The 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne)

SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

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Description: A gold color metal and enamel device 1 1/8 inches in height overall consisting of a gold disc bearing on each side red circular segments projecting towards center, and overall three isosceles triangles constructed within each other throughout: white, with point up within gray, point down within black, point up extending over the disc and charged with three gold oblongs (heraldic billets); four red flashes radiant from the latter triangle, two each at the top and base, projecting over and dividing a black looped scroll inscribed in gold letters:

Win the Mind – Win the Day

Symbolism: The colors white, gray and black refer to the types of propaganda utilized in the psychological operations mission of the Battalion. White propaganda is acknowledged and truthful. Grey is not acknowledged but no attempt is made to hide the origin and may or may not be truthful. Black propaganda is never acknowledged, may appear to come from other sources and is seldom truthful. The triangle, symbolic of support, indicates the support operations. It is also the Pythagorean symbol from wisdom. The triangles each within the other allude to the mind which is considered the complex of man’s faculties. The Unit’s motto pertains to its significance. The gold billets indicative of leaflets, together with the flashes, refer to the production and disseminating of audio and visual propaganda. They also suggest the Organization’s origin as a Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company. The Battalion’s activation in the Canal Zone is depicted by the gold area of the disc narrowed by the red, indicative of the Isthmus of Panama as suggested by the historic Panama Canal Department shoulder sleeve insignia. In the symbolism of numbers, the numerical designation of the Battalion represents a triple synthesis here depicted by the three triangles.

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Shield: Dark green and silver gray are the colors associated with Psychological Operations. White, gray and black refers to the gradation and types of propaganda utilized in the psychological operations mission. The triangle, symbolic of support, indications its support operations. It is also the Pythagorean symbol for wisdom. The triangles, each within the other, allude to the mind, which is considered the complex of man’s faculties, and highlight the unit’s motto. The gold billets, indicative of leaflets, together with the flashes refer to the production and dissemination of audio and visual propaganda and suggest the organization’s origin as a Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company. The battalion’s activation in the Canal Zone is depicted by the gold area of the disc narrowed by red, indicative of the Isthmus of Panama (as suggested by the Panama Canal Department shoulder sleeve insignia). In the symbolism of numbers, the numerical designation of the battalion represents a triple synthesis, here depicted by three triangles.

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9th PSYOP Battalion Challenge Coin

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9th PSYOP Battalion Recruiting Poster

The 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (POB) was first subordinate to the 4th PSYOP Group, but in 2011 became a subordinate unit of the 8th Psychological Operations Group. The 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (POB) is the Tactical Support Battalion for the 8th PSYOP Group. Tactical PSYOP is that associated with “face-to- face” operations in support of maneuver units within the theater and the designated area of operations. Tactical PSYOP Planning elements are available to each supported tactical echelon brigade combat team to corps headquarters. The smallest tactical organization is the Tactical PSYOP Team (TPTs), routinely found in support of conventional Army brigades or special operations battalions. These elements enable tactical commanders to communicate directly with the enemy and foreign civilians. Tactical PSYOP elements disseminate products normally developed by the regional battalions or by the Psychological Operation Task Force (POTF) The 9th POB has worldwide responsibility for all short-notice rapid deployment tactical PSYOP/information support requirements with organic light product development, loudspeaker (helicopters and vehicles), and electronic news gathering capabilities.

Lieutenant Colonel A.G. Starunskiy mentioned the 9th PSYOP Battalion in a 2003 article entitled “Psychological operations of U.S. military services at the present stage.” He said in part:

The 9th POB, a tactical support battalion, is responsible for planning tactical psychological operations in headquarters and conducting tactical PSYOP in direct support of Army units and elements. It has its own facilities to develop and disseminate PSYOP audio and video material. The battalion is made up of a headquarters and support company and three regionally oriented companies of tactical PSYOP, Company A is designed to conduct tactical PSYOP in Central and South America; Company B, in Europe and Africa; Company C, in the Pacific and the Central Command zone. Each company is made up of a headquarters and management detachments and a set of functional teams that can be the basis for operational PSYOP units if need be (one of division support and three of brigade support). The smallest unit of the battalion is a tactical loudspeaker broadcast team. Each tactical PSYOP company has 12-15 loudspeaker-broadcast teams. The 9th POB brings together the greatest number of all loudspeaker broadcast facilities of the U.S. military services.

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8th PSYOP Group (Airborne)

The 8th PSYOP Group (Airborne), is one of the two PSYOP Groups in the active Army force structure. Its mission is to deploy anywhere in the world on short notice, and plan, develop and conduct PSYOP in support of the unified commanders, coalition forces, or other government agencies, as directed by the President and the Secretary of Defense.

The 8th PSYOP Group continues to provide PSYOP in support of named and classified operations to include Operations Sword of Honor, Enduring Freedom, Inherent Resolve, and Freedom Sentinel with more than 115 Soldiers deployed to more than 15 countries in the U.S. South Command, Africa Command, Pacific Command and Central Command areas of responsibility. These deployed Soldiers provide PSYOP expertise to Special Operations Forces, combatant commanders, U.S. Embassies and other government agencies throughout the world. The Soldiers are employing their expertise at the national, strategic and operational levels in support of the National Commands’ communication strategy.

On Oct. 1, 2006, PSYOP became an official branch within the United States Army, and in 2011 the Department of the Army established the 8th PSYOP Group (Airborne). In September of 2014, the 8th POG became a subordinate unit of the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne).

Tactical PSYOP is that associated with "face-to- face" operations in support of maneuver units within the theater and is conducted by the Corps PSYOP Support Element (CPSE), Division PSYOP Support Element (DPSE), Brigade PSYOP Support Elements (BPSE) and by Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs). These elements enable tactical commanders to communicate directly with the enemy and foreign civilians.

Tactical PSYOP elements disseminate products normally developed by the regional battalions or by the Psychological Operation Task Force (POTF). The 9th POB has worldwide responsibility for all tactical assets including loudspeaker helicopters, and vehicles.

The History of the 9th PSYOP Battalion

Constituted 14 April 1952 in the Regular Army as the 9th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company, Army.

Activated 26 April 1952 at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Reorganized and redesignated 27 May 1953 as the 9th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company.

Inactivated 25 September 1953 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Redesignated 22 March 1963 as the 9th Psychological Warfare Company.

Activated 1 April 1963 in the Panama Canal Zone.

Reorganized and redesignated 1 April 1967 as the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion.

Inactivated 31 December 1974 in the Panama Canal Zone.

Activated 1 5 April 1985 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Reorganized and redesignated 16 March 1990 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion.

Reorganized and redesignated 16 November 1995 as Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (organic elements concurrently constituted and activated with personnel from provisional units).

On 7 June 2023 Assigned to: Headquarters, 8th Psychological Operations Group (Special Operations) (Airborne), SP (WJZAAA), Fort Liberty, North Carolina 28310-8500. Military Authorized Strength: 28 commissioned officers, 0 warrant officers, 247 enlisted, 275 aggregate.

Training and War Games

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Loudspeaker Training

PSYOP units constantly train on their wartime skills. We depict some pictures of 9th Battalion Units training in both military and PSYOP skills around the world.

Specialist Jarod Delhotal, a psychological operations specialist assigned to Company B, 9th PSYOP Battalion, operates a portable loudspeaker as he broadcasts messages in Russian to role players in the “Military Operations in Urban Terrain” city at Ft. Bragg, NC. Delhotal and three other Soldiers were at the range participating in a weeklong assessment and selection course for assignment to Tactical PSYOP Detachment 940, which provides direct PSYOP support to the 75th Ranger Regiment. Missions at the range's Military Operations in Urban Terrain site included a village assessment and combat loudspeaker operations. Five candidates spent the week in tough physical and mental trials while vying for spots in the detachment. TPD 940 is assigned to Company B, 9th Battalion, 8th PSYOP Group (Airborne).

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A Loudspeaker Humvee

A HUMVEE from Company C, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, broadcasts a surrender message at Camp Doha, Kuwait, in February 2003 during a training exercise.

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Preparing to fire “Ma Deuce”

Echo Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion Tactical PSYOP Teams prepare to fire their mounted 50 caliber machine-gun on the firing line.

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Preparing the Humvee

9th PSYOP Battalion members prepare a Humvee installing a speaker system on the roof.

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Demonstrating a Satellite Dish

Staff Sergeant Jason Bryant of the 9th PSYOP Battalion adjusts the Cheetah telecommunications satelite dish at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command exhibit during the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition.  The portable dish is used for voice communication and to transmit data -- including print materials -- to and from remote sites.

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On 31 July 2014, Psychological Operations held an Open House at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, to show what they do and exhibit some of their products. Staff Sergeant Chris Brown, a PSYOP Specialist assigned to E Company of the 9th PSYOP Battalion explains a next generation loudspeaker (NGLS) to an interested soldier. The loudspeaker is used for broadcasting, crowd control, crowd dispersal and tactical call-outs.

On 9 August 2014, a paratrooper from the 9th PSYOP Battalion (Airborne) broadcasts messages during the rescue of American and British students as part of a noncombatant evacuation operation on Fort Bragg, N.C.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division’s August Field Training Exercise included multiple scenarios for the evacuation of U.S. and British citizens from hostile areas: a job specifically trained for by the U.S. Global Response Force.

(82nd Airborne Division photo by Staff Sergeant Jason Hull)

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A tactical psychological operations team from the 9th PSYOP Battalion broadcasts an emergency message during civil support training at Camp Butner, N.C., 19 March 2016. (Photo: Specialist Jeremie Lee)

A 9th PSYOP Battalion War Game Leaflet

Leave…before it’s too late.

This 9th PSYOP Battalion training leaflet is from the early 1980s. The message is very modern and warns the enemy that aircraft can follow the radar beams right back to the source and send rockets to destroy them all.


The 9th POB was first constituted 14 April 1952 in the Regular Army as the 9th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company. It was redesignated 22 March 1963 as the 9th Psychological Warfare Company and activated 1 April 1963 in the Panama Canal Zone. It was reorganized and redesignated 1 April 1967 as the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion and later inactivated 31 December 1974 in the Panama Canal Zone.

Former 9th PSYOP Battalion member Sergeant Jerry Lysko told me about his time in Panama:

I am happy to tell you about my experience with the 9th PSYOP Battalion in Ft Gulick, Panama, the Canal Zone. I am a self-taught graphic artist. In 1999 I won the Indiana Governor’s Award for promoting Art in Indiana. In 1999 I won the PEPSICO Chairman’s Award and I taught classes in Photography. The highlight of my life came as a surprise in September, 2017 when I was invited to the White House to meet with Vice President Pence and David J. Shulkin, the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs. I am still married to the same woman for 38 years, a leukemia survivor.

I got out of Basic training, was sent to Advanced Individual Training, and then directly to Leadership School. I never knew why, just did as I was told. I only found out later when I was called to the office of Post Commander at Ft. Polk that I was selected because of my test scores. I never knew my test scores until many years later. I was offered West Point Academy admission and turned it down. I received a lecture on how foolish I was from the Post Commander. I didn’t think I was the military type or would enjoy being in the military for all those extra years West Point would cost me. After the Leadership School I was shipped off to Panama. I was assigned to the 9th PSYOP Battalion for two years. My official title was Propaganda Specialist, but I actually did a little of everything. I arrived in 1968, as green as they come. I had no special training in psychology except for the course in psychology I took at night at the University of North Carolina.

An individual was required to have a Secret security clearance or higher just to get on post. I was taken to Headquarters, 8th Special Forces, and only days later after processing I was introduced to the 9th PSYWAR Company; the name was later changed to 9th Psychological Operations Battalion. If I remember right, the battalion consisted of 27 Officers and 22 enlisted men. That was the sum total of our manpower and they called it a battalion. Our Battalion Commander was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) advisor and gone most of the time. Most officers were gone on Military Training Teams and I hardly ever saw them for my first year there.

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Printed on the offset printers of the 9th PSYOP Battalion as a training mission for the men of the 8th Special Forces group and the 1st Special Forces, Special Action group.

We operated a Library. We had a sniper assigned to the unit who never mingled with anyone. I guess they thought we were in the jungle and who knew who was roaming out there? The unit had taken a minor part in the hunt for Che Guevera the previous year, but that was kept under wraps. There were a number of foreign Officers from South American Armies who were on temporary duty with us. We had a fully functional lithography printing plant, and we had a Jeep Wagoneer with Public Address Speakers on top called a Public Information Equipment (PIE) wagon. The only time we used it was to alert wives of the upcoming Christmas party. Our main printed product was a monthly publication called SAFLAN (Special Action Force Latin American Nations).

I worked in the editorial section as a Veri-typist and IBM composer. Back in 1968 a word processor was a scarce and unusual item. In 1969 we received 2 IBM composing machines, basically a Word writer. Each was the size of a normal office desk and used an IBM Selectric typewriter with interchangeable fonts. The machine operated on a 1-inch magnetic tape that fed into the recording head and would spit out the finished product at an amazing 120 words per minute. I would have to enter pica measurements, font and column width to make it all work. We also had a mobile printing plant for leaflets that was seldom used. Our other product was Farmers Almanacs distributed throughout South America. Apparently there was a good deal of U.S. propaganda in that almanac because whenever I worked on it we had two Military Police guarding us and a third MP who monitored all phone calls.

Lieutenant John Hall was our Officer in Charge at the printing plant. He developed and patented a new process for Lithographic printing that saved time and money. He was in a legal battle with the Army because the Army said the patent belonged to them. Yes, 9th PSYOP Battalion developed a new process for color printing. All our magazines used this new process. John was eventually reassigned and I never heard from him again. He was a good guy and spent many hours with me, teaching me Photography and Dark Room techniques.

