CIA Textbook on Psychological Operations In Guerrilla Warfare http://www.tscm.com/CIA_PsyOps_Handbook.html
[Can anyone verify this? Looks like some important information for the well being of a free country]
Guerrilla warfare is essentially a political war. Therefore, its area of
operations exceeds the territorial limits of conventional warfare, to penetrate
the political entity itself: the "political animal" that Aristotle defined.
In effect, the human being should be considered the priority objective in a
political war. And conceived as the military target of guerrilla war, the human
being has his most critical point in his mind. Once his mind has been reached,
the "political animal" has been defeated, without necessarily receiving
Guerrilla warfare is born and grows in the political environment; in the
constant combat to dominate that area of political mentality that is inherent
to all human beings and which collectively constitutes the "environment" in
which guerrilla warfare moves, and which is where precisely its victory or
failure is defined.
This conception of guerrilla warfare as political war turns Psychological
Operations into the decisive factor of the results. The target, then, is the
minds of the population, all the population: our troops, the enemy troops and
the civilian population.
This book is a manual for the training of guerrillas in psychological
operations, and its application to the concrete case of the Christian and
democratic crusade being waged in Nicaragua by the Freedom Commandos.
The purpose of this book is to introduce the guerrilla student to the
psychological operations techniques that will be of immediate and practical
value to him in guerrilla warfare. This section is introductory and general;
subsequent sections will cover each point set forth here in more detail.
The nature of the environment of guerrilla warfare does not permit
sophisticated psychological operations, and it becomes necessary for the chiefs
of groups, chiefs of detachments and squadron leaders to have the ability to
carry out, with minimal instructions from the higher levels, psychological
action operations with the contacts that are thoroughly aware of the situation,
i.e. the foundations.
2. Combatant-Propagandist Guerrillas
In order to obtain the maximum results from the psychological operations in
guerrilla warfare, every combatant should be as highly motivated to carry out
propaganda face to face as he is a combatant. This means that the individual
political awareness of the guerrilla of the reason for his struggle will be
as acute as his ability to fight.
Such a political awareness and motivation is obtained through the dynamic of
groups and self-criticism, as a standard method of instruction for the
guerrilla training and operations. Group discussions raise the spirit and
improve the unity of thought of the guerrilla training and operations. Group
discussions raise the spirit and improve the unity of thought of the guerrilla
squads and exercise social pressure on the weak members to carry out a better
role in future training or in combative action. Self-criticism is in terms of
one's contribution or defects in his contribution to the cause, to the
movement, the struggle, etc.; and gives a positive individual commitment to the
mission of the group.
The desired result is a guerrilla who can persuasively justify his actions when
he comes into contact with any member of the People of Nicaragua, and
especially with himself and his fellow guerrillas in dealing with the
vicissitudes of guerrilla warfare. This means that every guerrilla will be
persuasive in his face-to-face communication - propagandist-combatant - ins his
contact with the people; he should be able to give 5 or 10 logical reasons why,
for example, a peasant should give him cloth, needle and thread to mend his
clothes. When the guerrilla behaves in this manner, enemy propaganda will never
succeed in making him an enemy in the eyes of the people. It also means that
hunger, cold, fatigue and insecurity will have a meaning, psychologically, in
the cause of the struggle due to his constant orientation.
3. Armed Propaganda
Armed propaganda includes every act carried out, and the good impression that
this armed force causes will result in positive attitudes in the population
toward that force; ad it does not include forced indoctrination. Armed
propaganda improves the behavior of the population toward them, and it is not
achieved by force.
This means that a guerrilla armed unit in a rural town will not give the
impression that arms are their strength over the peasants, but rather that they
are the strength of the peasants against the Sandinista government of
repression. This is achieved through a close identification with the people,
as follows: hanging up weapons and working together with them on their crops,
in construction, in the harvesting of grains, in fishing, etc.; explanations to
young men about basic weapons, e.g. giving them an unloaded weapon and
letting them touch it, see it, etc.; describing in a rudimentary manner its
operation; describing with simple slogans how weapons will serve the people to
win their freedom; demanding the requests by the people for hospitals and
education, reducing taxes, etc.
