Thursday, December 23, 2010

Old School PSYOPS

This is a great find from the Internet Archives: a U.S. Army training film from 1968 titled Psychological Operations in Support of Internal Defense and Development Assistance Programs.

In Part 1, the U.S. Ambassador to Hostland has a frank exchange of views with a couple shifty-looking local officials who request the USG's assistance with putting down an insurgency. (Check out the note-taking, coffee-serving, embassy secretary.)

The call goes out to Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, psychological operations staff adviser. LTC Hamilton consults with the embassy's USIS and USAID representatives, and reads into the local situation. He learns that "as with most countries that find themselves in the midst of a Communist inspired insurgency, Hostland has a population with a doubtful sense of national unity."

In Part II, LTC Hamilton shows the locals how it's done. He orders up a printing team, a radio team, and lots of loudspeakers, and goes to work getting the Hostland peasant mind right.

He firms up that weak sense of national unity by sending folk dancers out to tour the provinces (it's just that simple). Next, he does localized development programs, especially small ones since "one finished well is worth far more than an unfinished dam.” His highest priorities are internal security and medical attention for civilians, because the Hostlandian civilian must see that his welfare and safety are the major interest of his government before he will "perceive things from the desired viewpoint.”

After just half an hour the situation has turned around, and the peasants are favoring the military over the insurgents. Really, it makes me wonder why we haven't made more progress in Afghanistan by now.


The Snake's Mommy said...

Now it all makes sense... the charismatic dude at the Barn Dance who admired my kinesthetic sense and insisted I join his Folk Dance Classes, the cliqueiness and hostility broadcast by the senior folk dancers, their insistence on focusing on dances from specific regions when it was supposed to be generically international. Typical Agency snobbery. Good thing I went back to barn and contra dances. Yeah, no wonder our CDOs (Covert Dancing Ops) get so little news coverage. Sad really, given how long it takes to master that toe-heel-skip maneuver.

TSB said...

I guess the tactic of perception-management-by-way-of-folk-dance might not be so odd as I had assumed.

Also, I would bet money that training film was made in the environs of Fort Bragg, NC, and used local people and places to portray Hostland. It looks like the film crew rounded up every troop or civilian who had any kind of ethnic look and used them for the major roles. Then, for the rest of the cast, they had the women put babushka scarves over their beehive hairdos and gave the farmers foreign-looking headgear to wear with their bib overalls. So those Hostland folk dancers might just still be around.