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The Branch Formerly Known As PSYOP

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psyop-logo.jpgThe Branch Formerly Known As PSYOP

Names Influence

By Edward Lopacienski, MAJ, PO

This article does not refute the directive to change the name of ARSOF's Psychological

Operations force or its refined task, but strives to support the change to one that

is suitable of the branch's purpose before finalization is determined.  With

the encouragement of COL Dave Maxwell and other senior leader mentors, I'm sharing

these thoughts with the greater community for consideration in establishing a more

appropriate brand and name for the US Military's foremost experts in influence warfare.

It could very well be perceived that we are being deceptive with this name change. 

Names, more specifically brand names, are crucial in establishing an organization's

effectiveness and competitive place in its operating and target market environments. 

The branch identity can still be shaped, and should assume a name that enhances

the PSYOP force rather than serve as an equivocal impairment the PSYOP label is

determined to have on the community.

Re-branding the branch is now an order, and should be embraced with initiative

versus sitting back and waiting for a decision on what it will become.  It's

a well established principle within the marketing and public relations communities

that re-branding an established organization is a risky venture at best.  Re-branding

risks forsaking the development and retention of a truly professional and consistent

brand identity that is clearly recognized and understood across the many environments

it operates within.   Organizational self identity and target market environments

have direct impacts on the organization.[1] 

Re-branding risks stakeholder and audience doubts about the company/organization.

It can create confusion about what the organization does.  Such a change creates

confusion about what the new brand does and how it can help target markets and stakeholder

support.  Changing names/brands can create indecision about working with the

re-branded organization, and may even create distrust.[2] 

A perception of what a company does and what it is perceived at doing can create

a gulf between an organization and its own environments.  Cautionary principles

aside, re-branding must choose a successful standout identity.[3]

A standout identity is one that solidifies the very foundation of an organization's

internal self identity, and also resonates within target market in such a way that

the brand identity itself is sufficient to stand against its external competitors.[4]  

With a standout identity in place, trust is developed faster, positive word of mouth

spreads, and stakeholder and audience buy-in build more effectively.  More

importantly, an organization is only as effective as its personnel quality and leadership. 

It is common knowledge that organizational self identity and motivation enables

recruitment of more competitive and qualitative employees.  Google, Apple,

the Marine Corps, Army Rangers, Special Forces, and other such prestigious entities

are prime examples of how brand recognition directly impacts the internal and external

operating environments of these organizations.

Names matter; they reflect how we think of ourselves and how others think of

us.  Potential recruits don't aspire to join the maritime expeditionary group,

the parachute force or gifted forces; they volunteer to be Marines, Rangers, and

Special Forces.  Young kids don't root for the Chicago Butterflies; they grow

up wanting to play for the Chicago Bears or New York Yankees.  We need to take

greater ownership of this order to change the PSYOP name by taking the initiative

and owning the process to develop a new identity and more advanced role for the

force.  It almost seems as if PSYOP's new purpose is being shaped as a benign

information supplier subordinate to IO (who are less experienced and trained to

execute these tasks or manage them) rather than an entity designed to proactively

affect foreign audience behavior, perceptions, and dispositions in an effort to

disrupt the mass of hostile and malicious influence efforts conducted by our enemies

every day. 

The new name should resonate across internal and external organizational and

operational environments.  In this case, PSYOP's new name isn't a case of whether

it is "cool enough" but more of one that captures what the branch is intended to

do or should be doing; influence warfare against hostile enemy influence attacks

to subvert the United States and its partner nations.   PSYOP is an Army

maneuver and fires force designed to directly confront or prevent enemy efforts

from maliciously influencing and affecting target audiences.  The new name

(i.e. brand) and/or refined function must be one that resonates in accordance with

the warrior culture of the military, and doesn't create uncertainty of value or

purpose.  The new brand must resonate within the greater military environment,

and more specifically with its SOF community.  It should be one that can develop

prestige, builds organizational pride, and attracts the educated and intellectual

type-A personality Soldiers into the influence warrior culture. 

