Secretive Army Group’s Recruiting Video Is Chock-Full of Hidden Meanings, Viewers Say

The new Fort Liberty sign is displayed outside the base
The new Fort Liberty sign is displayed outside the base on Friday, June 2, 2023 in Fort Liberty, N.C. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

A secretive U.S. Army group known as the “Masters of Influence” has emerged from the shadows of Fort Liberty with a recruitment video that is strange, a little chilling — and crammed with subliminal messages.

The 4th Psychological Operations Group posted “Ghosts in the Machine 2” May 2 on YouTube, exactly two years to the day after it released an equally unsettling recruitment video that had some accusing the group of witchery.

That’s sort of a compliment for the North Carolina-based 4th PsyOps, which “targets psychological vulnerabilities” to create confusion and doubt in adversaries.

The new video is a ominous sequel of sorts to what came in 2022, starting with the sound of thunder, the crackle of fire and a quote from author John Steinbeck: “I am a little man and this is a little town, but there must be a spark in little men that can burst into flame.”

What follows is much like a horror movie trailer, with echoing quotes about the power of ideas, unsettling images of societal breakdown and isolation, and hidden symbolism.

A muffled plea to work together is a sound bite from “Night of the Living Dead. A ticking watch shows the time (8:46) and date the first plane hit a tower on 9-11, and the seconds hand is a pitchfork. A vintage phone rings in the dark, with a ghost painted on the keyboard.

“Behind every choice .... invisible hands,” the video says. “Behind every emotion, fire. Do you believe in the power of words and ideas. .. We believe.”

The video had nearly 95,000 views and more than 800 comments as of May 7, including from viewers who called it “creepy” and “a threat, disguised as a psychological operation, disguised as a recruitment video.”

“Not really sure whose side these guys are on,” @abmermaid wrote on YouTube.

“Why does this seem like something Batman would receive from a super villain,” @bloodrunsclear posted.

“This was the weirdest recruitment ad I’ve ever seen. I’m in,” @chrisjansen1943 wrote.

The 4th PsyOps offered some explanation in a news release issued by the Department of Defense, noting the video is intended as a “powerful call to action” for people who “don’t often fit the mold of an average Army recruit.”

Ideal candidates are “very cerebral and analytical,” yet creative when it comes to solving problems, the group says.

“The challenge there is how do you sell an intangible art form,” one PsyOps officer told the DOD, while declining to reveal his name.

“With an intangible concept, you do it through art. ... We took the ethos that we don’t show the shark. By creating emphasis and a vibe through sound design and imagery, the human mind takes that and makes an image far more evocative than anything we can put on screen.”

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