We did multiple visits to Panamanian villages as a PSYOP team. They usually consisted of drinking the local hooch, making friends and leaving in the morning after a fishing run. The locals liked us, and enjoyed our visits.

I was also sent on a Military Training Team with the Civilian Group called “Vacation Samaritans.” We spent 3 weeks on TIGRE Island, San Blas Islands off the west coast of Panama. They came to build a medical building and a church. I guess the commanders thought this was a good PSYOP mission to get involved in. I was already familiar with the San Blas Islands from earlier visits. I’m sure that’s why I was selected to go. We were taken to the Island on a NAVY LCM vessel. Apparently these Vacation Samaritans had some political pull. My job was Photographer and I helped the cooks.

We also did some training for the School of Americas, and the U.S. Jungle Warfare School. We also did our monthly parachute jumps over the Panama Canal, and we did 5 night jumps. We did one night jump along the French cuts of the canal. Two of the jumpers wound up about 60 feet up in the trees. It took a group of us over and hour to chop a path thru the jungle and then bringing down the jumpers took another half hour. They wound up being airlifted out, but after a few days in the hospital they were as good as new.

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The Cristobal ROTC defends a Missile site

Looking through the April 1970 issue of SAFLAN I find an article on Sergeant First Class Thomas Edward Averna, who served as both acting First Sergeant and Sergeant Major of the 9th PSYOP Battalion. He worked with the ROTC students of Cristobal High School in a war game where the students attempted to defend a missile site against a team of Special Forces who were sent to destroy it. SFC Averna speaks Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and German. He remarked that the PSYOP Battalion was just about 50% strength but wanted to see the members cross-trained in Special Forces techniques.

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C Company - 9th PSYOP Battalion Challenge Coin

This is the 9th PSYOP Battalion Coin to commemorate action in Operation Enduring Freedom I Afghanistan

The battalion was activated once again on 15 April 1985 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. On 23 March 2010, E Company, a tactical psychological operations company, was activated. This made the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion the largest such battalion in the US Army at that time. Many of the soldiers in the new company had spent 14 months in the ranks of Charlie Company, 1st PSYOP Battalion, where they provided tactical PSYOP support to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan.

The battalion was activated once again on 15 April 1985 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. On 23 March 2010, E Company, a tactical psychological operations company, was activated. This made the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion the largest such battalion in the US Army at that time. Many of the soldiers in the new company had spent 14 months in the ranks of Charlie Company, 1st PSYOP Battalion, where they provided tactical PSYOP support to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan.

In 1990, the Battalion became responsible for tactical psychological operations worldwide, becoming the tactical support battalion for the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne). The unit subsequently participated in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, being awarded campaign streamers for Defense of Saudi Arabia and Liberation and Defense of Kuwait.

As I end this section on the early history of the battalion, I should mention that the 36-page handbook Psychological Operations in Panama during Operations Just Cause and Promote Liberty, U.S. Special Operations Command, Directorate of Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs, J9, MacDill AFB, Florida, March 1994, says that the lessons learned in the invasion of Panama to throw out Noriega had much to do with the eventual mission of the 9th PSYOP Battalion:

Many valuable lessons were learned by the PSYOP community [From Operation Just Cause]. In June 1991, less than 6 months after the Panama contingency was executed, the 4th PSYOP Group was provisionally reorganized. The PSYOP Task Force would continue to be commanded by the theater PSYOP Battalion commander, but with two other battalion commanders working for him. A tactical commander, (the commander of the reconfigured 9th PSYOP Battalion) would control all PSYOP loudspeaker teams and other tactical PSYOP assets and ensure support to other tactical elements of the Joint Task Force. The 9th PSYOP Battalion would train for these support missions worldwide. The commander of the new Dissemination Battalion would produce all printed products, recordings ad audiovisual products, and would run all radio and television broadcast operations.

Operation Desert Shield/Storm

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Iraqi soldiers surrender

At about 0200 on 2 August 1990, seven divisions of Iraqi armor, mechanized infantry, helicopter forces, and the elite Republic Guard invaded Kuwait. The invasion force of 120,000 troops and 2,000 tanks quickly overwhelmed Kuwait. Curiously, the buildup had been noted by U. S. satellites and intelligence forces, but nobody in the Pentagon believed that Hussein would attack and occupy a fellow Arab county. Even other Arab leaders refused to believe it, claiming that no Arab country would attack and occupy a brother-Arab country. The military and intelligence leaders believed that it was just the latest in a series of Iraqi bluffs and posturing near the Kuwait border.

On 3 August Kuwait Radio broadcast slogans, appeals and patriotic songs. The last thing they broadcast was the following appeal:

In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful. This is Kuwait. O Arabs, O brothers, O beloved brothers, O Muslims, your brothers in Kuwait are appealing to you. Hurry to their aid.

American Secretary of Defense Cheney met with King Fahd of Saudi Arabia on 7 August. As a result of that meeting, the 82nd Airborne Division and several U. S. A. F. fighter squadrons were permitted to deploy to Saudi Arabia for the protection of the Kingdom.

On 20 August 1990, President Bush signed National Security Directive 45, the “U.S. Policy in Response to the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait." The U.S. objectives included the “immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait,” and the “restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government to replace the puppet regime installed by Iraq.”

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Folded card front

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During Desert Storm illustrators of the 4th PSYOP Group printed a folded cardboard piece that honored the Group and the PSYOP Battalions and featured photographs and histories of the various units that took part in the Persian Gulf War. The card did mention the 9th PSYOP Battalion on the left inside folded part of the card. It said:

At the front lines, the PSYOP loudspeaker teams of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) operated with units engaged in combat. The loudspeaker teams were configured to support infantry, armor, or air-assault units. With powerful broadcast equipment they delivered ultimatums and surrender directions in Arabic, encouraging the surrender of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers.

Jeffrey B. Jones and Jack N. Summe mention the 9th PSYOP Battalion in “Psychological Operations in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Urban Freedom” Landpower Essay Series, August 1997.

Within days of the Iraqi invasion, Arabic-speaking tactical PSYOP loudspeaker teams from the battalion were deployed with the initial elements of the 82nd Airborne Division. A team of military and civilian PSYOP specialists, led by the 4th PSYOP Group Commander, traveled to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to begin development of a strategic PSYOP plan for the Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command (USCINCCENT). Initial product development began for both operational and tactical PSYOP as well as preparations for the deployment of the regionally-oriented 8th PSYOP Battalion, the purely tactical 9th PSYOP Battalion supplementing XVIII Airborne Corps, and all the print, radio, television and communications capabilities of the 4th PSYOP Group. By late August, the team had Central Command's approval on 64 strategic initiatives which were in tum forwarded to Washington for inter-agency review and approval.

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A loudspeaker equipped Humvee

Frank L Goldstein and Benjamin F. Findley Jr. mention loudspeaker operations in Psychological Operations – Principals and Case Studies, Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, 1996:

The following account by Staff Sergeant Edward Fivel, 9th PSYOP Battalion, illustrates the operation of his loudspeaker team and its unusual effectiveness.

We had to convince the company commander of our parent unit to let us PSYOP people try ousting those Iraqi soldiers from their underground bunker. We kept telling him there was nothing to lose by trying, especially since the pounding all morning by the 101st Airborne Division hadn't done anything.

So the three of us gave it a try. We arranged for the Blackhawk helicopter to ride us to the site of the bunker and we began dropping surrender leaflets. Then we returned to base and found that nothing had happened-no surrenders, no movement, nothing.

We tried something else. We hopped back on the Blackhawk and returned to the bunker area, this time intending to use our loudspeaker system and a taped message from headquarters. We picked a spot on the ground about 800 meters from the bunker and started broadcasting. Nothing happened. I guess we couldn't be heard over the loud racket of our helicopter.

We asked the pilot to land us on the ground not too far from the bunker. With what you might call serious reservations, he eventually landed us, feeling a little protected, I guess, by the three Apaches and one Blackhawk whopping above our heads and to our right. He took off immediately, saying he'd stay in contact by radio.

The three of us were now on the ground. We were facing this enemy bunker that Intelligence says has 20 enemy soldiers who might be waiting to greet us. We picked up our loudspeaker equipment - the transmitter and the speaker - and ran about 200 meters closer to the bunker. We sat the equipment down and again started playing the cassette surrender tapes. Still no movement.

Then our team leader decided to lift up the speaker. He lifted it and began carrying it even closer to the bunker. He carried that speaker exactly 50 more meters. I knew the distance because that's the length of the electrical cord he stretched out to the end, 50 meters. The team leader was very close to the enemy now.

Then he suddenly stood straight up and pushed the speaker high over his head [like some kind of statue showing a big trophy to a crowd far away]. I told the other guy back with me watching all this, our communications man, to quit playing the taped message and go live, and to keep doing it. The guy had just gotten out of language school, so he could handle the Iraq language pretty well. He talked loudly through the speaker in four message sets.

That worked. A crackling voice came through our radio from the helicopter pilot who was still hanging up there with us. The pilot had spotted some movement. Then we saw Iraq soldiers begin climbing out of the bunker in front of our team leader. They were waving little white flags and carrying no weapons.

That was about it for us in that scene because our pilot said over the radio that he was landing to pick us up so he could refuel back at 101 division base. He was running real low on fuel. We didn't see how many Iraqis came out of that bunker; although we had counted up to about 20 of them before we took off.

When we got back to base, the three of us and our pilot began receiving weird congratulations. We weren't sure why. It seems that over 400 Iraqis eventually came out of the bunker, all without a fight.

For the next couple of days every helicopter the 101 had was flying back and forth carrying Iraqi soldiers from the bunker to a forward prisoner-of-war camp. The camp must have been getting pretty crowded. The big thing we realized later was that these actions had kicked off the “Hail Mary” in the ground war because they fixed the Iraqi units on line in front of us, letting our end-runners in the other division make their wide sweep around the main Iraqi force.

Of course, everything did go as planned. There were sometimes problems with the supported combat units. A PSYOP Liaison officer during Operation Desert Storm wrote several reports of loudspeaker operations. I edit them for brevity and add them here.

U.S. Army Psychological Operations Poster

Years after I wrote this article a group of former PSYOP troops got together and discussed this poster and the belief was that it was designed by Alex Pinero of A Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion about the time of Desert Storm.


On 28 February 1991 one loudspeaker team prepared and broadcast a surrender tape. Due to the overwhelming multinational force’s combat power and the lack of the enemy’s will to fight their entire force surrendered.

On 2 March 1991, a loudspeaker team in a UH-60 helicopter were sent over enemy forces at Talil airfield with no aircover or ground fire support as was promised. Even without the fire support the mission was successful and the loudspeaker team persuaded 60 armed Iraqi soldiers to drop their weapons and surrender.


Of four loudspeaker teams supporting the 82nd Airborne Division, only two had secure FM voice communication capability. Secure FM voice communication capability is a must for all teams because that is what the supported tactical teams use. For command and control they expect all teams to be on the net.

The 9th PSYOP Battalion needs tactical environment vehicles in every theater of operations. Supported brigades and battalions were reluctant to provide transportation for the PSYOP teams and often left them to fend for themselves. In one case a team was left in the desert with no transportation. Another team was told to get vehicles from Civil Affairs because “they were all the same.” The 9th POB must coordinate for additional vehicles and systems for future operations. Each team must have a HMMWV, a 900 (preferable) or 450 system, plus a 350 system as a backup and to give dismounted capability to the team.

The maintenance team was located at Quasumah Airfield throughout Desert Storm. The PSYOP equipment was to be sent there as needed. After the first jump, the maintenance unit was 225 kilometers away. After the second jump it was 250 kilometers away. The maintenance team should be located centrally in the XVIII Airborne Corps operational area and move forward when the divisions move.

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Martin J. Cervantez

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When possible I like to depict the artists that actually produce the leaflets and posters. Retired Master Sergeant Martin J. Cervantez enlisted in the Army Signal Corps in July 1986 as an 81E, Illustrator. During his first enlistment he was assigned to A Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion. He was later detailed to the 9th PSYOP Battalion, which deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm while attached to the 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces Regiment. Martin told me:

The 4th PSYOP Battalion reorganized, and created the 9th PSYOP Battalion as their tactical element, and I was moved to fill ranks in B Company.We deployed a team of 11 to Desert Shield/Desert Storm with 5th Special Forces Group. Our team was made up of Major Sivas, Major Robert F. Barry III, SSG Donald Langworthy, SSG Polanco, SSG Radak, SGT LeRoy Evans, SGT Thomas Atkin, SPC Matthew Idzick, and SPC Chris Baird. Those are the ones that immediately come to mind after almost four decades. We were all sliced out further to teams, I did make some leaflets, some had hand drawn illustrations of lots of aircraft attacking Iraq, and others depicted the theme of surrender because of Arab brotherhood.We watched the oil fields burning, and the greenish black coil clouds would block the mid-day sun for a couple of hours, turning the sun green.

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The Khobar Towers

The Khobar Towers and aircraft assault is clearly my style of pen & ink.Some of my work was sliced and diced into other products. This piece was made while working in the 5th Special Forces Group compound at King Fahd International Airport. We worked in Temper-tents, A-frame style desert tents with air conditioning units, and were positioned right outside of the 5th Special Forces Group headquarters. The 5th Special Forces Group was commanded by Colonel Jesse Johnson, nicknamed J2, or J-Squared.

