A Second Chance
Operation PACIFIC HAVEN
Having just returned from an Ulchi-Focus Lens exercise in South Korea, Major (MAJ) Henry J. “Hank” Henry was at home on Saturday morning (14 September) when the telephone rang. Told to come immediately to the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion (8th POB) headquarters, Henry was met by the Battalion XO, MAJ Chris Leyda and the S3, MAJ Tim Longanacre. Together they met with Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Michael Mathews, the Battalion Commander. LTC Mathews gave MAJ Henry a warning order. I was “to take a small team of specialists including my detachment, two civilian analysts from the Strategic Studies Detachment, several tactical PSYOP soldiers, and two soldiers from the Product Dissemination Battalion and deploy to Guam for Joint Task Force-PACIFIC HAVEN,” remembered MAJ Henry.1 The task-organized unit, called a “Military Information Support Team” (MIST), would support Kurdish refugees fleeing from northern Iraq.2 This article explains the psychological operations performed by the 8th POB for this little known mission, Operation PACIFIC HAVEN, the humanitarian support of nearly 7,000 Kurds in Guam and preparing them for emigration to the United States.
1 Lieutenant Colonel (R) Henry J. Henry, e-mail to Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Jones, Jr., 20 February 2008, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC; In 1996 the Product Dissemination Battalion was a provisional unit of the 4th POG. It is now the 3rd Psychological Operations Battalion.
2 Henry e-mail, 20 February 2008; The “Military Information Support Team” (MIST) had become the standard task organized package for the short notice deployments common in the 4th Psychological Operations Group (4th POG) in the 1990s.
The 8th POB was regionally oriented to the Middle East and Asia/Pacific. Although responsible for Asia/Pacific, B Company received the mission because Company A was completely tasked out for other duties. PSYOP soldiers from two other battalions in the 4th Psychological Operations Group (4th POG) and two experienced civilian PSYOP analysts from the 8th POB Strategic Studies Detachment (SSD), Dr. Ehsan Entezar and Dr. Joseph T. Arlinghaus, were added to the MIST as an afterthought. The two civilian analysts played critical roles during the operation.3
3 Henry e-mail, 20 February 2008.
After receiving his warning order, MAJ Henry immediately contacted Staff Sergeant (SSG) Brad Virden, his Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge (NCOIC) to alert the rest of the soldiers.5 Several soldiers were on a funeral firing detail that morning. SSG Virden caught them as they finished the ceremony. “As we began to turn in our weapons, SSG Virden showed up with a packing list and a verbal warning order for the deployment to Guam,” said Specialist Brian Furber.6 A telephone call from SSG Virden surprised Specialist Craig Coleman. “I had just returned from Operation ASSURED RESPONSE [the non-combatant evacuation from Liberia] and was still assigned to the 9th PSYOP Battalion,” said Coleman. “I was not scheduled to transfer to the 8th POB for another week.”7 The weekend “off” was consumed with packing for the mission.
5 Henry e-mail, 20 February 2008.
6 First Lieutenant Brian Furber, interview by Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Jones, Jr., digital recording, 18 March 2008, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.
7 Master Sergeant Craig Coleman, interview by Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Jones, Jr., digital recording, 12 February 2008, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.