PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS IN
A tactical manual for the revolutionary. First published by the Central Intelligence
Agency and distributed to the Contras in Central America.
PDF conversion by Grog
• COMBATANT-PROPAGANDIST GUERRILLA
• ARMED PROPAGANDA
• ARMED PROPAGANDA TEAMS (APTs)
• DEVELOPMENT AND CONTROL OF FRONT ORGANIZATIONS
• CONTROL OF MASS CONCENTRATIONS AND MEETINGS
• MASSIVE IN-DEPTH SUPPORT THROUGH PSYCHOLOGICAL
Guerrilla warfare is essentially a political war. Therefore, its area of
operations exceeds the territorial limits of conventional warfare, to penetrate
the political entity itself: the "political animal" that Aristotle defined.
In effect, the human being should be considered the priority objective
in a political war. And conceived as the military target of guerrilla war, the
human being has his most critical point in his mind. Once his mind has been
reached, the "political animal" has been defeated, without necessarily
Guerrilla warfare is born and grows in the political environment; in
the constant combat to dominate that area of political mentality that is
inherent to all human beings and which collectively constitutes the
"environment" in which guerrilla warfare moves, and which is where
precisely its victory or failure is defined.
This conception of guerrilla warfare as political war turns
Psychological Operations into the decisive factor of the results. The target,
then, is the minds of the population, all the population: our troops, the
enemy troops and the civilian population.
This book is a manual for the training of guerrillas in psychological
operations, and its application to the concrete case of the Christian and
democratic crusade being waged in Nicaragua by the Freedom Commandos.
The purpose of this book is to introduce the guerrilla student to the
psychological operations techniques that will be of immediate and practical
value to him in guerrilla warfare. This section is introductory and general;
subsequent sections will cover each point set forth here in more detail.
The nature of the environment of guerrilla warfare does not permit
sophisticated psychological operations, and it becomes necessary for the
chiefs of groups, chiefs of detachments and squadron leaders to have the
ability to carry out, with minimal instructions from the higher levels,
psychological action operations with the contacts that are thoroughly aware
of the situation, i.e. the foundations.
2. Combatant-Propagandist Guerrillas
In order to obtain the maximum results from the psychological
operations in guerrilla warfare, every combatant should be as highly
motivated to carry out propaganda face to face as he is a combatant. This
means that the individual political awareness of the guerrilla of the reason
for his struggle will be as acute as his ability to fight.
Such a political awareness and motivation is obtained through the
dynamic of groups and self-criticism, as a standard method of instruction for
the guerrilla training and operations. Group discussions raise the spirit and
improve the unity of thought of the guerrilla training and operations. Group
discussions raise the spirit and improve the unity of thought of the guerrilla
squads and exercise social pressure on the weak members to carry out a
better role in future training or in combative action. Self-criticism is in terms
of one's contribution or defects in his contribution to the cause, to the
movement, the struggle, etc.; and gives a positive individual commitment to
the mission of the group.
The desired result is a guerrilla who can persuasively justify his
actions when he comes into contact with any member of the People of
Nicaragua, and especially with himself and his fellow guerrillas in dealing
with the vicissitudes of guerrilla warfare. This means that every guerrilla
will be persuasive in his face-to-face communication - propagandistcombatant - is his contact with the people; he should be able to give 5 or 10
logical reasons why, for example, a peasant should give him cloth, needle
and thread to mend his clothes. When the guerrilla behaves in this manner,
enemy propaganda will never succeed in making him an enemy in the eyes
of the people. It also means that hunger, cold, fatigue and insecurity will
have a meaning, psychologically, in the cause of the struggle due to his
3. Armed Propaganda
Armed propaganda includes every act carried out, and the good
impression that this armed force causes will result in positive attitudes in the
population toward that force; ad it does not include forced indoctrination.
Armed propaganda improves the behavior of the population toward them,
and it is not achieved by force.
This means that a guerilla-armed unit in a rural town will not give the
impression that arms are their strength over the peasants, but rather that they
are the strength of the peasants against the Sandinista government of
repression. This is achieved through a close identification with the people, as
follows: hanging up weapons and working together with them on their crops,
in construction, in the harvesting of grains, in fishing, etc.; explanations to
young men about basic weapons, e.g. giving them an unloaded weapon and
letting them touch it, see it, etc.; describing in a rudimentary manner its
operation; describing with simple slogans how weapons will serve the
people to win their freedom; demanding the requests by the people for
hospitals and education, reducing taxes, etc.
All these acts have as their goal the creation of an identification of the
people with the weapons and the guerrillas who carry them, so that the
population feels that the weapons are, indirectly, their weapon to protect
them and help them in the struggle against a regime of oppression. Implicit
terror always accompanies weapons, since the people are internally "aware"
that they can be used against them, but as long as explicit coercion is
avoided, positive attitudes can be achieved with respect to the presence of
armed guerrillas within the population.