The front of this leaflet depicts three minarets in the background. These are the Kuwait towers, which contain water storage and a rotating restaurant. They are a tourist attraction and symbol of Kuwait. The initial request was for 31,000 leaflets. Allegedly the Coalition's Arab partners found this leaflet insulting because the Iraqi appeared to have a diaper over his head. One early version had the soldier standing in front of an Iraqi flag, but that was quickly changed. Whether the story is true or not, there were massive quantities in the inventory at the end of the war so it is possible that they were not disseminated. The text on the front is:

Staying here means death

The text on the back is:

Raise a white flag

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Martin adds:

The hand grenade poster is stark, and to the point. That was made to keep the Kuwaiti children & population safe during post-war operations, and cleanup.

This is a large poster with a bright red color to catch the finder’s attention that depicts a hand reaching for a grenade on the ground with a “Prohibited” symbol over the image. The Arabic text is:


Don't touch or move any strange object because it could explode or blow up at any time.

When you find any strange object, report to the authorities or the military.

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Task Force Freedom

Martin concludes:

The ID Card/bumper sticker is my layout and design.Specialist Hans helped out when I used Corel Draw to do the print ready layout. The ID Card/bumper sticker is post Desert Storm, and was developed in our bombed out warehouse where we setup shop with the Operational Detachment from 8th POB for a month and a half in Kuwait City. We were strengthening rapport with the resistance - pretty much all Kuwaitis at that point.

How did I end up in the 8th? When the main ground assault and push to Kuwait City was about to kick off, I was told there was no room for me in any of the vehicles, and since I was voluntarily working with 8th PSYOP Battalion so I at least had a job, I was left with them to continue making PSYOP products for dissemination.It all worked out.

The cardboard ID/paper bumper sticker for an automobile dashboard or bumper was printed in full color, 3.5 x 11.9-inches in size, and featured seven Coalition flags. The back was blank. The text was:

Task Force Freedom

During Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Task Force Freedom was designed to work with representatives of the Kuwaiti government-in-exile to formulate a plan for the restoration and reconstruction of Kuwait. Two hours after the official end of offensive operations, the advanced party was on the ground at the Kuwait International Airport. That same day the forward command post was activated in the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education Supply Compound in Subhan, east of the airport. That became Camp Freedom. At its peak, Task Force Freedom reached strength of over 3,650 personnel and worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. 10,000 of these were printed on 7 March 1991. I also have a paper version of this item which has been identified as a non-stick bumper sticker, which implies it was held on the bumper by tape or string.

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A Huge Responsibility
U.S. Army Center of Military History

Second Lieutenant Patrick Farrell of The American Provincial Police Mentor Team and his interpreter are meeting with the Afghan National Police Chief in the town of Khost in November, 2008, to review local situations and provide mentorship on several issues. The interpreter is covering his face so that he can’t be identified by anyone that may have ties with the Taliban or Al-Qaida.

He is a former Artist in Residence at the U.S. Army Center of Military History where he was responsible for capturing the Army's history on paper and canvas. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from September to December 2008 and from February to April 2011. He was also deployed in support of Operation Unified Response in Haiti from January-February 2010. During these deployments he produced artwork that visually recorded Soldiers’ experiences the Army’s achievements.

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Mural Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift

Now retired, he took part in the creation of a mural commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Berlin airlift along with Fabian Stenzel, a German graffiti artist, unveiled at Clay Kaserne, 22 June 2018.

A Typical Coalition Desert Storm Leaflet

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Jones and Summe depict this leaflet in their essay. The front depicts right side an Iraqi soldier holding this invitation leaflet surrendering to a Saudi soldier. The next scene at the left depicts three happy Iraqi prisoners feasting at a POW camp beneath a Saudi Arabian flag. A bowl of fruit contains bananas because the Coalition was informed that the Iraqis loved bananas. The back of the leaflet depicts the symbol of the Coalition and the text:

From Headquarters, Joint Forces Command and Theater of Operations:


You are invited to join the Joint Forces and enjoy full Arab hospitality, security, safety and medical care. You will be returned to your homes as soon as the situation that Saddam has placed us in has ended.

My brother Iraqi soldier ... this invitation is open to you and your comrade soldiers. We hope you will accept this invitation as soon as you have the opportunity.

Commander, Joint Forces and Theater of Operations

A larger leaflet was produced and it is believed that 40,000 were dropped on 18 January, and perhaps another 100,000 on 20 and 21 January. A smaller version of the leaflet was prepared and it is believed 60,000 were dropped on 24 February and another 60,000 on 25 February.

An article by Major Robert B. Adolph Jr. entitled “PSYOP: Gulf War Force Multiplier” in the December 1992 issue of Army says about the 9th PSYOP Battalion:

Serving primarily tactical commanders, Active and Reserve Components Loudspeaker Teams were assigned throughout U.S. ground combat forces to provide tactical support for ground units and to persuade Iraqi soldiers to surrender. Loudspeaker teams came from the active component’s 9th and 6th PSYOP Battalions…An entire Iraqi Battalion surrendered to a 1st Cavalry Division helicopter when the attached loudspeaker team broadcast that “Death from above was eminent.”

An operational detachment from the 9th PSYOP Battalion was attached to the 5th Special Forces Group. That group, along with its PSYOP assets was later broken down and attached to Syrian, Egyptian and Kuwaiti ground combat units.

[In 1992] The 9th PSYOP Battalion possesses all the loudspeaker teams currently available in the active component for support of America’s entire ground combat force, including the Marine Corps.

Before we leave the discussion of the 9th PSYOP Battalion in Desert Storm we should mention that although we do not know what medical problems, if any, followed the members of the battalion, it is known that one of the units exposed to Sarin nerve gas on 10 to 13 March 1991 from the Khamisiyah Pit Demolition of Iraqi armaments is the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Command and Control Team). If any of the members were contaminated by the gas we wish them good health and God-speed.


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Psychological Operations in Supports of Operation Restore Hope

In 1992, the newspapers told of the starving and suffering people of Somalia and the warlords who kept them starving and in poverty. The United Nations clamored for a military force to protect food shipments, the newspapers demanded that the United States be part of that force, and slowly and gradually, the American military found itself unwillingly sucked into the vortex that is Africa.

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General Mohamed Farah Aideed

The United Nations in Somalia, United Nations Department of Public Information, April 1993, says:

The downfall of President Siad Barre on 27 January 1991 resulted in a power struggle and clan clashes in many parts of Somalia. In November, the most intense fighting since January broke out in the capital Mogadishu, between two factions - one supporting interim President Ali Mahdi Mohamed and the other supporting the Chairman of the United Somali Congress, General Mohamed Farah Aideed.

An article entitled “Crisis in Somalia,” published in the booklet Blue Helmets - A Review of United Nations Peacekeeping adds in part:

The United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM I) was set up to facilitate humanitarian aid to people trapped by civil war and famine. The mission developed into a broad attempt to help stop the conflict and reconstitute the basic institutions of a viable State.

On 3 December 1992, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 794. The Council welcomed the United States offer to help create a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid in Somalia and authorized, under Chapter VII of the Charter, the use of "all necessary means" to do so. United States President George Bush responded to Security Council resolution 794 with a decision on 4 December to initiate Operation Restore Hope, under which the United States would assume the unified command.

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U.S. Troops Arrive in Mogadishu

The first elements of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) came ashore on the beaches of Mogadishu without opposition on 9 December 1992. The first PSYOP soldiers deployed from Fort Bragg to Mombasa, Kenya, where they joined the U.S. 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Tripoli. They accompanied the initial Marine landing at Mogadishu. 1,300 marines flew by helicopter directly to Mogadishu airport. Navy Seals landed quietly and stealthily in the dark before dawn and were immediately blinded by the blazing lights of television crews who had been told of their arrival.

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A mixed Group of Allied Leaflets to Somalia

The Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) was comprised of approximately 125 members of the U.S. Army’s 4th PSYOP Group, and several of its subordinate battalions: the 8th (command and control); the 9th (a tactical loudspeaker battalion); (the 9th PSYOP battalion supplied two brigade support elements and eight tactical loudspeaker teams); the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion and one U.S. Navy sailor and a dozen Somali linguists. The most effective PSYOP mediums quickly became face-to-face interaction with the population, radio and loudspeaker broadcasts, posters, leaflets, handbills, and coloring books. The JPOTF worked with coalition forces, senior U.S. and U.N. civilians, and nongovernmental and private volunteer organizations. The JPOTF designed, produced and disseminated thirty-seven different leaflets; large numbers of more than a dozen different handbills and posters; issued 116 editions of a Somali language UNITAF newspaper RAJO (Hope) with as many as 25,000 copies printed.

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Specialist 4 Jamie Santos eating Ramen noodles for breakfast
from a canteen cup while waiting for the chopper - 3 October 1993
Photographed by Matt Reilly - Etching by Scott Sullen

Sergeant Joe Zimmerman and Specialist 4 Jamie Santos of the 9th PSYOP Battalion used a loudspeaker Humvee while deployed to Somalia. They operated out of Bardera and used their 700 watt loudspeaker to convince the Somalis to cooperate rather than to fight. The team traveled from the Somali capital of Mogadishu along 300 miles of pitted, dusty roads to the lawless towns of Baidoa and Bardera, helping the 7th Marine Battalion expand the security umbrella over much of the country.

The Blackhawk Helicopter in Somalia

PSYOP specialists are often called names like BS bombers, litterbugs, and Speaker Monkeys. A group of them talked to me and it was clear that they were far more than just propagandists. They could go anywhere and do damn near anything. A case in point: Sergeant First Class Joel Krall told me that Members of both A and B Company of the 9th PSYOP Battalion took part in the Somalia operations. He remembers taking that UH60 Blackhawk to Somalia. It was used all through the operation and the leadup to the battle of Mogadishu. He told me:

The loudspeaker array was a last-minute purchase from Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corporation and there was no hardware for us to install it. So, MSG Danny Eller and I took the parts to the Mobile Maintenance Depot and literally did an emergency fabrication from speaker wings to a mounting plate. The plate was a problem and had to go over to the Army Airfield to mark mounting holes for the UH60. The 2100/2700 Loudspeaker system did not have a dedicated airframe. Which is why we fabricated it so it could go from UH 60 to UH 60. This was the newest system of its type and the only one used in Somalia to my knowledge. Another problem was determining where to get the electric power to charge the loudspeakers. There was an auxiliary power place for an auxiliary power unit, and we had to get one of those too. The 9th PSYOP Battalion S4 (Logistics) opened most of the doors for us, but then came the mounting of the amplifiers in a fabricated box. That took about 36 hours as I recall, and then into my trailer on my hummer and onto the chopper. We did not have time to test it before deployment, but we did some tests at Baledogle before taking it to Kismayo. I did manage to fly a couple of missions with it after the battle of Mogadishu. During the Blackhawk Down phase of the operation, the chopper took part in the Durant hostage crisis when Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant was almost killed by an angry Somali mob while in the downed helicopter but was taken prisoner instead. After 12 days in a violent captivity, he was set free.


Propaganda loudspeakers in the door of a Blackhawk helicopter

Staff Sergeant Anthony Hardie of B Co, 9th PSYOP Battalion, sent me a picture of his 2700-Watt loudspeaker in Somalia. The loudspeakers sit in the door of a Blackhawk helicopter. On his inaugural flight in Somalia from Kismayu he imitated APOCALYPSE NOW and played the Flight of the Valkyries. He flew many missions with this chopper and loudspeakers during the early phase of Operation Restore Hope in southern Somalia. SSG Hardie told me:

My teams and I did a few missions with the Blackhawk during Operation Restore Hope in early 1993. The Blackhawk was based at the Kismayo airport (we were based at the Port of Kismayo). We did various broadcast missions, including curfews and other public service-type announcements, and at least one consolidation mission. We also did various leaflet drops. On one Blackhawk mission over a village out beyond Kismayo, our messaging was not well received, and I will never forget the sound of bullets pinging off the Blackhawk as the pilot rushed us upwards out of range. That mission was a leaflet drop, but while my memory is fading, I believe it was also simultaneously a loudspeaker mission. It was especially challenging that our Somali-American translator had a severe fear of heights and flying with the door open caused special challenges for him, including the time he vomited out the open door and the rotor wash blew it back in on him.

There were also issues with sound quality and altitude, too low and the broadcast was overpowered by the noise of the Blackhawk; too high and it was lost entirely. As we learned during our combat deployments, we had to improvise, adapt, overcome, and relearn a lot of key knowledge that was certainly gained during Vietnam, and then lost. It was during this deployment that we perfected (rediscovered?) the use of the cheap-trash-bag method of helicopter leaflet delivery rather than the unwieldy, ineffective BOX method we had been taught at the Special Warfare Center and School. The trash bag method used a thin, poor-quality trash bag, filled with leaflets. We shook the leaflets in the bag to get a good mix (like laundry in a washing machine) so they were not stuck together in big stacks that were heavy and would fall too far, too fast. We used a tie-down ratcheting cable tied tightly around the top of the bag. For leaflet deployment, toss the bag out into the rotor wash, attached to the inside of the helicopter of course. The rotor wash forced the bag to stretch, and because it was poor quality, break open, spreading the leaflets in a cloud over the target. Then encourage the pilot to zoom up to high altitude for occasions when they were not received well, and the locals sent some rounds back at us.

This was our first deployment to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. Most everyone in the 9th PSYOP Battalion redeployed home in February/March 1993. I stayed on, dropping down to Tactical PSYOP Team leader with the Quick Reaction Force, and was joined by Eric Christopher, and then later augmented by Hans Marc Hurd and a translator. During those couple months, March-April 1993, we were entirely on the ground (Hummer, with a 900-watt loudspeaker I believe). Elements of the 9th PSYOP Battalion were tasked out across the Somalia theatre of operations and were all doing different things, dependent on location and type of unit supported (Conventional of the 10th Mountain Division, Rangers, USMC, Special Forces, etc.). The missions were widely disparate. In early 1993, Mogadishu got quieter while Kismayo heated up and at times was augmented with additional resources.

