StratCom student connects U.S. armed forces through global communication program

Written by Ben Sheard

Ever since he was a child, Lt. Col. Stephen Short possessed the deep conviction to serve in the United States military.

Since joining the Reserve Officer Training Corps in college and graduating top of his class, Short has had an extensive and distinguished career serving his country in a leadership capacity around the globe.

Early on in his career, Short’s superiors recognized his potential in the field of public affairs. Seizing upon the opportunity for something new and exciting for the second part of his career, Short decided to educate himself on public affairs within the U.S military.

“I went onto the Defense Information School,” Short says. “I learned how to present communication to various audiences, support our command, tell the army’s story, tell the Department of Defense’s story and help others to be able to tell that story to audiences that are local, national and international.”

It was this foundational knowledge of effective communication through storytelling and understanding his audience that was instrumental in working with both American forces, and that of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“What the Department of Defense decided was that it was best to take subject matter experts in their field, teach them about the culture and language and embed them in organizations within that country so that they could better train, facilitate and improve their capabilities,” Short says. “And that’s what I did.“

For Short, effective communication within the U.S. Army did not only involve conveying its messages at others, but also educating people on how best to communicate to others themselves.

Now, Short resides in Germany where he serves his country as director of American Forces Network Europe. There, Short coordinates American Forces Network Europe's mission to provide command information, stories and entertainment to American forces around the globe. For Short, as a field expert, it is essential to keep up to date on communication technologies and techniques.


Communication is constantly changing. If you’re not keeping up, you’re falling further behind. And you are not reaching those target audiences.

Despite Short’s extensive experience in public relations, he knew that that there was more that he wanted to learn. Seeking to further his education through graduate school was the natural next step.

“I am a firm believer that you learn all through your entire life,” he says. “At any age, at any stage in your career, you can continue your education. It’s daunting at first, but together, we improve the learning experience.

“I think that if you put forth the effort and keep that vision of ‘I will be successful, I will be relevant and I have a lot to offer,’ it will be very rewarding for you.”

After doing extensive research, Short knew the Strategic Communication master’s at MSU was that next step.

“The MSU StratCom program was exactly what I was looking for,” he says. “I knew that if I took each class, I could apply that knowledge to my career.

“There was that personal relationship that you were going to have with your instructors. I wanted to share information and really validate if I was doing the right thing.“

The MSU StratCom program offered Short the affordable, comprehensive and interactive educational experience that he finds most essential to an effective career.

Equipped with the latest in organizational communication knowledge, Short says he is confident in his ability to further improve the military organizations he works with.

“I plan on to continue working in the army; it’s a way of life,” he says. “I know that, wherever you go, people have shared values.

“I think that we bring so many people – different races, ethnicities, religious backgrounds – all together. And were all one people, one military, one force for good.”

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