USJFCOM’s Joint Training Directorate/Joint Warfighting recently improved its World News Network capabilities to simulate the media environment for deploying commanders and units.
Story by Navy MC2 (SW/AW) Amanda Dunford
(NORFOLK, Va. – Jan. 26, 2011) -- U.S Joint Forces Command’s (USJFCOM) Joint Training Directorate/Joint Warfighting Center’s (J7) provides support to units by conducting mission rehearsal exercises (MRX) leading up to their deployments.
One of the capabilities used during these MRXs is the World News Network (WNN), which provides media role players and helps facilitate media relations training.
“WNN is a one-of-a-kind facility, there’s nobody else that can do what they do for the warfighter. They bring a fully functional TV studio staffed with 16 seasoned TV news and video production professionals, including a certified meteorologist and folks who speak multiple languages,” said Navy Capt. Dennis Mikeska, J7 Joint Exercise division chief.
During 2010, WNN added a meteorologist to its team and started producing indigenous news to enhance the MRX experience.
Weather scenarios play a part during disaster response training exercises. Hurricanes, earthquakes and winter storms are just some of the few weather conditions participants might experience during the evolution.
“In a recent exercise that we did, there was an ice storm where they wanted to introduce a spur of the moment snow storm that I was able to concoct coming from the Gulf of Mexico for the Carolinas and Virginia,” said Cheryl Nelson , a contractor who supports WNN. “Obviously this area doesn’t typically get a lot of snow, but they had me introduce this at the last minute to ground some troops in that area and steer the training audience in a different direction.”
Indigenous news was produced to present the views of adversaries, regions and other political influences on foreign policy and the conduct of U.S. and coalition military operations.
“During MRXs for the Middle East or southwest Asia, we’ll do an English language al Arab network that presents an alternative view of the news than WNN is providing,” said Gil Williams, a contractor who works with WNN. “That gives the commander … another view to develop a communication strategy or strategic communication plans. The indigenous news can often be harsh and not U.S. friendly, and force the commanders to think about things they didn’t think about ahead of time.”
At the conclusion of an exercise, combatant commanders take a training effectiveness survey about possible improvements and highlights of what was most beneficial to them, helping the WNN team to improve and build upon the experiences they create for the training audience.
“On the survey, WNN routinely comes up at the top of the list as the most frequently recognized function that we have in our tool kit because you can really apply pressure on that training group to make some hard decisions based on simulations,” Mikeska said. “Because of the professionals that make that staff and the different roles that they play, the realism is authentic between WNN and the real news networks.”
WNN will be providing support to the United Endeavor 11-2 MRX in late January, with television and radio broadcasts in addition to written products provided by Joint Public Affairs Support Element. They also are supporting Integrated Advance 11 in February to support U.S. Southern Command.