THE 5TH PSYCHOLOGICAL
OPERATIONS BATTALION (A)

SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.) 

The author received a Certificate of Appreciation for his willingness to assist the Battalion with historical information and photographs for the 5th PSYOP Battalion Lineage and Honors celebration on 3 March 2014.

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The 5th PSYOP Battalion Crest

A silver color metal and enamel device 1 1/4 inches in height consisting of three black arrows, the tips (points) of which are outlined in silver. One arrow is severely curved about the circumference, the second less severely curved, starting and ending at the outer limits and passing through the center, and the third straight and penetrating the other two.

The two curved arrows represent enemy propaganda, distorting the truth, aimed at friendly forces. The straight arrow represents truth and knowledge piercing enemy propaganda and omitting light (silver metal) while the enemy propaganda attempts to block and restrain the light. There is a secondary symbolism in that the three types of propaganda—black (emanating from other than purported source), gray (doubtful source), and white (emanating from purported source) - are represented by the degree of curvature of the arrows. The black and silver serve to gain attention by its contrast but is subtle in that conservative colors are used.

The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion on 31 January 1967. It was redesignated for the 5th Psychological Operations Group on 29 January 1976. The insignia was redesignated effective 16 October 2004, for the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion.

The funny part is that some members of the unit say that the insignia was a trick they played on the Army. They designed it as a peace symbol during the Viet Nam era as a silent protest. I don’t know if we can believe this story because these insignia are usually designed by the Heraldry office of the United States Army, but it is possible…

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The 5th PSYOP Battalion Coat of Arms.

Shield: Vertical (Dark Green), a stylized silver arrow arching from right to left, two black arrows at center; a vertical arrow intersecting a curved arrow.

VICTORY THROUGH INFLUENCE

Dark green and silver gray are the colors traditionally associated with Psychological Operations. The pile symbolizes military fortitude and power, also denotes the unit’s designation, “V” (Roman 5). The two black arrows signify the Greek letter “psi” used to symbolize “psychology,” also alludes to the mind. The combination of the pile and the psi symbol suggests the “power over the mind,” the battalion mission. The arched arrow at the bottom pierced by the pile indicates the battalion’s persuasion to block enemy propaganda. The coat of arms was approved effective 16 October 2004.

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5th PSYOP Battalion Challenge Coin

The 5th Psychological Operations Battalion is a subordinate unit of the 4th Psychological Operations Group. The 5th POB has regional responsibility for the Pacific area covered by Pacific Command (PACOM). The Battalion produces and disseminates written propaganda. It also has the ability to operate in the radio broadcast field.

Origin - the 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company

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5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company logo

The unit was first constituted on 3 March 1951 in the Regular Army as the 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company. It was activated 19 March 1951 at Fort Riley, Kansas. It was reorganized and redesignated 8 June 1953 as the 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company

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5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company
Veritas - Volume 10, Number 1, 2014

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5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company 1951-1953 Booklet

The 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company 1951-1953 Booklet is in two sections. The first is “The job of an L&L Company.” This section explains the platoons and sections of an L&L Company. The second is “The company history.”

What are the duties of a Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company? The Korean War era Booklet says:

The L & L Company is a combat support weapon. It does its job with loudspeakers, set up close to the front line, hurling out messages to the enemy, and with leaflets thrown out by the thousands over enemy troops from airplanes or artillery shells.

An L & L Company is also an American propaganda agency. It is the voice of the United States Army addressing the enemy. Its words are as official as the commanding general’s signature. Thus, each broadcast and each written message must be carefully prepared, must be accurate, and must conform to established policy. In a sense, the L & L men are simply the transmitters of messages from a whole people.

The men in L&L companies are carefully picked and trained for their jobs. The loudspeaker announcers must be experts in the enemy language; the leaflet writers must be skilled in the art of propaganda. But it takes many more men than these to run a “Psywar” company – artists to design the leaflets; pressmen and lithographers to print them; intelligence specialist; mechanics; administrative and mess personnel.

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5th Loudspeaker & Leaflet Members Study a Leaflet they just Printed

An L&L Company is made up of the following subordinate units:

Publication Platoon: The Intelligence Section is responsible for obtaining up-to-date factual information on enemy morale, monitoring enemy radio broadcasts and the interrogation of enemy prisoners. The Propaganda Section is composed of artists, writers and linguists that produce the written and illustrative material that forms the leaflet. The camera and plate section includes skilled technicians whose job it is to prepare the photographic plate for the platoon presses. The Press Section operates the offset presses mounted in the vans. Each press is capable of turning out thousands of leaflet impressions per hour. The Processing Section is where the finished leaflets or news sheets are packed into bundles for dissemination by artillery shells and bombs.

