The public in Sweden is experiencing the strongest onslaught from the leadership of NATO, prominent European politicians loyal to the media alliance, in unison recommending a neutral country to join the bloc "in the face of the Russian threat." Unexpectedly, a new figure appeared in this propaganda team - insignificant by political weight, but significant.
The commander of the elite unit of psychological operations (PSO) of the Swedish Armed Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Tome, introduced Lepta into the heightening of tension. He announced a Russian propaganda attack on the Baltic countries and noted that although little is known about his unit in the Swedish army, he is quite ready to carry out military information campaigns.
Let's clarify: “little is known” not about the division itself, but about its achievements. Information about the size, staffing, functional responsibilities of all nine officers and lower ranks, technical equipment and weapons is enough to make an objective conclusion about the potential and professional competence. For obvious reasons, most of the activities of the unit are secret. But sometimes information leaks into the open source. One of the first veils of mystery was the attempt to dispel the Swedish magazine Fokus, which published an article under the symptomatic heading “The Secret Soldiers of Swedish Propaganda”. The publication informed readers about the presence in the national armed forces of a unit of psychological operations, whose personnel possess special methods of influencing the attitude and behavior of an opponent.
The formation of a psychological defense system in Sweden is accompanied by large-scale scientific research conducted by the military at the Center for Asymmetric Threats and Terrorism (Centrum for asymmetriska hot och terrorismstudier - CATS) of the National Defense College (SNDC). “Asymmetric threats with elements of horror and hybrid war are more likely today than classic military invasions,” says Eino Tubin of the Royal Swedish Academy of Military Sciences. Currently, the research work of CATS staff is focused on four areas - counter-terrorism strategies, information analysis, cyber security, information operations. CATS is funded by the Swedish Contingency Agency (MSB).
An analysis of the results of research, drawn up in a voluminous military-strategic doctrine, reveals the apparent Sweden to the concept of psychological operations adopted by the United States and recommended by NATO. The increased attention of the countries - members of the alliance to the development of modern concepts of information operations was manifested in the creation of a permanent multinational forum for specialists in this field The Multinational Information Operations Experiment (MNIOE) and designed to “identify common and different approaches in the conceptual understanding of information operations”. At the doctrinal level, the NATO vision was expressed in the White Paper prepared by MNIOE “INFO OPS in future coalition operations”. The developers of the final report of the NATO Research and Technology Organization (RTO) Work Package 1 are: Overview of INFO OPS documents are Swedish experts M. Lev and A. Marklund.
In the baseline of the MC 422 / 1 Alliance “NATO Military Policy in the Field of INFO OPS”, information operations are understood as measures designed to influence decision-making in support of political and military objectives. The key strategic guidelines for information support include the formation of a positive image of the armed forces in the eyes of the national and international community and the neutralization of the efforts of countries taking a negative attitude towards NATO actions in conflict zones. The objectives of the operational-tactical level are to discredit the governments and political groups of the opposing countries in the eyes of their own population and world public opinion, demoralize enemy personnel, induce them to desertion and disobedience, positively present opposition forces to the authorities, and counteract the spread of rumors and disinformation.
The new concept of psychological warfare developed by CATS and coordinated with the United States and NATO provides for waging not only defensive, but also preventive offensive actions against an alleged enemy. In order to increase their efficiency, it was considered expedient to create a specialized unit in the structure of the Swedish Armed Forces. This, as well as the alleged participation in the operations of international forces outside the country, implies serious training of personnel. In 2016, the Swedish Armed Forces launched a new basic training program, which, according to Mundus News chief editor Jessica Nilsson Williams, has already received the name soldier fabriken. More than four thousand contract soldiers will be trained annually for further service in the island of Gotland, in the cities of Karlskrona and Enköping. It was in this picturesque place on the river Enchepingso, which flows into Lake Mälaren, 78 kilometers west of Stockholm and a new subdivision of the Swedish Armed Forces - 10 th Psykologiska operationer forband - 10. Psyopsforband was deployed.
Advanced technology of conducting psychological operations Swedish officers are studying in the center and school of special methods of warfare to them. JF Kennedy in Fort Bragg (North Carolina). Captain David Bergman, a holder of degrees in sociology and psychology, is frankly admitted to Fokus magazine: "We took all the educational materials home and laid them out in the conference room." Leading the training of personnel and holding the post of chief of staff of the 10 squad of PSO Bergman competently testifies to the direct borrowing of the main provisions and definitions of the American and NATO doctrine of psychological operations. This is probably why the unit reproduces the organizational and staff structure of the PSPs of the NATO member countries, although it is significantly inferior to them in terms of their numbers. The main combat unit is a platoon, not a battalion. Distinguishing signs of the personnel - protective stripes on the sleeves of the jacket: on the right shoulder - with the logo of the PSU personnel, on the left - with the name of the unit 10. Psyopsforband between the national flag of Sweden (top) and the emblem of the 1 training mobilization regiment (bottom).
