Ministry of Defence reviewing communication strategy for a networked world

May 17, 2011

The Ministry of Defence is considering proposals that would empower more members of their staff to communicate so it can compete more effectively in a networked information environment.

In particular, the MoD will decide whether to free deployed commanders from aspects of existing constraints which mean their operations are usually communicated through spokespeople.

A more decentralised approach is arguably overdue but not without risk both in terms of operations security and potential political fall out which may limit the impact of any changes. 

The recommendations recognise that greater trust within the organisation needs to be built on the basis of training and the development of doctrine.

By giving staff media training and providing them with a sound understanding of the rationale behind operations, it is hoped the MoD will ‘set the music’ centrally but that their staff will be allowed ‘to find the right notes’.

The risk of empowering more communicators would be offset by discipline to a "guiding narrative".  

At the moment, members of the Armed Forces and civil servants have to obtain prior permission to communicate in public through the chain of command.

This hierarchical approval process is proving cumbersome in an age of instant digital communication.

A more decentralised approach to communication was a key aspect of a recent Joint Doctrine Note on Strategic Communication issued in March this year. 

JDN 1/11 stated:

"Our processes and philosophy must allow us to respond to feedback from audiences and to counter narratives from our adversaries in order to stay ahead in the information environment.  This will require us to decentralise some of our communication activities."  

The proposals are still under review.