High Conflict Theatres
Responding to Opportunities
Power of Logic
MAJOR PAUL SMYTH
Director of the Media Operations
Major Paul Smyth, Director of the Media Operations Centre for British Forces, Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan changed global communications from the front line - forever.
As a Volunteer specialist media ops’ officer in the TA and a communications and PR specialist, he has fought to bring the UK military’s operational communications into the 21St century.
By using his own initiative and the power of logic, Major Smyth introduced the work of British Forces in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan to audiences all over the world via social media and new media channels that had been considered taboo before.
CAREER TRIGGER POINTS
Paul Smyth decided to become a TA soldier relatively late in life during a well established career in Public Relations. He then realised that he could achieve a childhood ambition by transferring his civilian skills to the Army.
He travelled all over the world with the military but in 2008was deployed to Kosovo, where he delivered strategic and tactical communications plans and was responsible for advising the Commanding Officer of the British Forces on communications.
Straight after Kosovo he was deployed to Iraq were he managed a team of 14 British and US media staff and represented the coalition in Southern Iraq as the military spokesman. When combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq after the campaign, Smyth took on the role of coordinating international media planning and media delivery for the UK Forces ‘end of combat mission’.
In Afghanistan, he recognised that there was huge challenge communicating the work of the forces and set about restructuring the team and increasing the media output. Although hundreds of journalists work with the troops on the frontline sometimes it is just too dangerous.
So, leading from the front and working as a ‘one-man-band’ equipped with rifle, camera, video camera, laptop and portable satellite dish he sent out stories, video and pictures as quickly as possible without compromising security. He has broadcast from some of the most austere locations Helmand has to offer – making deadlines and the news all over the world.
Twitter, Facebook, Flicker and YouTube were all utilised to push out information and images that would otherwise not have be seen. In starting the Helmand Blog, Smyth scored a winner. It featured breaking news as well as stories about ordinary soldiers – all the troops have a story to tell.
The site is still growing receiving over 75,000 hits a month and provides morale boosting news about troops to audiences all around the world.