Suicide terrorism how psychological operations can make a difference
Schoennauer, Eric M.
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Military Psychological Operations (PSYOP) is based on a Cold War construct that has not been significantly overhauled since the end of that era. Today's most pressing challenge, the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) requires a different solution set. The Quadrennial Defense Review, the Information Operations Roadmap, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism and the Report of the 9/11 Commission all recognize this fact. How the military PSYOP community can best adjust to this new environment and effectively address one of its major threats, that of suicide terrorism, is the subject of this paper. I will argue that examining what can, and arguably should, be done to counter the threat of suicide terrorism will also help us to see ways in which PSYOP could better be configured and employed in this new era. The first chapter of my thesis will examine the evolution of suicide terrorism in some detail but will quickly focus on what have emerged as the consensus opinions as to the motivations and vulnerabilities of this tactic. Chapter two looks at the identified motivations and vulnerabilities from a PSYOP perspective and tries to apply logical PSYOP measures against them. In chapter three I review the assets and organizational structure of the PSYOP community and suggest ways the current structure could be best applied to meet the threat. Chapter four then looks for a way ahead and focuses on how and why making three critical changes to military Psychological Operations could improve the organizations ability to accomplish its mission; not only in terms of seeking to mitigate suicide attacks but also with respect a whole host of new and expanded missions the PSYOP community will increasingly be called upon to address in the contemporary operating environment.
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