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Psychological operations

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Definition Edit

Psychological operations (PSYOP) are

[p]lanned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator’s objectives.[1]

Overview Edit

PSYOPs are designed to influence emotions, motives, reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. Psychological pperations are authorized for military use under U.S. federal law.[2]

PSYOP have strategic, operational, and tactical applications, including truth projection activities that support military deception operations.

  • At the strategic level, PSYOP may take the form of political or diplomatic positions, announcements, or communiqués.
  • At the operational level, PSYOP can include the distribution of leaflets, loudspeaker broadcasts, radio and television broadcasts, and other means of transmitting information that encourage enemy forces to defect, desert, flee, or surrender. Persistent attacks can have a synergistic effect with PSYOP, accelerating the degradation of morale and further encouraging desertion.
  • At the tactical level, PSYOP include the use of loudspeakers and other means to promote fear or dissension in enemy ranks.
  • PSYOP forces also may shape attitudes and influence behaviors through face-to-face communication. In addition, PSYOP may support military deception operations.[3]

On June 21, 2010, Admiral Eric T. Olson, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, announced a decision to change the term "psychological operations" (PSYOP) to "Military Information Support" and "Military Information Support Operations" (MISO). He stated that henceforth the term PSYOP, will be eliminated from usage in the military.[4]

References Edit

  1. U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Pub. 1–02: DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Apr. 2010) (full-text).
  2. 10 U.S.C., Subtitle A, Part I, Ch. 6, §167.
  3. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Doctrine for Information Operations (Joint Pub. 3-13), at II-4 (Oct. 9, 1998) (full-text).
  4. See Information Operations Primer, at 174.

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