16:25 GMT +318 January 2018
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    NATO Sets Up Information Warfare HQ in Latvia

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    The Latvian capital of Riga has recently become the new home of a branch of NATOChannel, a media content provider creating, video, audio, and internet content for the alliance, Latvian media reports.

    The office, its staff relocated to the country from Kabul, Afghanistan, is set to join two other NATOChannel offices in Europe, located in Belgium and Spain.

    NATO Communication Coordination, Public Diplomacy Division Chief Stephen Mehringer told Latvian business newspaper BB.lv that the Riga office will contain a regular contingent of only 3-4 journalists, set to report on the alliance's activities in Eastern Europe. The Riga contingent is rather modest; by comparison, the organization's Brussels office has 29 full time journalists, along with 10 freelancers.

    Mehringer told BB.lv that Riga was picked because of its "good location, and because the city is home to NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence."

    The people now working in Riga have been relocated from Kabul, where the organization's information office was closed, as NATO wraps up its mission in the country. Mehringer noted that "demand for our product has grown in Eastern Europe."

    In the following days, journalists from the Riga office will be sent to cover NATO-related assignments in Ukraine, Romania and Estonia.

    The majority of NATOChannel's content is available in French and English, and occasionally in Russian, Ukrainian and Arabic. Sometimes, individual materials are also created in other languages. Mehringer noted that there are presently no plans for content in Latvian, Lithuanian or Estonian, stating the organization did not have the resources for such an initiative.

    Responding to claims that the media content produced by the channel amounts to NATO propaganda, Mehringer noted that "while we really are often referred to as propagandists, propaganda is a distortion of the truth, and that is not our task. We try to be independent and are not afraid to ask the tough questions, including of the leadership of the alliance."

    Last week, NATO Supreme Commander General Philip Breedlove noted that the West must engage in an information warfare with Russia, noting that "we need as a western group of nations or as an alliance to engage in this informational warfare. The way to attack the false narrative is to drag the false narrative into the light and expose it," the General said.

    Seven NATO countries, including the Baltic states, signed a memorandum establishing its Riga StratCom office last July.

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    Tags:
    NATO, media content, media, StratCom, NATOChannel, Stephen Mehringer, Philip Breedlove, Baltic Region, Russia, Eastern Europe, Latvia
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