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Chapter 5
Psychological Operations and Military Police Support


5-1. As discussed in Chapter 2, leaders must incorporate PSYOP and military police support into planning for counterinsurgency operations. PSYOP has an integral role in influencing behaviors and attitudes of friendly, neutral, and hostile target audiences. Tactical PSYOP teams often will accompany combat units that have close contact with indigenous personnel. Leaders must know how to use the PSYOP units effectively to enhance success of the mission. Military police assist commanders with area security, criminal investigations, maintaining law and order, and detaining prisoners or other personnel. Military police can also provide support to establish or enhance integrated police and penal systems, consistent with US law. This chapter is an overview of the roles these two support units play in a counterinsurgency environment.


5-2. The purpose of PSYOP is to influence target audience behaviors so that they support US national policy objectives and the combatant commander's intentions at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. PSYOP provide a commander the means to employ a nonlethal capability across the range of military operations (offense, defense, stability, and support) and spectrum of conflict, from peace through conflict to war and during postconflict operations. (See FM 3-13 for a discussion of PSYOP as an IO element.)


5-3. The mission of PSYOP is to influence the behavior of foreign target audiences to support US national objectives. PSYOP accomplishes this by conveying selected information and advising on actions that influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign audiences. Behavioral change is at the root of the PSYOP mission. Although concerned with the mental processes of the target audience, it is the observable modification of target audience behavior that determines the mission success of PSYOP. Leaders and Soldiers must recognize that everything they do or choose not to do has a psychological impact.

5-4. PSYOP is an integral part of all counterinsurgency activities. They meet the specific requirements for each area and operation. Mission planning for PSYOP in counterinsurgency must be consistent with US and multinational objectives--military, economic, and political. PSYOP planners must be thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the HN environment in which PSYOP is employed. This includes the history, culture, economics, politics, regional influence, and other elements that affect the people in the HN.

5-5. Commanders must consider the psychological impact of military and nonmilitary courses of action. PSYOP emphasize assessing the potential threat to the HN and the United States. PSYOP support the achievement of national goals by specific target audiences. In counterinsurgency, specific PSYOP goals exist for the following target groups:

  • Insurgents. To create dissension, disorganization, low morale, subversion, and defection within insurgent forces. No single way exists to influence foreign targets deliberately. Planning stems from the viewpoint of those affected by a conflict. The HN's government needs national programs designed to influence and win insurgents over to its side.
  • Civilian populace. To gain, preserve, and strengthen civilian support for the HN's government and its counterinsurgency programs.
  • Military forces. To strengthen military support, with emphasis on building and maintaining the morale of these forces. The loyalty, discipline, and motivation of the forces are critical factors in combating an insurgency.
  • Neutral elements. To gain the support of uncommitted foreign groups inside and outside the HN. Effective ways of gaining support are to reveal the subversive activities and to bring international pressure to bear on any external hostile power sponsoring the insurgency.
  • External hostile powers. To convince them the insurgency will fail.
  • Local government. To establish and maintain credibility.

5-6. PSYOP can assist counterinsurgency by reaching the following goals:

  • Countering hostile propaganda.
  • Improving popular support for the HN government.
  • Discrediting the insurgent forces to neutral groups and the insurgents themselves.
  • Projecting a favorable image of the HN government and the United States.
  • Supporting defector programs.
  • Providing close and continuous PSYOP support to CMO.
  • Establishing HN command support of positive populace control and protection from insurgent activities.
  • Informing the international community of HN and US intent and goodwill.
  • Passing instructions to the HN populace.
  • Developing HN PSYOP capabilities.


5-7. At the tactical level, PSYOP are the supported commander's most readily available asset to communicate with foreign target audiences. Tactical PSYOP forces provide a powerful capability to the supported commander whether providing information during humanitarian assistance operations or broadcasting surrender instructions while supporting combat operations. PSYOP disseminate products at the tactical level at the most personal level: through face-to-face communication, dissemination of visual products, or from the close proximity of a loudspeaker. Tactical PSYOP Soldiers can often obtain immediate feedback from the target audience they are trying to influence. When attached to a maneuver battalion or company, the tactical PSYOP team disseminates PSYOP products using visual, audio, or audiovisual means. The tactical loudspeakers employed by the teams can achieve immediate and direct contact with a target audience and are used heavily during counterinsurgency operations.

5-8. Tactical PSYOP teams can perform other tasks. In addition to disseminating printed materials, they perform face-to-face communication, gather and assess the effectiveness of friendly PSYOP and propaganda, and acquire PSYOP-relevant information from the local populace.


5-9. TPTs provide PSYOP dissemination in support of operations conducted by conventional and SOF units. The TPT is a three-person team commanded by a staff sergeant. The TPT's primary purpose is to integrate and execute tactical PSYOP into the supported commander's operation. The TPT also advises the commander and staff on the psychological effects of their operations on the target audience in their AO, as well as the effects of propaganda, and answer all PSYOP-related questions. The TPT can conduct face-to-face, communication, loudspeaker operations, and dissemination of approved audio, audiovisual, and printed products. They are instrumental in the gathering of PSYOP-relevant information, conducting town or area assessments, observing impact indicators, and gathering pretesting and posttesting data. TPTs also conduct interviews with the target audience. They take pictures and document cultural behavior for later use in products. TPTs often play a role in establishing rapport with foreign audiences and identifying key communicators that can be used to achieve US national objectives. Tactical PSYOP can increase the supported unit commander's ability to operate on the battlefield by reducing or minimizing civilian interference.

