Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs Chief on Managing Online Engagement and the Mainstream Media Relations


Handling public affairs at the detainment facility operated by the Joint Task Force at GTMO “Gitmo,” the efforts of the Office of the US Secretary of Defense in establishing an umbrella social media policy and whether the US Dept. of Defense will publish data sets at, featuring Guantanamo Public Affairs Chief, US Navy Lieutenant Commander Brook DeWalt, APR and 2009 Public Relations Society of America International Conference Honorary Co-Chair.   

Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs Insights

01:12 – Brook talks about his role as the liaison between US Armed Forces public affairs and the Public Relations Society of America as the honorary PRSA International Conference Co-Chair.  

03:18 – The controversy surrounding the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, preparations to close the facility by Presidential Executive Order on Jan. 22, 2010, and the mission of the joint task.  

07:51 – Accommodating media at Guantanamo, who visit almost weekly to observe the conditions of the facility and the treatment of the detainees.  

10:27 – Managing public affairs, maintaining transparency, and providing access to information about the facility, the detainees, and the personnel who serve there.  

13:19 – Lt. Commander DeWalt responds to former Asst. Secretary of Defense Robert Hastings’s claim that Brook DeWalt was the brainchild behind the Department of Defense’s entrée into social media communications in his former role as Director of New Media for the US Department of Defense, and the Lieutenant Commander’s response that he was part of the team with retired US Navy Captain Roxie Merritt, who is currently the director of community relations for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Jack Holt and others.  

15:30 – The Department of Defense Bloggers Roundtable program, which DeWalt’s team launched, and other activities, including working with the Pentagon Channel and  

17:13 – A discussion of the umbrella social media policy, as discussed recently in the news media, developed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Offices within Joint Staff and an acknowledgment that technology is always in advance of policy.  

19:29 – Whether the lack of social media policy is a benefit or a detriment to implementing social media communications within the U.S. Department of Defense and the importance of having policy moving forward.  

21:31 – How public affairs within the US Armed Forces has changed in the age of the digital natives.  

22:20 – The unique demands of serving in a public affairs capacity with digital immigrants instead of digital natives.  

23:40 – Applying the standards of responsible communications, which in the US Armed Forces means “staying in your lane,” to the business of social media communications.  

26:10 – The absence of data provided by the US Dept. of Defense to, particularly given Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen’s speech at the 91st Annual American Legion Convention, in which he said that since the US presence in Afghanistan, 8 million children are in school, 2.4 million of which are girls, up from 800,000 prior to the US incursion. 

Couple this with the fact that the Citizen’s Briefing Book presented to President Obama said that in the area of Homeland Security, 38,250 people say that they do not support “wars on abstract concepts,” making it the number one issue in this area as far as the public is concerned. 

Whether or not the US Dept. of Defense will start providing more data about the impact of their efforts and which government agencies should be responsible for making that data available. (NOTE: As of Dec. 10, 2009, DoD currently offers six raw data sets at  

29:54 — End 

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