The name should be less concerned about the vocal minority's criticism and the

fickle media's interest for sensationalized stories, and more focused on owning

the purpose of influencing embattled target audiences based on the positive ideals

of freedom the U.S. and its military stand for.  Names matter and it is even

reflected by our adversaries.  Al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, Taliban, and Quds

force all reflect the intent to influence their own members and audiences that support

and opposed to these groups.  The new brand should be one that sends a message

to those who attempt to misinform and maliciously manipulate the human terrain for

influence superiority.[5] 

We need to move away from the information moniker and theme, and focus more on

what our SOF function is: Influencing specific audiences for desired affects that

shape the operational environment and stand against the enemy's influence efforts. 

The PSYOP is specifically defined and designed as a force meant to operate and affect

the cognitive processes of foreign and enemy audiences by disrupting/defeating hostile

and malicious influence efforts by our adversaries.  A title incorporating

"Information" further creates confusion with Information Operations, Public Affairs,

Information Technologies, Information Systems, and Public Information Services. 

All of which are military and civilian professions (domestic and international)

whose definitions and purposes differ from (what was) PSYOP is tasked to accomplish. 

The comparison, or more appropriately blurring, between PSYOP and IO already

creates vast levels of confusion throughout DoD and the interagency system. 

IO itself seems somewhat fractured or disoriented.[6] 

Their generic and limited experience base, short training program, and the elusive

task as coordinator between the so-called IO pillars vs. becoming an adhoc execution

agent are problematic at best.[7] 

Re-branding the PSYOP branch as Military Information Support would further cloud

the identity and comprehension dilemma with IO and its pillars.   

It also does not encompass the full spectrum of what and how the former PSYOP force

is capable of and designed to influence audiences through planned "psychological

operations" synchronized with events and actions that become "psychological acts."[8] 

This synchronization of influence activities directly and indirectly affects the

target audience's behavior, perceptions, beliefs, and disposition. 

It is extremely unlikely Military Information Support or Information anything

can coexist with Information Operations without creating substantially more confusion

and friction.  The "Support" title is also misleading.  Support by definition

is an association with sustainment forces and operations.   We've used

MIST in place of PSYOP teams for so long we've forgotten it was hastily created

more than seven years ago.  The term was enacted to achieve initial buy in

from State in order to get time sensitive missions off the ground, and smooth over

internal political sensitivities with various country teams.   It fits

for team identity, but does not accurately reflect the branch itself.

Given PSYOP is a shaping force; it remains a core function within the maneuver

and fires environment.  The brand/name should establish the force; delineate

it clearly from IO, PA, and others; and maintain the SOF context of the force itself. 

This is an ideal opportunity for the community to evolve from its initial establishment

phase as a branch, and solidify itself as the foremost experts in influence warfare. 

More suitable names that meet the intent for the change from PSYOP should adopt

a theme along the lines of Special Influence Group/Forces, Influence Warfare, or

even Special Influence Warfare.  These names are transparent, capture the special

operations design and purpose of the force, and avoid the perception that PSYOP

is hiding within a new name.  More importantly, they speak to the mission of

confronting enemy and hostile misinformation and disinformation endeavors that seek

to discredit and adversely affect US and Coalition efforts to conduct operations

against insurgents, terrorists, rogue states, etc.

Biography:  Major Edward Lopacienski, U.S. Army, is a veteran Psychological

Operations officer with career command and staff assignments in CONUS, the Middle

East, and East Asia.  The opinions he expresses in this paper

are his own and represent no U.S. Government or Department of Defense positions.

[1] Laurent Muzellec, Mary Lambkin,

"Corporate rebranding: destroying, transferring or creating brand equity,"

Corporate Rebranding, European Journal of Marketing, 2006, 803.

[2] Changing names and brands

should create clarity, not create further confusion.

[3] Jay Lipe, "Stand Out from

the Crowd: Secrets to Crafting a Winning Company Identity,"Chicago,

IL, USA: Dearborn Trade, A Kaplan Professional Company, 2006.

[4] Lipe, "Stand Out from

the Crowd: Secrets to Crafting a Winning Company Identity."

[5] The influence superiority

concept was developed in cooperation with MAJ Tom Scanzillo based on shared

operational experience and interrelated theses research.

