THE 1ST PSYCHOLOGICAL
OPERATIONS BATTALION (A)

SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.) 

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The 1st POB Crest

The color white stands for purity and truth; the colors gray and black are for the second and third types. The roll of parchment prefers to the unit’s ability to produce and disseminate written propaganda. The lightning flash is for its ability in the radio broadcast field. The Greek symbol for "PSI" refers to the psychological mission of the organization. In addition, the symbol alludes to the Battalion’s numerical designation by its similarity to the Roman figure "I".

The 1st Psychological Operations Battalion is a subordinate unit of the 4th Psychological Operations Group. It has regional responsibility for Latin America, the southern hemisphere covered by Southern Command as well the region covered by Atlantic Command. The Battalion produces and disseminates written propaganda. It also has the ability to operate in the radio broadcast field.

In early October of 2017, an officer of the 1st POB wrote to ask if I could help him in a research project. He had already accumulated an enormous amount of material so I countered his request and said, “why not write a story about the unit instead?” I had written about four other psychological operations units in the past so this would be an interesting project. He agreed, and combining his facts and my files, this is the story.

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Ft. Riley, Kansas

The forerunner of the current unit was organized in the Regular Army at Fort Riley, Kansas, on 8 November 1950 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, (HHC) 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group. The first commander was LTC Homer E. Shields. The Group arrived in Tokyo, Japan, on 6 August 1951. They were headquartered on the 6th floor of Empire House. The enlisted personnel were quartered in the Japanese government Finance Building on B Avenue in the heart of Tokyo. The Officers were billeted in Officer's Clubs around Tokyo. On 1 September 1951 it was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group, 8239th Army Unit.

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A Four-Color Experiment by the 3rd Reproduction Company

U.S. Army Private Charles R. Gaush was a photo-lithographer assigned to the 3rd Reproduction Company, 8239th Army Unit, 1st Radio Broadcasting & Leaflet Group. He was deployed to Japan in early 1953. He told me about a very difficult printing job his unit did producing a four-color leaflet for Korea. He said:

We did a 5.5 x 8.5-inch job which included a four-color printing from a painting done at HQ in Tokyo. The Harris LTV is a single-color press, so if you want two or more colors, you have to run the sheets as many times as you have colors. My point is that our unit was not equipped to do four-color halftones both because of the difficult photolithography and the printing. However, we had a very smart Section Chief named Master Sergeant William E Stewart and he was anxious to try running it through four times in perfect alignment. We did it and the leaflet turned out perfect and was disseminated. Another problem we had with printing multicolored leaflets was due to the rapid humidity changes which varied the size of the sheets between colors. It was very difficult to keep the image in register. Sometimes it would be a week or so before the pressmen could get to the next color. We managed to turn those leaflets out because of our dedicated men and leaders.

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The 1st RB&L Crest

During the Korean War the Group consisted of the HHC, the 4th MRBC, and the 3rd Reproduction Company. The 1st RB&L was the strategic Psywar asset for Far East Command starting in August 1951.

Paul Linebarger discusses them in Psychological Warfare, Combat Forces Press, Washington DC, 1954. He says:

The Headquarters and Headquarters Company contained the command, administrative, supervisory and creative personnel necessary for propaganda operations. The 3rd Reproduction Company contained intricate equipment and skilled personnel capable of producing leaflets and newspapers of varying sizes and multiple colors. The 4th Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company was designed to replace or augment other means of broadcasting radio propaganda.

The Radio Company had three platoons, each with a complete mobile transmitter that could be attached to more powerful theater elements. In 1953, a Consolidation Company was added to the group when it became clear that there was a need to prepare propaganda specifically aimed at civilians in the rear or in occupied areas under Allied control.

Stephen E. Pease mentions the unit in his book, Psywar: Psychological Warfare in Korea 1950-1953, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pa, 1992. He says in part:

Upon its arrival in the Far East, the 1st RB&L Group assumed operation of the Voice of the UN Command (VUNC), a propaganda radio station in Japan that had begun broadcasting to Korea on 29 June 1950…When the unit arrived in Japan in August 1951, it was still inexperienced in the aspects of PSYWAR. The training they received in Korean customs, language, and social details was also inadequate for the job. The early emphasis was on quantity, not quality. Later, Korean nationals helped in the design and targeting of the materials. By 1952, the 1st RB&L Group could produce leaflets in 16 languages and dialects.

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The 3rd Reproduction Company

The Printing of leaflets was the responsibility of the 3rd Reproduction Company of the 1st RB&L Group. Leaflets were prepared at the Far East Command Printing and Publication Center outside Yokohama near a railroad station called Motosumiyoshi. About 250 Americans and 900 Japanese civilian employees worked in the Center. After the leaflets were printed and cut they were rolled and placed inside leaflet bombs by the 3rd Reproduction Company troops. They were then delivered to Tachikawa Air Base to the planes that dropped them on the Chinese or North Korean troops. From August to September 1951 the Group produced about 13 million leaflets a week. By December 1951 the 50-millionth leaflet was produced. Meanwhile, in Korea, the leaflet missions were planned and organized by the Operations Officer, Kimpo Air Base, Seoul

Some Leaflets printed by the 1st RB&L Group

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Leaflet 1171-A

The first leaflet we depict from the Group was printed 28 April 1952 as part of Plan Hold-Up to show the people that the Communist promise of the good life was false. I chose this one because of the image, North Korean soldiers marching into the mouth of a poisonous snake whose body trails back to the Kremlin in Moscow. The text on the banner and snake’s body is:

North Korean People’s Government

Communism

Some of the text on the back is:

Korean soldiers:

To the Korean people and to the Free World the Communists constantly shout: “We are helping the Korean people and we are raising their standard of living!”

The Communists have refused to allow the International Red Cross to bring desperately needed aid to your suffering families.

The Communists have ruined your families and sold your country to Soviet Russia!

The Communists are masters of deception!

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Leaflet 1175

This leaflet was prepared as part of Plan Invader on 9 June 1952 to convince the target audience that the war could have been over long ago except for the Communists’ long range plan for world conquest. The leaflet depicts Communist leaders gleefully applying the torch of aggression to Korea and its people. Some of the text on the back is:

Examine these facts that tell the Truth About the Korean War

You know for a fact that two years ago on 25 June 1950 the North Korean Communists ruthlessly attacked the peaceful republic of Korea.

You know for a fact that the war was nearly over in mid-November 1950 when Communist China invaded Korea.

You know for a fact that the Communists have consistently blocked efforts to conclude an armistice…

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Russian Language Blue Leaflet (Front) Leaflet Code # 5701

One of the most famous PSYOP campaigns of the Korean War was Operation Moolah, the plot to buy a MiG-15 from a defecting Communist pilot. On 1 April, the U.N. Joint Psychological Warfare committee approved Operation Moolah. The data sheets of the Headquarters, 1st Radio Broadcasting & Leaflet Group, 8239 AU, APO 500, are all dated 20 April 1953. The United Nations Command offered $50,000 to any pilot who flew his MiG-15 to the south. It offered an additional $50,000 to the first pilot who took advantage of this offer. The campaign used both radio and aerial leaflets in the Russian, Chinese, and Korean languages. It was believed at the time, and later proven, that all three countries provided pilots for the air war over North Korea. Each of the three countries (The U.S.S.R., China, and North Korea) operated their own air force units as if they were fighting against their enemies. No pilot served in another country's air force unit. All the MiG-15s, however, were marked with North Korean insignia (A red star inside red and blue circles).

Two B-29 Super-Fortresses dropped more than one million of the reward leaflets along the Yalu River on the night of 26 April 1953. The Air Force dropped another half-million leaflets over Sinuiju and Uiju airfields on the nights of 10 and 18 May. At the same time, The United Nations beamed a concentrated radio attack at the Communists all along the “Bamboo Curtain.” Fourteen radio stations in Japan and Korea stated in Korean, Russian, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese that the United Nations would pay $50,000 dollars for a MiG and guarantee protection for the pilot. The pilot that actually flew his MiG-15 south told me:

When the two B-29s dropped those million Moolah leaflets along the Yalu River, my MiG-15 Squadron was stationed in Tunghua Air Base, about 50 miles north of Manpo on the Yalu River. The Americans dropped no leaflets there and we had no radio. I do not believe any North Korean pilots saw the leaflet…If a North Korean pilot had read one of the leaflets, the money offer would have meant little. No one could have trusted the authenticity of the offer, and North Koreans knew nothing about the purchasing power of the dollar. Operation Moolah may have overlooked the most important point: the defecting pilot had to be an anti-Communist who wanted political asylum in the United States, Therefore, a statement in the leaflet of guaranteeing freedom and a job in America after defection would have been more effective.

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Black Widow Training Leaflet

After the end of the Korean War, the 1st went back to doing the usual training activities: war games, language and printing classes, and all the other everyday duties of a PSYOP unit. For training, parts of a PSYOP unit are sometimes added to one or both sides in war games to produce leaflets and practice their ability to print material and disseminate it in the field. This leaflet is designed to keep the enemy force awake at night worrying about being bitten by a poisonous spider. Other similar leaflets mention poisonous snakes crawling into sleeping bags for warmth while the soldier sleeps.

This training leaflet was produced by the 3rd Reproduction Company of the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Battalion at Ft. Bragg, NC, in March 1955. It threatens the enemy with the poisonous black widow spider. The funny thing is that the back of the leaflet shows the black widow as a woodland spider when it is actually more of a house spider. They are mostly found in dark, dry shelters such as barns, garages, basements, and outdoor toilets. They are rather docile and will only bite if provoked. The back of the leaflet depicts the spider and the text on the front:

Be careful at night

This is a natural breeding ground of black widow spiders

The text on the back is:

Black widow spiders are known to be in this area. Smaller than an inch in size, it is impossible to see them at night. The poison which black widows inject into their victims is deadly – fifteen times more potent than rattlesnake poison. The Widow seeks a warm place to rest at night – like beside a sleeping man. If you remain awake you might feel it.

Lithographed as a training mission of the 3rd Reproduction Company

1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Battalion, Ft. Bragg, N.C.

On 24 June 1960, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Psychological Warfare Battalion. As such, the unit took part in Operation Power Pack in the Dominican Republic.

In February 1963, Juan Bosch, the head of the Dominican Revolutionary Party was elected and inaugurated as the President of the Dominican Republic. His pro-Castro sentiments and left-leaning politics led to a military coup seven months later by an archconservative faction of the military led by Colonel Elias Wessin y Wessin. On 24 April 1965, a group within the Army, led by Col. Francisco Caamano Deno rose up and attempted to restore Juan Bosch to the presidency. The pro-Bosch rebels known as Constitutionalists, took to the streets, seized the national palace and the Government radio and television stations in Santa Domingo, and demanded Bosch's return. Santo Domingo's streets were filled with looting and lawlessness as the Soviet-oriented Dominican Revolutionary Party, and the Castroite 14th of June Revolutionary Party armed their members. Bands of teenagers (Los Tigres) swarmed through Santo Domingo shooting any policemen they could find.

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President Lyndon Johnson

Fearing another Cuba on America's doorstep, President Lyndon Johnson ordered U.S. forces to restore order and sent a fleet of 41 vessels to blockade the island.

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14th of June Movement Propaganda
“Out the Yankee Invader”

I heard from a person who told me about his grandfather who took part in the uprising and fought as a member of the Castroite Movimiento Revolucionario 14 de Junio [“14th of June Revolutionary Party”] in the Dominican Republic. He said:

My grandfather was labelled a Communist and lived much of his life in exile. He was caught like most of the members of his group by Trujillo's Servicio Central de Inteligencia [“Central Intelligence Service”] and spent several years in the prison known as La Cuarenta [“The Forty”] where he was tortured until Trujillo was deposed.

