Write-up of my visit to Ft. Leavenworth

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At the end of last month, I had the honor of visiting the US Army's Command and General Staff College and the School of Advanced Military Studies at Ft. Leavenworth to give a series of lectures and seminars to the officers there. Among other things I discussed were Israeli and American military use of strategic and tactical communications in armed conflicts.

Below is a write-up of the talk I delivered on the subject from the Ft. Leavenworth Lamp.

Journalist discusses communications

By Will King | Staff Writer

    Lt. Col. Shawn Stroud takes notes during a     presentation about tactical and strategic communications by Caroline Glick, columnist and deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, March 30 in Grant Auditorium. Lamp photo by Will King.

Caroline Glick, a columnist and deputy managing editor for The Jerusalem Post, spoke about tactical and strategic communications March 30 at the Combined Arms Center's Grant Auditorium.



"We (communicators) have to understand the atmosphere in which we operate and we fight, and we also have to think about what our specific goals are, what (message) are we trying to get across," she said.



Glick gave examples of tactical communications methods the Israel Defense Forces used against Hamas in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009. She said mass leaflet drops and direct phone calls to specific homes warned Gazans about impending IDF operations.



"What tactical communications allows you to do is minimize, to the extent possible, the amount of collateral damage that is going to be incurred in your area of operations," Glick said.



She said another effective means of tactical communications was the interaction of IDF troops with Palestinian civilians in homes they took over during the fighting, and the manner in which the troops treated the civilians. Glick said these interactions, while generally positive, were ultimately limited in scope and not enough to overcome lies told by the enemy on a persistent basis.



"The long term impact of an immediate experience with an Israeli is limited by the strategic communications of the enemy," she said.



Glick said Al Jazeera, Hamas TV and other media may spread false accusations and outright lies, but it is a losing strategy to respond to the enemy. She said the best way to project a strategic communications narrative is to make the story about the nature of the enemy.



"In Israel, and to an increasing degree in the United States, we have forgotten how to tell our story. In order to explain why we do things, we have to stop talking about ourselves, we have to talk about our enemy," Glick said.


The terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is not an American story, she said, but a Saudi, Afghan, Egyptian, Pakistani and Arab story. Glick said the Holocaust is not a Jewish story, but a German story and a European story.



"When we are victims, we are not actors," she said. "We're not the story, they are."



Glick provided some best practices for projecting strategic communications messages based on her personal experiences and lessons learned from recent IDF operations.



Glick was an embedded reporter with the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She said the IDF was criticized for not embedding reporters during Operation Cast Lead, but did this for good reason.



Glick explained embedding a reporter is very expensive for a media organization, and there always exists a potential for conflict between the story the host unit wants to tell versus what the reporter wants to tell, versus what the editor wants to tell. Additionally, she said embedding gives first-person credibility to potentially hostile news outlets to tell inaccurate or unbalanced stories.



"We (Israel) are dealing with an issue of massive hostility toward our fight, not only in the Arab media and in Arab society, but also particularly in the European media and increasingly in the U.S. media, toward what we're doing," Glick said.



As an alternative to embedding, Glick said the IDF filmed operations and distributed them through their own YouTube channel, making the IDF a competitor in news.



For example, Glick said, Israel has claimed for years that terrorists use human shields, which Hamas and others have denied. She said during Operation Cast Lead the IDF filmed a Hamas gunman in Gaza using a child as a human shield in order to safely cross a street. Glick said the images were uploaded to the IDF's YouTube channel and viewed by several million people.



Glick said another way to put strategic communications on the offensive is to use existing national and international laws to go after terrorists, and those who finance and support them, by trying them "Nuremburg style" in war crimes tribunals.



"If you simply follow the law and enforce it, then the discussion becomes about them. That's the kind of thing that strategic communications should be doing," she said.


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  • Marcel Cousineau 04/28/2009 at 22:17

    Please don’t get too distracted in Babylon.
    It has a way of doing that to the best and brightest.
    Nothing to say about NATO member Turkey and Syria,close friend of Iran holding military exercises together ?
    How about Obama’s blessing the sale of weapons to Lebanon/Hizbollah by Turkey ?
    The moslem country once on friendly terms with Israel.
    Then there’s the latest under the radar news of how America’s President Obama is working with Iran to allow U.S. troops and supplies to transit Iran into Afghanistan as the friendly ally Pakistan is no longer a viable place for any U.S.military transport as is our Air Base to the north which the Russians have shut down.
    How’s that for a dose of communication which the lamestream media covers up.
    It dosn’t matter how many youtube video’s the IDF puts up, the rigged deck is stacked against Israel and only divine intervention will save Israel from the approaching storm from the east,north,south and west.

