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Are new Air Force ads a political statement?

ASK THIS | March 04, 2008

The Air Force, seeking to more than double its advertising budget, has new ads that focus on threats to America. In this election year, aren’t such ads a way of offering political support to Republicans over Democrats?

By J.W. Anderson

Made up as a mock front page, the main headline on the full-page ad read: “This Could be a Headline About a Cyber Attack Causing a Blackout,” with a subhead stating, “’Virtual war’ has become a reality”. At the top center of the page is a photograph of a city street struck by a total power outage.

The line in agate type at the bottom of the page says, “Paid for by the U. S. Air Force.” The ad ran in the Washington Post and the New York Times on March 3, and again on March 5.

The blackout story notes that last year Estonia’s government was thrown into chaos in an attack by cyber terrorists, and the United States government and computer networks are continuously threatened. But the Air Force, it said, has anticipated the threat and created the Air Force Cyber Command, “the only military unit of its kind.”

The headline at the center of the page reads: “News About a Rogue Leader Making Threats Could Go Here.” The story under it tells the reader what the Air Force is doing to ward off “would-be aggressors.” Next to that article is a picture of a group of shadowy men waving weapons.

This ad can be read a couple of ways. It may be seen as an institutional promotion of a service that is perhaps feeling neglected after years of wars in which most of the attention has been given to the Army and the Marines.

But it’s also a political ad. It reminds people of the threats against this country, and it appears in the midst of a presidential election campaign in which, according to the polls, a rising level of public concern about national security and anxiety about possible attacks works to the benefit of one party and the disadvantage of the other.

That raises a couple of questions.

Should the Air Force use government money to buy ads with political implications in an election year or, for that matter, any other year?

Should not the military services, of all government agencies, go to the greatest lengths to avoid any hint of partisan cheerleading?

Those are questions to ask the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. It might be even more interesting to ask them of the chairmen and ranking minority members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Forces Committee.

The Air Force is proposing to more than double its annual spending on ads, bringing it to $112 million. According to the Air Force Times, the stated goal “is that each adult over a year’s span will see 30 Air Force advertisements, from ads on Web sites to full-page newspaper ads to prime-time television ads.

Along with the ad campaign is a new Air Force slogan: “Above All.”


Air Force Ads
Posted by Juliane Burbach -
03/17/2008, 01:20 AM

I opened my home page on MSN and the ad appeared, it shocked me and was a bit frightening.
It was fear mongering the same as Hillary's ad. Thank you for keeping check sir.

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