[headline h=”3″]The 4th Psychological Operations Group[/headline]
The 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) is under the command and control of the United States Army Special Operations Command. The 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) is comprised of a Headquarters Company, 4 Regional Support Battalions, a Media Dissemination Battalion, and a Tactical Battalion. With only about 1,500 soldiers and 36 civilian analysts in the entire group, the battalions are small with generally fewer than 250 soldiers, compared with a standard infantry battalion of about 750 soldiers.
The 4 Regional Support Battalions (RSB) are the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion, which has regional responsibility for the southern hemisphere covered by Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion which supports the Pacific (PACOM), the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion, which supports Europe (EUCOM) and Africa (AFRICOM)(not including the Horn of Africa), and the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion, which supports the Middle East (CENTCOM) and the Horn of Africa.
Regional PSYOP is conducted at the strategic and operational levels and operates under the staff proponency of the Theater/Joint Task Force (JTF) J3. The regional PSYOP battalion commander develops and executes the theater commander’s or JTF Commander’s PSYOP campaign plan, and when directed by the Commander, 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), establishes and provides the Joint PSYOP Task Force Commander.
Each Regional Battalion consists of a Headquarters Support Company, a PSYOP Development Company which is further broken down into a Plans Programs Detachment, a Target Audience Analysis Detachment and a Test Evaluation Detachment, and a Strategic Studies Detachment which includes civilians with language and cultural expertise in the region supported by the unit. The civilians provide long-term regional analysis and may deploy on missions.
The 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (POB) is the Tactical Support Battalion for the 4th PSYOP Group. Tactical PSYOP is that associated with “face-to- face” operations in support of maneuver units within the theater and the designated area of operations. Tactical PSYOP Planning elements are available to each supported tactical echelon brigade combat team to corps headquarters. The smallest tactical organization is the Tactical PSYOP Team (TPTs), routinely found in support of conventional Army brigades or special operations battalions. These elements enable tactical commanders to communicate directly with the enemy and foreign civilians. Tactical PSYOP elements disseminate products normally developed by the regional battalions or by the Psychological Operation Task Force (POTF) The 9th POB has worldwide responsibility for all short-notice rapid deployment tactical PSYOP/information support requirements with organic light product development, loudspeaker (helicopters and vehicles), and electronic news gathering capabilities.
The 3rd Military Information Support Battalion is the Media Dissemination Battalion for the 4th PSYOP Group. The 3rd Military Information Support Battalion is a functionally-oriented dissemination and broadcast battalion whose four major companies possess the 4th Psychological Operations Group’s organic print, radio and television broadcast, media and audio-visual production and communication capabilities. The 3rd PSYOP Battalion is capable of deploying these capabilities or they can be produced by the battalion at Fort Bragg, NC and shipped to the forward deployed PSYOP detachment in theater. If local host nation support agreements are in place, PSYOP personnel can print on foreign presses and broadcast facilities from existing infrastructure in area of operations. The battalion is made up of a Headquarters Company, a Print Company, a Broadcast Company, Media Production Company and a Distribution Company. The 3rd POB is responsible for all radio, television, digital-audio-visual and print assets for developing PSYOP products such as leaflets, posters, handbills, newspapers, radio and television broadcasts. In September 2010, SGM Herb Friedman (Ret.) visited the 3rd Psychological Battalion and found that it had been entirely modernized. The name had been officially changed to the 3rd Military Information Support Battalion. It now worked out of a modern Media Operations Complex (MOC) in Ft. Bragg. The Army was eliminating the printing specialty. Alpha Company (Print) now prints leaflets using geospatial engineers (21Y) and multimedia specialists (25M). The old manual printing presses were all gone and replaced by high speed Kodak S3000 NexPress Digital Presses that could produce ready-to-disseminate dry leaflets, posters, handbills, booklets, magazines and stickers.
Bravo Company (Broadcast) produces and broadcasts radio and television content. They can repair and operate indigenous radio and TV stations. The troops consist of visual equipment operators (25R), combat photographers (25V) and broadcast journalists (46R).
Charlie Company (Distribution) provides fixed-site and deployable PSYOP distribution nodes. They provide world-wide product distribution support and are able to send and receive PSYOP products to deployed teams rapidly and efficiently.
Delta Company (Production) runs the media production center and can provide audio and visual propaganda to global PSYOP missions. They can produce animation if needed and also hold the Battalion’s PSYOP archives.
On deployments the unit generally forms a task force composed of soldiers from a regional battalion forming the core, while soldiers from the 3rd Military Information Support Battalion (the Media Dissemination Battalion) provide the media expertise, and soldiers from the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion provide the tactical expertise in theater.
In addition to the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), there are two Psychological Operations Groups (the 2nd and 7th PSYOP Groups) in the U. S. Army Reserve which are under the command of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command.
The 193rd Special Operations Wing is a Pennsylvania Air National Guard unit that supports the PSYOP Groups missions with their EC-130 Commando Solo aircraft. These flying PSYOP platforms are able to broadcast products developed by Army PSYOP units on AM and FM radio, and TV images over any frequency.
The performance of PSYOP units in Panama and the Persian Gulf has provided the world evidence of the power of persuasion in achieving fantastic results. The surrender of 60,000 Iraqis in Operation Desert Storm was due in no small measure to the sophisticated and well-orchestrated PSYOP campaign of the 4th POG, ably supported by loudspeaker teams from a wide variety of PSYOP units of the Reserve Component. Their efforts saved hundreds, perhaps thousands, of allied and Iraqi lives.
In Turkey, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo, members of the 4th Psychological Operations Group were in the vanguard of support. In Turkey and Northern Iraq, during Operation PROVIDE COMFORT, PSYOP personnel ensured that leaflet drops pointed out safe routes for the Kurdish refugees, drop zones for supplies and informing the Kurds of the danger of mines. In Somalia, during Operation RESTORE HOPE, they set up radio stations, handed out leaflets, and even published a newspaper: Rajo (Hope). In Haiti, PSYOP played an integral part in Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY. In Haiti, they help stabilize a potential confrontational upheaval by preparing leaflets and loudspeaker messages stating the U.S. mission to restore Aristide and asking for public support. When the crisis situations arose in Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo, PSYOP responded participating in Operations PROVIDE RELIEF, JOINT ENDEAVOR, JOINT GUARD and ALLIED FORCE. Wherever the United States responds to a crisis, the men and women of psychological operations stand ready to assist and deploy at a moments notice.