“Communications is the job of the commander, not just the PAO,” Mattis told a roomful of 4-stars, according to a description of the meeting by Pentagon press secretary Dana White. She offered that description in an email sent Friday to the top public affairs officers of the U.S. military’s combatant commands, including at NATO, in Brussels; Central Command, in Tampa; and Pacific Command, in Hawaii.

“I realize there may be a perception that we have been keeping the media at arm’s length, but that is not the case and we’re doing our best to dispel that rumor and continue to be transparent with our press corps,” White said in the email. “Please communicate to your respective senior leaders that we want them to feel free, even obligated, to speak, in their lane, about their efforts and to use our OSD PA [Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs] team resources to help along the way.”