Restricted U.S. Army Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Manual

A previous version of this manual from 2003 was published by the Federation of American Scientists.

FM 3-05.301 Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures

  • 250 pages
  • Distribution authorized to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by other means.
  • August 2007
  • 8.53 MB


Field Manual (FM) 3-05.301 describes the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) for the implementation of United States (U.S.) Army Psychological Operations (PSYOP) doctrine presented in the higher-level publication, FM 3-05.30, Psychological Operations. FM 3-05.301 provides general guidance for commanders, staffs, and Soldiers who plan and conduct PSYOP across the range of military operations. The TTP in this manual are presented within the framework of the seven-phase PSYOP process, a mainstay for effective PSYOP executed at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.

FM 3-05.301 is the principal reference for the PSYOP process. The contents of this manual supersede the discussion of the PSYOP process in FM 3-05.302, Tactical Psychological Operations Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (28 October 2005). Any mention of the PSYOP process in other preceding doctrine or training literature should be validated by the contents of FM 3-05.301. This manual incorporates updated organizational structures, terminology, and capabilities to provide PSYOP Soldiers with the latest guidance to support a broad range of missions. This manual describes procedures and strategies derived from applied scientific and academic disciplines in an effort to improve the efficacy of the PSYOP process. These TTP are designed to facilitate the successful execution of each phase of the process: planning; target audience analysis; series development; product development and design; approval; production, distribution, and dissemination; and evaluation.

The PSYOP community, in general, is the intended audience for this manual. Members of the tactical, regional, and dissemination PSYOP battalions should find the information particularly useful. Written to give PSYOP officers, noncommissioned officers (NCOs), enlisted Soldiers, and civilians standardized PSYOP doctrine, FM 3-05.301 is a comprehensive how-to guide that focuses on critical PSYOP tasks, duties, and responsibilities.

Behavior Modification

2-58. Behavior can be modified by changing the conditions or situations that lead up to the TA’s current behavior. Behavior can also be modified by the manipulation of the consequences of the TA’s current behavior or by introducing new consequences (rewards and punishments) a TA receives for engaging in a behavior.

2-59. Decreasing a behavior involves devaluing or reducing the positive consequences and increasing the value of the negative consequences a TA receives. Removing something desirable or pleasant to a TA that is currently reinforcing a behavior, or introducing something into the TA’s environment that it finds unpleasant, are ways of decreasing a behavior.

2-60. Increasing a behavior involves increasing the value of the positive consequences and decreasing the value of the negative consequences a TA receives. Introducing or emphasizing things in the TA’s environment that are desirable or pleasant when it engages in the desired behavior, or removing things that are unpleasant when it engages in the desired behavior, are ways of increasing a behavior.


2-66. Psychographics are psychological characteristics of a TA. These are internal psychological factors— attitudes, values, lifestyles, motivations, and opinions. Psychographics might include characteristics such as fears, loves, hates, cultural norms, and values. Psychographics are vulnerabilities because they provoke an emotional response from the TA that can be used to increase the effectiveness of a PSYOP argument or PSYACT. Although often difficult to derive from standard intelligence and open sources, they can prove to be very effective in persuasion.

2-67. Psychographics include the following:

•    Fears: What does the TA fear?
•    Hates: What does the TA hate?
•    Anger: What angers the TA?
•    Loves: What does the TA love?
•    Shame or embarrassment: What does the TA consider shameful or embarrassing?
•    What is the TA dissatisfied with? (What are its gripes?)
•    What are the cultural norms? (How is the TA expected to act?)
•    What does the TA value? (What is important to the TA?)
•    What are the frustrations? (What does the TA want that it cannot get?)

Some examples of psychographics include the following:
•    Green Tribe fighters have a very acute fear of fire/being burned alive based upon past experiences while fighting the Ruskinian Army in the 1980s. The Ruskinians used incendiaries, to include napalm, on Green Tribe positions.
•    TA considers any effeminate characteristics/actions by males to be very shameful/embarrassing. These actions include crying, caring for children, housework, and physical displays of affection, such as holding hands and hugging between men.
•    Male members of the TA are expected to work outside the home and provide for their immediate family and often other elderly/infirm members of their extended family.
•    Red Tribesmen in the Birmingville area are highly dissatisfied with the perceived lack of progress on the electrical distribution system in the city.
•    TA places a high value on education and will make great sacrifices to ensure the best education for its children.


