Keesler Air Force Base 403rd Wing Christmas message
If a recent report comes to fruition, there will be a serious cutback on information that leaves the walls of Keesler Air Force Base — regardless of how mundane it may seem.
Defensenews.com reported Monday that the U.S. Air Force is about to overhaul how it interacts with the public, specifically the media.
According to a March 1 guidance obtained by the site, “public affairs officials and commanders down to the wing level must go through new training on how to avoid divulging sensitive information before being allowed to interact with the press.”
The report goes on to say that even the most basic stories or requests will need to be cleared at the four-star command level.
The Air Force is implementing the changes in an effort to improve operational security.
“In today’s challenging information environment marked by great power competition, we will continue to be as transparent with the American public as possible while protecting sensitive information on our operations and capabilities,” Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas, director of public affairs, told Defense News. “We owe both to the public, and it is vitally important for the public to understand what we are doing on their behalf and with their tax dollars.”
Defense News says the change stems comes from President Donald Trump’s recently released National Defense Strategy.
“As we engage the public, we must avoid giving insights to our adversaries which could erode military advantage,” the March 2018 guidance read. “We must now adapt to the re-emergence of great power competition and the reality that our adversaries are learning from what we say in public.”
Beyond limiting the Air Force’s interactions with journalists, the new guidelines pose new restrictions on public appearances such as air show demonstrations, trade shows, industry conferences and think tank events, which can move forward if authorized by SAF/PA’s engagement division.
Defense News cited a source saying the Air Force actually kicked around the idea of freezing all interactions with media for 120 days, but opted instead for the retraining.
The move could be implemented in the next couple of weeks.
A January report from Defense News outlined a push to make the U.S. Navy’s more transparent, instead of a perceived “walk-back” in public information.