Psychological Warfare in the United States military The use of psychology in war is as old as war itself. In ancient Greece, Themistocles sent his men ashore to carve messages urging the Ionians not to fight against the Athenians (Pease 3). Known as psychological warfare, it is the attempt by one nation to gain an advantage over another by exploiting fear, mistrust, suspicion, rumor, prejudice, and uncertainty to influence international opinion and / or the frame of mind of the opposing soldiers. Psychological warfare is designed to affect the enemy's mind, influencing him to take an action, even against his conscious will, favorable to his opponent (Pease x ). The United States government employs psychological warfare, known as Psychological Operations (PSYOP), to secure national objectives in times of conflict as well as peace. They are a vital part of the broad range of U.S. political, military, economic, and ideological activities.
The ultimate objective of United States military psychological operations is to convince enemy, neutral, and friendly nations and forces to take actions favorable to the United States and its interests. This is accomplished, with varied effectiveness, through several methods and techniques, both on the strategic and tactical levels (Payne). Psychological warfare is also utilized by the United States on civilians and the general population of liberated territories. This branch of psychological operations is known as consolidation (Pease 9). Strategic, Tactical, and Consolidation Psychological Operations On the strategic level, psychological operations are utilized to accomplish long-term objectives. Employed on a global scale, strategic psychological operations are directed at a much wider audience, or a few 'key communicators (Hunter).
' Strategic operations may also be used on a somewhat smaller scale, known as the operational scale. Here, psychological operations are employed by theater commanders, aiming at a specific group within the theater of operations. The long term goal of strategic psychological operations may vary widely however, from gaining support for American operations to preparing a battlefield for combat. This is accomplished through several means: propaganda, deliberate lies, or stretching the truth to prejudice minds and international opinion against the opponent (Pease 6). Tactical psychological operations are based on an even smaller scale. Tactical psychological operations are much more limited in audience, serve to accomplish substantially shorter-term goals, and are multitudinous, especially in time of conflict.
In this environment, psychological warfare aims to lower the morale and efficiency of enemy forces (Hunter). Psychological warfare is a bloodless, inexpensive, sometimes unethical and ineffective means of 'wounding' the enemy (Pease x ). It is accomplished through the use of leaflets and loudspeakers (Pease 8). Consolidation psychological operations are designed for use on civilians, often in a newly liberated territory.
It has proven extremely valuable, aiding in convincing the population of the liberated territories that they are better off under the new government. It also ensures that the population is not a guerrilla force that will resist against American activities. Consolidation psychological operations utilize leaflets and newspapers that offer assurance, aid, and information to achieve their goal (Pease 9). Methods and Techniques Utilized in Psychological Warfare Propaganda is the material and ideas that psychological warfare and operations are designed to spread.
Defined as, 'the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person,' numerous tactics, techniques, and methods of spreading propaganda in psychological operations are employed (Woolf, et al 916). Radio, television, and news is the most prevalent techniques of spreading propaganda during wartime. Radio stations such as the Armed Forces Radio Service during the Vietnam War and the Voice of the United Nations Command during the Korean War, transmit stories of United States victories and gains, reassurances to the common people that help has arrived and more awaits. They keep American soldiers informed of American and her allies victories and gains. In addition to transmitting to American units and allies, propaganda is transmitted to the enemy. The same messages transmitted to reassure American soldiers and her allies, serve to strike fear in the enemy.
These messages call upon the enemy to remove its troops and for enemy soldiers to surrender to American forces (Pease 96). Aside from the use of the common land based radio and television stations, the United States Air Force operates a unit of specialized Lockheed EC-130 E / RR 'Commando Solo' aircraft to broadcast psychological missions. These aircraft are equipped with the latest technology in broadcasting, with the ability to transmit on standard frequencies and military communications bands. Special to this aircraft is the ability to transmit color television on a multitude of world wide standard television UHF / VHF ranges. These aircraft have been employed in psychological operations as recently as Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY in Haiti in 1994 (EC-130 E). The use of mass media in psychological warfare is utilized on all levels of psychological operations, be they tactical, strategic, or consolidation.
The practice of using loudspeakers to 'talk' to enemy forces is a means of practicing psychological operations on the tactical level. Loudspeakers are mounted on aircraft, such as the Sikorsky MH-60 E, for this purpose (Hunter). Carefully designed messages are boomed to enemy troops in the field. In order to be effective, the messages must be in the listener's own dialect and it is necessary to know exactly whom is being addressed.
These messages are tailored to be as personal as possible to their audience. Nothing could be more nerve-wracking to a unit than to have the enemy address soldiers by name and unit after they have been repositioned, supposedly in secret. During the Korean War, the United States and United Nations forces used this tactic to great avail, commonly 'welcoming' North Korean units back to the front lines (Pease 107). Even more recent is the use of loudspeakers in support of operations during Operations DESERT SHIELD / STORM (Payne). The use of eerie sounds or funeral music is also utilized to play on an enemy's superstitions, cultural, and religious beliefs. Distinct advantages exist with the use of loudspeakers.
Mounted on aircraft, they may be flown directly to opposing forces. Aside from the obvious psychological messages and their effects, other benefits exist with the loudspeaker tactic. The use of nostalgic music, funeral music, and holiday music masks the sound resulting from movement of heavy equipment and armored units, allowing the repositioning of units without enemy recognition (Pease 108). The playing music over loudspeakers was a common practice among America PSYOP units during the Vietnamese conflict.