[6] COL Curtis Boyd, "Army IO

is PSYOP: Influencing More with Less," Military Review, May-June


[7] Boyd, "Army IO is PSYOP:

Influencing More with Less."

[8] US Department of Defense,

"Psychological Operations," FM 3-05.30 and FM 3-1-1, USAJFKSWC, Fort

Bragg, NC, 2005/2007.

About the Author(s)


R (not verified)

Wed, 07/07/2010 - 9:41pm

Ed's article is excellent, and has driven some worthy commentary. I'd like to share a couple of points in reference to the comments that have followed.
The AC/RC split was fought by the AC PSYOP community tooth and nail. It was not driven by AC PO desires but by ASOC issues with 1) MOB and 2) providing MFP11 $ support to the GPF MFP2 $ force. Moreover, whatever we think about it is is done. We need to figure out how to best support the our chain of command. USACAPOC is extraordinarily detrimental to USAR PO in many aspects, but most especially by refusing to allow USAR Soldiers to attend the same training as the AC force. This is not because USAR PO does not want to, but because USAR CA could not make time to do it, and USACAPOC deigns to treat us both as if we were the same. We are not.
AC looking down on RC is foolish, if true. I'd suggest that the real issue is access to and authority to share operational information of SO activities. This is not something that we PO personnel can solve, the GPF/SO commanders must do it together. It is akin to a neighbors dog taking a crap in your backyard. Don't blame it on the neighbors kid, go talk to the parent (commander). Bottom line is that only the GPF can hold terrain, and so respecting their ownership of the battle-space is paramount to overall campaign success.
Back to the name.... Again, the decision has been made, the die is cast. We have the ability to assist in the eventual determination of it with respect to our branch and units. I would offer that we should first divest our leadership (SO and GPF) of the notion that the operation, the units and the personnel should all be named the same. This is disastrous. The result will be changing the name again, and sooner rather than later. MISO is an activity/mission/function. The units that accomplish this are also capable of accomplishing other activities. Sometimes we are the only military force, or may be the lead military force in a given country or operations, so Support is not all we do either.
Further, the forces assigned to accomplish these activities must not be constrained by a moniker that will otherwise be defined in whatever doctrine that is ultimately decided on for this one particular activity/mission/function.
This will be the truly difficult part of the discussion. With the exposure of Mr. Furlong's (likely) criminal activities, and the abject failure of Army and Joint IO principles and doctrine we are in a tough place. My suggestion is that we place our efforts toward clearly defining what it is we can provide if given decent training and tools. We need to further describe what is in the realm of the possible with respect to our capabilities, especially when paired with (or ultimately combined with) PA, VI, EW and CNO. Doing so will give us a more reasoned and logical explanation of what our brand should be.

Paul S (not verified)

Tue, 07/06/2010 - 3:05pm

While the recent name change strikes me as Orwellian sophistry, I do not see it as the serious impediment to the future of the force. In fact, since the vast majority of our current and future target audiences are non-combatants, it only makes sense to adopt a name that is more palatable to the general public, and one that reflects the majority of of the Force's activities, information support to tactical military operations.

Of far greater concern to me, is the poor leadership, poor resourcing/funding, (and most telling) poor training and education that continues to plague the community. If the Army truly wants to develop world-class influence professionals, they have to give the community the quality leadership (to include G.O. proponency) and priority funding for recruiting top quality personnel and training them in human behavior influence and persuasive communication.

Tim (not verified)

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 10:31am

Spot on. PSYOP has struggled with it's identity or "brand" if we are to use marketing terminology (as huge a mistake as attempting to apply Lean Six to military leadership in my humble opinion...). If ANY change was in order it should have simply included the word INFLUENCE (as in Influence Operations). We will quickly find ourselves in a real dilemma when "Joe" is asked to explain why he is producing posters, radio scripts, etc. if it is no longer PSYOP...INSTANT scandal, just add water(ed) down acronym....

Brett Patron

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 9:39am

Not for nuthin', but...If "Psyop" was really good at branding itself, wouldn't we already know what it is and who should have proponency?

The way I read the comments here, there's still a good degree of debate on that score.