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1st PSYWAR Battalion troops in front of the Radio Broadcast Van – Santo Domingo

LTC Wallace J. Moulis, Commanding Office of the 1st PSYWAR Battalion wrote about Dominican Republic psychological operations in an article entitled "Key to a Crisis," Military Review, February 1966. He says:

On the afternoon of 1 May, in response to Mr. Ryan's (USIA Director) request, the 1st PSYWAR Battalion at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, was directed to dispatch the first elements of the Army's psychological warfare effort in support of the operation directed by the USIS.

Operational elements of the 1st PSYWAR Company (Field Army), reinforced with radio broadcast and light, mobile audiovisual teams, as well as language experts, were readied for a midnight departure. A liaison officer was dispatched to join Mr. Ryan with the mission of coordinating military support and assisting the over-all operation in any way possible. The battalion's van-mounted radio was prepared to follow shortly by heavy airlift.

Almost before the roar of their aircraft had left their ears, the radio teams with Ray Aylor, Voice of America radio engineer, were rehabilitating a 1000-watt transmitter to begin relaying Voice of America transmission from Greenville, North Carolina. Production of leaflets by mimeograph began even before the arrival of light, mobile presses. Loudspeakers took positions along the Ozama River to bring the voice of the United States to the people.

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SP4 Dave Hagen

The USIA staff in the Dominican Republic was familiar with the country and had the professional and language skills. However, they lacked the communications equipment and facilities that the Army could supply. The military lacked language skills. This is attested to in part by correspondence from SP4 Dave Hagen who was assigned to the 1st PSYWAR Battalion as a broadcast specialist:

I was one of 8 or 9 GI's running a portable radio station called the "Voice of the Security Zone" that went on the air May 5th. We were up and running a few days before that but I was the only announcer (my MOS listed "broadcast specialist") and I did not speak Spanish. We got a civilian in from the Voice of America (that is where he said he was from) and were up and running for the next few months.

We drove west from the San Isidro Air Base several miles and turned off the main road into a residential area before (I believe) we reached the Ozama River and the Duarte Bridge (a scene of heavy fighting). In this residential area we arrived at a one-acre field with a standing AM radio broadcast tower and a small cement building. The building was empty and there were no signs of any combat in the area. This building was about 10' x 10' which was the perfect size for an AM radio transmitter and its associated equipment. There were no studio facilities in the area. We set up our equipment and used the standing antenna. Overall we had a generator, studio truck, transmitter truck, communications truck, and the antenna tuning truck. As mentioned, we were in a residential area, and the rest of the city block we were located in was all single story houses and some duplexes.

LTC Moulis adds:

The 1st PSYWAR Battalion’s radio station, "The Voice of the Security Zone" went on the air on 5 May. It had a 5000-watt signal capable of reaching a good portion of the nation. Later, two additional transmitters were added to the network. The Army conducted 600 hours of loudspeaker operations, and broadcast over 900 hours of in-country programs. In addition, they relayed the Voice of America broadcasts for 35 days.

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1st PSYWAR Battalion Trooper hands out newspaper to Dominican civilian.

Stanley Sadler says in Cease resistance: It’s Good for you! A History of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations, 2nd Edition, 1998:

U.S. PSYWAR radio was able to monitor and answer rebel radio diatribes about "Yanqui imperialismo" and put out the first newspaper since the outbreak of the revolt.

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1st PSYWAR members distribute posters telling of the Communist Subversion of Latin America.

A newspaper was printed in support of the Army operation by the USIS starting 5 May. 75,000 copies per issue were printed in Miami, Florida, and forwarded to the Dominican Republic for dissemination. At the same time, to help support the Army printing on mobile presses, posters and pamphlets were printed by the USIA plant in Mexico City.

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1st PSYWAR Battalion Loudspeaker Jeep in the Dominican Republic
Lieutenant Lawrence Karlock in the front right passenger seat

Hewson A. Ryan, Associate Director USIA (Policy and Plans) was assigned the task of coordinating all PSYOP in the Dominican Republic. He had been involved in the Cuban missile crisis and as a result was aware of the need for air delivery of leaflets, radio and loudspeaker broadcasts. Cooper says that to assist him, the Army sent the entire 1st PSYWAR Battalion to Santo Domingo from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, in early May. A temporary base of operations was set up in the home of the Public Affairs Officer near the American Embassy. The Battalion soon moved into a nearby school building. The Army supplied radio transmitters, mobile presses, multilith machines, loudspeaker trucks, and aircraft for leaflet and loudspeaker operations. Cooper says that the working relationships were particularly good and the military-civilian mix worked extremely well. Most of the Battalion and the heavy equipment returned to Fort Bragg by June. At that time, the priority changed from psychological operations to civil affairs and nation-building support.

Two C-47 aircraft were assigned the task of dropping the leaflets and broadcasting to the people of Santo Domingo. Leaflets were also distributed by trucks and at certain designated locations. When those locations ran low, the leaflets were sold on the street by Dominican youngsters for a nickel each. One published report states that 70,000 leaflets a day were being printed by the end of May.

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Ten U.S. leaflets dropped over the Dominican Republic

Army PSYWAR operators produced and distributed over two and a half million printed propaganda items. It seems apparent that the leaflets were dropped for a short period and probably only in and around the capitol city of Santo Domingo. LTC Moulis illustrates 10 such leaflets in his Military Review article. Most are plain text with symbols such as the flag or seal of the Dominican Republic. Two of the leaflets depict U.S. presidents; John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. The titles of some of the leaflets are, "Dominicans this is your peace. Do not permit the Communists to deceive you!" "We are working Together," "Dominican Citizens" and "A Report by Costa Rican Journalists."

Leaflets for Operation Power Pack

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Dominicans…

The above leaflet depicts the flag of the Dominican Republic and the text:

Dominicans this is your country

Do not be fooled by the communists

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Lyndon B. Johnson

The above leaflet depicts President Lyndon B. Johnson and the text:

As stated by President Johnson

The United States will give its full support to the work of the OAS and never vary from its commitment to preserve the right of all free peoples of this hemisphere to follow their own path without falling victim to the international conspiracy from wherever it comes.

The back is all text:

May 3, 1965

Dominican citizens:

This is the TRUTH, the TRUTH about the American landing.

The landing was made only for peaceful and humanitarian purposes.

The landing was made only when the Dominican civil and military forces lost the ability to protect the lives of North American citizens and those of other nations.

The United States government does not support any faction nor has it lent military aid or materials to any faction.

The United States government only advocates the freedom and welfare of the Dominican people within a constitutional framework.

The United States government has collaborated with the Red Cross to provide emergency aid all the Dominicans affected by the current crisis.

The United States government is lending its entire support to the negotiations by the Organization of American States to solve the crisis.

We conclude this portion with a comment by Lawrence A. Yates in Powerpack: U.S. Intervention in the Dominican Republic, 1965-1966, Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 1988:

The civic action and civil affairs programs sought to provide humanitarian aid, assist in stabilizing the country, and win the "hearts and minds" of the Dominican people…The 1st Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR) Battalion at Fort Bragg and the 1st PSYWAR Company (Field Army) had the necessary equipment to support USIS, but because the OPLAN called for the deployment of only a small, light mobile detachment, the company and the entire battalion did not reach the Dominican Republic until 7 May, and then largely at the insistence of Mr. Hewson Ryan, associate director of the United States Information Agency (USIA), who would direct all psychological operations in the Dominican Republic.

When the 1st Psychological Warfare Battalion arrived in the Dominican Republic, it brought with it mobile printing presses, mobile broadcasting facilities, a loudspeaker capability to broadcast from trucks and from the two C-47s, and ultimately, heavy, mobile printing equipment. The loudspeaker trucks proved more effective than the aircraft in imparting information. Wherever the trucks would stop, hundreds of Dominicans would gather round to hear the latest news and receive leaflets and pamphlets, which by the end of May were being printed at a rate of 70,000 per day.

On the whole, civilian-military cooperation in the psychological warfare effort was "remarkably successful." It was not, however, entirely devoid of friction. Besides feeling constrained by USIS control, 1st PSYWAR Battalion personnel believed that civilian agencies had little understanding of the military's capabilities. Conversely, civilian participants often complained about delays in the delivery of Army equipment and then about the outdated material and the poor quality of products they received.

In 1965 the United States Army decided that since the psychological warfare units also took part in peaceful operations such as the humanitarian feeding of starving peoples, disaster relief and even nation building, the name would be changed to psychological operations. Thus, on 20 December 1965 the unit was reorganized and redesignated as the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion.

I like to add some personal touches to my stories. Facts and statistics are good, but every now and then you have to hear from someone with “boots on the ground.” This story is interesting because it shows that like radar, computers and jet engines, sometimes military concepts work their way into civilian life. An old retired officer told me about his introduction to the 1st PSYOP Battalion:

I arrived at Fort Bragg in 1972 with orders assigning me to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). At the “One Stop” in-processing Center I was asked if I could write. Thinking he was making a bad joke about my assignment to Special Forces I replied: “Yes I can write and I can read too.” The next thing I know my assignment was changed and I was assigned to the 1st PSYOP Battalion (Airborne).

Vietnam was wrapping up and except for the various ongoing training exercises and keeping up with world events within our area of responsibility (SOUTHCOM), things were slowing down within the unit.

Shortly after my assignment, Brigadier General Henry “Hank - the Gunfighter” Emerson, who had been the Commander of the USA John F Kennedy Center for Military Assistance and the US Army Institute for Military Assistance was promoted to Major General and assumed Command of the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea. He quickly identified problems within the Division to include racial discord, High VD rates and low morale.

General Emerson contacted his old friend, Colonel William “Wild Bill” Hudson, Commander of the 4th PSYOP Group and asked if he could possibly conduct a peacetime study to examine the stressors and problems of his soldiers and come up with a program to improve the standard of living. Thus “Project Life” was begun.

Of course like any good Army program we had to have our acronyms for the different projects. There was Project “ALERT” (Analysis Leading to the Easing of Racial Tensions) and Project “Soda” (Study on Drug Attitudes) just to name a couple. l was subsequently assigned to Project SODA and was even sent TDY to the University of Oklahoma to take a special course on Drug Abuse Education. We developed a comprehensive package with the motto “Get high on Life!” The program pushed sports to include hiring Korean Tae Kwon Do instructors and other recreational activities such as intra mural sporting leagues and even the “Indian Head Olympics,” as alternatives to using drugs. A program for VD education was established to reduce the high VD rates. I still remember the first VD education poster we developed. “VD - the Gift that Keeps on Giving”

We must have done something right as the overall division morale increased as racial incidents, drug usage and the high VD rate all dropped.

A couple years later, Television public service announcements began urging Americans “To Get High on Life” and to look at alternatives such as sports and other recreational activities rather than drugs and how everyone should work together in racial harmony. I always wondered if some public relations outfit stole our program to use on the American public.

I was told another story by a member of the unit that was embarrassed by it and thought it should not be added to the story. Personally, I loved it. It shows the unit trying to use new and better paper products and when “caught” with a racy line of text, shows the clever mind of a PSYOP soldier who saved the day. The story is:

We were testing different types of paper for use in printing leaflets. One type was a paper that could be used for leaflets disseminated during training exercises. The paper was made to break down quickly after being wet. To demonstrate the capability of this paper we placed samples in jars showing how the paper broke down day by day after being exposed to water.

Another was a paper that could not be torn. It looked and felt similar to regular paper but it was developed to frustrate the enemy. We were looking for a unique way to demonstrate the use of this paper and challenged the printers to come up with a unique idea.

A few days later we were visited by members of Congress who were touring the Special Warfare facilities as part of a fact finding visit. Escorting the Congressional VIPs into the Print Shop we began explaining the purpose and use of the biodegradable paper leaflets in the jars and the various stages of the paper breaking down. However, the Congressmen’s attention was focused on some small business size cards on the table. One of the Congressmen handed me a card and demanded to know the meaning of the message on the card. The message was:“IF YOU WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH ME SMILE. IF NOT, TEAR UP THIS CARD.”

