What's in a Name?

By Stew Magnuson

CAMP SMITH, Hawaii — Psychological operations, long a staple of U.S. special operations forces, has kept pace with modern times, said Col. Lou Caporicci, deputy commander of Special Operations Command Pacific.

The days of dropping leaflets from helicopters and blaring messages from loudspeakers mounted on jeeps are over, he said. Modern information campaigns are much more sophisticated.

“What hasn’t kept pace is the moniker,” he said. Psychological operations “does have nefarious Cold War underpinnings.” Currently in vogue is “military information support teams” or MIST.

MIST is preferred when working in friendly host countries, he noted.

Various alternatives have been used recently. “Joint psychological operations support” and “joint military information support” were two attempts to change the connotation, he said.

In the Philippines, special operations officials were at pains to make sure this kinder, gentler acronym was used instead of psychological operations. The old term is still used in special operations doctrine, however, and brigades that specialize in the field still carry the Cold War era tag.

Please email your comments to SMagnuson@ndia.org

Topics: Special Operations-Low Intensity Conflict, PsyOps

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