SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
The 6th PSYOP Battalion Crest
A gold color metal and enamel insignia 1 1/8 inches in height overall consisting of a wreath of oak leaves in gold surmounted in base by a gold sword hilt and issuant there from to chief three lightning flashes of gray, white and black enamel from left to right respectively. The distinctive unit insignia was authorized on 3 Jan 1967.
The Battalions function of dissemination of propaganda by radio broadcast and prepared leaflets is characterized by the lightning flashes and oak leaves emanating from the sword hilt. The colors gray, white and black are borrowed from the coat of arms of the U.S. Army Special Warfare School (formerly Psychological Warfare School) and refer to the half-truth, the truth and the untruth.
The Current Coat of Arms.
Sheild: Vertical, Above: A red dragon over a palm frond over a black and gold cord. Below: the Battalion Crest.
Shield: Jungle green is the primary color used by Psychological Operations units.
Crest: The dragon highlights the units airborne mission and the palm commemorates the organizations campaign participation credits and honors earned in Vietnam. Red symbolizes valor and sacrifice and is the color of the Meritorious Unit Commendation; gold is the color of honor and high achievement. The number of loops in the ribbon around the palm highlights the three decorations the organization was awarded in Vietnam; dark green is adapted from the Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal. The coat of arms was authorized on 20 Jun 1997.
Motto: Veritas Vos Liberabit (The truth will set you free).
The 6th Psychological Operations Battalion is a subordinate unit of the 4th Psychological Operations Group. The Battalion is tasked with the dissemination of propaganda by radio broadcast and prepared leaflets. The 6th has regional responsibility over the area covered by the European Command (EUCOM), as well as over Africa, excepting the Horn of Africa.
When the U.S. Army selects an official date for the activation of a new unit there is usually good justification for that data. However, in the case of the 6th PSYOP Battalion it is not so easy. There were two of them. The original battalion was later made into a PSYOP Group and the unit was reorganized with new personnel and then started over. At the same time, in early cases like Vietnam we find that often there are detachments that later become companies and finally end up as a battalion. Could we not make a case that the starting date goes back to those early units? I shall leave it up to the reader to determine when and what is true about the 6th PSYOP Battalion. I will just tell their story and the reader can judge.
The original 6th PSYOP Battalion was based in Saigon from February 1966 to December 1967 as the lead PSYOP unit. The original commanders were Lieutenant Colonel Wallis J. Moulis, Colonel David W. Affleck and Lieutenant Colonel William J. Beck. A 1966 Stars and Stripes article entitled U.S. Psywar Unit Hitting Morale of VC in Vietnam lists the capabilities of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. It says in part:
The Battalion has designed, printed, processed, loaded and delivered more than a half billion leaflets We can print one million leaflets in support of any given mission within a 24-hour period. We printed three million leaflets on three different occasions in support of the Mu Gia Pass bombing in North Vietnam. The Battalion uses more than 200 tons of paper a month Here in Saigon we produce approximately 10 million leaflets a week. Our bomb loading crew can pack five million leaflets daily if necessary, and that is 75,000 to each bomb. Field units can print two and one-half million leaflets a week in support of their tactical units.
The early history of psychological operations in Vietnam is shrouded but we know that on 27 April 1960, the Commander-in-Chief Pacific deployed psychological warfare troops to Vietnam. In February 1962 the first PSYWAR Mobile Training Team was sent to Vietnam. We know that American Special Forces practiced their own PSYOP until such time as trained American forces arrived. On 7 February 1966 the 6th PSYOP Battalion was activated at Tan Sun Nhut.
The history of the 6th PSYOP Battalion is also mentioned in the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Command History Volume II, 1967.
During 1966 the buildup of US forces had evoked changes in the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and its operations in almost every sphere, including Psychological Operations (PSYOP). In early 1966 the 6th PSYOP Battalion had arrived to fulfill the Command's initial requirement for PSYOP support. Although this unit contributed immeasurably to the PSYOP posture, the demand for PSYOP support from combat commanders and advisors still far exceeded the overall capability of the PSYOP support in-country. Tactical psychological campaigns had been greatly expanded in 1966, and were highlighted by the new Chieu Hoi Program (January), the B- 52 Strike Campaign (February), the Trail Campaign (February), the NVA Campaign (April) and the TALLY-HO Campaign (July); complementing all these PSYOP activities was the greatly-expanded Military Civic Action Program (MILCAP). The goals of these programs were to improve the living conditions of the people so as to remove one of the underlying causes of the insurgency to gain and maintain the support of the people for the Government of Vietnam and to improve the standing of the military forces with the population. While it was impossible to establish concrete factors which would measure the effectiveness of PSYOP, there were indications that the overall program had assisted the GVN in gaining support and in the ultimate goal of building a nation.
Barger mentions problems with manpower and accomplishments in his thesis: Psychological Operations Supporting Counterinsurgency: 4th PSYOP Group in Vietnam.
The Operational Report-Lessons Learned covering activities of the 6th PSYOP Battalion from 1 May 1966 through 31 July 1966 indicates that this increase in personnel requirements was greater than the number of available, qualified soldiers The lack of qualified personnel in the next three-month reporting period caused the 6th PSYOP Battalion commander to ask for 30-day extensions of the personnel he would have lost in January 1967.The fact that MACV approved this request indicates that the personnel shortage was a significant obstacle to effectiveness.
In the first six-month period of operations (February 1966 to July 1966), the 6th PSYOP Battalion's print facility produced 200 million leaflets. Print facility personnel commonly worked 20 to 24-hour operations but while personnel could work in shifts, the print presses, generators, and paper cutters could not, resulting in numerous equipment breakdowns as well as shortages of critical supplies such as printing plates. Although lack of repair parts continued to be a problem, print output increased substantially in the next three months, with over 132 million leaflets produced.
The 4th PSYOP Group wrote about the Battalion in their 1967 handbook:
The Professional Litterbugs of the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Bien Hoa have a long and proud record of achievement. They carry on the tradition of the old 6th Battalion which was reorganized into the 4th PSYOP Group in December of 1967. The meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded to the 6th Battalion in June 1968 for consummate skill in providing psychological operations support to allied forces. The personnel of the battalion live and work on the Honour-Smith compound, a short distance from Bien Hoa airfield. The compound offers many recreational facilities including a newly constructed club and athletic equipment. One of the unique responsibilities of the battalion is its support of elements of the Royal Thai Armys Black Panther Division. The division, which arrived in-country during the summer of 1968, receives assistance in support of Civic action programs as well as during military operations. Providing PSYOP support to all of III Corps tactical zone, the men of the 6th Battalion continue to maintain their high level of pride and devotion.
Chieu Hoi was considered one of the most important propaganda campaigns in Vietnam. This Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office leaflet coded 2662 depicts dead North Vietnamese troops in a ditch on the front along with Chieu Hoi symbols, and a longer all-text message on the back. The propaganda text says in part:
Chieu Hoi is a way to a new life
To: Members of the North Vietnamese Army in the South.
Xuan Thuy, the leader of the North Vietnamese delegation at the Paris Conference, declared: North Vietnam has no troops in the South.
Why is Hanoi afraid of the truth? Because they are afraid that the world would condemn their destruction of their brothers in the South if they admit that they have 85,000 troops there.
They keep ordering you to fight to the end. If your relatives in North Vietnam knew the truth, what would they think?
6th PSYOP Battalion area of responsibility in Vietnam
We mention Chieu Hoi above. Major Michael G. Barger mentions the 6th PSYOP Battalions involvement in the Chieu Hoi campaign:
What was quickly obvious to the tactical PSYOP teams was that Chieu Hoi appeals were an extremely effective method for supporting tactical combat operations. Although it was not readily apparent, later analysis of these tactical uses of Chieu Hoi appeals would show that the combination of the appeals with military operations was much more effective than appeals done in isolation from combat operations. Military Assistance Command-Vietnam planners in 1966 did note that monthly returnee totals spiked during February, coinciding with four major and two smaller combat operations, without yet making a direct link to PSYOP effectiveness.
What was readily apparent was that Chieu Hoi ralliers provided immediate feedback to show successful use of PSYOP to an often-skeptical commander. Returnees also proved to have practical benefits on the battlefield. For example, since it was impossible on the battlefield to discern a difference between someone attempting to surrender and someone trying to rally, PSYOP teams routinely offered potential returnees a chance to cooperate with friendly forces as a show of good faith. These offers often resulted in Hoi Chanh providing information or serving as guides to locate arms caches, find Viet Cong Viet Cong safe areas, and identify Viet Cong agents among civilian populations.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion product developers designed the arguments used in these Chieu Hoi appeals to take advantage of four assumed target audience susceptibilities. The first of these was the physical and mental hardships suffered by the Viet Cong such as physical danger, illness, fatigue, and sometimes lack of food. Second, any dissension caused by either real or perceived unfair treatment. Third was disillusionment, the lack of perceived progress and resultant perception that ultimate Viet Cong victory was unlikely. The fourth susceptibility was the reputation of the Chieu Hoi program, because the program actually did what it was advertised to do and this verifiable reality enhanced the credibility of Chieu Hoi appeals. All four of these appeals were effective to the average Hoi Chanh, who was a rural farmer conscripted into the Viet Cong Viet Cong rather than being a volunteer.