All these acts have as their goal the creation of an identification of the
people with the weapons and the guerrillas who carry them, so that the
population feels that the weapons are, indirectly, their weapon to protect them
and help them in the struggle against a regime of oppression. Implicit terror
always accompanies weapons, since the people are internally "aware" that they
can be used against them, but as long as explicit coercion is avoided, positive
attitudes can be achieved with respect to the presence of armed guerrillas
within the population.
4. Armed Propaganda Teams
Armed Propaganda Teams (EPA) are formed through a careful selection of
persuasive and highly motivated guerrillas who move about within the
population, encouraging the people to support the guerrillas and put up
resistance against the enemy. It combines a high degree of political
awareness and the "armed" propaganda ability of the guerrillas toward a
planned, programmed, and controlled effort.
The careful selection of the staff, based on their persuasiveness in informal
discussions and their ability in combat, is more important than their degree
of education or the training program. The tactics of the Armed Propaganda Teams
are carried out covertly, and should be parallel to the tactical effort in
guerrilla warfare. The knowledge of the psychology of the population is primary
for the Armed Propaganda Teams, but much more intelligence data will be
obtained from an EPA program in the area of operations.
5. Development and Control of the "Front" Organizations
The development and control of "front" (or facade) organizations is carried out
through subjective internal control at group meetings of "inside cadres,"
and the calculations of the time for the fusion of these combined efforts to be
applied to the masses.
Established citizens-doctors, lawyers, businessmen, teachers, etc.-will be
recruited initially as "Social Crusaders" in typically "innocuous" movements in
the area of operations. When their "involvement" with the clandestine
organization is revealed to them, this supplies the psychological pressure to
use them as "inside cadres" in groups to which they already belong or of which
they can be members.
Then they will receive instruction in techniques of persuasion over control
of target groups to support our democratic revolution, through a gradual and
skillful process. A cell control system isolates individuals from one another,
and at the appropriate moment, their influence is used for the fusion of
groups in a united national front.
6. Control of Meetings and Mass Assemblies
The control of mass meetings in support of guerrilla warfare is carried out
internally through a covert commando element, bodyguards, messengers, shock
forces (initiators of incidents), placard carriers (also used for making
signals), shouters of slogans, everything under the control of the outside
When the cadres are placed or recruited in organizations such as labor
unions, youth groups agrarian organizations or professional associations, they
will begin to manipulate the objectives of the groups. The psychological
apparatus of our movement through inside cadres prepares a mental attitude
which at the crucial moment can be turned into a fury of justified violence.
Through a small group of guerrillas infiltrated within the masses this can be
carried out; they will have the mission of agitating by giving the impression
that there are many of them and that they have a large popular backing. Using
the tactics of a force of 200-300 agitators, a demonstration can be created
in which 10,000-20,000 persons take part.
7. Support of Contacts with Their Roots in Reality
The support of local contacts who are familiar with the deep reality is
achieved through the exploitation of the social and political weaknesses of the
target society, with propagandist-combatant guerrillas, armed propaganda, armed
propaganda teams, cover organizations and mass meetings.
The combatant-propagandist guerrilla is the result of a continuous program of
indoctrination and motivation. They will have the mission of showing the
people how great and fair our movement is in the eyes of all Nicaraguans and the
world. Identifying themselves with our people, they will increase the
sympathy towards our movement, which will result in greater support of the
population for the freedom commandos, taking away support for the regime in
Armed propaganda will extend this identification process of the people with the
Christian guerrillas, providing converging points against the Sandinista
The Armed Propaganda Teams provide a several-stage program of persuasive
planning in guerrilla warfare in all areas of the country. Also, these teams
are the "eyes and ears" of our movement.
The development and control of the cover organizations in guerrilla warfare
will give our movement the ability to create a "whiplash" effect within the
population when the order for fusion is given. When the infiltration and
internal subjective control have been developed in a manner parallel to other
guerrilla activities, a comandante of ours will literally be able to shake up
the Sandinista structure, and replace it.
The mass assemblies and meetings are the culmination of a wide base support
among the population, and it comes about in the later phases of the operation.
This is the moment in which the overthrow can be achieved and our revolution
can become an open one, requiring the close collaboration of the entire
population of the country, and of contacts with their roots in reality.
The tactical effort in guerrilla warfare is directed at the weaknesses of the
enemy and at destroying their military resistance capacity, and should be
parallel to a psychological effort to weaken and destroy their sociopolitical
capacity at the same time. In guerrilla warfare, more than in any other type
of military effort, the psychological activities should be simultaneous with
the military ones, in order to achieve the objectives desired.
