The papers are full of reports about Corporal Sarah Bryant, the first female soldier from the UK forces to die in Aghanistan at the tragically young age of 26. Bryant was serving in Afghanistan as a member of the 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group, a tri-service PsyOps support service to the British Armed Forces.
One of the key roles of 15 (UK) PSYOPS Group seems to be similar to the US military’s human terrain system, that is, understanding the structure and dynamics of the local society and influencing the people within it.
The bedrock underpinning effective PSYOPS is Target Audience Analysis (TAA) linked to timely intelligence support. TAA involves the systematic study of people in order to enhance our understanding of a military psychological environment. TAA is crucial to the PSYOPS Estimate process and aims to: identify Target Audience attitudes, vulnerabilities and susceptibilities, developing lines of persuasion, key communicators and appropriate symbology and media to exploit a line of persuasion.
In the introduction to the report, the Group Commanding Officer cites ‘Manoeuvrism‘ as one of their key philosophies – an approach that aims to unpredictably strike the enemy at their weak points, rather than use sheer force in pitched battle.
Needless to say, accurate, up-to-date intelligence is essential for this approach and PsyOps has become a key part in this process.
Which is probably why these services seem to have been keen to recruit human scientists during the last few years to try and expand their services.