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PsyOps in Afghanistan

Sgt Robertson speaks to locals on patrol in Afghanistan

“Well it has been about eight months since I returned from my tour in Afghanistan and I have shared my thoughts and experiences with many people, so when I was asked to write an article for the Hackle, I thought why not? I was honoured to speak at both A Coy and B Coy mess dinners and Lcol (Retd) Adcock roped me in to speaking at a Probus (retired business mens rotary club) meeting. I knew it was worth sharing my experiences with those people because a few gentlemen approached me after the presentation and thanked me for giving such a personal account of the mission in Afghanistan. All we hear is negative accounts from the media, they said.

I joined PSYOPS back in September of 2007 with the hopes of landing a spot in the platoon to go on Roto 6. Thats not exactly how things ended upAt the end of November, after we had all finished the PSYOPS Disseminator course, we were all offered our positions. A couple weeks later I found out that I would be part of the TF HQ and would not only be deploying four months earlier than expected but would also be overseas for almost ten months. So I spent almost ten months as a PSYOPS Target Audience Analyst (TAA) for TF Kandahar HQ Roto 5.

What does a PSYOPS TAA do? I worked on my own, usually with my own interpreter and my job was to gather information on the attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and behaviours of local nationals (LNs). I wrote several reports about LNs and sent them up higher to assist the PSYOPS Pl Comd with planning. The other TAA (MCpl Bob Ghosh) and I also attended shuras, conducted face to face interviews with LNs, administered surveys, tested PSYOPS products on LNs and facilitated focus groups. All of these activities would contribute to overall periodic reports sent up higher. Through the primary and secondary research the TAAs conducted we would also assist in the development of PSYOPS products and messaging. Our four main PSYOPS objectives were: Counter IED (C-IED), Professionalization of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), Promotion of the Government and Coalition Forces working together with ANSF.

Sgt Robertson on patrol in Afghanistan

I had the opportunity to work with several different organizations which made the tour very enjoyable and enriching. I worked with the PPCLI Battle Group on an operation when I first hit the ground in May, so reality set in right away. I was augmented into a tactical PSYOPS team (TPT) from out west. It was awesome working with them; we had been on course together that past November. I spent about a month with them, learned a lot about how to deal with not only LNs and face-to-face communication, but also how to sell PSYOPS to other organizations like the BG, ForcePro, etc. I spent a lot of time working with the POMLT (Police Operational Mentor and Liaison Team) out in Zhari, Panjwayi and KandaharCity. This organization was always very welcoming in that PSYOPS work is a lot like community policing. Actually had the pleasure of working with Sgt Monteith and his team out in Panjwayi, and of course saw Cpl Strudwick, who was a member of a TPT, several times in passing. I also worked with the civilian police (CIVPOL) out of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in KandaharCity and assisted in gathering information about the progress of the professionalization of the Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP). I also did a lot of work on Afghan women. I had the opportunity to participate in several focus groups with CIMIC and CIDA. I also was given the task to write a briefing note for the CDS about Afghan women and their struggles.

In closing, it was a life changing experience, and I will never forget the amazing people I met and worked with.”

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