Loudspeaker Platoon: Headquarters and three sections. It is composed of linguists and radio mechanics that are responsible for one of the most important elements of combat psychological warfare, making loudspeaker appeals to the enemy.

Company Headquarters Platoon: Headquarters; administration; transportation; food; training, supply and operations.

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Intelligence Specialist Monitors a Foreign Language Radio Broadcast

In January 1952, the company instituted a program of monitoring radio broadcasts to train unit linguists. The Propaganda Section was designing and writing leaflets for Seventh Army maneuvers. A variety of leaflets was finished by 1 March, ready for production in quantity for stockpiling. Several others were produced later for divisional maneuvers. The company newspaper, The Leaflet, furnished training for both Propaganda and mechanical section personnel.

In April 1952, the company took part in a company exercise in the training area. This two day exercise included printing leaflets, combat problems and various alerts.

Later that spring the Company took part in a Seventh Army CPX. The unit published several newspapers in the field. In July 1952, elements of the unit again trained with the Seventh Army, printing leaflets in the field for civil affairs and the “Military Government.”

In September 1952, the unit took part in a war game with some members placed behind the lines while others dropped prepared (canned) leaflets and used loudspeaker appeals to demoralize aggressor troops.

We know a little bit about what the unit did in 1953 from a Corporal assigned to the Propaganda section. In a letter home he writes:

March 31, 1953

I just got through work a few minutes ago. The company is going to put on a demonstration in a few weeks to show some of the other units in Germany how a psychological warfare unit works; its purpose, etc. The demonstration is going to be presented in the form of a recorded show as well as actual appeals by the loudspeaker team and a leaflet will actually be dropped on the men to whom the demonstration will be presented. Tonight I have been helping to type up copies of the script for the recorded part of the show which one of the writers of the propaganda section is preparing. I think that we are going to begin recording it tomorrow; I am to be one of the voices in the thing, and I am rather anxious to see how I will sound on tape...

By 1954, the 5th L & L was a unit of experts: linguists, artists and writers who learned how best to exploit basic emotions and hardships of soldiers. Many of them were trained at the Psychological Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, NC where the company's commanding officer, Capt. Fred W. Wilmot spent two years as an instructor.

The company maintained four platoons: Headquarters, Operations, Publications and Loudspeakers. Approximately 90% mobile, the unit's mission was to support tactical troops with psychological warfare in the field. During wartime, the company would be constantly on the lookout for reports of bad food, poor readership, weak supply lines, inferior weapons and physical hardships. These morale and supply problems offer PSYOP opportunity to demoralize the enemy.

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Private Len Matublewski on Loudspeaker

Private Matublewski of the 5th L&L reads a script into a loudspeaker placed far enough away from his position not to draw enemy fire on himself.

Nine to twelve loudspeaker teams were maintained for field maneuvers. Like leaflets, loudspeaker messages could also be white, gray or black

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Planning a Campaign

There was another NATO demonstration in September, 1955. Here a group of enlisted men pretend to be officers and plan a campaign in view of a NATO audience. Although they wore Captain and Lieutenants rank, they are SP3 Schneider, and PFCs Khari, Kelman, Coons and McChonarie.

The unit was reorganized and redesignated on 24 June 1961 as the 5th Psychological Warfare Company, and on 25 June 1965 as the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion. The Battalion was inactivated on 20 June 1975 in Germany.

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U.S. Army Europe PSYOP Quarterly

In January 1966, the 5th PSYOP Battalion printed a book entitled U.S. Army Europe PSYOP Quarterly in Boeblingen, Germany. The 31 page booklet had both modern and historical PSYOP articles. Some of them are: VC leaflets: a crude credibility; Der Chef dies twice (A famous mistake made by British radio propagandists); Voice of the Third Reich (a study of German Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels); and Surrender Leaflets of WWII. This indicates that even though the Battalion was not involved in the shooting war they took a great part in the Cold War against the Soviet Union and its Combloc nations. The quarterly mentions A Company of the 5th PSYOP Battalion in some depth:

"Ready" and "Mobile" best describe A Company, 5th Psychological Operations Battalion, Lenggries, Germany. The company is kept at constant readiness to move-out on short notice and quickly set up loudspeaker and leaflet operations.

