Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can PSYOP Prevent Murderer Bombers?

First of all, anyone who detonates an explosive with the intent of killing others is a murderer and I frankly don’t give a rat’s ass if they end up killing themselves in the process.

The Washington Times featured an article: “Suicide Recruits Dropping in Iraq” ( which reported a decrease in foreign recruits.

Irregular Warfare reeks of local action. People know their neighborhood better than any visitor can hope to. Local conditions affect those who live there and those whose families have lived in that area in the past. Even if the report is correct, the issue remains that murderer bombers are lethal and hard to stop. A thinking and breathing IED is a dangerous weapon. It's also my contention that recuritment of murderer bombers takes place locally and must be stopped there rather than anywhere else.

From a PSYOP perspective I suspect that there is a tipping point in the mind of the recruit. The apprentice murderer reaches a point where no amount of convincing will dissuade them from going forward. This point may be reached due to the influence of peers, people they respect, or out of desperation. All the PSYOP in the world is too late.

PSYOP should be directed as early in the cycle as possible. Just as small elephants are easier to train than big ones, PSYOP should be laser focused on diverting individuals from this path is likely to have the most effect especially if the PSYOP messages come across as both credible and powerful. A prerequisite to success in this kind of a campaign would be extremely detailed local knowledge. Details like the family composition of each apartment building, the most popular gathering places, the food most closely associated with a warm family atmosphere, the most influential teachers and religious leaders and a keen sense of what has gone wrong there as well.

Messages should be delivered by complementary means with an emphasis on word of mouth and informal communications. If possible messaging should be present at key locations perhaps using artwork such as murals, graffiti and only if appropriate – posters.

Small investments at the local recruiting source will be big dividends by diverting would be murderer bombers from their course.

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