Wednesday, May 25, 2016

[Public Diplomacy and Military Music]

Excerpt from a comment by Rick Barnes (his image from Facebook) above on Facebook, which he kindly authorized me to cite below (comment was written in reaction to the article, Ellen Mitchell, "The Pentagon's battle of the bands," Politico).
During the last six months I've given two briefings on "Why Have a State Defense Force Band?" to the senior leadership of several SDFs during their annual conference of SGAUS (the State Guard of the United States) and to the soldiers of the Maryland Defense Force during our annual Muster. As part of these two briefings I cited three direct links between national security and military music: ... 
3. Public Diplomacy – Outreach to Foreign Nationals. When military bands are stationed overseas and are performing for foreign national citizens they are doing something called "public diplomacy." This is an area of particular interest of mine where I earned a post-doctoral certificate from the University of Southern California in 2010. Public diplomacy is the specific reason why the federal agency I now work for, the Voice of America, exists -- to broadcast news and information to parts of the world where press freedom is repressed or denied. Dr. Anthony Pratkanis, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate Institute said, "[Public diplomacy] seeks to promote national interests through attraction (as opposed to coercion); soft power is the use of the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals and policies to get others to admire those ideals and then follow one’s lead." And that's EXACTLY what military bands are doing when they are stationed overseas and performing for foreign nationals. They are winning hearts and minds and putting a bright face on America to others throughout the world. In that context, I see military bands stationed overseas and performing for foreign national citizens and the VOA broadcasting to foreign nationals as doing the same thing -- exuding the "soft power" of American public diplomacy. The only difference is the vehicle. We are using music and the VOA is using news and information. American military music can have an effect on our adversaries, too. CW4 (retired) Dave Smith, the former commander of the Berlin Brigade Band at the height of the Cold War, has often told me that an Army band can also serve as a "non-threatening show of force" to our foes.
These three connections between national security and military music -- morale and troop support, public affairs outreach to American citizens, and public diplomacy outreach to foreign nationals -- need to be conveyed to members of Congress and the senior leadership of the joint chiefs in terms they can understand. The point of the matter is simply this: decision makers need to understand the VALUE that military music provides to the American people and to their defense. From Congresswoman McCollum's statement, that "value" is not understood at all.

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