Public Affairs Center of Excellence enables Airmen to share the Air Force story

  • Published
  • By Air Force Public Affairs Center of Excellence
  • Air University
Educating Airmen on telling their story, and the broader Air Force story, is part of the mission of the United States Air Force Public Affairs Center of Excellence.

Established in 1998, PACE instructors provide public affairs-related education and training through the continuum of both officer and enlisted professional military education.

Through the years, PACE has educated more than 45,000 students at Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, Air War College, the Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development and the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy.

Recently, instructors had the opportunity to advise 17 senior trial counsel prosecutors on how to improve their communication skills, communicate their mission through the news media and effectively communicate how their narrative fits into the overall mission of the Air Force.

"In this age of instantaneous information flow, every Department of Defense action, public remark, written statement or image directly affects both U.S. and global perceptions of our nation, its activities and intentions," said Aaron J. Henninger PACE director,. "It's our job to research and think of creative new ways to engage with both the American people and audiences worldwide to ensure we are ready to educate our students in an ever changing media environment."

The STC-SVU course, like others taught by PACE instructors, focused on familiarizing students with communication responsibilities and resources, ensuring they comprehend how local and national news media operate and the value of working with them, applying the concepts of effects based operations in developing communication objectives, and demonstrating the ability to apply tactics, techniques and procedures, and message-development knowledge during a media interview.

"The PACE training was extraordinarily beneficial," said the Air Force's Chief Senior Counsel, Lt. Col. Brian Thompson. "It ensures that our counsel can deliver their, and the Air Force's, message concisely and persuasively in an unfamiliar media environment."

Since effective communication is essential in building and maintaining public trust and support for military operations, and directly enhances the global influence and deterrence capabilities of the United States, and its allies and strategic partners, ensuring joint and international partners receive the latest education on effective communication is also a key principle of the PACE team.

In a recent speech, the assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, Dr. George Little, reminded military and civilian leaders of their responsibility for effective communication. "Commanders must work with reporters and understand that their reporting has a real effect on the public's opinion of the military," he said.

"The instructors at PACE are on the front lines of this effort to aid military leaders in meeting this responsibility," said Maj. Davina Petermann, the individual mobilization augmentee to the PACE director.

PACE also provides instruction to the Wing Commanders Course, Group Commanders Course, International Officers School and Incident Management Course among others.

"Though Airmen are the main students to benefit from PACE education and training, federal agency representatives and students from other services and countries also participate in PACE courses," said Petermann. "By working with our joint and international partners through education, we are able to support enhanced communications of both local and worldwide operations and improve international students' capability to communicate the strategies of their governments."

Through the annual Joint Land, Aerospace, and Sea Simulation Exercise, PACE instructors have provided media education and training to at least 30 general officers still on active duty in each of the service branches, to include Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey.

"Every Airman, regardless of specialty, must understand and be able to explain how they contribute to providing unparalleled Airpower to our Nation. Each Airman has a compelling story that needs to be told," said Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III. "Tell your story."