Realizing that one of the pressmen had met the challenge, I told the Congressmen: “Tear up the card!” They all stared at me with quizzical looks and attempted to tear the cards. Despite their best efforts not one was able to tear apart a card. They looked at each other and then turned to me asking if they could have all the cards. The pressman’s innovative idea turned out to be the hit of the Congressional visit.

Every few decades, like lemmings running to the sea, the Army sets forth on a self-destructive action called “Reduction in Force” (RIF). Bright young officers are basically thrown away because of a failure to meet certain rank levels or other criteria and the service suffers greatly. Another officer told me about the time a “RIF” hit the 1st PSYOP Battalion.

In 1974 I was a 2nd Lieutenant assigned as a PSYOP officer to the Plans and Operations (S3) section of the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne). The big topic on everyone's mind was that of the upcoming Reduction in Force (RIF) which was intended to draw down the size of the active duty officers. When the RIF arrived, the 1st PSYOP Battalion took a surprisingly large hit. We lost our S1 (Personnel - Captain), S2 (Intelligence - Captain), the S3 (Operations - Major), the Assistant S3 (Operations - Captain), Air (a Captain) and the S4 (Logistics - Captain), Our 1st PSYOP Battalion staff after the RIF consisted of a 1st Lieutenant as the S1, a 1st Lieutenant as the S2, myself, a 2nd Lieutenant as the S3, and a Warrant Officer 01 as the S4.

Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, we received a call for the all Battalion Commanders and S3s to report to the USA John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance Command Briefing Room for a planning session to address the crisis in the Middle East between Israel and Egypt. When I got there with the Battalion Commander, a guard at the entrance to the conference room stopped me and informed me that this meeting was restricted to just Battalion Commanders and S3s. I told the guard: “I am the battalion S3!” The guard did a double take looking at my rank again, and then commented: “God help us…Go ahead sir!”

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The Mariel Boat Lift

While deployed to Key West, Florida for a major Field Training Exercise, SOLID SHIELD 80, the Battalion was alerted and deployed one Operational Detachment (OPDET) to Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas. This humanitarian effort took place from 8 May to 22 August 1980.

On 4 April 1980, the Cuban government suddenly removed obstacles in front of the Peruvian Embassy in Havana, Cuba. The obstacles had been constructed to prevent the forced intrusion of Cubans desiring asylum. The Cuban government also removed the military police and gate guards who had routinely blocked the embassy's entrance. A crowd of more than 10,000 Cubans eventually occupied the grounds of the Peruvian Embassy. Meanwhile, the Cuban exile community in Miami explored other possibilities. The result was a boat lift which began between Mariel, Cuba, and Key West, Florida. One hundred and twelve thousand Cubans arrived within 48 days. This operation ended with the mass exodus of more than 130,000 refugees to the United States.

On 7 May 1980, Operational Detachment II, 1st Psychological Operations Battalion, was alerted for deployment to Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas. The 27-man detachment deployed the same day on C-130s. The mission of the OPDET was to support OPERATION RESETTLEMENT by: informing, orienting and exercising crowd control over the Cuban refugees. In addition, there were also a number of implied missions:

— support in and out processing through the use of printing, loudspeaker and language capabilities.

— train the detachment in PSYOP skills, i.e., the art of persuasion and influencing people.

— improve language skills and area knowledge of Cuba.

— collect information of a PSYOP nature.

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La Vida Nueva

A Spanish language newspaper entitled La Vida Nueva (“The New Life”) was published. Specialist 5 John Mullins was appointed as the newspaper's editor. Its primary purpose was to inform, educate and entertain. The first publication date was on 10 May 1980. Additionally, 500 copies a day of the Diario Las Aroericanas, a Miami Spanish language newspaper, began to arrive. These two publications greatly improved the refugee’s access to information via printed media. An FM radio station was also put into service. A camp Public Announcement system was established.

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A Printing and Graphics Section Poster quoting President Carter

The United States will accept with open arms and an open heart the thousands of Cuban
Refugees who are arriving aboard the Freedom Flotilla -President Jimmy Carter
Welcome to the United States of America

The Printing and Graphics Section printed the newspaper and numerous other items. Their totals for May 1980 are: Printing Projects completed – 250, Items produced - 560,000. Graphics Projects completed – 115, Items produced - 280,000.

There was also an Audio-Visual section. The section initially consisted of one NCOIC and 6 enlisted men. The audio-visual section had three distinct missions: loudspeaker operations, movie projection and recording. Loudspeaker broadcasts comprised 90% of total missions conducted. Vehicular mounted loudspeakers proved especially effective for crowd control. A typical message like the one below was broadcast after some injuries and assaults in the camps:

Attention, attention. Silence, please, silence. Pay attention to the following instructions: If you do not live on 26 St. "The Boulevard" immediately move towards 3rd Ave. All 26 Street residents return immediately to your respective barracks. This is an inspection for your own health and well-being. It's not done with the intention of arresting someone. We are interested in obtaining and confiscating any illegal or contraband objects in the area. Starting now there will be 10 minutes of amnesty during which you will have the opportunity to get rid of any illegal object in your possession exempting you from any guilt. If you have anything illegal in your possession, drop it on the ground. If you have anything illegal inside the barracks throw it out the window. If you obey these simple instructions no actions will be taken against you.

Opening ceremonies for Radio Station KNJB (frequency: FM 92.7 mhz.) at Fort Chaffee commenced at 1200 hours, 12 June 1980. Approximately 600 radios were distributed among the Cubans by FEMA: one per barracks floor, one in each recreation room and one to each mess hall. The station was "on the air" from 1200 to 2300 daily.

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Plumbing leaflet for Cubans

In Cuba toilet paper is not thrown into the toilet because it would stop it up. This leaflet explains that toilet paper goes into the toilet and sanitary napkins go into the trash can.

LESSON LEARNED: A "reeducation" program is necessary to inform refugees of how to use plumbing and general information on sanitation. This can be done through the use of native language posters, signs, etc. In future operations, native language signs and posters should be made up describing use of plumbing and sanitation in advance of their arrival.

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A typical educational cartoon

The cartoon is meant to help the Cubans learn English. Three panels depict a friendly Spanish-speaking man Placing a placard that says “tree” on a tree and the text:

Welcome to the United States of America. My name is Cheo.

You will see me and some of my friends here every day.

I'm going to teach you English and talk about some of the North American customs.

Again, welcome and good day. See you tomorrow.

A former member of the unit told me about the radios:

One snafu involved the need for a low-power FM station to call the Cuban refugees to their screening interviews. Washington said that Federal Communications Commission approval was required and would take several weeks. The 1st POB intervened and had an FM station set up in three hours. Then the General Services Administration announced it wanted several weeks to take bids on cheap radio receivers for the barracks. Again the military found a shortcut, but on opening the boxes of radios they found they had been sent AM models only. Said one of the compound’s ranking officers:

This thing is enough to drive anyone absolutely crazy.

On a personal note, as I wrote this article I remembered that I spent some time at Indiantown Gap back in the 1980s. It was not quite as warm and cozy as much of the official after-actions state. I remember that the Cubans were placed at the end of the base in an out-of-the-way area, and there were multiple rows of barbed wire and plenty of MPs. There had been riots and demonstrations and the Army was treating the Cubans, many of which were criminals released from Castro's jails, as dangerous people. There were multiple rings of barbed wire and it looked almost like a high security prison camp. I paid no attention at the time because I was on other business, but I do remember going through checkpoints at that end of the base.

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A Fourth of July celebration was held at Fort Indiantown Gap on July 4, 1975,
for the Southeast Asia refugees housed there after the fall of Saigon.

On an entirely different subject I should mention that the 1st PSYOP Battalion also got involved with the settlement of Vietnam refugees in the U.S. after the Vietnam War in operations called NEW LIFE (Guam and Wake Island) and NEW ARRIVALS (In the continental United States) in 1975 and 1976. Ft. Chaffee was part of that operation as was Ft. Indiantown Gap, PA; the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton, California; and Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

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Vietnamese Refugee Resettlement Chart

For eight months, more than 32,000 Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees were resettled at Indiantown Gap. The refugees were housed in Army barracks whose interiors have been partitioned to give some measure of privacy to the families. Americans were not allowed in the barracks unless invited by one of the Vietnamese families. The resettlement of the refugees in the United States was handled by eight volunteer agencies. These agencies played a major role in resettling the refugees by matching them with specific sponsors such as churches, individuals, or community groups.

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The Vietnamese refugee Newspaper Dat Lahn

PSYOP troops printed the newspaper Dat Lanh (“New Land”) daily in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania and Fort Chaffee, Arkansas in Vietnamese and English. One issue of the newspaper stated that the Vietnamese population of the Pennsylvania camp would end 30 November 1975. A later issue said the camp would not be closed until it reached a zero Vietnamese population. All the refugees at the Gap were to be out-processed through the normal voluntary agencies which would place them with sponsors.

In conclusion, at both Army bases, as well as on Guam and at Eglin Air Force Base, detachments from the Army's 4th Psychological Operations Group from Fort Bragg printed leaflets, signs, and menus for the benefit of the Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees and, most importantly, prepared daily newspapers for the evacuees in their vernacular. This action enabled the refugees to be kept current on events in the outside world and supplemented their information within the center.

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It takes a Revolution to make a Solution

The unit next saw action in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983. The Grenada story began on 13 March 1979 when Maurice Bishop overthrew the legitimate government and established a communist society. The New Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation (New Jewel Movement) ousted Sir Eric Gairy, Grenada's first Prime Minister, and established a people's revolutionary government. Grenada began construction of a 10,000 foot international airport with the help of Cuba. There was speculation that this airfield could be used to land military fighters and transports, threatening South America and the southern United States. President Ronald Reagan accused Grenada of constructing facilities to aid a Soviet and Cuban military build-up in the Caribbean. There was also worry about the large number of weapons flowing into Grenada. One shipment in 1979 contained 3400 rifles and 3 million rounds of ammunition. In addition, there were about 600 American medical students studying in Grenada and another 400 foreign citizens. The safety of these Americans became a factor when Maurice Bishop and several members of his cabinet were murdered by elements of the people's revolutionary army on 13 October 1983. The even more reactionary and violent Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard who led a Marxist-influenced group within the Grenadian Army replaced Bishop. President Reagan called the leaders of the new government "a brutal group of leftist thugs."

The United States reacted to the bloody coup in Grenada within two weeks. On 25 October 1983 American troops landed on the beaches of Grenada. They were assisted in part by members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), specifically Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, Dominica, St Lucia and St Vincent. They were opposed by Grenadian and Cuban military units and military advisors from the Soviet Union, North Korea, East Germany, Bulgaria, and Libya.

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U.S. PSYOP soldier reads off a prepared script in Grenada

The PSYOP campaign was carried out by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Reserve and National Guard. For instance, according to Retired Colonel Alfred H. Paddock, writing in an article entitled “PSYOP: A Historical Perspective,” for Perspectives, Volume 22, Number 5 & 6, 2012:

Working with the 4th Group, the Navy’s Reserve Audiovisual Unit (NARU 186) produced a cassette tape of PSYOP messages and music which the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 193d Special Operations Group (then Coronet Solo) broadcast over radio to the Grenadian people concurrent with the landing of U.S. Marines and Army Rangers. The Navy deployed its mobile 10 kilowatt radio station (AN/ULT-3) which, together with Coronet Solo, provided coverage of the island until the Army’s 50 kilowatt set could be installed…The Joint Psychological Operations Task Force electronically transmitted its initial leaflet with directions for its production and dissemination to the aircraft carrier USS Guam. After printing on the Guam, Marine helicopters distributed 50,000 leaflets as Marine forces landed in Grenada. Permanent presses at the 4th Group’s headquarters at Fort Bragg, NC, printed and packaged leaflets targeting both the Grenadian population and Cubans on the island. Air force MC-130 aircraft dropped 300,000 of these in the St. Georges area and along the western coast on the second day of hostilities. Between 25 October and 8 December the PSYOP task force produced and disseminated more than 900,000 leaflets, handbills, and posters.