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The Daily Rajo Newspaper delivery – Kismayo, Somalia, early 1993

In Kismayo, we did daily missions into the city, and on occasion beyond the city limits. We delivered the newspaper RAJO (“Hope"), did face-to-face PSYOP, less frequent vehicle use but still occasional helicopter loudspeaker broadcasts. We even did a tactical deception loudspeaker mission near Buur Xanni, a remote village.

I also note that in those days (early 1990s), those of us with foreign language skills got pulled for taskings and missions on that basis, without regard for our unit of assignment. For example, I got the same kinds of taskings and missions in and related to Sub-Saharan Africa, attached to 5th/3rd Special Forces Group A-detachments, when I was assigned to the strategic 6th PSYOP Battalion and the tactical 9th PSYOP Battalion. I was also pulled for the 1992 Guantanamo Haitian boat people relief/refugee camp operations, I was there with a lot of people from 1st PSYOP Battalion, and beyond. So, we never know exactly where we will be when a situation arises.

Danny Elder added:

We normally used the AEM 900-watts system, but we did fabricate a helicopter floor mount for a 2700-watt system using three 900s in a series. I used a vehicle AEM 450 system rigged to the floor in a Blackhawk during the capture of Talill Air Base in 91 during Desert Storm. The door gunner literally kept us from getting shot down.

A lot of people WRONGLY say that the messages cannot be heard when these are used from aircraft. They are WRONG. By using messages 30 seconds or less and repeated three times while in a low fast circle of the target audience, they can not only hear it but understand it well. I have personally witnessed enemy soldiers following our directions exactly as we were giving them. Of course, the Cobra running as our wingman helped a great deal in convincing them.

We also jury-rigged an LSS350 to an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter in the Arraijan Tank Farm and nearby Howard AFB, Panama, while playing games with the dignity battalions in 1988-1989. That caused a ruckus. I almost fell out of the thing trying to manage a huge spotlight, the loudspeaker remote while pointing my M16 out the door. Had a near disaster with the spotlight going off in the cabin as the dang thing had a hair-trigger while we were flying using night vision goggles.

The Marines were happy to have the Army PSYOP specialists attached to their unit and used them several ties to save both American and Somali lives. Colonel Greg Newbold, Commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU) said about the PSYOP broadcasts:

They didn’t have to sell us. We were very interested in the technique. It is absolutely the right way to maximize the ability to save lives.

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A Somali “Technical”

In the town of Baidoa, Intelligence sources located a warehouse that contained Armed Somali fighters and vehicles equipped with heavy weapons known as “Technicals.” The Marines surrounded the building. Colonel Newbold did want the Somalis to feel trapped and decide to fight their way out of the warehouse. He called the PSYOP team. The team played a tape that said in part:

Lay down your weapons and walk away.

The Somali fighters realized they were surrounded and that any attempt to resist would result in a firefight and probably their deaths. They took about six minutes to consider their options and then walked out, lifting their shirts to show they were unarmed. The Marines entered the empty building and found five Technicals, a rocket propelled grenade, rockets, machine-guns and food stolen from the local civilians.

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A Rocket Propelled Grenade

The Somalis were sent home unmolested. The Marines believed that they would tell their story and the people would understand that they did not have to fight to the death.

The loudspeakers often used prerecorded tapes. Santos told me that the military had searched their records for Somali speakers and found only a very few. In one case a Naval Petty Officer was found in Norfolk News, VA. Over two days he recorded 20 propaganda messages to cover a great number of scenarios like armed convoys and food convoys. Many of the tapes were used during the PSYOP campaign. These tapes were used during the PSYOP campaign.

The February 2018 issue of Myrtle Beach’s Dunes Living said about Santos:

Jamie was also active in securing the perimeter of Mogadishu Airport, clearing hangers of shoulder-fired Stinger missiles like those ones that took the UH-60 helicopters out action. Attached to Task Force Mountain, he was instrumental in the pursuit and elimination of Somali War Lords who had effectively caused over 300,000 Somali citizens to starve by denying the distribution of food donations from around the world.

A detachment of the 9th PSYOP Battalion was attached to the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. The arrangement is described by Captain James C. Boisselle in an article entitled "Detachment B910 in Operation Restore Hope: Operations and Lesson Learned," in Perspectives - the Journal of the Psychological Operations Association, spring 1994. Some of CPT Boisselle's comments are:

The mission was to plan, coordinate, and execute PSYOP in support of the 2nd Brigade of the United Task Force campaign plan. The Brigade's initial focus was combat operations such as reaction to ambush, raid cordon and search...initially the role of tactical PSYOP in support of these operations was straight forward; induce surrender, deter resistance, and prevent civilian interference.

A day or two before the arrival of forces, the PSYOP plan was executed. This usually consisted of a leaflet drop explaining certain 'rules' and face-to-face messages conveying the US forces' operations. Once an area had been stabilized and relief supplies were again moving, Detachment B910 conducted follow-up assessments and developed programs to help achieve PSYOP objectives.

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Convoy Leaflet

The very first leaflet clearly shows the intent of the United Nations resolution. It depicts a military food convoy protected by armed high mobility multipurpose-wheeled vehicles (Humvees) and helicopters. Happy Somalis wave at the convoy. There are numerous ways to interpret and translate the Somali language. I will use that translation that seems to best fit the intent of the leaflet. Text on the front is:

We are here to protect relief convoys! Do not block the roads.

The back depicts a UN symbol, an American flag, and the text:

Our forces are here to defend the people helping you Do not get involved in any manner. Do not block the roads! Force will be used to protect the convoys.

At the same time, loudspeaker messages warned the people:


United Nations forces are here to assist in the international relief effort for the Somali people. We are prepared to use force to protect the relief operation and our Soldiers. We will not allow interference with food distribution or with our activities. We are here to help you.

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A young Somali boy holding the “handshake” leaflet

The United States Army in Somalia, 1992–1994 says about UNITAF PSYOP:

PSYOP troops ran a local newspaper (called Rajo—the truth) and set up a radio broadcasting system. They also provided tactical loudspeaker teams to U.S. and international forces. In addition, the task force designed, printed, and distributed more than 7 million copies of 49 different leaflets, posters, and handbills.

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MEDCAP Booklet

Booklets and leaflets were also produced in support of MEDCAP. The booklets were printed in both English and Somali and addressed various health concerns, such as malaria, food sanitation, and hand washing. The booklet depicted above is an example of such a MEDCAP publication, designed by the Product Development Center, B Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) in support of Operation NATURAL FIRE, a joint operation between the U.S., Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania circa 1998 in East Africa.

Major General S. L. Arnold talks about the U.N. Accomplishments in an article entitled "Somalia: An Operation Other Than War," Military Review, December 1993. He says:

The cycle of starvation in Somalia has been broken. Except for some isolated incidents, the food emergency is over. Factions have turned in many of their crew-served weapons, and disarmament talks are being conducted. Marketplaces have opened and are thriving, while many displaced persons and refugees are moving back to their homes, villages and farms…We have come very close to establishing the right environment to enable the Somalis to arrive at a ‘Somali solution.’ The last obstacle is the warlords. They must join together, combining their power for the collective good of all, or individually, they must lose power. Only then will Somalia be on the road to full recovery.


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Psychological Support to Operation Allied Force

The 4th PSYOP Group published a magazine entitled Psychological Support to Operation Allied Force in 1999. It gave the history of the U.S. PSYOP effort in the war against the ethnic cleansing ordered by the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. It regard to the 9th PSYOP Battalion is said in part:

As a result of the escalating Serb atrocities in Kosovo and the Kosovar Albanian refugee crisis, soldiers of the 9th PSYOP Battalion deployed to Tirana, Albania, to serve as part of Task Force Hawk and Joint Task Force Shining Hope, to enhance force protection and provide information to displaced persons housed in refugee camps, as well as to facilitate their resettlement following the cessation of the air campaign.

Although the 6th POB formed the core of the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) at the Warrior Preparation Center, near Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the 9th POB soldiers augmented the staff of the Product Development Center (PDC). 9th POB soldiers assisted in the development of products in the PDC.

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PSYOP Loudspeaker Teams in Kosovo

Army Field Manual FM 3-05.302 discusses the advantages and disadvantages of loudspeakers in depth. It says in part:

Loudspeaker operations are an extension of face-to-face communication and can have an immediate impact on a target audience. During combat operations, loudspeakers are the most effective PSYOP medium in high-intensity conflict or civil disorder environments. They can provide immediate and direct contact with a target audience. As a result, tactical PSYOP rely heavily upon loudspeaker operations in high-intensity conflict or civil disorder environments. Loudspeakers transmit speeches, music, or sound effects to the audience. Tapes, minidisks, and CDs are preferred when conducting loudspeaker operations, because of their superior audio quality. Live performers are used whenever the situation necessitates a broadcast that has not been prerecorded.

The advantages of employing loudspeakers should be considered during mission planning, such as flexibility. Loudspeakers give a supported commander the ability to address several target audiences with different messages in a short time. They also allow the supported commander the option of sending the Tactical PSYOP Team in dismounted or mounted.

Through the use of vehicles or rotary-wing aircraft, the supported commander can quickly and effectively maneuver the Tactical PSYOP Team on the battlefield.

Climatic conditions and enemy forces are the most common limiting factors to consider when planning loudspeaker operations. Other limitations include vulnerability to hostile fire. Because of the proximity of Tactical PSYOP Teams to the target audience during loudspeaker broadcasts, hostile fire is a high threat. Tactical PSYOP Teams should make sure this threat is considered when planning all loudspeaker operations. Tactical PSYOP Teams often require security elements with them. Broadcast positions should also be locations that provide as much cover and concealment without compromising the quality or effectiveness of the broadcast. Loudspeakers are affected by weather and terrain. Wind can both adversely and positively affect loudspeaker broadcasts. Wind carries sound if it is blowing in the same direction as the broadcast. If it is blowing in the opposite direction, it will limit the range and effectiveness.

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A Mine Warning Leaflet

The Allies also produced mine-warning leaflets. One depicts seven different explosive devices and has a bright red triangle with the word "Danger." Another shows a child’s foot about to step on a mine or a child about to touch a half-buried mine. The text on the leaflet above is:

Mines and unexploded bombs can kill! Danger! Do not try to handle these explosives; immediately report them to the local military forces.

Bravo Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion deployed one tactical PSYOP Detachment and one Product Development Detachment (PDD) in February 1999 in order to support upcoming operations in Kosovo. The PPD was initially deployed to support the 1st Infantry Division for possible ground operations in Kosovo. This detachment was based in Wuerzburg, Germany and developed products for the ground campaign, concentrating primarily on posters and handbills. These products were designed to enhance the security of U.S. forces in Kosovo, mine awareness programs, the success of U.S. and Allied forces in the goals of halting hostile Yugoslavian actions in Kosovo, refugee control and repatriation operations.

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Leaflet 04-B-02-L008

A leaflet that uses the photo of a gruff Milosevic has the question on the front:

All the right answers?

The back has a chart with three questions and little boxes where the finder can check “yes” or “no.” The text is:


Tens of thousands of Kosovar refugees all tell similar stories of mass deportation, rape, murder and destruction by Serb authorities. Are they all lying?

If Kosovar refugees are fleeing “NATO aggression,” would they really flee through the mountains to refugee centers in areas protected by NATO?

Are the Serb people willing to risk increasing isolation and economic collapse by supporting Milosevic’s policies in Kosovo-Metohija?


This leaflet was coded “Questionnaire.” 2.2 Million of these leaflets were printed and disseminated. I have two varieties of this leaflet. In the first, the red color on the front and the black text on the back are a bit more prominent than in the second. The darker variety is also about 5 mm longer and taller than the lighter version.

In March 1999, Bravo Company was relocated to the Warrior Preparation Center in Germany to become part of the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force. There, its soldiers worked on creating products to decrease support for Slobodan Milosevic and encourage the hostile Yugoslav forces to leave Kosovo.

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Operation Shining Hope Bumper Sticker

At the end of March and early April 1999 Bravo Company was attached to Joint Task Force Shining Hope. Stickers identifying NATO and U.S. relief efforts were designed and produced by the PDD. These stickers were attached to NATO and U.S. relief packages and also to vehicles working in direct support of refugee operations in Albania.

On 26 April, Bravo Company deployed forward to Tirana, Albania, to begin in-theater operations in support of refugee relief.

In total, soldiers from the 9th PSYOP Battalion compiled over 46 products. The PSYOP products produced by Company B were disseminated daily for a period of six weeks in national newspapers, television and radio mediums.

Allied Force has a Force Structure Chart that states that A Company of the 9th PSYOP Battalion was part of the Product Development Detachment but the unit is not mentioned in the general narration of the campaign against Serbia.

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Anti-VJ Leaflet 03-K-06-L001

Your Blood…Their Rewards

On 29 May, Pentagon officials announced that the Allies were trying to exploit friction between Yugoslav Army troops and the Interior Ministry Police by exacerbating the situation. 2.7 million copies of this leaflet were dropped with blood red text on the front:

Your blood…Their rewards.

Text on the back of the leaflet is:

Attention VJ Troops! While you endure NATO bombing in the field, low of fuel and supplies, unpaid and past your service obligation, the MUP return home to count the profits from their confiscated "booty." They draw regular pay, use your equipment at your expense, and investigate you for not following their orders. Meanwhile, you have been drafted and forced from your families to wage a war which you know is dishonorable and wrong. The only thing you share is blame for the MUPs atrocities.

