Corps to Marines: Don’t say ‘psyops’

Posted on December 31, 2011


By Gina Cavallaro – Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Dec 29, 2011 12:56:11 EST
Psychological operations, as a mission, will continue. But you can’t call it “psyops.” Instead, Marines will use the term MISO, which stands for “military information support operations.”

The term will appear in all the Marine Corps’ written material, and will be used in both verbal communications and in the titles for two military occupational specialties:

• Psychological operations officer, 0520, will become MISO officer.

• Psychological operations noncommissioned officer, 0521, will become MISO NCO.

The switch to MISO was directed for all services by the Defense Department more than a year ago by then-Secretary Robert Gates, in a Dec. 3, 2010, memo. The Corps formally announced the new terminology in Marine administrative message 715/11, posted Dec. 12. Gates had wanted services to implement changes by Sept. 30. The Corps attributed its delay in releasing the MARADMIN to ensuring a smooth transition across the service.

The Marine Corps, in concert with U.S. Special Operations Command, which is the joint proponent for MISO, conducted a Corps-wide analysis during that time to ensure that all facets of the change would be addressed. The MARADMIN was drafted and published when that process was complete.

Gates said the term “psyops” was being used negatively, connoting “propaganda, brainwashing, manipulation and deceit,” rather than the “truthful information” it was meant to convey.

The term MISO, he wrote, more accurately reflects the nature of psyop activity, which is described as “meant to influence foreign audiences to meet a commander’s objectives,” according to the Marine Corps Information Operations Center at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Missions cover a broad range but can include engaging key leaders, broadcasting messages and handing out printed materials.

The implementation of the change in Marine Corps Warfighting Publication on Psychological Operations 3-40.6 was approved Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration, but Marines won’t see the new terminology there or in other publications immediately. That will take place on the standard cycle for all publication reviews which vary across the Corps, according to MCIOC.

In other verbal or written communications, the term MISO, followed by the phrase “formerly psyop” in parenthesis, is already taking place, although MCIOC acknowledged in an email that “it will take time for all Marines to automatically think MISO instead of PSYOP.”

The name is different, but the current policy, legal, organization, and practical and doctrinal guidance for psyop activity remains unchanged.

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