On 10 February 1966, three companies were formed within the 6th PSYOP Battalion to provide tactical propaganda support.
The 244th PSYOP Company served I Corps initially from Da Nang. The unit was subsequently relocated to Nha Trang (in II Corps), with a detachment in Quang Ngai in I Corps.
The 245th PSYOP Company served II Corps initially from Nha Trang.
The 246th PSYOP Company served III Corps from Bien Hoa, about 20 miles northeast of Saigon in III Corps.
On 19 November 1966, the 19th PSYOP Company was deployed to Can Tho Vietnam as part of the 6th PSYOP Battalion to provide advice and support to military units and agencies in the Mekong Delta in IV Corps Tactical Zone.
The 246th PSYOP Company would later become the reorganized 6th Battalion so we should take a closer look at it.
The 246th PSYOP Company
The 246th PSYOP Companys Leaflet Catalogue
During wartime PSYOP detachments, companies, battalions and groups all generally have leaflet catalogues. The leaflets inside have been tested and approved and are ready for instant use should a combat unit require them. This is the 1966 edition and explains to the supported combat unit that they need only identify the leaflet number, quantity, date desired, changes desired (if any), and the name of the unit ordering them.
Although we do not have exact dates, we know that the 20th PSYOP Field Support Detachment and the 26th PSYWAR Detachment merged to form the 246th PSYOP Company.
Some of the Units that Company B of the 246th PSYOP Company supported are the 1st Infantry Division, the 9th Infantry Division, the 25th Infantry Division, The 199th Infantry Light Brigade, the 11th Cavalry, the 720th Military Police Battalion, the Hau Nghia Chieu Hoi Center, the Binh Duong PSYOP Center, The Royal Thai Queen's Cobra Volunteer Regiment and of course, the 1st Australian Task Force.
Dave Kolchuk was a Specialist 4 (E4) with the 246th PSYOP Company in Vietnam from October 1965 to October 1966. He was stationed in the Train Compound, an old French villa a few miles from Bien Hoa. He was an Army Illustrator supporting III Corps. He told me:
My job was to design, and produce leaflets, flyers, and posters. We also did public relations work for schools and hospitals. I learned enough of the language to give some translation support. Once printed, I participated in leaflet drops and loudspeaker operations on air missions with the US Air Force out of Bien Hoa Air Base. I had enough hours and missions in various aircraft to earn crewman wings from the USAF.
Jimmie Hurley standing in front of the loudspeakers on a U10 Courier aircraft at Bien Hoa Air Base, Vietnam.
We know a little bit about the loudspeaker program from the classified Confidential Operational Report - Lessons Learned, Headquarters, 6th PSYOP Battalion: period Ending 31 October 1967. It says in part:
Seven Audio-Visual (HE) Teams arrived on 29 July 1967 as separate detachments and two were deployed to the 246th Company. These teams, which will supplement the presently authorized Teams, will assist in providing the support required by the Free World Military Armed Forces in Vietnam.
In addition, The 246th PSYOP Company provided support during Operation DOI MOI, consisting mainly of "quick reaction" leaflets. Additionally, about 78 million leaflets were printed by the Battalion Headquarters printing plant during the period 25 September to 29 October. An additional 45 million leaflets were also provided by off-shore facilities.
In other operations conducted during this period the 246th PSYOP Company disseminated 390,975,000 leaflets of which 75,489,000 were printed by the unit printing section. These leaflets were part of stock leaflets which were printed by the Battalion Headquarters printing plant, 7th PSYOP Group and this units printing facility. In addition, 621.5 hours of aerial loudspeaker time were directed against targets in enemy areas. Of this total, 30.5 hours were broadcast at night.
Ninety-three quick reaction leaflets were printed by the 246th PSYOP Company In support of Operation Do Moi for a total of 12,140,000. A majority of these leaflets were handwritten messages by ralliers either stating that they had been treated well, or appealing to their comrades to also rally.
Army of South Vietnam Officers Candidate School Booklet
The above booklet was produced by the 246th PSYOP Company in 1966. 30,000 copies of this 14 x 7.5-inch booklet were produced at the request of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. The cover of this booklet depicting three brave ARVN soldiers was drawn by Specialist Fourth Class Dave Kolchuk. The text on the cover is:
Monthly Publication of the Thu Duc Infantry School
The Thu Duc Infantry School was the South Vietnamese Army's officer candidates school. It was the training school for reserve officers, while regular army officers were trained at the Dalat Military Academy. They called it the Infantry School but it was an officers training school. It is interesting to note that the North Vietnamese also called their Military Academy the Infantry School. Perhaps a title the Vietnamese inherited from their French colonial masters in the distant past.
History of PSYOP
The publications produced by a unit are not always for the enemy. Sometimes they produce booklets and magazines just for themselves. Sometimes comic books are just written and drawn by military cartoonists for their own amusement. This 32-page Vietnam War comic was created by a member of the 246th PSYOP Company named Bentley while stationed in Bien Hoa. The title is History of PSYOP You really cant believe anybody. The second page of the comic book states that it is dedicated to all Psywarriors, and especially a number of officers and men serving in the unit that were helpful to Bentley. It was varityped by Specialist 4th Grade Forrest. The text and images of the comic are a humorous look at the alleged origin of PSYOP in prehistoric days; how words like Love and Hate mold opinions and actions, and the last page depicts what appears to be PSYOP as practiced by the American forces in Vietnam. It was a nice souvenir for the unit members.
Professional Litter Bugs
The 246th PSYOP Company had an interesting pocket ID that was in the form of a Lady Bug with the text:
246th PSYOP Co Professional Litter Bugs
I commented to former PSYOP officer Hammond Salley about the vignette and he sent me a picture showing that it was also on the commanders jeep.
Specialist 4 Eugene Simmons was an illustrator in the 246th PSYOP Company for all of 1967. He recalls that Viet Cong prisoners of war would sometimes be isolated, interviewed and photographed. They would be asked to write a note to their combat buddies letting them know they were at alive and healthy. Photos would be taken and a leaflet produced with a photo of the prisoner on one side and his handwritten or typed note on the other side. Leaflet 246-55-67 depicts Nguyen Van Tuong. 50,000 leaflets were printed to be dropped by air over the 315B Unit at the request of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division. The text on the back says in part:
To Mr. Tu Thach and Friends of the 315B Unit
Hello Mr. Tu. Today I have some words for you and members in the Unit. Five years ago we were living together but I did not know where my honor was. I saw only the deaths everyday; was in need of many things and lost my freedom. The future was hopeless. I decided to leave the unit when I received the call from the Republic of Vietnam. Now I am really free. I enjoy life with my parents and my wife and family. The Republic of Vietnam has given me a house and the means to make a living
Staff Sergeant Robert "Dennis" Brown was a member of the 246th PSYOP Company in Vietnam during 1967 and 1968. He was first attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and later the 25th Infantry Division. He recalls dropping leaflets daily from U-10 Courier aircraft, C-47 Skytrain aircraft, and UH-1D Huey helicopters. He also regularly played Chieu Hoi tapes. He was involved in various hearts and minds projects such as Medical Civil Action Programs (MEDCAP) with Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and Special Forces teams. He says he doesnt know how successful his efforts were, but he did get positive feedback on one occasion:
A grunt with the 101st Airborne Division told me that a Hoi Chanh had stepped out from behind a tree and surrendered to him while he was on patrol. He said that if it had not been for the Chieu Hoi leaflet that the same VC would have probably killed him.
This leaflet was prepared by the 246th PSYOP Company in Bien Hoa in 1967. It depicts an American medic washing a Vietnamese baby on the front. The text is:
The American forces in Vietnam not only fight the Viet Cong, but also help the Vietnamese Government in improving the health of the people.
The back of the leaflet depicts an Army doctor treating a line of Vietnamese civilians. The text is:
In villages all over Vietnam American doctors and medics make visits to give better health to the people. The medical team can help you cure skin diseases, colds, headaches, and most other complaints. When a medical team comes to your area they will be glad to help you.
This leaflet is aimed at building trust between the Vietnamese people and the Americans.