The police were considered loyal to President Slobodan Milosevic. They were better equipped and often receive better treatment than their army counterparts. The inequality of treatment created a long-standing animosity between the two services.

During the 78-day bombing campaign, a total of 104.5 million leaflets were dropped. The thousands of Yugoslav Federal Army (VJ) soldiers within Kosovo as well as the civilian population throughout Serbia, were routinely targeted by PSYOP products.

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First Sergeant Jorge Altamirano

1SG Jorge Altamirano standing next to his Hummer. This was at the reception station in Macedonia. He told me:

We had to put KFOR on our vehicles before we were allowed to convoy to Camp Bondsteel. Since we were not prepared for the KFOR branding, we used paint brushes and white paint. On one vehicle, we had to use masking tape. As you can see, we also had to wear “flack vest,” and the “Fritz” helmet. Our Sergeant Major used to call it “The dome of Obedience.”

Former First Sergeant of A Company of the 9th PSYOP Battalion Jorge Altamirano shared some of his memories of deployment to Kosovo. He pointed out that the 9th PSYOP Battalion was there before the resolution was approved. They were on the front line ready to go forward if Milosevic did not withdraw his troops. Fortunately, Milosevic did withdraw.

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PSYOP Soldiers hand out Leaflets

U.S. forces entered Kosovo in June 1999 with the primary objective of supporting Operations Noble Anvil and Allied Force and bringing peace to that troubled land. Both Noble Anvil and Allied Force are generally the same operation. Noble Anvil was the United States’ contribution to the overall NATO operation, Allied Force. The reason for that is that it is United States policy to not relinquish control of certain strategic assets such as B-52s, stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, and special operations forces. Because of that, a US Joint task force was organized to support NATO.

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Jorge and local children:

Kids and Me: I enjoyed going out and seeing the town of Urosavech. The kids were curious about the US Soldiers. However, some kids were not so happy to see us. They would throw rocks at the convoys or drop them from bridges. You always had to be on high alert when going under a bridge.

The task, code named Operation Joint Guardian, proved exceedingly difficult. Entrenched ethnic hatred between Albanians and Serbians continued to fuel the conflict, and the general devastation continued for many weeks.

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Members of the 9th PSYOP Bn and the Norwegian Kosovo Force Combat Camera Team discuss operations near Mucibaba, Kosovo prior to the relaxation of the Ground Safety Zone (GSZ). May 23, 2001 (Photo by SSG Bronco A. Suzuki)

The initial concept of operation was to establish a Combined joint task force to support NATO peace enforcement missions in Kosovo; Contract civilian radio and TV stations in Kosovo and neighboring countries to broadcast NATO messages within Kosovo; Contract civilian newspapers and magazines to publish NATO messages in their publications for distribution within Kosovo; and to provide Tactical PSYOP forces to US Multinational Brigade. The regional NATO headquarters (Allied Forces Southern Region) located in Naples Italy essentially ran the air war for NATO.

Task Force Falcon, a brigade-sized task force, was created on 9 June 1999 under the command of Brigadier General Bantz John Craddock using selected elements of Task Force Hawk, sent to Albania to provide support for Operation Allied Force during the Kosovo War. These units were deployed to Camp Able Sentry in Macedonia on that day, and were sent into Kosovo under Operation Joint Guardian, the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo, on 11 June.

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A Poster to warn citizens about explosions

A Company of the 9th POB deployed to Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, in order to conduct PSYOP in support of the Multinational Brigade East (MNB-E: U.S. Forces) to prepare the population of Kosovo for the introduction of NATO forces, to create support for the operation, reduce civilian interference with MNB-E operations, reinforce existing force protection measures and reinforce acceptance of future operations.

Some of the various programs and missions were:

Crowd control; Evenhanded treatment; no preference; Freedom of movement for all; Information of Military Technical Agreement and Undertaking; Force Protection; a Weapons Turn-In program; a Unity of Effort (working with Russians); Mine awareness campaign; Curb the development of unreasonable expectations of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo; Repatriation of property; Build up faith in KFOR and a Return to normalcy.

One of the radio stations used to support the mission was Radio Ferizaj: It was used to put out PSYOP messages. It sometimes featured U.S. Army guest speakers and generally was very Albanian oriented. It would speak on development, but was eventually taken over by the Public Relations Office. A second station was Radio Gnjilane: It had the same general format but a better mix of population.

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Local citizens welcome the Americans with graffiti

Tactical PSYOP Company located with the US Brigade at Camp Bondsteel had the missions of print and loudspeaker operations and limited radio production. They were augmented by the 3rd POB printing and communication assets.

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A Company, 9th PSYOP Battalionn Change of Command Ceremony as the 9th was leaving Kosovo

Haiti – Operation Uphold Democracy

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The President Aristide Leaflet

The first leaflet dropped before the American intervention into Haiti. It depicts a formal black and white portrait of President Aristide with a Haitian flag in the background. The back of this leaflet has five lines of blue text in Creole:


The New York Times of 15 September 1994 featured a Reuters photograph of hundreds of the above leaflets showing deposed President Aristide on the streets of an unidentified Haitian city. The caption is, "A U.S. plane dropped leaflets in Haiti supporting the exiled President." The British Broadcasting Company announced on 14 September that two million leaflets were dropped over Port-au-Prince and two other cities asking the population to support the US invasion and demanding the return of Haiti's ousted President Jean-Bertand Aristide.

In December 1990, the people of Haiti elected former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President with 67% of the vote. He took office in February 1991, but the military overthrew him in September of the same year. Joseph Nerette, who held power with the help of the armed forces, replaced him. In June 1992, Marc Bazin, who ruled as Prime Minister, not as president, replaced Nerette. In June 1993, Bazin resigned and the United Nations passed Resolution 970 which imposed an oil and arms embargo aimed at forcing the Haitian military to the negotiating table. As a direct result of the embargo, over 21,000 Haitians left the poverty-stricken country, many attempting to illegally enter the United States.

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Loudspeaker Team in Haiti

General Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian armed forces, signed an agreement on 3 July 1993, which approved the return of President Aristide by 30 October 1993. These were known as the Governors Island Accords and consisted of 10 statements. On 8 October, the USS Harlan County carrying peacekeepers to help with the transition of power attempted to dock in Port-au Prince. An armed mob turned the ship away.

President Clinton, infuriated, authorized Joint Task Force 180 under the 18th Airborne Corps to develop plans to intervene in Haiti. The political and human rights climate deteriorated as the military sanctioned repression, assassination, torture, and rape to terrorize and control the Haitian people. In May 1994, the military appointed Emile Jonassaint the provisional president. The United Nations and the United States countered this illegal action by introducing United Nations Resolution 917.

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PSYOP soldiers conducted face-to-face meetings with the local communities

Plans were made for either a military invasion or a peaceful entry into Haiti. Operations Plan (OPLAN) 2370 was the military offensive with a massive invasion from air and sea with overwhelming force. OPLAN 2380 was developed for a peaceful permissive entry into Haiti. The operation's deployment phase began on 18 September 1994 when the president, through the secretary of defense, issued the order to execute OPLAN 2370.

American troops entered the country peacefully and without bloodshed. The United States military and the multi-national force eventually numbered over 23,000 troops from over a dozen nations. General Cedras and his military staff left Haiti and President Aristide returned on 15 October 1994. The multinational force recovered nearly 33,000 weapons through buybacks, discovering caches, and roadblocks. The flood of refugees from Haiti, 3,000 per day in July 1994, virtually stopped. The United States repatriated more than 13,000 Haitians home.

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Patriotic Gummed Label

In many wars going back to WWII, American PSYOP personnel produced patriotic gummed labels that could be placed on walls or tables or wherever people congregated to pass on the American message. Such a label was prepared in Haiti and given to civilians to place wherever they wanted to show that they believed in the friendship of the United States and Haiti. The small 4 x 4-inch and a second variety which is 3 x 3-inches label show the two flags in full color.

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A PSYOP Soldier hands out leaflets to civilians in Haiti

We don’t know much about what the 9th PSYOP Battalion did in Haiti. I have few records of their activity. I do know that Company A of the 9th PSYOP Battalion was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division for the take-down mission. Support of the 10th Mountain Division went to Company B, 9th PSYOP Battalion, which assigned Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPT) to Port au Prince and Cape Haitiens. The major American forces involved in the peaceful occupation were from the 18th Airborne Corps and the 10th Mountain Division. The PSYOP units were part of a Joint Psychological Operations Task Force. They included parts of the 4th PSYOP Group, 2nd United States Army Reserve PSYOP Group, 1st PSYOP Battalion, and the 9th PSYOP Battalion.

LTC Stephen M. Epstein, LTC Robert S. Cronin and Col James G. Pulley wrote an article in Special Warfare, July, 1994, Vol 7, No 3., entitled “JTF Haiti: A United Nations Foreign Internal Defense Mission.” They said in part:

Haiti offered an ideal environment for PSYOP employment: Literacy is low, and Haitian society relies on word-of-mouth communication. Official broadcasts and publications are viewed with suspicion. Rumors are the preferred source of information, and their credibility is judged by how well the listener knows the person repeating them.

A military information support team of 10 soldiers from the 9th Battalion was scheduled to deploy on D-21 to begin an information campaign for three audiences. To the Haitian military, it would communicate the benefits of professionalization. To the police, it would communicate the desirability of separation from the army. And to the population at large, it would communicate confidence in the democratic process. A comprehensive publicity program using radio, television and newspapers was designed to support the medical-and engineering-assistance projects. The U.S. Information Service, staffed by only two public-affairs officers, prepared to welcome the members of the team and to make its facilities available to them.

Unfortunately, the deployment of PSYOP personnel was delayed first by the U.S. country team in Haiti and later by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The reluctance to use PSYOP stemmed partly from a concern that “psychological operations” would be perceived badly by the international community and partly from uneasiness that PSYOP might be associated with “propaganda.” Changes in terminology were debated: The military information support team was renamed an information support team and, finally, a public-awareness liaison, or PAL. Perhaps, too, the country team and the Office of the Secretary of Defense were guided by a faith that the truth would be its own best advertisement. In fact, the truth was never communicated. The first four soldiers of PAL did not arrive in Haiti until D-1, the day before the USS Harlan County attempted to dock in Port-au-Prince. This was long after any effective information-management actions could have been taken. By then, the opponents of President Aristide were firmly in control of the flow of information, and the U.S. and the U.N. simply did not compete.

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TPT advised locals to refrain from violence

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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.

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Haiti loudspeaker team

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The air-dropped Radio for Haiti bought in bulk from Radio Shack

From 13 to 17 December, roughly seven million leaflets were released over Port au Prince, Cap Haitien, and Les Cayes…the Air Force dropped roughly 10,000 radios across parts of Haiti…Both Joint Task Force 180 and 190 incorporated Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs) with loudspeakers.

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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.

Port au Prince represented a key area for such units as Brigade PSYOP Support Element (BPSE) 960 from B Company 9th PSYOP Battalion, and BPSE 910 from A Company 9th PSYOP Battalion. On 26 September, BPSE 960 made loudspeaker broadcasts promoting Aristide and the Multi-National Forces and advertising a “weapons for cash” program.

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Seed leaflet

A Haitian plants a seed, waters and then sees a healthy tree. The back of this 5.5 x 8.5-inch cardboard handout is blank. The text is:

How do you grow your nation?

Let us all work together so the future of our children can be beautiful.

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.” He mentions some of the PSYOP loudspeaker messages:

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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Staff Sergeant Jamie Santos
Santos (seated) discusses a PSYOP campaign with SP4 Jason Hernoski

Staff Sergeant Jamie Santos, a Psychological Operations Specialist and enlisted member of the Dissemination Battalion was nominated for the Bronze Star Medal for his exceptionally meritorious achievement as the Non-commissioned Officer in Charge of the Product Development Center. The narration of his accomplishments is so well written that I think we can use it here as an example of what the Battalion accomplished in Haiti. His accomplishments are as follows:

He successfully planned, coordinated and executed seven campaign objectives intended to set the conditions for successful elections: gain popular support for the Haitian National Police; support the departure of the United Nations Mission in Haiti; increase popular support for the justice system; reduce Haitian on Haitian violence, and disarm the Haitian populace.

He managed the development, production and dissemination of over 100 print and 65 audio and video products by synchronizing the function of psychological operations specialists, illustrators, linguists, print specialists and broadcast specialists.

He coordinated with representatives of the Haitian National Police, International Investigative Training Assistance Program, Ministry of Justice, and selected Haitian political figures in an effort to institutionalize information programs.

He developed procedures which greatly enhanced the quality and efficiency of the Product Development Center. He cross-trained, led, and served as a role model for all of the soldiers in the unit. He coordinated and supervised all production activities within the Military Information Support Team to include print, audio and visual operations. He anticipated requirement, enabling the Military Information Support Task Force to adjust to emerging and changing situations, thus providing better support to the Zone Commanders.

Santos told me:

Even before I deployed to Haiti I was in Washington D.C. where we kept PresidentJean-Bertrand Aristide in a hotel. Each day we had him prepare a radio broadcast which was taken to Florida and broadcast from there into Haiti.

Return to Haiti

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The 9th PSYOP Battalion returned to Haiti once again, this time to help the people in their time of need.

On Tuesday 12 January 2010, at five o’clock in the afternoon, a massive earthquake struck Haiti. It left over 300,000 people dead and more than one million people homeless. More than three million were affected in some way. By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake. Death toll estimates range from 100,000 to about 160,000. The earthquake caused major damage in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other cities in the region.

