U.S. Army’s Latest Plan to Battle Colombian Guerillas: A Radio Soap Opera

Friday, May 31, 2013
Colombian soap opera fans? (graphic: Scott Dalton, AP)

U.S. Army commanders have decided one way to defeat rebel forces in Colombia is to broadcast radio soap operas that explain how putting down their weapons will be a good thing for them.


To accomplish this task of mass media counterinsurgency, the Army sent out a request to contractors to come up with proposals for the radio program.


Interested companies need to explain how they will produce 20 radio novela episodes in Spanish and a mix of regional dialects for use by the Army’s Military Information Support Operations (MISO) in Colombia. (MISO, which spent $54 million on its global activities in 2012, was formerly known as Psychological Operations.)


Eight episodes must include “messages that promote demobilization”—in other words, give up.


Another four episodes should promote “traditional family values, belief in the respectful treatment of women, democratic alternatives to violence that can furnish functioning state institutions, and emerging environmental concerns in support of U.S. and partner nation goals in Colombia, South America,” according to the Army.


The episodes will each run 15 minutes and, like most American dramatic TV series, include a recap of the previous episodes and previews for the forthcoming installment.


The announcement comes on the heels of a report by the Government Accountability Office that criticized the Department of Defense’s MISO programs, saying they lack end goals, may be ineffective and may not even target the correct foreign audiences. “MISO activities have the potential to undermine the credibility of the United States and threaten (Pentagon) and other agencies' efforts to accomplish key foreign policy goals,” the report stated.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Dios Mío! Pentagon’s Latest Weapon in Colombian Drug War? Soap Operas (by Robert Beckhusen, Wired)

The Army Wants You — To Write Soaps for Colombian Guerrilla Fighters (New York Post)

Report Raps Military Propaganda Efforts as Ineffective (by Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today)

Radio Novella for Mist Mission in Colombia (Federal Business Opportunities)

Army Uses U.S. Media to Train Psychological Operations Personnel (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

How Much Does the Pentagon Spend on Overseas Propaganda? Who Knows? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)    


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