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FM 34-36: Special Operations Forces Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Operations



This chapter discusses the organization and mission of to PSYOP and the support PSYOP give the IEW system. PSYOP units. It addresses the IEW support MI provides


PSYOP missions are planned products and psychological actions in peace or war that are directed toward foreign enemy, friendly, and neutral audiences. The purpose is to influence attitudes and behaviors to achieve national political and military objectives.

PSYOP support varied military, political, and diplomatic actions across the operational continuum. These missions can be strategic, operational, or tactical missions.

  • Strategic PSYOP missions are conducted at the national or theater level to advance broad, long-term psychological objectives in support of national psychological objectives.
  • Operational PSYOP missions are conducted to achieve mid-term objectives in support of theater campaigns and major operations.
  • Tactical PSYOP missions are conducted to achieve immediate or short-term objectives in support of tactical military operations.

Any of the above categories of PSYOP may support more than one level of the operational continuum. That is why distinctions between the categories of PSYOP are often blurred.

SOF, whether operating unilaterally or in cooperation with conventional forces across the entire operational continuum, must always consider nonmilitary factors and objectives. PSYOP missions--

  • Play a critical and integral role in achieving or addressing these nonmilitary objectives.
  • Aid in accomplishing tactical, operational, and strategic military objectives.
  • May be the only military force employed.
  • Must be integrated with all operations to prevent contradictory or conflicting messages. See FM 33-1 for details on PSYOP.


Army PSYOP missions are conducted by specifically organized and trained units. The majority of PSYOP forces are in the US Army Reserve. Figure 7-1 shows a type of RC PSYOP group (POG).

The 4th PSYOP Group (Airborne) (POG(A)) is the only Army AC POG. It--

  • Is responsible for planning and conducting Army PSYOP activities authorized and implemented worldwide.
  • Supports contingencies and open hostilities short of declared war; it also develops, coordinates, and controls peacetime PSYOP activities.
  • Is tasked to prepare and undertake the detailed planning and execution of strategic and operational missions for all U&S CINCs when war is declared.

The 4th POG(A) provisional task organization, as shown in Figure 7-2, consists of a group HHC, three regionally oriented battalions, one tactical support battalion, and one PSYOP dissemination battalion.

The 4th POG(A) is normally assigned to the AC of the unified command, but may be assigned as the joint PSYOP task force on the unified command. It may be designated as the senior PSYOP headquarters over US RC POGs or allied elements at EAC.


PSYOP units use and produce all-source intelligence. PSYOP units need timely intelligence to achieve its objectives. This means the PSYOP SIO must maintain continuous coordination with the supporting S2, G2, or J2.


The S2 staff elements of the PSYOP battalion or POG are small. Each PSYOP unit's actual production and collection assets are located elsewhere in the unit. In PSYOP battalions, companies, and detachments that operate independently or in support of other forces, the SIO is usually the S2 or the chief of that unit's PDC. In these situations, the PDC S2 establishes the same type relations with the supporting IEW S2 as those normally established between PSYOP and the supported or supporting S2s.


  • Accesses the IEW system to answer the commander's PIR and IR.
  • Ensures PSYOP intelligence elements can access the intelligence assets and products they need to support the commander.
  • As an intelligence producer, ensures that the specialized products his intelligence elements produce go into the IEW system to be included in intelligence data bases. PSYOP and MI assets produce products of direct value to each other.
  • Directs the intelligence effort to meet the commander's needs.
  • Tasks organic and attached intelligence assets and forwards RIIs to higher headquarters.
  • Integrates PSYOP intelligence efforts with other units and agencies.
  • Assesses threat PSYOP capabilities, potential COAs, and potential effects.
  • Produces and disseminates PSYOP intelligence products.
  • Identifies, confirms, and coordinates priorities for unit geographic area requirements for MC&G products to support OPLANs and CONPLANs.
  • Monitors and validates map requisitions.


PSYOP units have many specialized organic intelligence production and collection capabilities. For example, loudspeaker teams have linguists who can interview HUMINT sources. These assets are located in the PDC, audiovisual (AV) platoons, and foreign broadcast monitoring elements of the PSYOP unit.

Product Development Center

Each battalion PDC contains threat analysis and counter-propaganda teams. The threat team--

  • Examines the situation in its area of responsibility and identifies trends, developments, and events that have PSYOP relevance.
  • Conducts research on target countries, regions, groups, or specific issues to develop detailed PSYOP data bases and target analyses. This research is normally in depth; it examines historical, political, diplomatic, social, and economic events and trends for PSYOP significance.

Threat and Counter-Propaganda Teams

The counter-propaganda team conducts analysis of threat and neutral products in order to assess their impact and aid in developing counter-products.

The threat and counter-propaganda teams use attached and organic interrogators to collect information on political, social, and other PSYOP requirements. This information is often key to campaign assessment and product development. These teams also coordinate PSYOP collection requirements with MI interrogation elements collocated at EPW collection points and holding facilities throughout the theater of operations.

