The Office with No Windows

Posted on Friday, Jul 19, 2019

I spent nearly all of the past two months, as an intern working in an office with no windows, in a building shrouded with secrecy and surrounded by intense security. Yet this office has been one of the most surprisingly transparent places I could have imagined working for.

The Air Force’s Office of Public Affairs has over 140 staff, processes hundreds of media requests a day, coordinates over 1,500 Airmen, and has zero windows. Physically the Office is not transparent, yet in every other manner the office I intern with consistently pursues transparency, accurate information, and context as stories break regarding the Air Force. If you ask any of the staff what the purpose of their job is, they will always respond by stating it is to ensure media is able to accurately report, movies are able to accurately depict, or members of Congress/think tanks are able to accurately discuss the problems and missions of the Air Force.

The office has no windows yet it has an open door. Reporters from the Pentagon press corps can walk in at any time and ask any question. Rather than trying to control a narrative or prevent information from spreading to the public, this office created an atmosphere where reporters inform the office about breaking news before it happens, where reporters trust that the office provides the most truthful information they can, and where friendships between staff and reporters thrive.

The Pentagon needs a certain level of secrecy. Yet the dedication of the staff in the Air Force Office of Public Affairs to providing the truth, to educating in a non-bias manner, and to ensuring that the fundamental American idea that civilians must have control of the military is protected, has definitely changed my perspective of the Pentagon.

If the dedication to truth and transparency isn’t reason, then meeting the Minister of Defense of Uzbekistan, talking to Dan Schilling about his newly released book, working with the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force on his next podcast, or pretending to be a reporter from Bloomberg and asking a real and tough question to the Director of the U.S. Marshalls makes interning at this office an amazing experience.

Zachary Huebschman
Air Force Public Affairs
Washington, D.C. | summer 2019

The arrival ceremony for the Minister of Defense of Uzbekistan, Riverside Entrance of the Pentagon.