Communicating Clearly: Differentiating the Operational and Strategic Levels of Strategic Communication
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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Strategic communication is an essential tool for achieving national objectives in peacetime and in war. The military, diplomatic and academic communities continue to struggle to define strategic communication. Four characteristics that differentiate strategic communications at the operational and strategic levels are the extent to which the engagement is in reaction to a precipitating event or at the initiative of the communicator the duration of the engagement whether the target of the engagement is to change audience analysis or to change the audiences analytic framework and whether the engagement implies reflexiveness, i.e., the need or potential for behavioral change by the communicator as well as the audience. Identifying characteristics that differentiate between strategic communication at the operational and strategic levels, and incorporating them into the analysis of problems and operational plans, will help operational planners to distinguish between the two levels, determine whether chosen objectives are more appropriately categorized as operational or strategic, select tactics appropriate to the operational environment and the chosen objective, and establish correct expectations for success of a communication plan.
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