A Pentagon office responsible for coordinating Defense Department information campaigns overseas has been abolished, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Military and civilian critics told the Times on Wednesday, the paper reported, that the Pentagon’s office for Support to Public Diplomacy overstepped its mandate during the final years of the Bush administration by trying to organize information operations that violated internal guidelines for accuracy and transparency.

The office was created in 2007 to coordinate the DOD’s overseas information efforts with the rest of the government, in particular the White House, the State Department and U.S. embassies, the paper noted.

But American military officers in Afghanistan in particular were angered last year by sets of "talking points" provided by the office for use in responding to queries on matters like civilian casualties, according to the report. Officers who received the talking points predicted that the information would be seen by the Afghan public as blatant propaganda, and refused to use them, the Times wrote.

Officials said that the Pentagon would now support the White House and the State Department in communicating government messages to foreign audiences, with the efforts no longer centralized but assigned to each Pentagon policy office and regional military combatant commander.

Questions over the proper role of the Pentagon in public diplomacy have lingered since it was disclosed in 2002 that the DOD had created the Office of Strategic Influence, the Times reported, noting that the office — a forerunner of the public diplomacy office — was shut down after members of Congress expressed concerns that its efforts to shape public sentiment might undermine the military’s credibility.

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