Recognizing the huge potential of Psychological Operations (PSYOP), the Marine Corps is offering big enlistment bonuses to Marines willing to understand and influence America’s enemies.
Junior enlisted (E-3) and non-commissioned officers (E-4 and E-5) who are willing to make a lateral move from another MOS are eligible for a $35K bonus, with an option of an additional $40K if they sign a six-year contract.
The career field is fairly new. It was only in the summer of 2018 that the Marine Corps created the new Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). The aim of PSYOP Marines (0521) is to influence target audiences and advise higher officers and partner forces on cultural considerations to ensure mission success. Candidates will have to complete the Army’s Psychological Qualification Operations Course. The qualification course includes classes in psychology, sociology, cultural training blocks, language training, and human dynamics training, among other training components.
According to the MOS announcement, PSYOP Marines will be “responsible for the analysis of cultural factors, as well as the development and distribution of products used to cause informational and psychological effects.”
The Marine Corps is looking to fill up approximately 200 PSYOP positions by 2025. There are currently less than 80 Marines in the career field. By creating its own PSYOP career field, the Marine Corps looks into the future, where hybrid warfare will be more prevalent. The Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) already has signaled an additional emphasis on PSYOP missions in the near future.
PSYOP is inherently flexible and can serve both as a pro-active and re-active measure.
Part of information operations (IO), PSYOP missions can be adjusted according to the targeted audience and level. Depending on the geopolitical situation and mission objective, PSYOP missions can take place on the tactical, operational or strategic level. Additionally, and conditional to the desired U.S. footprint, PSYOP can come in three forms: White, Grey, or Black.
White concerns PSYOP missions where American involvement is overt (for instance, 10th Mountain Soldiers handing out pro-U.S. flyers to Iraqi civilians.) Grey refers to PSYOP missions where American involvement must remain hidden (for example, CIA officers paying a Turkish producer to make a television show that criticizes Erdogan). Black relates to PSYOP missions where U.S. involvement must be completely untraceable (for instance, NSA officers broadcasting anti-Ayatollah messages in Iran during the next general election, but making them appear as a domestic political position).
The Army has four Psychological Operations Groups (POGs), two Special Operations and two conventional. The 4th and 8th POG are part of the 1st Special Force Command (Airborne); the 2nd and 7th are part of the Army Reserve and fall under the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command.