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Psychological Operations

"To capture the enemy’s entire army is better than to destroy it; to take intact a regiment, a company, or a squad is better than to destroy them. For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy. Next best is to disrupt his alliances by diplomacy. The next best is to attack his army. And the worst policy is to attack cities." – Sun Tzu


Psychological Operations or PSYOP are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of organizations, groups, and individuals. Used in all aspects of war, it is a weapon whose effectiveness is limited only by the ingenuity of the commander using it.

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VIET-NAM PSY OPS: THE WANDERING SOUL – Psychological Assault on an Enemy Population

A fascinating account on how a carefully constructed recording was used and broadcast drom the air to undermine the Viet-Cong’s sense of well being and psychological stability. Click on image at left .

Note the loudspeaker array mounted to the side of the helicopter, specially fabricated for the purpose of this audio Psy-Op. Read more here.

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A proven method in combat and peacetime, PSYOP is one of the oldest weapons in the arsenal of man. It is an important force protector/combat multiplier and a non-lethal weapons system.

Psychological Operations (PSYOP) or Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR) is simply learning everything about your target enemy, their beliefs, likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Once you know what motivates your target, you are ready to begin psychological operations.

Psychological operations may be defined broadly as the planned use of communications to influence human attitudes and behavior … to create in target groups behavior, emotions, and attitudes that support the attainment of national objectives. The form of communication can be as simple as spreading information covertly by word of mouth or through any means of multimedia.

A psychological warfare campaign is a war of the mind. Your primary weapons are sight and sound. PSYOP can be disseminated by face-to-face communication, audio visual means (television), audio media (radio or loudspeaker), visual media (leaflets, newspapers, books, magazines and/or posters). The weapon is not how its sent, but the message it carries and how that message affects the recipient.


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VIDEO: An Explanation of the Classical Use of Subversion by Intelligence Agencies and States

Yuri Bezmenov (alias Tomas Schuman), a Soviet KGB defector, explains in detail his scheme for the KGB process of subversion and takeover of target societies at a lecture in Los Angeles, 1983. He explains the importance of winning the hearts and minds of one’s opponent in order to achieve a miltary objective without engaging in actual combat. Though this was some time ago – the topic is especially relevant now in an age where all experiences are mediated by electronic media.

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Do you remember the Cold War – and talk of the term ‘subversion’ – relating to brainwashing by foreign agents? Soviet and Communist ‘propaganda perhaps? The term subversion can also be allied with the term persuasion too – the weapon of choice in the advertising industry. The line between subversion and persuasion can be very thin – if not completely invisible. Who’s to say where that line is drawn even? Does it depend on the intent of the person conveying or writing the relevant message? The Chinese philosopher Sun-Tzu said the following:



Psychological Operations & Warfare.

The ‘Wandering Soul’ Psyop Tape of Vietnam



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