Psychological Operations

By Guevin, Paul R. | Air & Space Power Journal, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

Psychological Operations


Guevin, Paul R., Air & Space Power Journal


JOINT PUBLICATION 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, defines psychological operations (PSYOP) as "planned 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." PSYOP has become a mainstay of US government efforts at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels to exert such influence in a manner favorable to military operations.

PSYOP played a significant role in recent operations such as Enduring Freedom, in which air-mobility missions delivered humanitarian rations at the same time air-combat sorties struck militarily significant targets in other parts of Afghanistan. Furthermore, during Iraqi Freedom, we dropped both leaflets and ordnance to prompt enemy soldiers to surrender; we also broadcast messages to them over their own radio systems. These transmissions had the complementary effect of denying the Iraqis use of their own radios.

Air Force doctrine for information operations (see the NOTAM on info ops elsewhere in this issue) and PSYOP is evolving, a fact reflected in the Air Force Doctrine Center's realigning and renumbering of some publications. Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Operations, formerly Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 2-5.2, will become AFDD 2-9, and Psychological Operations, formerly 2-5.3, will become 2-5.2. The next approved revision of the published documents will incorporate these changes. In addition, Air Combat Command (ACC) is currently defining a new concept of operations for "influence operations" as an element of the revised concept of information operations. As ACC's and the Air Force's center of excellence for Air Force PSYOP, the Air Intelligence Agency has taken the lead in refining the focus of PSYOP to include psychological effects. …

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