15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group (15 POG) have been awarded the Firmin Sword of Peace in recognition of their work in Afghanistan. The award is given to the unit or establishment of each Service judged to have made the most valuable contribution to humanitarian activities by establishing good and friendly relations with the inhabitants of any community at home or overseas.
A small team from 15 POG has been continuously deployed to Helmand for six years. Working predominantly with the Afghan civilian population it has sought to inform, reassure, educate and through the promotion of free and unbiased discussion persuade Afghans that their futures are best served not with the Taliban, nor with ISAF but with themselves and their elected government. The unit runs a network of radio stations employing local Afghan’s as DJs, broadcasting music, poetry, debate programmes and even a Helmandi soap opera, as well as producing graphical posters and leaflets to communicate in an area where literacy rates are only around 20%. Recent projects include information campaigns to prevent children picking up spent ordnance they find, disseminating information from farming and veterinary workshops using their radio stations, and promoting debate on political issues of the day.
Presenting the award, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Sir David Richards said:
The work of 15POG has made a very significant contribution to fostering positive relations with local Afghan communities, and building vital understanding of our role and the role of the Afghan Government.
Speaking about the award, Commanding Officer of 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group (15 POG) Commander Steve Tatham Royal Navy said:
We are delighted that our work is being recognised by this award. We are proud of our achievements helping foster better relations with the Afghans and building a sense of community and nationality, and of our support Task Force Helmand’s wider aims. The levels of literacy and technology in Helmand present challenges for us, but there is an appetite for information, education and debate that our work helps to satisfy. It is heartening to see how our work can directly improve people’s lives, whether helping them participate in elections, improve their farming and livelihood, or promoting basic healthcare.
Notes to editors
The Firmin Sword of Peace was first instituted as the Wilkinson Sword of Peace in 1966 and is awarded each year to the unit of the UK’s armed services judged to have made the most valuable contribution towards establishing good and friendly relations with any community at home or overseas over and above the unit’s normal role and duty.
15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group - 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group is a tri-service unit, responsible for Psychological Operations in support of the British Forces. The role of the Group is to influence attitudes in order to affect behaviour in support of a military commander’s mission. This is done with planned, culturally sensitive, truthful and attributable activities directed and disseminated by various means to an approved audience.
15 (UK) PsyOps Gp comprises both Regular and Reserve personnel from all three services.
For further information please contact Clare Keen in Army PR on 020 7807 0969.