I note that although the 1st PSYOP Battalion was the Army’s PSYOP proponent in Grenada it is seldom mentioned by name. For the most part we find that its parent organization, the 4th PSYOP Group is mentioned.

There were about a dozen leaflets dropped on Grenada. Here are a few of the more interesting ones:

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People of Grenada

The first is found in both a light and dark green text and border. The text is:

People of Grenada. Your Caribbean neighbors with U.S. support have come to Grenada to restore democracy and insure your safety.

Text on the back is:

Remain indoors, avoid conflicts and no harm will come to you. Further emergency information will follow.

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Cuban Nationals

This leaflet comes in two slightly different varieties (dark blue and light blue text and border) and is written in English and Spanish. It has the same message on both sides. The English message is:

CUBAN NATIONALS. Your Caribbean neighbors and U.S. Forces have come to Grenada to restore Democracy and evacuate U.S. Citizens. Stay out of the conflict. Remain in your compound or home. Avoid confrontations and do not interfere with on going operations. If you remain out of the way you will not be harmed. (Spanish translation on the other side)

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ESTO…O ESTO

A more gruesome poster carried a drawing of a bleeding corpse and a relieved group of soldiers surrendering with the caption:

ESTO…O ESTO
(“THIS…OR THIS”).

The text on the back is:

Your defeat is inevitable. You are facing thousands of troops from six different countries. Cease resistance and return to Cuba with honor where your family awaits you.

We conclude this section with an excerpt from “Historical Perspectives of Psychological Operations,” 1 June 2007, available on the USASOC portal:

During Operation Urgent Fury, the U.S. invasion of Grenada, tactical PSYOP teams played an important role by broadcasting surrender appeals to both Grenadian soldiers and their Cuban advisors. These loudspeaker broadcasts helped lower the number of combatants U.S. forces faced. Leaflets dropped across the island combined with broadcasts from Air Force Volant Solo aircraft and land based radio transmitters lowered the incidents of civilian casualties during the fighting to liberate the island. Eventually PSYOP forces were broadcasting to the island for 11 hours per day. These broadcasts in conjunction with vehicle mounted loudspeakers were used to for consolidation activities.

The History of the 4th Psychological Operations Group [Airborne], adds:

4th PSYOP Group loudspeaker teams attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, in addition to persuading significant numbers of frightened People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) troops to turn themselves in, confirmed the enemy's low morale as well as the desire of even some of the Cuban "Construction Battalions" to remain on the island with their Grenadian wives and families. The 1983 Grenada operation included PSYOP elements from all the services…Leaflets directing the populace to remain indoors and tune their radios to a specific frequency were designed by the Army and printed aboard Navy ships. Other leaflets produced both at Ft. Bragg and on the island, were effectively used during the consolidation operations to encourage Grenadian civilians to report information concerning People's Revolutionary Army (PRA) and Cuban soldiers.

From October 1984 to July 1993 the 1st PSYOP Battalion was active in conducting Civil Military Operations (CMO) in countries such as El Salvador and Haiti. It provided Peacetime Psychological Operations Programs to the Government of El Salvador during its counterinsurgency effort. It also provided post-war Humanitarian and Civic Assistance to El Salvador, building roads, digging wells and medical readiness training exercises. The Battalion also provided support to Joint Task Force Aguila in its disaster relief efforts during the wake of Hurricane Mitch.

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PSYOP PRODUCTS FOR LATIN AMERICA

This exhibit produced by the U.S. Army’s 1st PSYOP Battalion to display their products depicts leaflets, posters, books, newspapers, magazines, records, calendars, cups, backpacks, book bags, shopping bags, T-shirts and other items. The nations targeted in this display are Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Columbia, Peru and Bolivia. Some of the themes are eradication and interdiction of drugs, development of other crops, humanitarian mine assistance, nation building, and human rights.

The entire Southern Command area of responsibility includes the landmass of Latin America south of Mexico; the waters adjacent to Central and South America; the Caribbean Sea, its 12 island nations and European territories; the Gulf of Mexico; and a portion of the Atlantic Ocean. It encompasses 32 countries (19 in Central and South America and 12 in the Caribbean) and covers about 15.6 million square miles.

William Yaworsky mentions the 1st PSYOP Battalion in his article: Like Cassandra, I Speak the Truth: US Army Psychological Operations in Latin America, 1987–89. He says in part:

The 1st PSYOP Battalion had a Forward Support Detachment consisting of 32 soldiers stationed in Panama. Alpha Company of the 1st PSYOP Battalion was subdivided into a Strategic Studies Detachment (SSD); a Propaganda Development Center (PDC); a Printing Press unit; and a tactical Operations Detachment (OpDet). I served for a time in all Alpha Company units except the print plant. The SSD, staffed by approximately 50 soldiers, conducted long-term studies of sensitive foreign countries and deployed primarily to El Salvador to assist the PSYOP effort during that nation’s civil war. With about 40 soldiers, the PDC largely operated in Honduras, trying to influence both Honduran attitudes and nearby events in Nicaragua. The PDC also collaborated in developing propaganda with the Peruvian Armed Forces, although this work was largely undertaken at Fort Bragg itself. By the late 1980s, the battalion was operating in El Salvador, Honduras, Peru and Panama, countries sharing similar histories of military interference in civilian affairs and human rights abuses.

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The 1st U.S. Army Surf Team Certificate

Speaking of Panama in 1988, SP4 Matt Robbins, a former member of the 1st PSYOP Battalion wrote to me with an interesting anecdote. His detachment was in Panama but keeping a low profile. The troops were told to move about quietly and draw no attention to themselves. So, as a gag, the men decided to become the 1st U.S. Army Surf Team. They made a sign and put on the door of the attic where they were quietly bivouacked. They also printed certificates as souvenirs of the operation. Not exactly a low profile, but close.

In 1989, the 1st PSYOP Battalion was deployed to Operation Just Cause in Panama.

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President Manuel Noriega 1988

In 1983, Manual Noriega became chief of staff to new strongman General Dario Paredes. He later succeeded Paredes and promoted himself to general in that same year. He led Panama from 1983 to 1989. American sources alleged that he had been a paid CIA informant and on the United States Army's payroll from 1955 to 1986. He was also accused of being a double agent who sold American secrets to Cuba. There were strong rumors that Noriega was channeling Columbian cocaine through Panama to the United States. As a result, the United States indicted him on drug-trafficking and racketeering charges in 1988. What is not commonly known about Noriega is that he was a student and graduate of the U.S. Army Psychological Operations School.

According to the authors of Operation Just Cause, Lexington Books, NY, 1991, The U.S. Army Southern Command had logged more than one thousand incidents of harassment by the Panamanian forces since 1998. American newspapers clamored for military action. President George Bush ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare for a Panama invasion.

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PSYOP Soldiers with captured Panama flag

Operations Just Cause Lessons Learned - Soldiers and Leadership, 90-9, Volume 1, October 1990, says:

The 1st Battalion of the 4th PSYOP Group provided loudspeaker teams to maneuver battalions during D-Day operations. Its mission was to assist maneuver units in convincing the PDF elements to surrender by announcing the conditions of surrender after a show of force by the maneuver unit. Its efforts to convince the PDF to surrender saved American and Panamanian lives. Additionally, PSYOP elements were critical during stability operations by assisting in refugee control, disseminating information, and participating in programs such as money for weapons.

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Colonel Dennis P. Walko

Colonel Dennis P. Walko adds in “Psychological Operations in Panama During Operations Just Cause and Promote Liberty:”

The Commander of the 1st PSYOP Battalion, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was the designated commander of the PSYOP Task Force in the eventuality of any Panama contingency. He was responsible for developing detailed contingency PSYOP plans, annexes, and products, and for coordinating all PSYOP relevant details with U.S. Southern Command and XVIII Airborne Corps. Prior to the actual operation, often during routing trips to Panama, the commander and other members of his command visited many of the principal target locations and identified potential production facilities - a precaution against late arrival of PSYOP production equipment.

Facilitating this planning process was the fact that successive 1st PSYOP Battalion commanders served as Commander in Charge South's senior theater PSYOP officer; knew most key players on the staffs and had a small liaison Cell located in the US SOUTHCOM. Furthermore, once the XVIII Airborne Corps commander (General Stiner) was designated Commander of the Joint Task Force for the contingency, coordination between the battalion and that headquarters (including one- on-one meetings with General Stiner) became a frequent affair. General Stiner would later assume overall responsibility for planning and commanding the operation. He took a personal interest in PSYOP, further enhancing their planning, coordination, and execution.

Operations Just Cause Lessons Learned - Operations, 90-9, Volume 2, October 1990, adds:

PSYOP were an integral part of JUST CAUSE. The loudspeaker teams deployed with conventional units proved effective in reducing resistance and controlling the local populace. Integration of major themes below joint task force level was slow at first, but picked up momentum as programs like “money for weapons” began impacting directly on tactical units.

Securing Ft. Amador, an installation shared by the U.S. and Panamian Defense Forces was difficult. American dependents could not be evacuated in advance of the attack. PSYOP loudspeaker teams, from the 1st Battalion, 4th PSYOP Group, were a key asset. When initial appeals failed to persuade the PDF to surrender, the commander modified the broadcasts. The holdouts were warned that resistance was hopeless in the face of overwhelming firepower and a series of demonstrations took place, escalating from small arms to 105mm howitzer rounds. Subsequent broadcasts convinced the PDF to give up.

The tactical loudspeaker teams were issued bilingual booklets entitled Loudspeaker Message Handbook prepared by the 1st PSYOP Battalion and prerecorded tapes. Some of the prerecorded messages are:

Message 1. Phase 1.

Attention, attention, attention. Everyone clear the building. Lay down your weapons. Come out one at a time with your hands on your head and you won't get hurt. The building is surrounded.

Message 1. Phase 2.

Attention, attention, attention. Everyone in the building. You have 5 minutes to lay down your weapons and come out with your hands on your head. We intend to destroy the entire building and kill all of you in it unless you do as you are told. You can't escape. The building is surrounded. Don't die when you don't have to. Your five minutes has started.

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Safe Conduct

There were numerous safe conduct passes prepared by American PSYOP troops during Operation Just Cause. Most of them are all in English on one side and Spanish on the other. One large 8 ˝ x 5 ˝ inch pass is all text:

Safe Conduct

This safe conduct pass is for use by the Dignity Battalions and Codepadi. The bearer of this pass, upon presenting it to any U.S. Military member or Public Panamanian force, will be guaranteed protection, medical attention, food, and shelter.

For more information tune into 1160 AM on your radio.

(Signed) Major General Marc A. Cisneros, Commanding General, U.S. Army South.

Safe Conduct

Author’s note: The Codepadi are “Institutional Committees to Defend the Country.”

The Cisneros safe conduct pass was printed on cheap newsprint paper. The 1st PSYOP Battalion quickly printed 300,000 of them. US helicopter crews could carry 30,000 of them on a mission due to their small size. They were dropped on both specified locations and targets of opportunity.

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It is your Duty

One weapons rewards leaflet shows a woman with child pointing out the location of hidden weapons to an American soldier. The text is

It is your duty

What We Will Pay

$25.00 for Information on Munitions. $25.00 for Grenades. $50.00 for RPG Grenades. $100.00 for Pistols. $125.00 for Rifles. $150.00 for Automatic Rifles. $150.00 for Mines. A maximum of $5000 will be paid for the above weapons. Cooperate with us today.

The back is all text.

Maximum payment for warehousing of weapons - $5000. PLACES FOR DELIVERY. Police Department near the back of Albrook fountain. National Gymnasium (front of Ancon Inn). Arms will be accepted only at these places daily from 7am to 5pm. DELIVERY PROCEDURES.

1. Remove the loader and ammunition from the weapon.

2. Attach a white cloth to the weapon.

3. Approach with weapon held high by its barrel.

4. Follow the instructions given by the authorities. Cooperate with your Government and help the American armed forces. United we will have law, order and public security.

