4th Military Information Support Operations Group (Airborne)
4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne)
The 4th Military Information Support Operations Group (Airborne) offers joint force commanders unmatched abilities to influence target audiences as well as support to US diplomacy. Military information support operations are a vital part of the broad range of US political, military, economic, and ideological activities used by the US government to secure national objectives. Military information support operations cover the dissemination of information to foreign audiences in support of US policy and national objectives.
Used during peacetime, contingencies, and declared war, military information support operations activities are not forms of force, but are force multipliers that use nonviolent means in often violent environments. Persuading rather than compelling physically, they rely on logic, fear, desire or other mental factors to promote specific emotions, attitudes or behaviors. The ultimate objective of US military information support operations is to convince enemy, neutral, and friendly nations and forces to take action favorable to the United States and its allies.
Military information support operations support national security objectives at the tactical, operational and strategic levels of operations. Both tactical and theater-level military information support operations may be used to enhance peacetime military activities of conventional and special operations forces operating in foreign countries. Cultural awareness packages attune U.S. forces before departing overseas. In theater, media programs publicize the positive aspects of combined military exercises and deployments. In addition to supporting commanders, military information support operations units provide interagency support to other US government agencies. In operations ranging from humanitarian assistance to drug interdiction, military information support operations enhance the impact of those agencies' actions. Their activities can be used to spread information about ongoing programs and to gain support from the local populace.
The 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) was first constituted on 7 November 1967 in the Regular Army as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Psychological Operations Group and activated on 1 December 1967 in Vietnam. The Group had a distinguished record during the Vietnam conflict earning the Meritorious Unit Commendation for service from 1967-1968. During service in Vietnam, the unit provided tactical support for allied operations and took part in strategic campaigns against North Vietnam. After departing Vietnam, the unit was inactivated on 2 October 1971 at Fort Lewis, Washington. It had participated in 11 campaigns in the conflict: Counteroffensive Phase III, Tet Counteroffensive, Counteroffensive Phase IV, Counteroffensive Phase V, Counteroffensive Phase VI, Tet 69/Counteroffensive, Summer-Fall 1969, Winter-Spring 1970, Sanctuary Counteroffensive, Counteroffensive Phase VII, and Consolidation I.
The Group was reactivated on 13 September 1972 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The Group provided psychological operations support in both Grenada for Operation Urgent Fury and Panama for Operation Just Cause. During Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, 4th Psychological Operations Group provided psychological operations support to coalition forces as they destroyed Iraqi forces in southern Iraq and Kuwait. The Group's soldiers were responsible for convincing thousands of Iraqi troops to surrender, resulting in the Group being awarded its second Meritorious Unit Commendation for these accomplishments.
The Group subsequently provided psychological operations support to missions ranging from humanitarian assistance such as Operation Provide Promise in Bosnia-Herzegovina, counter drug in South America and Asia, de-mining operations around the globe, and peace keeping in Bosnia and Kosovo. By 2000, the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne)'s provisional task organization consisted of a group Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3 regionally oriented battalions, one tactical support battalion, and one psychological operations dissemination battalion. A provisional battalion nominally aligned with the Group provided support for the US Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility. During contingency operations, psychological operations battalions or their subordinate elements were task-organized to provide the full range of psychological operations support required.
After the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the 4th Psychological Operations Group was heavily engaged in the Global War on Terror (subsequently referred to as Overseas Contingency Operations) in Afghanistan, Iraq, Horn of Africa, the Philippines and other areas throughout the globe.
In October 2004, the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) was activated and assigned to the Group. It was tasked with a regional focus in the PACOM area of responsibility. Previously, regional support for the PACOM area of responsibility had been filled by the provisional PACOM Psychological Operations Battalion, most members of which had come from members of B Company, 8th Psychological Operations Battalion. This unit was inactivated with the activation of the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion.
On 16 October 2006, Psychological Operations became an official branch within the US Army and the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) became a major subordinate unit in the US Army Special Operations Command. The 1,300-member unit constituted 26 percent of all US Army psychological operations units. The remaining 74 percent were filled by reservists in the 2nd and 7th Psychological Operations Groups. As of May 2006, the unit was slated to eventually grow to approximately 2,300 troops by the year 2011.
