The Pentagon has outlined a new strategy to "communicate U.S. policy objectives" in Afghanistan and "manage expectations" of the American public about the progress of the nine-year-long war.
In a three-page memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Douglas Wilson, the new Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, outlines the new approach, which was developed because the Defense Department recognized the need for a more aggressive press outreach approach amid signs that the progress of the war had stalled.
Defense Secretary Gates found that stories from reporters embedded with troops, valuable as it was, tended to focus on gritty warfighting; he wanted to provide those reporters and others with a better comprehensive view of the theatre, according to Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon spokesman. The guidelines were drawn up before Gen. Stanley McChrystal was fired; they were intended to increase his communication with the Pentagon press corps, albeit in an orderly fashion.
The new objectives are framed by "an understanding" that key milestones in the conflict, including the counterinsurgency approach to regain control of Kandahar, the administration's policy review in December, and the July 2011 transition/withdrawal date, "will also frame public and decision-maker perceptions."