In a published U.S. Army after-action report, Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Walko (Commander, 1st PSYOP Battalion) says:

The weapons buy back went very well. One Panamanian civilian actually turned in an armored vehicle. He was paid the top amount for weapon: $150, and seemed pleased enough. No one asked him how he had such an outsized piece of military equipment.

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Sergeant (E5) Tim Wallace was a 1st PSYOP Battalion illustrator during the Panama invasion. Because he had a background as an editorial cartoonist he was asked to prepare a series of anti-Noriega cartoons during Operation Just Cause. He believed they were to be used in the newspaper La Prensa. However, when he was called before the Battalion Commander, he was told that the cartoons would be used as “black propaganda.”

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Patriots

In this cartoon a caricatured thug with a bag of war booty over his shoulder carries his AK-47 rifle, drags the Panamanian flag and says:

I am a patriot

There are two creatures in the background that look a lot like Toucans. Tim told me that when they were testing the cartoons they found that the Panamanian people really liked the two birds and thought they were funny. So, Tim decided to leave them in his drawings. He named them “Libel” and “Slander,” as a tribute to their unique origin.

The birds say:

Who is that?

The Dignity Battalion.

Tim told me an interesting story one day:

I was an Army illustrator assigned to 1st Psychological Operation BN from 1987-1991. One of my favorite personal stories during my time in 1st POB happened almost 30 years ago during Operation Just Cause. It was during the initial days of the invasion that I was called to the Battalion Commander’s office. He along with the S2 (Intelligence) informed me that they would like me to create a series of art work/cartoons that would be deemed “black propaganda”, i.e. no known source. I had a few questions first, but before I could voice them they said that I would be drawing political cartoons of Noriega to be published in the Panamanian newspapers.

I was ecstatic! I just had to adopt a pen name to sign the work with to avoid any suspicion of the source. Before my enlistment I had put myself through college as a political cartoonist. While in the army I had used my past experience to establish myself as one of the Army’s top cartoonists with a weekly cartoon strip called G.I. Bill which ran in Ft. Bragg’s post newspaper The Paraglide.

So with this type of art background I eagerly threw myself into the “black propaganda” mission and began drawing very unflattering cartoons of Manual Noriega. As a way to hurl even more insults at the dictator, I added two cartoon birds in the compositions of each of the art works. My intent with the two birds was simple… two more bubble captions to throw even more barbed insults at Noriega.

The Battalion Commander seemed pleased with the results, and then 1st POB began to pretest the final art work at a refugee camp before dissemination of the product. The Panamanians liked the cartoons…but they seemed to be more interested in the two birds. Yes, Noriega is a jerk, but they wanted more of the two wisecracking birds.

The cartoons were published in the Panamanian newspapers over the next several weeks, and I heard nothing more about it after that. Eventually, U.S. authorities captured Noriega, the invasion was over, and I was sent back home a few months later with the rest of 1st POB.

It was not long after I returned to Bragg that I started thinking about those two wise-cracking birds again. I began to wonder how these two birds would do with an American audience. So I began to include them in my weekly G.I. Bill cartoon strip in the Paraglide. They turned out to be a big hit with the soldiers on the post.

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The Keith L. Ware Award - 1990

Later that year, G.I. Bill, and the two birds from Panama, went on to win the Army’s highest award for military journalism, the Keith L. Ware Award, for best cartoon strip in the Army for 1990. No one was ever the wiser of the black propaganda origins of the two birds, and 30 years ago I made sure I kept it that way.

Historical Perspectives of Psychological Operations, 1 June 2007, adds:

Tactical PSYOP proved to be instrumental in minimizing casualties on both sides. Loudspeaker messages encouraged Panamanian Defense Forces to refrain from resisting U.S. forces, which were there primarily to remove Noriega.

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Loudspeaker teams took action after Noriega sought sanctuary in the Vatican Embassy

Perhaps the most famous loudspeaker operation of all time occurred when Noriega took sanctuary in a Vatican building A report written at the time of the Noriega surrender stated:

SCN (Southern Command Network) Radio, which had been broadcasting for the Army Broadcasting Service since 1941, increased its FM schedule at the start of the invasion on December 20, 1989. It was primarily on the air to support troop morale by taking requests and playing Armed Forces Radio, CNN, and ABC programming, but on December 27 after Noriega took refuge in the Vatican Embassy, PSYOPS began blaring it through mobile loudspeakers outside of the embassy compound. Noriega was known to love opera and hated rock music with a passion, so U.S. soldiers began making requesting songs that had a “musical message” for (him)... either by the words or the song title. Songs broadcast included such titles as "I Fought the Law and the Law Won," "If I Had a Rocket Launcher," "You're Messin' with a SOB," "Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down," and "Nowhere to Run."

The Operation Just Cause After-action report adds:

When Noriega found his way into the Papal Nunciature, the song requests were almost totally aimed in his direction. Christmas Day, only Christmas music was played, but people still called in asking for musical requests with a message. The following day, the “requests” were played and the phones were constantly ringing with some very imaginative requests.

It is interesting to read all these comments about special music played to drive Noriega out into the open. However, we know that the loud music had nothing to do with harassing or chasing Noriega out of the Embassy. The noise was simply to allow delicate negotiations to continue inside without being overheard by the press, waiting outside by the hundreds with their parabolic microphones and dishes aimed at the embassy windows. In fact, General Marc Cisneros (commander of the U.S. Army South) and the highest-ranking Latino in the Army played a major role in the negotiations and was the man who talked General Manuel Noriega out of the embassy.

History of the 4th Psychological Operations Group adds:

During the spring of 1988, the Commander for the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion, the battalion with area responsibility for Panama, was designated Commander of the PSYOP Task Force in the event hostilities should arise. They didn't have to wait long. On 20 December 1989, Operation Just Cause was executed. The loudspeaker detachment in country fielded 5 loudspeaker teams, which linked up with their designated supported units. Other loudspeaker teams would deploy with their supported combat units (82nd Airborne Division, 1/75th Rangers, US Marines, Navy SEALs, etc).

By January 8, 1990, the PSYOP Task Force had produced and disseminated over one million leaflets and handbills, 50,000 posters, 550,000 newspapers, and 125,000 units of other miscellaneous printed materials. In addition to the Volant Solo television broadcasts, the PSYOP radio stations operated 24 hours a day in an effort to get the word out to the people of Panama. The 1st Battalion of the 4th PSYOP Group provided loudspeaker teams to maneuver battalions during D-Day operations; its mission was to assist maneuver units in convincing the Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) elements to surrender by announcing the conditions of surrender after a show of force by the maneuver unit. Its efforts to convince the PDF to surrender saved American and Panamanian lives. Additionally, PSYOP elements were critical during stability operations by assisting in refugee control, disseminating information, and participating in programs such as money for weapons.

Some Panama Loudspeaker Humor

When old soldiers get together they tend to tell war stories about the crazy stuff they did. My personal best regards a cobra and a whore house, but that is for another article. Talking about loudspeakers, Specialist (E4) William Yaworsky of the 1st PSYOP Battalion told me about some of his stunts:

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“Chesty” Puller

Bored to death by routine guard duty, PSYOP soldiers find the attraction of broadcasting unauthorized messages over the loudspeakers irresistible. During the 8 months in 1988-1989 in which I served on a loudspeaker team in Panama, unauthorized messages were not uncommon. In the summer of 1988, two of us were providing loudspeaker support to a Marine unit guarding fuel supplies at the Arraijan Tank Farm, located on the Pacific side of Panama. My teammate got the bright idea to shout “Chesty’s a leg” over the microphone, almost precipitating a small war with the Marines. Now for you civilians, Chesty Puller is a legendary Marine hero and a “leg” is an insult used by airborne troops to demean the infantry that walks to battle. Them are fightin’ words!

Another time we were bored and one PSYOP soldier broadcast “What’s the word?” over the 450-watt loudspeaker system. To our astonishment a distant Marine yelled the correct response: “Thunderbird.” This was directly from an ad for Thunderbird, a cheap whiskey you drank when you were broke.

One time my pals got back at me. Back at the Tank Farm, I was talking to an old friend from the 1/508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was filling me in with updates when all of a sudden he stopped and said, “Hey, there’s somebody calling you.” Listening to the broadcast being made by another PSYOP team deployed nearby, I heard the following message playing in Spanish: “Yaworsky…Yaworsky! This is a warning for you. We will use deadly force against you…”

One day a Marine tried his hand at PSYOP. Presumably both bored and frustrated, the Marine waited for our PSYOP broadcast to finish. After our message to stay away ceased blaring, the Marine yelled out towards the jungle: “Alright, motherfuckers! If you don’t hit the wire tonight, you’re all a bunch of fucking pussies!” No human wave of Panamanian terrorists assaulted the perimeter that night, and the one authentic attempt at communication that I witnessed between the US Marine Corps and their presumed opponents ended in failure.

On 16 March 1990, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Psychological Operations Battalion. It took part in several deployments to Haiti in 1991 and 1992, 1994, and 2004.

Shooting the bull with another Specialist (E4) from the 1st Battalion; he told me of a prank his group had played on the engineers in 1994 while at Ft. Bragg:

It was a beautiful Saturday night, probably late summer of 1994. We’d moved from the ratty old barracks to the spiffier, newer apartment style units next to 20th Engineers. There was one problem: the engineers held PT and other formations right outside our windows. Their activities seemed to center around the sort of fancy podium you might expect engineers to make. So, we were sitting around the barracks drinking. And by “we” I mean super troopers from A Company and B Company. We decided we would show those inconsiderate engineers. We were just a tiny bit drunk, and not happy with the engineers, so we snuck down well after dark and disassembled their fancy podium. Having disassembled the fancy podium, we realized we had to do something with all the pieces. The engineers made it out of heavy plywood and 4x4’s, so it wasn’t exactly lightweight. There were 5 or 6 of us all told and we grabbed all the bits and pieces and shuffled off to the woods to dump the components.

Then there was the “piece de resistance.” Gracing the front of the fancy podium was a nifty placard with the engineers’ insignia and slogan and whatever other honors they’d bestowed upon themselves. It was about the right size for a table. We put it on concrete blocks in the common area and played cards on that thing until I was discharged. It even survived inspections. If the Sergeant Major came around we just flipped the top over. Voila. First with the Finest!

***

Sometime the best PSYOP stories are the ones that never happened. An old retired PSYOP officer told me a story that made me laugh. Ghosts are always interesting and during my career I was involved in two such “ghost gags.” Here is his story:

A group of PSYOP officers at the Ft. Bragg Officers Club during the Friday night “happy hour” were talking about a TV news story that said the ghost of a Cavalry officer was wandering up and down the halls of West Point. This was maybe a week before the annual Army-Navy Football game. One officer said: “Wouldn’t it be something if the West Point Ghost was haunting the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.” The magic of “happy hour” then took over.

One officer stated he could probably get a mannequin and Cavalry uniform from the Base Training Aids Office. Or, we could dress someone in the uniform and have them hang below a helicopter in a harness. Another officer who was an Army pilot said he could get a Huey as he needed to fly this month to keep his certification current. We had PSYOP loudspeakers that could be rigged to work on the helicopter and one officer knew some parachute rigger friends who could equip the helicopter with a STABO (Stable Body) harness that we could dangle the mannequin or live volunteer dressed in the old Calvary uniform.What should our ghost say from the loudspeaker-equipped Huey? We decided some eerie creepy Halloween type noises transitioning into sounds of war. Scary music had worked in Vietnam on the Viet Cong. Maybe start with rifle shots gradually increasing in volume to the roar of cannon fire.

Finally, we would turn a spotlight on the flying ghost and have a ghostly sounding voice shout “GO ARMY, BEAT NAVY!” We even discussed dropping “Go Army, Beat Navy” Leaflets from the same helicopter. With our plans written out on bar napkins we agreed to start the ball rolling on Monday morning.

