Mullen Says We Need to Listen

by Steven R. Corman
Yesterday the pay-per-view service Inside Defense released a story about a memo sent on December 14 from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England. The Admiral is (rightly) concerned about the military’s approach to strategic communication. Sounding themes from recent CSC white papers and posts in this blog, Mullen believes, according to the story:

  • You can’t be “strategic” in the classical sense of the term because the lines between strategic, operational, and tactical have become blurred.
  • The message-push mode of strategic communication (what we have called the message influence model) is outdated a no longer effective.
  • Credibility is more important than particular messages.
  • What we do, not what we say, is the most important factor in determining our credibility.
  • We spend too much time trying to push our stories and messages.
  • We don’t spend enough time listening.

Three cheers for Adm. Mullen! I would only add that what he is saying goes not just for the military but for the entire U.S. government. With leadership like this maybe things will finally start to turn around.

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  1. [...] with our actions, so our actions reinforce our words.” Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen says this too, and adds that we need to talk less and listen more. Three cheers for [...]

  2. [...] of a bloated bureaucracy fueling an agency-funded, contractor-filled cottage industry.  We have previously flagged Admiral Mullen as someone who “gets it,”  and it is welcome news that a US government [...]