Playing Navy Officer

I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets.
~Napoleon

Last week I played Navy Officer. What I mean is, I did my first stint of “active duty” for one week.  Actually, even though it was active duty, I ended up being in civilian clothes all week.

You see, last drill weekend in Everett, my Officer-in-Charge (OIC) asked me if I’d like an opportunity to get some good experience and to make some extra money. Being as cash-strapped as I am, I of course said yes.  The immediate previous command needed help with their bi-annual media training and my OIC knew that I did that as part of my civilian job.

So, I headed off to Newport, Rhode Island to the Navy War College to help the other command do their media training. And it wasn’t just any media training. Nope, this was a small part of the NWC students’ capstone project where they are immersed in a global scenario (they live, eat and breathe this scenario for several weeks!) and part of that scenario is to do a press conference/media interview.

That’s where we came in. All of the students were high-ranking military officers (LTCDR/0-4+) and civilians from 45 different countries. There were 260 of them… and only eight of us! These officers didn’t know we were military (Reservists) ourselves, which helped because what Colonel or Captain really wants to be grilled and critiqued by a Chief or Ensign?

So each day, Monday through Friday, we ran both a press conference room and a one-on-one TV camera interview. In the press conference, three students would come in and give an opening, have time for questions from the “reporters” and then have a closing statement. We’d give them some easy questions, some hard questions and some off-the-wall questions… just to try to de-rail them and to get them flustered.

One of my cohorts–and fellow PAO Ensign (who is a year ahead of me and I’ll have to salute come next summer!)–was fantastic at getting the students flustered.  She’d ask them questions about things like if they’d like to do the re-make of Officer and a Gentleman and ask them random questions about Facebook.  She really was absolutely fanatic. You can find her at GIJess.

In the one-on-ones, it was all the upper echelon of senior officers. We were able to put a camera right in their face and go at the questions. They didn’t have time to take a break or take a breath.

Of course, afterward they were all briefed on what they did well and what they could have done better. The response was overwhelmingly positive, which was nice to hear.

It really was a ton of fun and I met some great people. The public affairs community is really small so there is nearly a 100% chance that I’ll be working with them again. Which I look forward to!

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4 thoughts on “Playing Navy Officer

  1. What a cool experience! I wonder what would happen if you later encountered one of your students when you were both in uniform. Do you think they’d recognize you out of context like that?

  2. They probably would. Wherever we went, they’d always yell out “hey, it’s the media!”. Apparently they usually figure it out by the end of the week but they didn’t seem to this time around. I’m sure they suspected, though!

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