BBC News has an extremely rare article on the UK military’s psychological operations group and their work in Afghanistan.
The piece reports how the 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group have been given the Firmin Sword of Peace – an accolade recognising the building of community relations awarded by, well, the UK military.
Get your plaudits where you can, that’s what I say.
Psy Ops is a combination of marketing and public relations with more targeted psychology, sociology and anthropology to measure fast moving social changes and perceptions – largely used to inform strategy and military intelligence at the local level.
The 15 (UK) Psy Ops Group rarely ever features in the media and there’s not a great deal of information about them, although most of it has been collected on this PowerBase page.
In fact, the last time 15 (UK) Psy Ops hit the headlines was when one of their unit was killed in 2008, who was most notable in the media for being the first British female solider to die in Afghanistan.
Except for that, one of the last mentions was in 2003. And now they’re press-releasing an award given to them by their own organisation and talking to reporters.
So why the PR drive? Recruitment, it seems. Commander Steve Tatham notes that “at a time most of the Armed Forces are being cut back, his unit is being expanded”.
Despite the spin, it’s not a bad article actually. Although the Group do give the ‘we’re just telling the truth’ line it does discuss the sort of approaches they take and the problems they face.