More than 20 countries sent military personnel to the country, with Canada, the United States, and the Dominican Republic providing the largest contingents. The supercarrier USS Carl Vinson arrived with 600,000 emergency food rations, 100,000 ten-litre water containers, and an enhanced wing of 19 helicopters; 130,000 liters of drinking water were transferred to shore on the first day.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) realized that an effective method of two-way communication with disaster affected people was needed. Radio and TV broadcasts, posters, leaflet distribution, loudspeaker trucks and face-to-face discussions were all used. The 9th Psychological Operations Battalion met the call.

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Members of the 9th PSYOP Battalion along with their equipment flew in a USAF C-17 Globemaster to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in support of the earthquake relief efforts, 27 January 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

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The earthquake caused widespread destruction and killed over 300,000 people

The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake, with an epicenter approximately 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred, 12 January 2010.

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Nearly 40 members of the 4th Psychological Operations Group's 3rd and 9th Battalions-- depart from Fort Bragg, N.C., Jan. 27 to assist in the ongoing post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti

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Solar/hand-cranked powered radios were given away

The U.S. military delivered 50,000 hand-held radios to Haiti for survivors of the earthquakes. The joint task force distributed the radios to the public. Survivors can use the radios to receive news and important information concerning international relief efforts. The PSYOP troops worked closely with the Haitian government to broadcast public safety messages for survivors on FM frequencies of 92.4 mhz and 104.1 mhz and the AM radio frequency of 1030 khz. The radios were powered by solar energy and hand cranks instead of batteries, a potentially helpful asset to a nation short on basic supplies. The units also have lights and cellphone chargers.

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U.S. soldier explains how to use the solar/hand-cranked radio

The U.S. Southern Command funded and Special Operations Command contracted for the purchase of the 50,000 hand held radios to distribute to the Haitian people. The 9th PSYOP Battalion Military Information Support Team (MIST) in coordination with the U.S. Agency for International Development began distribution of these radios immediately. 60,000 stickers, with the frequencies on them, and 60,000 leaflets that demonstrate (with pictures) how to operate the radio were distributed with the radios. This hand held radio initiative was part of an overall effort to reach the people of Haiti via FM/AM broadcasting of Voice of America programming and Combined Joint Task Force Haiti public service announcements.

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Sergeant Jimmy Covas, C Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion, draws pictures for two Haitian boys while their mother waits in line for the food at a distribution point in Port Au Prince, Haiti. (U.S. Army Photo by MSG Martin Cervantez)

Sergeant First Class Nicolas Raymond, a member of Charlie Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion makes his way through a dense Haitian crowd after assessing their needs, 15 January 2010, at Camp Jean Mary Vincent which holds about 2700 homeless left by the earthquake. Charlie Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion is deployed to Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response to provide security for the massive humanitarian efforts being conducted throughout the earthquake devastated country of Haiti. (U.S. Army photo by MSG Martin Cervantez)

Immediately following the events of 11 September 2001, the Battalion rapidly deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and then in 2003 deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom. The battalion remains engaged at all levels in support of OEF and OIF as well as contingency operations worldwide.

9A73 Patch

My good friends who moderate the Psyops Insignia Collectors Page are always on the lookout for interesting patches. I do the same for interesting leaflets.

The patch above is a ‘theatre made’ (in Afghanistan) patch. These patches are often designed by the men and give them a feeling of togetherness and brotherhood. In general, they are not official. Like many of the baseball hats we wore back in the 50s when I was in the Air Force, they are meant to build comradeship.

This patch was for PSYOP Team 9A73: 3rd Tactical PSYOP Team), 7th Detachment, Alpha Company of the 9th PSYOP Battalion. Traditionally a US Army PSYOP Company does not have 7 TPT’S - but this was a special time! Alpha Company was augmented by additional detachments with other companies and as such the 7th TPT was designated.

The "VSP" = Village Stability Platform refers to the efforts of USSOF within the umbrella term of "Village Stability Operations," whereby US PSYOP teams lived and worked in outposts called VSPs such as VSP Nowabad (in Kunduz Province).

The Winterfell reference is a direct link to the then worldwide pop culture phenomenon, Game of Thrones. Winterfell was a secured compound (or castle) and these TPT’s assisted and provided strong Village Support Platforms in Afghanistan, expanding Afghan government influence and administration by leveraging traditional village-level constructs against anti-government forces.

Operation Enduring Freedom

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Loudspeaker Team accompanies a patrol

On 11 September 2001, terrorists of al-Qaida (the Base), some trained and financed by Saudi Arabian exile-in-hiding Osama bin Laden, attacked the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC. On 12 September, the day following the attack, Tactical PSYOP Detachment 940 began target audience analysis of Afghanistan, including the Afghan populace, the Taliban, and al-Qaida. On 4 October 2001 a 95-man Joint Psychological Operations Task Force was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and placed under the operational control of the Central Command. The 9th PSYOP Battalion (sometimes called the “Dissemination battalion” at that time) deployed to Kuwait that same month to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

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9th POB tactical team pose with helicopter equipped with loudspeakers

On 1 November, the 9th PSYOP Battalion Commander told a staff sergeant to get ready to go to Afghanistan to support the 5th Special Forces Group. Twelve days later Tactical PSYOP Detachment (TPD) 930 was on its way. The team consisted of 13 men from the 9th and a 9-man support element from the 3rd PSYOP Battalion. They were to operate the Deployable Print Production Center that could produce PSYOP products quickly at a forward base.

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The Special Operations System B (SOMS B) ground-based PSYOP radio in Afghanistan. The DRASH tents attached to the vehicles are the operational areas for the system set up in Bagram.

PSYOP elements were busy setting up radio stations in Afghanistan. One of the radio specialists from Ft. Bragg told me:

The Special Operations System B (SOMS B) was the first ground-based PSYOP asset in Afghanistan. There was a SOMS B in Bagram and one in Kandahar . Initially broadcasting was done on AM and FM. Eventually, all broadcasting was migrated to shortwave (SW). The three short wave radio frequencies are 9325, 9345 and 9365 kHz.The stations broadcast from 0030 to 1830 with the heading in Pashto “Da Sola Radyo day,” and in Dari “Inja Solh-e Radyoe”, (“You are listening to Peace Radio.”)

The antenna field was very crowded in the beginning because all three (AM, FM, and SW) antennas had been set up in the same small area. The AM antenna was a discone antenna supported by four masts, which were only 50 feet off the ground at the highest point.

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Hamid Karzai Poster AFC1058

This is a full-sized poster measuring 11 x 17-inches with text in Dari and Pashto. It depicts President Karzai at the left and the Afghan flag at right. The text is:

The major success of Afghanistan is this; that Afghan people despite different political ideas, tribes and personalities consider their country secure and they have returned to rebuild their future.

Interim President Karzai had told the Americans very early that their broadcasts were found wanting. ARSOF in Afghanistan notes:

The Pashtun leader knew that radio broadcasts in various dialects would have a greater effect than leaflets. He had listened to the programs broadcast by the Air Force EC- 130 Commando Solo aircraft and told Major Barstow that the music was very effective, but the BBC and VOA had better-quality programs. Karzai urged Major Barstow (C Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion) to make the messages more forceful. The people needed to be told what they should do about the Taliban and al-Qaeda who were still in their midst.

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Ranger Calling Card Leaflet “Freedom Endures”

At 1845 (Zulu Time) on 19 October, 199 elite American Rangers and four PSYOP soldiers night-assaulted Objective Rhino on Vengeance Drop Zone. This was a remote Desert Landing Strip approximately 105 miles Southwest of Kandahar. The site had already been hit with 2,000-pound bombs by a B-2 Stealth bomber and strafed by AC-130 Spectre gunships. This was the first Ranger combat drop since Operation Just Cause in Panama. The mission was to gain intelligence about the objective's airstrip and environs to determine its value as a future base. A week later, U.S. Marines established Camp Rhino at that site. Kandahar was the home of the Taliban spiritual leader, Mullah Omar.

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Staff Sergeant (SSG) Joel Tejeda, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (PSYOP), uncovers a weapon found hidden in a house at Objective Pickett, located in the Paktika province of Afghanistan, during Operation Mountain Sweep. Operation Mountain sweep was the largest US Military offensive in Afghanistan since Operation Anaconda

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In this article we mention Tactical PSYOP Detachments. This is the makeup of such a team from
the 2005 U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-05.302

The mission is explored in greater detail in the book ARSOF in Afghanistan. It tells of Tactical PSYOP Detachment (TPD) 940, B Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion (POB) training and rehearsing with the Rangers for five days prior to the operation against the objective they called "Rhino." Four of the Psywarriors jumped from MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft into combat with the Rangers. Some of the text is:

TPD 940 conducted final planning, underwent several inspections, and participated in detailed rehearsals of actions at the objective. Inspections included personnel, weapons, ammunition, and combat equipment as well as PSYOP product scripts and mini-disk copies of the scripts in Urdu, Pashto, and Arabic that would be used during the operation. The 6th Product Development Detachment (PDD) had also prepared leaflets that were to be left on the objective. They were to communicate America’s resolve to stop terrorism and let the enemy know that it had been there.

We set up our loudspeaker and began to broadcast our first message. It told anyone in the area that U.S. forces were present and they need to exit the buildings, stay away from the airfield, drop any weapons, and get down on the ground if they wanted to survive. We played the message for about 5 minutes.

We were told to assist in searching the building for any intelligence and weapons, and to be watchful for booby traps. We found a Soviet RPK machine gun with a belt of ammo in the feed tray, expended shell casings, belt links on the ground, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with 10 to 12 rounds nearby, and two AK-47 assault rifles. The rooms had articles of clothing strewn about, mattresses and bedding, and other personal effects. After collecting the weapons, we distributed about 400 leaflets in and around the building.

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A Loudspeaker Operation

US Army Specialist Adam McDaniel, Alpha/Company, of the 9th PSYOP Battalion, sets up a loudspeaker system in order to broadcast non-civilian interference messages to the local people in the town of Narizah, Afghanistan, during Operation Mountain Sweep, part of ongoing operations in Afghanistan conducted in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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Radio Leaflet AFD06

This leaflet depicts a radio tower and two radios. Text is identical on both sides in Pashto and Dari. The leaflet states:

Information radio.
0500-1000. 1700-2200 daily.
864, 1107, 8700 kilohertz.

The leaflet tells the Afghan finder what radio stations to dial in order to hear the latest news from the coalition forces. Part of the PSYOP plan was to tell the Afghan people why their country was being bombed. The radio broadcasts stress that this is simply a war against terrorism and not against the people of Afghanistan. The Taliban's main Kabul radio station, Voice of Sharia, (“Islamic Law”), was taken off the air by an American cruise missile several days earlier.

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U.S. Army Sergeant Kris Baker, Alpha Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion, allows the village elder of a refugee camp located near Kandahar, Afghanistan, to use the loudspeaker to tell refugees that coalition forces are at the camp to provide medical and humanitarian assistance, during Operation Enduring Freedom.

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A young Afghani Boy from the village of Nejhab, Afghanistan, carries a newspaper distributed by the US Army’s 9th PSYOP Battalion. The newspapers are used to disseminate information about humanitarian aid packages and related news events.

Weapon of Choice continues: After the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif, Team 922, A Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion, was the first PSYOP team to reach the town. They unloaded loudspeakers and played tapes in Pashto and Dari. One of the staff sergeants met an Afghan woman who had one of the American airdropped transistor radios. She told him that it was the first radio she had heard in seven years. The team requested more radios for the residents of the town…Broadcast media proved very effective during the PSYOP campaign. More than 7,500 small battery-powered transistor radios were distributed both by airdrop and by hand. Simple leaflets told the Afghan people which numbered channels to tune to for the American-produced PSYOP programs. The Afghans loved the programs because it was the first time in six years they had been able to listen to music. Feedback indicated that the PSYOP leaflets and radio broadcasts were important contributors to the Afghan population withdrawing its support from the Taliban and al-Qaida.

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The Presidential Unit Citation

Permanent Order 240-0003 dated 28 August 2023, awarded the Presidential Unit Citation to Bravo Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion. On the battalion’s anniversary (April 26), The citation will be awarded to the Detachment that served with Task Force 82 (the 82nd Airborne Division) in Afghanistan in August 2021. The award reads:

For extraordinary heroism in support of Afghanistan retrograde operations from 15 August 2021 to 30 August 2021. The Soldiers of Joint Task Force 82, 82d Airborne Division, and its supporting units displayed unmatched valor while conducting noncombatant evacuation operations in Kabul, Afghanistan. Upon arrival to Hamid Karzai International Airport, Joint Task Force 82 immediately seized and secured the airfield to facilitate the arrival of aircraft and processing of U.S. citizens and refugees through the port of departure. Joint Task Force 82 demonstrated exceptional tactical proficiency, agility, and warfighting prowess which assured the success of this no-fail mission against the enemy Taliban. The Task Force faced numerous challenges throughout the operation but maintained responsiveness in a deteriorating environment. Joint Task Force 82's superb actions, bravery, competency, and courage resulted in the evacuation of over 124,000 American citizens, U.S. government employees, and Afghanistan refugees in under 15 days. This evacuation won an important strategic victory while an armed enemy tried infiltrating Hamid Karzai International Airport. Joint Task Force 82's exemplary performance are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon themselves, the 82d Airborne Division, and the United States Army.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

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An Iraqi Freedom Poster made by and for the 9th PSYOP Battalion

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Charlie Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion – April 2003

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9th POB Tactical PSYOP Team sit on top of a loudspeaker equipped track vehicle

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Tactical PSYOP Team patrols the streets of Baghdad's Karada District countering Muqtada al-Sadr supporters

Soldiers from the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) deployed to Iraq in July of 2006. Company C, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion was at that time only tactical psychological operations company and the only US Army Special Operations Command company-sized element deployed for almost 15 months. The Company served with the II Marine Expeditionary Force, Multi-National Force-West and played a pivotal role in shaping the battle space and facilitating the transition of Al Anbar from the haven of the insurgency to a model province with significant declines in violence. Elements of Company C began returning from the deployment in October 2007.