The objective of this section is to familiarize the guerrilla with the
techniques of psychological operations, which maximizes the
social-psychological effect of a guerrilla movement, converting the guerrilla
into a propagandist, in addition to being a combatant. The nature of the
environment in guerrilla warfare does not permit sophisticated facilities for
psychological operations, so that use should be made of the effective
face-to-face persuasion of each guerrilla.
2. Political Awareness
The individual political awareness of the guerrilla, the reason for his
struggle, will be as important as his ability in combat. This political
awareness and motivation will be achieved:
* By improving the combat potential of the guerrilla by improving his
motivation for fighting.
* By the guerrilla recognizing himself as a vital tie between the democratic
guerrillas and the people, whose support is essential for the subsistence of
* By fostering the support of the population for the national insurgence
through the support for the guerrillas of the locale, which provides a
psychological basis in the population for politics after the victory has been
* By developing trust in the guerrillas and in the population, for the
reconstruction of a local and national government.
* By promoting the value of participation by the guerrillas and the people in
the civic affairs of the insurrection and in the national programs.
* By developing in each guerrilla the ability of persuasion face-to-face, at
the local level, to win the support of the population, which is essential for
success in guerrilla warfare.
3. Group Dynamics
This political awareness-building and motivation are attained by the use of
group dynamics at the level of small units. The group discussion method and
self-criticism are a general guerrilla training and operations technique.
Group discussions raise the spirit and increase the unity of thought in small
guerrilla groups and exercise social pressure on the weakest members to better
carry out their mission in training and future combat actions. These group
discussions will give special emphasis to:
* Creating a favorable opinion of our movement. Through local and national
history, make it clear that the Sandinista regime is "foreignizing,"
"repressive" and "imperialistic," and that even though there are some
Nicaraguans within the government, point out that they are "puppets" of the
power of the Soviets and Cubans, i.e. of foreign power.
* Always a local focus. Matters of an international nature will be explained
only in support of local events in the guerrilla warfare.
* The unification of the nation is our goal. This means that the defeat of
the Sandinista armed forces is our priority. Our insurrection movement is a
pluralistic political platform from which we are determined to win freedom,
equality, a better economy with work facilities, a higher standard of living,
a true democracy for all Nicaraguans without exception.
* Providing to each guerrilla clear understanding about the struggle for
national sovereignty against Soviet-Cuban imperialism. Discussion guides will
lead the guerrillas so that they will see the injustices of the Sandinista
* Showing each guerrilla the need for good behavior to win the support of the
population. Discussion guides should convince the guerrillas that the attitude
and opinion of the population play a decisive role, because victory is
impossible without popular support.
* Self-criticism will be in constructive terms that will contribute to the
mission of the movement, and which will provide the guerrillas with the
conviction that they have a constant and positive individual responsibility in
the mission of the group. The method of instruction will be:
a) division of the guerrilla force into squads for group discussions, including
command and support elements, whenever the tactical situation permits it.
The makeup of the small units should be maintained when these groups are
b) Assignment of a political cadre in the guerrilla force to each group to
guide the discussion. The squad leader should help the cadre to foster study
and the expression of thoughts. If there are not enough political cadres for
each squad or post, leaders should guide the discussions, and the available
cadres visit alternate groups.
c) It is appropriate for the cadre (or the leader) to guide the discussion of a
group to cover a number of points and to reach a correct conclusion. The
guerrillas should feel that it was their free and own decision. The cadre
should serve as a private teacher. The cadre or leader will not act as a
lecturer, but will help the members of the group to study and express their own
d) The political cadre will at the end of every discussion make a summary of
the principal points, leading them to the correct conclusions. Any serious
difference with the objectives of the movement should be noted by the cadre and
reported to the commandant of the force. If necessary, a combined group
meeting will be held and the team of political cadres will explain and rectify
e) Democratic conduct by the political cadres: living, eating and working
with the guerrillas, and if possible, fighting at their side, sharing their
living conditions. All of this will foster understanding and the spirit of
cooperation that will help in the discussion and exchange of ideas.
f) Carry out group discussions in towns, and areas of operations whenever
possible with the civilian population, and not limit them to camps or bases.
