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Pentagon fine-tunes media strategy on Afghan war

The Pentagon is amping up efforts to explain its war strategy in Afghanistan to an increasingly war-weary public.

The push, which is timed to get ahead of a major review of the policy beginning this December, is outlined in an internal memo by Douglas. B. Wilson, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. The new plan is built around a big increase in briefings from field commanders in Afghanistan to the Pentagon press corps, and mirrors the media strategy used when Gen. David H. Petraeus was commanding in Iraq in 2007, said defense officials.

"We are trying to get back to the Petraeus model that worked so well in Iraq," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

The memo calls for Petraeus and his senior deputies to brief the Pentagon press corps at least every six weeks. Those briefings would, in turn, be supplemented by more regular press briefings with brigade commanders from Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has complained in recent months that the Pentagon has done a poor job of explaining its overall strategy in Afghanistan and that the U.S. media has focused too narrowly on the violence in southern Afghanistan. The memo seems to be an effort to address both criticisms.

By Greg Jaffe  | July 12, 2010; 2:59 PM ET
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