News, Propaganda: What's the Difference?

The U.S. general heading NATO forces in Afghanistan wants to merge the office that provides NATO information to reporters with the office that carries out "information operations" against enemy forces. U.S. General David McKiernan ordered that the public affairs functions of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan be combined with its Information Operations and PsyOps, starting December 1. The order is being reviewed by NATO headquarters in Brussels. An ISAF spokesperson called the review "an internal matter." NATO policy directs the separation of public affairs (PA) and information operations (IO), "to avoid creating a media or public perception that PA activities are coordinated by, or are directed by Info Ops." Reuters reports that "Germany has already threatened to pull out of media operations in Afghanistan," and one NATO official told Reuters that the merger would "totally undermine the credibility of the information" released by NATO. Back in 2006, the Columbia Journalism Review reported that the U.S. military had established a group in Kabul, Afghanistan called "Theaterwide Interagency Effects," to "synchronize public affairs, IO, and psyops."