The events around the Crimea once again made clear the sharpness of the information confrontation in the regions where any military activity is conducted and the defense interests of different states collide. According to NVO, in the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation there was a real need to urgently increase the outreach work with the personnel of the Russian troops involved in the peninsula and with the local population. It was here that it turned out that, in fact, there is nothing to use. After several years of transformation under the leadership of the “best minister of defense” Anatoly Serdyukov, the military press system, which was traditionally used in such cases, has virtually ceased to exist.
The editorial offices of the brigade newspapers exist at best on paper, they do not have qualified personnel and a mobile printing base. The training of military journalists at the Military University was discontinued a few years ago "as unnecessary." District and naval newspapers are "dispersed" and are also experiencing staff shortages. Moreover, in the military department, it seems, the point of view still dominates that the time of the military press has already passed, and now everything is decided by the Internet and the iPhone, which, during the aggravation of the situation, suddenly ... turn out to be disconnected.
The incorporation of the printing facilities of the Ministry of Defense led to the fact that in a special period, as such, in fact, were the events in the Crimea, the Main Directorate for Work with Personnel (also, by the way, draining a miserable existence in the areas of the Military University) is not able to attract attention pro-Russian population of the Crimea, but also its own units of the Black Sea Fleet. Even today, when Crimea became part of Russia, the Red Star defense ministry, for example, cannot be found either in Simferopol or Kerch, although the demand for it has grown many times. OJSC Krasnaya Zvezda, which owns the printing facilities of the Armed Forces, including the former printing house of the departmental newspaper, seems to be ready to raise the morale of the army and navy, but, of course, for a separate additional fee ...
And what is the situation in the West, in the United States, to take the example of which in the field of military construction, the previous leaders of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff so actively called up so recently? Americans both formed and purposefully form the corresponding moral and combat qualities of servicemen. At the same time, huge amounts of money are spent not only on new information technologies and electronic media, but also on a printed word that maintains effectiveness in the field (as shown by Iraq and Afghanistan).
On this topic, our conversation with the well-known military expert, Major-General of the reserve Sergei PECHUROV.
- Sergey Leonidovich, the global world has entered the era of new conflicts that require a radical revision of the principles of warfare. At the same time, the requirement for the moral and combat qualities of servicemen remains unchanged - in each particular case they must meet the tasks facing the troops. So what is being done in the American army in this regard?
- It should be noted first of all that in the Armed Forces of the United States in the phrase "moral-combat" both its components are equivalent. And equipping the military with the most modern weaponsBy teaching them the correct use of it and the ability to operate effectively under combat conditions, the command of the American army is no less concerned about the moral preparation of its subordinates. All informational and explanatory work is directed there, I deliberately do not use the term “education”, because it is not particularly honored in the US Armed Forces.
It is based on the formation and development of the personality of a serviceman as a citizen - a patriot of his country, a sense of responsibility for the United States, as a great power of the world, and pride in belonging to the American Armed Forces - the “stronghold of democracy around the world.” A significant place in this work is given to the constant training of a soldier’s confidence in his own abilities and the justice of the tasks assigned to him, the need for their unquestioning fulfillment. Special attention is paid to the development of personnel immunity to the psychological effects of the enemy.
Do you think that Islamist organizations did not try to wage an information war against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? Even as they tried, but its effectiveness was almost zero. And this is the result of the active advocacy work that is being carried out in the US Armed Forces.
- For this, they naturally have the necessary forces and means?
- Sure. Despite the fact that commanders of all degrees are responsible for the formation of moral and combat qualities of military personnel, each at his own level, respectively, created and developed special information services that permeate the entire structure of the US Armed Forces from top to bottom and are saturated with highly qualified specialists in this field. All of them are widely used for these purposes by the media, subordinate to the Pentagon. Financial and administrative control over the military media is exercised by the Defense Media Activity, a department of the US Department of Defense created in October 2008. For these purposes, the department receives about $ 250 million from the budget annually.
It should be noted that the US Army has the largest radio and television systems in the world in terms of power and reach. The United States Armed Forces Radio and Television Service - AFRTS controls almost 300 ground radio and television stations located in the United States and in the countries of deployment of American troops. Broadcasting is conducted mainly in the HF, HF and VHF bands. The use of the capabilities of three communication satellites allows for round-the-clock transmissions targeted at military audiences in the United States and abroad. Responsibility for informing military personnel and their families lies with the commanders-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces joint commands in the zones.
The largest of the branches is the radio and television information system of American troops in Europe (AFN) with headquarters in Frankfurt am Main and a staff of 200 people who have 24 powerful radio transmitters, 10 telecentres and a significant number of repeaters. Smaller AFRTS branches are located in groups of American troops in Japan, South Korea, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Alaska, and Greenland.
In recent years, the Pentagon has been making extensive use of the Internet for outreach work with personnel. To this end, internal social networks have been created that are protected from unauthorized access, in which you can not only communicate with each other, but also watch specially prepared videos. Or go to the blog of, say, Colonel-General Raymond Odierno, the former commander of the US forces and the coalition in Iraq, in which he reflects on the nature of military service, answers questions that concern soldiers and officers.
