In this rapidly globalizing 21st century, our nation and our military are out competing in a marketplace of ideas. We live in a 24/7 news cycle with near instant reporting and widespread dissemination of stories. It is a teeming, tumultuous, and exhausting marketplace. There has been a tremendous push for military professionals to understand, quantify, and assess our ability to compete in this arena. On all fronts, we must excel at strategic communication—the ability to get our message out to the right audience, at the right time, with the proper effect, and in all media.
Each of us has a clear obligation to contribute to this effort, to be a part of the conversation, to help our ideas compete. Our nation was founded on ideas that just could not be repressed—those of freedom and liberty. In 1776, we launched these ideas into a world ruled by a different system. Our ideas faced stiff competition, and throughout the years we have even suffered wars to defend them—wars like today’s struggle against extremists who use terrorism as a weapon, often to suppress freedom of expression. Our second President, John Adams, once wrote that the best way to defend our ideas was through using our minds: “Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”
Admiral James Stavridis