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Army Deploys Psychological Operations on U.S. Senators

That’s the title of a fascinating story in Rolling Stone Magazine.

The role of Psy-Ops is to play with people’s heads and get them to behave in a desired, and predetermined, manner. In order to get more money and resources for Afganistan, the US Army might have crossed the line from power point presentation to full blown psychological manipulation. 

Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, who, according to the article, was asked to employ persuasion tactics against VIP visitors, received an official reprimand after bucking orders. Perhaps he didn’t fall victim to over-influence from authority because he’s keenly aware of this bias.

Congressional delegations – known in military jargon as CODELs – are no strangers to spin. U.S. lawmakers routinely take trips to the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they receive carefully orchestrated briefings and visit local markets before posing for souvenir photos in helmets and flak jackets. Informally, the trips are a way for generals to lobby congressmen and provide first-hand updates on the war. But what Caldwell was looking for was more than the usual background briefings on senators. According to Holmes, the general wanted the IO team to provide a “deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds.” The general’s chief of staff also asked Holmes how Caldwell could secretly manipulate the U.S. lawmakers without their knowledge. “How do we get these guys to give us more people?” he demanded. “What do I have to plant inside their heads?”

…As for the operation targeting U.S. senators, there is no way to tell what, if any, influence it had on American policy. What is clear is that in January 2011, Caldwell’s command asked the Obama administration for another $2 billion to train an additional 70,000 Afghan troops – an initiative that will already cost U.S. taxpayers more than $11 billion this year. Among the biggest boosters in Washington to give Caldwell the additional money? Sen. Carl Levin, one of the senators whom Holmes had been ordered to target.

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