Who Is 636th MI Battalion Trying to PSYOP?

I caught a few moments of  The Alamo today, watched Billy Bob shoot the epaulette off Santa Ana’s shoulder, missed his fiddle response to Degüello.

El Degüello, as all Texans and everybody else with an appreciation of the military heritage of North America should know, was a musical psychological operation, the auditory equivalent of spitting on the hands and raising the black flag before slitting throats.  The Mexicans raised a red flag instead of a black one. 

“Like the Texans at the Alamo, Task Force Deguello has come to Afghanistan to do the hardest jobs and offer their blood, sweat and tears to the 101st Airborne and the 82nd Airborne Division,”

Task Force Deguello is named for the taunting music the Mexican army played at the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, the most famous battle of the Texas Revolution. The song Deguello was played during the 13 day siege of the Alamo to let the defenders of Texas freedom know there would be no mercy, no quarter for those who did not surrender.

Pashtuns understand cut throat. They sell bootleg The Alamo DVD’s in bazaars where the Taliban aren’t, so some have seen the movie and heard the sound track. Somehow, my perception is being managed to perceive that this Task Force was not named to influence the Host Nation target audience.

Waiting for Task Force Forlorn Hope, Task Force Kamikaze, and Task Force Fourth Tour — Same Old Shit to show up.

18 Comments

Filed under PSYOP, The Forgotten War

18 responses to “Who Is 636th MI Battalion Trying to PSYOP?

  1. Sharon

    For someone who has such an “appreciation for the military heritage of North America,” isn’t bashing our soldiers sort of dumb?

  2. Sharon

    well, the names they fight under

  3. Am I “bashing” somebody when I point out the incongruity of a Military Intelligence Battalion from Texas naming their task force in Afghanistan after the Mexican/Spanish/Moorish martial music played to depress the morale of the defenders of the Alamo and incite the attackers to a murderous frenzy which spared only 13 women and children and one slave?

  4. walter giles

    I would say that you misunderstand what Deguello means to Texans and Texians.

    For those who heard it at the Alamo, it was a certainty of their own deaths. They fought anyway. It is of honor and of courage– a belief that something more important than sparing one’s own life exists. This includes, and was major issue of the time– the freedoms necessary to defend oneself and to seek justice.

    Many of the Tennesseans came to Texas when the State refused to prosecute depredating Indians, but would jail any white who sought justice for the tragic and brutal deaths of family, friends and neighbors. When this same policy came from the Mexican government, that became the issue for the Tejano and European Texans: “Come and Take it!”

    For many (most? all?) of us, it is not a battle cry, but a call to selflessness in the face of merciless enemy.

    • So, walt, who is 636th MI trying to PSYOP?
      Who is the intended target audience that the name of the task force is supposed to persuade, change or influence?
      Or is it a Texas thang that non-Texans just wouldn’t understand?

      • recondotexas

        I am in TF Deguello. Considering that most U.S. personnel don’t care what it stands for, why would you think the Afghans do? Oh and we aren’t PSYOP’s friend. How bout praising the hundreds of soldiers that volunteered for this tour? How bout thanking their families as well? Of course that wouldn’t stir folks up now would it?

      • I don’t think the Afghans care what the Task Force’s name stands for. Now you tell me that most U.S. personnel don’t care what it stands for, either, which does not surprise me. So what target audience did the namers of TF Deguello have in mind when they named the TF? Should be a fairly simple question to answer, yet having the temerity to ask it seems to have displeased some. Not sure why.

        The hundreds of soldiers who volunteered for this tour are wonderful human beings and great Americans.
        Allow me to extend my never-ending gratitude to the mothers that bore them, the fathers that sired them, the spouses that married them and the children who must grow up without them while they’re gone. Thanks, families.

        How was that?

