Throughout this post, comparisons will be made to the ongoing conflict in Syria though much of UW can be applied broadly to any number of conflicts in recent memory.
PSYOPS play a critical role in Unconventional Warfare (UW) campaigns alongside a wide range of symbiotic strategies.
The US Army Special Operations Forces Manual (2008) obtained and released by Wikileaks in 2013. Is a comprehensive 248-page guide on how to initiate, cultivate, negotiate and execute political and military objectives through UW.
It’s an updated revision of the of the US Army Field Manual providing an in-depth understanding of the application of UW by US power.
Wikileaks describes the document as such:
Unconventional Warfare, as of this manual is being defined as Operations conducted by, with, or through irregular forces in support of a resistance movement, an insurgency, or conventional military operations., reflecting two important criteria: UW must be conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and such surrogates must be irregular forces.
Other Military field manuals released by Wikileaks include the US Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense Operations, FM 3-05.202, Feb 2007. This manual is employed in areas where the US provides undeclared support against internal revolt and insurgency.
The document, which is official US Special Forces policy, directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control, restrictions on labor unions & political parties, suspending habeas corpus, warrantless searches, detainment without charge, bribery, employing terrorists, false flag operations, concealing human rights abuses from journalists, and extensive use of "psychological operations" (propaganda) to make these and other "population & resource control" measures palatable.
This post focuses primarily on the use of PSYOPS in Unconventional Warfare campaigns. Because US Field Manuals contain a large amount of military jargon the following acronyms will be helpful. Here’s a short list of acronyms relevant to this post.
- UW – Unconventional Warfare
- PSYOP – Psychological Operation
- CA – Civil Affairs
- CMO – Civil-Military Operation
- FOB – Forward Operational Base
- JSOA – Joint Security Operation Area
- SFOA – Special Forces Operation Area
- SFOD – Special Forces Operation Detachment
- SFOB – Special Forces Operational Base
- USG – United States Government
Visualizing UW in Social Revolution
UW campaigns are complex and multifaceted. Necessary elements are often installed years in advance of any full-scale operation. The following diagram helps illustrate the complexity of UW campaigns.
Social Movement | Unconventional Warfare | Social Revolution
A: Reform-orientated social movements
B: Externally Sponsored Guerilla Forces to harass, disrupt, or coerce a regime
C: Indigenous Coups d’Etat
D: (A+B) Indigenous resistance movements seeking to disrupt a target regime
E: (A+C) Indigenous movements seeking to overthrow a regime
F: (B+C) Externally sponsored insurgency or coups d’etats for regime change
G: UW campaigns that mobilize indigenous social movements aiming for regime change
When we consider the conflict zones around the globe where the United States is officially, and unofficially, engaged these strategies are evidently at play on various levels. Countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, the Ukraine and Syria immediately come to mind.
It's particularly instructive in understanding the Syrian conflict presently as well as perhaps studying the march towards destabilizing and potentially overthrowing the Iranian regime where any combination of these strategies may be employed to realize US foreign policy objectives.
Foreign Fighters in Syrian Conflict
Particularly relevant to the crisis in Syria is:
B: Externally Sponsored Guerilla Forces to harass, disrupt, or coerce a regime
In the case of Syria much, if not all, of the various 'rebel freedom fighters' engaged in armed conflict are sponsored by foreign powers. The US freely admits that it provides weapons and support to 'moderate rebel groups' along with its allies.
In addition, the terrorist organizations ISIS and Al Qaeda play significant roles in destabilization efforts in Syria. Disclosures from Wikileaks prove that the Washington is keenly aware that these terror groups receive financial support from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The Role of PsyOps in UW
Before engaging in UW a ‘thorough’ area study should be completed which encompasses a full spectrum analysis of political climate, religious elements, weather, standard of living, medical concerns, education system government services.
A thorough study is required in order to (develop) strong psyop and civil affairs plans that are crucial to the support of a strong UW plan.
Psychological operations are a key component of Unconventional Warfare and underpin the overall operations aimed at destabilizing and/or subverting an undesirable regime.
Psyop units prepare the resistance organization of civilians of a potential JSOA (Joint Security Operations Area) to accept US sponsorship and the subsequent assistance of SFODs.
PSYOP objectives in a UW operation include:
The White Helmets PSYOP
Let's explore the role of PSYOP objectives in UW as it applies to the ongoing Syrian conflict
- Creating popular support for the insurgency movement
- Developing support of the populace to allow the insurgents to avoid detection and move freely.
- Promoting the recruitment of others into the resistance movement
- Discrediting the existing government and its programs
- Informing the international community of the goodwill and intent of the United States and insurgents.
- Gaining support of the indigenous populace for US support and presence
- Countering hostile propaganda
- Training members of the indigenous population or force in PSYOP (target audience analysis, local product development, targeting, dissemination, and analysis of impact indicators).
- Maintaining motivation among the insurgents.
- Passing information or instructions to the resistance organization or its subordinate elements.
- Providing a “link” between the resistance organizations and foreign populations
- Promoting reforms the insurgent organization will establish after the hostile government’s overthrow.
There are many parts to unpack here but lets have a closer look at a few of the most relevant points in regards to Syria.
