Minding the matter
Sgt. Kelly Whitteaker
First published in
SFOR Informer#145, August 15, 2002
A stereotypical image of Psychological Operations, more
commonly known as PSYOPS, often times conjures up figures
in black clothing skulking around and hiding in the dark.
Realistically however, the purpose behind PSYOPS is to help
a theatre commander guide the host nation he is working in
toward a goal - a goal for the common good.
Camp Butmir - You may wonder what exactly PSYOPS does for
SFOR and the Balkan region. According to Maj. Tripp Narrow,
U.S. Army, SFOR PSYOPS media director, their mission is an
all encompassing one for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina
"It is creating messages to change behaviour," said
Narrow, "whether it is turning in weapons, or educating
the public on tolerance, it is a way to influence behaviour
to promote a safe environment."
From posters to stickers to video clips, the people working
in PSYOPS stay busy promoting a number of campaigns to educate
the local population on a variety of issues.
"PSYOPS is basically marketing for the army to foreign
countries," Narrow explained. "We're creating messages
to try and change the attitude and behaviour of people from
Regarding the SFOR mission Narrow explained that the marketing
is done for NATO. Two other American soldiers work in PYSOPS
at Butmir. All are U.S. Army trained, but their mission is
to support NATO in BiH.
Campaigns promoted by PSYOPS are geared toward helping the
people of BiH recover from the war and are as varied as the
"We try to get people to turn weapons in that are leftover
from the war, like here in Bosnia," said Narrow. "We
also do mine awareness to inform the people and children of
the country to try and educate them - make them aware, so
they change their behaviour, so when they go to certain places
they don't step on a land mine."
The campaigns are a tool designed to support the theatre commander.
Instead of gaining monetary profits, this marketing agency's
profits are gained with an increase in peace and humanity
within the local region.
"It's operationally tied to what the commander wants
to get the population to do," said Maj. Douglas Jordan,
U.S. Army, SFOR PSYOPS operations officer.
"They have something they want the population to do,
like Maj. Narrow said, we're a marketing agency that conveys
that message. Our sales -- you can measure how many people
have turned in weapons, or how many less people have stepped
on a mine -- that is our sales."
Changing learned behaviours and attitudes can present a challenge.
However, thanks to the creative talents of the hard working
staff within the PSYOPS organisation the message is being
sent throughout BiH loud and clear.
... worth a thousand words
Looks are deceiving. On the outside, the PYSOPS section at
Camp Butmir has the appearance of any other utilitarian building.
It's functional and has a purpose in the grand scheme of SFOR.
But once inside, your eyes and ears are treated to a number
of posters, stickers and videos as well as the broadcast booth
for radio station MIR that is produced by SFOR.
Both civilian and military personnel work together creating
original ideas to help promote a positive attitude in BiH.
Illustrator Staff Sgt. Dario Stohlmeier, German Army, said
working for SFOR and PSYOPS has been a positive experience.
"It's good work," he says as he sits before a poster
he helped design. The poster shows two penguins standing together
and will be displayed at the upcoming Sarajevo
The penguins are the main characters of a tolerance animation
clip geared toward children that will be shown during the
children's portion of the festival. The clip was completely
produced by the PSYOPS graphics department.
"I'm also PYSOPS in Germany," said Stohlmeier, "The
teamwork with other nations is good."
Working for a common good is the mission behind PSYOPS as
they help a war torn country on the road to recovery and reform
by attempting to change debilitating attitudes into positive
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