Units such as the 5th Special Operations Squadron and the 9th Special Operations Squadron were notorious for playing Vietnamese funeral music during the conflict (K amps 202-03). Another significant benefit from the use of loudspeakers, and in particular the musical aspect of their use, is the effect it has on friendly troops. The knowledge of the enemy's fear provides a somewhat twisted sense of pleasure and pride among the ranks (Grossman 198). Another technique exercised extensively in psychological warfare and operations is the use of leaflets. Leaflets are pieces of paper, ranging in size from a three by five card to a newspaper, delivered to the enemy. In order to have any effect, it is imperative that leaflets be in the enemy's dialect.
Furthermore, psychological warfare leaflets must also reach those illiterate and unable to read. For this reason, leaflets often contain solely drawings and photographs or drawings and photographs in addition to text. A principal example of this occurred in the Korean conflict during the early 1950's. It was determined that in excess of 30 percent of North Korean soldiers were illiterate or only had an extremely limited ability to read (Pease 40). Psychological warfare leaflets are classified into three types: directive, informative, and persuasive. Directive leaflets contain orders to its target audience.
They warn civilian audiences of the danger of aircraft strikes, urging them to escape the destruction and loss of life by fleeing the area. The surrender pass is also a type of directive leaflet, and also the most common of all leaflets. These leaflets contain information that advise enemy soldiers of locations that they need to go to in order to surrender and how to navigate his way through enemy lines to safety (Pease 47). Most often during times of war or conflict, enemy government and military forces declare it illegal to even pick up a surrender leaflet or safe conduct pass. It is made a capital crime punishable by execution. Such was the case during Operation DESERT SHIELD / STORM.
Iraq pronounced it a crime to possess or even view one of these leaflets. In order to circumnavigate this, American and allied forces printed and dropped thousands of leaflets that appeared to be Iraqi money on one side. This also served a secondary purpose of immediately gaining the interest of the Iraqi soldier (Hunter). The informative leaflet seeks to spread truth to the audience, albeit a shocking truth. Often these leaflets will contain messages of a crushed military or they may offer logical reasons to surrender. In order to be effective and trustworthy however, informative leaflets must be designed without overt propaganda and must simply state, or appear to state fact (Pease 47-48).
The third type of leaflet is persuasive. These simply attempt to influence enemy soldiers to lay down their arms and surrender by playing on the mental factors. These factors include fear, homesickness, illness, and even money (Pease 52). One of the most famous instances of the use of leaflets in psychological warfare transpired during the Korean conflict, Operation MOOLAH. Operation MOOLAH was designed to appeal to the North Korean soldier's desire for money. It offered 50,000 U.S. dollars to any pilot flying for the North Koreans that defected with a MiG-15, the foremost in Soviet fighter technology at the time.
More than a million leaflets were dropped over North Korea on which were printed:' This is a message from the Americans to any jet pilot who can read Russian. If you know such a person, please give it to him. It tells him how to escape to UN forces. The sum of 50,000 U.S. dollars to any pilot who delivers a modern, operational, combat-type jet aircraft in flyable condition to South Korea. The first pilot who delivers such a jet aircraft to the free world will receive an additional 50,000 U.S. dollars bonus for his bravery. ' The operation was successful and on 23 September 1953, at 0924 hours (9: 24 am), North Korean Air Force Captain Ro Kum Suk defected to South Korea with his MiG-15 bis.
Operation MOOLAH still stands as one of the greatest achievements in psychological warfare today (Pease 70-74). In order to be effective, leaflets must first reach the opposing force. To do this, leaflets are dropped from aircraft flying dangerously low and slow above the enemy. They are spread by the thousands over enemy positions, pushed out of the back of Air Force C-130's or out the doors of U.S. Army UH-60's (Payne). The Effectiveness of Psychological Warfare and Operations The goal of psychological warfare is to destroy the enemy's will to fight, to persuade him to take actions favorable to the United States cause (Slackman 852).
However, determining the effectiveness of a psychological operations is relatively impossible. This is due to the fact that there is often no observable link between psychological warfare and operations and their effect. The effects are mostly summative, aiding in a surrender after repeated efforts coordinated with conventional military operations and attacks. Interrogation of prisoners of war and liberated peoples are often the only means of determining the effectiveness of psychological warfare (Pease 13). The United States often uses civilian psychologist and psychiatrists to interview and interrogate these individuals.
They subject them to vigorous testing and questioning to determine the effects on morale and the overall effectiveness of the different methods of employing psychological warfare (Herman 41). The results of this analysis and testing allows the United States to advance its efforts in psychological warfare. The U.S. takes these results and uses them to assist in the formulation of new psychological tactics (Pease 14). Creating the correct messages that will evoke the desired response is at the epicenter of improving current psychological warfare.
In conclusion, psychological warfare is utilized by the United States of America, during war time in particular, to secure national objectives. It is employed through varied techniques, from the simple leaflet being picked up by the enemy soldier, to the advanced EC-130 E / RR broadcasting messages through the enemy's television and radio stations. PSYOPS are undertaken with varied results, from the magnificently successful Operation MOOLAH to blaring music from helicopters. Psychological warfare will continue to be a vital part in protecting America and its interests. As Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, Jr. stated in 1950: 'Psychological warfare has been firmly recognized as an integral member of our family of weapons. While we realize fully that this mode of operation is not decisive by itself, it is also certain that, in combination with the conventional combat weapons, psychological warfare will contribute materially to the winning of wars. '
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