Monday morning came and we were ordered to report to the 4th PSYOP Group Commander’s Office early that Morning. On reporting, we were surprised to see our Battalion Commander already there. The Group Commander informed us that he received a strange call from a friend in the Inspector General’s Office who happened to be visiting the Officers Club during happy hour on Friday. The IG reported that he had overheard an interesting conversation at the table next to him. Apparently some clearly insane officers were planning a ghostly PSYOP air assault on the U.S. Naval Academy.

The Group Commander stated that although he personally thought the idea was brilliant, the backlash on answering and justifying the military resources to the press was not worth the hassle. He admitted with a smile that it would have been an innovative PSYOP training mission.

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U.S. PSYOP Loudspeaker Team in Haiti

The PSYOP units involved in the Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti were the 2nd and 4th PSYOP Groups, and the 1st and 9th PSYOP Battalions. The 4th PSYOP Group booklet PSYOP Support to Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY adds:

Tactical PSYOP Teams would eventually conduct over 760 ground PSYOP missions covering an area from the northern tip of Haiti near Port-de-Paix to the southwestern city of Jeremie. Aerial loudspeaker teams flew 67 missions in support of ground operations, facilitating PSYOP dissemination in the rugged and mountainous regions bordering the Gulf of Gonave and in other denied areas.

In the Special Operations History magazine Veritas, Volume 11, No. 1, 2015, Dr. Jared Tracy wrote about Haiti in an article entitled “A True Force Multiplier – Psychological Operations in Operation Uphold Democracy, 1994-1995. Some of the loudspeaker messages mentioned by Tracy are:

Encouraged pro-Cedras militants to lay down their arms; Neighborhood crime watch; preventing Haitian-on-Haitian crime violence; political reconciliation; No to violence, no to vengeance, yes to reconciliation; Support Aristide; Turn in you weapons for cash.

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The President Aristide Leaflet  [Haiti]

There are only two leaflets that are known to have been dropped before the American intervention into Haiti. The first depicts a formal black and white portrait of President Aristide with a Haitian flag in the background. On 14 September, two million leaflets were dropped over Port-au-Prince and two other cities. The back of this leaflet has five lines of blue text in Creole:

THE SUN OF DEMOCRACY. THE LIGHT OF JUSTICE. THE WARMTH OF RECONCILIATION WITH THE RETURN OF PRESIDENT ARISTIDE.

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The Radio Leaflet

The second leaflet depicts a radio at the far right with the frequency of the American-sponsored government station, a map of Haiti and the flags of the United States and Haiti at the left. This leaflet was dropped along with portable radios on 15 September 1994.

The text is:

Help us to help you. Listen to Radio 1080 AM 24 hours a day.

The back is all text,

The American Army has arrived to re-establish democracy. For your own and your family's safety, follow the advice below: Remain calm. Stay indoors. Keep away from windows. Do not form in groups on the street. Leave the American Army alone to work. Do not block traffic. Listen to the radio on 1080 for information. For more information tune your radio to 1080 AM.

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A 1st PSYOP Battalion soldiers pastes a poster to a wall in Haiti

The History of the 4th Psychological Operations Group adds

The 1st PSYOP Battalion has been involved in three major deployments revolving around events in Haiti. The refugee exodus of 1991-92 following the September 1991 coup d’état that drove President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power; Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY that restored Aristide to power and laid the groundwork for the 1995 United Nations (UN) mission that was supported by a Haiti Military Information Support Team; and support to the Multinational Interim Force Haiti Operation in 2004, to restore order to Haiti following Aristide’s resignation and exile.

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Arata adds in an article entitled Psychological Operations in Haiti, Small Wars Journal, April 2005:

PSYOP teams would use their loudspeakers and linguists to communicate the consequences of certain actions. Finally, they would give directions for subsequent actions or movement. Tactical PSYOP teams also helped with the seeking out and capture of several known members of the FRAPH who were wanted by the joint task force headquarters for questioning. In early October, one task force planned a series of raids on suspected locations of members of an activist political organization and other hostile individuals known as attaches. The tactical commander decided to use a graduated response tactic that began with TPTs broadcasting surrender messages, followed by a countdown sequence. Approximately 80% of the individuals at each objective surrendered and the rest offered no resistance when the assault team entered the building. Not a shot was fired during the entire operation. Again, a well-planned and well executed PSYOP campaign, in direct support of the tactical commander’s mission and intent, was invaluable to the successful and safe accomplishment of the mission.

MISSIONS:

The Peacekeeping operations that we conducted in Haiti during which PSOYPS TPTs were used effectively, included the following tasks: 1) Conduct civil-disturbance operations; 2) Conduct Cordon and Search operations; 3) Construct and Man a Checkpoint; 4) Conduct Vehicular and Personnel Searches; 5) Conduct Civil Affairs operations; 6) Conduct non-combatant evacuation operations; 7) Gather Intelligence; and 8) Conduct Humanitarian Relief Operations.

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Weapons Receipt

Wherever the Americans go there is always a “money for weapons” program. The quickest way to get weapons off the streets and out of the hands of gunmen is to simply buy them. This 5.5 x 8.5-inch cardboard handout is written in Creole on one side and English on the other. When the civilian brings in a weapon the soldier records the time and place and as you can see the payment was 750 gourdes for a handgun, 1500 gourdes for an automatic rifle, etc. On the Haitian-language side the citizens are told to bring in their weapons from 2 to 24 October 1994, from 0800 to 1600 daily.

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Weapons recovered in Haiti
They are old, dirty and rusty...but they can kill

LTC Arata adds:

One of the major programs that the infantry battalions, along with other units, were involved in was a weapons buy-back program. The intent of this program was to remove, voluntarily, dangerous weapons and munitions from the streets of Haiti, in an effort not only to protect the local population, but also to enhance force protection for the soldiers in the multi-national force. Payment price increased according to how dangerous the item was or what operational condition the weapon was in. The better the condition of the weapon, the more money was paid to the Haitian turning it in…It was very important to involve PSYOP teams and products at these turn-in sites. Many Haitians feared what would happen to them if they turned in a weapon. There was also the fear of getting robbed once you left the site. Tactical PSYOP products like pre-recorded messages broadcast in the local community and at the turn in site, along with signs, could help temper these fears. Troops patrolling the area around the weapons buy back site helped reinforce the secure environment that we had created.

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Haitians at Sea being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard

Operation Sea Signal took place in 1994. PSYOP Support to Operation UPHOLD Democracy: A Psychological Victory, says:

PSYOP support to Operation SEA SIGNAL began with the initial planning in late January and early February of 1994. Migrant operations were originally established on the US hospital ship COMFORT in Kingston Harbor, Jamaica. Because of a greater influx of Haitian migrants than was expected, the operation was transferred to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. The PSYOP Support Element (PSE), consisting of the JTF-160 J3 PSYOP Staff Officer and a Military Information Support Team (MIST), deployed to Guantanamo on 14 July, 1994.

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A Haitian Migrant Camp on Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba

The MIST supported Joint Task Group McCalla for the Haitian humanitarian assistance mission through multimedia resources. Every effort was made to provide as much information to the Haitians as possible.

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SA K'PASE Newspaper

The MIST produced a Creole language newspaper, SA K'PASE, which presented a balance of news articles on both the positive and negative situation in Haiti. The Psychological Operations Airmobile Dissemination System (PAMDIS) provided a radio station on which news, entertainment, and other broadcasts were presented in Creole over 97.5 FM, "Radio Creole."

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Loudspeaker Teams made public service messages

Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida in 1992. Army PSYOP specialists steered victims of Hurricane Andrew to relief centers throughout southern Dade County with a three-week blitz of public service information - via print products, radio and loudspeakers. The POTF comprised of active-duty soldiers from the 1st PSYOP Battalion and Army Reservists from the 5th PSYOP Group. They initially broadcast from a 400-watt mobile radio station. Later, they operated from a 1,000-watt transmitter. "Recovery Radio" broadcast seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The broadcast content was compiled by the Product Development Center (PDC). They wrote the scripts, and prepared printed products. One staff sergeant told me:

Fliers, posters, instructional wallet-sized cards, maps to relief centers and a newsletter were crafted by teams working around the clock.

A United States Army Southern Command document dated 1 July 1998 justifies the use of psychological operations in cases like Hurricane Andrew.

Psychological Operations (PSYOP) are prohibited by law from targeting U.S. audiences. The National Command Authority has granted exceptions for specific disaster situations, such as Hurricane Andrew. PSYOP is used for the preparation and dissemination of Command Information essential to each phase of the operation. The PSYOP product approval chain may include one or more Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials. PSYOP commanders and personnel must remind civilian agencies and populations continuously that they are only in a supporting role and solely for purposes of communication and information dissemination. At the same time, PSYOP personnel and the US Southern Command staff need to convey the special capabilities PSYOP offers FEMA and other agencies in support of disaster relief.

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LSS-40 Loudspeaker

While PDC soldiers worked at their headquarters, eight loudspeaker teams hit the streets as a sort of electric town crier, broadcasting public-service news similar to the radio and print teams, but reaching people whose radios and television were destroyed. The loudspeaker teams used the LSS-40, a 3-by-2-foot box like contraption which can be mounted on a soldier's back with a battery pack or mounted on a Humvee roof.

On 16 November 1995 the Battalion was once again reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Psychological Operations Battalion (with organic elements concurrently constituted and activated with personnel from provisional units). This is the start of the Battalions serious commitment to Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) operations.

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Superman and Wonder Woman Comic Book

The History of the 4th Psychological Operations Group says in part:

The 1st Battalion has provided support to mine clearing efforts in Peru and Ecuador for several years following their 1995 border war. Mine clearing missions throughout the mid 1990’s also included Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Coordination for these missions was conducted by the Inter-American Demining Board, a humanitarian organization formed to eradicate residual anti-personnel and anti-equipment mines from past conflicts throughout Latin America.

My files add that the comic book in Spanish was released for children in Latin America 11 June 1998 at UNICEF House at UN headquarters in New York City. Brian Sheridan, principal deputy to the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, represented the Defense Department at the unveiling ceremony. He called the book a major step forward in the effort to protect children in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras from the threat posed by land mines. The book is 32 pages long, and includes 24 pages of story and eight pages of activities targeting children between 8 and 15.

Soldiers from the 1st PSYOP Battalion conducted assessments in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras, provided background information and photos and recommended a story line to the creative staff at DC Comics. The collaboration ensured accuracy and that Central American children would be able to identify with the villages, countryside and clothing depicted in the new book. Once the story and artwork were completed, the battalion tested the comic book in Central America to see if it conveyed the intended message. Members of the Army’s Special Forces, as well as the staffs of UNICEF, U.S. embassies and local governments, worked together to distribute the book throughout the region.

The comic books were distributed through U.S. embassies, and presented to the Ministries of Education in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. A U.S. Southern Command Mine Awareness Team assisted the host ministries of education in the distribution. The initial printing was 650,000 copies of the book, 560,000 in Spanish and 90,000 in English. Mine-awareness posters based on the comic book, 170,000 in Spanish and 30,000 in English, were distributed in Latin America.

It is worth mentioning that Wonder Woman was made an honorary United Nations ambassador for the empowerment of women. In another victory for political correctness, she was “fired” from the job in December, 2016, as a “skimpily dressed woman prone to violence.”

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Two Decades…[South America]

The above poster depicts Colombian forces in a poppy field. In the background an aircraft sprays poison on the poppies. Hopefully it is not Agent Orange. The text is:

Support the Eradication

Two decades engaged in the national fight against drug trafficking

For a country free of drugs

MISTs supported mine clearing programs, but often the 1st POB provided specialized teams that focused only on mine clearing while MISTs continued counter-drug activities. These mine clearing missions drew national attention, allowing the 1st POB the opportunity to work with DC Comics in the production of two Superman Comic books depicting the dangers of un-exploded mines to local children.

