In modern warfare, combat is no longer fully focused on gun fights. As our guns, explosives, and military vehicles have advanced, so are our military tactics. Years of conflicts and wars made us realize that if you can make your enemies think that they are about to die, regardless of whether it’s real or not, you’ve already won half of the battle.

The psychological warfare that history has known before, still intending to crush the adversaries’ hopes, has also evolved, consciously or unconsciously. Here are some modern military tactics that proved to destroy the enemy’s morale.

Iran’s Human Waves of Children

What’s more devastating than seeing children run toward enemy lines, brainwashed that they would go to heaven?

US Army analyst Edward C. O’Dowd defined the human wave attack tactic as a frontal assault by densely concentrated infantry formations against an enemy line with no intention of shielding the attacker’s movement. The goal of the wave is not necessarily to kill the enemies but to hopefully overwhelm them with the vast number of attackers and force them to retreat.

In the past, the Europeans also used modern wave attacks during WWI and Japanese and Russian soldiers during WWII. Still, perhaps the most disheartening time the tactic was used was during the Iran-Iraq war when the human waves were the innocent Iranian children.

Usually, the children used in this technique were those who lack tactical training and necessary firearm. The concept is simple: gather as many attackers as possible and tell them to run toward the enemy lines as fast as possible. But, of course, the defenseless attackers are no match for the automatic firearms, artillery, and other modern weapons.

Military use of children in Iran-Iraq war on Iranian fronts. ( website (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons)

The Iranian forces resorted to sending children on the heavily-guarded Iraqi lines or as mine-clearing line charges so their infantry could pass through. As a result, reports estimate that around 50,000 Iranian children aged 12 to 15 died on the battlefield, running toward their death and brainwashed that they would enter heaven for their sacrifice. The Iraqi forces had to witness and shoot these children as they approached the lines.

Ghurkas Cutting Throat

Loud Noises of the Dead

What’s worse than hearing the voices of your fallen comrades calling you from the dead?
That’s what the US forces used in Operation Wandering Soul during Vietnam War as psychological warfare to weaken the morale of the Viet Cong. They did this with the use of the Curdler; a helicopter-mounted sonic device used to produce the “voodoo effects of Wandering Soul, in which haunting sounds said to represent the souls of the dead were played to perturb the superstitious snipers, who, while recognizing the artificial source of the wailing noises, could not help but dread what they were hearing was a premonition of their post-death dislocated soul.”