Is "Psyop" a verb related to the noun "IO"? Are "influence" and/or "IO" verbs related to the noun "Psyop"?

Sounds like the black beret debate all over again. (Lets pick a symbol/name then define what it means).

TS- PO in AFG (not verified)

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 4:38am

Sabo: Amen
Carson: Amen

Thanks for the article, MAJ L! Hope someone listens and please let us know if they do!

Sabot (not verified)

Mon, 06/28/2010 - 5:20pm

BLUF: IO has been lost for an identity and an actual effect. IO was a good buzz word that became a strategy that became a staff entity and eventually a command. The 'pillars' and related and supporting functions of IO only required integration like Air land battle and combined arms warfare. Sr. Leader lack of understanding that informing and influencing are not silver bullets or 'splash over' effects but take time, effort, consistency and support led to the idea of integrating PA, CA, PO under one staff element. Not understanding it they divested themselves (Cdr/CoS)of it and identified a staff officer section to 'integrate' it. This name change is just the first step in Inform, Influence S7/G7 taking over PO, CA, PA in an effort to justify their existence when in fact a good commander's intent for the integration of PA/CA/PO would mean a savings of all those IO spaces for actual do-ers of PA/CA/PO.


Mon, 06/28/2010 - 2:14pm

"Having said that, it seems CA is the only SOF-lite MOS not getting the shaft in terms of funding and respect."

TS-PO in AFG I hate to break your heart but it isnt any better over here on the RA side with the Purple Party Patch...

Carson Hoke (not verified)

Mon, 06/28/2010 - 1:16pm

In an effort to put the discussion back on azimuth, let's try to remember what Ed Lopacienski was trying to convey in this article; names matter. This shouldn't serve as a platform to rekindle old debates of who is better than who, who has more experience. The fact is that both the reserve and active components are stretched too thin, and have been for years.

There is a takeaway here. This discussion illustrates the breadth and complexity of the branch. We are not comprised solely of Tactical PSYOP Teams, but also Task Forces, working with country teams, FID, etc. Information isn't the business we're in. Influence is. Information is a means to that end, not the end itself. MISO should be incorporated as a core function of the branch, which lends itself perfectly to updating doctrine and incorporating MIST. As a branch, as a brand, a more holistic approach is required. Special Influence would be an excellent choice.

Here's some food for thought. Special Forces operate in a very similar manner when operating, especially with country teams. Military Liaison Elements (MLEs) are used as opposed to ODAs. Why? Like PSYOP, SF tailors teams to fit missions according to the operational requirement and political sensitivities. Does this mean that SF should be renamed to Military Liaison and Unconventional Forces? Of course not, because the brand matters.

TS-PO in AFG (not verified)

Mon, 06/28/2010 - 5:51am

Alright, alright, Tony. Forgive my bitterness; it wasn't my intent to demean the work you guys do. I've had 4 combat deployments in six years and have seen my AC counterparts progressively look more and more down their noses at us while they go home after six months to start a mission in a not-so-austere environment in LATAM, or Asia, or even Hawaii. It is common to see a RC PO NCO with three or more years on deployment and combat is the only duty we get. The 'mints on your pillow' comment was an attempt at hyperbole, admittedly in poor taste. I apologize.

Having said that, it seems CA is the only SOF-lite MOS not getting the shaft in terms of funding and respect. Maybe that's just a grass/greener scenario, but no one tries to change their name and they seem to have a good working relationship with their AC peers. This is a top-down mentality and we PO reservists are tired of it. All too common, we go into areas where during previous weeks, we saw a fairly supportive population and fairly safe conditions, only to find ourselves neck deep in firefights and IEDs, all because our AC counterparts didn't think it was important to let us know their supported SOF units had torn apart the wrong village looking for an HVT.

Stuff like that drives us away. We're not valued at the tactical level by our peers, but we're dedicated to the fight. So, where do we go? I have most of a decade of PO experience and I saw what it was like before and after. AC needs us, but they don't even know it. If you did, regardless of any perceived personal affront, you wouldn't be saying "hurry up", you'd be talking to your side of the house regarding how to make this right. All I'm saying is because of the fact that losing us means more work for you, you should want to fight for the things that keep us engaged, whether that's administrative or doctrinal changes, or changing the name. After these last few years, you'll be hard pressed to find anyone sticking around in RC PO to endure further punishment.

