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U.S. Army Releases Disturbing Psychological Operations Recruitment Video

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An unsettling video from the U.S. Army’s Psychological Operations (PSYOP) division portrays faceless heads and displays and entones cryptic messages in order to recruit more soldiers for intellectual warfare.

“Ghosts in the Machine 2” was quietly released in the early morning hours of Thursday on the branch’s 4th PSYOP Group YouTube channel, exactly two years after the drop of the similarly perplexing original “Ghosts in the Machine” recruitment video. 

The video starts with a quote from Nobel prize-winning author John Steinbeck on a pitch-black screen: “I am a little man and this is a little town, but there must be a spark in little men that can burst into flame.”

An audio recording of some of the late President John F. Kennedy’s June 1963 remarks in West Berlin then plays in the background as the on-screen text states that the biggest “weapon” in the hands of an oppressor is “the mind of the oppressed.”

Dark, haunting imagery including masks, ghosts, and burning, faceless mannequins flashes across the scene as recognizable historic speeches and flashing text continue:

“Behind every idea… a belief… PSYWAR”

“Behind every choice… invisible hands”

“Behind every emotion… fire”

The video ends with intense music, war footage, and the question: “Do you believe in the power of words and ideas?”

“WE BELIEVE” is then displayed in large font before the link to the Army’s Special Operations recruiting page.

According to the branch’s PSYOP career page, soldiers are trained to “strategically influence and deceive” in order to “help sway opinions and actions of foreign governments, groups, and individuals.”

“It’s a recruiting video,” the Army major who created the video told the Associated Press ahead of the release. “Someone who watches it and thinks, wow, that was effective, how was it constructed — that’s the kind of creative mindset we’re looking for.”

The major, who asked to not be named, is a member of the 8th Psychological Operations Group based at Fort Liberty, North Carolina.

The same major also created the first PSYOP recruitment video two years ago, which created online chatter over its anxiety-inducing messages like “WE ARE EVERYWHERE” displayed over shocking war footage. 

While it’s illegal for the United States military to conduct psychological operations on American citizens, there are those who believe that they are not only capable of doing so, but that they already have.

Lt. Col. Steve Crowe, commander of the Special Forces Recruiting Battalion, hopes the talk around the recruitment videos will help inspire people who are interested in this line of work. 

“From a tactical level, the psyop mission is extremely hard to show and tell,” he said. “And it’s the job in Army special forces that recruiters say is the hardest to fill.”

The Army has struggled with its recruitment goals, falling about 15,000 soldiers short for the last two years, the outlet reported.

“I think what he does with ‘Ghost in the Machine’ is it tells you what psychological operations is, and shows you it, without telling you in words,” Crowe said. “You watch the video and you’re like, okay, this is how I’ll influence and change behavior.”

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