From 2011, the mission of the PSU unit of the Swedish Armed Forces is under the direct control of the military leadership of the country. Managing the special activities of 10, Lieutenant Colonel Bjorn Andersson sees the task of using information as a tool in a military context, and as efficiently as possible.
The first commander of the squadron was Lieutenant Colonel Eric Mårtensson, who at the Royal Academy of Military Sciences Forsvar och Sakerhet stressed the usefulness of the unit at the national and international levels. He sought to turn the squad into a mobile, capable of rapid expeditionary deployment unit. And although Swedish journalist Klas Lenegord points out, initially 10 was ready only for a limited solution of the tasks set, he was immediately included into the combat tactical group Nordic Battle Group of the EU's rapid reaction force, a force capable of operating within 600 miles from Brussels.
Audience on edge
The detachment is formed according to the staff of the four-platoon staff. The control platoon is responsible for the planning of daily activities, operational and combat training, the use and maintenance of the detachment. The platoon analysis of the target audience summarizes the information, identifying the socio-psychological characteristics of the population, identifies key actors who can play an important role in solving the tasks. In carrying out psychological operations, he develops projects related to the publication of printed materials and the preparation of scripts for television and radio and oral (using sound-amplifying equipment) broadcasting. From the platoon servicemen, several groups of studying the personal characteristics of the local population are formed for the constant accumulation and recording of information about the main target audiences. One of the pioneers of the detachment, received the award of the American Center for Special Methods of Warfare to them. JF Kennedy, now Head of the Center for Asymmetric Threats and Terrorism Research, Lieutenant Colonel Fredrik Konander, told the Goteborgs-Posten newspaper that propaganda and psychological operations are an effective way to influence people, and it’s easier to influence large groups of people an individual.
The media production site is intended for the preparation and dissemination of information and propaganda audio and print materials developed by fellow analysts. These are not only print or electronic products, television and radio programs, but also social media pages, blogs, specially created sites. At the disposal of the media workstation, the universal mobile media complex in container design, as well as Mac computers with a selection of programs, including Illustrator, Photoshop, ProTools, is put into service in 2011. If necessary, a group of reporters with mobile photo and editing equipment is formed from the personnel. Platoon servicemen combine several professions and prepare to perform diverse tasks. “Today we are engaged in the production of mass media,” says Biz Syblom, “tomorrow - at the shooting range, then - at the wheel of an SUV or truck.”
The PSO tactical groups platoon is designed to provide massive outreach coverage. “The target audience,” says the current commander of the 10 squadron of the PSU armed forces of Sweden, “may be enemy fighters, politicians or public figures.” The latter, according to the lieutenant colonel, have an obvious preference. Tome admitted to journalists in an effort to influence the population not directly, but indirectly, through key people in society. These include village elders, clan leaders, mullahs, school principals, teachers, and police officers. It is they who are of particular interest for their connections with the masses and their incorporation into the local power and social structure. Therefore, Key Leader Engagement (KLE), designed to use the authority and intellectual potential of important actors, became the favorite platoon method for working with the population in the conflict zone. KLE-strategy involves the establishment of interaction with influential political, military, tribal and religious leaders through PSO. A file is created for each of them in the detachment. Or, as they call it here, a psychological profile. It contains information about the interests of the object of influence, family members, participation in associations and associations, social status, bad habits, contacts and relationships with other important people, dependence on third parties.
Posters, leaflets, newspapers, radio, speakers, TV, movies, music, the Internet, SMS, direct contacts are among the main working assets of the detachment. Methods and methods of psychological impact developed in collaboration with a marketer at the Stockholm School of Economics. “They are the same as those who learn advertising in the school,” adds lieutenant colonel Tome ingenuously. - This is sort of how to encourage people to choose a different kind of toothpaste. The same marketing mechanisms. ” Lieutenant Colonel Bjorn Andersson, responsible for conducting psychological operations, echoed the commander of the PSO squad, comparing the technologies of psychological operations and the advertising industry: "The perceived reality of people does not necessarily correspond to reality."
Tactical groups (TG) are made up of six people each and are staffed only with personnel officers. As part of the TG - two drivers, a radio operator, a military orderly. As a rule, the commander of the TG PsO and his deputy speak the language of the population. Otherwise, a military translator is attached to the group or a civilian from among local residents is hired.