The men of this psychological operations unit are airborne qualified and can "jump" into any area where their operations are needed-if necessary behind enemy lines. The equipment (Photo processing, printing and loudspeaker units) is light and also air transportable. Company A has an intelligence analysis team that researches and formulates propaganda ideas; an Artist and Writers team that writes, edits and artistically prepares leaflet and loudspeaker broadcast texts and tapes; a loudspeaker broadcast team that handles the actual mechanics of loudspeaker broadcasts; and a reproduction team that prints the leaflets.

Each man in A Company wears the green beret of a Special Forces soldier. Their unit, although an integral part of the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion, is attached to and provides psychological operations support for 10th Special Forces Group. Home for these men is Prinz Heinrich Kaserne, located on the side of a mountain in the northern edge of the Bavarian Alps overlooking the Isar River and the picturesque village of Lenggries.

The Battalion was redesignated on 30 December 1975 as the 5th Psychological Operations Group and concurrently withdrawn from the Regular Army, allotted to the Army Reserve, and activated at Upper Marlboro, Maryland. It was reorganized and redesignated on 18 September 1990 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Psychological Operations Group. The Group was inactivated on 15 September 1994 at Upper Marlboro, The unit was redesignated on 18 November 2003 as Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 5th Psychological Operations Battalion, withdrawn from the Army Reserve, and allotted to the Regular Army with its organic elements concurrently constituted. The Battalion was formally activated on 16 October 2004 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Prior to 2004, the 3 existing regional Battalions of the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) had pooled their resources to cover psychological operations responsibilities in the Pacific Command region. Eventually those resources had been formed into a task-organized provisional unit. It had been designated in 1997 as the Pacific Command Psychological Operations Battalion and relied heavily on assets from the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion. This unit was inactivated with the activation of the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne). At the time of its formal activation, the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion was the sixth subordinate battalion of the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne).

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PACOM Patch

On 27 October 2004 the U.S. Army issued a story entitled: “New PSYOP Battalion Activates at Fort Bragg.” The article said in part:

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Colonel Jack Summe

Colonel Jack Summe, 4th PSYOP Group Commander said:

“The Army’s newest psychological operations battalion was formally activated during a ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C. The 5th Psychological Operations Battalion is the latest addition to the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), and is a much-needed supplement to PSYOP forces engaged in the fight against terrorism. The 4th PSYOP Group [in 2004] is the Army’s only active-duty PSYOP unit. Today represents the culmination of a vision that began seven years ago, at that time, no one foresaw the huge demands of the Global War on Terror on the entire PSYOP community … and at that time the 4th PSYOP Group was organized with only five total battalions, and only three regional battalions. After its activation, the 5th PSYOP Bn. became the sixth subordinate battalion of the 4th POG. The battalion will assume responsibility for all PSYOP activities in the U.S. Pacific Command, or PACOM, theater of operations, which includes the Far East and the Pacific Rim.”

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SGM Friedman (Ret.) presents an Afghan War Rug to
Major General Herb "Buzz" Altshuler at Ft. Bragg. NC

Major General Herbert L. Altshuler, commanding general of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), said that 5th PSYOP Battalion was a critical addition to 4th POG:

“Our psychological operations capabilities reside primarily in our regional, tactical and media development battalions. The four regional battalions of the 4th Psychological Operations Group are each oriented to a different major geographical combatant command. The 1st Battalion, for example, operates in Central and South America, the 6th in Europe and Africa, and the 8th in the Middle East. And now, the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion … (has) evolved in support of operations in the Pacific and the Korean Peninsula as a provisional organization made up of assets drawn from its parent headquarters and sister battalions.”

Prior to the battalion’s activation, the three existing regional battalions pooled their resources to cover PSYOP responsibilities in the PACOM region. That task-organized provisional unit, which was officially deactivated during the ceremony, had been designated in 1997 as the PACOM Psychological Operations Battalion and relied heavily on assets from the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion.

Colonel Summe added:

“Although not really adequate to provide the total depth and breadth of PSYOP support to each region of the world, this task organization ensured that each regional combatant command received equitable PSYOP support. The creation of PACOM PSYOP Battalion was the right response to a world that required constant, low-level, peacetime PSYOP engagement. But that peacetime mission ended, the instant terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. This task organization existed for almost seven years, until the events of 9/11 forced the Department of Defense to reexamine PSYOP requirements for the Global War on Terror. This reexamination resulted in what we are witnessing today -- the official recognition of the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion and furthering the increase of the overall 4th PSYOP Group force structure to include two line companies per regional PSYOP battalion.”