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Major Adrian Brockington

The Combat Studies Institute of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, published a 2007 interview with Major Adrian Brockington, Commander of the 9th PSYOP Battalion’s product development detachment during his January to July 2003 deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Major Brockington said in part:

We prepared and distributed all types of leaflets, handbills, posters, loudspeakers scripts, radio scripts and newspapers all over the country of Iraq. Basically we were focusing on influencing the hearts and minds of the people. We needed to let them know why the coalition forces were in their area and what they were doing. We had to tell the local populace that when military operations were going on we wanted them to stay in their homes. We also gave times and directions to areas where they could go and get medical support or food. As the stages went on, we also did things like get coloring books for the children and reading materials. We also did preparations for the schools and helped with the elections. We covered a lot of different areas. We did leaflets, handbills, posters, loudspeaker scripts, radio scripts and newspapers but not television. We started to do a lot of leaflet drops. We had to send teams out to deliver leaflets, because there were more targets than we had originally anticipated.

As a small element we were not supposed to produce as many products as we did. We were not supposed to make that many leaflets at that specific locale either. They were supposed to be sent out to a major production center. Because of the overwhelming need and requests that were put on that center, we had to produce those products ourselves. That, along with going out and distributing them ourselves all over Iraq proved to be a challenge for us. All of us, from the privates all the way up to myself, had to go out on various missions and drop leaflets all over Iraq.

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Public safety

Staff Sergeant Terry Dahl assigned to the 9th PSYOP Battalion, holds a real 9 mm pistol in his right hand and a toy 9 mm pistol in his left hand. He gives a demonstration at the police station in Seddah, Iraq, on 1 January 2008 to show how similar the real and fake weapons look. The Coalition Forces asked shop-owners to stop selling the toy guns to children because they could be mistaken for terrorists and killed.

Some members B Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion talked about their time in Iraq. On 11 September 2004, B Company arrived in Al Anbar Iraq. They expected a difficult deployment with Ramadan, The Haj, the retaking of Fallujah, and the first free Iraqi elections, all expected in the first four months they were there.

Within the first 45 days of arrival on 15 October 2004 the Company had two members Killed-in-action, Staff Sergeant Mike Owens and Specialist Jonathan Santos, both of Tactical PSYOP Detachment 950. On that same day, Matt Drake of Tactical PSYOP Detachment 950 was wounded-in-action. Another soldier who was wounded in action in late September 2004 returned to duty. By that time two members of the unit were put in for Bronze Star Medals with the “V” attachment.

By the end of the battle of Fallujah, one B Company member lost his left arm and two others had severe trauma that required a hospital stay of several weeks. As soon as they were healthy, they went right back to Fallujah. In early January 2005, B Company had another Wounded in action that was returned to duty.  See below for details.

In January 2005, a Tactical PSYOP Team ran over an antitank mine while moving to a loudspeaker broadcast position. The mine blew the entire front end of the truck off. There were no injuries and what saved their lives was they were moving less than 5 mph when they struck the mine.

At the end of the deployment in April 2005, there would be two Bronze Star Medals with the “V” attachment, seven Bronze Star Medals, three Army Commendation Medals with the “V” attachment, eight Purple Hearts, and one Navy Commendation Medal with the V attachment. Of the Enlisted members that made a career of the military, four became Sergeants Major, and rest became Master Sergeants. One of the Master Sergeants would be nominated to be the U.S. Army's African American of the year. He later died on a deployment in Djibouti.

Of the officers that made a career of the military, two made Colonel and the rest went on to make Lieutenant Colonel. Many of the “Lessons Learned” from that deployment would go on to be today's PSYOP doctrine, how the Regiment handles casualties, and how PSYOP is now equipped.

The family of Ismail Zabari receives his Defense of Freedom Medal
The Medal was delivered by Major D. Scotty Lane (in center wearing suit)

Scotty Lene of B Company remembered their Translator, a civilian contractor named Ismail “Izzy” Zabari from New York who died in Fallujah on 10 November 2004 while attached to Tactical PSYOP Detachment 950. He was killed when an armor-piercing rocket propelled grenade went through the ramp of a 2-7 Cavalry Bradley armored personnel carrier and hit him in the chest killing him instantly. In the same blast, Staff Sergeant Bryan Neuman's arm was blown off and detachment members Sergeant Delhotel and Specialist Rankin were injured, but later Returned to duty. Ismail Zabari was awarded the Defense of Freedom Medal.

Scotty also mentioned the medals the various Tactical PSYOP Detachments were awarded. He said:

The 940th had 7 Bronze Star Medals and one Navy Commendation Medal with V Attachment.
I am not sure how many medals the 950th received, but I got a Bronze Star Medal.
The 960th had 5 Bronze Star Medals, 1 with V attachment.

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A 9th PSYOP Battalion Loudspeaker Equipped Humvee

Major Brockington continues:

My element stayed there until July of that year. We were replaced by our sister unit. We had a lot of crossover time and were able to let them know what we’d been doing. All the products we created went into a big digital database and the incoming unit had access to those. They were able to see what messages had been going out, which ones were successful and what radio scripts we developed. That made the process easier for everyone. When they got there, we handed over the rest of the products we had. For example, before we even deployed we created messages that would carry out all the way through Phase IV – stability and reconstruction operations. During our time we also made some new ones and revised some of the old ones. All of that archive we gave to them as well to help with the transition.

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Helicopter Assault

U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 9th PSYOP Battalion move to their next mission objective after a UH-60 helicopter lands during an air assault mission in Yusifiyah, Iraq, on 11 May 2008.

Major Brockington concludes:

We worked with all the different special operations teams: the British, the Navy SEALs and Delta Force. We did some stuff for some of the interdepartmental agencies also. We all had to work together. It was all about products. Everyone’s products, even the British, were put into a database so that when we went into new areas, everyone’s themes were working together. The greatest part about PSYOP is that the themes come from the top down and we just have to follow the guidelines. If everyone follows the guidelines, you can be sure that the folks working to your left and the folks working to your right are all doing the same thing – unless of course you’re in a different region and that region is already in stability operations while everyone else is still in the combat phase.

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IZD-001 is an information radio leaflet. It depicts a map of Iraq at the center and radio towers at left and right. The same message appears on both front and back. The text is:

Information Radio - “756 KHZ AM, 693 KHZ AM , 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW, and 100.4 MHZ FM, 1800-2300 Daily.

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Radio Leaflet Dissemination

A Charlie Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion soldier hands out leaflets to Iraqi civilians providing information about where they can hear information on the radio.

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Leaflet IZD027

IZD027 was dropped a number of times during the no-fly zone operations over Iraq. It depicts school children visiting the Shaheed (Martyr’s Monument) at the front-right of the full-color leaflet. This quarter-billion dollar blue-tile monument commemorates the Iraqi dead in the Iraq-Iran war. At the left of the leaflet, Coalition jets are shown firing rockets at Iraqi tanks hiding near the monument. The text on the front of the leaflet is:

The Coalition will destroy and viable targets.

The Coalition does not wish to destroy your landmarks.

Text on the back of the leaflet is:

Coalition forces do not wish to harm the noble people of Iraq. To insure your safety, avoid areas occupied by military personnel.

All Roads lead to Baghdad, USASOC History Office, Ft. Bragg, NC, says about the 9th PSYOP Battalion in Operation Iraqi Freedom:

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-West’s PSYOP support came from B Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion. B Company faced a daunting task. Organized to support one task force, it found itself with the mission to support two, each with a different focus and located hundreds of miles apart. To add to the situation, the company was understrength. To support Task Force Dagger, B Company became a multi-component unit (Active and Reserve Forces together) with a Coalition element attached…The remainder of the company, primarily the tactical PSYOP teams, deployed in late January and joined Forward Operating Bases 52 and 53 in Kuwait.

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A Tactical PSYOP Team from the 9th PSYOP Battalion under “Saddam’s Arms”

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A Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion

The Arc of Triumph or Hands of Victory are a pair of triumphal arches in central Baghdad, Iraq. Each arch consists of a pair of hands holding crossed swords. The two arches mark the two entrances to Great Celebrations square and the parade ground constructed to commemorate Saddam’s “Victory” in the Iran-Iraq war. The arches, which were based on a concept sketch made by president Saddam Hussein used photographs and plaster casts of Saddam's forearms to model for the design of the hands. The arms rest on concrete plinths which make the arms appear to burst up out of the ground. Each plinth holds 2,500 helmets which, Saddam claimed, belonged to Iranian soldiers killed during the war; they are held in nets which spill them onto the ground beneath.

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Australian Leaflet IZL-006

Australian leaflet IZL-006 depicts Coalition armor, helicopters, and vehicles on the front. The text in Arabic is:

Coalition forces are here. Coalition forces will outnumber you. Leave now. You cannot win.

The back depicts a dead Iraqi at top and a destroyed building at bottom. Text on the back is:

Leave this area now. You do not have the capability to fight Coalition forces. If you resist, you will die.

To support the Southern mission, the company’s Product Development Center deployed to Kuwait. With only one such center in the company, additional support came from an Australian Army Product Development Team. The four-man team’s more advanced printing equipment could produce leaflets faster that the American equipment could.

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Coalition Posters in Mosul

Sergeant First Class Dain Christensen, of Charlie Company, 9th Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Battalion out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, places anti-terrorist posters over graffiti in Mosul, Iraq on August 16, 2004. PSYOP is patrolling this area of Mosul to battle false propaganda put out by Anti-Iraqi forces. 9th POB are in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

All Roads lead to Baghdad continues:

In the southern area of operations, C Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion moved north with the 3rd Infantry Division.

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Leaflet IZG785b

Leaflet IZG785b depicts Saddam Hussein behind bars. The text is:

Saddam Hussein has been captured

The capture of Saddam Hussein is the decisive moment for the new Iraq.

Now he will face the justice that millions were denied.

Iraq need no longer be afraid of Saddam ruling again

We end this section with one of a series of leaflets showing Saddam behind bars. The Coalition was not gloating. The Iraqi people feared the return of Saddam so it was important to show them that the old dictator was not making a return to power.

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PSYOP Humvee drives down Al-Sadoon street in Baghdad warning Iraqis to stay off the street.

In June 2009, Michelle Butzgy wrote an article in Paraglide entitled “Fort Bragg Soldiers work at winning hearts and minds around the world.” She said about the 9th Battalion:

Sergeant Patrick Vegan of the 9th PSYOP Battalion said:

The 9th PSYOP Battalion, currently assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, has the job of being a liaison between ground forces commanders and the general public of any country they deploy to. We advise the commander on certain ethical, cultural things that they need to be aware of in order to properly do their missions. The 75th Ranger Regiment is a strictly kinetic force, so they're going for high value targets and specific people. We assist them by making sure that the general populations in that building or surrounding buildings are awake and know what is going on.

By letting everyone know what is happening by 'filling the information void' before the action will dispel the rumors that enemy propagandists spread and try to turn the population against U.S. Soldiers. We have interpreters that go in and talk to the neighboring people, the people across the street and people in the house. We also influence them by using loudspeaker systems. We also hand out posters out to the population. We put a face on the mission. Lately, we have Iraqi army and police give out products and they're actually doing the talking. We put the Iraqi face on the mission so they're starting to see their country is taking control so they believe their country is doing the right thing, it's not just us pushing it.

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A Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion - March 2007 at Fort Bragg

At the Worldwide Psychological Operations Conference held at Ft. Bragg in 2004, Captain Tony Paz, who served as the commander for Tactical PYOP Detachment 910 in A Co, 9th PSYOP Battalion, gave a talk about what his unit did during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The company provided Tactical PSYOP support for the 82d Airborne Division and the 1st Marine Division. His comments were very long and accompanied by a power point presentation. However, they were so detailed I will quote most of it here. He said in part (edited for brevity):

This briefing will cover some of the tactics, techniques, and procedures that our Tactical PSYOP Teams implemented in western Iraq as well as some lessons learned. The company was spread across the Al Anbar province; from Al Qaim to Iskandiriyah, some 220 miles.

The company and product development detachment were headquartered at Blue Diamond HQ in Ramadi. A Special Operations Media System - B (or SOMS-B) with personnel from the 3rd PSYOP Battalion was also in support of the division, operating their radio station from Habbaniyah. The company mission was clear, provide PSYOP support to the division’s efforts in facilitating the transfer of authority to the new sovereign Iraqi Interim Government.

The company commander came up with a simple 3 phase operation. First, analyze the target audience in our sector. Most of the folks in Al Anbar are poorly educated and illiterate. Most of their information and news comes from word of mouth, radio, and satellite TV.

Second was to begin application of every tool available to our forces. We were to make the most of our progress through face-to-face communication and mass media.

Finally, influencing the target audience to support efforts for a smooth transition and support the new Iraqi government.

What we found out after a few weeks in the country, as the insurgency increased and the events in Fallujah, was that the majority of our PSYOP assets and support were dedicated to supporting combat operations in Fallujah, Ramadi, and throughout the sector. Tactical PSYOP forces are traditionally capable and flexible enough to conduct these missions in support of either combat operations or civil military/stability operations. Our deployment was no different. We were able to conduct all these missions. Face to face communication was and remains the key to target audience analysis, persuasion, and influence. Many teams were able to build rapport with locals that they met on a consistent basis. Likewise, the deception and harassment techniques we executed in conjunction with ground combat units had devastating effects on the enemy.

