Integrating Information Warfare - Lessons Learned from Warfighter Exercise 18-2

Five I Corps staff officers share their lessons learned during a recent Warfighter exercise regarding information operations and provide a model for the U.S. Army to integrate information-related capabilities for use against near-peer adversaries in future conflicts.


Lt. Col. Jonathan Rittenberg, U.S. Army

Maj. Mike Barry, U.S. Army

Maj. Daniel Hickey, U.S. Army

Maj. Bryan Rhee, U.S. Army

Capt. Holly Cross, U.S. Army


The 6th PSYOP Battalion

This short story came to pass in a strange way. Someone asked if I could do a story on the 7th PSYOP Battalion. I told him that it would be tough because I did not have a lot of data on that unit. I realized I did have a lot of data on the 6th PSYOP Battalion and that would be an easy story to write. So, in three days I wrote this section about Vietnam. It is just about 7,500 words and my stories usually go about twice that. But, I have not touched on what happened after 1973. So, although I should wait until the whole story is finished, I thought some of you might enjoy reading the Vietnam portion and that is what I add today. I will continue to write this article until it is finished and in a few weeks you will all see the longer complete version.




The answer to the quiz

As promised the answer. In order to try and keep the United States neutral, prior to WWII the Germans mailed propaganda leaflets to selected people in the United States; lawyers, politicians, etc. Some showed Hitler as a man of the people eating with his troops, some were cartoons showing the British sending their troops off to battle or starting the war while the people were not allowed to hear their decrees, and many were like this leaflet that showed Germany after WWI when the British were still blockading Germany and children were starving. The Germans were justifying their actions and hoping that America would buy their argument.


The 1st MISB

Exactly two weeks ago I received an E-mail from the 1st MISB asking for help with a project. I offered instead to write a story about the battalion's long history. Here it is. I think they will be shocked to know how many places they have been. The story is not complete. It never is. I have requests our for leaflets as I write this. Still, it is complete enough to let you see it. I enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it.


Loudspeakers at War

I have been writing two stories simultaneously this week. My buddy Major Ed Rouse had a pile of loudspeaker images he wanted to put online. He asked me to write a story that might feature his photos. I did so. It has no plot and reads a bit jerky, but it will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about loudspeakers. Personally, I am a leaflet guy. But, if you like loudspeakers this story is for you.

My stories are open-ended. They are never complete. If I get an interesting email on some PSYOP topic tomorrow it would go into one of my 151 articles currently on the Internet. If you want to talk about an interesting PSYOP experience, or just an anecdote or something funny, send it to me. These article are the history of PSYOP saved for posterity. Let's save the good, the bad and the funny. You can always write to me at

And now for this weeks story...or should I be more modern and say "blog?"





POW Survived Hell, and Became an Inspiration

by Kevin Ferris, Inquirer Columnist - MAY 12, 2017

Retired Air Force Maj. Leo Thorsness waited more than six years for the Medal of Honor he was awarded for his actions over North Vietnam on April 19, 1967.

On that day, Thorsness and his wingman had successfully taken out two surface-to-air missile sites. But the second plane was hit by antiaircraft fire. The crew ejected, and when an MiG-17 took aim at the descending parachutes, Thorsness turned his F-105 on the enemy jet and destroyed it with his gatling gun.

After a midair refueling, Thorsness returned to the area where the crew had landed safely, although in enemy territory. Now there were four MiGs. Outnumbered, almost out of ammo, and the target of a missile barrage from below, Thorsness engaged. He took down a second MiG and drove off the rest. Again dangerously low on fuel, he saved another crew by allowing them to refuel from a nearby tanker while he, from 35,000 feet, essentially glided to the Udorn Royal Thai Air Base 70 miles away, his engines shutting down just as they landed.

Lt. Col. Thorsness received his medal from President Richard Nixon during a White House ceremony on Oct. 19, 1973. With him were his wife, his daughter, and his mom, brother, and sister. The reason for the long delay? Just 11 days after saving the lives of the parachuting crew, Thorsness was himself shot down by an air-to-air missile from a MiG.

“It was the beginning of an ordeal that would brutalize me,” he wrote in Surviving Hell, “and, paradoxically for anyone who didn’t share the unique experience of the POWs, also allow me to become a better and fuller person.” He would spend the next six years as a POW, enduring torture — they broke his back — solitary confinement, and malnutrition. Yet the horrific conditions did not break his spirit, nor that of his fellow Americans. The North Vietnamese had their bodies, but not their minds or their souls. They inspired each other to resist, and came to appreciate their country even more.

At one point, Thorsness had used a rusty nail to painstakingly drill a small hole through the mortar of his cell wall. Spotting a guard outside led him to reflect on the many opportunities he’d been granted just by being born an American. “Here I was, locked in a grimy, tiny five-by-six-foot cell, and he was walking around unrestrained outside,” Thorsness wrote. “But I knew I was the lucky one. In my 35 years of freedom, I have had a better, fuller life and had done and seen more than he ever would. A thought stuck in my mind that never left me in the years I was a prisoner: If I die now, I am way ahead of the game.”

Later in his captivity, when he was among the POWs moved from smaller cells to one holding 42 men, the Americans decided to hold a church service on their first Sunday together. But when they gathered at one end of the long rectangular cell, guards burst in, refusing permission for any large gatherings and unequivocally forbidding any kind of worship service. The Americans backed down then, but devised a plan to push back the following Sunday. That day they again all gathered at one end of the cell, and guards rushed in. The senior ranking officer, Ned Shuman, explained that they would hold a 10-minute service and then disperse. “As expected,” Thorsness wrote, “they grabbed Ned and hauled him off … for torture.”

But that did not end of the matter. “The second ranking man … walked to the center of the cell and in a clear firm voice said, ‘Gentlemen,’ our signal to stand, ‘the Lord’s Prayer,’” Thorsness continued. “We got about halfway through the prayer, when the guards grabbed \[him\] and hauled him out the door.”
The third ranking man then stood. “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.” They got as far as “Thy Kingdom come” before he was dragged away.

The number four man rose. “I have never heard five or six words of the Lord’s Prayer — as far as we got before they seized him — recited so loudly, or so reverently,” Thorsness wrote. “The guards were now hitting POWs with gun butts and the cell was in chaos.” The fifth man, too, was taken out mid-prayer, but this time all the guards left with him. When the sixth man stood to lead them, the Americans were able to complete the prayer.

“Five courageous officers were tortured, but I think they believed it was worth it,” Thorsness wrote. “From that Sunday on until we came home, we held a church service. We won. They lost. Forty-two men in prison pajamas followed Ned’s lead. I know I will never see a better example of pure raw leadership or ever pray with a better sense of the meaning of the words.”

Leo Thorsness, 85, died on May 2, survived by his wife of 64 years, Gaylee, his daughter Dawn, and two grandchildren. Like many of his fellow POWs, he made the most of his life after liberation. The better and fuller person he’d become was unfailingly good-humored, loyal, and a source of inspiration.

The humor came through in the way he spoke about life after captivity: “If the doorknob is on the inside, it’s a good day.” The inspiration took many forms, but is clear from this motto he often shared — one he more than lived up to: “Do what’s right, and help others. If people live by those words, their life is going to be OK.”

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Kevin Ferris is the Inquirer’s commentary editor and co-author of  Vets and Pets: Wounded Warriors and the Animals That Help Them Heal (Skyhorse, Sept, 2017)