MG Altshuler said the members of the new battalion would make an immediate and positive impact on U.S. PSYOP activities and force structures around the world:

“These bright, motivated and talented Soldiers have already made the 5th PSYOP Battalion an indispensable member of the PACOM team. Today, we have made it an organic part of our larger PSYOP family.”

Shortly before the deactivation of the PACOM Bn. during the ceremony, the unit was presented with the Army Superior Unit Award for its role in the recent successes of PSYOP in the PACOM region, according to the citation.

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Lieutenant Colonel Kyle D. Hickman (left), commander of the 5th PSYOP Battalion, receives his unit's colors from Colonel Jack Summe, 4th PSYOP Group commander, during the battalion's activation ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Lieutenant Colonel Kyle D. Hickman, commander of 5th PSYOP Battalion and former top officer of the PACOM Battalion, said he and his troops were ready to get to work:

“To the Soldiers of the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion, you look magnificent, and our future is bright. Together, we will continue the fine traditions of those that came before us and prepare ourselves to accomplish any challenge that our nation requires of us.”

Colonel Summe said the years of hard work put into standing up the PACOM PSYOP Battalion would not be lost in the expansion of the unit’s duties as the 5th PSYOP Battalion:

“In the year since Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Hickman has been in command of the PACOM PSYOP Battalion, we have witnessed a shift in responsibility from simply providing PSYOP exercise support in the Pacific to becoming a vital and active part of the fight against global terrorism in the PACOM region of the world. Our job in influencing foreign audiences to support U.S. government objectives has been nurtured with great skill and expertise in the PACOM PSYOP Battalion, and I expect no less from Lieutenant Colonel Hickman and the fine Soldiers and civilians of the newly organized 5th Psychological Operations Battalion.”

With the activation of the Military Information Support Operations Command (Airborne) (Provisional) and the 8th Military Information Support Operations Group (Airborne) (Provisional) in August 2011, the 5th Military Information Operations Support Battalion (Airborne) was reassigned to the latter from the 4th Military Information Support Operations Group (Airborne). In 2017 the name was officially changed to the 5th PSYOP Battalion.

Today the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) has responsibility for all psychological operations activities in the US Pacific Command (PACOM) Theater of Operations, which includes the Far East and the Pacific Rim.

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Panzer Kaserne

The Leaflets

In July 2012, I heard from former Private First Class Leonard Mather who said:

I was assigned to the 5th Loudspeaker and leaflet Company in 1954 because of an undergraduate degree in Psychology. Captain Fred C. Wilmott was our Commander and second in command was Lieutenant St. Marie. We operated out of Field Marshall Irwin Rommel's old WWII quarters on the Panzer Kaserne located in Boeblingen, Germany, part of the Stuttgart community. We did a lot of PSYOP, and dealt with a lot of displaced persons from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece and other nations where the Communists were either in power or trying to gain power. My nations of interest were Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. My languages were French and Polish.

After the end of the Korean War the 5th L&L did change radically from what they had done from 1951 to 1953. We had PSYOP teams. My Military Occupational Specialty was 1620. I was an Intelligence-Analyst-Linguist; a jeep driver; a writer (for pamphlets); and a photographer/printer who designed the pamphlet. The writer and I would come up with the text. The mobile unit would make the leaflet. These could be air dropped or broadcast. All this occurred during maneuvers and war games. I was often tasked with greeting the NATO officers from France. After leaving the army I pursued my Masters and Doctorate in psychology.

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WARNING

This war game leaflet is designed to frighten the enemy by telling them of the deadly Kreuzotter snake. The adder (Vipera berus) is a medium-sized poisonous snake from the family of vipers. This same theme was also used by propaganda troops at Ft. Bragg who prepared leaflets warning the enemy of North Carolina’s deadly snakes.

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Meet “Combine Connie”…

This is a war game “radio” leaflet and lists five different propaganda stations on the back where you can hear Connie’s seditious messages. Combine Connie was Dorothea Kovelas who broadcast on American Forces Network Europe. She asked the men to visit “Connie’s Inn,” because she hated maneuvers but loved soldiers.