2-95. An appeal is the overall approach used to present the main argument. It is the flavor or tone of the argument. Appeals gain the TA members’ attention and maintain their interest throughout the argument. Appeals are selected based upon the conditions and vulnerabilities of the TA. For example, a TA that does not believe the government of its country is legitimate will not be swayed by an appeal to legitimacy, whereas a military TA may be greatly affected by an appeal to authority. The following is a list of general persuasive appeals commonly used in PSYOP:

•    Legitimacy.
•    Inevitability.
•    In group-out group.
•    Bandwagon.
•    Nostalgia.
•    Self-interest (gain/loss).

2-96. Legitimacy appeals use law, tradition, historical continuity, or support of the people. The following are types of legitimacy appeals:

•    Authority: An appeal to laws or regulations, or to people in superior positions in the social hierarchy. For example, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, NCOs and officers, police officers, parents, or government officials. The TA must recognize the authority for the appeal to work.
•    Reverence: An appeal to a belief-teaching institution or individual that is revered or worshiped; for example, the Dalai Lama, the Roman Catholic Church, or even a sports figure such as Michael Jordan.
•    Tradition: An appeal to that which the TA is already used to. It is behavior that is repeated continually without question. Why do people have turkey on Thanksgiving? Because it has always been that way.
•    Loyalty: An appeal to groups to which the TA belongs. Examples are military units, family, or friends. This appeal is usually used to reinforce behavior that already occurs.

2-97. Inevitability appeals most often rely on the emotion of fear, particularly fear of death, injury, or some other type of harm. For example, if a person does not surrender, he will die, or if a person does not pay his taxes, he will go to jail. It can also be an appeal to logic. Both require proof that the promised outcome will actually occur. Therefore, it is crucial that credibility be gained and maintained throughout
the argument.

2-98. An in group-out group appeal seeks to divide a TA or separate two TAs. It creates an enemy of one group, and encourages the other group to rebel/discriminate against them. This appeal frequently points out major differences between TAs, or factions of a TA. If PSYOP cannot effectively portray the in group in a negative manner, the appeal will fail.

2-99. Bandwagon appeals play upon the TA’s need to belong or conform to group standards. The two main types of bandwagon appeal are an appeal to companionship and an appeal to conformity. Peer pressure is an example of the conformity type of bandwagon appeal.

2-100. Nostalgia appeals refer to how things were done in the past. This appeal can be used to encourage or discourage a particular behavior. In a positive light, it refers to the “good old days” and encourages the TA to behave in a manner that will return to those times. In the negative, it points out how things were bad in the past and how a change in behavior will avoid a repeat of those times.

2-101. Self-interest appeals are those that play directly to the wants and desires of the individuals that make up a TA. This type of appeal can play upon the TA’s vulnerability for acquisition, success, or status. A self-interest appeal can be presented in the form of a gain or loss. An appeal to loss would be exploiting the fact that if the TA does not engage in the desired behavior, PSYOP cannot satisfy a want. An appeal to gain would inform the TA that to satisfy a want, the TA must engage in a desired behavior.


2-102. For the purposes of TAA, techniques refer to the specific methods used to present information to the TA. Effective persuasion techniques are based on the conditions affecting the TA and the type of information being presented. Determining the most effective technique or combination of techniques to persuade the TA is only accomplished through a cultivated understanding of the TA and its behavior.

2-103. Persuasion and influence are the primary tools of PSYOP. As such, PSYOP Soldiers must strive to become familiar with, and ultimately develop, tactical and technical proficiency in the use of persuasion techniques. The following are some specific techniques used to present supporting arguments to the TA:

