Digital StratComm at US Pacific Command


At the end of my digital media public affairs workshop at US Pacific Command, I sat down with US Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel King, the command’s deputy director of public affairs, to discuss the major threats facing the US and its allies in the Pacific and what it means for the strategic public relations management approach of his team.  

LTC King is an experienced crisis communications expert who travels regularly to support Admiral Willard’s, PACOM’s ranking officer, in a public affairs capacity and to assist in the strategic planning of public relations.  He and his team recently handled the communications for the United States response to the sinking of the Republic of Korea’s warship the Cheonan, allegedly by a North Korean submarine.  

He earned an advanced degree at USC in strategic public relations from Annenberg School of Communications.  

In this interview, LTC Daniel King goes on the record online about:

North Korea’s nuclear capabilities

Google’s defection from China

Use of video by the activists and Israeli Defense Forces Public Affairs detail throughout the recent Gaza Flotilla Raid (or the Gaza Flotilla Attack, depending on your politics)

Where US Pacific Command is with respect to social media community relations strategy.  

The interview was recorded at US Pacific Command, or PACOM, which is stationed at a high-security facility at Camp HM Smith, situated on Oahu’s higher-ground with a sweeping view over Pearl Harbor. 

Guests must be accompanies by an escort, are required to remove the battery from their cell phone and must switch off their laptop wireless signal.  


00:54 — An overview of US Pacific Command, which is the US combatant command responsible for a geographic region that comprises 51 percent of the world’s surface, from the West Coast of Los Angeles to the West Coast of India and from the North Pole to the South Pole.  The Pacific region is occupied by 36 nations and 3.4 billion people. LTC King characterizes the region as tremendously diverse and dynamic in its people, its economies, its politics and its diplomacy.  

01:55 – US Pacific Command’s mission is to work together with US partners and allies to facilitate and improve the security of the Asia-Pacific region to continue the stability that has benefited the region for the last 60 years. Five of the 7 US international treaties apply to the Pacific.  Over $1.3 trillion dollars of international commerce moves back and forth throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and all of that is facilitated by the security and stability factors maintained by PACOM and its partners.  

03:17 – The biggest challenges facing the US and its interests in the Pacific are humanitarian, natural or military disasters are anything else that compromises “unfettered access to the global commons.”  

04:31 – North Korea’s vow to respond to the US and South Korea’s Operation Invincible Spirit (exercises involving 200 sea faring vessels and 200 aircraft) with “powerful nuclear deterrents” and the United Nations Security Council’s reaction to the recent sinking of the Republic of Korea’s Choenan, which resulted in the death of 46 South Korean service members, allegedly by a North Korean submarine and PACOM’s response effort.  

07:43 – How LTC King was informed about the explosion aboard the Cheonan, the course of action he and his team took as a result and the role of the mainstream news media during the initial period after the event.   11:05 – Reports of propaganda posters seen inside North Korea depicting a fist smashing an enemy ship in two.  

12:04 – Whether or not the US military believes that North Korea has nuclear capabilities.  

13:53 – A fake Facebook profile for Admiral Willard, the top ranking military official at US Pacific Command, which recently appeared online and how he and his team dealt with the commander’s spoofed identity.  

16:03 — The Gaza Flotilla incident as a case study of how a relatively small group of activists were able to leverage communications to get information into the public space very quickly, and how flat organizations will always be able to get information out quicker than hierarchical ones.  

20:01 — Accelerating the process of declassifying information and the recent Wikileaks incident involving the inadvertent release of 91,000 classified reports about the war in Afghanistan.  

22:51 – The history of social media at the US Dept. of Defense and the role of images and video in military public affairs.  

26:24 — The impact of Google’s decision to pull out of China, and the impact of China’s censorship of the web on his efforts as a communicator.  

28:34 – How the Social Media Boot Camp by Eric Schwartzman at NORAD US Northern Command helped LTC King and PACOM communicate more effectively on behalf of the US Armed Forces.  US Pacific Command is engaged in Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr.  

31:34 – The challenges associated with integrating social media throughout US Pacific Command.   3

5:05 — End  

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