By the end of 2006, the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), the only psychological operations group in the active army force structure, was comprised of a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4 Regional Support Battalions, a Psychological Operations Dissemination Battalion, and an Operational/Tactical Battalion. With about 1,145 soldiers and 57 civilian analysts in the entire Group, the battalions were small with generally fewer than 200 soldiers, compared with a standard infantry battalion of about 750 soldiers. As of 2006, its mission had been stated to be to deploy anywhere in the world on short notice, and plan, develop, and conduct civil affairs and psychological operations in support of unified commanders, coalition forces, or other government agencies as directed by the National Command Authority.
The Group included 4 regional psychological operations battalions (also known as strategic psychological operations battalions). Regional psychological operations was conducted at the strategic and operational levels and operates under the staff proponency of the Theater/Joint Task Force (JTF) J3. The regional psychological operations battalion commander developed and executed the CINC-JTF Commander's psychological operations campaign plan, and when directed by the Commander, 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), provided the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force Commander.
The 4 Regional Support Battalions were the the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion with regional responsibility for the southern hemisphere covered by US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion supporting US Pacific Command (PACOM), the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion supporting US European Command (EUCOM) and Africa (not including the Horn of Africa), and the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion supporting US Central Command (CENTCOM). Each regional battalion consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, a Psychological Operations Development Company, which was further broken down into a Plans Programs Detachment, a Target Audience Analysis Detachment and a Test Evaluation Detachment, and a Strategic Studies Detachment, which included civilians with language and cultural expertise in the region supported by the unit. The civilians provided long-term regional analysis and may deploy on missions.
By 2010, the 4th Psychological Operations Group's mission was to deploy anywhere in the world on short notice and plan, develop and conduct psychological operations in support of geographic command commanders, coalition forces or other government agencies, as directed by the President and the Secretary of Defense. The 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) was normally assigned to the US Army component of the unified command, but could be assigned as the joint psychological operations task force on the unified command. It could be designated as the senior psychological operations headquarters over US Army reserve component psychological operations groups or allied elements at echelon above corps. The 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) personnel (soldiers and civilian) included regional experts and linguists who understand the political, cultural ethnic, and religious subtleties of the target audience. They also included functional experts in technical fields such as broadcast journalism radio operations, print, illustration, interrogation layout operations, and long-range tactical communications.
The 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) was capable of providing psychological operations support ranging from propaganda and product development, to media production, to strategic, operations, and tactical information dissemination. The 4th Psychological Operations Group organic media assets included light-to-heavy print production; audio production; amplitude modulated (AM), frequency modulated (FM), and shortwave radio broadcasting stations; audiovisual production and dissemination; and tactical loudspeaker dissemination.
In 2010, the US Army announced its intention to rename the entire Psychological Operations Branch as the Military Information Support Operations (MISO) Branch. It was unclear, when and if this shift formally authorized and to what extent and changes had been made. As of 2011, both the Army's Center of Military History and the Department of Defense's Institute of Heraldry were still referring to psychological operations rather than MISO. Units aligned under Army Special Operations Command were using the MISO term, but reserve component elements were still using the term psychological operations.
In August 2011, the US Army Special Operations Command provisionally activated the Military Information Support Operations Command (Airborne) Provisional (MISOC[A][P]) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At that time, the 8th Military Information Support Operations Group (Airborne) (Provisional) was also activated and 4 of the 6 battalions assigned to the 4th Military Information Support Operations Group (Airborne) were reassigned. 3rd Military Intelligence Support Operations Battalion was assigned directly to MISOC(A)(P), while 1st, 5th, and 9th Military Information Support Operations Battalions were assigned to the 8th Military Information Support Operations Group (Airborne) (Provisional).
On 18 October 2011, the 7th Military Information Support Operations Battalion (Airborne) was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and was assigned to the 4th Military Information Support Operations Group (Airborne). This new battalion was a regional battalion focused toward the US Africa Command area of responsibility.
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