Exercise Combine was held a number of times after WWII. It was an aggressive maneuver where in 1951 most of the American troops in Germany, about 160,000 strong, took part. The Seventh Army tested the defense of the dangerous 85-mile front where the border of the Soviet zone swings west toward Frankfurt. In the early morning, armored combat teams of the crack American Constabulary thrust westward in a surprise attack. Paratroops dropped near Frankenthal to secure a Rhine bridgehead and partisan guerrillas closed in near Kaiserlautern and "destroyed" a supply dump.

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I am worried about you

The PSYOP units in Germany sometimes made German-language training leaflets. This one shows a lovely woman thinking of her sweetheart and the text:

I am worried about you.
Please, be careful!
Donīt be a stupid hero!
Stupid heroes die young.
I want to have you healthy and alive.
Please, be careful, when they send you in the battle

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A Russian-language War Game leaflet

This training leaflet depicts a sad young Russian girl talking to her soldier on the telephone. He is away at war and she is alone. The text on the front is:

Natasha is calling in vain

The back is all text:

Soviet soldier
How often do you hear from your family?
Are you sure that everything is in order with your family and with your friends?
Do you see them?
Do you trust your leaders?

In the past 5 decades this unit has appeared, disappeared, and appeared again. The Company was re-designated on 24 June 1961 as the 5th PSYWAR Company, and on 25 June 1965 as the 5th PSYOP Battalion. The Battalion was inactivated on 20 June 1975 in Germany, then re-designated on 30 December 1975 as the 5th PSYOP Group and allotted to the Army Reserve. It was re-designated on 18 September 1990 as Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 5th PSYOP Group. The Group was deactivated on 15 September 1994, then re-designated on 18 November 2003 as Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 5th PSYOP Battalion, and allotted to the Regular Army. The battalion was formally activated on 16 October 2004 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Training

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5th PSYOP Battalion at “Flintlock 5” - September 1972

Flintlock is an annual regional exercise among African, allied and U.S. counterterrorism forces that has taken place since 2005. Flintlock is directed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command.

Occurring in nations across the Sahel region of Africa, the exercise develops capacity and collaboration among African security forces to protect civilian populations. Flintlock participation has included ground and air forces from over 16 countries across a broad spectrum of operations. Exercise Flintlock is designed to foster regional cooperation to enable our African partners to stabilize regions of North and West Africa, while reducing sanctuary and support for violent extremist organizations.

Past participants include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Canada, Tunisia, Italy, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Philippines

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PSYOP Soldiers in the Philippines

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Philippine children with a "Call for Peace" backpack

In 2009, the 4th PSYOP Group showed off their unique talents and skills to the Fort Bragg community at their annual Regimental Week open house and technology demonstration. Michelle Butzgy discussed the various PSYOP Battalions in an 11 June Paraglide article entitled: “Fort Bragg Soldiers work at winning hearts and minds around the world.” She pointed out that the 5th PSYOP Battalion often thinks outside the box. Hats and mouse pads help spread the target message, according to Captain Adria Horn of the 5th PSYOP Battalion. Her area of operation is Pacific Command, from India to Korea. Her country is the Philippines:

These are used to fill a need or a void. For example, mouse pads in Internet cafes repeat the message ‘Improvised Explosive Devices kills.' We know that repetition has a positive influence. The battalion also produces and uses comic books aimed at certain age groups. If they can, they outsource the work. A PSYOPS team can also use the love of sports and music to spread their target message.

The mission of the Joint Task Force in the Philippines is to support the comprehensive approach of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in their fight against terrorism in the southern Philippines. At the request of the Government of the Philippines, JSOTF-P works alongside the AFP to defeat terrorists and create the conditions necessary for peace, stability and prosperity.

PSYOPS plays an integral military role in The Philippines Government's hold on law and order and promotion of democracy. The country has had numerous military coups and is beset with internal conflicts, convoluted social make-up and corruption. The Government is currently fighting Communist rebels and is heavily involved in actions against Muslim secessionists in its Southern States, notably Muslim Mindanao. The Philippines are a prt of the War on Terrorism, and has allowed co-operation with US Forces in matters relating to PSYOPS and Civil Military Operations.

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PSYOP Troops often prepare comic and coloring books for Children

The website Strategy Post mention PSYOP in the Philippines in an article entitled: Information Warfare: Post-Modern PSYOP In the Philippines. It says that psychological operations are enjoying some success in the southern Philippines. The first target of the American Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) was the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The Americans convinced the Filipinos to stop kicking down doors and treating scared villagers like a bunch of terrorists.

