In a long-due and much-deserved move, the Army has decided to expand the number of senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in the Psychological Operations (PSYOP) career field.
The grade plate change was a result of concentrated and laborious efforts from both within the Army Special Operations Forces community and its supporters in Army leadership. Thus far, the PSYOP career field allowed for a limited amount of staff sergeants (E-6) and sergeants first class (E-7). The result was a disproportionate concentration of junior NCOs in the military occupational specialty (MOS). With PSYOP being a crucial arm of the Special Operation Command (SOCOM), the danger of losing intelligent and highly trained (at a considerable cost to the Army) soldiers was a constant reality. Now, under the new regime, there will be an additional 336 staff sergeant positions and 114 sergeant first class positions, which will result in improved retention numbers in the MOS.
“I think it moves the bar on what selfless service, what patriotism, and what fidelity really mean,” said Maj. Gen. John Deedrick, commanding officer of the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne). “I want to thank you all personally for your steadfastness, for your commitment to this nation and to this regiment as you have shouldered that burden and gone on and conducted your mission in an incredible way.”
An often unnoticed part of SOCOM, PSYOP is crucial in influencing and shaping perceptions in active and potential battlefields. PSYOP operators undergo an arduous selection and training program that includes psychology, sociology, and cultural training blocks, language training, human dynamics training, among other training components.
“They’ve put in the work, they’ve put in the time. They have the experience, they have the education and they are ready to operate at the next level. I couldn’t be happier for all of you standing on this field,” added General Deedrick.
Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Phillip, one of the newly promoted NCOs, emphasized the high degree of job satisfaction in the PSYOP career field. “I love PSYOP,” said Sergeant Phillip in a statement. “I love the job, I love what we do. I’ve had the pleasure of working with leaders who’ve always pushed me so even though I might have had the rank of sergeant, I never felt like one. I always felt like I could grow. I always felt like I could do new things, try new things and just accept responsibility. I love PSYOP so that’s what kept me around.”
There are currently four active PSYOP units:
- 2nd Psychological Operations Group
- 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne)
- 7th Psychological Operations Group
- 8th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne)
The 4th and 8th POG are part of the 1st Special Force Command (Airborne), and the 2nd and 7th belong to the Army Reserve and fall under the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command. Until recently, PSYOP wasn’t even a dedicated officer branch, thereby making it less appealing compared to other career fields, such as Civil Affairs.