Operational Communication Troop
The Operative Communication Troop is a branch of the armed forces of the Bundeswehr . The main task is to influence the behavior and attitudes of enemy armed forces , conflicting parties and foreign civilian populations with communication means in order to facilitate military operations .
In accordance with the changing focus of its mandate, the type of service originally located in the Army initially designated itself as the Psychological Warfare Troop ( PSK for short ), later as the Psychological Defense Troop ( PSV for short ), and until 2013 as the Operational Information Troop ( OpInfo for short ).
Operative communication (OpKom) is the term used by the Bundeswehr today for psychological warfare . The latter, like the name Psychological Defense and Operative Information, which has meanwhile been used, is no longer used. The reason for this is that today the use of military power does not only move on the level of immediate armed conflict, but also often serves to pacify or stabilize areas of tension or conflict (e.g. in UN missions). In addition, the Bundeswehr claims not to spread any untrue information. However, it tries to influence opinions through selective information. The most important distinction between the Bundeswehr's operational communication and the principle of psychological warfare is the fact that the OpKom, if it wants to function in the long term, should only disseminate verifiable information. Otherwise, according to the official doctrine of the Bundeswehr, it, and with it the entire armed forces in the country of deployment, would lose their credibility.
The term Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) has become established in NATO parlance . This is a parallel procedure to MEDIAOPS (Media Operations), which in civil usage means public relations / media work. PSYOPS and MEDIAOPS are sub-areas of INFOOPS (Information Operations) in some areas. This is an overarching concept that is intended to work in the so-called information space and coordinates all skills that come into effect in it.
Target groups are coordinated in international operations at NATO level and approved by the NAC and the national authorities. Changes to this require renewed international coordination. In the current foreign missions of the Bundeswehr, operational communication affects the people in the operational areas with the aim of using information to promote the reduction of tensions and hostilities and to create a climate favorable to peace agreements. The following applies to deployments abroad: The target group (s) is published in the respective deployment command issued by ACO (Allied Command For Operations, formerly SHAPE) and is therefore binding for all multinational units.
The German troops are generally prohibited from:
- at home, influencing one's own soldiers, the German population and those of allied armed forces and the media
- in addition to influencing all allied armed forces and the international media when deployed abroad.
Shortly after the founding of the Bundeswehr in 1955, people began to work in 1957 to set up their own forces for so-called “psychological warfare” (PSK). The concrete planning for this took place from 1958 and in 1959 the PSK troops were finally set up. At the Andernach location , a radio company with technical support from Südwestfunk and a printing train, which was relocated to Adenau in 1966 , were operated. From 1970 the name was changed to "Psychological Defense" and in 1971 a sister battalion was founded in Clausthal-Zellerfeld . Until 1972, real missions, in particular with hydrogen balloons, were primarily operated from there on the inner-German border .
During the Cold War, Franz Josef Strauss set up the Bundeswehr Department for Psychological Warfare in the Federal Republic . The official task was to respond to GDR magazines that were distributed in front of the Bundeswehr barracks.
After these missions were discontinued, “ Radio Andernach ” from Andernach and “Radio Oberharz” from Clausthal-Zellerfeld were created in 1974 as a support station for German soldiers abroad. The printer trains were now used more and more like civil printing works and only produced leaflets and posters for virtual emergencies during larger exercises . After adapting to Army Structure 4 in 1981, battalions 800 (CLZ), 850 (Andernach) and 851 (Adenau) were now part of the telecommunications force . In 1986 the PSV school moved to Waldbröl. The following year it was decided to relocate PSV Battalion 800, which ended in 1989 with the dissolution of the battalion in view of the impending fall of the Berlin Wall.
In 1990 the remaining units were renamed again, this time in Operative Information, with which the term operational information was officially used for the first time. Various support missions followed as part of UN and NATO missions in Somalia (1993/94), in the Balkans (1995–2000), particularly in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1997) and Kosovo (1999/2000), and in Afghanistan (2001) and in the Congo (2006).
Since 2004 the so-called NATO Response Force has been one of the tasks, and in 2005 the so-called EU Battlegroups were set up with the help of ZOpInfo . After the balloon flight switched from hydrogen to helium in 2007, the Adenau site was closed in 2008.