      • 636thHIC

        Greetings! I remember reading this when I was in Afghanistan, didn’t think too much of it, but it appears that some are being a bit sensitive about the question that was initially posed, it was not meant as an insult, but as a valid question, why would we be named after a bugle call that was played to harass and demoralize our liberators at the Alamo? Think about it, does it make sense? Not really… why not TF Lone Star, TF San Jacinto, TF Brazos, TF Rio Grande… The options go on limited only by the imagination of the individual…
        From what I understand the name of the Task Force, “Deguello,” was intended to fill the Soldiers with a sense of pride in knowing that they were facing a foe that was not going to surrender just like those that fought for our Republics freedom as we would fight to sustain the freedom of the Afghan’s and deny our enemies abroad a base of operations. It was “cut-throat,” there was, and will not be “surrender” (which is debatable after seeing Mr. Obama’s foreign policy in action) in our fight against our enemies. The name was a link between the modern Soldier and the hero’s of our past who fought for an idea, a state of being, a belief; not monetary reward, personal gain and profit; and it was those motivations that allowed the brave defenders of the Alamo the ability to stand the wall, to face Santa Ana and his vast army, it was those motivations that allowed them to not fear death, because they were morally just, it was intended to instill in the Soldiers of TF Deguello that there was something bigger than themselves at stake.
        So, to answer the initial question, the PSYOP’s intended receiver was the Soldiers of TF Deguello. But, I may be wrong. Our Battalion Commander had a personality which I would say was curious, at the least. He may have had a whole other intent, who knows but he… During the preparation for this deployment many Soldiers were disillusioned by the lack of concrete information on what we would be doing and how we would be doing it. There was also a lot of incompetence and mismanagement at some levels that such should not exist. Once we arrived in Afghanistan we were hampered by what appeared to be emphasis on OER bullets as opposed to mission. A lot of things could have gone better; but, we brought everyone home, so, obviously it could have been much worse. Many “close calls” and far more wounded than our predecessors (not only did the enemy bring more fight during our deployment, but we also “put ourselves out there” a bit more than fine Soldiers we replaced, now that is certainly a Texas thing!). Anyways, thank you for your question, I hope I added some perspective to it.

      • The question I posed in the title of the post was never meant as an insult.

        I troll the internet seeking information about a wide variety of subjects, including Psychological Operations and Afghanistan. When I ran up on Task Force Deguello, I thought that was an odd name for a Texas Army National Guard Military Intelligence Task Force. I had a vague notion based on Billy Bob Thornton and John Wayne depictions, but the real history of the bugle call was much more interesting so I blogged about it. I also wondered how morale was in a Task Force so named. At Kandahar Air Field in 2005 a Royal Netherlands Air Force Chinook squadron had a sign up in their area, in English, not Dutch, that said “Same Old Shit, Different Tour” under their unit insignia which attracted a lot of comment. They even had patches made up.

        Task Forces are not named haphazardly. TF Deguello’s name was thought up and approved for a specific purpose. You are in a much better position than I to know who the primary intended target audience to be influenced was.

        Thank you, sir.

      • 636thHIC

        I did not take it as such. I thought it was obvious that it was not an insult. As I stated in my previous post, that is why I believe the Task Force was named as such. There are some weird names out there…

      • walter giles

        eh… sadly, i suppose it is a texas thing that only texans understand. the days of selfless acts defining one’s life and / or death appear to me to be just about over. Been replaced by a culture of persons who wouldn’t raise a fist to defend their mother from an attacker. now i’m depressed.

        but to try to answer: i don’t now, but “reckon” the name means a little of each to those who chose it– “cut throat / no quarter” in a literal sense, and selflessness in its texan idiom (the moral victory of the defeat of the Alamo). but, heck, most texans don’t know enough detail to have ever heard of the bugle call by that name, and i would bet no afghan has ever or will ever know enough of our history to wonder about it.

        if i recall, and i love irony, the spanish got the bugle call from the moors.

  5. Supposed2BTFDegeullo

    I was supposd to be in TF Degeullo. The 636th MI BN are very proud of what they do. And they are good at what they do. Whatever the reasoning for choosing the TF name, they must’ve had a good reason for it. You wouldn’t understand it unless you talk directly to someone in the chain of command. Please respect our military and especially their families. A soldier volunteers their life but the families don’t get much of a choice. When I say “respect, I don’t mean to “tolerate” them, I mean to truly RESPECT them. Like you would respect your parents when you were 4 yrs old.

    • So I am disrespectful of the the TF chain of command, the military, and their families if I question why the TF was named that?

      I was a soldier myself, once. Two of my sons were Marines. One of my sons is an airman.

      All the negativity I have attracted for my “disrespectful” question intrigues me. I must have hit a nerve.

  6. Supposed2BTFDeguello

    Gratitude is always appreciated. Lol.

    I do not know who they were targeting when the TF was named. What if they named the TF for their gratification? Why do you think they named it with a particular audience in mind? I’m curious.

    • Do you think they named it for their own gratification with no particular audience in mind?

      I do not know who the intended target audiences the name Task Force Deguello is meant to influence. Exploring that question was the purpose of this blog entry. I am apparently disrespectful to have asked it.

  7. Badass Shooter

    I was in Deguello. I will shed some light. It was thusly named because the leadership, who couldn’t lead sardines to a tin, wanted to ensure the Bn was remembered by the 82nd and 101st as the worst outfit to hit Afghan soil. They chose a name that will be well remembered for yours to come and serve as a continual joke at Bragg and Campbell. Good job, Deguello leadership, you suceeded enormously at sucking.

  8. Task Force Deguello Completes Combat Operations
    Submitted by: CW3 Rodney Hammack

    Story by: Sgt. Jermy Spires
    Public Affairs Office

    Task Force Deguello service members have completed combat operations in Afghanistan, ridding the country of more than 500 enemy combatants, dozens of weapon caches, and large amounts of munitions.
    Comprised of Soldiers of the 636th Military Intelligence Battalion, 36th Infantry Division, TFD used innovative military intelligence techniques to assist ground forces in collecting intelligence from the battlefield.

