35P afsc Public Affairs Officer

Thanks for joining us today on commission, Ed. I’m Reed, and today we’re going to talk about an AFSC that is near and dear to my heart, the public affairs officer. 35 Papa.

Interesting that you would say that it is near and dear to your heart. Reed. Why that?

Well, so the Air Force recently created some competitive categories for promotion, and due to the importance of information, they actually fall within the same competitive category as intelligence officers and weather, because that’s also information that’s really important. And that kind of gets us into what is it that a public affairs officer does. They are the critical link between the Air Force and the american people to communicate the Air Force’s story. They provide information about what is going on in the Air Force to the american people, and that is a critical role for our success.

Yeah, it’s interesting to think about what the public affairs officer or the public affairs career or section does for the Air Force. You don’t typically think of that being part of warfare or conducting a war, but this is the Air Force, this is the military. That’s absolutely what they do. And the really important thing about public affairs, as opposed to intelligence or weather or something like that, where it’s external facing but toward the enemy. Public affairs is external facing, but to the american people, that is where their primary responsibility lies.

Absolutely. And that difference is really key to understanding what it is that they’re going to be doing. And after they go to their commissioning source and are selected to be a public affairs officer, they’re going to have to go to training at Fort Mead, it’s a joint and an international school on the basics of being a public affairs officer. And then they get to their first assignment, and they are going to lead immediately. They’re also assigned to wing staffs, so they are immediately going to be leading and interacting with very senior officers. That’s something that’s pretty unique across the Air Force.

Yeah, for sure. And because they are going to lead immediately and interact with senior officers from the outset, we’re looking for very capable, very eloquent, very intelligent people to fill this position. Not just anybody can be a successful public affairs officer.

Exactly. So when you’re thinking about being a public affairs officer, you’re going to want to take a lot of English, a lot of creative writing, a lot of communication classes in order to make you more competitive for this option. It’s not a very big career field and it’s not very top heavy, but it’s really, really important that we get it right. And that’s what these folks do they help our leaders communicate the air force story to the american public?

Yeah. And because they are providing that advice, that guidance to senior leaders to communicate that information. One thing that we need to emphasize about public affairs is that they’re only communicating the truth. This is not an organization that is designed to provide propaganda or mislead the public based on what’s going on. They are 100% telling the truth all the time, both to airmen internally, but most importantly to the american people.

Something we want to point out for you, folks. We had a really great opportunity to sit down with a public affairs officer. She’s going through some higher education opportunities in the DC area and was willing to join us on our podcast. We’ve got a link in the description below to that episode. I really learned a lot. And one of the things, Colin, that I learned is there’s also some internal aspects that public affairs has to cover. In particular, they are in charge of all of the photographers, and there are a number of situations in which they need photography for the air force. A mishap. So you have an aircraft that slides off the Runway. They’re going to want to gather evidence and information about how that happened. They’re going to call on public affairs to take those pictures. There’s also a little bit of a less cool side of the photography side as well.

Yeah, for sure. We have mentioned in other episodes that there is a responsibility internal to the air Force to investigate crimes that is going to be done by special investigations. But it’s public affairs that’s going to provide the photographer who’s going to document and take the evidence for that crime scene.

Yeah. So a really fascinating career field, a really wide ranging opportunity for folks to engage in all layers of the government, the american people, and the service itself. This career field will deploy. They’re going to deploy because wherever we are, we’re going to need to communicate our story both externally and internally. And there’s also a lot of opportunities for higher education. Getting an education and especially exchanges with industry or learning from other organizations about how they do business will help us better communicate our story to the rest of the country.

Yeah, absolutely. And if you are interested in being someone who helps to communicate the air force story to the american people and out to the rest of the world, we invite you to investigate this career field a little bit more. You can join us in our heritage room. You can reach out to us through Air Force [email protected], or our social media platforms. If we can’t answer the question, we would love to put you in touch with our friend, the public affairs officer or somebody else who’s in the career field who has the answer that you need.

Thank you for joining us today. And that’ll be all for this week’s episode of Commissioned.

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