5-10. Tactical PSYOP can potentially reduce the number of casualties suffered by the supported unit by reducing the effectiveness of insurgent forces through surrender appeals and cease resistance messages.

5-11. Tactical PSYOP can assist the supported unit commander in gaining the tactical advantage on the battlefield through the use of deception measures, allowing the commander to have the element of surprise.

5-12. In high intensity conflict, a TPT is normally assigned to each maneuver battalion. In stability operations in general and in counter insurgency in particular, the TPT should support each company or Special Forces ODA. The TPT must interact with the local population continuously to be effective. Most operations that interact with the population regularly are planned and executed at the company/ODA level. Given current force protection doctrine the TPT will not be effective if employed above the company/ODA level in supporting counter insurgency.


5-13. The TPT leader plays a key role as advisor to the supported commander. The leader analyzes proposed actions by the supported unit and how they may affect the target audiences within the AO. PSYOP planners are involved in the targeting process. For example, if the supported commander wants to destroy a bridge that is used by local civilians to transport goods to and from market, the TPT leader should advise him on the possible adverse effect this may have on the civilians. The TPT leader may also advise the commander on specific insurgent forces to target with PSYOP in order to reduce their effectiveness.


5-14. Loudspeaker operations are an extension of face-to-face communications. During operations in which violence is an element, the loudspeaker is the most effective PSYOP medium. Loudspeakers achieve immediate and direct contact with the enemy. When a loudspeaker broadcasts, the enemy becomes a captive audience that cannot escape the message. The loudspeaker can move rapidly to wherever an exploitable PSYOP opportunity is found and can follow the target audience when the target audience moves. The loudspeaker achieves, in effect, face-to-face communication with the adversary. Loudspeakers transmit speeches, music, news, warnings, or sound effects.


5-15. The dissemination of printed products by TPTs and other Soldiers is a very effective way of disseminating PSYOP to target audiences. TPTs usually disseminate printed products by hand, in a face-to-face manner, which lends credibility to the product. Following is a list of some of the types of printed products a TPT might disseminate: posters, novelty items, leaflets, handbills, newspapers, pamphlets, and magazines.


5-16. Face-to-face communication is the foundation of tactical PSYOP and the most common and effective capability that TPTs bring to the supported unit. Increasing rapport, trust, and credibility with the target audience is accomplished through effective face-to-face communication. This method also allows PSYOP Soldiers the best way of engaging with a target audience about complex issues. The give and take of personal communication is the most effective form of PSYOP over the long term because it builds rapport and establishes a personal connection with the target audience.


5-17. PSYOP personnel use pretesting and posttesting to predict and assess the effectiveness of products on a target audience. An important function of TPTs is that of testing.


5-18. This assessment collects detailed information that is useful for the development of PSYOP. TPTs must ensure these town and area assessments are as complete as possible and forward them up the chain of command so they can be incorporated into higher planning and shared with intelligence sections benefiting all levels of command.


5-19. TPTs assess radio and television stations on almost every mission. Once the TPT makes contact with a station manager, it is important that they maintain that relationship. Establishing a good, habitual working relationship can be an effective way to help ensure the ability to exploit the indigenous broadcast capability, such as a radio station.


5-20. TPTs will often find themselves assisting in the control of crowds and defusing a potentially hostile situation. This may occur as a member of a planned quick reaction force or on the spur of the moment.


5-21. Propaganda is any form of communication in support of national objectives designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly (JP 1-02). Propaganda can be directed against an enemy or potential adversary to disrupt or influence any instrument of national power--diplomatic information, military, or economic. This information is normally directed at the United States, multinational partners, and key audiences in the AO. PSYOP personnel advise the commander and staff of the current situation regarding the use or anticipated use of adversary propaganda in the AO. PSYOP personnel advise commanders on recommended counterpropaganda measures to defeat or diminish the impact of propaganda. Executing successful counterpropaganda involves all of the commander's assets to collect the wide variety of information and propaganda existing in an area. Due to the sheer volume of information and potential sources, PSYOP forces do not have the organic ability to collect all available information.


5-22. The following highlights several considerations for countering hard-line insurgencies from a PSYOP perspective:

  • Do not approach the insurgency as only a series of criminal acts. View the situation through the microscope of root causes of insurgencies. The actions may be the beginnings of a highly organized and deeply rooted insurrection.
  • Maintain the respect of the HN government officials, security forces, and civilian population. Reward repentant insurgent sympathizers. Build the infrastructure of cooperative areas and publicize those accomplishments to the less-than-supportive groups. Seeing neighbors being compensated for their help will positively influence others to join in and secure them and their family from insurgent retribution.
  • Emphasize the Soldier's primary role is to both serve as an ambassador of goodwill to the populace and to destroy the insurgents.
  • Include the HN government and security forces in the detailed planning, message content, and operational execution of the counterinsurgency operation.
  • Realize that the practice of judgment, persistency, patience, tact, justice, humanity, and sympathy are necessary on the part of the HN government and supporting multinational forces. These traits are essential to the achievement of moral and psychological superiority over the insurgents. Legitimate forces must fully recognize that they represent the better state of things that are being offered to the local populace.
  • Follow the two guiding principles on the conduct of operations in counterinsurgency:
    • The objective is to achieve decisive gains with the least use of combat force and resultant loss of lives.
    • The relationship with the local populace must be based on security, truth, helpfulness, and kindness.

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