This 246th PSYOP Company often worked with the Australians and prepared leaflets for them. This leaflet explains the Australian presence in Vietnam. 10,000 copies were printed to be disseminated by aircraft and hand. The text says in part:
We Australian soldiers, along with other Allied and Vietnamese Army forces, are working together to destroy the Viet Cong and their bases. We are here in a mutual effort with you to defeat the Viet Cong and to help build up your country. We are your Australian friends, who have parted from our homes and families in order to come here and fight and die beside you to stop Communist aggression. While some of our units are fighting the Viet Cong, others will assist you in your villages and hamlets. We are glad to be able to help you
I have a list of all the American leaflets prepared for the Australians by the 246th prior to April 1970. The total is 26 leaflets starting with 246-287-67 (Death by Napalm) and ending with 246-353-68 (Viet Cong to steal rice from coming harvest). The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) then took over the duty and the first of the new leaflets was SP-927A (Come home to your family).
My Friend, former Sergeant Derrill de Heer, who was a member of the Australian 1st Psychological Operations Unit from 1969 to 1970 told me:
During those early years there was a small Australian psychological operations group of two to four personnel, including an ARVN Vietnamese interpreter that had a printing capability for propaganda leaflets within the Task Force Headquarters. A portable printing press was set up in the back of an air-conditioned truck that had color printing capability. The Task Force was still able to order leaflets from the National PSYOP Catalogue. The leaflets were supplied by the 246 PSYOP Company.
The 246th also supported Thai troops in Vietnam. 75,000 copies of this 4 x 5-inch leaflet were prepared in 1968 by the 246th PSYOP Company. They were distributed by aircraft and by hand. The leaflet depicts a Thai soldier and a Vietnamese civilian. The text is in part:
Your neighboring country is coming to work with you. We, the Royal Thai Volunteer Regiment, representing the people of Thailand, which is your close neighbor and a member of the Free World, is now here to give you a hand and collaborate with you.
You need not worry; you can count on us. We are ready to devote every bit of effort, even our lives to cooperate with you in order that the Vietnamese people, who love freedom, will live in happiness. This is the reason we volunteered to come here.
Leaflet 246-11-67 concerns the distribution of captured rice. The 246th printed 50,000 copies of the 3 x 6-inch leaflet for local villagers with dissemination by aircraft. The leaflet depicts Australian forces returning captured rice to the villagers and the supporting text:
Your friends the Australian soldiers have taken the rice that the Viet Cong forcefully took from you and are now returning it to the rightful owners. By supporting and helping the Australian soldiers you are helping your Government of Vietnam defeat the common enemy and bringing a better life to you and your loved ones.
I note this leaflet is lower than the lowest number shown in the report above. I cannot explain any of that. The military seems awful at getting numbers and dates straight. I can just report what I read from their documents.
Leaflet 246-21-67 depicts an Allied air strike with a dead Viet Cong in the foreground. The 246th printed 50,000 of the 3 x 6-inch leaflets for distribution by aircraft and hand. The text tells of the destruction to come in future air raids.
Attention Viet Cong Soldiers. You have witnessed just a small part of the death and destruction that await you soon. The mighty air power of the Government of Viet Nam and Australian forces will destroy you and all you represent. Your only hope for survival is to rally to the Government of Viet Nam at once. There can be no doubt in your mind as to the desolation that our air strikes bring, and they will continue with greater force each time until you are completely destroyed. You can save your life and the life of your comrades. Rally at once to the Government of Viet Nam.
In general, PSYOP troops are asked not to show dead enemy bodies because it seems to be gloating and it does nothing but anger the enemy and make them fight harder. As always, we and our allies ignore the prohibition. It seems we just believe that we can scare the Hell out of the enemy and keep producing these leaflets that we are told is unproductive.
I have depicted a good representation of the leaflets produced by the 246th PSYOP Company. I could have shown a hundred more. Now it is time to leave the company and see the coming of the new 6th PSYOP Battalion.
The 246th PSYOP Company was officially deactivated on 31 December 1967 to become the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion on 1 January 1968. The battalion colors were presented to Major Clarence A. Barkley, the 6th PSYOP Battalion Commander by the 4th PSYOP Group Commander on 5 January 1968 at Bien Hoa.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion
6th PSYOP Battalion Headquarters
The 6th PSYOP Battalion moved its residence from the Train Compound to the Honour-Smith Compound on the 28th of January 1968. The move was made due to expected increase in unit strength and the present lack of adequate space at the Train Compound.
By 1969, the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion consisted of 33 officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 151 enlisted men for a total of 186 troops.
6th Battalion Printing Plant
Printers from the 6th Battalion produce propaganda leaflets, posters, newspapers and other printed material at their printing plant in Bien Hoa.
The Monthly Operations report of August 1969 stated:
Increased psychological operations support of Free World Military Force operations in III Corps Tactical Zone highlights the accomplishments of the 6th PSYOP Battalion during the month of August.
168 new leaflets were developed, including 22 quick reaction (QR) leaflets. Approximately 132 million leaflets were air dropped on 399 requested separate targets and enemy contacts and ralliers were rapidly exploited by 198 aerial QR missions. Continued extensive use of the Early Word System marked many of these aerial missions.
Due to extensive PSYOP activities, a significant rise in returnee rates has been realized in the 1st Infantry Division area of operations over the preceding month. In one brigade area alone, seventeen Hoi Chanhs rallied. Audio and leaflet support of a hamlet seal in Soui Dau was particularly effective resulting in three Hoi Chanhs.
The 6th Psychological Operations Battalion reported these quarterly production totals: Leaflets printed: 49,800,000; Leaflets disseminated: 372, 800,000; Loudspeaker broadcasts: 1,425 hours and 40 minutes; Total missions: 1002. Of the 20 officers assigned to the 6th Battalion, 14 had formal PSYOP training. The remaining 6 were enrolled in after-hours study course. A small Viet Cong propaganda printing press was presented to the 6th PSYOP Battalion by the 5th Special Forces Group.
A 1966 Stars and Stripes article entitled U.S. Psywar Unit Hitting Morale of VC in Vietnam mentions the 6th PSYOP Battalion mission over the Mu Gia Pass:
The Battalion has designed, printed, processed, loaded and delivered more than a half billion leaflets We can print one million leaflets in support of any given mission within a 24-hour period. We printed three million leaflets on three different occasions in support of the Mu Gia Pass bombing in North Vietnam.
M129 Leaflet bombs stacked outside the Printing Plant
Demand for psychological operations overwhelmed capability, and in December 1967 the 4th PSYOP Group was formed from the existing 6th PSYOP battalion and its companies. Upon the formation of the 4th PSYOP Group, the 6th PSYOP Battalion Commander, Col. Beck, became the new Group Commander. The former company commanders of the 6th PSYOP Battalion became the new PSYOP Battalion Commanders under the newly formed Group.
The new 6th PSYOP Battalion that became part of the 4th PSYOP Group supported the III Combat Tactical Zone from Bien Hoa. They supported the following units:
II Field Forces, Vietnam; CORDS; 1st Cavalry Division; 1st Infantry Division; 25th Infantry Division; 199th Light Infantry Brigade; 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division; 1st Brigade, 9th Infantry Division; 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment; 1st Australian Task Force; Royal Thai Forces; Capital Military Assistance Command; 30th POLWAR Battalion (ARVN); Naval Forces, Vietnam; Company A, 5th Special Forces group; MACV Advisors.
Combat Operations: Staying the Course: October 1967 to September 1968, Erik B. Villard, Center of Military History United States Army Washington, D.C., 2017, mentions PSYOP campaigns in the areas controlled by the 25th Infantry Division and the II Field Force. Since the 6th PSYOP Battalion supported both of these combat units we know that they were responsible for the PSYOP actions listed:
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the 25th Divisions support for pacification in Hau Nghia involved the counter-infrastructure campaign. The Vietnamese government and CORDS advisers had established District Intelligence and Operations Coordination Centers in all of Hau Nghias districts. These centers brought together all of the entities generating intelligence at the district levelbe they civil, military, paramilitary, police, or intelligencefor the purpose of sharing information on the enemy. Overseeing the effort in Bao Trai was a U.S.-Vietnamese Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation committee whose primary goal was to ferret out the Viet Cong politico-military apparatus. Among its activities was the publication of a most wanted list. This was as much a psychological as a counterintelligence action because the names on the list were not necessarily the Viet Cong the allies most wanted to neutralize, but the ones upon which they had the most information and who were therefore the easiest to target. The idea was to announce a target and then to eliminate him as soon as possible, thereby making a disproportionate impression on both the citizenry and the Viet Cong. After the publication of the first such list in November, the allies flooded the province with over a million leaflets naming known Viet Cong. The 25th Division assigned a permanent liaison officer to the committee
The number of Revolutionary Development teams in III Corps stood at around one hundred and was set to grow by another thirty in the next few months. From November 1967 through January 1968, U.S. Army and Air Force aviation in III Corps had delivered 468 million propaganda leaflets and 2,396 hours of broadcasts from the air.
