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Defense Media Activity Breaks Down Barriers

Jim Garamone - American Forces Press Service

The Defense Media Activity is all about breaking down barriers between reporting disciplines, the new organization's chief of staff said in an interview yesterday.

The activity, which stood up Oct. 1, combines the internal information portions of the services' and Defense Department's public affairs functions in one headquarters.

The Soldiers Media Center, the Air Force News Service, the Navy Media Center, Marine Corps News, the Stars & Stripes newspaper and the Defense Information School, as well as the former American Forces Information Service, all are part of the new activity.

Changing the cultures of these organizations is part of the challenge for the leaders of the new activity.

"All these folks ... have historically worked for different bosses," said Army Col. Michael S. Galloucis, DMA's chief of staff. "Now, they work for one boss, and there is always going to be an adjustment period."

The amalgamation of the command information activities is part of the base realignment and closure commission process. The 2005 commission saw monetary savings in putting these organizations under one roof and a chance for synergy among the services.

The activity is forcing people to cross-talk among communities, Galloucis said. In the past, broadcast specialists spoke only with other broadcasters, print reporters with other "ink-stained wretches," and Web experts with other Web personnel, he said.

"We are saying those traditional thresholds that existed between those people and organizations have to go; we want to eliminate them," the colonel said. "We want this to be a solidified, integrated organization, so that folks in all those organizations are working toward a common aim."

There was resistance to the idea early on in the planning process, "but it's not like there is any choice," Galloucis said.

The base realignment process was ratified by Congress and has the force of law. "It's not going away," the colonel said. "Whether they agree with the program or not is a moot point. Any opportunity to shape that was in 2005, before the commission came out with its conclusions."

One key project is standing up a headquarters to meet the organization's needs in human resources, finance, contracting, administration, logistics and, most importantly, operations.

"We had a two-day Tiger Team effort ... from our components and looked at how we should design our operations directorate," Galloucis said.

The activity does not yet have a director. The job is a career senior executive service position, and the director will report to the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Resumes have been winnowed down, the interview process is under way and a decision should come shortly, Galloucis said.

Galloucis and Bob Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, have not let decisions go wanting. "There have been no decisions that needed to be made that have not been made," Galloucis said. "I've either made them myself, or ... I've asked Mr. Hastings. There have been no decisions that have been waiting on the side for a new director."

Plans continue to move forward and will be ready for decisions by whomever is chosen as the director, the colonel said.

Even as the new organization sets up, DMA is producing information products and still has to meet the information needs of the services and DoD, Galloucis said. He pointed out that press services still must produce stories, the Armed Forces Network still has to broadcast entertainment and news, and the service flagship magazines still must publish. "We're not going to accept any degradation of service to our customers," the colonel said.

"If I was painting a room in my house, I would close the room and cover everything in plastic and then paint the room. I wouldn't be able to use it for the duration," he said. "[Standing up DMA] is like painting a room while activities in the room continue unabated."

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