The military has long garnered recognition as a top organization when it comes to communication. Given the high stakes nature of military operations, and given the way that information has to be disseminated quickly, the military has had significant pressure put on it to get things right. It should follow, then, that the military would have developed processes that would help it get the most out of its processes. In looking at the military communication system, one can recognize both internal and external communication platforms that are useful. There are specific differences in these platforms that serve the utility that the military has long been after. By looking at these two in concert, one can better understand not only what makes the military tick in the way it does, but also the way in which other organizations could learn from the way that the military handles its own business. One of the things that makes the military unique in comparison to other organizations is that it must communicate well both internally and externally. Internally, the military needs both clarity and security, since its messages include information that absolutely cannot be taken outside of the circle of classified information recipients. In terms of external communication, the military has to ensure that its communications platforms are communicating in a manner that provides the best picture of what the military is all about. These divergent goals being recognized, using the right platforms has become one of the strengths of the military.
The military uses a significant number of internal communications platforms in order to get across the information that is necessary for the facilitation of the military. There are many different functions of these internal communications systems. For instance, there are human resources needs that must be accounted for. The military is an employer of many thousands of people, and those people must be managed, promoted, disciplined, and the like, just as any other company would have those sorts of needs. IT functions are also important to the facilitation of the military. The military must ensure, especially in the digital hacking age, that its systems are secure and running at all times. It is not like a typical organization in that an IT disaster has real and tangible consequences for the military. For other organizations, the consequences of an IT failure will not be as high, or as dire. The military gets no such break.
One of the internal communications platforms used by the military is the Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. This particular platform is a fully integrated platform that combines instant messaging, video messaging, and the like. The point of this software, according to the military, is to make personnel feel more engaged and to give them more empowerment. The ability to communicate in a manner that is integrated is also critical for the efficiency of the organization. Specifically, the military has learned that it can keep individuals more attuned to what is going on with their particular unit by using this internal communications platform.
Looking specifically at the Navy, there are specific internal communications that allow them to conduct their actual military operations. Specifically, the Navy uses line of sight and out of line of sight communications between various ships and other personnel who are out on the sea. These are important for ships that are out to sea, since they are often traveling blind. Line of sight for Naval ships can be only a few miles in some cases, especially when weather is poor. The Navy has internal communications platforms that allow for radio communication between various vessels, as well as with air personnel who are sometimes monitoring from above. These have long been somewhat low-tech operations. However, the Navy has recently upgraded these internal communications systems to make them more amenable to messaging and real-time communication.
The military also uses joint tactical radio systems to give its soldiers on the ground the ability to communicate among themselves. Ground radio has long been the bedrock internal communication system for the military at large. While they may have been some efforts in the past to make military operations more challenging and complex, this is changing over time. Specifically, there is a new movement toward making things simpler and more reliable. These systems tend to be designed just for the singular purpose that was planned. People who are on the ground, and who need to get out messages about what they are doing, where their units are located, and the like, will often use these radios to communicate short messages. One of the interesting things to know about these devices and platforms is that security has become paramount. Because it is difficult to use coded language on the battlefield, military personnel are looking for ways to secure their communications so that they can speak regularly without the worry that the enemy might steal their information and use it against them. These sorts of communication platforms have necessitated the need for individuals to use some coded language, and it has helped lead to the development of military-centric phraseology to make it easier for internal communication to take place.
The military has not been immune to changes in external communications. As with most organizations, the military has taken to more modern modes of external communication. Specifically, the military has begun to use social media as a unique tool to give it the ability to connect specifically with individuals. Social media is an external communications platform that allows the military to do what most people do on social media—share stories, get more engagement, and build a brand. As with most companies and organizations, the military has found that social media does an excellent job of helping it recruit and the like. Recruiting has become much easier with the Internet in play.
The military also uses traditional media as an external communications platform. The military’s connection with traditional media is a long-standing one. Leadership in the Department of Defense are well-connected with the major American media outlets, including the major newspapers and networks. With this in mind, the military has come up with creative ways to use this external communications platform to its advantage. One can think of how the military has allowed certain reporters to “embed” with the soldiers in order to get the message out. This has been a critical piece of the military external communication strategy, and figures to remain that way.
Because the military is a government agency, it sometimes uses things like official reports to communicate externally. For instance, one the issue of sexual violence, the military uses official government investigative reports. This platform is used to show transparency, so that the public can hope to regain its trust of the military in some form or fashion. It is a different approach that gives the military less control, but also goes a long way to achieving some of the goals that the military has with its communications.
The military is so large that its communications can be studied for effect. Over time, the military has developed new ways to communicate internally that have helped on the battlefield and off it. Externally, the military has behaved like other organizations, using technology and new ways of communicating to get across its message in a way that is relevant to the young audience that it is targeting today.
- Kelly, Liz. “Wars against women: Sexual violence, sexual politics and the militarised state.” States of conflict: Gender, violence and resistance(2000): 45-65.
- Maltby, Sarah, and Helen Thornham. “The digital mundane, social media and the military.” Media, Culture and Society (2016).
- Smith, Lyn. Effective internal communication. Kogan Page Publishers, 2008.