Link #131: US Used Audio Tapes To Scare The Vietnamese Enemy Soldiers!

Tascam 16Track


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Link #131: US Used Audio Tapes To Scare The Vietnamese Enemy Soldiers!

Tascam 1-inch 16-Track analogue tape recorder. Author: Iainf/CC0, Public Domain.

The Terracotta Army that we spoke about in our last post may have been created to honour the soldiers that unified China or it may have just been designed to protect Emperor Qin in the afterlife. However, what is certain is that all armies, whether modern or ancient, end up causing a lot of pain.

The main objective of any army is win a war. The main fallout from any war is pain and suffering for both sides. Even when a war tactic isn’t directly ending lives, it is indirectly causing pain and suffering.

A good example of such indirect tactics is the Operation Wandering Soul which was conducted by the US army during the Vietnam War. What was the Operation Wandering Soul? Keep reading and you’ll get your answer.

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What Was Operation Wandering Soul?

Operation Wandering Soul
A loadspeaker team plays the “wandering soul” recordings. Image credit: CC0, Public Domain.

Operation Wandering Soul was a special operation conducted by the American military during the Vietnam War. Its purpose was to use Vietnamese beliefs to influence Vietcong soldiers’ mental wellbeing.

Operation Wandering Soul specifically tried to use the Vietnamese or Buddhist beliefs on life after death. The medium used was audio recordings designed specifically to contain eerie and unsettling sounds.

Some of the audio tapes used in the Operation Wandering Soul also contained messages from supposed Vietnamese people. For example, most tapes contained messages from people acting as dead Vietcong soldiers. Other times, sounds of family members like children were used.

These sounds were delivered through loudspeakers that could either be set up on trees or carried by special PSYOP Battalions. The effect of the Operation Wandering Soul was immediate and direct. Soldiers that served during the Vietnamese War reveal that they would play these tapes before attacks. Later on when they would capture prisoners, they would admit that they were scared.

Why Was The Operation Wandering Soul Devised?

Kien Muc Lien
Kien Muc Lien by ttt pham/Creative Commons.

Operation Wandering Soul was based on a very important belief of the people of Vietnam. The Vietnamese believe that unless a dead person is buried in his homeland, his soul will be doomed to wander the region where he died without any relief for eternity. Similar beliefs are held by different people all over the world, especially in Buddhist regions.

The Vietnamese have a whole legend wrapped around this concept. The legend is about a young boy who achieved enlightenment at a very young age. This boy, called Kien Muc Lien, had a mother who was evil and was sent to hell because of her nature.

She was constantly tortured in hell so Lien used magic to send her food. However, even the magically food wouldn’t reach his mother so Lien asked Buddha for help. He was told to conduct a ceremony to bring his mother peace. The ceremony worked, which is why the Vietnamese celebrate the Vu Lan Day or the Wandering Souls day every year.

The Wandering Souls day is considered to be the second largest festival in Vietnam. On this festival, the Vietnamese believe that their rituals can free any ancestral spirits that have not yet attained nirvana.

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