WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Army has dropped the Vietnam-era name “psychological operations” for its branch in charge of trying to change minds behind enemy lines, acknowledging the term can sound ominous.
The Defense Department picked a more neutral moniker: “Military Information Support Operations,” or MISO.
U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw said Thursday the new name, adopted last month, more accurately reflects the unit’s job of producing leaflets, radio broadcasts and loudspeaker messages to influence enemy soldiers and civilians.
“One of the catalysts for the transition is foreign and domestic sensitivities to the term ‘psychological operations’ that often lead to a misunderstanding of the mission,” McGraw said.
Fort Bragg is home to the 4th Psychological Operations Group, the Army’s only active duty psychological operations unit. Psychological operations soldiers are trained at the post.
The name change is expected to extend to all military services, a senior defense official said in Washington.
The change was driven from the top, by Pentagon policymakers working for Defense Secretary Robert Gates. It reflects unease with the Cold War echoes of the old terminology, and the implication that the work involved subterfuge.
The change, however, left some current practitioners of psychological operations cold. Gone is the cool factor, posters to online military blogs said. With a name like MISO, one wrote, you might as well join the supply command.