Army embeds active-duty PSYOPS soldiers at local TV stations


John Cook
Yahoo News
October 3, 2010

pysops.jpg
A soldier demonstrates how to use a non-linear editing system used to create broadcasts and public service announcements for the psyops mission at the 4th POG. The photo appeared on the official site of the U.S. Army.

Editor’s note: In 2000, the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw reported on the presence of military personnel from the Third Psychological Operations Battalion at CNN. According to Dutch journalist Abe de Vries, the military personnel were involved in news production at CNN’s newsdesks and this was confirmed by both CNN and the Pentagon. TV Guide reported in April of 2000 that PSYOP personnel were also present at NPR.

The U.S. Army has used local television stations in the U.S. as training posts for some of its psychological-operations personnel, The Upshot has learned. Since at least 2001, both WRAL, a CBS affiliate in Raleigh, N.C., and WTOC, a CBS affiliate in Savannah, Ga., have regularly hosted active-duty soldiers from the Army’s 4th Psychological Operations group as part of the Army’s Training With Industry program. Training With Industry is designed to offer career soldiers a chance to pick up skills through internships and fellowships with private businesses. The PSYOPS soldiers used WRAL and WTOC to learn broadcasting and communications expertise that they could apply in their mission, as the Army describes it, of “influenc[ing] the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign audiences.”

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WRAL and WTOC were on a list of participants in the Army’s Training With Industry program provided to The Upshot in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, and a spokeswoman with the Army’s Human Resources Command confirmed that PSYOPS soldiers worked at the stations.

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“Both of those stations are very supportive of the military, and think very highly of the program,” said Lt. Col. Stacy Bathrick. “Our officers are there to learn best practices in terms of programming and production side that they can use when they deploy. To be able to get hands-on interaction with a news station — there’s nothing like that.” Bathrick said the soldiers were never involved in newsgathering.

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