The operation was a truly ingenious one that was coordinated by a certain Major General Edward G. Lansdale. Born in 1908, Lansdale served with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War. Then, in 1945, he was transferred to HQ Air Forces Western Pacific in the Philippines; and, in 1957, he received a posting to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, working as Deputy Assistant to the SoD for what were vaguely termed as “Special Operations.”
At the specific request of President Elpidio Quirino, Lansdale was assigned to the Joint United States Military Assistance Group to provide assistance and guidance in the field of Intelligence, to the Philippine Army, as the latter sought to squash the Huk uprising. And it was while lending assistance to President Quirino that Lansdale had the bright idea of exploiting a local legend for psychological warfare purposes – namely, that of the deadly, predatory and monstrous Asuang Vampire. A very strange “special operation” had well and truly begun.
In his own words, Lansdale would later say that: “To the superstitious, the Huk battleground was a haunted place filled with ghosts and eerie creatures. A combat psy-war squad was brought in. It planted stories among town residents of an Asuang living on the hill where the Huks were based. Two nights later, after giving the stories time to make their way up to the hill camp, the psywar squad set up an ambush along the trail used by the Huks.”
Lansdale continued: “When a Huk patrol came along the trail, the ambushers silently snatched the last man of the patrol, their move unseen in the dark night. They punctured his neck with two holes, vampire-fashion, held the body up by the heels, drained it of blood, and put the corpse back on the trail. When the Huks returned to look for the missing man and found their bloodless comrade, every member of the patrol believed that the Asuang had got him and that one of them would be next if they remained on that hill. When daylight came, the whole Huk squadron moved out of the vicinity.”