FORT BRAGG, N.C. (March 19, 2012) -- The Army's Psychological Operations regiment welcomed a new class of service members into its community during a Psychological Operations Qualification Course graduation ceremony March 16, in Kennedy Hall on Fort Bragg, N.C.
The course, run by 5th Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), part of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, runs between 39 and 45 weeks in length, depending on each Soldier's designated language training requirements.
The graduating class included more than 40 Army officers and noncommissioned, as well as representatives from the Air Force, Marine Corps and the allied nations of Australia, Estonia, Poland and Singapore.
"This event marks the culmination of the students' qualification course: their education, their training and their entry into the Psychological Operations branch" said Lt. Col. Brinton H. Rosenberry, the 5th Battalion Commander, during the ceremony. "The officers and NCOs here have completed a strenuous program of instruction, which includes tangibles, which are tasks, as well as intangibles, which are our sought attributes; both being critical to a special-operations Soldier."
Following up to 24 weeks of language and culture education, the students faced 11 weeks of lessons in adaptive leadership, negotiation and mediation, target-audience analysis, media production, dissemination management, and the psychological effects of military activities. The final phase of the course is a three-week culmination exercise at Camp Mackall in Hoffman, N.C., where students must work in teams to apply the lessons they've learn throughout the course.
"This is also designed to prepare them to excel in a variety of ambiguous environments. That's what we're here to do," Rosenberry said. "They conducted face-to-face engagements with foreign-born cultural role-players in the course's human engagement module."
"These students stand ready to join a military information support command, or return to their respective joint or allied commands," he said. "They stand ready to synchronize plans and execute and perform influence activities across the range of military operations."
Rosenberry told the students their knowledge and skills have operational, joint and strategic implications.
"What you do is not some esoteric task," said retired Army Col. Carl Glenn Ayers, whose active-duty military service culminated with service as the Psychological Operations division chief for the Joint Staff from 2003 through 2005. "It is real, it is the last three feet, and many times it is not without risk. Our troops have fought, been wounded, and sadly some have died in combat doing their mission known as psychological operations."
Ayers told the graduates to carry on the finest traits of their new regiment as well as their military.
"Your generation of Soldiers is spectacular," he said. "You're all volunteers, and you've volunteered repeatedly in the midst of the longest period of ground combat ever faced by our nation."
Referencing the Athenian volunteer force facing a Persian invasion 2,500 years ago, Ayers concluded by encouraging the graduates to continue to row toward freedom throughout their military careers.