LTC Paul Swiergosz

 

What does a public affairs officer in the Armed Forces do and is it a good career move? Two questions I’ve been asked a lot over the years by military and civilians alike. So here’s the deal:

The Armed Services, all “grow” their PAOs in different ways. The Army has their prospective PAOs work in other areas (supply, intelligence, combat, etc.) in order to gain operational experience before allowing them to transition to the public affairs career field around their 8th year of service. In contrast, the Air Force commissions its officers directly into the PAO career field from scratch. The Navy, and Marine Corps take a hybrid approach between the Army and Air Force. Pros and cons to all the systems – way too complicated to dive into here.      Despite the different evolutions and different uniforms our jobs are remarkably similar due to standardized training and scope of work defined in the Defense Principles of Information.  

As for me, I attended college via an Army ROTC scholarship with a major in public relations/journalism.  After graduation, I was commissioned as an officer and spent my first eight years in the armor corps, commanding tank formations until I transitioned over to the public affairs officer career field, where I have worked for over 10 years. 

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