Psychological Operations or PSYOP are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of organizations, groups, and individuals. Used in all aspects of war, it is a weapon whose effectiveness is limited only by the ingenuity of the commander using it.
A proven method in combat and peacetime, PSYOP is one of the oldest weapons in the arsenal of man. It is an important force protector/combat multiplier and a non-lethal weapons system.
Psychological Operations (PSYOP) or Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR) is simply learning everything about your target enemy, their beliefs, likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Once you know what motivates your target, you are ready to begin psychological operations.
Psychological operations may be defined broadly as the planned use of communications to influence human attitudes and behavior … to create in target groups behavior, emotions, and attitudes that support the attainment of national objectives. The form of communication can be as simple as spreading information covertly by word of mouth or through any means of multimedia.
A psychological warfare campaign is a war of the mind. Your primary weapons are sight and sound. PSYOP can be disseminated by face-to-face communication, audio visual means (television), audio media (radio or loudspeaker), visual media (leaflets, newspapers, books, magazines and/or posters). The weapon is not how its sent, but the message it carries and how that message affects the recipient.
Do you remember the Cold War – and talk of the term ‘subversion’ – relating to brainwashing by foreign agents? Soviet and Communist ‘propaganda perhaps? The term subversion can also be allied with the term persuasion too – the weapon of choice in the advertising industry. The line between subversion and persuasion can be very thin – if not completely invisible. Who’s to say where that line is drawn even? Does it depend on the intent of the person conveying or writing the relevant message? The Chinese philosopher Sun-Tzu said the following: