Getting the word out — a real team effort

We have all heard the importance of team work, but teamwork is sometimes the only way to make it work.

Yesterday was just a typical morning at the HQ Public Affairs office until the Director asked a very simple question. Who is monitoring exercise BRILLIANT ARDENT coverage? No one else was around so I found out a bit about it so when our division chief got back he would have the details he needed to determine a course of action.

It turned out BRILLIANT ARDENT falls into two of COMUSAFE’s key mission areas. It also turned out there was an equally important exercise going on elsewhere in the theater that fell into those same categories – FRISIAN FLAG.

We needed to get coverage. This may not seem very difficult to some. You write a few paragraphs, throw in a few photos and you’re done. But getting a story together and getting it the appropriate level of coverage is not always as easy as it seems — especially, when the events are occurring in six countries, or I should say high above them in fighter and tanker aircraft.

PublicAffairs doesn’t have an aircraft to quickly fly up to the action and get the story.

After a short discussion we made the calls to the involved wings public affairs shops, sent out a few emails and hoped we could at least get a few photos to accompany what we had started. The initial answer from one wing was a bit disheartening – “What’s BRILLIANT ARDENT?”

It didn’t deter the effort though. Each wing understood we needed their help and they got on with the business of providing information to us to ensure COMUSAFE’s message about Building Partnerships and Providing Forces for Global Operations.

The challenge was on the wings now. 2Lt Polesnak at Spangdhalem was the first to get back to us. She had coordinated with Maj Chisam at 22nd Fighter Squadron there to find out who was participating from the German bases.

A few hours later we had Staff Sgt May’s photos from onboard a 100th Air Refueling Wing tanker during a refueling mission with a French Mirage.

Shortly after that Capt. Harvey from the 48th Fighter Wing had a story and accompanying photos from 1Lt Ageton (who was a few countries away), posted up to the web.

By the end of the day the stories and photos were on the appropriate Air Force websites, the EUCOM website, had been submitted to the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office, and were making their way across Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Smugmug and other social media sites.

Now before anyone asks why PA is tooting the PA horn, this isn’t really about public affairs Airmen.

Sure a few PA Airmen were involved in getting the story out, but they were really only a small part. 1Lt Ageton is in the intel field, but her photos were essential to the coverage.

There was also Dan Stanley who handled all the flight doc appointments for the media going onboard the tankers. Maj. Saettel took care of all the paperwork and approvals through the commander. Security forces NCO, SSgt Stover took care of the base access letters for the media. There were also all the aircraft and aircrew schedulers; TSgt Rodriquez, Capt. Zervos, Capt Berge, Capt. Wolf.

You can’t forget the aircrew that had to work around people who aren’t normally a concern — Capt. Berge, Lt. Patterson, TSgt Scheuer, Capt. Pacione, Lt Williams, SrA Patras.

There are quite a few others who helped along the way whose names I don’t even know. The Dutch and US intelligence officers who made sure the area was cleared of any sensitive information for the photo. And so many more who were somehow involved in the line of communication.

And I have to stop there. If I go into all the things it took to actually make those exercises happen so PA had a story to tell, I would have to write a book and not a blog.

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