Wikimedia Commons / U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lorie L. Jewell
Gen. David Petraeus is looking into Rolling Stone’s story about some psychological-operations funny business in Afghanistan.
Well, this is embarrassing: It’s not surprising that two unnamed senators mentioned in this Fox News report about Rolling Stone’s latest Afghan war exposé “played down” the possibility that members of the U.S. military stationed in Afghanistan might have tried some woo-woo mind tricks on them to advance certain objectives. The accusation that one Lt. Gen. William Caldwell made such a request of some psy-ops-savvy troops spurred Gen. David Petraeus (pictured) to order an investigation Thursday. —KA
Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Thursday that the investigation will seek to determine whether the actions taken were inappropriate or illegal.
Lapan, while not offering any denial of the claims made in the article, said it’s not unusual for “psy-ops” personnel to be asked to do things outside their normal duties. For instance, it would not be inappropriate for Caldwell to ask one of the officers in the unit to get data on visiting congressional delegations. The critical question concerns what information was being gathered and how it was intended to be used.
Speaking to the general’s character, current and former U.S. military officers who worked with Caldwell said he is an example of a modern Army officer who was trying to bring the Army’s “strategic communications” into the 21st century, encouraging the units he commanded at Ft. Leavenworth, the Army’s premier training facility, to use social media, blogging and Wikipedia as part of their efforts to shape their message. Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised Caldwell just last week for his efforts training Afghan forces.
“If you had to line up the smartest guys in the Army, he’d be at the top of the list. He gets ‘communications’,” said an Army public affairs officer familiar with Caldwell.