In Sweden there are no military educational institutions for the preparation of PSO specialists. The recruitment of the detachment is made on a competitive basis from the number of contractors. Before joining the service, the vast majority of them were communicators, marketers, copywriters, art directors, designers, journalists, producers, psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, and anthropologists. They received special training in the USA, Great Britain, Germany and Belgium, and were invited to participate in the work of the relevant NATO groups. Each candidate, according to the members of the selection committee, meets the requirements - to be collected, resourceful, creative, to adapt easily and quickly to new conditions. In ensuring national defense, the main thing weapon - The brain teaches fighters Patrick Tome. “There are not many people,” explains Lieutenant Andreas Wadström, “who are able to combine the professorial level of knowledge of the Russian language with the skills of a class manager.” Personnel Chief Major Major Magnus Rosengren is personally involved in the staffing of the PsO unit.
Very aggressive marketing
Recently, there are clear indications of the use of a military tool of psychological warfare in a well-planned campaign in Sweden to drag the country into NATO. In a recent interview for the magazine Reserv Officerarna, the squad leader actually recognized this fact. “We work mainly in the gray zone between war and peace,” said Tome. “When the enemy sets foot on the shore and starts the battle, it will be late.” Such a revelation would have been impossible just a few years ago. And today, the state, boasting its 200-year neutrality, through the mouth of Lieutenant Colonel Tome and the methods of psychological influence of his subordinates, suggests to the public the idea of the transience of this state.
In many countries there is a legislative ban on the use of PSO weapons and methods against its citizens, the population of NATO member countries, and allied forces. Swedish media has repeatedly touched on this sensitive topic before the statements of Patrick Tome. The local man in the street has developed, as it turns out, an unreasonable idea that his country's armed forces can use PSO only in peacekeeping operations. But suddenly, the Swedes are opening dark pictures of attempts by specialized power structures to manipulate public consciousness. “The struggle in the information environment is happening here and now, and we are part of it,” the lieutenant colonel proudly declares.
The Western press periodically leaks chilling stories about the use of psychological measures by special propagandists from different countries to individuals or target audiences. The British BBC led the revelations of a former intelligence officer in Belfast, who acknowledged the use of PSO methods in Northern Ireland during the turmoil. A special video report by Emily Buchanan in the BBC Newsnight program was devoted to English professionals in the field of manipulating mass consciousness from the Center for Security and Military Intelligence Chicksands.
Swedish Fokus narrated exciting history on the US military conducting a psychological operation against its own lawmakers. Readers learned that Michael Hastings, a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, was investigating the covert influence on senators, ordered by Lieutenant General William Caldwell to manipulate their minds to increase funding and increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan, tragically died under unexplained circumstances shortly after publication exposing materials. His burnt corpse has not yet been identified. The National Interest (TNI) magazine published by the Nixon Center quoted Hastings as saying: “Federal law prohibits the military from practicing psychological operations against Americans.”
The tactics of conducting psychological operations against one’s own population are practiced in numerous military exercises. At the recent Cold Response-2016 (“Cold Response”) in Norway, where the Swedish PSO task force led by Patrick Tome arrived in five trucks and three SUVs, the order of the detachment commander was effectively implemented to influence the attitude and behavior of individual target groups. Recall that this is a friendly country, a member of NATO, which surprisingly allowed the use of methods of psychological influence to its own population. In order to reinforce the reaction to a possible attack by a certain aggressor on the northern borders of the alliance, the special propagandists Tome inspired the Norwegians with an approach known to them to stay away from the roads along which the army columns are moving. At the same time, residents were encouraged to take photographs of the conditional enemy’s equipment and immediately report on its routes. “It was a real job,” says Business Syblom.
Vaguely and with reservations, Lieutenant Colonel Tome talks about using the capabilities of his unit in his own country. In Sweden, according to him, the activity of the PSO unit is to prevent lobbying activities of others.
The anti-Russian actions of the Swedish special propagandists are paying off. If earlier the number of supporters of the country's accession to NATO barely exceeded ten percent, now the situation is changing dramatically. Those who speak out for an alliance are more and more among politicians and among the population. Today, the number of supporters and opponents is about equal, the tendency for the country to join NATO is clearly visible. Psychological operations, expertly says Patrick Tome, change the will and behavior of people, forcing them to make decisions that are beneficial to you.
Lean Swedes generously pay for the maintenance of their armed forces, whose elite unit has a new function - conducting psychological operations not only against allies, but also against their own taxpayers.