AV Platoon and Radio Monitoring Elements

Other collection assets consist of the AV platoons and radio monitoring elements. The AV platoons are primarily tactical product development and dissemination elements. However, due to their proximity to the local populace and threat forces, they have a secondary mission to collect information on the local situation when disseminating activities. Information gathered by these teams is generally local and tactical in nature. It is used and transmitted in the same way information gathered by the interrogators or ground surveillance radar (GSR) teams is used and transmitted.

Some PSYOP units have radio monitoring elements. These elements--

  • Overtly monitor threat and neutral commercial radio broadcasts.
  • Are not capable of the direction finding traffic analysis, and cryptologic operations that IEW SIGINT collection and jamming assets are; however, they can be significant to the IEW collection effort.
  • Record selected broadcasts and forward them to a PDC for translation, transcription, and content analysis. These recordings can reveal a lot about the intended target audience of broadcasts as well as the PSYOP intentions of the broadcaster.

Threat, Counter-Propaganda Analysis, and AV Teams

Elements of these teams conduct surveys, interviews, and panels to collect PSYOP intelligence. These activities are different from tactical intelligence collection because they use techniques developed for market analysis and sociological research as well as HUMINT techniques. The goal is to obtain information on attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and social organizations.

Since the PSYOP producer must anticipate that its products will be subjected to analysis, intelligence on the opposing PSYOP threat will also be needed. This intelligence will come from a combination of OB, MDCI analysis, and PSYOP data bases.

PSYOP can also provide intelligence of use to MDCI analysis and deception planning elements. This intelligence would usually concern sociological prejudices or predilections of a targeted force that could be manipulated or capitalized upon by the deception effort.


PSYOP units collect most of the unclassified and some of the classified information they need themselves. PSYOP units get the rest of the intelligence and information they need through IEW channels.

The type of intelligence needed by PSYOP units depends on the echelon, area of responsibility, and mission of the supported command.


The SOC J2 primarily is concerned with in-theater IEW policy formulation, planning, and coordination. The SOC J2--

  • Ensures that sufficient intelligence support is available for each mission tasked by the SOC.
  • Relies on the theater service IEW organizations to collect, produce, and disseminate intelligence to meet PSYOP requirements.
  • Tasks subordinate SOF units to collect and report information in support of PSYOP intelligence requirements.

The SOC J6 coordinates to obtain secure SCI voice and data communications between the headquarters of the SOC, its component commands, and the TASOSC.

The TASOSC DOI provides all-source IEW support to all in-theater ARSOF. Complying with guidance from the SOC J2, the DOI validates, consolidates, and prioritizes standing and routine IR and RIIs. He then forwards them to the TASOSC ISE collocated at the theater army MI brigade's EACIC.

Under the staff supervision of the TASOSC DOI, the ISE--

  • Responds to RIIs by integrating them into the EACIC requirements list.
  • Monitors RII status until the appropriate collection assets respond.
  • Maintains an intelligence data base to support ARSOF requirements.

OPORDs, OPLANs, campaign plans, and supporting PSYOP and intelligence annexes contain specific PSYOP intelligence requirements. Most of these requirements are validated and incorporated into PSYOP and IEW collection plans. (See FM 34-1, Appendix H; and FM 34-2, Appendix A.)

In order to meet some of these requirements, SIOs may need to reinforce or refocus available IEW assets. Often, the PSYOP or IEW SIO needs to enter the IEW system to access information or intelligence from other CS units; intelligence agencies; or sources at lower, adjacent, and higher echelons or national level. Figure 7-3 shows examples of sources that support PSYOP.

These units and agencies have extensive contact with, or knowledge of, the target audience. They also may have a complete data base onhand and a collection framework in place with intelligence requirements already developed and tasked. Proper coordination for use or access to these IEW assets saves time and assets, as well as potentially producing significant intelligence to support PSYOP.


There are primarily five intelligence disciplines which significantly support PSYOP.

HUMINT Support

The objective of PSYOP is to influence humans. The attitudes and beliefs of the target audience are, therefore, important. The most effective source for this information is HUMINT.

HUMINT is collected using a variety of methods. HUMINT collectors--

  • Interrogate EPWs and debrief or interview civilian internees, detainees, and refugees.
  • Debrief returned captured US personnel, escapees, and evaders.
  • Exploit CED and CEM.
  • Perform controlled collection.
  • Conduct LRSO, patrols, and OPs.
  • Conduct liaison with local military or paramilitary forces and the local populace; and obtain reports from friendly troops.

PSYOP units use HUMINT developed from controlled collection, CI operations, interrogations, debriefings, and from other defensive or offensive HUMINT operations. To support PSYOP, HUMINT must be timely and accurate.

IEW intelligence and information gathered from EPWs, defectors, line crossers, and captured diaries often provide PSYOP intelligence elements with significant insights into the psychological situation in a specific area or within a target group. With consent and proper authority, these defectors, crews, and line crossers may also be used to develop PSYOP products. These same sources are also valuable when testing or pre-testing PSYOP products.