Sergeant Rich Hosier with a Viet Cong Colonel who defected
Rich told me that the Colonel was a treasure. He eventually ran the Chieu Hoi center in Tam Ky and brought many Viet Cong back to the Government side.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion Booklet
Although he had no PSYOP training, Rich Hosier was assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam in August 1967. He was issued a 5-page booklet that explained the mission:
To conduct psychological operations in support of military operations in the Republic of Vietnam
He was later sent to the 244th PSYOP Company and 7th PSYOP Battalion in Da Nang. He was then sent to Chu Lai to support the 23rd Infantry (Amercal) Division where he started his On-the-Job training. He went on various missions winning hearts and minds and showing movies. He always started with hygiene movie to explain the proper way to brush your teeth or bathe a child, and then he would show a real Hollywood movie. The favorites were Westerns. The Vietnamese loved the horses! Once his team was laughing as they watched The Green Berets although it was in English and most of them couldn't understand a word of it.
Rich told me:
We were an HB Team (Loudspeaker), with no team members. We would broadcast on the ground and from helicopters using a cassette player with tapes sent to us from Da Nang. We usually had a script so we knew what the message was and sometimes we took the S3 (Operations) interpreter on missions for live broadcasting. We dropped leaflets by the thousands. Leaflet drops were very sophisticated. We would identify a target; usually a village and the pilot would help us with wind direction and tell us when to drop. Some missions we flew while a battle was going on. I remember at least three times when our tactical leaflets identified the enemy units so the messages were very personal. Broadcasting and dropping leaflets was very dangerous as we flew very slowly at an altitude of about 1,500 feet. I can't ever remember not getting shot at when doing this.
Joint Vietnamese-American PSYOP Loudspeaker Team prepare
to take off. Note the bundle of leaflets on the floor of the aircraft.
SP4 John Orr
Speaking of loudspeaker missions, there were numerous reports of the Viet Cong opening fire on the loudspeaker aircraft. Army Specialist 4th Class John (Snake) Orr of B Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion (Bien Hoa) told me that during his Vietnam tour he was assigned to and supported at different times the 101st Airborne Division, the 1st Infantry division, the 1st Air Cavalry (almost 600 hours flying speaker and leaflet missions) the 9th Infantry Division, and the 25th Infantry Division. John said that the 9th Infantry Division was the only unit that thanked him. He said that in general, most of the infantry patrols were unhappy to have his team tagging along. He suspects that they considered his PSYOP troops just dead weight who they hoped could shoot straight in a firefight. John preferred flying to ground operations; though he admits that he took a heck of a lot more bullets in choppers than he ever did on the ground.
Wandering Soul Tape
Orr often played a tape called the Wandering Soul and says it always drew fire.
I played the Wandering Soul tape many times during 1969-1970; until it got my aircraft all shot up. The damn tape drew fire every time. I never understood the lack of fire discipline on the part of the enemy.
My light observation helicopter was an easy target and I always got very worried of the time lag between the first green tracers coming up and our protecting Cobra attack helicopters response.
It could be worse on the ground. I had an encounter with an officer who tried to convince me that my two-man team should set up an all-nighter with the tape and 1000-watt speakers in a hostile deserted village with a 200 foot high South Vietnam flag colored helium balloon attached to my speakers. I believe he fully intended that it would draw fire; though he professed that it would draw in defectors. As team leader, I refused to put my team in jeopardy and that got me in a little trouble.
Sergeant Chad Spawr
Chad Spawr, a former PSYOP Team Leader of the 6th PSYOP Battalion during 1968 and 1969 also mentioned the Wandering Soul:
I used "Wandering Soul" in a contested area north of the Bien Hoa River. My interpreter climbed a tree, and hung a speaker from a large palm frond, with the speaker pointed into the general area north of the compound toward the villages. We connected the speaker to a small amplifier and tape player, and began playing "Wandering Soul." At first, there was no reaction to the broadcast, but then we began taking some random sniper fire from one of the villages.
We repeated this nightly broadcast for the next three or four nights, but we varied the location of the broadcast in case the local VC had staked out our previous broadcast locations. We also varied the broadcast volume so it would sound closer on one night, but farther away the next night. On either the fourth or fifth morning, at first light, we left with a small patrol to enter the village where the sniper fire had originated. We found several shell casings (7.62 x 39mm) from an AK-47 or SKS rifle probably hidden in some ground litter, but nobody knew who fired it or where the rifle was hidden. My interpreter then told a few people that the "lost spirits" were sure to return if the shooter and/or the weapon were not surrendered to our patrol. We continued searching the few houses in the village, and as we were preparing to leave, an elderly lady told my interpreter where to find the rifle. It was hidden under a small trough in a pig sty. We dug out a very nice Chinese Communist SKS with bayonet, a few rounds still in the internal magazine, with a rare sling attached.
Tiger Shot by American Troops in Vietnam
It was not only the Wandering Soul tape that was played by the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam. Sometimes the Wandering Soul tape was used in conjunction with other sounds to multiply the fear in the heart of the enemy. A former member of the 6th PSYOP Battalion told me:
You know what we did on Nui Ba Den Mountain in 1970? The 6th PSYOP got an Air Force pilot to fly to Bangkok, to get an actual recording of a tiger from their zoo. We had a Chieu Hoi (rallier to the national government from enemy ranks) come down the mountain and tell of a tiger that was attacking the Viet Cong for the past few weeks. So, we mixed the tiger roar onto a tape of 69-T, "The wandering soul," and a 2-man team got up on the mountain, played the tape and 150 Viet Cong came off that mountain.
I had hoped to place tape 69 here but there were hundreds and I have 58 and 71 but am missing the one I wanted. Just to show the reader what a tape is like, here is 71, to be read over the loudspeaker in Vietnamese in 40 seconds.
Are you sick? Have you been wounded? Are you one of those who might die horribly, and alone? If you want to live, if you want to see your family again, give yourself up to the government of Vietnam or Allied Forces now. You will be well treated with modern equipment and medicine. Dont wait until it is too late. Time is precious and getting short. Give yourself up now. The Government of Vietnam cares about your welfare. You need not die a useless death!
PSYOP Plays the Jodie Card
The above Phil Fehrenbacher cartoon depicts a lonely Viet Cong reading an American propaganda leaflet telling him that his neighbor Nguyen is in the sack with his girlfriend. This is a great parody of a standard Chieu Hoi leaflet. Phil was assigned as an 81E Illustrator assigned to 6th PSYOP Battalion at Bien Hoa. He told me:
My cartoons about a tour of duty in Vietnam has been something Ive wanted to do for many years, but only realized the opportunity two years ago. I self-published my book "In-Country" in early 2017.
Note: Among American soldiers, Jody appears in many marching cadences and songs. He is the one who stayed home and is having fun with your girlfriend:
Aint no use in calling home
Jodys got your girl and gone
Aint no use in feeling blue
Jodys got your sister too
Besides leaflets and cartoons, the 6th PSYOP Battalion also printed newspapers. According to the 1969 declassified report: Employment of US Army Psychological Operations Units in Vietnam, they printed Tin Tong Hop (News Roundup), issued daily, two pages, 40,000 copies per edition. The 6th PSYOP Battalion printed Tin Tong Hop for VC and general population audiences in support of CORDS Corps Tactical Zone III. They also printed Tin Chien Truong (News from the Front), one page, 50,000 copies per edition. The 6th PSYOP Battalion printed Tin Chien Truong for VC and NVA troop target audiences in support of CORDS Corps Tactical Zone III
One of the major efforts of the PSYOP Battalions was to show the people of Vietnam that the Americans came as friends and were not invaders and occupiers like the French and Japanese before them.
SP5 Jack O'Neil with Armed Propaganda Team (APT)
Specialist Five Jack ONeil of the 6th PSYOP Battalion told me how the men tried to help the local people:
While supporting the 82nd Airborne in 1969 First Lieutenant Ben Rogers and I volunteered at an orphanage just outside Saigon. We were happy to spend time there because the children were mostly orphans of ARVN soldiers whose parents had been killed by the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army. When we were there the kids would flock around us, wearing my hat, and wanting hugs and laughter which we were able to give them by making faces and funny noises. We also cried a lot worrying about their future. When working with 1st Air Cavalry we helped with MEDCAP and DENTCAP projects and spent time with the children teaching them how to play baseball, taking them to the Saigon Zoo, giving them comic books, coloring books, soccer balls and other items.
A Nightmare Passed...
Jack ONiel mentions comic books above. Comic book 2078 is an example of a Chieu Hoi product. Its title is A Nightmare Passed - Chieu Hoi. This July 1967 booklet is 5 x 7-inches in size and 20-pages in length. The comic book presents, in cartoon style, the experiences and thoughts of a Hoi Chanh (defector or rallier from the Viet Cong) on the events which led to his decision to Chieu Hoi (return to the National Government). At the start of the book a happy young man is shown at school. Later he decides to join the Viet Cong. His group is first bombed by the Americans and then he gets sick but cannot be treated properly in the field. He is forced to take part in self-criticism and after a second American aerial attack he finds Chieu Hoi leaflets on the ground. He returns to the fold at the end of the book has returned to his old school.
