FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Over 80 chaplains, religious affairs specialists, and Army Civilians, including directors of religious education, attended the first-ever U.S. Army Chaplain Corps Strategic Communication Workshop at the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir, Va., April 12.
The purpose of the event was to motivate and equip rising Chaplain Corps leaders to communicate in ways that facilitate "Investing in People, Connecting them in Spirit, and Cultivating Community," in order to build spiritual readiness in the Army’s People.
The theme of the workshop was "Being a Corps: Serving with a Shared Strategic Purpose and Message."
Chaplain (Major General) Thomas Solhjem, U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains, challenged the participants to work together with colleagues to enhance and operationalize the Corps' sense of shared strategic purpose and messaging in order to enhance its ability to build Army spiritual readiness.
“How can we be better integrated with one another in our Corps, and provide better mutual support to one another as we ‘Care for the Soul of the Army’?” Solhjem asked. “Having a shared strategic purpose and message is an important way to help make that happen.”
Retired Army General Vincent Brooks inspired the workshop participants with strategic communication lessons and application steps he gleaned from his experience at the very highest levels of Army and Joint Force command.
“When do you communicate? What do you communicate, and to whom?” Brooks asked. “Please think those things through. If you're not thoughtful about these three things, then you're likely to have a communication error.”
Retired Army Major General Christopher McPadden, challenged the workshop participants about "Imagining the Chaplain Corps as a Globally Integrated Joint Force." He based his message on his experience as the former Director of Strategy, Planning, and Policy in the Army G-3/5/7, where he worked on integrating the Army with the other military branches.
“When you want to clearly communicate the strategic message, you have to clarify it, own it, and do it,” McPadden said.
Lt. Col. Charles “Kip” Patterson, Director of Public Affairs and Communication Strategy, Defense Information School, introduced a simple model to develop a communication plan that supports command objectives, using research, planning, implementation and evaluation.
“Communications planning allows us to develop programs that nest within the commander’s intent and lines of effort, and advance them, by changing what people know, feel, and do,” Patterson said. “To do this, we need to apply a methodical approach that employs extensive research and planning to help us arrive at strategies and tactics that will enable us to achieve our objectives.”