War on Terrorism Aided by Regional Public Relations Operations
U.S. counterterrorism experts in the Pacific region have turned to media outreach to combat terrorists and their allies who exploit mass media, including the Internet, to further their goals. Examples of these efforts were described by two U.S. military officers in a panel focusing on multinational operations at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009, being held in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 2-5. Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, USN, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, Pacific, related how experts helped host a national media conference in the Philippines to help promote better media coverage. Within 30 days, observers could see an overall increase in positive coverage of the counterterrorism conflict in Mindanao. A targeted effort was described by Col. Enrico Deguzman, USMC, director of operations, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific. He related how the allies held a photo contest in the Philippines. Photographers were offered a prize of 50,000 pesos for the winning photograph in the contest. Knowing that the contest was sponsored by pro-government forces, photographers shifted their focus away from critical imagery. That countered leftist efforts that aimed at breaking up the strategic partnership between the United States and the Philippines, he noted.