The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, or SWCS, is beginning an overhaul that will bring back a formal schoolhouse for psychological warfare operators with an eye toward  standardizing the training for that active-duty and Reserve PSYOP soldiers receive, SWCS’ commanding general told reporters on Tuesday.

Since 2006,  PSYOP soldiers have been assigned to units in either U.S. Army Special Operations Command and Army Reserve Command, causing a split on how active-duty and Reserve PSYOP soldiers are trained.  Now SWCS is reorganizing and unifying PSYOP training under a single schoolhouse.

“One of the challenges that we have in the branch right now is the lack of equitable level of training between the Reserves and the active component, said Army Brig. Gen. Guillaume “Will” Beaurpere. “I think the PSYWAR [psychological warfare] school can help solve that problem.”

Special operations PSYOP soldiers receive training on how to work with a partner that conventional PSYOP soldiers do not go through, Beaurpere said on Tuesday. There are also five different paths in the Army Reserves to become a PSYOP soldier, each with its own distinct program of instruction.

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“From my perspective, that’s inefficient and it creates risk in the ability to just doctrinally work from the same starting point as a PSYOP force,” Beaurpere said. “We have to fix that and create a core-level basic capability of psychological operations so we can work together downrange.”

Beaurpere noted that SWCS was originally conceived as a psychological warfare, or PSYWAR, center in 1952, but the school eventually changed its focus to counterinsurgency during the Vietnam War. For more than a generation, SWCS has been the home of nearly all formal training for Special Forces soldiers, from the selection and initial qualification courses that create Green Berets, to advanced skills like Combat Diver, Military Freefall and advanced shooting and combat schools.

“I think from a joint perspective, having a PSYWAR also messages that this is truly the center of excellence for information advantage and influencing foreign audiences to change behavior,” Beaurpere said.

The PSYWAR school has already stood up, and now the Special Operations Center of Excellence will ask the commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command for the school to have provisional status so that it can be manned and its functions laid out, an Army official said. The school is expected to hold its first classes by the end of this fiscal year.

Standing up the PSYWAR School center is a key aspect of SWCS 2030 strategy, which involves adapting the training, and education, and doctrine for Army special operators to meet the challenges posed by adversaries such as China and Russia.

The strategy also involves having a commandant in charge of PSYOP training for the first time since 2019, Beaurpere said during a media roundtable.  The commandant’s role would include serving as the proponent for doctrine, writing programs of instruction, and overseeing training development.

“Without a commandant and without a school to drive information advantage forward, I thought we were behind the power curve,” Beaurpere said. “I’ve got a commandant now that we drew from the Reserve component.”

Beaurpere’s comments come after the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office released a report last month that found the Army is not recruiting, training, and retaining enough PSYOP soldiers to meet the U.S. military’s growing need for them at the tactical, operational, and strategic level.

“The resulting operational tempo required of this under-resourced force risks burnout of these specialized Soldiers, which only serves to worsen the underlying conditions,” the report found.

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