Psychological Operations Try To Influence Opinions

Psychology Used To Help Fight Saddam

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. -- "One need not destroy one's enemy. One need only destroy his willingness to engage," said Sun Tzu, a revered Chinese general. That remains the philosophy of military members in psychological operations, also called PSYOP. The U.S. military is using high tech weapons in Iraq and what it is calling weapons of mass persuasion. The United States has used PSYOP in every conflict, including the current one with Iraq. Radio broadcasts, leaflets, faxes and e-mails with messages aimed at changing opinion and getting the enemy to give up are part of what's known as psychological operations. "Psychological operations are those operations done by the military to influence, persuade or change an opinion of the target audience," retired Maj. Ed Rouse said. Rouse is a retired Army major who spent years with the 4th Psychological Operations group based at Fort Bragg. He served in the Persian Gulf War. He now has a Web site devoted to the subject http://www.psywarrior.com/ . "I like it because it combines psychology, sociology and also history," Rouse said. Those involved in PSYOP study the social culture of a region, the demographics and the hopes and dreams of the people. Like an FBI profiler, they try to get inside the mind of the enemy to know what makes them tick. Then, like an ad agency, they develop a campaign. "For this campaign in Iraq what we're attempting to do is convince the Iraqi people that our target is not the Iraqi people or the country. We want Sadaam Hussein removed from the country," Rouse said. The military has dropped millions of paper leaflets in Iraq. They have a variety of digital pictures and messages, even one made to look like Iraqi money. "On this one we have Sadaam Hussein in a throne over a mountain of skulls showing he has built his regime on the deaths of others in his country," Rouse said. Warriors have used mind games for centuries. Alexander the great used psychological tactics when he tricked the enemy into retreating by making fake, oversized armor. "It worked as the army came up and found these helmets that would fit a giant and these breast plates they couldn't lift and they said this must be an army of giants," Rouse said. The United States has used psychological operations in every conflict including World War II, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War. Rouse said it has saved countless lives on both sides.

Mind Control


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August 2006

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