  • Marc Handelsman, USA 04/28/2009 at 23:53

    One of the best methods of strategic communications is the use of a potent deterrent. In order to defeat jihadists, devastating reprisals should be employed to send a message that terrorism will not be tolerated. Until the West and Israel use overwhelming force to defeat Islamists, they will continue to test our resolve. And the clock is ticking closer to midnight, when al-Qaida and the Taliban acquire Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

  • Mitch 04/29/2009 at 19:03

    Caroline: Why is your belly so big? Is there something we are allowed to know?

  • Ken Besig 04/29/2009 at 19:51

    If any sentient being still believes that opening IDF activities to the press, including the Israeli press, is going to help get a fair picture of IDF activities broadcast or published, they must be living in a dream land.
    The international media of course thrives on anti Israel and anti IDF propaganda dressed up as hard news stories, routinely even characterizing events like the Israeli distribution of humanitarian aid to Palestinians as a violation of human rights or an act of war.
    The best Israel and the IDF can do is carry out the necessary reprisal or preventative operations against the Palestinians with as little fanfare as possible, and under the cover of night as often as can be done. When dealing with particularly anti Israel foreign and even local reporters, the Israel Press Office should make their stay in Israel as difficult as is legally possible, and let the foreign media outlets who employ these people, outfits like the British news rag the Guardian, know that these reporters will have as little access to military or official news as is possible.
    Israel and the IDF do need to become more media savvy as a matter of course, and we need to make far more effective use of the Internet. It would do an enormous amount of real good for Israel’s public relations effort if the Israel Broadcasting Authority would expand, improve, and enlarge the English news service on both Israel radio and especially television. There is simply no excuse that we have three television stations which broadcast Hebrew news bulletins practically every hour, but which only broadcast on non cable TV around seven, that’s right, 7 minutes of English news on a given day.
    Israel and the IDF have been losing the media war for good reason; it’s because we have barely been fighting it at all!

  • Marcel Cousineau 04/30/2009 at 1:30

    Immediatly after the IDF took control of the Temple Mount it was handed over to the enemy.
    This fateful act set the nation controlled by grasshoppers in perpetual retreat.
    Already the new government of Israel has turned over more Jewish land to the other enemy,Rome who is coming to visit his new holdings.
    Appeasment and surrender is what Israel does best today.
    They have proven to be experts in this field.
    A posthumous Nobel peace prize for national suicide the only thing the world has for Israel.
    It seems that there is no backbone in Israel only appeasers and delusional dreamers of peace with Islam and beggars and slaves who ALWAYS bend their knee to Washington and never the holy one of Israel.
    How sad that the people of ISRAEL stand for nothing and bring such shame to the name of Hashem.
    There should be mourning in the land of Israel for the continued faithlesness of her leaders who bring the nation into God’s judgment.

  • Bill K. 04/30/2009 at 7:01

    Jeez Louise, Mitch! Is that any way to greet an obviously pregnant woman?
    Congratulations are in order with best wishes for an uneventful birth and a healthy, beautiful child.

  • chester 05/01/2009 at 4:42

    If she’s expecting she’s done a good job of not mentioning it.

  • william 05/01/2009 at 14:42

    Your “One Hand Clapping” I agree 43% , but have lived in ME for 25 years and think that if Is had been allowed to destroy the various armies who oppossed them; If the US had fought terrorist not appeased them, not at times actively supported them ; the majority of the people of the ME who live half lives without freedom or sufficient liveyhood , who live in crap and know it , would have supported them —but the US can’t be trusted — ridding the world of saddam was a great achievement, but Obama will soon negate it

  • Phil S 05/01/2009 at 22:30

    Is Caroline pregnant? She looks to be in that picture. If so a hardy mazel tov.

  • Elisha 06/08/2009 at 6:05

    When I think of strategic and tactical communications in combat the first thing that pops into my head is NECAP and TACHMO aircraft, encrypted Link, SLQ32 emission analysis, Beacon Video Processing for Identify Friend or Foe, Satcom uplinks, and Navy Red phones. Managing Public Relations Mass Media certainly isn’t one of them which goes to show how things have changed since the internet (or how the internet has changed things!)Long gone are the days when I was stuck on board my ship in Korea because the IFF was down, crypto new day had to be loaded, or the SPG-55b Fire Control radar was down. The days of scrathing my head over a quantum chromodynamic switch for a large screen display in our Huges Aircraft NTDS suite, or a 20KV console power supply that drifted slowly out of tolerance are in the past. I’ll miss those 7 month deployments with my Sonar Divo, where to alleviate boredom, he tutored me in Special Relativity even as he prepared his thesis in Gravity Wave Mechanics. How my life has changed – I now consider all these as a loss as I struggle with the most basic fundamentals of fatherhood. The Lord has put my feet upon a rock and I shall not be moved. And now wonder of wonders I have discovered Israel and everyday a new chapter in my life dawns as I contemplate the Lord.


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