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PSYOP: The Invisible Sword 1996 US Army Training Film; Psychological Operations

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‘Audience: All Service Attendees At Non-Commissioned Officer Academies Or Officer Career Courses. Synopsis: Provides soldiers with psychological operations (PSYOP) terminology and developments and shows how PSYOP is used as both an offensive and defensive tool. PSYOP coordination requirements and the integration process for including PSYOP into military operations is also included.’

US Army Training Film TVT 31-23

Public domain film from the US National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).


Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR), or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations (PSYOP), have been known by many other names or terms, including Psy Ops, Political Warfare, “Hearts and Minds,” and propaganda. The term is used “to denote any action which is practiced mainly by psychological methods with the aim of evoking a planned psychological reaction in other people.” Various techniques are used, and are aimed at influencing a target audience’s value system, belief system, emotions, motives, reasoning, or behavior. It is used to induce confessions or reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the originator’s objectives, and are sometimes combined with black operations or false flag tactics. It is also used to destruct the morale of enemies through tactics that aim to depress troops psychological states. Target audiences can be governments, organizations, groups, and individuals, and is not just limited to soldiers. Civilians of foreign territories can also be targeted by technology and media so as to cause an effect in the government of their country.

In Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul discusses psychological warfare as a common peace policy practice between nations as a form of indirect aggression in place of military aggression. This type of propaganda drains the public opinion of an opposing regime by stripping away its power on public opinion. This form of aggression is hard to defend against because no international court of justice is capable of protecting against psychological aggression since it cannot be legally adjudicated. The only defense is using the same means of psychological warfare. It is the burden of every government to defend its state against propaganda aggression. “Here the propagandists is dealing with a foreign adversary whose morale he seeks to destroy by psychological means so that the opponent begins to doubt the validity of his beliefs and actions.”…

Most modern uses of the term psychological warfare, refers to the following military methods:

– Distributing pamphlets that encourage desertion or supply instructions on how to surrender

– Propaganda radio stations, such as Lord Haw-Haw in World War II on the “Germany calling” station

– Renaming cities and other places when captured, such as the renaming of Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City after Vietnamese victory in the Vietnam War

– Shock and awe military strategy

– False flag events

– Projecting repetitive and annoying sounds and music for long periods at high volume towards groups under siege like during Operation Nifty Package

– Use of loudspeaker systems to communicate with enemy soldiers

– Terrorism

– The threat of chemical weapons

Most of these techniques were developed during World War II or earlier, and have been used to some degree in every conflict since. Daniel Lerner was in the OSS (the predecessor to the American CIA) and in his book, attempts to analyze how effective the various strategies were…

Lerner also divides psychological warfare operations into three categories:

White [Omissions + Emphasis] Truthful and not strongly biased, where the source of information is acknowledged.

Grey [Omissions + Emphasis + Racial/Ethnic/Religious Bias] Largely truthful, containing no information that can be proven wrong; the source is not identified.

Black [Commissions of falsification] Inherently deceitful, information given in the product is attributed to a source that was not responsible for its creation.

Lerner points out that grey and black operations ultimately have a heavy cost, in that the target population sooner or later recognizes them as propaganda and discredits the source…



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