There are other reports of comic books used in psychological operations in Vietnam. For instance, 60 copies of Vietnamese War Heroes childrens comic books coded 6-789 and 50 copies of a later issue coded 6-791 were distributed during Operation Lanikai, from November to December 1966 by PSYOP troops attached to the U.S. Armys 25th Division. On other occasions during the same operation 15 Navy Heroes and 30 Childrens Heroes comic books were given to the locals. On another Medcap visit 10 copies of the comic book History of America coded 6-182 were given to the children of Long Dinh. These comics were of course all printed by the 6th PSYOP Battalion.
A PSYOP Mobile Audiovisual Information Collection and Dissemination System (MSQ-85) waiting for the ferry on the dock at Can Tho. The MSQ-85 was the primary system in the U.S. inventory designated for tactical point dissemination of video products in other-than-broadcast mode. The AN/MSQ-85 includes a printing press, an AQ-4A movie projector, AN/UIH-6 loudspeaker public address system, AP-9 slide projector, AN/USH two-track international standard tape recorder, BM-22A large projection screen and R-520A/UUR radio receiver, a case of hand grenades, three cases of C-rations, a roll of toilet paper, and a generator. The trailer in the back could have anything from leaflets, magazines, and gifts of soap, to 105mm rounds (full of leaflets).
Army Specialist 4th Class John Orr of the 6th PSYOP Battalion recalls helping an entire Montagnard village go Chieu Hoi on one occasion:
A small group of about 20 men had gathered with one of their chiefs. I had previously dropped leaflets on their village. I think that the men had either volunteered or had been chosen by their chief to test out our process. That is, were the Americans trustworthy and truthful?
I was supposed to escort them to Long Binh from their home in the highlands. They were frightened of the Caribou transport plane and seemed to think that it might eat them if they walked into the gaping hole at the back. I managed to get the chief to come into the plane with me, then showed him how the tail was closed (so his tribe would not fall out) and then took him back outside so his people could see that the Caribou had not eaten him. We then talked some and I made the chief and his warriors a gift of a few packs of Camel cigarettes (their favorites). That sealed the deal. I later heard that the entire village came over to the government side but I doubt they were ever very close to the Viet Cong anyway. I have worried on occasion (very deeply) about the plight of the Montagnards, I fear they were not treated well after the North took control.
Ho Chi Minh Trail Campaign Leaflet T-16
I chose this leaflet because it bears the symbol of Laos. This is the three-headed Erawan elephant national symbol from Hindu mythology of the 14th century kingdom whose name translates to Land of the Million Elephants and the White Parasol. This Lao image is the most popular theme among the Trail leaflets and there are over a dozen different types with various surrender messages. The United States had to deal with the Lao government to arrange for them to accept Vietnamese prisoners. All of these leaflets bear text in Vietnamese on one side and Lao on the other. The Vietnamese-language side of the leaflet says:
Pass for safe conduct
To: All North Vietnamese Soldiers in Laos.
You are offered the chance to escape death and live in safety and peace for the duration. The Royal Lao Government and people will welcome you and treat you as a brother.
Show this pass to any Royal Laos Government citizen or soldier and he will guide you to safety.
Commander in Chief
Lao National Armed Forces
The Lao-language side says:
Pass for Safe Conduct Valid at all times
To: All Citizens and Soldiers of the Royal Laotian Government.
Please welcome the bearer of this pass and provide him with safe conduct to the nearest Royal Lao Government unit or post.
Commander in Chief
Lao National Armed Forces.
In November 1967, the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam requested that the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa print 10 million copies of Trail leaflet T-16 with the theme: "Lao safe conduct, flag for safe conduct" to be delivered by 30 December 1967.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam requested that the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa print 6 million copies of Ho Chi Minh Trail leaflet T-25 with the theme: "Return home, seek refuge in Laos" to be delivered by 25 December 1967. This leaflet uses the theme of the TET holidays to entice the enemy to return home or seek refuge in Laos. The image depicts a happy and prosperous family celebrating the TET holidays. The back is all text and says:
To all North Vietnamese fighters:
Spring has returned. This is a time when you should be enjoying the happiness of family reunion in the North. Instead, you are walking through hostile jungles and mountains on foreign soil.
What has led you to this life of hardship? It is because you have been lured by the Party into believing that the South is in need of Liberation by the North. In reality, the South is living in prosperity. Your comrades have turned it into a sea of fiery war with consequences reaching all the way to the North. Your southern compatriots do not wish to be liberated by the North; they only wish to live in peace.
You can end this war and your hardships by choosing a cease-fire of your own. Deny the Party the use of your person as a tool to impose Party rule on South Vietnam.
Quit the Communist ranks, return to your homes, seek refuge with the Royal Lao Government, or, if you reach South Vietnamese territory, take the opportunity to rally to the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. This is the safest way to end the war and you hardships.
This is an interesting reward leaflet that requests information. The front is a four panel comic. In the first panel a young boy is looking intently at something. In the second, he finds what appears to be a South Vietnamese soldier and tells him what he saw. In the third panel the ARVN digs up a mine by hand. In the final panel the boy is told that he will be rewarded. The actual text is:
If you see a Viet Cong mine or something you suspect may be a mine
Immediately report it to any Army of the Republic of Vietnam or allied soldier
An explosive ordnance specialist will come out to disarm it or to destroy it on the spot.
The road will be made safe and you will be rewarded for your report.
Viet Cong Terrorist Reward Leaflet 6-083-68
The 6th PSYOP Battalion was also busy preparing reward leaflets. One of the more interesting is an offer for a Viet Cong terrorist leader. The leaflet has a drawing of Tam Nui on the front and the text:
Up to $50,000 VN Reward. Nguyen Van Lac, alias Tam Nui. 53 years old, 1 meter 68 tall, armed with a pistol. He is usually accompanied by a bodyguard of 30 men and is often in or near Ap 6 Chanh (2) Michelin Plantation.
Text on the back is:
Allied Forces in Dau Tieng will pay up to $50,000VN for information which leads to the apprehension of Nguyen Van Lac, alias Tam Nui, assistant VC district chief, Tri Tam District. Tam Nui has shown himself to be an enemy of the Vietnamese people by his unlawful terrorist activities in Dan Tieng and the Michelin Plantation.
The person providing information that leads to the apprehension of Tam Nui will receive reward money that can provide the opportunity to start a new business and a new life. If he so desires, the recipient may also be provided transportation for himself, his family and his household goods to resettle anywhere with Binh Duong, Tay Ninh, Hau Nghia or Gia Dinh provinces or in Saigon.
The 1969 Tactical leaflet was produced by the 6th PSYOP Battalion and targeted the soldiers of the 275th NVA Regiment. It was prepared all in blue and depicts the Chieu Hoi symbol on one side. The other side bears the message:
To the soldiers of 275th Regiment
Your commanders have exploited your blood and flesh to satisfy their invasion dreams. Therefore, your weapons are more important than you are. They tricked you when you are alive and neglect you when you die. They order you to carry your weapons back during a retreat but leave behind the bodies of your fallen. Your life is all hardship and you may die without a proper burial, not even a single marker. What do you think about this? Don't continue to live in this situation. Return to the Government of Vietnam to live in harmony, love and unity.
We have mentioned the Montagnard native people above so I want to show a 6th PSYOP Battalion leaflet designed for the native tribe in September, 1970. This leaflet was found by Sergeant Jim Hackbarth, a member of the 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, in 1970. Notice that the leaflet is dirty and stained from being on the ground in rain and sunlight. My files show it is a remake, so it was printed earlier and apparently they liked it enough to do so again. There are numerous other leaflets for illiterates without text and six panels.
The Americans knew that most Montagnards could not read so this leaflet was designed to be understood without any text. The front and back have three cartoon panels each. On the front, an armed native who apparently was drafted by the Viet Cong finds a Chieu Hoi leaflet. He takes it to an American soldier who points him to a Chieu Hoi center. At the center a friendly ARVN accepts his AK-47 and hands him a cash reward. On the back the native is checked for any medical problems. He is then put in a class and taught a trade. In the last drawing he lives happily with his family in a peaceful setting.
5 Flag Safe Conduct Pass
This is the official safe conduct pass of the Vietnam War. It has many variations. The first was the five-flag pass, showing flags of the United States, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, in addition to the flag of Vietnam. This leaflet and its variants were produced before 1967. In 1967, a seven-flag version was introduced, showing the additional flags of Thailand and the Philippines. Finally, in 1972, when Vietnamization became the focus of propaganda, all flags except that of Vietnam were removed. Several different forms of propaganda were used on the back side. The original leaflet was given the code 893. Subsequently, the letters "A" through "F" were added to distinguish some of the modifications.