Interrogation support for PSYOP units is available from the supported command's MI brigade or tactical exploitation battalion. Otherwise, interrogators are collocated at EPW collection points and holding facilities at echelons, divisions, and above. Interrogation information then is incorporated into the all-source product. When PSYOP units need information for mission planning that only interrogators might provide, they must coordinate their requirements with the command that has interrogators.

SIGINT Support

SIGINT is developed from the collection, evaluation, analysis, integration, and interpretation of information derived from intercepted electromagnetic emissions. SIGINT subdivisions include COMINT, ELINT, and FISINT. By integrating SIGINT with intelligence from other resources, accurate targeting and threat data can be obtained.

SIGINT assets support PSYOP by providing SIGINT and EW products extracted from locating, monitoring, and transcribing threat communications and by intercepting noncommunications emitters. EW assets support PSYOP by locating and jamming threat PSYOP transmitters. These assets provide information and intelligence that help reveal enemy activities or plans so that PSYOP can develop effective countermeasures.

SIGINT support for planning PSYOP missions is available from the supported command's MI brigade. The type of support needed depends on the operational factors in the operational area.

IMINT Support

IMINT comes from radar, photographic, infrared, and electro-optic imagery.

PSYOP analysts use IMINT in varied ways. IMINT helps locate and determine the capabilities and operational status of transmitters or printing plants. PSYOP analysts also use IMINT to locate mobile target groups.

By analyzing imagery of the spatial location and architecture of key structures, PSYOP analysts can determine the ethnic or religious make-up of a town or village. Other uses for IMINT products include identifying and evaluating operational capabilities of transportation networks, factories, and other public structures or systems.

PSYOP analysts use IMINT to confirm or deny acts of rioting, acts of sabotage, demonstrations, and work slow-downs that are either the original PSYOP objective or an impact indicator of a PSYOP campaign or specific product.

IMINT tasking is done through either FRAGO or intelligence annexes to the OPORD, SOP, or RII. Formats to request support from national systems are in the J-TENS Manual, Sections 3,4, and 5; and FM 34-2, Appendix C. IMINT systems controlled by a higher headquarters, other services, or national agencies respond to approved RIIs through appropriate channels.

The channels used depend on the requesting unit and the requirements, the agency receiving the request, and command procedures. Corps and division assets can provide IMINT when the target area falls within the range of their organic systems. Other services and national assets also can be tasked to provide dedicated IMINT support to SOF operations.


TECHINT consists of S&TI and battlefield TECHINT. TECHINT provides PSYOP personnel with intelligence about foreign technological developments and the performance and operational capabilities of foreign materiel. Battlefield TECHINT provides the tactical commander with countermeasures to neutralize and defeat enemy systems and materiel.

PSYOP units can use TECHINT to focus their efforts on critical, highly technical threat units and installations.

TECHINT products are produced by the CMEC or a battlefield TECHINT team at corps. TECHINT is incorporated into the all-source intelligence product. Specific requests for TECHINT support are coordinated through the SOC J2 to corps headquarters or above.

CI Support

CI detects, evaluates, counteracts, or prevents foreign intelligence collection, subversion, sabotage, and terrorism. It determines security vulnerabilities and recommends countermeasures. CI operations support OPSEC, deception, and force protection.

In CONUS, the security division, USASOC, conducts liaison with US and foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies as appropriate. This liaison is an important element of CI support to PSYOP. CI supports OPSEC by providing MDCI information and products, such as the MDCI appendix to PSYOP OPLANs and OPORDs. Additional CI support is obtained from the CONUS CI group as required. Upon deployment, CI support is obtained from the appropriate theater MI brigade. For additional information on CI and HUMINT, see FM 34-60 and FM 34-60A.


Many PSYOP missions are affected by weather. This makes weather a critical aspect of mission planning.


PSYOP media may be degraded by severe weather. Severe weather may enhance PSYOP campaigns if it affects threat morale. PSYOP units therefore need advanced notice of approaching weather systems. Weather support required includes--

  • Forecasts of general weather conditions and specific meteorological data elements as described in the 24-hour forecast.
  • Solar geophysical information and climatic studies and analysis.
  • Weather advisories, warnings, and specialized weather briefings.

MC&G and Other Intelligence Products

PSYOP units with a proper DMA map account may obtain MC&G products direct from the DMA Combat Support Center, the appropriate installation map depot, or the supporting OCONUS Army map depot, USASOC assists units to obtain special MC&G products and services.


PSYOP units also produce specialized intelligence products to support a variety of other combat and IEW missions and operations. PSYOP units develop these intelligence products by monitoring and assessing situations and evaluating their impact on specified target groups and national objectives. Finally, this information is combined with additional research on specific target groups.

The primary focus of this production effort is on socio-economic, political, and diplomatic factors. It also focuses on the military aspects of a region, situation, or group. These products include, but are not limited to--

  • Strategic level documents such as basic PSYOP studies (BPS).
  • Operational or tactical level target analyses on specific target groups.
  • PSYOP reports and estimates.

While these products are used primarily by PSYOP units to conduct their operations, they also contain information and intelligence that is useful to the ARSOF IEW community and other SOF. These products contain diverse information on social customs, enemy morale, and important locations.

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