DJIBOUTI (HAN) November 11, 2015. Public Diplomacy & regional Security. Military and civilian officials from more than nine countries gathered at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, to attend the East Africa Public Information Officer Conference, Nov. 3 to 6, 2015.
“The motto of the conference is ‘leveraging information to sustain operational success’,” said Kenya Lt. Col. Paul Njugunda, African Union Mission in Somalia spokesperson. “This means if we use information properly, we will be able to assist our command in achieving its objective.”
More than 30 PIOs, civil affairs professionals and distinguished visitors from the Federal Government of Somalia attended the four-day conference hosted by Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. Subjects covered during the conference included the benefits of engaging media, combat camera capabilities and the effective use of social media and more.
“We learned the proper way to conduct a press conference from preparation to the end,” said Tanzanian Maj. Joseph Masanja, Peoples Defense Force information officer. “It is very beneficial to increase our skills to take home.” The conference stressed the importance of timely and transparent flow of information to troops, media outlets and other audiences. Bolstering communication skills improves the ability to communicate effectively with their local populace and garner support through different types of media, which is particularly important for AMISOM troops deployed to Somalia.
“Through sharing information, the Somali people will understand what we do for them,” said Njugunda. “This way we will fight misinformation from al-Shabaab.” CJTF-HOA and its partner nations share more than just the common goal of stability in East Africa; they also work to explore solutions and opportunities to collaborate across sectors, regions and organizations.
“Sharing best practices can adversely affect violent extremist organizations,” said U.S. Army Capt. Morgan Shepard, conference planner. “Communicating positively, honestly and quickly with the public is important to allow (partner nation) messages to be the prominent narratives in their environment.”