Psychological operations should be planned carefully, in that even a tactical message, with modern news media, can spread worldwide and be treated as the policy of the United States. The US Army is responsible for military psychological warfare doctrine See the World War I section for an example of how a tactical leaflet, not properly coordinated, can cause national-level harm.
Psychological operations, at any level, must be consistent with the policies of higher levels of command
The message to be delivered can be adapted to tactical situations, but promises made must be consistent with national policy.
Under US law, PSYOP is part of Special Operations forces or activities. The detailed military policy, which implements a declassified Presidential directive, is itself classified,.
These policies forbid U.S. PSYOP forces to target (i.e., attempt to change their opinions) U.S. citizens at any time, in any location globally, or under any circumstances. However, commanders may use PSYOP forces to provide public information to U.S. audiences during times of disaster or crisis. The use of PSYOP forces to deliver necessary public information to a U.S. audience was established in relief activities after Hurricane
Andrew in 1992. Tactical Psychological Operations teams (TPTs) were employed to disseminate information by loudspeaker on locations of relief shelters and facilities. Information support to a noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) by PSYOP forces to provide evacuation information to U.S. and third-country nationals would also adhere to the order.
As an example of the use of PSYOP in a humanitarian relief operation Major General Anthony Zinni, Director of Operations for Unified Task Force Somalia, said Psychological operations were a key Battlefield Operating System used extensively to support Unified Task Force (UNITAF) Somalia operations. In order to maximize the PSYOP impact, we established a Joint PSYOP Task Force under the supervision of the Director of Operations, integrated PSYOP into all plans and operations, and limited the PSYOP focus to the operational and tactical levels. Psychological operations do not accomplish missions alone. They work best when they are combined with and integrated in an overall theater campaign plan. In Operation RESTORE HOPE, we were successful in doing that.