In order to achieve layered effects on the battlefield, special operations forces on the ground are typically comprised of more than just door-kicking, you’ve-got-a-piece-of-snakemeat-in-your-beard-type guys. Most SF detachments – while dreaming of breathtaking solo pursuits across the rooftops of Baghdad – are usually plused up with myriad attachments based on their mission, including Civil Affairs, Military Working Dogs, EOD, mechanics, cooks, etc. I’ve worked with a few of them in various capacities, and I’m going to cover each one in-depth based upon firsthand experience.


In 2010, The U.S. Army, suffering another bout of political correctness, changed Psyops’ name to MISO: from ‘Psychological Operations’ to ‘Military Information Support Operations’, which completely pissed off the recruiters trying to fill their quota. From Jedi mind-tricks to soupy side-dish in one field-grade swoop.

MISO’s job is, ostensibly, to win the hearts and minds of both friend and foe, and to be the mission’s PR rep on the battlefield. And they’re pretty damn good at it. While it may not be as stupendously badass as firing a Carl-G off the back of a moving Hilux, MISO operators are nimble, competent, and useful contributors on the battlefield – and they have my sincere admiration and respect for the job that they do.

At some point in the past, someone with marketing smarts (probably Benjamin Franklin or Don Draper) decided that we could attempt to influence the minds of the enemy without actually wasting all these bullets on them. So we started dropping leaflets describing all the opportunities for a good life that await on the other side of the line, if one were to only lay down arms… and we outlined, in gruesome detail, all the ways you were going to wither and die if you refused.

‘Psywar’ got really popular with the Allies in WWII, and while it might have worked to devious effect against ze Germans, the Japanese held such faith in their emperor that we had to remind them of their peace-loving nature through the use of nuclear bombs. The machinations involving propaganda both overt and covert were so Machiavellian that only Churchill himself could keep it all straight.

WWII spin doctors came up with three types of leaflet campaigns, White, Grey, and Black. The White leaflets had an openly acknowledged source; instructions on how supremely badass the Allies were and if you could just hold out for a few more weeks, Union Jack and his Star Spangled buddy would be marched down Main Street by Winston and Franklin themselves. Grey leaflets would have an obvious but unstated originator – typically messages about the impending fall of the Third Reich. Black leaflets were seeded to demoralize; usually containing false information and a false source.

In the Korean War, psychological operations through leaflets and radio broadcasts were used to great effect, likely helping North Korean troops decide that settling down and living in the South might not be so bad, after all, and hey, aren’t I glad I missed out on that whole gulag thing? The Brits used an intensive leaflet campaign during the Malayan Communist Insurgency, and then it was America’s turn in the Vietnam War, and nigh unto modern history.