That's not terribly likely, as Little's memo is also a product of bureaucratic original sin: according to Pentagon insiders, the memo wasn't coordinated or cleared with the Joint Staff or the Policy office before going out. That's a big no-no, and likely to generate powerful new antibodies.
Neglecting to clear memos with other offices before leaking them to the press is standard practice for bureaucratic power grabs, of course, and Little's memo certainly counts as such. The Public Affairs office, he asserts, is "continuing our leadership role in communication and reminding those in the communication business that most things previously termed [strategic communication] are in fact Public Affairs responsibilities."
This passive-aggressive bureaucratese illustrates one of the reasons sane government employees try to keep strategic communication out of their portfolios: it's one of those things that people can't stop fighting over.
For the last decade, strategic communication has been the subject of rancorous interagency and intra-agency bickering. Public diplomacy experts at the State Department think "strategic communication" is what they already do, and want DOD out of the picture altogether. Meanwhile, the DOD Public Affairs office has traditionally insisted that strategic communication is what they already do, and they want the policy people to stop mixing their peanut butter in Public Affairs' chocolate. Pentagon policy and strategy experts meanwhile maintain that strategic communication has only a glancing relationship to traditional "communications" and is mostly an issue of planning operations to achieve "information effects." And the White House -- which apparently hasn't seen Little's memo -- insists on referring to top Obama advisor Ben Rhodes as the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications.
So what does it all mean? When it comes to strategic communication, is there a there there? Or is George Little right to despise the term "strategic communication," take the view that strategic communication is "in fact" just public affairs, and propose replacing it with the term "communications synchronization"?
Little's claim that the term "strategic communication" causes confusion is fair enough. (Trust me: it confused me for more than two years.) Indeed, I've often felt that there's a special place in hell reserved for the person who first foisted the term "strategic communication" on the Defense Department. The term itself was a corporate import, and a pernicious one.
In the corporate world, the term "strategic communication" has been used for several decades to describe the coordinated use of activities designed to make the corporate entity "look good," such as marketing, advertising, public relations, community relations, and so on. It carries overtones of manipulation: after all, marketers needn't care if their product is "good" (or healthy, or durable, or safe, or whatever) -- their goal is just to make sure people buy the product, regardless of its actual value.
During the early years of the Bush administration, the term "strategic communication" was similarly used to cover a multitude of sins. These ranged from the foolish but relatively innocuous conviction that lots of "messaging" was all it took to counter violent extremism, to rather more sinister efforts, such as paying to clandestinely plant feel-good "news" stories in the Iraqi press. To many, the term "strategic communication" became tightly linked to other regrettable Bush administration neologisms, such as the "global war on terror" (GWOT) and the "war of ideas."