Tony (not verified)

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 4:48pm

Hey TS. I read the memo. You hit my point exactly. The divorce was detrimental to the community. And its your AGR/Reserve peers who continue to hang on at Bragg and don't have a clue who make a mockery of you guys "shouldering all the burden."
And whats with eating mints off pillows... Mints? Really? You gotta be like that? You think that embassy/country work is easy? On the heels of an ODA rotation? Come on over brother and get yourself an interagency smoking... Oh wait, you're going CA. Well, hurry up.

TS, PSYOP in AFG (not verified)

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 3:38am

Tony, if you read the memo itself, it applies to any PSYOP support element whether serving conventional forces, interagency, or SOF (para.4b.).

I agree that we need to get back to a selection process. Until 2006, we in the reserve component had a fairly rigorous selection process consisting of ST score elimination, TAAS testing, interviews, physical trials, etc. at the unit level, but after the 'divorce', USARC made us stop. By most accounts, we performed better than our active duty counterparts when deployed at the tactical level, since most of us spent the bulk of our military careers in PSYOP and on deployed status. Not to mention the fact that most of us had civilian careers which had direct or complimentary bearing on our PSYOP skillsets. However, after the split, USARC pillaged our funds and diluted our ability to train. In one fell swoop, that move (which was deeply criticized and contested by both components) devastated 2/3 of the profession. Now, we have to maintain language skills, core MOS competence, readiness, common tasks skills, PT, and jump status only being allowed one weekend a month and two weeks a year to train with an OPTEMPO which has my own unit represented in theater without a break since 9/11!

Our SOF supporting brothers have already been drinking their own kool-aid for long enough so that they think themselves more capable than we are, though there are still enough of our old guard left to refute that false impression. Even so, any further separation could result in absolute irrelevance of influence support of conventional forces, because guys like those in my teams won't stick around much longer and the pipeline grows ever thin.

So, put down the kool-aid 4th POG, MISOG, whatever, and don't forget what we did just a few years ago. Fight to take us with you and we can go back to the days of you getting the mint on the pillow in Thailand while we handle the bulk of the fight. If we evaporate, who do think will have to pick up the slack? Not ME... I'm going Civil Affairs!

Mason (not verified)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 7:20pm

I think the abandonment of the name "PSYOP" will go a long way in losing established credibility with domestic and foreign ties. There have already been enough conflicts with IO and PSYOP with IO trying to have authority over PSYOP, I think that trying to make it an "information support" unit will only further that interaction.

As well, PSYOP does provide information support to its supported unit through varying measures of cultural expertise and access to differing intel sources (due to differing necessities), but the primary goal of PSYOP isn't information support, it is to persuade, change and influence. You don't do that with a brochure or pamphlet that describes all the information required to make the decision (think a pamphlet that simply claims "Times are great to stop being a terrorist for the following objective reasons!"). The PSYOP mission has been exactly what is said in the name, psychological operations, or to be more frank and simple: "Operations in a psychological battlefield."

On the domestic front, PSYOP will lose ties with other units as it begins to explain who they are, "We are MISO. Don't know what that is? We used to be called 'PSYOP.'" Having to explain who you are will only be that much more of a pain, and the name PSYOP already resonates with units who have worked with PSYOP, the new name won't do anything but hurt that cohesiveness. Units with a bad taste in their mouth from previous support will think it's a trick to get back to working with them and units who have a favorable opinion of PSYOP will only wonder why they changed their name and think it foolish. I also think this will hurt recruitment of the kinds of people PSYOP needs, those focused on trying to win the psychological battle, instead attracting those who are more desiring of a more intelligence-oriented field. Don't get me wrong, intelligence is very important in PSYOP, but a great report on what insurgents are doing will do nothing to convince them to stop blowing us up, for that effect you'll need strong rhetoric and lines of persuasion.