4. Armed Propaganda Teams
Armed Propaganda Teams (EPA) are formed through a careful
selection of persuasive and highly motivated guerrillas who move about
within the population, encouraging the people to support the guerrillas and
put up resistance against the enemy. It combines a high degree of political
awareness and the "armed" propaganda ability of the guerrillas toward a
planned, programmed, and controlled effort.
The careful selection of the staff, based on their persuasiveness in
informal discussions and their ability in combat, is more important than their
degree of education or the training program. The tactics of the Armed
Propaganda Teams are carried out covertly, and should be parallel to the
tactical effort in guerrilla warfare. The knowledge of the psychology of the
population is primary for the Armed Propaganda Teams, but much more
intelligence data will be obtained from an EPA program in the area of
5. Development and Control of the "Front" Organizations
The development and control of "front" (or facade) organizations is
carried out through subjective internal control at group meetings of "inside
cadres," and the calculations of the time for the fusion of these combined
efforts to be applied to the masses.
Established citizens-doctors, lawyers, businessmen, teachers, etc.- will
be recruited initially as "Social Crusaders" in typically "innocuous"
movements in the area of operations. When their "involvement" with the
clandestine organization is revealed to them, this supplies the psychological
pressure to use them as "inside cadres" in groups to which they already
belong or of which they can be members.
Then they will receive instruction in techniques of persuasion over
control of target groups to support our democratic revolution, through a
gradual and skillful process. A cell control system isolates individuals from
one another, and at the appropriate moment, their influence is used for the
fusion of groups in a united national front.
6. Control of Meetings and Mass Assemblies
The control of mass meetings in support of guerrilla warfare is carried
out internally through a covert commando element, bodyguards, messengers,
shock forces (initiators of incidents), placard carriers (also used for making
signals), shouters of slogans, everything under the control of the outside
When the cadres are placed or recruited in organizations such as labor
unions, youth groups agrarian organizations or professional associations,
they will begin to manipulate the objectives of the groups. The
psychological apparatus of our movement through inside cadres prepares a
mental attitude which at the crucial moment can be turned into a fury of
Through a small group of guerrillas infiltrated within the masses this
can be carried out; they will have the mission of agitating by giving the
impression that there are many of them and that they have a large popular
backing. Using the tactics of a force of 200-300 agitators, a demonstration
can be created in which 10,000-20,000 persons take part.
7. Support of Contacts with Their Roots in Reality
The support of local contacts who are familiar with the deep reality is
achieved through the exploitation of the social and political weaknesses of
the target society, with propagandist-combatant guerrillas, armed
propaganda, armed propaganda teams, cover organizations and mass
The combatant-propagandist guerrilla is the result of a continuous
program of indoctrination and motivation. They will have the mission of
showing the people how great and fair our movement is in the eyes of all
Nicaraguans and the world. Identifying themselves with our people, they
will increase the sympathy towards our movement, which will result in
greater support of the population for the freedom commandos, taking away
support for the regime in power.
Armed propaganda will extend this identification process of the
people with the Christian guerrillas, providing converging points against the
The Armed Propaganda Teams provide a several-stage program of
persuasive planning in guerrilla warfare in all areas of the country. Also,
these teams are the "eyes and ears" of our movement.
The development and control of the cover organizations in guerrilla
warfare will give our movement the ability to create a "whiplash" effect
within the population when the order for fusion is given. When the
infiltration and internal subjective control have been developed in a manner
parallel to other guerrilla activities, a commandant of ours will literally be
able to shake up the Sandinista structure, and replace it.
The mass assemblies and meetings are the culmination of a wide base
support among the population, and it comes about in the later phases of the
operation. This is the moment in which the overthrow can be achieved and
our revolution can become an open one, requiring the close collaboration of
the entire population of the country, and of contacts with their roots in
The tactical effort in guerrilla warfare is directed at the weaknesses of
the enemy and at destroying their military resistance capacity, and should be
parallel to a psychological effort to weaken and destroy their sociopolitical
capacity at the same time. In guerrilla warfare, more than in any other type
of military effort, the psychological activities should be simultaneous with
the military ones, in order to achieve the objectives desired.
The objective of this section is to familiarize the guerrilla with the
techniques of psychological operations, which maximizes the socialpsychological effect of a guerrilla movement, converting the guerrilla into a
propagandist, in addition to being a combatant. The nature of the
environment in guerrilla warfare does not permit sophisticated facilities for
psychological operations, so that use should be made of the effective faceto-face persuasion of each guerrilla.
2. Political Awareness
The individual political awareness of the guerrilla, the reason for his
struggle, will be as important as his ability in combat. This political
awareness and motivation will be achieved:
• By improving the combat potential of the guerrilla by
improving his motivation for fighting.
• By the guerrilla recognizing himself as a vital tie between the
democratic guerrillas and the people, whose support is essential
for the subsistence of both.
• By fostering the support of the population for the national
insurgence through the support for the guerrillas of the locale,
which provides a psychological basis in the population for
politics after the victory has been achieved.
• By developing trust in the guerrillas and in the population, for
the reconstruction of a local and national government.