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Reward Poster for Abdul Basit Usman

The second mission two is to weaken the three anti-government groups in the Philippine Islands, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, and the Communist New People’s Army. The new more respectful treatment of the people has created an environment where they are more willing to cooperate with the government. Money is the prime motivator through a variety of rewards programs. Methods can be simple. Boys remembering a poster pointed out IEDs targeting a joint American/Filipino convoy to authorities for a $4,000 reward. The program has given away about $100,000 year to date.

The task force is working to get not only the right message, but the right medium. The Internet does not work here, people are too poor. Television also is ineffective due to the lack of electrical power. Radio works here, but only if you use local talent. Cell phone texting also works here for now. But this is a “dynamic” environment and those who do not constantly look for the right medium and message will find their efforts unheeded.

Information support has its limits, particularly among the rank and file of the insurgent and terrorist groups. The matrices are mixed, attacks are down, but their membership is up. It is recognized that even the best information support and civil actions will only deal with 80 percent of the war and that 20 percent lethal action will be required to deal with the rest.

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Filipino Soldier places Reward Poster on a Wall

U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Philippines 2001-2014 adds:

PSYOP, though not conducted initially, were eventually employed. Military information support teams (MISTs) provided a range of services aimed at improving the target population’s perceptions of the Government of the Philippines legitimacy and enhancing support for the rule of law. Activities included publicizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines Civil-Military Operations School, advertising and facilitating the Rewards for Justice Program and helping the Government convey the harm caused by transnational terrorist organizations.

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The Abu Solaiman Operation

The death of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Abu Solaiman (his real name was Jainal Antel Sali, Jr.), marked not only the significant degradation of ASG leadership but also the adoption of numerous operational approaches that JSOTF-P had been seeking to impart to its partners. The development of a supportive population, intelligence collection, and the implementation of a law enforcement–based plan to capture him were all new elements of the AFP approach to counter terrorism. In March 2006, the ASG bombed a food co-op in Jolo City that resulted in the deaths of five Muslim citizens.

The PSYOP troops used it to drive a wedge between the Abu Sayyaf and the population to enable effective targeting. The wife of one mid-level ASG member disapproved of her husband’s activities and membership in the group and complained that the Abu Sayyaf was not even feeding their family. She was instrumental in convincing her husband to turn against the ASG, at least partly to claim the $5 million reward for information leading to the capture or killing of Abu Solaiman as part of the United States’ Rewards for Justice program. According to the JSOTF-P commander at the time, the woman brought her husband leaflets touting a reward for Abu Solaiman, which had been produced jointly by U.S. and Philippine PSYOP teams expressly for this purpose.

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Staff Sgt. Roberto Flores receives the Army Commendation Medal from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Flores is a Psychological Operations non-commissioned officer assigned to the 5th PSYOP Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C. He and four other Soldiers were driving back to their base on Basilan Island when they drove by a truck that had crashed into a tree. Flores said:

We spotted an older man on the side of the road flagging us down and holding a sixteen-year-old boy that had clearly just suffered a major head injury. He was bleeding profusely from his face and head. We stopped and immediately everybody began to react. We had no medic with us, so it was up to our combat life saver training, and first aid training.

The group of Soldiers pulled three other injured Filipinos out of the wrecked truck. Staff Sergeant Flores understands and speaks Tagalog. He was able to understand when someone in the crowd pointed out a doctor. It would take 20 minutes to get to the Basilan Regional Hospital. The doctor, whose vehicle was equipped with a siren, led the way. Staff Sergeant Flores sat in the passenger seat of the truck carrying the two critically injured males. He award certificate said:

If not for the first aide and quick action on the parts of [the team members], it is likely that the 65-year-old male would not have survived the accident. Their efforts have been directly attributed to the saving of his life.

Flores is a member of a Tactical PSYOP Detachment. His team is working with the armed forces of the Philippines on Basilan to help them improve their own PSYOP capabilities.

Ceremonies and Demonstrations

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A psychological operations specialist from the 5th PSYOP Battalion discusses the unit’s history and shows off some products to a guest of the unit’s Lineage and Honors Ceremony on 3 March 2015, at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C. The ceremony celebrates the constitution of the 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company and pays tribute to all past, present and future Soldiers of 5th PSYOP Battalion. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Todd Pouliot).

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The 5th PSYOP Battalion – Ft. Bragg NC – 24 July 2015
A Change of Command Ceremony for the 8th PSYOP Group

This has been a short look at the 5th PSYOP Battalion. Readers with comments or additional information are requested to write to the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.