Sunday, September 8, 2013

THE USE OF MUSIC IN PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS



Preparing music that is emotionally and psychologically satisfying to a target audience is not as simple as it might seem. A review of some Army documents indicates that the United States PSYOP radio stations in Afghanistan constantly looked for feedback to improve its product. Early reports indicated that the speakers on the radio broadcasts sounded like “old men with bad Afghan accents.” Just as an attractive young lady might be added to a radio show in the USA as a “disk jockey,” PSYOP planners changed the Afghan radio line-up and added a young female.

The listeners also complained that the PSYOP music was too modern. I suppose it was like trying to capture the attention of older Americans with hard rock and rap music. The PSYOP planners went on a buying trip throughout Afghanistan and purchased more traditional folk music. This music had not been played on Afghan radio since before the Soviet invasion. The music brought the Afghans back to a happier time prior to the rule of the Taliban. The U.S. military discovered that the music helped the Afghan people to believe that better times were coming. This growing hope and faith in the future of Afghanistan was vital to later PSYOP efforts.

General Tommy Franks mentions hearing music in Afghanistan after the Coalition victory in his autobiography American Soldier, Harper-Collins Books, NY, 2004:

A young entrepreneur in a baseball cap stood at his packing crate kiosk peddling music cassettes. From the speakers of his boom box, a woman singer was belting out a soulful Pastun love song, accompanied by tabla drums and double-reed flutes.

The Taliban had banned music as a blasphemy. Now, they and their al Qaida allies were on the run, dead, or sitting in prison camps – and music had returned to the streets of Kabul.

“Sounds like freedom to me” I said.


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