    “The number of high value targets and other enemy combatants (who) were killed and captured based on the intelligence collected by our teams was remarkable,” remarked Maj. Gregory Pollock, the battalion executive officer during the deployment. “It’s just an incredible story.”

    TFD service members began their deployment in early 2009 in the harsh environment of Afghanistan with the intent of making history by using specially designed teams to collect tactical and strategic intelligence for the United States and coalition forces in theater. TFD established their headquarters at Forward Operating Base Bagram and assumed intelligence responsibility for Regional Command East (RC-East) during January 2009.

    “When the call came out for a military intelligence unit to be sent to Afghanistan, (the 636th MI Bn) stood up and answered the call,” said Col. Suzanne Adkinson, commander of the 71st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade.

    TF Deguello had little time to get ready for the deployment. With a vast majority of its Soldiers previously transferred to various units across Texas, the battalion quickly recalled them and trained them up in time for the deployment. Only through the dedication of the Texas Military Forces and their headstrong leadership capabilities, was the 636th MI BN able to meet the deadline for deployment and develop the military intelligence unit needed in theater to succeed.

    The concept for the battalion was developed by Lt. Col. Michael Dietz, former commander of the 636th MI BN. Multi-functional teams centered on experienced, combat tested Soldiers being paired with the ‘first timers’, which allowed the younger field intelligence collectors to learn from the veterans of their craft. Similar MFTs were used in past Iraq deployments, but this would be the first time in Afghanistan.

    “The 636th MI Bn formed and deployed on very short notice and it took a lot of guys with prior experience,” said Spc. Matthew Buntrock, a native of New Braunfels and a member of a Human Intelligence team. “I think it gave everybody a more mature focus. I think that was one of the biggest assets that the unit had for being so new is that everybody had some prior experience to bring to the table.”

    The MFT pairings enabled a more secure tactical environment for the teams, which in turn allowed for an increase in personal safety and intelligence collection capability.

    Various teams within TF Deguello were trained and certified by several-high level agencies prior to deployment, including the National Security Agency and the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command. In addition, many of the Soldiers from the battalion reported to Fort Carson, Colo., where they were trained on advanced intelligence gathering techniques and additional combat skills that would be invaluable in the battlefield.

    “Multi-functional teams were the jacks of all trades,” said Maj. Paul Hernandez, the S3 officer in charge during TF Deguello’s deployment. “They (performed) SIGINT (Signal Intelligence), and HUMINT (Human Intelligence) collections. They did a little bit of everything.”

    The HUMINTS were responsible for the collection of reportable intelligence throughout the provinces of Afghanistan, as well as the screenings and interrogations of potential intelligence targets. SIGINT teams gathered intelligence by intercepting communications, whether between people talking face to face, or by electronic signals such as cell phones that might be used in the communication between enemy forces.

    Through the use of MFTs and other intelligence collection teams, task force Soldiers provided commanders with increased situational awareness in the areas of operation they controlled. Intelligent decisions, based on reliable and current battlefield information, resulted in less causality for American and Coalition Forces.

    During the deployment, task force personnel had to overcome different environments throughout the region. Each team focused on the local aspect of each region. Where one team may have prioritized the fight on combating improvised explosive devices (IEDs), another team may have made that their primary objective.

    Other teams throughout the region may have the arduous task of balancing everything from the hunt for anti-aircraft weapons to the capture of high-value human targets. According to Maj. Hernandez it all depended on the location of these special teams.

    The task force also operated a Remote Operations Cryptological Center and a Joint Interrogation Facility, which greatly increased its ability to take advantage of enemy targets throughout the mountainous area.

    The ROCC provided higher level signal intelligence while the JIF personnel conducted interrogations and utilized the gathered information for potential follow on missions, explained Maj. Hernandez.

    Soldiers of TF Deguello returned home during November 2009 after passing command to the 321st MI BN from Austin. The unit earned the Meritorious Unit Commendation award and the Governor’s Unit Citation for their services in Operation Enduring Freedom IX-XI. The awards were presented during a change of command ceremony in front of the Alamo in San Antonio on February 7, 2010.

    “Over the course of our mission we have achieved tremendous success and made major contributions to the efforts of Combined Joint Task Force 101 and 82,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Kleis, the outgoing commander, while addressing the Soldiers of the task force. “(We) collected more intelligence than any unit since October 2001. Each of you has made history and contributed to the future success for follow on forces that have yet to be identified. “

    “Your contributions were numerous, your accomplishments significant, and your place in history is secure…” said Kleis. “Never before and never again will Task Force Deguello take to the field of battle. The chapter of this history book is closed.”
    Posted: 4/12/2010 3:12:29 PM