Monday, October 17, 2016

Psychological Warfare and Propaganda, more than just simple ghost stories - Matthew George

To first understand Psychological Warfare in action we need to understand some customs of the Vietnamese that were used against them through this type of warfare. In some cultures, one of which being the Vietnamese: the dead are honored with a proper burial, doing so allows the soul to rest. If an individual is not able to obtain a proper burial, then their soul is forced to wander the lands aimlessly in eternal pain and suffering. In essence If you are not given a proper burial you are sentenced to Hell, simply replace the fire and brimstones with the world surrounding you instead. A soldier that dies in battle is not guaranteed a proper burial: Thus for Americans our greatest fear would probably be dying in a war, but for the Vietnamese their fear is eternal suffering should they die in the war. Imagine the suffering the man (fictional) Tim O’Brien killed in the book would be enduring now. To this day over 300,000 Vietcong and North Vietnamese are either missing or dead, leaving families to spend weekends moving from tombstone to tombstone in search of their children's name across the hundreds of veteran graveyards across all of Vietnam.

Psychological Warfare is using belief, culture, against your enemies to demoralize them, to weaken them without defeating them directly. In Vietnam, we as Americans used that belief of spirits requiring a proper burial against them. We created audio tapes in "Operation: Wandering Soul" whose job was to scare enemy troops by pretending to sound like various ghosts walking the dirt streets of an Earthen hell: from children playing to conversations between parents and child, One of the more famous being Ghost Tape #10, below is a video of this exact recording and following it is the English Translation of the tape.
{Funeral Music and the Wailing Sounds of a Moaning Ghost}
{The Daughter "Hai" Crys Out for Her Father}

Daddy, daddy, come home with me, come home. Daddy! Daddy!

{The Ghost Father Responds}
! Hai !
Who is that? Who is calling me? My daughter? My wife?
Your Father is back home with you, my daughter
Your Husband is back home with you, my wife
But my body is gone. I am dead, my family

Tragic ... how tragic

My friends, I come back to let you know that I am dead ... I am dead
I am in Hell ... just Hell
It was a senseless death. How senseless ... how senseless
But when I realized the truth, it was too late ... too late

Friends ... while you are still alive ...
There is still a chance that you can be reunited with your loved ones
Do you hear what I say?

Go home ... Go home friends
Hurry ... If not, you will end up like me
Go home my friends before it is too late

Go home! ... Go home friends!

! Ve Di ! ... ! Ve Di Ban !
!! VE DI !! ... !! VE DI !!

{More Moans From the Afterlife}

True to the goals of psychological warfare these recordings had a number of effects: The first being that they drew fire from enemy forces who heard moaning in the middle of the night (Which was when these recordings were played for additional scare factors), second being they instilled fear and caused the opponents to flee, breaking formation and points they were supposed to defend and keep watch over. A good idea to imagine would be if Johnson flat out fled the bunker in "The Ghost Soldiers" chapter instead of simply panicking and hunkering down. Even worse was that they still affected the enemy even when they realized the tactic of using ghostly recordings after a while as it implanted the idea that one day those soldiers may be like the fake ghosts in the recordings moaning and suffering.

Moving onto Propaganda we get into a bit more of a diverse topic. Whereas psychological warfare is meant to weaken the opponent, propaganda can do not only that but also influence the thoughts and opinions of allied forces. Our propaganda with the Vietnam War began even before America got involved. It started with how we perceived the war in and of itself: A northern Communist threatening the peaceful Democratic south which threatened the entirety of Asia with the fear of Communism. Perceiving Southern Vietnam as this keystone for all of Asia was known as "The Domino Effect", and was one of the driving factors in getting America involved with the war in the first place. An example of Propaganda being used against the enemy is the Chieu Hoi Program, which sought to reward defectors of the Viet Cong by providing for them an easy way to escape the war and integrate peacefully with South Vietnam (Which was also quite cost effective at $125 spent per defector compared to $400,000 spent to kill them).
A good summary of what the Chieu Hoi Program sought to accomplish

There are many ways to win a war, and often different methods are best suited to different scenarios but often against Humans there is a simple and effective method to defeating the enemy: Cripple Them. Take away an enemy soldiers gun and weaponry and they will fight with rocks and sticks, but take away their belief in fighting, take away the reason for why they fight and corrupt it: prove that their actions are wrong and they will put down whatever they wield in the name of peace. This is the goal of psychological warfare and propaganda when used against the enemy: and you cripple them without ever having to raise a fist.


  1. Its scary to see that the same way you can win a war is the same way you can lose a war. Mentally trying to get in the heads of the enemy may actually cause the supplier to become crazy. This helps me understand what Rat Kiley was going through.

  2. This topic helps me understand why people in war do the things they do, like why Rat Kiley lashed out at the buffalo.

  3. Your sanity is always been tested during war but this strategy is takes it to another level. Its a smart strategy to keep your enemy in constant fear. It is scary to think about how you are never safe in a time of war.


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