The Air Force has temporarily suspended much of its interaction with the media until public affairs officials and commanders down to the wing level complete “operational security training,” according to a March 1 memo. The move — which will limit access to media embeds, base visits and interviews — could lead to a broader freeze in how the service interacts with the public, reports Defense News. “As we engage the public, we must avoid giving insights to our adversaries which could erode military advantage,” the guidance states. “We must now adapt to the reemergence of great power competition and the reality that our adversaries are learning from what we say in public.”
Retraining could be in completed “in the coming weeks,” said Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas, director of public affairs.
The guidance covering the interim period until the training is completed does not appear aimed at interactions between installation officials and community leaders, but it does indicate installations and units should consult with Air Force headquarters’ public affairs engagement division before conducting “operationally-focused community leader discussions or discussions in which media may be present.” Officials, however, may participate in community and public events — such as closed meetings with interagency or public sector partners, or “industry days” — if members of the media are not present.