[WPost] - The Pentagon has awarded three contracts, potentially worth up to $300 million over five years, to companies it hopes will inject more creativity into its psychological operations efforts to improve foreign public opinion about the United States, particularly the military.
'We would like to be able to use cutting-edge types of media,' said Col. James Treadwell, director of the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, a part of Tampa-based U.S. Special Operations Command. 'If you want to influence someone, you have to touch their emotions.'
He said SYColeman Inc. of Arlington, Va., Lincoln Group and SAICorp. will help develop ideas and prototypes for radio and television spots, documentaries, or even text messages, pop-up ads on the Internet, podcasting, billboards or novelty items.
Treadwell's group was established last year and includes a graphic artist and videographer, he said. It assists 'psyops' personnel stationed at military headquarters overseas.
Some previous Defense Department efforts in the field have been controversial. In 2002, the Pentagon abandoned its Office of Strategic Influence after reports surfaced, which the Pentagon denied, that it would disseminate inaccurate information to foreign media.
Treadwell said there is no connection between the Office of Strategic Influence and the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, adding: 'I have never approved a product that was a lie, (or) that was intended to deceive.'
SYColeman, a unit of L-3 Communications, is a government-services company with about 1,100 employees, most in the Washington region. According to its Web site, Lincoln Group provides communications services and strategic planning. San Diego-based SAIC, which has 16,000 employees in the Washington region, is among the Pentagon's largest contractors.