Psychological operations forces have been under pressure from the Pentagon to step up their influencing missions, the results of which could be seen in Syria, the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command said last week.
The command oversees PSYOPS and civil affairs soldiers, which helped to disperse messages and establish governance in areas liberated from the Islamic State group over the past few years.
“Through the Syria efforts, we’ve gotten a lot more sets and reps,” Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette told Army Times on Oct. 16.
“I’ve been accused of calling leaflets and loudspeakers audio and trash littering, but they do have a time and place,” he added. “Syria is a great example. When the fiber was cut and the cell towers were down, people are hungry for information. So guess what was working there? Leaflets.”
The products are sometimes requested by lower-level PSYOPS task forces or teams, according to Army historian Jared M. Tracy, such as a PSYOPS soldier embedded with a Green Beret detachment.
These lower-level units often lack the time, equipment or easy access to the legal and cultural approval process required to make new designs or products, Tracy explained in a historical article documenting counter-ISIS messaging.
Requests for products are often built by the Military Information Support Task Force-Central at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The small team there can sketch, print and record products, often using U.S. Air Force assets to airdrop leaflets, as well as use electronic warfare aircraft to relay airborne radio and television broadcasts.
One such broadcast that could have been inserted onto a radio net used by ISIS was obtained by the WarZone through a FOIA request made during the fight to liberate Mosul, Iraq, from the militant group.