News: Marines role-play as news reporters for MARSOC
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – In order to help Marines with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command prepare for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, Marines with 1st Marine Logistics Group provided a media actor team to embed with Marines in a field exercise here, July 7.
To prepare for unexpected media visits while in country, these role-players acted as reporters from the “American News Channel” and showed up at a certain point during the field exercise, interviewing the unit’s commander, who learned the importance of taking advantage of a media opportunity the hard way.
“These guys are getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan, and they know that they need to prepare,” said Maj. Jeff Landis, MARSOC public affairs officer. “There are a number of mission-essential tasks they must master, but there are other critical, more specialized skills they need to experience, like handling a media encounter.”
Landis, 43, from Sunbury, Pa., feels it is important for special operations Marines to understand that they can use the media as a tool to help inform people, whether abroad or at home.
“The whole point of attempting to inject media into the training scenario is to show them that no matter what they’re doing, and no matter what impact they’re having on the local communities, it is imperative that they convey the right messages through powerful information management tools like the media,” said Landis.
According to Landis, one of the biggest roadblocks between special operations Marines and conveying their story is that most understand the importance and implications of operational security during interviews as well as protecting their identity while deployed, so it is hard to draw the line on protecting the mission and telling the story.
“There are a number of concerns from the get-go,” said Landis. “There’s a misconception that Marines don’t need to speak to the media because of the sensitivities in the types of missions they do. That’s not necessarily true because special operations forces are also engaged in support and stability operations, providing security and assisting local populations with simple, basic needs like food, water and shelter. Whether it’s an engineer project or medical-dental mission, we should capitalize on the opportunity to speak with the media.”
Landis said he teaches MARSOC Marines to embrace the media and provide them a better understanding of how media can help shape perceptions on the battlefield. Armed with media engagement guidance and solid messages that explain the importance of the missions and the units doing them, the media becomes a valuable information tool – especially in the current operational environment of information warfare.
“In a counterinsurgency environment, Marine Special Operations Forces perform village stability operations and foreign internal defense missions; and these include training local police forces and enhancing security, providing basic needs, stabilizing or building governance and infrastructure and assisting the host nation to transition back to normalcy, said Landis “If perception is reality, then these perceptions, images and messages about how you’re helping the local population, are what will make the biggest difference in mission success or failure .”