By Lisa R. RhodesNovember 15, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Nov. 15, 2012) -- Eleven participants enrolled in the second Public Affairs Course for International Students at the Defense Information School graduated Nov. 6.
The students, representing Ukraine, Jordan, Brazil, Taiwan, South Sudan, Lebanon, the Czech Republic, the Philippines and the Republic of Macedonia completed the five-week course that began Oct. 1.
"I'm very glad, very happy," said Col. Philip Panyang Sr., a spokesperson for the Sudan People's Liberation Army, after receiving his diploma. "I learned some basics of professional communication. The knowledge is very useful. I will use it to train younger officers."
DINFOS Commandant Col. Jeremy Martin congratulated the graduates during the ceremony.
"You've done a tremendous job," Martin said. "I salute you for your diligence and your dedication."
The Public Affairs Leadership Department at DINFOS oversees PACIS. The course does not emphasize a U.S.-centric approach to military public affairs, but provides a foundation of knowledge so students can deploy as public affairs officers in an international operational environment, such as a U.S.-led coalition, a NATO operation, a U.N. peacekeeping mission or other multinational operation.
The curriculum includes social media, public affairs ethics, the basic principles of audio-visual products, crisis communication, media interviews, on-camera exercises and global security trends.
By the end of the course, students must complete a Capstone Project, or communications plan that incorporates what they have learned to address a communications challenge they are facing in their military command. The students will deliver their plan to their military leadership when they return home.
The next PACIS class will begin Jan. 16. The participating countries have not yet been determined.
During the ceremony, Martin said a highlight for the students was the opportunity to meet George Little, the acting assistant secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and the Pentagon press secretary.
Students observed Little at the Pentagon as he conducted his daily briefing with military journalists. Afterward, Little answered student questions.
"They learned from our top public affairs professional," Martin said.
The ceremony's guest speaker was Price B. Floyd, former principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and now vice president of Digital Strategy for BAE Systems.
Floyd said although each of the students is returning to "tough communications environments," they now have "more tools to use those challenges."
"Now is the time to put all that you have learned into action," Floyd said. "You are needed now more than ever."
After the ceremony, Martin presented Floyd with a plaque of appreciation and a book about the Medal of Honor. Students from Jordan, Brazil, Lebanon and the Philippines then presented Martin with gifts.
Before the students departed, Stefo Lehmann, coordinator of PACIS, expressed the school's best wishes for the graduates.
"As you return to your countries to use the skills you acquired here, do not forget to reach back to DINFOS," Lehmann said. "We are a resource for you."
1st Lt. Gemira Dy, chief of the News and Research Branch in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said taking PACIS was very fulfilling.
"I am better not just as a public affairs officer, but also as a representative of my country," she said.