Document:Old Sarum Secrets

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Disclaimer (#3)Document.png report  by Unknown dated 4 November 1976
Subjects: Britain's State Within a State, Old Sarum
Security Classification: Restricted
Source: Newsline

Excerpts from formerly secret documents on the activities of the Joint Warfare Establishment at Old Sarum in Wiltshire.

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Old Sarum Secrets




I. The study of psychological operations (psyops) and its effect on military operations, both in general and individually, is the responsibility of the Joint Warfare Establishment at Old Sarum. The Establishment also runs courses to teach the principles and techniques of psyops in the military field for officers of all three Services, for officers of the Commonwealth and allied armed forces and for representatives of British Government ministries.

2. Additionally, the psyops staff at the Establishment is available to visit other establishments, schools and commands at home and overseas to lecture and run courses. The psyops staff visits commonwealth, NATO and other countries to exchange ideas and to keep abreast of the latest developments.

3. Subsequent paragraphs of this precis are more detailed than might be thought necessary. This has been done to help officers who may have to use the material as a basis for lectures in units.


8. The primary aim of Psychological Warfare operations is to support the efforts of all other measures, military and political, against an enemy to weaken his will to continue hostilities and reduce his capacity to wage war. Psychological Warfare relates to an emergency or a state of hostilities and it is with the further subversions of strategic psywar, tactical psywar and psychological consolidation that its employment can best be examined.

9.Strategic psywar pursues long-term and mainly political objectives. It is designed to undermine the will of an enemy or hostile group to fight and to reduce the capacity to wage war. It can be directed against the dominating political party in the enemy country, the government and/or against the population as a whole, or particular elements of it. It is planned and controlled by the highest political authority and is normally a national responsibility though, possibly, in a well-knit international organisation responsibility may be accepted by a supranational body.

10. Strategic psywar has the following aims: a. To support and explain current national policy. b. To lower the morale of an enemy and of hostile civilian populations. c. To undermine the combat efficiency of the enemy armed forces.


'The Red Army fights not merely for the sake of fighting, but in order to conduct propaganda among the masses, organise them, arm them, and help them to establish revolutionary political power. Without these objectives, fighting loses its meaning and the Red Army loses the reason for its existence.' Mao Tse-tung 1929

1. Psychological Operations (psyops) is an all-embracing term defined by NATO as 'planned psychological activities in peace and war directed towards enemy, friendly and neutral audiences in order to create attitudes and behaviour favourable to the achievement of political and military objectives' In time of war psyops includes strategic and tactical psychological warfare (psywar) and psychological consolidation (see Paragraph 19) and encompasses those political, military, economic, ideological and information activities designed to achieve the results desired.

2. The concept of Deterrence can be said to be a form of psyops when related to the definition above. This form of psyops is not new; government and military commanders have combined the application of force with psychological effects of the use of that force through the ages.




I. Psyops, in conjunction with other instruments of power can make important contributions towards achieving national objectives by changing attitudes, opinions and behaviour of hostile and unfriendly groups and by reinforcing those of allied and friendly ones. Obviously there are limitations to the results it can achieve. In an adverse military situation such as withdrawal, or when the political position is such that our presence is undesired or hard to justify, psyops, however imaginatively applied, is unlikely to be successful. Limitations may also be imposed by our inability or unwillingness to impose strong control-measures over the civil population and over the information media. Although psyops can exploit and build on success in the military field, it cannot justify failure, either military or political.

2. Psyops is a flexible instrument which can be adapted to all forms of warfare and counter insurgency. For convenience of description it is categorised "as follows: Psychological Warfare, which in turn is divided into Strategic Psychological Warfare, Tactical Psychological Warfare and Psychological Consolidation. Psyops in an internal security (IS) or counter insurgency situation, though closely resembling those in consolidation, fall into a special category and are considered separately. Community relations are a form of psychological consolidation but related to peacetime conditions. In practice, the difference between the various divisions is not always easily defined as they merge into one another. This is another reason why psyops campaigns must be planned at a high level and a common policy followed at all levels.



I. Sound thought and planning are necessary for the successful conduct of psychological operations (psyops). An essential preliminary is the examination into possible target audiences and the uncovering of vulnerabilities in them, which is part of the process of psyops intelligence explained in Precis 4. Provided the information is readily available and has been correctly evaluated, planning for psyops is largely common-sense. There will be times, however, when the target audiences and the type of propaganda that will best influence them will not be determined without a careful examination of the various factors involved. It is for this situation that the sequence of planning and the process for producing propaganda have been designed.

2. Not only does a successful psyops campaign require much thought; it needs co-ordination and co-operation with other staffs and agencies and in particular with the political staffs, who must provide the political guidance so essential in a psyops campaign. Experience has proved that co-ordination and co-operation are best achieved during planning by establishing a committee made up of both political and military members. The political, or civil, side will be represented by a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, or of the staff of the Ambassador, High Commissioner or Political Adviser as the case may be, who will normally act as chairman. Representatives are also required from the Information Services and the Special Branch of the Police. The military members would include a staff officer to represent the Force Commander normally drawn from the intelligence staff, and members of both the psyops and the public relations (PR) staffs. This committee would be responsible for approving psyops plans in outline, vetting important items of propaganda, coordinating both the civil and military efforts in the psyops field, and for issuing policy directives as necessary.




1. Psyops units are sponsored, equipped and manned by the Army. They are all small, independent units of one officer and, depending on the operational situation, about 12 other ranks and civilians. The primary task of a psyops unit is the dissemination of propaganda. To do this it has vehicles adapted to carry loudspeakers, tape recorders and cinema projectors. It also has a photographic capability and limited facilities for producing leaflets of simple design. Correctly employed in the psychological field the unit is capable of achieving results out of all proportion to its size.

2. In addition to the dissemination of propaganda through its own resources, a psyops unit can gather and supply propaganda material for radio, television, newspapers and magazines. The personnel of the unit are trained to operate all the equipment in it and to conduct face to face propaganda. Ingenuity, adaptability and enterprise are essential qualities required by the personnel of the unit, together with the ability to make acquaintances easily and to create an atmosphere of friendship and goodwill. The psyops unit has a role in both war and peace and is most profitably employed in consolidation tasks and in a counter-insurgency situation.