New Pentagon Media Agency Seeks to Fill Top Job

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By Walter Pincus
Monday, August 25, 2008

The Defense Department is looking for an "energetic and imaginative executive" to run its newly formed Defense Media Activity, according to an advertisement on the agency's Web site.

The executive would earn as much as $172,200 a year overseeing DMA, which since its establishment in January combines formerly separate Pentagon media organizations, such as the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, the Stars and Stripes newspaper, and the Pentagon Channel on television. It also includes the DefenseLink Web site and the military services' Web sites, the Bloggers Roundtable, and the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine magazines.

All told, the new chief would oversee 2,400 military, government and contract employees around the world, and a budget of more than $225 million.

The primary mission of DMA, according to the directive that set it up, is to "provide a wide variety of information products to the entire DoD family." That "family" includes active, National Guard and Reserve service members; their dependents; retirees; Defense civilian and contract employees; and "external audiences."

Along with communicating "messages and themes" from senior Defense officials, DMA will provide radio and television news and entertainment programming.

The directive, signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, lists another mission: to provide, "throughout the Department of Defense and to the American public, high quality visual information products, including Combat Camera imagery depicting U.S. military activities and operations."

No other department in government has so large an internal communications operation whose work is also designed for public consumption.

Although the directive includes "external audiences" as part of the Defense "family," the department and the separate military services have their own media operations that deal with civilian reporters and producers.

The directive also created a Defense Media Oversight Board, which is chaired by the assistant defense secretary for public affairs and includes the DMA director, the services' information chiefs and the public affairs assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The board's job is to ensure that DMA "policies, priorities, and programs properly reflect DoD-wide and Military Service-unique messages and strategic communications requirements," according to the directive.

A $68 million, 186,000-square-foot DMA headquarters is to be constructed by 2011 on the grounds of Fort Meade. It will house about 650 employees, one-quarter of DMA's staff. Two of the larger DMA elements, Stars and Stripes and the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, will remain at their current locations.

National security and intelligence reporter Walter Pincus pores over the speeches, reports, transcripts and other documents that flood Washington and every week uncovers the fine print that rarely makes headlines -- but should. If you have any items that fit the bill, please send them to fineprint@washpost.com.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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