We do know from a 6th PSYOP Battalion Facts on Battalion Operations, that 50 million copies of leaflet SP-893 was ordered in December 1967. 10 million were delivered to Da Nang, 10 million to Bien Hoa, 6 million to Nha Trang, 12 million to Can Tho, 6 million to Pleiku, and 6 million to the 360th TWS.
A second document makes this order more clear. To show the popularity of this leaflet, in the one month of November 1967 alone the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam requested that the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa print 300 million copies in six different batches of 50 million each, to be delivered on 20 January, 20 February, 20 March, 20 April, 20 May and 20 June of 1958.
The Vietnam War Ends
By 1969 the American Congress had tired of the cost of the Vietnam War and the loss of life and President Nixon agreed and decided to pull out American forces and leave the South Vietnamese to fight on under a plan he called Vietnamization. A promise was made that the Americans would return if needed, but of course that never happened.
A Vietnamization Leaflet
The full-color safe conduct pass that once depicted seven nations fighting together was ordered destroyed and a new leaflet was printed that depicted a lonely Republic of Vietnam flag, now an orphan, fighting an enemy still backed by China and the USSR.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion was inactivated on 30 June 1971 in Vietnam and the men returned to Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. The last American combat troops left Vietnam on 29 March 1973.
This was not the end of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. There were other uprisings and revolutions occurring around the world and the U.S. Army was aware that a strong psychological operations force was needed to protect the interests of the United States of America. As a result, a new 6th PSYOP Battalion was activated on 13 September 1972 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The 4th PSYOP Group Booklet: Leaflets of the Persian Gulf War
At about 0200 on 2 August 1990, seven divisions of Iraqi armor, mechanized infantry, helicopter forces, and the elite Republic Guard invaded Kuwait. The invasion force of 120,000 troops and 2,000 tanks quickly overwhelmed Kuwait. Iraq declared the annexation of Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government-in-exile fled to Saudi Arabia where it was recognized as the legitimate voice of Kuwait. President George Bush immediately froze all Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets in the United States and called on Saddam Hussein to withdraw his troops. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 660 and 662 condemned Iraq's invasion and annexation and called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces.
On 20 August 1990, President Bush signed National Security Directive 45, the U.S. Policy in Response to the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait." The U.S. objectives included the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait, and the restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government to replace the puppet regime installed by Iraq. President George Bush authorized the first call-up of 40,000 Selected Reservists for 90 days active duty on 22 August 1990. By November Bush upped the active duty time to 180 days with the option of a 180-day extension. On 18 January 1991, Bush signed an order authorizing 220,000 Reservists to be called up for 12 months.
A U.N. ultimatum, Security Council Resolution 678, followed on November 29, 1990. It gave Saddam Hussein until 15 January 1991 to leave Kuwait. After that time, a coalition of American and allied troops was authorized to drive them out. Eventually, 30 nations joined the military coalition arrayed against Iraq, with a further 18 countries supplying economic, humanitarian, or other type of assistance.
It is difficult to find much about what the 6th PSYOP Battalion did in Desert Storm. We know that they were there, but most of the official publications do not mention battalions, they usually just point out that PSYOP forces from the 4th Group were deployed.
Colonel Noll wrote a 164-page Personal Experience Monograph entitled The 13th Psychological Operations Battalion (EPW) During Mobilization, Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Demobilization in 1993. The 6th PSYOP Battalion is mentioned several times in regard to Desert Storm and the relief of the Kurdish people:
It was decided that all of the reserve companies would be attached to the 6th and 9th Tactical PSYOP Battalions for command and control and for support of the combat units in theater On 14 April 1991 the 4th POG commander and staff along with all its operationally assigned units departed Saudi Arabia for Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The 6th PSYOP Battalion, however, was deployed to northern Iraq in support of "Operation Provide Comfort."
Jeffrey B. Jones and Jack N. Summe mention the 6th Battalion exactly one time in their 1997 paper: Psychological Operations in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Urban Freedom
By mid-January 1991, the task force had grown to five battalions, including the 6th PSYOP Battalion in support of VII Corps.
We dont know exactly which leaflets were made by the 6th PSYOP Battalion, but they were supporting VII Corps and some leaflets do mention the Corps.
VII Corps Patch
Iraqi thinks of Overwhelming Power of Coalition, Thinks of his Family, and Surrenders
The back has a Cease resistance message and the VII Corps symbol which is similar to the Star of David. The text is:
Cease resistance - Be safe
To seek refuge safely, the bearer must strictly adhere to the following procedures:
1. Remove the magazine from your weapon.
2. Sling your weapon over your left shoulder, muzzle down.
3. Have both arms raised above your head.
4. Approach the Multi-national forces slowly, with the soldier holding this document above his head.
5. If you do this, you will not die.
This is a deception leaflet used to hold Iraqi Army in central Kuwait. The symbol of the VII Corps is on the leaflet in hopes that the Iraqi Army would believe that they were facing that organization In fact, VII Corps had moved far to the west of the expected battleground. 270,000 leaflets were printed. It is alleged that because the Corps symbol of a seven-pointed star was similar to the six-pointed Hebrew Star of David, the Iraqi troops fought more fiercely where it was dropped. It is believed that Iraqi intelligence told their troops that they were facing Israeli forces and this motivated the Iraqi soldiers to fight with religious fervor. It was also thought that this symbol might infuriate the other Muslim Coalition allies who would not want to be aligned with the Israelis. As a result, the symbol was quickly changed to a Jayhawk.
A New VII Corps Symbol, the Mythical Jayhawk
The text on the back is identical to the above leaflet.
This is another deception leaflet used to hold Iraqi Army in central Kuwait. The VII Corps symbol has been changed to a Jayhawk. 270,000 leaflets were printed.
Giant cannon with Coalition flags aimed at Iraqi
The text on the front is:
The VII Corps of the Multi-national forces is heading in your direction. Your fellow soldiers along the front either surrendered or have been killed. Your turn will be next.
The text on the back is:
Follow these procedures to cease resistance. Pull your ammunition magazine from your weapon. Put your weapon on your left shoulder and aim the barrel at the ground. Raise your hands over your head and walk slowly. Wave with a white cloth or raise this leaflet to show you are willing to surrender. All Allied soldiers know this initiative shows that you are willing to surrender.
Two hundred 155mm leaflet artillery shells were taken to the Gulf. Nine were actually fired at the enemy. The cannon leaflet above is one that was found in the shells. I had a warrant officer friend in EOD who actually opened some of the shells and gave me the leaflets rolled inside. He told me:
The leaflets were downloaded from the shells at the King Khalid Military City (KKMC) Theater Storage Facility Area 4 in January 1992. There were between 100 and 200 engineering prototype 155mm projectiles stored in two areas from two different units. They were unmarked but bore a metal parts number that indicated they were experimental and were produced in November 1990. A small quantity of the projectiles, perhaps 12-20, had been prepared for fire, loaded with leaflets, expulsion charges installed, but not fused. The leaflets were in four round bundles, separated by pusher plates, spacers, and enclosed in two semi-circular steel sleeves. I saw some evidence on the projectiles that they had been hastily converted from VX binary chemical shells. They were on the pallet in a horizontal rather than the normal upright configuration.
200,000 of the leaflets were printed. The Air Force claims to have dropped 311,000 and the artillery had 100,000 at their disposal, so once again we obviously do not have complete data on printing. This leaflet was designed by 4th PSYOP Group artist Tim Wallace.
VII Corps Certificate of Commendation
Provide Comfort Humanitarian Assistance to the Kurds
Psychological Operations Support for Operation Provide Comfort
In 1994, the 4th PSYOP Group published a 24-page booklet entitled Psychological Operations Support for Operation Provide Comfort. Curiously, the 6th PSYOP Battalion was mentioned just once on page two. The short comment was:
Elements of the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion deployed from Iraq and Fort Bragg, North Carolina to provide PSYOP support to the Combined Task Force located in Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey. The Psychological Operations Task Force which was formed to support this operation was co-located with the Combined Task Force at Incirlik.
As the Gulf War came to an end, the Iraqis immediately began attacking the Muslim Shiites in the south and the Kurds in the North. This ultimately led to operations Southern and Northern Watch to guard the skies against Iraqi military aircraft. The emergency was such that it quickly led to Operation Provide Comfort, the attempt by the Coalition to protect and nourish the Kurdish people.
