USAF PUBLIC AFFAIRS BADGE

One consequence of living in the Information Age is that it has also spawned an Information War. News stories and videos can reach every corner of the globe almost instantaneously thanks to the Internet and wireless communications—a situation often exploited by those hostile to the United States to sway opinion with misinformation, disinformation, and sometimes outright lies.

In this environment, it’s more important than ever that the public is kept up to date with accurate information regarding our nation’s armed forces—not only about the progress of various operations in the Global War on Terror, but also on the challenges facing the men and women tasked with successfully carrying out those operations.

This is the job given to Airmen serving as Broadcast Journalists (AFSC 3N0X2) and Photojournalists (3N0X75). Serving under Public Affairs officers (35P), they’re responsible for A-to-Z production and distribution of videos, photos, radio broadcasts, podcasts, and print stories crafted for both internal and external audiences. The design of the emblem on the Public Affairs occupational badge perfectly represents their profession: A quill stands for the transmission of information about the Air Force, a globe represents the potential audience for that information, and a lightning bolt is indicative of the speed at which the information can be communicated.

“The quill represents the free flow of information about the Air Force, and the lightning bolt symbolizes the speed of communication. The globe denotes our worldwide audience.”

For text-based content, they’re responsible for the research, writing, editing, layout, and distribution methods. When creating video-based reports, they handle everything from setting up the lighting and audio equipment and performing directorial duties to carrying out editing and all post-production work. They oversee radio and television broadcasts, determining what content is appropriate and how it can be most effectively presented. And they utilize the latest in social media capabilities to stay on top of emerging trends and stories, responding to the public’s desire for accurate and timely reporting on events that concern them.

At the same time, they serve a vital role as Public Relation liaisons, working with civilian media outlets to respond to their requests for information and maintaining close ties with government and civic leaders in order to encourage the flow of information between them and the Air Force.

Public Affairs officers overseeing Broadcast Journalists and Photojournalists work closely with both commanders and senior leaders, providing advice and support that’s essential to leveraging various communication technologies in order to achieve mission goals in the most efficient manner possible. While they’re responsible for delivering information that’s timely, credible, and accurate in order to ensure the audiences receiving it will know it’s trustworthy, they must also balance these efforts at transparency with requisite considerations of security, appropriateness, and possible effects on morale and operational efficacy.

The basic Public Affairs occupational badge is awarded to enlisted Airmen and officers upon completion of technical school, which lasts eleven weeks for Broadcast Journalists and eight-and-a-half for Photojournalists; general officers automatically receive the basic badge when entering a HQ staff position of receiving a command. The Master badge is awarded to enlisted Airmen who’ve reached the rank of Master Sergeant and have garnered five years in the specialty at the 7-skill level, while officers with 15 years in the specialty earn the right to wear it.
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