force Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, Air Force chief of staff from 1961 to 1965 and namesake of the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education at Maxwell Air Force Base.

"This is critically important," said LeMay. "There's a sad divide between the media and the military, a lack of information on both sides that can do nothing but hurt the public we both serve." He accredited this lack of understanding to the current environment where he said, "only about one half of one percent of reporters have any military service background."

The students agreed the opportunity to discuss various concepts woven throughout the elective was a high point of the course.

"The meeting with Mr. Jim LeMay was nothing short of outstanding. I learned so much in the hour that he spoke to us," said U.S. Air Force Maj.John Keeler, ACSC student.

Keeler's classmate, U.S. Air Force Maj.Tom Albrecht, agreed. "Getting the briefing and insight from Mr. LeMay gave me some great ideas I can take to my next command."

The day-long trip to Atlanta also included a visit to Encompass Digital Media, which provides contracted services to the Department of Defense to operate the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System. The system receives real-time and recorded imagery from a number of portable one-meter satellite dishes located with U.S. Forces operating around the world.

The imagery is archived, catalogued and made available to U.S. and international news organizations in support of their news coverage of U.S. and coalition military activities.

"The value of DVIDS is that we can often supply the media with video within one hour, and photos within 30 minutes of an event in which the military is involved from anywhere in the world," said U.S. Army Maj. Scott Betts, director of DVIDS operations.

"We are able to track how and where the materials may be used to measure the effectiveness of units' efforts. It's really an honor to provide customer service to deployed members and their commands by getting their stories told to a broad audience."

Maj. Joseph Peh, Republic of Singapore Air Force, was one of two International officer students on the trip.

"The discussions with Mr. LeMay and visit to Encompass were outstanding inclusions in our program," said Peh. "Having heard much from [the PACE team], it was an excellent opportunity to hear perspectives from the 'other side of the fence.' It didn't surprise me that Mr. LeMay made many common points. That reinforces my belief that we're brought on the right track."

Chartered in 1998 by direction of the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff, the mission of the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Center of Excellence is to prepare Airmen and their Joint and International partners to communicate successfully in the modern global information environment.
The organization accomplishes this through instruction across the range of officer professional military education courses, as well as support to a number of professional continuing education courses sponsored by the Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development.

Students examine the operational implications of instantaneous news reporting and social media, how to anticipate the need for public communication, and how to integrate communication strategies as an essential part of military planning and execution.

More than 45,000 students, including the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, have participated in PACE-supported educational programming.

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