“It was very difficult to compete with messages left by Jaysh al-Mahdi [militia] in the forms of notes attached to dead people.” ––Boone Cutler
Note: I have known of Boone for a couple of years for the work he has done with Spartan Pledge and I was fascinated by his unpredictable and mysterious messaging that never failed to get me to stop and think. We became friends and it has been an honor that he agreed to mentor me on PsyOp stratagems, which I now use to navigate the machinations of our postmodern world.
Boone Cutler’s book, Callsign Voodoo, is a first-hand account of his experiences as a PsyOp Sergeant during the Iraqi War. In this refreshing but tough read, Cutler is brutally honest about events, enemies, higher ups, and himself. The book stands in marked contrast to generic brand ambassadors, agenda-driven journalists, and lying politicians.
Cutler gives a unique look at the job of the PsyOp intelligence service. He recounts some of the deaths he witnessed as if he were merely a disinterested observer, even speculating if he would have sweet potatoes for dinner afterwards, but the strategy behind campaigns was to avoid getting people killed. As Cutler explains, his job was to encourage “people to do sh*t without us being forced to kill them over it.” And he notes the type of cultural survival behavior for the general Iraqi populace: “…people learned that if they were invisible, they could live longer …”
One situation in particular will feel foreign to Americans: U.S. troops offered simple trash collection for the people of Sadr City, but the Jaysh al-Mahdi, would kill people if they used the American trash bins. They preferred the streets where the children played to be filled with filth.
Cutler shares some vetted official correspondence, some memories of his colleagues, and a frank interview of one of his Iraqi translators.
While Cutler portrays himself as a gruff warrior, I get the sense from his observations, insights, and offers of possible solutions that he cares deeply and is more of a humanist than not.
Michael Newberry, Palm Desert, 11/19/2020