Is this story about the DOD using "psy-ops" on senators even remarkable?

Story here. Look, any federal agency will try to win over visiting Congresscritters to its agenda whenever it gets the chance. Why is it “psy-ops” when the military does it? Is it just because they use more scientific techniques?

Yeah, Sales/Marketing/Advertising is Psy Ops, if you think about it, IMHO. Hell, half of parenting is Psy Ops, too! :smiley:

I think the biggest problem with this, is the actual use of Psy-ops, or Information Operation troops. Every base or post has a Public Affairs or Protocol office who’s job it is to prepare for VIP visits.

The use of these specially trained troops to pursue a general’s agenda is a spectacularly bad idea, and should not have been allowed out of what ever meeting it was brought up in.

Using assets that are supposed to be used against the enemy is akin to firing on American civilians. (note, this is hyperbole, used to make a point.)

This falls under the “Fraud, Waste and Abuse” program that used to be everywhere in the military. You don’t take a military vehicle through the drive through or to the BX, and you don’t use assets that are to be used against the enemy against members of Congress.

I wondered the same thing. If they mean “we lied,” say “we lied.” Otherwise… well, I’m pretty sure I’ve used “psy-ops” at every job interview I’ve ever had, not to mention every attempt at getting laid.

I was psyops before I switched and became an interrogator. It’s a bit more complicated than marketing, but interestingly enough, a lot of the guys I was with went into that field. I don’t know about other units, but mine was really screwed up. (When one soldier tried to kill another in Moscow, the offender was sheltered and protected and…the witnesses and victim were hounded and suddenly disciplined for ridiculous things. All of them were forced out of the Army.) Pysops is a lot more directed and aimed than just marketing, way more manipulative. The good ones can get inside your head whether you want them there or not. And there seemed to be some element of pride in doing that, whatever the desires of the targeted person. This guy (the general) just talked to the wrong person. I’d only be surprised if this was the first time.


The difference between mere marketing and PR and “psychological operations” is that marketing and PR is used to inform while psyops looks for triggers or pressure points to get it’s target to behave in a particular manner.

To provide a civilian world example as told to me by some people at the “strategic communications” consulting group at a company I used to work at:

Lets say you have a bill that you don’t want passed:

Marketing and PR will basically send out mailings and flyers and hold rallys discussing the negatives, trying to inform the voters to vote against it.

Psyops (or strategic communications) will hire people to show up at pro-bill rallys to act inappropriate and cast pro-bill supporters in a negative light.

They may dig up or invent dirt on pro-bill politicians and supporters to ruin their credibility and otherwise cause distraction.

They might spread misinformation to discourage voters.
They call it psychological warfare for a reason. It’s the difference between posting “Amy is a slut” on your Facebook page and hacking into Amy’s page and telling every one of her friends (as her) that you want to have sex with them.

Can anyone break down exactly what they were doing? Psy-ops sounds dark and sinister. Everything that I have read falls short regarding the details of what happened. Are we talking about like a well orchestrated, strong armed, sales pitch for time shares in Branson or something akin to water boarding, or somewhere in the middle?

Interesting, but have to admit my first thought wasn’t OMG, but rather really?

Al Franken says no way did it matter, if it even happened.

Isn’t this the same writer whose expose got General McChrystal relieved of command? Any chance that he is reaching a little, hoping to get lightning to strike again?

:confused: No, that’s the difference between marketing/PR and advertising.

Yes maybe, depending on how loosely you are using the term “inform.”

It should come as no surprise that “psyops” guys also work in the PA offices when they’re not busy bundling leaflets or planning infiltration missions. :rolleyes:

You don’t think they let just anybody talk to the Congresspeople and Senators, do you? :smack:

And they work in the CIA’s Special Activities Division.

You don’t think psyops is just droping leaflets from helicopters blaring “Flight of the Valkyries” do you?
In WWII Daniel Lerner described psychological warfare in terms of three levels:

I thought that was interesting.

Sure, they do lots of intel and covert-related stuff, so what? To imply the notion that the Army was performing a psyops mission on Congress based on who they talked to is ludicrous.

If your implying the legislators may have been dumb enough to buy it, that’s another question.

Another great conspiracy theory.

I didn’t really get what was so “psy op” about what they did. Gathering a bunch of publicly available information about a visiting VIP hardly seems sinister.

I think the problem is not that it was sinister, but that it was a misuse of resources for a “psy-ops” unit to be spending a majority of its time generating propaganda for friendly VIPs rather than against enemies. According to the article, all the unit did for the first 4 months was prep for VIPs.

I remember months of training for things that never even happened. :rolleyes:

This is what I was trying to say in my post earlier. Sheesh, cough syrup with codeine leaves you in no position to post.

The problem is they were doing the job of the P.A. and Protocol shops. Like I said, this should never have escaped whatever staff meeting it first came up in.

That’s basically what the whistleblower is saying, too.

There is disagreement on this point.

Holmes also says that he is not a psy-ops officer as such.

Wasn’t Rolling Stone also the outfit that got the best wartime general since Robert E. Lee fired last year?

What bunch of douchebags. :rolleyes:

Robert E. Lee was not a particularly good wartime general. He deliberately choose to be on the losing side. That he was particularly good in battle pales in comparison. Personally I disagree with saying that McChrystal was a “best” general. Did he win any particularly difficult battles? Not that were famous. Assuming that you are only talking about American generals, although it is not specifically stated, you are leaving out Pershing, Patton, MacArthur, Schwarzkopf, etc. who all have a much stronger claim to being good generals.

Marketing to Congress isn’t a problem, but lying to Congress is against the law.

The Rolling Stone did the US a great service is exposing McChrystal as an insubordinate boob. It caused Petraeus great personal grief in having to double his work load, but McChrystal was very reckless around reporters and probably the same around his Afghan counterparts and subordinate officers, which doomed his job.

Eisenhower may have been a Republican to the Democratic Roosevelt, but he never bad mouthed Roosevelt to the press. Eisenhower fired a blabbing general once and severely rebuked Patton when Patton spoke out of turn in a manner not nearly as damaging as McChrystal when Patton was a battlefield commander, not a theater commander. McChrystal was way out of line even if it was not in front of a reporter. The fact it was before a reporter shows he had really poor judgment about diplomatic matters which are crucial to theater commander work. It was intolerable lack of self-discipline. While there will always be people who support a loud mouth against insubordination charges from liberals like me, the true historical parallel was when MacArthur was finally fired by Truman, Truman asked Marshall his opinion and Marshall said he would have done it a long time ago. And this too caused public uproar. But the damage MacArthur did by talking out of school was far greater diplomatically than the advantage another Inchon level success would have brought. Inchon was a brilliant success, but that sort of thing can almost always be ground out the really hard way. Keeping and gathering allies for yourself and keeping opponents from gaining allies is of far greater importance in the big scheme of things. Suppose it was MacArthur’s big mouth and reckless that brought the Chinese into the war in a big way? If it was, than Marshall was right, and MacArthur should have been fired long before that time. I don’t know if Marshall had asked to fire MacArthur earlier, I suppose I can look it up. I do know that Truman later claimed that he admired MacArthur and had some loyalty to MacArthur because Mac had been his own commanding general in WWI.

There’s an important point missing here. The armed forces are not supposed to be telling Congress what to do. The armed forces work for Congress not the other way around. The duty of the armed forces is to give members of Congress accurate information. And then Congress sets the policies and the armed forces carry those policies out.