Kurdish Freedom Fighters
The Kurds tried to take local power in March 1991; occupied several towns and put the province of Mosul under siege. Saddam Hussein counter-attacked with a vengeance and his revamped Republic Guard drove the Kurds into the mountains. Kurds are the second largest ethnic group in Iraq and Turkey and the third largest group in Iran. Like the Armenians and Jews, the Kurds are a close-knit nationalistic people who want a nation of their own. This land, called Kurdistan, would be made up of parts of Turkey, Iran and Iraq. As a result, the Kurds are unwelcome in all three nations and there were numerous purges and pogroms against them over the centuries. For instance, The Kurds supported Iran in the Iran-Iraq War and as a result in 1988, hundreds of Kurdish villages in northern Iraq were destroyed, and as many as 200,000 Kurds were killed. The Iraqi government used chemical weapons against Kurdish soldiers and civilians alike, causing an international uproar. A March 1988 poison gas attack in Halabja, Iraq, killed an estimated 5,000 Kurds.
Kurdish refugees fled towards Turkey and Iran
After the failed rebellion, well over one million Kurds attempted to flee northward into Turkey and Iran. The Iranians accepted some of the fleeing people. The Turks, no friends of the Kurds, refused entry. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Kurdish men, women and children were left stranded in the mountains, starving, ill-prepared for the winter, and at the mercy of Iraqi forces. The temperatures were below freezing each night and the Kurds were dying by the hundreds due to lack of food, water, medicines, shelter, and blankets.
On 6 April 1991, President George Bush ordered that a Joint Task Force (JTF) be assigned the mission of protecting the Kurds of northern Iraq. Bush stated the political objectives of Operation Provide Comfort:
This is an interim measure designed to meet an immediate, penetrating humanitarian need. Our long-term objective remains the same for Iraqi Kurds, and indeed, for all Iraqi refugees, wherever they are, to return home and to live in peace, free from oppression, free to live their lives.
PSYOP Loudspeaker Humvee
A Psychological Operations Task Force (POTF) was formed to support the Combined Task Force. It consisted of 31 officers and soldiers. The POTF was broken up into a command and control element, a propaganda development center, a liaison cell, and loudspeaker teams. The POTF provided planning support and both printed and audio products to assist in the humanitarian relief effort. They produced leaflets, posters and broadcasts to tell about where food was available, what was in the Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), and explain the danger of land mines and how to avoid them. They also produced language cards containing key phrases in the local languages to assist JTF soldiers in communicating with refugees and local officials. At the height of the operation the POTF expanded to 78 officers and soldiers. The major PSYOP themes were: Introduction of Coalition forces, safety, aid distribution, health and sanitation, medical care, mine awareness, safe passage home, safe conduct passes, and command information. Company A, 6th PSYOP Battalion, also worked closely with Civil Affairs troops. PSYOP strength never exceeded fifty personnel.
The U.S. and its allies saved countless Kurds by establishing safe havens and
providing humanitarian assistance. Special Operations Forces spearheaded this effort.
I have about two dozen of the PSYOP leaflets prepared for the Kurds. They are mostly printed on poor quality paper and many are all text. For the purposes of this article I will select four items to give the readers an example of what was printed during this campaign.
This black and white leaflet depicts a family of Kurds arriving at a tent marked with a red cross and a green crescent. The man of the family shakes hands with soldiers guarding the tent. There are baskets and bags of food on the ground. There is no text on the front. Text on the back in English, Kurdish and Arabic is:
The time for violence is over. We must all find peace and harmony again. Guns will not be allowed inside the camp. If the international security forces at the checkpoints find a gun, you will not be allowed into the camp. In the name of Allah, seek peace in your heart; pray that Allah will give us compassion and forgiveness.
It was not enough, just to give aid. Sometimes what the aid was and how it was to be used had to be explained. This bright pink leaflet depicts an infant with a bottle. It was dropped with bundles of food to explain to the Kurds in English, Kurdish, Arabic, and Turcoman that the package contained baby food. The leaflet is also found in blue.
Stop! Dont Touch these Things.
A standard mine warning leaflet was prepared for the Kurds that is almost identical to the type prepared just months earlier during Operation Desert Storm. The earlier leaflets had some bright red color to catch the eye of the finder. The provide Comfort leaflets are in black and white, depict nine different explosives, and have text in English, Kurdish and Arabic:
Stop! Dont touch these things. Call the authorities.
In almost every war that the United States is involved in, at some point, language or Pointee-Talkee cards are prepared to help with communication. The speaker can pronounce or point at the word he wants the listener to understand. I have seen at least four such products produced for Operation Provide Comfort. This card shows the same words in English, Arabic and Kurdish.
Psychological Support to Operation Allied Force
The 4th PSYOP Group published a magazine entitled Psychological Support to Operation Allied Force in 1999. It gave the history of the U.S. PSYOP effort in the war against the ethnic cleansing ordered by the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. It regard to the 6th PSYOP Battalion is said in part:
In early August 1988, planners from the 6th PSYOP Battalion were dispatched to the 32nd Air Operations Group, U.S. Air Force Europe Headquarters, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to participate in planning for future operations in the area.
In February 1999, soldiers of the 4th Psychological Operations Group deployed to establish and form the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force in support of Joint Task Force NOBLE ANVIL. During the 78-day campaign, the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) developed over 40 different leaflets. More than 104.5 million leaflets were dropped throughout Serbia from the Air Forces MC-130 Hercules, F-16 fighters and B-52 bombers over the course of the campaign. The 6th POB formed the core of the JPOTF.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion established two Product Development Centers (PDC), one at the Warrior Preparation Center, near Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and one at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. The PDC at Ft. Bragg wrote the scripts for the radio and television program and translated products, while the PDC in Germany created the leaflets.
Their mission was to get the message of truth to the diverse masses, which included Serb military, police forces in Kosovo, and the civilian population in Belgrade as well as in the small towns and villages throughout the remainder of Serbia, and to Kosovo refugees in Albania and Macedonia.
The Psychological Operations Task Force prepared a multimedia campaign consisting of leaflets, handbills, posters, and radio and television broadcasts aimed at countering the distorted reports being fed to the Serbian people by their own government. This effort included informing the Serbian people of the scope and magnitude of Slobodan Milosevics campaign of mass murder, systematic rape, forced evacuation and destruction of Kosovo. Additionally, the PSYOP campaign served as a source of information and hope for the Kosovo refugees in Albania and Macedonia.
In March 1989, days after NATO began an air campaign against Yugoslavia, Commando Solo broadcast aircraft deployed to Europe. The 6th PSYOP Battalion soldiers working in the Product Development Center at Fort Bragg wrote a daily radio and television program for broadcast into Serbia over AM, FM and television frequencies. The broadcast was called Allied Voice Radio and Television.
Now that we have reported the official story of Operation Allied Force; I add some data from my own notes and previous articles I have written.
The United States found itself involved in the nation once called Yugoslavia several times in the past decades. There was a violent disintegration of that country after the death of Joseph Broz (Tito) in 1980. Tito had ruled a divided Serbian people. Those Serbs, the largest ethnic group of Yugoslavia, were spread over four "Socialist Federative Republics" and two Autonomous Regions. Much of this population shift had been caused by the Ottoman Empire conquests and the politics of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some 42% of the Serbs were located outside Serbia proper.
In 1989, a new nationalist leader by the name of Slobodan Milosevic took power in the Serbian Republic. He had previously served as the leader of Belgrade Communist Party and the Serbian Communist Party. He wanted to dominate all of the old Yugoslavia, but when it became clear that he could not, he decided upon the ethnic cleansing of his country and the creation of a Greater Serbia. He abolished Kosovo's autonomy. Croats and Slovenes feared that they were next in line. There were daily news reports of murders, rapes, mass killings and other atrocities carried out by the Serbs as Milosevic drove the minorities from their lands and homes, "purifying" his Greater Serbia. The problem of course, was that several portions of this new Greater Serbia were to consist of lands that had never been part of the old Serbia or populated by Serbians. This was a policy of naked aggression.
Two Operation Provide Promise aerial leaflets dropped on Bosnia
Two leaflets were prepared and dropped over Bosnia. They both depict a Hercules C-130 USAF cargo plane in front of a faint United States flag. Both leaflets picture crates falling by parachute marked with a bright red cross, and both are written in Serbo-Croat text, in Latin script on one side and Cyrillic on the other side.
On the first leaflet, the C-130 drops four containers. The leaflet tells the Serbs not to fire on the aircraft. They drop food for all the people. The text is:
American aircraft will be dropping humanitarian aid for all people. Do not fire on American aircraft. Food and medical supplies are intended for all people.
On the second leaflet, the C-130 drops three containers labeled "500 KG." This leaflet was prepared because of accidents that occurred in Somalia. Starving people rushed mindlessly into the drop zone only to be crushed by falling food crates. The leaflet text is:
Danger! For everyone's safety, let humanitarian aid land before approaching.
Milosevics actions forced the United Nations to deploy peacekeeping forces and begin humanitarian relief operations. Operation Provide Promise began on 2 July 1992. Twenty-one nations formed a coalition to resupply war-torn Sarajevo with food and medicine. The U.N. established "no-fly" zones over Bosnia. The United States mediated an agreement between the Bosnians, the Bosnian Croats, and the Government of Croatia to form a federation of Bosnians and Croats.