Dissolution of the military branch at the end of 2013 and reorganization on January 1, 2014 of the "Center for Operative Communication of the Bundeswehr" (ZOpKomBw) from the "Center for Operative Information of the Bundeswehr". The Battalion for Operative Information 950 (OpInfoBtl 950) in Koblenz , which had previously been subordinate to the Center for Operative Information , was disbanded at the same time as the reorganization and the personnel were transferred to the Center for Operative Communication of the Bundeswehr.
In some cases, the OpInfo forces were part of the staff of the now disbanded Telecommunications Command 900 / Command Support Brigade 900 in Rheinbach (namely the special ATV FmTr OpInfo staff set up in 1991). However, at times there were also OpInfo battalions of their own (FmBtl 950 OpInfo / OpInfoBtl 950, at that time in Andernach / Neuwied and Mayen).
The Operative Communication Troop is a separate branch of the Bundeswehr, whose soldiers are now almost exclusively part of the armed forces base . Until a few years ago she was part of the army's telecommunications service . In the army they were part of the command troops . When transferring to the Armed Forces Base, the Armed Forces Base continued the concept of the armed forces that came from the army. Strictly speaking, therefore, only those wearing army uniforms are counted as part of the operational communication troops, although the Bundeswehr's operational communication center also serves soldiers in the uniforms of other armed forces .
With regard to (radio) technology and operational procedures, there are overlaps with the telecommunications force . In the course of the transformation of the Troops for Operative Information to Troops for Operational Communication, which brought a communicative interaction with the target groups into the field of vision of the troops, certain similarities arose to the Army Reconnaissance Force , especially to the integrated field intelligence forces , whose aim is also to determine the attitude of enemy combatants or foreign civilian population. In contrast to the Operational Communication Force, however, the field intelligence forces do not attempt to control the behavior or attitudes of the target groups .
The Operational Communication Troop now has only one unit:
|Center for operational communication in the Bundeswehr||Mayen||Strategic Reconnaissance Command||
In the 1960s there were PSK companies subordinate to the German corps, 181 in Borken , 281 in Ulm and 381 in Rengsdorf . Later, after some restructuring, there was PSV Btl 850 in Andernach and PSV Btl. 800 in Clausthal-Zellerfeld with PSV AKp (training company) 801. The PSV school in Euskirchen existed until 1986, followed by relocation to Waldbröl .
Target group radio
The target group radio, on the other hand, broadcasts programs in the respective national language (e.g. as part of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan in Dari and Pashto ). A German editor directs Afghan editors in the country of deployment. The production of the radio is ensured by Afghan editors. This means that local, linguistic and cultural characteristics can be taken into account very well. You produce various programs on various current topics.
In addition, OpKom has its own television production and editorial units. Almost all of the contributions are produced in the country of assignment and broadcast via the local broadcasters in the country of assignment. In addition to a German TV editor, Afghan editors are also deployed on site, who are responsible for both the introduction and the dubbing of the contributions.
All editors used by OpKom are trained accordingly and have a high level of competence in the respective media area.
Emergency camera department
Another component provided by OpKom is the emergency camera department. This department, located in ZOpInfo (Mayen), brings together up to seven operational camera teams (EKT). At the request of the Federal Ministry of Defense or on behalf of the Bundeswehr Operations Command, the EKT fly to the respective countries of operations and broadcast their video or live reports (also via their own SNG) to Germany from there.
The EKT should enable better situation assessment and deployment documentation for political and military leaders. The deployment camera troops can, however, also be deployed by the respective German contingent leader in the deployment country for deployment documentation on behalf of the deployment contingent.
Since November 2008, EKT has also been producing video clips in the operational areas, which are regularly published on the Bundeswehr homepage as part of the Bundeswehr's press and public relations work.
Each mission camera squad consists of five soldiers. A staff officer acts as the head of the squad and works as a producer. His editorial officer is responsible for the journalistic implementation of the production orders. Two video production sergeants work as cameramen and editors in the production of the articles. A satcom sergeant is responsible for the transmission of the EKT products.
The EKT are equipped with the latest broadcast technology (including P2 and HDTV).
At the Mayen location, OpKom also has a ready-to-use television studio that is standard in the industry (broadcast and recording formats: DVCPRO 50 and DigiBeta). OpKom is also active on the Internet.
