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After commencing his military career as Cadet Colonel of the Santa Barbara High School Jr. ROTC in 1964, Michael Aquino was commissioned in the Regular Army as a Sr. ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate of the University of California in 1968.
After a year with the 1/17th Cavalry, 82nd Airborne Division, he completed the PSYOP Officer Course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School, in which he was among select students cross-trained with the concurrent Special Forces Officer Course.
During 1969-70 he was assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion, 4th Group, Vietnam. As an HA Command & Control Team Leader, he was responsible for both tactical (HB) teams in combat operations, and audio-visual (HE) teams in the Civil Operations & Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program, and flew numerous PSYOP air support missions throughout III Corps Tactical Zone with both the U.S. Air Force and Army aviation.
In 1972 he joined the 306th PSYOP Battalion (Strategic), USAR at Fort MacArthur, California, and for the next seven years served as Research & Analysis (FA) Team Leader, Operations Officer, and finally Executive Officer. In the 306th – whose members ranged from eccentric Hollywood personalities to dour L.A.P.D. officers – he oversaw highly-classified Basic PSYOP Studies for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, PSYOP support for the training of units such as the 12th Special Forces, and use of the 306th’s atmospheric World War II-era bunkers for space combat scenes in the original Battlestar Galactica television series.
In 1976 he was selected for the Foreign Area Officer career program, completed that qualification at the Special Warfare Center and Central Intelligence Agency during the next three years, and participated in NATO REFORGER exercises as a Western Europe specialist. In 1976 he also completed the remaining course requirements for Special Forces, and was awarded that Tab upon its creation in 1984.
From 1979 to 1981 he served as the FA Team Leader for Headquarters, 7th PSYOP Group in San Francisco, during which time he and the Group Commander collaborated on the predecessor concept paper to this MindWar book.
Returning to active duty in 1981, he was transferred to Civil Affairs Branch, completed its Advanced Course at the Special Warfare Center as the Distinguished Graduate, and received the rare Primary Skill identifier of Politico-Military Affairs Officer (48G).
In this capacity he was sent to the State Department Foreign Service Institute and the Defense Intelligence Agency for Attaché qualification, completed the Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course at Fort Huachuca, and in 1986 was reassigned to Military Intelligence Branch.
In 1986-7 he was the sole USAR officer selected to attend the Industrial College of the National Defense University. During that year he worked with the U.S. Information Agency representative at the National War College on the PSYOP Ethics paper which is also a predecessor to this book.
In 1990 as one of the Army’s first officers to be certified in Joint Space Intelligence by the U.S. Air Force, he was assigned to J2 HQ U.S. Space Command, where in Section X, out of the Cheyenne Mountain NORAD complex, he was involved with those files until he retired from the Active USAR in 1994.
Since the Army had waited until the exact date of his final USA retirement 2006 to create the PSYOP Branch, it graciously transferred him “posthumously” to the Green & Grey in 2011. He has retained his original affiliation with the 1st Special Forces Regiment out of respect for that unique honor.
American decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Reserve Achievement Medals, Parachutist Badge, Special Forces Tab, and USAF Space & Missile Badge. Vietnamese decorations include the Gallantry Cross, Psychological Warfare Medal, and Air Service Medal.
Academically he received the Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California in 1980 and the M.P.A. in National Resource Management from George Washington University in 1987. He taught as Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Golden Gate University 1980-86.
Professionally he is a member of the Special Forces, PSYOP, Civil Affairs, Former Intelligence Officers, and Air/Space/Missile Defense Associations.
After the conclusion of his U.S. government service, the Constitution permitted him to be recognized by Scotland’s Lord Lyon King of Arms as the current Baron of Rachane, Argyllshire. He, his wife Lilith, and several cats live in San Francisco.
Bio from the book “Mind War” by Michael A. Aquino