•    Glittering generalities. These are intense, emotionally appealing words so closely associated with highly valued concepts and beliefs that the appeals are convincing without being supported
by fact or reason. The appeals are directed toward such emotions as love of country and home, and desire for peace, freedom, glory, and honor.
•    Transference. This technique projects positive or negative qualities of a person, entity, object, or value to another. It is generally used to transfer blame from one party in a conflict to another.
•    Least of evils. This technique acknowledges that the COA being taken is perhaps undesirable, but emphasizes that any other COA would result in a worse outcome.
•    Name-calling. Name-calling seeks to arouse prejudices in an audience by labeling the object of the propaganda as something the TA fears, loathes, or finds undesirable.
•    Plain folks or common man. This approach attempts to convince the audience that the position noted in the PSYOP argument is actually the same as that of the TA. This technique is designed to win the confidence of the audience by communicating in the usual manner and style of the audience. Communicators use ordinary or common language, mannerisms, and clothes in face-to-face and other audiovisual communications when they attempt to identify their point of view with that of the average person.
•    Testimonials. Testimonials are quotations (in and out of context) that are cited to support or reject a given policy, action, program, or personality. The reputation or the role of the individual giving the statement is exploited. There can be different types of testimonial authority. Official testimonials use endorsements or the approval of people in authority or well known in a particular field. Personal sources of testimonials may include hostile leaders, fellow soldiers, opposing leaders, famous scholars, writers, popular heroes, and other personalities.
•    Insinuation. Insinuation is used to create or increase TA suspicions of ideas, groups, or individuals as a means of dividing the adversary. The PSYOP Soldier hints, suggests, and implies, but lets the TA draw its own conclusions.
•    Presenting the other side. Some people in a TA believe that neither of the belligerents is entirely virtuous. To them, messages that express concepts solely in terms of right and wrong may not be credible. Agreement with minor aspects of the enemy’s point of view may overcome this cynicism.
•    Simplification. In this technique, facts are reduced to either right, wrong, good, or evil. The technique provides simple solutions for complex problems and offers simplified interpretations of events, ideas, concepts, or personalities.
•    Compare and contrast. Two or more ideas, issues, or choices are compared and differences between them are explained. This technique is effective if the TA has a needs conflict that must be resolved.
•    Compare for similarities. Two or more ideas, issues, or objects are compared to try and liken one to the other. This technique tries to show that the desired behavior or attitude (SPO) is
similar to one that has already been accepted by the TA.
•    Illustrations and narratives. An illustration is a detailed example of the idea that is being presented. It is an example that makes abstract or general ideas easier to comprehend. If it is in a story form, it is a narrative.
•    Specific instances. These are a list of examples that help prove the point.
•    Statistics. Statistics have a certain authority, but they must be clear enough to show the TA why they are relevant. In most cases, it is best to keep the statistical evidence simple and short so the TA can easily absorb it.
•    Explanations. These are used when a term or idea is unfamiliar to the TA.

Primary Influence Tactics

2-104. These primary influence tactics are widely applicable to many situations, cultures, and TAs. By using the appropriate influence tactics in products and actions, the persuasiveness of PSYOP will be magnified. The following are examples of primary influence tactics:

•    Rewards and punishments: “If you do X, you will get Y,” or “if you do not do X, Y will happen to you.” Example: “Surrender, and you will be treated well; continue to fight, and you will be killed.”
•    Expertise: “Speaking as an authority on the subject, I can tell you that rewards/punishments will occur if you do or do not do X.” Example: “Oil Minister Gregor (key communicator/expert) states that if rebel groups continue to sabotage oil pipelines, the national economy will be seriously affected.”
•    Gifts: Giving something as a gift before requesting compliance. The idea is that the target will feel the need to reciprocate later. Example: “This well and cistern are a gift to the people of Birmingville from the coalition forces…demonstration of our good will and hope for mutual cooperation in the future.”
•    Debt: Calling in past favors. Example: “Coalition forces have done a lot for Birmingville, Elder Chang: the new school, the well in the center of town… these insurgents are endangering all we have worked for together. We need your help in stopping these groups by reporting any information you and your people may discover.”
•    Aversive stimulation: Continuous punishment, and the cessation of punishment, is contingent on compliance. Example: “We will continue to bomb your position unless you surrender immediately.”
•    Moral appeal: Entails finding moral common ground, and then using the moral commitments of a person to obtain compliance. Example: “The killing of innocent civilians is wrong; please help the security forces stop this tragic loss of innocent life by reporting any information on terrorist activities.”
•    Positive and negative self-feeling: “You will feel better/bad if you do X.” Example: “Become part of something bigger than yourself, know honor and take pride in your work…join the national security forces!”
•    Positive and negative altercasting: “Good people do X / Bad people do Y.” Example: “Red Tribe members are brave and honorable people who care about the future of their country and are not intimidated by rebel groups. Call and report insurgent activity now on the coalition hotline.”
•    Positive and negative esteem of others: “Other people will think highly/less of you if you do X.” Example: “Earn the respect of your friends and the pride of your family…join the Patriotsville National Guard now!”
•    Fear: “Bad things will happen to you if you do X.” Example: “Only death and fire await those who continue to fight…surrender now.”

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