Training follows training. They still refuse to let the hardworking soldiers of the 315th PSYOP Company off-base to buy a beer, even though we're about to spend 9 months in the belly of the Mesopotamian beast. The last week has been taken up with some rather realistic PSYOP training, involving mock Iraqi villages out in the New Jersey forests, complete with actual Iraqi-Americans and other civilians paid by the hour to dress up as Arabs and play the roles of villagers. My team planned and executed several mock-missions involving face-to face encounters with sheikhs, angry mobs, Iraqi Chiefs of Police, etc.
My platoon received an in-depth set of classes on the nature of IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices, aka roadside bombs). IED's are the number one cause of casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Middle East is so littered with explosives, ammunition, and armaments, that for less than $100, an industrious Iraqi can cobble together an egg-timer artillery round bomb that can destroy a $150,000 American humvee. The class was disappointing in that all it told us was the "How"'s: how IED's are made, how they are activated, how they look, how they are hidden, how much damage they can do. Blatantly absent was the rest of the story: Who was planting them, and Why? Where are they used most, and When? It's a little like learning every detail about the shape of the bullet being shot at you. Interesting, but not entirely relevant.
My team, called "TPT-1234" (Tactical PSYOP Team 4, Detachment 30, 12th Battalion, 7th PSYOP Group, United States Civil Affairs and PSYOP Command) has gained a reputation for good tactical proficiency, and the Team Leader (yours truly) for being a smooth talker. During one encounter at an "Iraqi" Village, the sheikh got so wrapped up in my line of questioning that he forgot the scenario and had to be reminded by the other role-players. Heh heh.