Creating popular support
The White Helmets are also known as the Syrian Civil Defense. However, the White helmets have stolen the name of the 63 year old Syrian organization and created a fraudulent search and rescue organization. The White Helmets are funded by USAID, Chemonics, MayDay, and by US, UK and the Netherlands for a combined total of $150 million USD.
The amount of attention that the White Helmets have received from western media is striking. The Syrian conflict is on the world stage and therefore creating popular support for Western objectives is paramount. The 2016 Netflix documentary that won an Academy award depicting the White Helmets as heroic figures in the Syrian conflict is perhaps the preeminent example but certainly only a small part of the ongoing propaganda produced by 'humanitarian' organization.
Gaining support of the indigenous populace for US support and presence.
Informing the international community of the goodwill and intent of the United States and insurgents.
Although, this objective has only been partially achieved it continues to be a key strategic goal of the White Helmets and anti-Assad rebel forces in Syria. More importantly, the propaganda material created by the White Helmets is aimed at Western audiences to stir the emotions and create a sense of outrage towards the Syrian government. Conversely, it's used to associate altruism and humanitarianism with the White Helmets. The ultimate aim of the White Helmets is to win the support of Western populations for Western intervention and regime change.
The White Helmets were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.
Countering hostile propaganda
Alternative perspectives on what's actually happening in Syria are labeled - Pro-Assad apologists, conspiracy theorists and Pro-Russian propagandists.
The White Helmets counter hostile perspectives by producing more and more propaganda of their own. Western powers have relentlessly pursued false flag chemical attacks since 2013. Claims of these attacks have been accompanied by graphic videos (supplied by the White Helmets) of suffocating children apparently victims suffering from chemical inhalation. The latest claims of chemical attacks in Douma in April of 2018, resulted in military action by the United States.
Training members of the indigenous population or force in PSYOP
The White Helmets are very media savvy producing and disseminating their material widely using social media and they know exactly who their target audience is. In 2016, the White Helmets attempted to create a viral video by joining in the "Mannequin Challenge". In this instance, their determination to make a viral video of their members digging a man out of the rubble of a collapsed building backfired as it showed how well they were able to stage life-like events.
The 'humanitarian' organization claims to have trained over 3,000 volunteers throughout Syria but their training facilities are outside Gaziantep located in Turkey. This is a place described by the Guardian in 2016 as being home to ISIS killers and sex trade...
Passing information or instructions to the resistance organization or its subordinate elements.
The White Helmets have been shown to be affiliated with known terrorist groups Al-Qaeda and Al Nustra Front. Members of the White Helmets have been photographed celebrating with armed terrorists and even brandishing weaponry. Reporter Vanessa Beeley revealed that the White Helmets even share field offices with Al Nustra insurgents.
Providing a “link” between the resistance organizations and foreign populations
Without a doubt, the main purpose of this fake organization is to conduct an extensive public relations campaign aimed at manipulating public perception. The White Helmets are the focal point for generating support for western interventionism and the establishment of a "No-Fly-Zone" over Syria (aka NATO bombing campaign - see Libya). The White Helmets are portrayed as the human face of the resistance while the Assad regime is portrayed as a blood thirsty tyrant who gasses his own people.
Washington's Merchant of War Peddles the No-Fly-Zone in Syria Calls for Another Libya
In this post we're only able to cover a tiny fraction of how UW and PSYOPS are employed in modern day warfare. We focused on the use of PSYOPS in the preparation stage of UW.
The employment of PSYOPs continues throughout many more phases of an UW campaign right up until Combat Employment and Demobilization.
In the case of Syria, the only piece that's missing is the deployment of conventional forces that would include full scale NATO bombing campaign and/or occupation.
I think it's important to reiterate part of the statement from Wikileaks at the top of the piece outlining the employment of :
...false flag operations, concealing human rights abuses from journalists, and extensive use of "psychological operations" (propaganda) to make these and other "population & resource control" measures palatable.
Those who refuse to drink the msm cool-aid can easily recognize the EXTENSIVE USE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS and FALSE FLAGS in Syria.
To be certain, these are not half-baked conspiracies dreamt up by tin foil hat wearing alt-right nutcases.
No, it's right there in black and white in the US Special Forces Field Manual.
In recent weeks, Russia has warned of an upcoming false flag in Idlib as the Syrian Army backed by Russian air power looks to vanquish the last vestiges of the rebel insurgency in the country. The false flag (possible another gas attack) has yet to materialize but oddly enough US and NATO allies have begun to predict that Assad forces are poised to launch another chemical attack on the civilian population.
There is “lots of evidence” chemical weapons are being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib, north-west Syria, the new US representative for Syria has said, warning any attack on the last big rebel enclave would be a “reckless escalation”.
“I am very sure that we have very, very good grounds to be making these warnings,” said Jim Jeffrey, who was named on 17 August as secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s special adviser on Syria overseeing talks on a political transition. “Any offensive is to us objectionable as a reckless escalation,” Jeffrey said. “There is lots of evidence that chemical weapons are being prepared.”
"Lots of Evidence"?
The PSYOPs continue...
In an upcoming piece, I hope to delve further into UW PSYOPs and Syria. However, I also encourage anyone interested in this topic to take the plunge into these Military Manuals as they shed light on much of what we've seen coming out of Syria and other conflict zones over the last several years.