You know who you really, really don't want to piss off? Psychological Operations, the branch of the military that deals with information and propaganda warfare. But that's exactly who the top Pentagon brass decided to mess with. The Department of Defense announced it is considering changing the outfit's name from the mystique-rich "Psy Ops" to the much more mundane MISO. That stands for Military Information Support and/to Operations, which is both awkward and decidedly un-badass. Wired's Noah Shachtman reports that America's Psy Ops warriors are furious:
"Some of us joined Psychological Operations because it sounded awesome for its name alone," notes one anonymous commenter on the Small Wars Journal blog. "Today, we fall under people who get to dictate and control what we do without knowing fully what our capabilities are. To now have the name changed from PSYOP to MISO is a slap in the face. The intimidation factor brought on by the words alone are what attracts many recruits to the MOS [Military Occupation Specialty]. Now when you hear MISO you might as well just join admin or supply."
"One can only imagine the hue and cry that would arise if a proposal were made to change the name of the infantry, the artillery, or armor," PSYOP historian Alfred Paddock writes in Joint Force Quarterly. "These are combat arms units that use lethal means to accomplish their missions. Thus, it is particularly ironic that some would change the name of PSYOP units that employ nonlethal means to support these combat arms. Apparently, undermining the morale of the enemy is more politically incorrect than killing them."
But I think my favorite comment comes from "Alex," a rather sensitive officer posting on the PSYOP Regimental Blog. To illustrate the acronym switch, the blog posted a picture of a bowl of miso soup. Well, that was too much for Alex. "Sir, I found your comments and a photo in your article totally inappropriate and distasteful," he huffs. Apparently, some PSYOP guys are awfully easy to influence.