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NEWS | Oct. 20, 2023

353rd CACOM expands capabilities to include psychological operations

By Lt. Col. Brett Walker 353rd Civil Affairs Command

The 353rd Civil Affairs Command assumed mission command of the 2nd Psychological Operations Group this week in Fort Wadsworth, New York. The 2nd POG will maintain the same mission, but with the added support of being administratively assigned to a versatile one-star command entity.

The 2nd POG is the largest Psychological Operations Group in the United States military. It consists of four battalions arrayed across the country. Its soldiers are specially trained to perform psychological operations that influence the behaviors of designated foreign target audiences at the direction of military commanders, American ambassadors, and other U.S. government entities.

The 2nd POG and its new parent element, the 353rd CACOM, are both assigned areas of responsibility that cover U.S. European Command. The mission command relationship the 353rd CACOM now holds with the 2nd POG includes administrative support with additional dynamic flexibility. This arrangement gives 2nd POG access to more resources, while further expanding the capabilities of the 353rd CACOM to conduct world-wide civil affairs operations.

“This realignment of forces further enhances the ability of this Civil Affairs Command to support geographic and combatant commanders,” said Brig. Gen. Dean Thompson. “While 2nd POG will continue to perform its unique mission under its own leaders, that mission will now be better coordinated, integrated and supported by higher echelons.”
The 353rd CACOM came into being in 1952 and has since distinguished itself in conducting combat, peace-time, disaster relief and training missions. Although it has been involved with many of America’s recent wars, such as Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf, and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the 353rd CACOM has also demonstrated robust contributions to peace-keeping and stability efforts around the world. Examples include caring for Cuban refugees from the Mariel Boatlift, offering humanitarian assistance in Cameroon and Sierra Leone, as well as assisting in enforcing the terms of the Dayton Peace Agreement in the former Yugoslavia.

It now integrates the 2nd POG into that history. The 2nd POG traces its lineage to 1965. The 2nd POG has since performed Psychological Operations in the conflict zones of Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently, it contributes to the missions of multiple geographic regions abroad in real world missions as well as training missions with allied forces. In the immediate future, 2nd POG, along with the 353rd CACOM, looks forward to donating toys to domestic families experiencing hardship by participating in Operation Toy Drop at Fort Liberty, NC in December.

“I am pleased that we will be joining the 353rd CACOM and adding to the diverse expertise that already exists in that formation,” said Col. Lawrence E. Williams, commander of the 2nd POG. “I am proud of the proficiency the 2nd POG soldiers in their unique and highly technical Army mission and also their readiness to deploy in support of missions worldwide.”

The 2nd POG’s mission focuses on using information to change attitudes, values, beliefs, decision-making processes and the behavior of people and groups. This can be done at the tactical, operational and strategic levels. Psychological Operations soldiers, like the Civil Affairs soldiers of 353rd CACOM, must be particularly intelligent. Both Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs Soldiers must become highly knowledgeable of the cultures and countries in which they operate. More information on the U.S. Army’s Psychological Operations functional areas is available at https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/specialty-careers/special-ops/psychological-operations.html.

The contribution of Psychological Operations to U.S. interests overseas is likely to increase as the nature of warfare evolves.

“Understanding human behavior has always been important in warfare, but as we’ve seen in recent events across the globe, being able to understand that behavior and provide effective influence operations to counter malign actors is more critical now than ever,” said Lt. Col. Collins Devon Cockrell, the Executive Officer for 2nd POG.

The 2nd POG is entrusted with multiple enduring missions worldwide, such as in the Horn of Africa. At any given time, units of the 2nd POG are deployed to several continents.This, again, aligns with the pre-existing posture of the 353rd CACOM, the soldiers of which are likewise spread across several continents in support of U.S. efforts toward international stability.

The 353rd CACOM is principally comprised of senior soldiers and officers with particular expertise in a broad range of skills in civil-military matters used for furthering global stability. For more information, visit https://www.usar.army.mil/USACAPOC/353rdCACOM/.