This is done to emphasize the revolutionary nature of the struggle and to
demonstrate that the guerrillas identified with the objectives of the people
move about within the population. The guerrilla projects himself toward the
people, as the political cadre does toward the guerrilla, and they should live,
eat and work together to realize a unity of revolutionary thought.
The principles for guerrilla and political-cadre group discussions are:
* Organize discussion groups at the post or squad level. A cadre cannot be sure
of the comprehension and acceptance of the concepts and conclusions by
guerrillas in large groups. In a group of the size of a squad of 10 men, the
judgment and control of the situation is greater. In this way, all students
will participate in an exchange among them; the political leader, the group
leader, and also the political cadre. Special attention will be given to the
individual ability to discuss the objectives of the insurrection struggle.
Whenever a guerrilla expresses his opinion, he will be interested in listening
to the opinions of others, leading as a result to the unity of thought.
* Combine the different points of view and reach an opinion or common
conclusion. This is the most difficult task of a political guerrilla cadre.
After the group discussions of the democratic objectives of the movement, the
chief of the team of political cadres of the guerrilla force should combine
the conclusions of individual groups in a general summary. At a meeting with
all the discussion groups, the cadre shall provide the principal points, and
the guerrillas will have the opportunity to clarify or modify their points of
view. To carry this out, the conclusions will be summarized in the form of
slogans, wherever possible.
* Face with honesty the national and local problems of our struggle. The
political cadres should always be prepared to discuss solutions to the problems
observed by the guerrillas. During the discussions, the guerrillas should be
guided by the following three principles:
* Freedom of thought.
* Freedom of expression.
* Concentration of thoughts on the objectives of the democratic struggle.
The result desired is a guerrilla who in a persuasive manner can justify all of
his acts whenever he is in contact with any member of the town/people, and
especially with himself and with his guerrilla companions by facing the
vicissitudes of guerrilla warfare.
This means that every guerrilla will come to have effective face-to-face
persuasion as a combatant-propagandist in his contact with the people, to the
point of giving 5-10 logical reasons why, e.g. a peasant should give him a
piece of cloth, or a needle and thread to mend his clothes. When behaves in
this manner, no type of propaganda of the enemy will be able to make a
"terrorist" of him in the eyes of the people.
In addition, hunger, cold, fatigue and insecurity in the existence of the
guerrilla acquire meaning in the cause of the struggle due to the constant
4. Camp Procedures
Encamping the guerrilla units gives greater motivation, in addition to reducing
distractions, and increases the spirit of cooperation of small units, relating
the physical environment to the psychological one. The squad chief shall
establish the regular camping procedure. Once they have divested themselves of
their packs, the chief will choose the appropriate ground for camping. He
should select land that predominates over the zone with two or three escape
routes. He will choose among his men and give them responsibilities such as:
* Clean the camp area.
* Provide adequate drainage in case of rain. Also build some trenches or
holes for marksmen in case of emergency. In addition, he will build a stove,
which will be done by making some small trenches and placing three rocks in
place; in case the stove is built on a pedestal, it will be filled with clay
* Build a wind breaking wall, which will be covered on the sides and on the
top with branches and leaves of the same vegetation of the zones. This will
serve for camouflaging and protecting it from aerial visibility or from enemy
* Construct a latrine and a hole where waste and garbage will be buried,
which should be covered over at the time of abandoning the camp.
* Once the camp has been set up, it is recommended that a watchman be
positioned in the places of access at a prudent distance, where the shout of
alarm can be heard. In the same moment the password will be established, which
should be changed every 24 hours. The commander should establish ahead of
time an alternate meeting point, in case of having to abandon the camp in a
hurried manner, and they will be able to meet in the other already established
point, and they should warn the patrol that if at a particular time they
cannot meet at the established point, the should have a third meeting point.
These procedures contribute to the motivation of the guerrilla and improve
the spirit of cooperation in the unit. The danger, sense of insecurity, anxiety
and daily concern in the life of a guerrilla require tangible evidence of
belonging in an order for him to keep up his spirit and morale.
In addition to the good physical conditions in which the guerrilla should
find himself, good psychological conditions are necessary, for which group
discussions and becoming a self-critic are recommended, which will greatly
benefit the spirit and morale of the same.
Having broken camp with the effort and cooperation of everyone strengthens
the spirit of the group. The guerrilla will be inclined then towards the unity
of thought in democratic objectives.