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The Colombian Soldiers [South America]

The nation-building leaflet depicts a number of Colombian soldiers setting up an observation post on a hilltop while helicopters fly overhead. The text is:

The Colombian Soldiers

Serving his people

The indigenous people and the Colombian Army united!

The 1st POB supported professional development of Latin American militaries and operability with US forces through a series of Field training and Command exercises based on the "Panther" simulation that focused on Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) and the employment of military forces in LIC situations. Exercises were sponsored by the Southern Command as part of Fuerzas Unidas (United Forces), and took place in successive years in various South and Latin American countries.

The 1st POB personnel, including civilian analysts, participated in Fuerzas Unidas war games in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, Honduras, and El Salvador. Until recently much of 1st BN’s activities have focused on counter drug operations, humanitarian assistance and de-mining. In January 2003 that mission began to change due to the strengthening and reemergence of several groups classified as terrorists by the National Security Council such as FARC, ELN, ELN-Bolivia, Sendero Luminoso and AUC. The First PSYOP Battalion was tasked with converting their primary mission of Counter Narcotics (CN) to one of Counter-Narco Terrorism (CNT) and to some extent, stabilizing elected governments. This change of mission met with many resounding successes in countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Bolivia.

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Camp Delta 1 Maximum Security Facility Guantanamo, Cuba

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PSYOP Personnel were called upon to facilitate cooperation amongst detainees

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld deemed Guantanamo Bay, Cuba the “Least Worst Place” to establish a US Detention Facility in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in December 2001, the 1st POB began its first mission in support of Global War on Terror. In early January 2002 a two man team from Alpha Company deployed as a PSYOP Assessment Team in support of JTF-160 & later supporting JTF-170 as well. The primary mission of the psychological detachment in Guantanamo Bay was to provide PSYOP support to facilitate cooperation amongst detainees for security purposes as well as intelligence gathering. During this time, the 1st Battalion participated in the interrogation of several hundred suspected terrorists and detainees to provide usable intelligence for the National Security Council and other security agencies. The detachment was also able to conduct pre-testing of PSYOP texts in direct support of the 8th POB and their efforts in Afghanistan and Pacific Command Efforts in the Philippines.

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A Typical Operation Enduring Freedom Leaflet for Afghanistan

I chose this leaflet for the interesting images. It shows four members of al-Qaida or the Taliban. The individual at the far left is identified as "Muttawakil," and is believed to represent the Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Abdul Wakil Muttawakil. The next figure is Osama bin Laden. The third figure is identified as "Haggani," and would appear to be Jalaluddin Haggani, a senior Taliban commander who was quoted as saying "We are eagerly awaiting the American troops to land on our soil, where we will deal with them in our own way." The fourth individual wears the black Taliban turban, but is otherwise unidentified. Three Afghans are seen hanging from a gallows in the background. The text on the leaflet is:

The Taliban reign of fear...

At the left and right of the leaflet, we can just make out the fearful face of snarling Jinn. The Koran identifies the jinn as creatures created from a smokeless fire. They lie and practice deceit to fulfill their own desire for evil. Showing them with the Taliban implies that the leaders have been deceived and turned toward evil by the supernatural creatures.

When turned over, the back of the leaflet shows the four faces altered slightly to resemble skulls, an American bit of trickery that was practiced during WWII when Adolf Hitler's face was changed to a skull-like countenance in an attempt to say that he represented death. In place of the gallows, an explosion is shown with debris thrown into the air. The text goes on to say:

...is about to end!

As Operation Iraqi Freedom was gearing up in January 2003, the 8th PSYOP Battalion was forced to split its efforts between the war in Afghanistan and the toppling of the Saddam Hussein Regime in Iraq. In order to allow the 8th POB to focus their efforts on Iraq, the 1st POB intervened and functioned as the rear Product Development Detachment (PDD) for the and provided reach-back capabilities for ongoing PSYOP missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

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The Peace Newspaper

These duties included the following: developing print, radio, audio-visual and novelty item products derived from the Target Audience Analysis Worksheets sent from the Afghan theater. Products were received in English; translated into target language (Urdu, Pashtu etc.); edited; vetted through the appropriate analysts and pre-tested in preparation for their use in Afghanistan. The 1st PSYOP Battalion also provided direct support in the form of articles and editorials for the “Peace” newspaper currently being disseminated in Afghanistan.This bi-weekly, full-color publication was published in three languages (English, Pashtu, and Dari) and had a distribution of over 110,000 copies. Disseminated by U.S. and Afghan forces, it gave international, national, and regional news to the local populace, emphasizing the US-Afghan partnership in rebuilding the country. The one-page comic insert, Captain Pahlawan, later became a full-fledged comic book for CJTF-76.

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1st PSYOP Battalion (-) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan
For the civilians, the (-) means it was less than a full component

In the summer of 2005, after nearly three years of supporting both Afghanistan and Iraq, the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion was refocused solely on Operation Iraqi Freedom. In September 2005, the 1st PSYOP Battalion (-) deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, its first operation outside of the Southern Command area of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990. Over 30 Soldiers took up major positions in Bagram Air Field and the United States Embassy in Kabul.

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Bagram Air Field , Afghanistan

The Battalion HQ (-) became the PSYOP Task Force - Afghanistan Headquarters in support of Combined Joint Task Force 76, the primary ground combat unit in Afghanistan and eventually took command and control responsibilities for all PSYOP forces in country. A reinforced PSYOP Support Element became the Product Development Center on Camp Vance. Finally, an eight man Military Information Support Team (MIST) conducted operations in Kabul in support of Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan and the US Embassy Kabul.

The Psychological Operations Task Force- was the nerve center of psychological operations in Afghanistan. It quickly became a crucial member of the CJTF-76 battle staff. Additionally, the task force developed and implemented the Border Region PSYOP plan. This multi-level campaign used radio, television, and newspaper to influence the populations in sixteen provinces along the Afghan – Pakistani border. Their message was to convince the population to resist incursions from the Taliban and other Anti-Coalition Militias.

The task force also contributed to the intelligence effort and was active with the Bagram Detention Facility, interviewing over 50 detainees for PSYOP-relevant information. This information helped to revise Target Audience Analyses allowing the Product Development Center to develop focused and effective products for their area of operation.

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Afghan National Army Recruitment Poster

The posters above are a miniature version of the billboard sized ads which can be seen all along Route 1 in Kandahar City. They are part of an Afghan National Army recruiting campaign meant to strengthen the national government. The message is:

Afghan National Army - The True Defenders
Protecting our People is our Duty

The Military Information Support Team (MIST) also began operations in September 2005.

The MIST developed a strong support relationship with the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. When the MIST passed to the 5th PSYOP Battalion in April 2006, over 1200 former militiamen had turned in their arms and agreed to become peaceful members of society. The MIST support to the ANA and ANP were equally important. The Afghan National Army had become one of the strongest and most capable components of the Afghan government, and the MIST ensured that the country was aware of it.

The Product Development Center consisted of 14 Soldiers who wrote, developed, and distributed nearly 80% of the PSYOP products in Afghanistan produced between October 2005 and April 2006. It became the primary source for print and radio production for US forces in the country, producing over 1500 approved radio, video, and print products in support of CJTF-76 and its subordinate commands.

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A Leaflet for those that cannot Read
AFD16G Afghanistan

This leaflet had four cartoons in full color. The first shows an American aircraft dropping humanitarian daily rations (HDR) food packets. The second shows an Afghan picking up one of the packets. When turned over, the leaflet shows the Afghan tearing open the packet. The word "Halal" is at the upper right. This term shows that the food was prepared in accordance with the Koran. The final illustration shows the Afghan sitting with his entire family and enjoying the feast sent by the Americans. The leaflet is clearly designed for illiterate Afghans and shows them what to do with the yellow packets found on the ground.

The literacy level along the border areas was among the lowest in the country, which required a print product that could convey the message with a minimum number of words. The PDC developed a number of regionally specific handbills, posters, and leaflets that were effective with each specific population, disseminating more than 8 million print products throughout the country.

In April 2006, the 315th Tactical PSYOP Company and A Co, 5th PSYOP Battalion, arrived in Afghanistan and relieved the 1st POB. All of the unit’s soldiers returned safely home.

As the Southern Command’s regionally aligned PSYOP Battalion, the 1st has had a long standing relationship supporting defense cooperation in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean. In January 2003, their mission changed from mostly Counter-Narcotics to one of Counter-Narco Terrorism and to some extent, stabilizing elected governments. Since 2011, the war on terrorism in South America was waged by Psychological Support Elements. With the return of the 1st Battalion the name was changed to Military Information Support Team, (MIST). The MIST’s have been deployed to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Bolivia in support of Global War on Terror.

Historian Philip M. Taylor said about the anti-drug operations:

PSYOP Military Information Support Teams (MISTs) were deployed to Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada to work with local committees to develop drug awareness campaigns; media ranging from bumper stickers to television commercials were used as part of the fight against narco-terrorism. In Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Jamaica, other MISTs were deployed to work alongside anti-drugs campaigners directed at schoolchildren using coloring books, videos and other media. In Bolivia, they were said to have helped to decrease the numbers of hectares that were used to cultivate coca. In Belize, cholera prevention materials were supplied, and in Venezuela, PSYOP personnel developed information campaigns supporting "democratization, professionalization of the military, civil-military relations, and counter-drug operations.

In more recent years the Battalion has operated in numerous countries of South and Latin America using Military Information Support Teams. The teams produce print products and Radio messages in support of their missions.

Some examples are:

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Looking for Drugs in Bolivia

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A sampling of the products developed by the 1st PSYOP Bn (A) for Bolivia

Sergeant Tim Wallace of the 1st PSYOP Battalion was sent to Bolivia in 1989 to work on counter-drug propaganda. He told me:

I was sent out to film illegal coca fields to bring back to the unit to be used in future products. I spent most of the trip flying around in a Blackhawk helicopter flown by Bolivian pilots looking for illegal coca crops to film from the air and the ground. Later I found out that someone had snapped our photos while we had lunch with our Bolivian pilots at an airport. They were later published in the local news service in Bolivia where we were described as DEA agents. I heard that the bosses back at Ft. Bragg were not too pleased by that.

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Sergeant Victor Washington

U.S. Army Sergeant Victor Washington of A Company, 1st PSYOP Battalion was deployed to Colombia as part of a MIST (Military Information Support Team) in 2008 and 2009 as a multimedia illustrator. This leaflet below was designed by him.

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My Daughter…

This leaflet depicts a Colombian mother looking at a photograph of her daughter who has joined the rebels. At the right the mother and daughter are shown together. Half the image is in full color, the other half in black and white. The text is:

My daughter, return home…

Without you my life has is colorless

Guerrilla, return home

In 2014, the U.S. Army tried a new solution to the half-century long violence propelled by Colombia’s insurgent guerrilla group: Soap Operas. The radio soap opera series promoted demobilization, deterred recruitment by the FARC rebel group, as well as tackled cultural issues across the country. The 15-minute long episodes were based on statements from real, demobilized guerrilla fighters. A U.S. MISO team in Colombia implemented the radio novella, which will be divided into two sets of eight episodes and one set of four episodes that will carry out specific objectives. Radio broadcasts have proven to be the most effective means of communication for the MISO team, particularly when their target audience is located in remote areas.

In 2017, Colombian officials began paying farmers who voluntarily pull up their coca and enter a two-year program to transition to legal crops. The government will pay families up to $12,000 over a two-year period. Colombian troops in Blackhawk helicopters scattered PSYOP leaflets into the air, each one printed to resemble high-denomination peso bank notes. On the flip side was a cash offer for confidential information leading to drug busts.

In more recent years the Battalion has operated in numerous countries of South and Latin America using Military Information Support Teams. The teams produce print products and Radio messages in support of their missions.

Some examples are:

MIST Bolivia was primarily a Government Stabilization mission but did contribute to depriving terrorists of external funding sources. The team was able to establish several programs that enhanced the public image of the country’s military and police forces. This in turn led to greater cooperation between the government and its citizens and thereby increased reporting of narco-terrorists.