The first of these techniques we found very useful in dealing with the young, fervent, insurgent who was hell bent on killing American troops. In Fallujah for example, one team coordinated closely with the infantry company they were working with. When a group of enemy insurgents was identified in a particular building or area, the TPT would broadcast in that direction to get the enemy to react. The messages that were broadcast varied and included simple taunting (such as calling them goat herders and any other insult that assaulted their manhood or ability as a fighter) and having the marines laughter recorded and played back to the enemy after one of their ineffective assaults. Many of the enemy would get fired up and attack… right into the pre-positioned sniper kill zones. They also broadcast in the middle of the night to disrupt the enemy’s sleep pattern. Many of these individuals were easily motivated to show themselves to Marine Corps snipers.

Another method for drawing out the insurgent was to make him think there was a ripe target waiting for him to destroy. We found out that their anti-tank teams, equipped with RPGs, would go out of their way to hit armored vehicles. When presented with an Amphibious Assault Vehicle or M1 Tank versus a Humvee, the RPG gunner chose the AAV or tank. Whether he was paid more for attacking one or because it proved his bravery in battle it was the most common enemy technique we witnessed. In one instance two TPTs set up behind a weapons platoon in the middle of the night and began to broadcast tank/track sounds. There were only 2 M1s located in the position to the west (near TPT 1496). Just the glimpse of one tank coupled with the sounds of more behind the buildings, enticed 2 RPG teams to assault. The first 2-man team made it across the street and were destroyed by the TPT and tank section. The second 4-man team was destroyed attempting to cross HWY 10.  All of them were equipped with RPGs.

In the southern part of Fallujah, two teams assisted a Marine battalion in maintaining a cordon around the city. At night, some insurgents attempted to reposition or conduct resupply operations. Coupled with existing air assets, such as AH-1 Cobra helicopter gunships, F18’s and Harriers, the teams broadcast helicopter and jet aircraft noise with the intent of making the perpetrator think twice about running the cordon at night. The teams did this when air coverage was at a minimum. Contact between Marine ground forces and insurgents attempting to move into or out of the city decreased slightly after the teams got into a good rhythm with air cover.

Another loudspeaker broadcast technique involved coordination with incoming close air support through the Marine Forward Air Controller. Prior to a JDAM or GBU bomb being dropped, the target would be told that they could stay where they are and certainly die or surrender and desist in their lost cause. Following the bomb impact, the team would then broadcast to the immediate area that our forces could see where they were hiding and that they would be next. The effects were mixed. In one or two cases, Marine snipers destroyed insurgents as they ran from the targeted building. In other cases, the building was destroyed with the enemy occupants still in it.

The use of our loudspeaker systems also resulted in one individual (in Fallujah in this case) to get his own speaker and broadcast his own message to the terrorists fighting in the city. He basically stated, “You foreigners in our fair city. Get out! Go out into the desert and fight the Americans there. Quit hiding in our homes and behind our women. You are the reason our city is under attack. Get out now! If you are real men who wish to fight like men, then do so out in the desert. Face the Americans there.” We didn’t hear from him again after that.

The Mosques also stepped up their broadcasts to the people in the city. They were either neutral, asking for calm and instructing folks not to interfere with either side in the fighting, or they were quoting scripture from the Koran to indirectly motivate local insurgents. Some went as far as blatantly calling for fighters to rise and conduct jihad against American forces. They saw the effects our speakers had and used their speakers for their own purpose.

After the cease fire in Fallujah began, local leaders asked Marine commanders to do 2 things immediately. First, to pull back the vast number of snipers in and around the city. It wasn’t that there were that many snipers, but it served as a testament to the Marine Corps marksmanship training every Marine receives. Secondly, they asked that our loudspeaker broadcasts cease because of the irritating and harassing effect it was having on the city.

Handbills played an important part in our campaign to drive a wedge between the insurgent/terrorist and the local population. Some highlighted the differences between what the terrorists had done in the province compared to the rebuilding efforts of multinational and Iraqi security forces. Handing these out on the ground and discussing these issues gave us immediate feedback on the local sentiment and perceptions of our efforts in the sector and what the locals felt toward the insurgent activity.

Although the threat to soldiers on the ground remained high, there were many opportunities for our team leaders to take off their helmets during conversations with key communicators and present a more relaxed, non-threatening, stance. This technique was especially useful when the TPT accompanied Civil Affairs teams into a town or village to begin or follow up on a construction project. The TPT discussed with the locals the rebuilding efforts going on elsewhere in the area and the benefits that came to those towns when the people and local security forces took an active part in deterring insurgent activity. And to drive home the point for the locals to see, were the Civil Affairs teams coordinating for a future construction project or conducting the opening ceremony at a health clinic. The TPT would also highlight for the local populace those towns where no aid or help was coming due to their unwillingness to participate in the stability and security of that town. Telling the target audience about the benefits that come with stability and the rule of law in conjunction with the tangible results of Civil Affairs efforts was a sure way to distance many folks from insurgent activity.

The distribution of leaflets by CH-46 helicopter was effective in getting information into remote or denied areas of our sector. This was especially true in Fallujah after the Marines pulled back. The company headquarters and PDD were able to drop leaflets quickly because the helicopters were available for the Marine Division’s immediate use. A decision was made not to fly the CH-46 over or near hot beds of insurgency such as Fallujah. Thus, we had to rely on MC-130 Hercules flights which required a longer wait as the request was processed. Organic air assets proved extremely helpful in getting leaflet dissemination done.

Sometimes a gun battle between American forces and insurgents would occur in a village or town where the firefight would end quickly, and all participants would leave the area rapidly. Our TPTs would go in immediately afterward to broadcast a message detailing what had just happened. This we termed “Information Operation counterfire.” This mitigated propaganda and rumor spreading among the residents. In many cases, the locals were anxious to know what had just happened and telling them our story was important to deterring insurgent influence.

The Marines acquired the Long-Range Acoustic Device, a rather large directional speaker of limited range. This proved helpful in freeing up our TPTs to conduct face to face operations with the locals and allowing a couple checkpoints to have speaker capability to broadcast simple instructions to any large crowd that may appear. During those interactions with the local populace sometimes a large crowd would form and begin to get restless. In one instance the TPT had the local police chief talk directly to the crowd via the speaker to calm them down or provide instructions. And finally, one detachment implemented an effective technique in providing PSYOP support to the Brigade combat team. TPD 920 was faced with having to support several battalions with only 4 teams. They chose to deploy as a detachment, providing their own mutual security and increasing the number of PSYOP trained personnel on the ground conducting face to face communication with several locals at once. This technique also helped focus PSYOP assets on the key areas in sector where the target audience needed influencing and persuading to support the commander’s objectives.

Research and Innovation

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Soldiers from the 9th PSYOP Battalion along with those from the 320th PSYOP Company worked together in the Idaho National Laboratories to test and provide feedback on the future capabilities for the Psychological Operations Regiment. Representative from Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and PSYOP Command also joined the soldiers in testing numerous future capabilities. The Idaho National Laboratories is a Department of Energy site in Idaho Falls, Idaho, that is utilized for different test events for current and future PSYOP capabilities.

Idaho National Laboratories has a National Security Test Range, where full-scale infrastructure systems can be analyzed and tested under real-world conditions. The flexibility of the test range accommodates custom test setups for diverse development and testing campaigns. Their engineers and materials scientists are designing, validating, and manufacturing unique armor prototypes that increase protection while simultaneously reducing weight and production costs. Over the last 25 years, many of the lab’s armor designs have been used around the world to safeguard people, vehicles, and facilities.


The Lineage and Honors Certificate for the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion.

On 5 January 2024 the Commander of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion request for the Special Designation of "AGGRESSOR" was approved. Above we depict the official Lineage and Honors Certificate for the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion. The Lineage and Honors Certificate is a permanent official document prepared by the Force Structure and Unit History Branch of the United States Army Center of Military History.

There are two main justifications for the name "Aggressor," historical and mission based. In the post-World War II and Korean War eras, Leaflet and Loudspeaker Companies and the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group provided dedicated Psychological Warfare support in numerous training exercises to both "American" and "Aggressor" forces. Aggressor Forces were comprised of American units designated to roleplay as Opposition Forces (OPFOR) in refereed mass exercises. Aggressor forces helped expose strengths and vulnerabilities of American forces, giving them a glimpse of what they might expect against a real-world enemy. When supporting Aggressor forces, PSYWAR units played a key role in demoralizing, deceiving, or impeding "American” forces. Assigning the term "Aggressor" to 9th POB is thus historically justified, as it represented a key role for tactical PSYWAR units (like the 9th L&L) in the early 1950s when they were established.

The second reason for the name "Aggressor" is mission-based. Today, 9th POB (Airborne) is the U.S. Army's only aligned tactical PSYOP unit, which supports Regular Army, Joint, and Special Mission Units. These supported units have reputations for being some of the most aggressive warfighters in the world and 9th POB’s Military Information Support Operations (MISO) are focused on influencing adversary decision-making to gain the tactical advantage in support of a military objective.

In Memorial

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SSG Michael Dickinson II

Staff Sergeant Michael Dickinson II volunteered for the U.S. Army less than a month after graduating from Harper Creek High School, Michigan, in 1998. Dickinson served two tours in Afghanistan and one in Kosovo, and then was assigned to Iraq. On 17 June 2006, on patrol in the city of Al Ramadi assigned to 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, and nine days away from completing his second tour of duty in the country, a sniper's bullet took his life. His awards include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Humanitarian Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Expert Marksmanship Qualification Badge.

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On 22 March 2018, Ft. Custer Post 257 of the American Legion changed its name to SSGT Michael A. Dickinson II, Post 257 of the American Legion. Post 257 is the first in Michigan and one of a handful in the nation to be named after an Iraq War veteran.

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At the Post Dedication, current 9th PSYOP Battalion Command Sergeant Major Jerry Henderson attended from Ft. Bragg. Other retired CSMs were John Turkel and Mick Tilly. Turkel’s (at the left) last PSYOP assignment was as the Command Sergeant Major of the 1st PSYOP Battalion. Mick Tilly (at the right) was Staff Sergeant Dickinson’s Detachment Sergeant when he was first assigned to Ft. Bragg. Tilly's last assignment in PSYOP was as the Command Sergeant Major of 7th PSYOP Battalion.

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Sergeant Michael G. Owen

Sergeaant Michael G. Owen, Phoenix, Arizona assigned to the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), was killed 15 October 2004 when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Karabilah, Iraq. Also killed was Specialist Jonathan J. Santos. Their vehicle was attacked while conducting vehicle-mounted loudspeaker operations with the 1st Marine Division; Owen was the leader and Santos was a member of a three-man team. His awards include the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NonCommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and the Senior Parachutist Badge.

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Specialist Jonathan Santos

Specialist Jonathan Santos, Bellingham, Washington assigned to the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), was killed on 15 October 2004 by an improvised explosive device while conducting vehicle mounted loudspeaker operations with the 1st Marine Division in Karabilah, Iraq. his awards include the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Parachutist Badge.

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Corporal George A. Lutz

Corporal George A. Lutz, II, Virginia Beach, Virginia, assigned to the Army's 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), died in Fallujah, Iraq, on 29 December 2005, when his dismounted patrol was attacked by enemy forces using small arms fire. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, The Armed Forces Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Iraq Campaign Medal, The Combat Action Badge,  the Parachutist Badge and the Expert Marksmanship Qualification Badge. His father started a “Run for the Fallen” event which annually starts at Ft. Irwin and concludes at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., spanning 6,000 miles, and over 19 States in 5 Months.

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Sergeant Clinton Ruiz

Sergeant Clinton Ruiz, Murrieta, California, assigned to the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), died of wounds suffered 25 October 2012 when his unit was attacked by small arms fire in Khas Uruzgan, Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, National Service Medal, Afghan campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.

Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss

Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss,  Corryton, Tennessee, assigned to B Company of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), was among the 13 Americans killed at the Abbey Gate in Kabul, Afghanistan on 26 August 2021 by the terrorist group ISIS-K as Americans worked to successfully evacuate about 124,000 people from Afghanistan in just weeks after the fall of the national government to the Taliban. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Badge, and the Army Basic Parachutist Badge.

9th PSYOP Battalion Awards and Decorations

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Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for SOUTHWEST Asia 1990-1991

Company A was awarded:

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Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Streamer IRAQ 2007-2008


Company B was awarded:

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Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer AFGHANISTAN 15 August 2021 - 30 August 2021

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The Army Superior Unit Award for 1995-1996

Company C was awarded:

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Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for IRAQ 2003

Valorous Unit Award, Streamer AFGHANISTAN May 2011 - February 2012

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Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Streamer IRAQ February - October 2007

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Navy Unit Commendation, Streamer embroidered IRAQ October 2005 - February 2006

Navy Unit Commendation for I Marine Expeditionary Force, 28 February 2006 - 9 February 2007

Navy Unit Commendation, Streamer embroidered ANBAR PROVINCE July 2006 - February 2007

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Army Superior Unit Award, Streamer embroidered January - April 2010

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Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait

The Battalion’s Campaign Participation Credit includes:

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Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait

This ends our very short look at the history of the United States Army’s 9th PSYOP Battalion, a unit that has deployed to numerous nations to support legal governments and fight anti-government guerrillas and armed enemies of the United States for over 50 years. Readers who wish to comment or send further information are encouraged to write the author at