Monday, September 17, 2007


"Psychological operations (PSYOP) -- military programs that seek to influence the attitudes and shape the behavior of a target audience -- have the potential to increase the effectiveness of the armed forces they support while minimizing violent conflict. But the U.S. military is not notably good at conducting such programs," writes Steven Aftergood with diplomacy and gracious balm on his Government Secrecy blog at the Federation of American Scientists.

Aftergood makes available two recent Army Field Manuals on the subject plus a National Defense University review of recent Army PSYOPs.

"In 2003, a U.S. information operations officer produced posters picturing Saddam Hussein as Homer Simpson and other figures of ridicule. 'The posters enraged Iraqis and led to conflict that resulted in casualties for U.S. forces,' according to a 2005 study of PSYOP lessons learned," continues Aftergood.

Just prior to Iraqi Freedom, US military PSYOP men were in high gear with this example from a leafletting campaign. That certainly worked well.

Years ago, when we were all much younger and brimming with enthusiasm, not cynically burned-out husks of our former selves, America leafletted Iraq in a massive PSYOP campaign just prior to the invasion.

However, when things started going all to Hell, the Pentagon -- which had proudly shared its leaflets with the world -- began sneaking them off the web, the most embarrassing images leaving first. Today they're officially gone although an archive remains at GlobalSecurity.

It was a perfect example of a PSYOP program of astonishingly poor conception and one can read of it here. It is also unintentionally hilarious if one is in possession of a very bleak sense of humor.


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