With the changing requirement of improvising military tactics, since world war one and world war two the emergence of psychological operations as warfare tactic has set its mark. The successful executions of this tactic have given military forces a great advantage over its counterparts. These advantages include not only political gains but achievement of economic and social agendas in favor of us security.
Psychological operations are operations which are conducted to disseminated selected and precise information to influence the recipients and trigger certain responses targeting their emotions, intellects and objectives. They are used to induce calculated ideas to redirect the prevailing motives and objectives in the favor of national security, future benefits and overcome the hostile activity. These operations also target the reasoning and decision making and behavior of governmental institutions. PSYOP do not only influence the policy making and decisions but also ability to govern, the ability to command and the will to fight. It also brings under its influence the ability of the audience to support and obey or go against the right. PSYOP is also used to initiate resentment among populations and armed forces to degrade the military capacity and redirect it.
PSYOP is used over many different types of warfare, they form a a good chunk of military, economic diplomatic activities at national and international levels. The three main categories for understanding the PSYOP are:
- Strategic PSYOP
They are operations conducted outside the military arena and includes influences through information interpretation and dissipation by governmental agencies.
- Operational PSYOP
These operations span across direct military activities, during war and peace times. They assist in flow of information to enhance the different military units under the joint commander to have increased effectiveness.
- Tactical operations
They are conducted to provide the standing and support to ongoing tactical and covert operations by the armed forces.
PSYOPs can become the tool for creating dissent in the societies and military, while these operations are also capable of creating left or right wings and strengthening of them for national security. The discontent of the favorism that develops through these activities can easily culminate non state actors while their process of rationalizing and perceiving can readily redirect. Achievement of these objectives can be crucial in gathering support from allies and reduce the adversaries will and ability to counter or even initial a conflict. More importantly, PSYOP can create a stalemate in international politics and initial proxy wars for increased national interest. One of the most essential component of these operations is propaganda, these propaganda could be negative, which means people are made to stand up against certain regime by labeling it oppressive and tyrannical, it could be through awareness and induction of importance of any social institution which has compromised performance is raised as a flag to rally people against the government which is already a part of weak governance. These propaganda are delineated and categorized as products. PSYOP is all about creating and dispersing a message a context, these messages are the products they are created after long analysis of the nature of the need for such induction of audience and the nature of the objective that has to be achieved. The products are classified as white, gray and black.
Overt propaganda or also called as white propaganda is when an organization takes responsibility of the news it ends intercepts or even disseminate in the popularity. These propagandas can be true or false. Gray propaganda is material that is distributed without an identified source. It may be true or false. Black propaganda is material produced by one source that purports to have emanated from another source. Such covert productions may be used to damage the credibility of a white (truthful) source by disseminating obvious falsehoods under the label of the previously trusted source. Black propaganda-if effective at all-quickly loses effectiveness unless the populace is particularly susceptible to rumors, manipulation, and distortion of fact. Nevertheless, black propaganda is very effective if executed in a planned manner. Overt and covert both channels can be executed in PSYOP and scrutinization of public opinion and its amendment can be achieved.
POSYP has a historical background which dates way back before the label appeared. It has evidently been observed as the maneuver for many historically influential and renowned commander, while their writings are the proof of their tactical PSYOP, one such personality is Sun Tzu who is quoted as saying that the most effective way of warfare is to subdue your enemy before even fighting.
Propagations and executions.
As it has been made clear that PSYOP mainly consist of narrative building and creating messages, they need a medium through which they will be channeled and spread out in populations. These propagations can be through leafletting on sublime levels while broadcasting, constitutes on the larger scale. Personal integration of PSYOP personals and gradual narrative building also forms a part of propagation. In such situations personals who are military officials create an air of discontent by opening to them the oppression and tyrannical rule they are forced into while they will be protecting and bring them out of the misery.
The confidence that takes over the hearts of popularity is achieved through aids and institutional setups for their facilitation while harnessing the power and consent that could be used over time for or against, securing the national interests. target audiences but also to foreign intelligence systems. Therefore, PSYOP messages must be coordinated with cover and deception plans and activities, along with operational security planners, to ensure that essential secrecy is realized and that PSYOP messages reinforce cover and deception objectives. Skillful content analysts can determine overall intentions by carefully analyzing PSYOP messages and PSYOP planners cark screen their own products to ensure that only the overt intention is broadcast. The methodology of overt propaganda analysis is arcane and difficult, as much derived from art as science. Some practitioners believe the method is more valid when aimed at totalitarian propaganda than PSYOP produced by democracies. Democratic propaganda normally is far less patterned, possibly because the products reflect a less organized process-ad hoc arrangements, swiftly evolving policies, lack of hidden agendas, or, frequently, no agendas at all. Totalitarian-especially communist-propaganda may be easier to analyze because it is highly formalized and patterned.
It is very important to integrate military PSYOP with the local communal broadcast, this will provide credibility and will make the notion as legitimate as possible and official making the audience more responsive to the message. To ensure this process, military psychological operations rely on a planned, systematic process of conveying messages to, and influencing, selected foreign groups. Psychological operations are an important dimension of overall military operations. They may be used by commanders to influence the attitudes and behavior of foreign groups in a manner favorable to the achievement of US national objectives.
The major contribution of these psychological operations has been in the gulf in recent years. How people were rallied and the narratives that spread-out was hardly ever thought of within the locals and regimes. Iraq US war is prime example of this, the event which followed during the war in which Saddam’s statue was toppled in Firdous square is one its prime example. It was later found out that the number of spectators in the pictures and videos were manipulated while the people were also not the locals but brought there by military to show a certain idea being spread out and locally accepted.
Example of Arab spring which culminated in fall of Libya eventually can be observed with similar point of view. How the narrative was constructed and covertly in the name of democracy the fall of Libya was seen as a new sun rise and ray of hope , while their movement and struggle was hijacked primarily by Psychological operators and redirected in favor of foreign national security, this has left Libyans in a tunnel with a dead end and the event became sun rise for someone else.