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Zorching toward glory: Adm. Kirby answers 20 questions

Pay attention to the man behind the curtain — or in this case, at the Pentagon podium.

In a day in the life-style interview, Rear Admiral John Kirby talks to @Doctrine_Man about his career as the Pentagon Press Secretary, which — as @Doctrine_Man notes — is job that stands apart from Washington's public affairs' talking heads.

"… Let's admit it, the Pentagon Spokesman isn't there to spin good news stories to entertain a gleefully-ignorant public," @Doctrine_Man says. "He's there to give it to us straight, whether we can take it or not."

Kirby gets into the hustle and bustle of the Pentagon, but also touches upon media "red meat" stories, such as the Islamic State and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's resignation.

A sample of Kirby's Q&A:

Q. How do we counter the ISIS/Daesh narrative?

A. By taking every opportunity we can to expose their brutality for what it is. And that means being just as fleet of foot as they are. The old saying is true: A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still tying its shoes. It doesn't matter how right we are, how just or how precise, if we can't share our story in a timely manner. I think we're getting better at this, but there is more work to do. Another important element is media access. There's nothing better for truth-telling than the power of critical, independent media reporting. We're working hard to offer better access for media to our troops and our missions in Iraq, and I think that will make an enormous difference.

Q. Can we be successful in the Middle East without a strong narrative?

A. No. But we also need to understand the limits of narrative. A good story is never going to be enough. It has to be supported by action and progress and sound policy. And if our actions don't reinforce the narrative, we set ourselves back even more. It's the "say-do" gap we've got to watch out for.

Q. You recently had the pleasure of managing the announcement of the resignation of the Secretary of Defense. How do you prepare for something that you really can't prepare for?

A. By being good at being reactive! You can't be afraid to shoot from the hip a little bit and change direction.

Q. I heard they are creating a role for you in the new Top Gun movie. Who should play you?

A. How cool would that be! I guess they'd have to find someone short, with thinning hair and a bit slow on the uptake.

Maybe George Costanza.

Read the full interview here at Medium.com.

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