- But after all, it is obvious that the American command, when carrying out outreach work, places an increasing emphasis on electronic media, given their growing opportunities and widest distribution?
- To some extent it is. However, the Pentagon is well aware that the specifics of military service even in peacetime does not always allow the use of electronic media, and therefore, in the foreseeable future, the military press also plays an important role in informing military personnel and the civilian population. Moreover, it is a factor of constant and long-term impact on the consciousness of personnel, and this, in turn, increases its effectiveness. For example, during the invasion of the American army into Iraq, the Pentagon additionally sent thousands of copies of its departmental newspaper Stars and Stripes (Stars and Stripes) to the troops of 200 per newspaper per soldier. Currently, about 40 thousand copies of this newspaper are sent daily to Afghanistan. It is provided there for both soldiers and officers for free.
- How big is the military press network in the USA?
- Currently, the US Army has an arsenal of more than 1400 military periodicals. One-off copies of nearly 400 magazines and more 1000 newspapers are 12 million copies. Of the 22 magazines published by the US Department of Defense, the most famous is the publication of the Department of Public Relations of the US Department of Commander's Digest. Profiled magazines are published by ministries of all kinds of Armed forces. In the Army, 13 magazines are published, the leading one being Soldiers magazine. 27 magazines publish Navy. Especially popular among sailors is the magazine All hands. The air force produces 38 magazines. The recognized leader among them is Airman magazine. The circulation of each of the above journals exceeds 100 thousand copies.
At the Pentagon itself, the Airlie Beard (Early Bird) daily newspaper is published for the staff, which is in fact the US press digest, which contains articles on the military, military-political topics, as well as on military-technical, military-economic and military finance issues.
On the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, fresh newspapers waited no less than the supply of ammunition.
The combined headquarters of the US Armed Forces in areas of responsibility, formations and separate units, including the brigade, have the right to publish their own press organs. The right to issue one print edition is given to aircraft carriers and all military bases in the United States and abroad. The “field seal” (the press organs of the formations, formations, units and ships) appears several times a week, providing the servicemen with the necessary information. Its main task is the purposeful satisfaction of the information needs of the personnel, the motivation of its conscientious service, the formation of moral and combat qualities. Naturally, no one in the Pentagon raises the question of profit from the publication of the military media.
It should also be noted that the Pentagon expressed doubts about the advisability of placing materials on military topics in civilian press because of the exorbitant costs of their payment. The costs of such publications in civilian media are quite comparable to the costs of maintaining their own publications.
DEMAND FOR PRINTING WORD
- You called the American newspaper "Stars and Stripes." It somehow resembles the Soviet practice of military publications ...
- Not certainly in that way. Under American law, the distribution of military media is limited to garrisons and military bases. They do not have the right to circulate throughout the United States. In this regard, the newspaper "Stars and Stripes", which is, in fact, the central print organ of the Pentagon, is published only for US military personnel and their families abroad. And in this regard, representatives of the US military have repeatedly told me that they are jealous of our Department of Defense, which for years already has had such a newspaper as the Red Star for 90, and can use it to talk with both the Armed Forces and all Russian by the people.
As for the newspaper "Stars and Stripes", then its circulation is about 100 thousand copies. If necessary, as it was during the war in Iraq, it can be significantly increased. There is also a website, a separate electronic version of each issue and a weekly. In addition to the central office in Washington, there are regional offices in the UK, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea. Each office has its own editorial staff. The Stars and Stripes work for 100 reporters and editors around the world.
The central editorial office in Washington primarily tracks news agency events. It also generates a number, its content from various versions of regional publications. Then the finished newspaper is transmitted by satellite to print points in Europe, the Middle East and Japan. The distribution of "Stars and Stripes" depends on the specific country. In Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Okinawa, Guam and South Korea, a newspaper is obtained by subscription directly to a house. It is also sold in kiosks and on the shelves of stores located in military bases. In war zones, which include all locations of American troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the newspaper is distributed absolutely free of charge at military bases.
As the correspondent of “Stars and Stripes” told me once in a conversation with me, the newspaper was given a certain degree of independence. It lies in the fact that, receiving instructions from the Ministry of Defense to cover certain topics necessary for conducting outreach work with personnel, the editorial board does not coordinate its materials with individuals or with the military department as a whole. . Moreover, the Ministry of Defense cannot unreasonably interfere in the editorial process, subject the team to obstruction for critical articles, if the published material is truthful, balanced and accurate. Well, it is as if the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation cooperated under an agreement with NVO, recognizing the complete independence of its editorial policy and not interfering in the intra-editorial activities ...