The MIST Colombia’s mission is to decrease the combat effectiveness of narco-terrorist groups by increasing the number of desertions, defections, and surrenders; increasing the public support for the Government of Colombia institutions and policies that combat terrorism, narco-terrorism and the activities that facilitate them; reducing the financial and cover support for terrorist networks and finally maintaining security forces institutional professionalism, productive civil-military relations, and respect for human rights.

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The Hunt for FARC leader Alfonso Cano

The leaflet depicts the FARC leader at the left and piles of cash at the right. The text is:

You keep the reward

Gulliermo Leon Saenz (alias Alfonso Cano)

Report on him and earn a reward of up to 2.500 million

Decisions overcome fear

Janice Burton wrote an article entitled ARSOF in Columbia in 2012. She said in part:

The MIST also works closely with the Government of Colombia in countering recruitment of young children by the FARC. We have worked closely with Colombian forces to determine who the FARC is targeting, what makes them effective and the demographic they are after. They have found that the FARC is currently targeting two groups for recruitment — children ages 6-11 and 12-18.A successful campaign that the MIST supports is the Information Operations’ “YO SOY” or “I AM” campaign which focuses on the hopes and dreams of the families in the community…Also of importance are campaigns against high-value individuals. These campaigns have also proven fairly successful, with the killing of the FARC’s leader Alfonso Cano in November 2011. Information related to Cano’s location was derived from citizens who were influenced by the campaign to report.

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Medical and Civic Action Day

During the Vietnam War the U.S. Army, in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of the people performed what they called Medcaps and Dentcaps, where Psychological Operations troops and medics went into the field and treated the people with free medical and dental services to show that the Government cared about their welfare. A similar program was sponsored again in Ecuador in 2007 when medical teams went into the countryside to help the poorest people of the country. This poster has seven photographs showing the teams helping the people in various ways. The text is:

Welcome to the Medical and Civic Action Day

Together for a Better Ecuador

1. Please take care of your children.

2. If you are given a number, please be respectful of your turn and wait to be called.

3. Don't leave the line.

4. Be patient.

We will attend to you as quickly as possible! Thank you for your collaboration.

The Military does serve... ... because it is our duty

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Welcome

The Ecuadorians also did a stock poster inviting the public to the medical and civic action day with a blank space where the officials could write in the details. Notice that beside the medical activity, a soldier also interacts with school children, perhaps supplying books and needed school materials. The text is:

Welcome to the Medical and Civic Action Day

The Armed Forces invite you and your family to participate in the forthcoming civic action that will be held on the date and place indicated below:

Place:
Date:
Schedule:

The Military serves...Because it is our duty!

The U.S. Army Military Information Support Teams in Ecuador mostly seem to have been involved in the war or drugs. The 1st PSYOP Battalion was responsible for placing anti-drug billboards in many of the major cities in that country in 1970. We depict several below along with where they were placed. Note that instead of attacking the drugs, the billboards often attack the chemicals used to make those drugs.

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A Laminated anti-drug calling card designed by the 1st Battalion in Ecuador. The Battalion itself did not design or print the cards. A 4-man Military Information Support Team that was on the ground in Ecuador in 2007 from A Company, 1st PSYOP Battalion, worked on developing and designing the products. We would then contract with local firms in Ecuador to print the cards, as well as print and install the billboard seen below. The calling card is laminated with a front and a back. The front is in full color and depicts various contaminated areas left by the drug traffickers. The text on the front is:

Drug traffickers are polluting our rivers and our jungle with chemical precursors like white petrol

The back of the card is all text and contains a small ruler that might make it more worth keeping. It apologizes for stopping the driver for the anti-drug talk and inspection. The text on the back is:

Remaining silent has increased violence and crime.

That is why our heritage has been affected, especially on our borders

Help us to fight and eradicate this evil of society.

Call 1800 Drugs (376427) or get to the nearest checkpoint for closer control.

Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your attention and understanding

A 15 March 2007 Memorandum for Record from the MIST states that the primary purpose of this calling card is to inform the general population of consequences caused by precursor chemical trafficking and advertise the 1800-DROUGAS tip line…The secondary objective is to increase the overall effectiveness of checkpoints.

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Anti-Drug Day Poster

The attractive item above is a one-sided, folding, reusable poster to be used by the Anti-Narcotics Division of the Ecuadorian National Police to advertise their "Anti-Drug Day" in classrooms throughout the country. The MIST worked with the Law Enforcement and Narcotics Affairs section of the US Embassy in Quito, Ecuador as well as the Ecuadorian National Police to develop these. The MIST developed and designed the poster and then had a local firm print it. The text is:

How cool it is to live without drugs!

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A Billboard for the protection of the Environment

White gasoline can be used in the preparation and purification of cocaine and it has been outlawed in Ecuador. This billboard says:

Protect our environment. Call the 1800-drugs 376-427.
Your identity will be protected. Denounce the illicit traffic of white gasoline

MIST Ecuador missions are to increase public support for the Government of Ecuador institutions and policies that combat terrorism, narco-trafficking, respect for human rights, reduce the ability of terrorist groups to generate revenue, decrease illicit crop cultivation and drug production, to stop the flow of illicit drugs through and out of the region, and to stop illegal arms distribution.

According to the U.N. Mine Action Assessment Mission Report on Ecuador, there have been few organized mine awareness campaigns in Ecuador. In 1999, the U.S. Military Information Support Team produced and distributed mine awareness posters and folders with prevention messages. The Ministry of Education, National Police and electric companies have recently shown interest and have begun developing mine awareness programs. Recognizing that a greater effort is necessary, the OAS is being urged by international donors to take on the main role in creating and implementing a special humanitarian demining program that is crafted especially for this area. Since 1999, U.S. military personnel have trained 612 Ecuadorian Army personnel in basic demining techniques.

MIST Paraguay was established with the primary focus of the Tri-border Area which encompasses pieces of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. This area has had a large influx of Islamic people during the last decade and is repudiated to be a potential recruiting and training area for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

We have no leaflets to show for Paraguay, but we do have the order for the 1st Battalion to report there in 2008. It explains the mission in detail. Note that it clearly say there are no guerrilla activities in the country so the mission is mostly in support of the legitimate government. It says in part:

MISSION: Upon order, the 1st POB deploys a MIST to Asuncion, Paraguay, from October 1, 2008, through September 30, 2009, to conduct the approved Trans-Regional Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Program to support stability operations, whose purpose is to eliminate internal threats and deny conditions that could be exploited by terrorists through their enablers. PSYOP forces will assist in establishing control over ungoverned and under-governed spaces. PSYOP programs will focus on disrupting conditions that are exploited by terrorists through a Counter Narco-Terrorism nexus. As improving governance and supporting institution building are inexorably linked, PSYOP programs must supplement and augment other ongoing Civil Military Operations and like efforts to deny conditions that could be exploited by terrorists and their enablers. Total personnel deployed: Not to exceed six personnel. Routine rotation of forces is authorized.

Focus activities will achieve two objectives: support stability operations by conducting activities that legitimizes partner nation governments, militaries, and police forces; and focus activities on the nodes and centers of gravity that will meet Global War on Terrorism objectives. There are no indigenous terrorist organizations in Paraguay. There are no political groups or parties that are currently active in this country that are specifically targeting U.S. interests. However, given the presence of sympathizers and support for extremist terrorist groups in the Tri-Border Area of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil, visitors here cannot discount the possibility of terrorist activity, to include random acts of anti-American violence.

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5 Years…

William Yaworsky discusses the Peruvian campaign in an article entitled “Target Analysis of Shining Path Insurgents in Peru: An Example of US Army Psychological Operations,” Journal of Strategic Studies, August 2009. He says in part:

In the spring of 1988, a team of Peruvian military officers arrived at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, having been tasked with developing a strategic propaganda campaign directed at countering the influence of the Sendero Luminoso. Officers from the Peruvian Armed Forces teamed with US forces to conduct target analysis and campaign development. From 1 May to 3 June 1988, this joint “Task Force Inti” shared their experiences and perspectives to hammer out useful propaganda. Safety for family, personal safety, and economic circumstances were identified as the most easily exploitable vulnerabilities. Other vulnerabilities were deemed to be only moderately susceptible to exploitation: lack of resources; religious orientation; and response to authorities.

Specialist Tim Wallace was given a Peruvian Communist poster and asked to produce anti-Communist propaganda using the same general theme and look. In this poster we see the Peruvian Communist leader Gonzalo holding the flag of the Peruvian Communist Party while angry citizens march below holding AK-47 rifles. The Communist Party of Peru: Partido Comunista del Peru, more commonly known as the Shining Path: Sendero Luminoso, is a Maoist guerrilla insurgent organization. When it first launched the internal conflict in Peru in 1980, its stated goal was to replace what it saw as bourgeois democracy with "New Democracy." The Shining Path was founded in the late 1960s by Abimael Guzman, a former university philosophy professor referred to by his followers by his nom de guerre Presidente Gonzalo. Abimael Guzman was captured in Lima on 12 September 1992 and his movement soon withered. The text is:

Workers of the World Unite

5 Years of War

The Communist Party of Peru – May 1980 – 1985

MIST Peru transitioned from a counter-drug to a counter narco-terrorist mission. The efforts were centered in the northern border area because FARC rebels crossed the border to rearm, refit, and rest from pursuers in Columbia. The team developed an institutional building program in support of Peruvian Navy Amazonas Command. The MIST also developed a program that spearheaded the launching of the DEA’s Rewards for Information Program, focused primarily in the Northwestern part of the country. Since 1999, U.S. military personnel have trained 140 Peruvian Army personnel in basic demining techniques.

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Colonel Layton G. Dunbar

In 2015, Retired Commander of the 4th PSYOP Group Colonel Layton G. Dunbar mentioned a conversation with graphic artist Tim Wallace, and the time he commanded the 1st PSYOP Battalion:

Tim recalled the real world psychological operations he participated in while assigned to the 1st PSYOP Battalion (Airborne) at Ft. Bragg and during numerous deployments in Latin America. His recollections sparked some of my own. Our shared experiences while with the 1st PSYOP Battalion were focused on US Army missions of support to counter-drug operations in the region. It was also a time of Cold War competition world-wide. In the US the civil war in El Salvador and the conflict between the Sandinistas and Contras in Nicaragua were seen through the Cold War prism. The 1st PSYOP Battalion was engaged in public and classified operations in support of both missions throughout Latin America. It was a heady time for young soldiers and young officers who dealt on a daily basis with government agencies in Washington and US embassies overseas.

As a young soldier engaged in these operations Tim Wallace had a large audience that was unaware of the youthful artist behind the posters and leaflets that they saw. As commander of the 1st PSYOP Battalion, I must admit that I took Tim and his talent for granted. I thought he was the typical graphic artist that the Army turned out and assigned to psychological operations units like mine.

Conclusion

According to the Washington Office on Latin America's Defense Oversight Program database the Department of Defense Rewards Program for information leading to the arrest of terrorists, drug traffickers and other wanted persons in South America yielded successes and offers a model for a low-cost, small footprint approach to counterterrorism.

In 2014, the DoD Reward Program area enabled partner nation authorities to bring 33 members of terrorist organizations to justice.

In 2015, the DoD Rewards Program enabled partner nation authorities to bring 135 members of terrorist organizations to justice.

In 2016, DoD Rewards Program enabled our Colombian, Peruvian, and Panamanian partners to bring 26 members of terrorist organizations to justice.

During its military history the Battalion has received Campaign Participation Credit for Armed Forces Expeditions in Grenada and Panama. In addition it was awarded the U.S. Army Meritorious Unit Commendation for KOREA 1951-1953, and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for KOREA 1951-1952.

This ends our very short look at the history of the United States Army’s 1st PSYOP Battalion, a unit that has deployed to numerous nations to support legal governments and fight anti-government guerrillas and revolutionaries for almost 70 years. Readers who wish to comment or send further information are encouraged to write the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com