By Sgt. Kerensa Hardy
First published in
SFOR Informer#110, April 4, 2001
Camp Butmir - One of the most difficult things SFOR
is attempting to accomplish during its mission is to try to change
the mindset of the BiH population. This is necessary to ensure
that things won't regress once SFOR departs.
Combined Joint Psychological Operations Task Force and Information
Operations merged in July 2000 to form the Information Campaign
Branch. Before this, the two offices were two separate entities.
"The purpose of ICB is to be COMSFOR's means of communicating
directly with the population here in BiH," said Danish Army
Col. Kurt Mosgaard, ICB chief.
ICB is composed of two parts: the Psychological Operations Support
Element (PSE) and Information Operations. The Info Ops section
co-ordinates to determine the messages ICB wants to send out.
The PSE sends out the messages in the form of magazines, meetings
and radio and television programs. The 50 people who make up ICB
- 21 civilians and 29 military - work together to develop products
through which COMSFOR can influence political leaders and the
population. The products speak against things like crime, corruption
most important goal is to (get) the population
that they need to work together toward a new BiH - free of war
- and understand that nationalistic behavior will not help them,"
Mosgaard said. "They need to work together for the future
of themselves and their children."
To reach these goals, PSE uses the same approach an advertisement
agency uses to market a product, said US Army Maj. Paul Hauser,
PSE media director. Hauser supervises all those involved in the
creative process. "Instead of selling products, we sell ideas
and concepts," he said. "We try and persuade people
to change their attitudes and beliefs about certain things in
accordance with the (General Framework Agreement for Peace) and
SFOR's overall mission."
The main products PSE puts out are Radio Mir and magazines. Radio
Mir is on the air 24 hours a day in the local language - 12 hours
of live programming and 12 hours of computer programming. The
broadcast is not intended for the SFOR population, but for the
people of BiH. The southwest and southeast multinational divisions
have their own radio broadcasts; MND-SW has Oksigen (Oxygen) and
MND-SE has Radio Accord (Agreement).
The MNDs share products to air on their respective broadcasts,
but all radio shows are tailored to meet the specific needs of
the audiences in each area. The radio show features a variety
of popular music and is geared to an audience made up of people
15 to 25 years of age.
Although there is no TV station, Hauser said the PSE does produce
advertisement spots and documentaries that are distributed to
local stations. It also advertises in nationwide, regional and
"Everything we do is built around trying to promote SFOR
themes and objectives," Hauser said. "Sometimes that
entails specific information from the commander of SFOR, but that
is not necessarily the sole purpose. We try to target a specific
"We can also see what needs there are and use that to influence
behavior and attitudes."
The two magazines produced by PSE are The Herald of Progress and
Mirko. The Herald of Progress is aimed at the 25 to 40 age group
and contains political and economical goals and issues. Mirko
is for a younger group - ages 11 to 17 - and promotes tolerance.
Hauser said the magazine provides alternatives and is an attempt
to break some of the molds that have been cast in BiH.
"Many of the programs are long-term, it's not something we
can cover in a six-month period," Hauser said. "Attitudes
and behaviors are learned over a lifetime, and it takes a long
time to try and change that."
Since learned behavior cannot be changed overnight, it is somewhat
difficult to measure the effect ICB products have on the population.
Hauser said one way to gauge the success is to see the way the
BiH community reacts to SFOR personnel in day-to-day interaction.
Surveys are also conducted throughout the country.
"It's a gradual process to change somebody's attitude,"
Hauser said, "especially (concerning) things central to someone's
beliefs and that have pain attached to it."
While it takes a long time to see the results of the campaigns,
if it's a success, it will have been well worth the time and effort.
SFOR at Work