Financing of the newspaper "Stars and Stripes" comes from various sources. Thus, in the budget of the Ministry of Defense for 2013, the allocation of more than 48 million dollars to the needs of Stars and Stripes is envisaged. Most of this amount is spent to cover the costs associated with printing a newspaper and its delivery, and the rest to pay journalists. Financing the newspaper and some military commands abroad. In addition, some funding is provided by the editorial staff’s own efforts, in particular through the sale of advertising space in the newspaper, on the website, in weekly publications and special supplementary applications. It also includes revenues from the sale of a newspaper in places where it is not distributed free of charge.
All this gives the team the opportunity to make the newspaper interesting for readers, which, in turn, allows the American command to actively use it as an effective tool in outreach work with personnel.
WHAT SUITS FOR US
- In your opinion, how applicable are American approaches to organizing outreach in Russian conditions?
- Life shows that blind copying is always unproductive, it is important to be able to adapt the forms of work that have shown their effectiveness to our realities, the domestic experience of the formation of moral and combat qualities of servicemen. I will not venture to propose any comprehensive solutions, I will express only a few considerations.
First, we need to turn our attention to the informational and explanatory work in order to form and maintain a high level of moral and psychological state of the Russian military. It is impossible to consider, as it was done until recently, that the moral and combat qualities of soldiers are transmitted from mother’s milk and that their development can be stimulated only by increasing the monetary reward. The role of advocacy today is much more important than in the Soviet Union, when one ideology existed and everything was clear to everyone. And how to understand the current situation, when each party pushes its ideology, sometimes having nothing to do with statehood, when some media, without feeling responsible, turn everything upside down, sometimes without even putting the Supreme Commander. Without a proper outlook in such an environment, it is impossible to draw the right conclusion not only to ordinary soldiers, the education of the majority of whom is lame, but also to an officer.
And the dissemination of best practices of the best subdivisions and military units, bringing to the officers practical recommendations on solving various problems arising during service ... The most effective means here can only be the military press.
In this connection, secondly, I would expand what our own and American experience suggests, the network of military media. Recently, we are talking about the integration of information tools of the military department. I think this is a pressing question. Combining in one hands all the resources of influence on the minds of servicemen will allow them to use them more purposefully in conducting outreach work with personnel in the formation of the moral and combat qualities of servicemen. True, much will depend on the principles on which the integration will occur.
Without any doubt, it is important to create a radio and television service of the Ministry of Defense. And I would start to create it at the level of bases, large garrisons, and separate military units. In the center at radio and television studios would prepare special radio programs and videos, for example, how to cope with non-statutory relations or with other army problems, and send them to military units.
In connection with the policy of enlarging military garrisons, one would have thought of strengthening the editorial offices of brigade newspapers, turning them into full-fledged periodicals designed for a specific readership of one or another garrison: the military, their families, and the local public.
It is important, I think, to preserve, and in fact, restore the three-tier system of the printed media of the Armed Forces: the publication of military units - the newspaper of the commands of military districts (fleets) - "Red Star". Each of the “floors” of this newspaper pyramid has its own unique target audience, its own niche in the information sphere.
NEED AND REVIVAL AND NOVATION
- Is it really necessary to build everything anew? Are the once very well-known and popular military publications in Russia forgotten?
- Well, some famous military publications in the past, fortunately, are still preserved. Although mostly barely holding on ... But as an analyst with great experience, I will say that they all still enjoy prestige both in our country and abroad. And not to use such "brands" with the maximum benefit for the business, to put it mildly, is unwise.
I would also note that it would not hurt to actively engage in this outreach work in the Armed Forces with successful independent military publications and network resources that appeared in new Russian times and demonstrate their high competence in the subject area. Such publications should be not only in each unit in several copies, it is important that as many officers sign them as possible, and not in the form of an order, but feeling the need for this, since they will be able to find answers to questions that concern the army. It is also desirable that these publications, with the support of the Ministry of Defense, be distributed in schools and other civilian educational institutions so that they can be easily bought at kiosks throughout the country.
Finally, in my opinion, there is an urgent need for an illustrated youth publication telling the language of the Russian army in the language accessible to modern children. Of course, this magazine should have its own Internet version, taking into account the enthusiasm of young people with the latest information technologies. At the end of the Soviet period, as I recall, the illustrated magazine “Soviet Warrior”, the supplement “Fighting comrade”, the weekly “Son of the Fatherland” were published ... Of course, taking into account the size of the current army and financial possibilities, today three editions will be a bit much, but one illustrated publication at the modern printing level, perhaps as a youth supplement to the "Red Star", is a good time to create, especially since the government pays special attention to civil-patriotic education guide generation, preparing it for the service of the Fatherland.
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This is the opinion of General Pechurov, who knows firsthand how things are going with the formation of the moral and combat qualities of military personnel abroad. Regarding the state of affairs in the Russian military press, our interlocutor is certainly right in that in striving to increase the informational impact on personnel, you cannot act by the method of Herostratus. In pursuit of innovations in the form of Twitter and Facebook (although they are certainly important - but as an addition to the already existing system), we must not forget that the army exists for war, and the military press system must correspond to the functional purpose of the Armed Forces, the harsh realities of the military affairs Such are the thoughts about sore inspired General events in the Crimea.