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Here’s a posting that brings bright new perspective to the recent accusation that General Caldwell called for Psy-Ops to target Congressmen visiting Afghanistan. The REAL issues may turn around what the contemporary roles of Psy-Ops and Public Affairs should be. Is it realistic to limit Public Affairs to informing, and not influencing, which has long been the dual function of public relations in the civilian world? And should Public Affairs role be limited to domestic audiences, and Psy-Ops to foreign ones? The answer to both, in the real world, appears to be “NO.”

Here’s the article:

The Rolling Stone is at it again, and raising the question about whether Psy-Ops units charged with propaganda targeted at the enemy should also be “targeting” U.S. Congress people and other diplomats and leaders to influence their thinking about increasing funding or troop levels for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Normally Public Affairs units would prepare background briefing papers and message points and presentations to be used by commanders in their interface with such decision makers.

As an old Army public affairs officer, and a career PR person, I understand the role of Public Affairs in helping their commanders communicate with non-military leadership decision-makers, but I never encountered Psychological Operations staffs normally charged with propaganda to influence the enemy being drafted to use propaganda techniques to win over internal VIPS.

I don’t know enough to judge, but one wonders if some generals might have college paranoid fantasies they developed after reading the book 1984 bouncing around up in their festering base-camp minds and leading them to lose grasp of the distinctions between fact-based, rhetorical arguments and outright psychological manipulation.

Here’s the article prompting the current blaze of media angst:

February 2023

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