New PSYOP Battalion activates at Fort Bragg

Posted in United States | 31-Oct-04 | Author: Kyle Cosner| Source: ARNEWS - Army News Service

Lt. Col. Kyle D. Hickman, commander of the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion, receives his unit's colors from Col. Jack Summe, 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) commander, during the battalion's activation ceremony Oct. 19 at Fort Bragg, N.C. 5th PSYOP Bn. Command Sgt. Maj. Michael W. Stein (center) had just uncased the colors before passing them to Summe.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Army News Service, Oct. 27, 2004) -- The Army’s newest psychological operations battalion was formally activated during a ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C., Oct. 19.

The 5th Psychological Operations Battalion is the latest addition to the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), and is a much-needed supplement to PSYOP forces engaged in the fight against terrorism, said Col. Jack Summe, 4th POG commander.

The 4th POG is the Army’s only active-duty PSYOP unit.

“Today represents the culmination of a vision that began seven years ago,” Summe said. “At that time, no one foresaw the huge demands of the Global War on Terror on the entire PSYOP community … and at that time the 4th PSYOP Group was organized with only five total battalions, and only three regional battalions.”

After its activation, the 5th PSYOP Bn. became the sixth subordinate battalion of the 4th POG. The battalion will assume responsibility for all PSYOP activities in the U.S. Pacific Command, or PACOM, theater of operations, which includes the Far East and the Pacific Rim, said Summe.

5th PSYOP has long lineage

The unit’s lineage dates back to 1951, when it was created at Fort Riley, Kan., as the 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company. Over the next 24 years, the unit was reorganized three times until it was deactivated from the Regular Army in 1975 and transferred to the Army Reserve as the 5th Psychological Operations Group.

After being deactivated from the Army Reserve in 1994, the unit was redesignated into the Regular Army as Headquarters and Service Company, 5th PSYOP Bn., on Nov. 18, 2003. The Army officially activated the battalion Oct. 16.

Unit ‘critical’ to global ops

Maj. Gen. Herbert L. Altshuler, commanding general of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), said that 5th PSYOP Bn. was a critical addition to 4th POG.

“Our psychological operations capabilities reside primarily in our regional, tactical and media development battalions,” Altshuler said. “The four regional battalions of the 4th Psychological Operations Group are each oriented to a different major geographical combatant command.

“The 1st Battalion, for example, operates in Central and South America, the 6th in Europe and Africa, and the 8th in the Middle East,” Altshuler continued. “And now, the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion … (has) evolved in support of operations in the Pacific and the Korean Peninsula as a provisional organization made up of assets drawn from its parent headquarters and sister battalions.”

Prior to the battalion’s activation, the three existing regional battalions pooled their resources to cover PSYOP responsibilities in the PACOM region. That task-organized provisional unit, which was officially deactivated during the ceremony, had been designated in 1997 as the PACOM Psychological Operations Battalion and relied heavily on assets from the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion.

“Although not really adequate to provide the total depth and breadth of PSYOP support to each region of the world, this task organization ensured that each regional combatant command received equitable PSYOP support,” Summe said. “The creation of PACOM PSYOP Battalion was the right response to a world that required constant, low-level, peacetime PSYOP engagement.”

War on terror requires more

But that peacetime mission ended, Summe said, the instant terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

“This task organization existed for almost seven years, until the events of 9/11 forced the Department of Defense to reexamine PSYOP requirements for the Global War on Terror,” Summe said. “This reexamination resulted in what we are witnessing today -- the official recognition of the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion and furthering the increase of the overall 4th PSYOP Group force structure to include two line companies per regional PSYOP battalion.”

Altshuler said the members of the new battalion would make an immediate and positive impact on U.S. PSYOP activities and force structures around the world.

“These bright, motivated and talented Soldiers have already made the 5th PSYOP Battalion an indispensable member of the PACOM team,” Altshuler said. “Today, we have made it an organic part of our larger PSYOP family.”

Shortly before the deactivation of the PACOM Bn. during the ceremony, the unit was presented with the Army Superior Unit Award for its role in the recent successes of PSYOP in the PACOM region, according to the citation.

New Bn: ready to go

Lt. Col. Kyle D. Hickman, commander of 5th PSYOP Bn. and former top officer of the PACOM Bn., said he and his troops were ready to “get to work.”

“To the Soldiers of the 5th Psychological Operations Battalion, you look magnificent, and our future is bright,” Hickman said. “Together, we will continue the fine traditions of those that came before us and prepare ourselves to accomplish any challenge that our nation requires of us.”

Summe said the years of hard work put into standing up the PACOM PSYOP Bn. would not be lost in the expansion of the unit’s duties as the 5th PSYOP Bn.

“In the year since Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Hickman has been in command of the PACOM PSYOP Battalion, we have witnessed a shift in responsibility from simply providing PSYOP exercise support in the Pacific to becoming a vital and active part of the fight against global terrorism in the PACOM region of the world,” said Summe.

“Our job in influencing foreign audiences to support U.S. government objectives has been nurtured with great skill and expertise in the PACOM PSYOP Battalion, and I expect no less from Lieutenant Colonel Hickman and the fine Soldiers and civilians of the newly organized 5th Psychological Operations Battalion.”

Sgt. Kyle Cosner is a member of the Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs staff.