PSYOP needs more science: the root cause of the branch's difficulties with assessment
Horvath, Brian R.
Sharpe, Jeffrey H.
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The Psychological Operations (PSYOP) branch has the unique responsibility for nesting assessment into every Military Information Support Operation it conducts. This critical element of PSYOPs operational design is capable of demonstrating psychological effects, identifying behavioral changes, eliminating ineffective programs, and facilitating continuous methodological improvement. Unfortunately, the PSYOP community has struggled for decades with providing valid assessments of psychological operations. Recently, numerous sources have admonished the branch for failing to deliver valid or reliable assessments. Drawing from organizational theory, this thesis develops the Dynamic Capability Alignment Model that supports PSYOP branchs development of an officer with the professional educational foundation to conduct the core task: assess. The model provided a structured/focused question framework for analyzing the branchs officer selection, training, career progression, and operational design in an attempt to identify the root cause for the communitys failure to deliver reliable assessments. The analysis identified the absence of a sound scientific foundation as the root cause of PSYOPs inability to conduct assessment. This fundamental problem is exacerbated by inadequate academic selection criteria and the existence of numerous organizational challenges. This thesis concludes with recommendations for establishment of the appropriate scientific and professional educational foundation for the PSYOP branch to execute its new core task: assess.
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