PSYOP Soldiers Strategically Influence and Deceive
Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Soldiers benefit the Army’s missions by using unconventional techniques. Their intelligence, interpersonal skills, cultural sensitivity, and foreign language proficiency help sway opinions and actions of foreign governments, groups, and individuals.
Psychological warfare requires adaptability, resilience, and problem solving to be successful. To become a PSYOP Soldier, you’ll be thoroughly tested and trained on your critical thinking skills, and your mental and physical toughness, in order to prepare you for work in the field.
Missions Made to Persuade and Motivate
As a PSYOP Soldier, you’ll work in small teams to execute missions around the world. It will be crucial that you create a human connection with leaders and civilians—relationships necessary to influence their beliefs and actions. You’ll also use social media, digital marketing, and pamphlets to share information meant to help change minds and behaviors in the U.S. Army’s interest.
Key missions include:
Influence with Information
Military Information Support Operations (MISO) missions involve sharing specific information to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, reasoning, and behavior of foreign governments and citizens. This can include cyber warfare and advanced communication techniques across all forms of media.
Military deception missions use psychological warfare to deliberately mislead enemy forces during a combat situation.
Interagency and government support missions shape and influence foreign decision making and behaviors in support of United States’ objectives.
Provide Communications for Rescue Efforts
Civil Authorities Information Support (CAIS) missions aid civilian populations during disaster relief situations by sharing critical information to support the rescue effort.
The Selection Process to Become a PSYOP Soldier
Before you can train to become a PSYOP Soldier, you’ll need to pass a 10-day course (PSYOP Assessment and Selection), where you'll be tested on your physical and psychological fitness to become a candidate for this elite force.
Next, you’ll begin the 43-week official qualification course (PSYOP Operations Specialist Course), where you’ll learn the core skills of PSYOP Soldiers including basic speaking and listening proficiency in a foreign language, military intelligence, advanced interpersonal communication, adaptive leadership, cultural analysis, and advanced social media and marketing.
Then, you’ll graduate as a PSYOP Specialist if you’re an enlisted Soldier, or as a PSYOP Officer.
Joining Army Psychological Operations
You can join the Army as a PSYOP Soldier or transfer into the role if you’re a current Soldier. There are different requirements depending on the path you take.
Additional requirements for current Soldiers:
- ASVAB placement test GT score of 107 or above
- Hold a rank between private first class and sergeant non-promotable
- Have more than 18 months in service, no more than 10 years in service, and at least 36 months remaining in service
- Reclassify from your current MOS or branch to PSYOP
Common Questions about Psychological Operations
Do I need to attend Basic Training to become a PSYOP Soldier?
Yes. In addition to Basic Combat Training, Soldiers must have completed Advanced Individual Training and U.S. Army Airborne School.
What happens if I’m not selected to PSYOP during training?
If you are not ultimately selected to join, you will be assigned to a unit as a qualified specialist in the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) you trained for while applying to PSYOP.
What equipment do PSYOP Soldiers use?
PSYOP Soldiers use effective technology to deliver critical messages during disaster or combat situations, including: The Fly Away Broadcast System, a vehicle-mounted or stationary system to broadcast radio messages or block enemy communications in the field; The Next Generation Loudspeaker System, a portable or vehicle-mounted loudspeaker to blast high quality recorded audio over large distances during disaster rescues; and video editing software, high tech cameras, and state of the art recording studios, to produce mission-critical messages.
What language could I be assigned to learn as part of PSYOP?
Assigned languages include French, Indonesian-Bahasa, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese-Mandarin, Korean, Persian-Farsi, Russian, Tagalog, Thai, Levantine, and Arabic (Egyptian).
Do PSYOP Soldiers receive extra pay?
Yes, they receive special pay for learning a foreign language and graduating from Airborne School. Their total benefits package includes more than $50,000 to further their education, 30 days of vacation per year, complete medical and dental care, initial entry and reenlistment bonuses, and more.
What is the history of Army Psychological Operations?
Founded during World War I to devastate opposing troops’ morale, the PSYOP unit has played a critical role in World War II, the Vietnam War, and recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where unconventional warfare provided by PSYOP has been crucial to national security.