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Strategic Communication

10 Sep 15

Perception becomes Reality

Bocca della veritas or Perception becomes Reality was the introducing theme of Mark Laity, GBR-CIV, Chief of Strategic Communication, SHAPE, in the one-week-course at NATO School Oberammergau (NSO). From 31 Aug - 04 Sep 39 students from 15 different nations were trained on the issue of Strategic Communications. The NATO Senior Officials StratCom Familiarization Course aims to promote and foster an understanding of Strategic Communications in the NATO environment. Altogether, 14 guest speakers from NATO HQ, ACO, ACT, the NATO StratCom Center of Excellence, JFC BS, HQ ARCC and NSO shared their knowledge in the field of Strategic Communications in this fifth iteration of that course at NSO.

In year 2013 the first course on Strategic Communications has been conducted at NSO. Since then NSO educated more than 200 students in the field of Strategic Communication. LTC (ret.) Rita LePage, CAN-CIV, StratCom Centre of Excellence Riga, supports the course at NSO since several iterations together with her team and shares her knowledge on doctrine, concept and trends: Strategic Communications is everyone’s business. Commanders, Operators as well as Planners have the responsibility to understand the information environment – otherwise the troops on mission cannot understand the impact of behaviour. The one-week course at NSO is not only theoretical. Within mentor guided discussions and case studies the students can analyse the impact of traditional media, new media and social media – but also typical military operations – on the perception and behaviour of humans. The way we drive our cars in Afghanistan leads to a perception and gives an impression about who we are. With our behave we send a message, that nobody can fix, stated Rita LePage. Mark Laity, Chief StratCom at HQ ACO/SHAPE, explained that exactly this perception leads to the next action and can become reality, as it has an effect on the actions taken be human beings. Therefore, Strategic Communication is of relevance, especially in a multinational environment.

The NATO Senior Officials StratCom Familiarization Course at NSO is unique within NATO and is currently for many nations the only course, providing this kind of expertise in a multinational environment in the field of Strategic Communications. Therefore, NSO is programming a pilot course for StratCom Practitioners, which is scheduled for July 2016. More information will be available online soon.

The NATO Senior Officials StratCom Familiarization Course is absolutely critical for practioners. For senior officers it is of huge value to recognize the importance of communication, expand the horizon and to open the mindset, as it is not in the DNA of an officer, dealing with a very physical environment.

Mark Laity, GBR-CIV, Chief of Strategic Communication, SHAPE