Pentagon Told to Take a Back Seat on Public Diplomacy

"To distance itself from past practices that some military officers called propaganda," the Obama administration closed the Defense Department's office for support to public diplomacy. "The office was created in 2007 to be the central point within the vast Pentagon bureaucracy and far-flung military to coordinate the Defense Department's overseas information efforts" with the White House, State Department, overseas embassies and other U.S. government entities. In 2008, the office's "'talking points' ... for use in responding to queries on matters like civilian casualties" were criticized by U.S. officers in Afghanistan. The officers refused to use the talking points, saying Afghans would see them as "blatant propaganda." The Pentagon is now supposed to "play a supporting role to the White House and the State Department" on public diplomacy, though the "Defense Department has far greater resources in money, trained communications personnel and broadcast and print technology than any other government agency or department." The Obama administration also eliminated the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Support to Public Diplomacy, previously held by Michael Doran.