The support radio of the Bundeswehr ( Radio Andernach ) also belongs to the OpKom troop, although Radio Andernach does not perceive any PSYOPS activities. Radio Andernach's radio program is aimed exclusively at the German soldiers deployed abroad and has nothing to do with OpKom radio, the so-called target group radio. The listener salute program "Meet and Greet" is particularly popular with German soldiers. In this broadcast, greetings and wishes from home are transferred to the mission. The program is broadcast live in the morning and repeated in the evening. The greetings of relatives, friends and acquaintances can be sent by phone, internet or postcard. The corresponding broadcast team prepares the often large flood of greetings and puts together a program.
Methods and Concepts
The troop uses methods of communication science , advertising and public relations . All kinds of mass media are used ( radio , television , loudspeaker calls , handouts , posters , newspapers , giveaways , e-mails , SMS , conversation media , etc.).
The "traditional" methods of operational communication include:
- Distribution of leaflets and information leaflets, also behind enemy lines by dropping them from airplanes, using balloons, as well as “leaflet throwers”; leaflets are often made in the style of the respective national currency and at first glance can hardly be distinguished from a banknote lying on the street
- Use of radio and television programs and spots
- Loudspeaker sound
- Conversations (face-to-face communications)
- Use of magazines and daily newspapers that are printed and distributed in the respective national language, e.g. B. Voice of Freedom / Sada-e-Azadi in Afghanistan ( ISAF , trilingual, frequency: bi-weekly), the adult magazine "Dritarja" and the monthly youth magazine For you in Kosovo
- Events (concerts, sponsorship of events, etc.)
- Distribution of toys, radios, water, etc.
- Creation of websites and appearances
- A current example (2006), in which the OpKom troops are involved in the NATO operation ISAF, can be found on the Sada-E-Azadi website.
- In Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), OpKom created and distributed a youth magazine called MIRKO in several versions; the Serbo-Croat version was in both Latin and Cyrillic script; English or German versions were also used, primarily in school lessons.
- In Kosovo, a magazine called Ditet e Shprese ( Days of Hope ) was first developed, which was replaced in 2001 by the successor product Dritarja ( Windows , 16 pages). The directed to the target group Albania Dritarja corresponds to the Prozor for Serbo of the population. Similar to the youth newspaper MIRKO in BiH, the magazine FOR YOU (20 pages) is published in Kosovo. As is usual with OpKom products, the magazines are distributed free of charge.
Because of their origins in the telecommunications troops, the telecommunications troops and the operational communications troops share the lemon yellow weapon color . The troop for operational communication has its own beret badge . In the wreath of oak leaves , it stylizes an arrow that meanders through two inclined beams , which stands for the cross-border information path. As long as soldiers of the Troops for Operational Communication are deployed in the cyber and information space organizational area, they wear the navy blue beret and the beret badge of this organizational area. Personnel of the scope for operational communications a streitkräftgemeinsames is at least six months of subject-specific use activity badges awarded.
Job badge "Personnel of the operational communication area"
- Dirk Drews: The Psychological Warfare / Psychological Defense of the Bundeswehr - an educational and journalistic investigation (dissertation) . Mainz 2006, DNB 979264235 ( full text PDF ).
- Armed Forces Base Press and Information Center : The Armed Forces Base services. Center for operational communication in the Bundeswehr. In: www.streitkraeftebasis.de . Federal Ministry of Defense , head of the press and information staff , January 10, 2014, accessed on August 20, 2014 (official website of the Center for Operational Communication of the Bundeswehr ).
- Klaus Körner : Political Brochures in the Cold War 1967 to 1963. In: Website for the exhibition Germany in the Cold War. German-German enemy images in political propaganda 1945 to 1963 . German Historical Museum Foundation , accessed on October 8, 2014 (accompanying text to an exhibition in the German Historical Museum Berlin in 1992. Section 9 The Trojan Herd is of particular interest ).
- Steven Hutchings: Controlled Democracy? (Video in Ogg Theora (384 × 288) 182.7 MB) June 2006, accessed on October 8, 2014 (documentary (62 min), available as a torrent download from the specified website or alternatively as a YouTube video ).
- Martin Kirsch: The "Psychological Defense" of the Bundeswehr until 1990 , in: IMI No. 7 of December 3, 2014
- The history of the OpInfo troop
- Sada- e Azadi, news from Afghanistan. HQ International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Combined Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (CJPOTF), August 10, 2014, accessed October 8, 2014 .
- Central regulation A1-2630 / 0-9804 - Suit regulations for soldiers of the Bundeswehr (Version 2.1). (PDF) In: Bundeswehr. Inner Guidance Center , October 1, 2019, accessed on June 15, 2020 .