psychological warfare

psychological warfare

Use of propaganda against an enemy, supported by whatever military, economic, or political measures are required, and usually intended to demoralize an enemy or to win it over to a different point of view. It has been carried on since ancient times. The conquests of Genghis Khan were aided by expertly planted rumours about large numbers of ferocious Mongol horsemen in his army. Specialized units were a major part of the German and Allied forces in World War II and the U.S. armed forces in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Strategic psychological warfare is mass communications directed to a very large audience or over a considerable expanse of territory; tactical psychological warfare implies a direct connection with combat operations (e.g., the surrender demand). Consolidation psychological warfare consists of messages distributed to the rear of one's own advancing forces for the sake of protecting the line of communications, establishing military government, and carrying out administrative tasks within such a government.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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