Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR), Psychological Operations (PSYOPS), and Civil Affairs (C.A.) fall under one command in the Army force structure, the US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne). The use of PsyWar goes back to our nations founding though, and our military has relied upon Psychological techniques in one form or another, in every major conflict we have been involved in. This is an often overlooked aspect of warfare and though some might take the name PSYOPs to be a dirty thing, it really is not, and these boys and girls who hold this MOS (37F: Psychological Operations Specialist) do good work and should be recognized for all that they do.
I do not want to go to far back in history here, but some historical info will help put the work of our current Psywarriors into context. In Vietnam The US Army's 24th Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Detachment was formed in 1965 and was sent immediately to Vietnam. It was among the first PSYOP detachments sent to Vietnam. They first went to An Khe, assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division G-5 (Civil Affairs). They would drive around using their loudspeakers (see fig #2) to announce to locals that the An Khe area was going to see a major US troop buildup and get a runway. On 10 February 1966, the 24th PSYOP Detachment was re-designated the 245th PSYOP Company and became responsible for PSYOP in II Corps. Major Robert R. Piragowski was the first commanding officer. At Ft. Bragg he had commanded the 1st PSYWAR (Field A) Company, of the 1st PSYWAR Battalion. The 24th PSYOP worked with a ROK (Republic of Korea) Army Division (Tiger), and the 24th was reconstituted in South Korea beaming messages of freedom into the North.
In Haiti, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq our Psywarriors have been busy communicating with the populations of those conflict areas. Here is a short video about PSYOPs, from the 304th PSYOP Company:
Most of the major propaganda produced by the USAACAPOC is in the form of leaflets, and the leaflets are usually distributed from aircraft, but can be delivered by artillery or mortar rounds (see fig #3 and 4). Sound rigs mounted on Hummers (fig #5) and trucks, or hung from Helicopters (fig #6) and slow fixed wing aircraft (fig #7) are a more obnoxious method of getting the message out to the public. The command even operates flying broadcast stations (TV and Radio) from inside a special C-130 (fig #8).
I suppose that Civil Affairs got lumped into the same command because it all comes down to "Winning the Heart and Minds". Personally I think that with all the "hearts and minds" crappola has watered down the PSYOPs efforts, the true purpose for PSYOPS and PSYWAR is to instill naked fear into the core of the enemy. Whenever I think about PSYOPs, I inevitably think of the Air Assault on the beach village scene in Apocalypse Now, now that was some serious PSYOP scaring the enemy!