The Army's public affairs staff informs both Army personnel and the public about events and activities in the Army. Since many issues are time-sensitive, public affairs officers work closely with Army commanders to quickly release messages and statements to the media. Soldiers working in the field attend public affairs training at the Defense Information School in Fort Meade in Odenton, Maryland.
Several Military Occupational Specialties, or MOS, participate in public affairs training at Fort Meade. These include public affairs specialists, public affairs broadcast specialists, multimedia illustrators and combat documentation and production specialists. Soldiers in these MOSes must understand public affairs to create media documents and presentations that clearly deliver a message and maintain a strong, positive public image of the Army.
Public Affairs Specialist Training
Army soldiers attend public affairs specialist training alongside other Department of Defense personnel and international military personnel. Public Affairs Specialist Training is a 56-day course. In it, students learn the theory and principles of public affairs and media and community relations. Students focus on print journalism and learn the formatting, style and techniques that will allow them to write feature news stories and how to design and lay out a print publication. They also learn the basics of using a digital camera to capture images for their copy. The Public Affairs Specialist Training-Advanced Distributed Learning course covers the same material as the Public Affairs Specialist Training in only 28 weeks. Twenty-six weeks of the course are completed online and there is a two week in-residence phase at Fort Meade.
Other Journalism Courses
Two other courses at Fort Meade include the Content Management Course and the Intermediate Photojournalism Course. The 20-day Content Management Course prepares soldiers be editors. Students learn how to improve the layout and design of a publication, coach writers and photographers and manage print and web-based publications. The Intermediate Photojournalism Course is 40 days of training in written and visual communication. Topics of study include the interrelationship of writing and photography, photography techniques and principles of layout and design.
Officers working in public affairs attend the Public Affairs Qualification Course. Officers learn how to use print, online and video to effectively deliver messages. The course covers the basics of interviews, research, writing and editing. Training includes practical exercises and case studies. Other available leadership courses include the Intermediate Public Affairs Specialist Course, Combat Camera Leadership Course and Visual Information Management.