Unsettling Video Seeks Army Psyop Recruits

It's a tough job to fill, commander says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 2, 2024 8:00 AM CDT

The video is unsettling, with haunting images of faceless people, fire, and soldiers. The voiceover is a cascade of recognizable historical voices as the screen pulses cryptic messages touting the power of words, ideas, and "invisible hands." Hints of its origin are tucked into frames as they flash by: PSYWAR. The Army's psychological warfare soldiers are using their brand of mental combat to bring in what the service needs: recruits. And if you find the video intriguing, you may be the Army's target audience as it works to enlist soldiers to join its Special Operations Command, the AP reports.

Released in the early morning hours Thursday, the video is the second provocative recruiting ad that, in itself, exemplifies the kind of work the psyop soldiers do to influence public opinion and wage the war of words overseas. Called "Ghost in the Machine 2," it is coming out two years after the inaugural video was quietly posted on the unit's YouTube site and generated a firestorm of online chatter. "It's a recruiting video," the Army major who created it told the AP before the release. "Someone who watches it and thinks, wow, that was effective, how was it constructed—that's the kind of creative mindset we're looking for."

Psyop units are used for an array of missions that can range from simple leaflet drops to more sophisticated propaganda and messaging aimed at deceiving the enemy or shaping opinion on foreign soil. It's illegal for the US military to conduct psychological operations on Americans. Army Special Operations Command leaders and special forces recruiters hope that a new stream of chatter inspired by the video will help bring in recruits to an often unseen and little known job. "From a tactical level, the psyop mission is extremely hard to show and tell," said Lt. Col. Steve Crowe, commander of the Special Forces Recruiting Battalion. And it's the job in Army special forces that recruiters say is the hardest to fill.

(More psy-ops stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.