Abroad, PSYOP has forged serious ties with foreign nationals and organizations, one example being that Iraqis will often ask to speak to "sayup (PSYOP)" to get things done, or at least know who PSYOP is. Insurgents know well about PSYOP, with tactical teams experiencing avoidance, hostility or fear in what we are capable of. Changing names won't necessarily just "reset" or transfer the reputation either.

To an outsider (as I have since left the PSYOP world) this smacks of the needless change that occurred bringing active-duty battalions a tactical company each, which was poorly executed and accomplished none of what was promised as the reasons, and seemed only to line the pockets of regional battalions doing the regional work.

If anything, I'd like to see PSYOP renamed to PSYWAR or something that conveys the manipulation of behavior, as the established mission of PSYOP is to "persuade, change, influence" not provide info/intel support, that's just a bonus that we throw onto our CAPES briefs.

Colin (not verified)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 2:22pm

Excellent article - I realize that the decisions have already been made, but I feel "Special Interest Group" (SIG), while seemingly common of a name would encompass the mission and allows for anonymity simultaneously. While the movement away from the term PSYOP is a step in the right direction, it is essential to differentiate between IO and PSYOP, as many have said.

Tom (not verified)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 1:01pm

(..."lets get some IO messages out there...")"

Tony, you bring up an outstanding point, a battle that we have continued to fight over the past several years. I assume those in this forum know that we don't simply "get IO messages out there." I would go a bit further and challenge any of our field grade (and higher) leadership to explain IO. I guarantee everyone's definition would be different (notwithstanding the doctrinal definition of "Information Operations"), and few would grasp the Influence fundamentals. Further, are "Information Operations" not inherent in all maneuver and influence operations?

Ed's position is absolutely valid and how do we educate our own people? A commonly accepted definition/description of "Influence Operations" would be a good start, but propagating that throughout the community would require a common understanding first within the branch (PSYOP/Special Influence or otherwise)...hence Tony's comment about 2nd and 7th POGs.

To Ed's point, one concession leads to another. While MISTs are great in deed, the softening of the institutional brand consequentially defangs it's operational effectiveness. Call it what you must on paper (albeit temporarily - to appease a country team's sensitivities to harsh words, etc), but make no mistake that the activity is PSYOP and Influence Warfare, and the brand must fit the purpose.

As an SF Soldier I think Ed has nit the nail on the head. While we as an organization continue to understand our operating environment and evolve professionally, we must not lose sight of the fact that our business is national defense - not politics. If we're going to defang PSYOP, we might as well take all symbolism that could be considered harsh (swords, guns, parachutes, attack helos, etc) off of unit patches and re-brand everything as something "nicer".

John T. Fishel

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 12:03pm

As an old PSYOPER, I found Major Lopacienski's article to be right on target. MISO simply doesn't work for any of the reasons identified in the article and by the commenters. As an aside, I would note that we were using MISTs in SOUTHCOM during the 80s, so, the linkage with IO goes back to before there was IO. The reason for MIST was host nation sensitivity, not DOS sensitivity. That said, there was division within USIS over whether they were only doing public affairs and cultural stuff or PSYOP as well.
Given that a change WILL be made, then what do we as PSYOPERs want to achieve? What is the objective of the change? Who are our target audiences? What themes are we trying to communicate? I particularly like Major Lopacienski's Special Influence Forces because the name conveys what we do to the USG as a whole, the Army writ large, and the rest of the PSYOP community in the RC. It says that we are SOF - that is our lineage. It raises the question of whether RC PSYOP and CA should have been removed from SOCOM - I thought it was a bad idea when I first heard it - and tells the USG clearly what our capabilities are.

Jeremy Mushtare (not verified)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 10:24am

While I fundamentally agree with Ed on the premise for re-branding - the bottom line is words matter - and the "vocal minoritys criticism" is often from interagency. Special Influence is ultimately no more opaque than psychological operations and ultimately has the same connotations. In order to re-brand, the name has to be almost completely innocuous without being demeaning to the force. Not an easy combination.

Tony (not verified)

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 10:31pm

Ed makes some terrific points. It brings to mind what Dr. Phillip M. Taylor wrote in his book, "Munitions of the Mind" in 1995, "Psychological Warfare has always rested as an uneasy activity in democracies, even in wartime. It is partly to do with the suspicion that using the mind to influence the mind is somehow unacceptable. But is it more unacceptable to shoot someone's brains out rather than to persuade that brain to drop down their weapon and live?"

