Air Force restricts public information access during retraining period
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 13, 2018
The Air Force is restricting media access to its bases and curtailing interviews with personnel while the service’s public affairs teams get retrained on operational security, according to new policy guidance.
The March 1 Air Force memo, obtained by Defense News, states that responses to reporter questions about operations, training and readiness now must be approved by the Air Force’s public affairs headquarters at the Pentagon. Media embeds also are restricted for the time being.
The guidance is expected to stand while public affairs teams and commanders down to the wing level get trained on how to avoid disclosing sensitive information. Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas, the Air Force’s top spokesman, told Defense News the training could be completed “in the coming weeks.”
“As we engage the public, we must avoid giving insights to our adversaries which could erode our military advantage,” the memo stated. “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.”
Not all commands are subject to the public affairs restrictions. For example, combatant command guidance takes precedence for public affairs teams supporting Air Force headquarters in Europe and the Pacific, the memo states.
“We have not ceased or reduced engagements with our audiences or the media,” said Gabriel Myers, spokesman for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa. “The memo and the training provides us with an additional opportunity to ensure we are protecting sensitive information.”