The Centre for Army Leadership Podcast

Episode 21- Mark Laity

November 4, 2021

In this week's episode we will be doing a deep dive into 'Strategic Communications' (StratCom) by talking to former Director Communications Division at SHAPE, Mark Laity. Mark tells us about his time as a defence correspondent in the 1990's and discusses the exponential rate of change in journalism and the shift to reporting 'emotional narratives' as opposed to the facts. He highlights that the rapid rise in technology and 24 hour news has changed the nature of journalism, with there now being an unhealthy tension between 'being the first with the story vs being the first with the truth'. He goes on to talk about StratCom and his role within SHAPE, describing StratCom as 'a systematic approach to incorporating communications into our overall effect; you cannot win without information on your side'. He highlights that although the theory and intellectual grounding in StratCom is assured, the implementation of it is less so.  Mark goes on to give some sage advice to advisors at every level, outlining that they are there to tell bosses 'what they need to hear, and not what they want to hear', stressing that advisors need humility and strong moral courage. Finally, he gives an informed and candid view on Afghanistan, unpacking what arguably went wrong for both NATO and wider stakeholders, highlighting that 'no one thing went wrong, but there was a lot that did'. 

A fascinating deep dive into StratCom, for leaders at every level.   

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