Everyone's comments are spot on. And I feel compelled to echo the branding argument; nobody wants Parachute-borne Direct Action Operators with Small Unit Leadership Graduate tabs or Maritime/Aerial/Earthly Kinetic Fires Operators knocking down AQ's doors. MISO waters down what it is the branch has been doing since their days in the OSS. The name will create more confusion above what already exists (..."lets get some IO messages out there...").

This episode also highlights how general/flag officers (none have a PSYOP background) have hinted over the years to our branch that PSYOP is no longer an acceptable term (for whatever reason... see Dr Taylor's quote above) and eagerly waited for our community to provide that new name for decision. And it highlights how our branch leaders (who cap at O6 and are numerous ...180% overstrength) have failed, with few notable exceptions, to answer that call over the last several years. In the absence of any cohesive, unified message from several councils of colonels, meetings, and conferences, our highest leadership has decided for the community and got this ball rolling.

Kudos to Ed for highlighting the history of MISTs; our branch's leaders' first concession to giving our name away. When coupled with the renaming of the Joint Military Information Support Command (JMISC), in Tampa, it directly led to senior leaders making this decision to rename PSYOP.

It's a healthy discussion but we've been handed our orders and its time to move on.
I'll see y'all back here after the branch formerly known as PSYOP merges with the Army's Information Operations (a good thing, bring on the Influence Corps). And we'll watch the scuffle over who gets proponency...

-post script: I actually heard somebody today state that since the order applied to SOF that 2d and 7th POG (Army Reserve) can continue to be called PSYOP since they fall under conventional Army HQ... These are our peers, gentlemen. We need to get a truly rigorous assessment and selection program into high gear. Soon.

Vito (not verified)

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 8:00pm

As a former Marine I've long envied the Army's PSYOP capability. I saw them in action when they were attached to a Marine unit I was in. So what's in a name? I'd say much, especially in regards to people whose job is to influence people. I think Edward, Brad, Pete and Josh are spot on. Rebranding is not something to take lightly and it is my uninformed opinion that this latest effort is yet another example of people who have too much time on their hands and too little experience with the "real world", as in "the third world" which has been rebranded as "the developing world".

Josh Stiltner (not verified)

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 7:08pm

MAJ Lopacienski brings up very important points about the how the name itself needs to "sends a message to those who attempt to misinform and maliciously manipulate the human terrain for influence superiority." AQI, Taliban, IRGC-QF, JI, HAI, etc are not intimidated by terminology like helicopter-born, direct fire manuever personnel, vehicle mounted loudspeaker support teams or even high-altitude parachute counterinsurgency action teams. The words Rangers, PSYOP, and Special Forces have been shown to resonate with insurgents, terrorists, and the civilian target audiences in Iraq.

How would the Infantry like it's name changed to "Military Rifle Manuever Element?" They wouldn't.

PSYOP is an extrememly powerful, specialized form of influence warfare. Let's adopt a name that promotes that sense of the "black arts" and strikes fear, doubt, anxiety and haste into our enemy at the mere mention of it's employment

"Re-branding risks stakeholder and audience doubts about the company/organization."

That's probably one of the main reasons SWJ has not renamed itself the "Small Change and COIN Journal."

Brad Carr (not verified)

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 4:07pm

MAJ Lopacienski brings up some very solid points about re-branding. The "marketplace" is full of historical examples of successfull and failed re-branding attempts. The process is full of risks, but many rewards if done correctly. For the last nine years, there has been considerable talk in Military and Interagency circles about the success or failure of the "information" and/or influence war against Violent Extremist Organizations. While seemingly simple, the re-branding of PSYOP could have significant impacts in our long-term dominance in this fight if not done correctly to establish the new brand across the Joint, Interagancy, Intergovernmental, and Multinational (JIIM) "marketplace." I applaud this initiative, but I also want to make sure the effort does not end up like the "New Coke" marketing faliure circa 1985-1992.