Never Lose Sight of the Ultimate Goal

The term StratCom is something of a buzzword right now. It relates to the importance of never losing sight of the goal and thinking in broad terms when planning military operations. During the Combined Joint Staff Exercise, CJSE 16, a key objective among the goals of the exercise is to assess the role of strategic military communication (StratCom) in improving operational effectiveness.

-The main concern here is to ensure the coordinated and appropriate use of language and action all the way from the political level down to each individual action of every soldier, explains Antti Sillanpää of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga. Exercise participant Sillanpää, is a member of the group tasked with advising the Multinational Force Commander Anders Grenstad on matters regarding strategic military communications.
-Although there may be a relatively straightforward way to solve a problem by military means right here and now, this might not be the best solution, long-term, for achieving the final objectives, he adds.

Conflicts are seldom resolved on the battlefield alone

The ultimate goal of the exercise is to secure stability and create the necessary preconditions for rebuilding the social functions and infrastructure in the fictional, war ravaged country, Bogaland.
-To achieve this, for one thing you need the civilian population as well as the political leadership with you in the country you’re operating in, but also in those countries that contribute to the multinational forces, explains Anders Grenstad.
-What you do and how you do it then become pivotal factors in achieving the final objectives, concludes Grenstad.

Within the scope of a military operation, key decisions may include, for example, that a certain area should be patrolled in order to show presence, and the best way to do this, as well as how a military force that has been surrounded by groups of angry civilians might act to gain support rather than antagonise.
- Our actions and how we communicate in relation to our actions, determine whether or not we are able to stick to the path towards our final objectives, explains Antti Sillanpää. It might be said that the strategic military communication people support decision-making leaders on various levels by smoothing over the bumps in the road towards the final goal.
-This is vital, stresses Anders Grenstad. Over the years, we have gotten better and better at dealing with the gender perspective and impacts on civilian communities when planning military operations. In addition to this, we now need to deal with the StratCom perspective. Here, during the course of the exercise, for example, planning of the communication of activities is aligned and coordinated with the military operational planning.

 Everyone communicates

Yet, military strategic communications is not a field owned by a select few experts.
-While it is extremely important that decision-makers high up in the chain of command comprehend the significance of strategic communication as it relates to leaders and leadership, it is also a basic requirement for each individual soldier to understand the main role of strategic communication and what it involves, says Antti Sillanpää.Everyone communicates via their actions regardless of position.

International Capability Development

The Swedish Armed Forces are currently taking part in an international capability development project (Multinational Capability Development Campaign), which has created a concept for military strategic communication. CJSE 16 is one of the exercises at which the concept has been introduced and is being tested on both an operative and tactical level. The concept is concerned with the interplay of factors such as constant analysis of the present, how the unfolding sequence of events influences opportunities to achieve the final goal, and continued planning and execution of appropriate activities that lead towards the goal.
-In an ideal world, we would all know what StratCom means and then think and act accordingly, finishes Antti Sillanpää.Then we wouldn’t need to talk about the concept any more, we would be living it.