Before this first leaflet drop the U.S. Armys 6th PSYOP Battalion had many alerts, false starts and partial deployments while the great powers decided if the action would be solely by the United States, under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or the United Nations. As a result, these first leaflets were designed in three different formats in Germany. Eventually it was decided that this would be a NATO operation, but the decision was already made that the first leaflets would display the American flag. The images were faxed via a secure link back to Ft. Bragg for printing by the Product Dissemination Battalion. When the leaflets were delivered shortly before the first drop they were found to be poorly printed with a grainy appearance. The PSYOP troops were very disappointed with the quality but it was too late to make any changes or reprint the entire stock of leaflets.
There were numerous published reports of the aerial leafleting. On 25 February 1993, U.S. aircraft dropped about 600,000 leaflets over Srebrenica, Cerska, Gorazde, and Zera. On 27 February, two C-130s dropped another million leaflets. Five C-130s dropped 80 1-ton food containers on 28 February. Aircraft dropped another one million leaflets on 1 March.
The Superman PSYOP comic book
There were many other propaganda publications used in Bosnia. Perhaps the most interesting is the mine-warning 12-page Superman comic book entitled "Deadly Legacy" that was produced pro-bono with DC Comics. The cover shows the man of steel swooping down to save a two young boys who are about to pick up an explosive device on the ground. The back of the book shows Superman flying the children to safety and the text:
Superman has come to help the children of Bosnia-Herzegovina! But even when he can't be here, you can keep yourself safe from land mines! Mines kill kids! For more information on how you can prevent these accidents, call the mine action center.
Sergeant Mark Jenkins
Sarajevo Airport - Good Friday, 1996.
Sergeant Mark Jenkins of the 6th PSYOP Battalion was not very enthused about the comics. He was a stickler for details, planning and Intelligence studies and the comics just appeared one day with the order to disseminate them. He told me:
I disagreed with them on principle, i.e., that they were pushed on us from outside and had not gone through our campaign planning process, nor were they coordinated with any of our existing mine-awareness efforts. So my reaction, as I recall, was, Whatever, and I hoped they might do some good. But I was definitely worried it was further evidence of our pre-packaged ready-fire-aim approach to it all.
Then Major Roger Smith (Ret.) with then Captain Karl Zetmeir (Ret.)
My friend retired Lieutenant Colonel Karl Zetmeir, formerly of the 6th PSYOP Battalion, was the publisher of the Herald of Peace for a short time. He told me about his experience with the magazine:
One of the most professionally satisfying psychological operations products I ever worked on was the Herald of Peace. Though a relatively short-lived product, it represented the hard work and true dedication to our craft on the part of its PSYOP soldiers as no other. In a leaflet-dominated world often marked by simple illustrations and hip-shoot phraseology, the Herald of Peace stands in a class of its own.
The Herald of Peace
August 1997 The theme Election 97
We simply called it the HoP. It was a magazine produced by the Combined Joint Information Task Force in Sarajevo, Bosnia from 1996 through 1997. I myself reported to the CJICTF in June 1997, where I worked for the Product Development Chief, Major Roger Smith, as the Officer in Charge for all print product development, which included being Chief Editor of the HoP, as well as the Budget/Finance officer for our overall PSYOP campaign efforts. The officer I was replacing in both those functions was Captain Roger Lintz. Rogers drive and initiative had raised the bar from the HoPs initial format to that of a glossy, four-color, 36-page, TIME-quality magazine. Hed also negotiated a robust print contract with a Zagreb-based company that made this quality leap possible. Our transition from his team to mine was seamless and we eagerly accepted this challenging job.
Distributing copies of the Herald of Peace newspaper
The operational direction of the HoP came from our boss Roger Smith. Roger insisted the magazine hold true to stories that supported the Stabilization Forces country-wide objectives, and we focused on themes like freedom of movement, election participation, and other peace initiatives. The major stories covered subjects like the recently restored Sarajevo ambulance service or the purchase of new firefighting equipment. We deliberately steered clear of collage photos of US or other nations military forces conducting peacekeeping operations, unit rotations, changes of command, etc. One Stabilization Force logo was found on the inside cover, along with letters from the chief editor (Roger Lintz, followed by myself) and our Noncommissioned Officer editor (Bob Kellogg followed by Hans-Marc Hurd) in each issue. In retrospect, we were going for the same appeal as that of a Readers Digest, that even older copies would be interesting and fresh to a war-devastated target audience, particularly in the hinterlands, that rarely saw any printed media at all.
Sergeant Mark Jenkins of the 6th PSYOP Battalion tells us more about the Herald of Peace, some of these facts from his After Action Report prepared 11 June 1996.
Production work for the Herald of Peace in Zagreb began the week of 25 December 1995.The first Zagreb issue was laid out on 28 December 1995 and printed at Radin Press over the weekend. Dissemination began in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 4 January 1996. Approved articles were received early in the week (usually Tuesday), translations were completed by Wednesday evening, Disk files were prepared and forwarded to EuropaPress on Thursday, printing over the weekend, quality control check on Monday, delivered and placed on pallets on Tuesday, shipped to Bosnia on Wednesday.
Sergeant Jenkins told me some of the problems that he encountered:
Many of my memories are of frustration. We in the 6th PSYOP Battalion had been alerted and then stood down so many times about Bosnia that I think some people had decided we were never really going to go. I was apparently one of the few Serbo-Croat linguists that had kept up language skills (and there were only three in the Battalion and one did not deploy), something that I found difficult to comprehend, (and I was only all too aware of my shortcomings as a translator). The potential for deployment to the former Yugoslavia had been apparent for several years. We went in with so many good ideas and were consistently defeated and ground down by bureaucracy and worse, such as the ridiculously long time it took for news items to get approval for publication. At one time, we had to submit everything back to Naples, and they tended to sit on it, no matter our deadlines.
I took pains whenever I was briefing any officers to stress that this was a European country we were dealing with, one with modern media, and if we weren't speedy, we had to at least be credible, or we could kiss our influence goodbye. I'd watched some of Milosevic's speeches on Serbian TV during my stint at the US embassy in Belgrade a year or two earlier, and I was struck by how media-savvy he was (so unlike his portrayal in many Western sources).
Attention Serbian Forces. You are a NATO target
This Allied leaflet depicts target crosshairs on a Serb tank. Text on the back reads:
Attention Serbian Armed Forces. You are a NATO target. Halt your current operations and return to your garrisons immediately. If you fail to follow these instructions, NATO will continue to attack your unit. Save your lives. Flee while you can.
This leaflet is coded 03-Q-02-L003. NATO aircraft dropped 800,000 copies of this leaflet.
Master Sergeant (retired) Rod Schmidt of B Company of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion told me:
The sniper-scope green target leaflet dropped on Yugoslavia was based on a design I provided to 6th POB, although they modified it. Originally, I had designed it to resemble the light green, grainy tinge of low-light scopes without the NATO symbol. They were forced to darken the green color because the presses they had at that time just couldn't print the light green design at a high enough resolution to render the image clearly.
More than 3 million posters and handbills were disseminated throughout theater between December 1995 and November 1997.
I will end this section with one of my favorite leaflets, a U.S. B-52 bomber in action.
Attention VJ Forces, Leave Kosovo
This leaflet depicts a B-52 dropping bombs. The code number of this leaflet is 03-NN-17-L002. NATO aircraft dropped 1.6 million copies of this leaflet. The text on the back is:
Attention VJ Forces, Leave Kosovo, NATO is now using B-52 bombers to drop MK-82 225-kilogram heavy bombs on the Yugoslav Army units in Kosovo. Every B-52 bomber can carry more than 50 of these bombs. These planes will keep coming back for you until they expel your unit from Kosovo and prevent you from committing atrocities. If you want to survive and see your family again, abandon your unit and weapon and leave Kosovo immediately! Thousands of bombs and the will, and the power, and the support of the entire world to relentlessly drop them on your unit.
The Virgin Islands
Hurricane Hugo caused widespread damage
Hurricane Hugo was a powerful hurricane that caused widespread damage and loss of life in Guadeloupe, Saint Croix, Puerto Rico, and the Southeast United States. It formed over the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on 9 September 1989. Hurricane Hugo caused 34 fatalities (most by electrocution or drowning) in the Caribbean and 27 in South Carolina, left nearly 100,000 homeless, and resulted in $10 billion (1989 US Dollars) in damage overall, making it the most damaging hurricane ever recorded at the time. On 17 September 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck the island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands. Wind-speeds were maintained at approximately 140 mph as it crossed the islands. The hurricane destroyed nearly all of the life support systems for a population of over 50,000; including the fresh water supply, the island's electrical generation capability, and the fuel supply.
Hurricane Hugo's devastation led to a President Bush sending in the troops
The ensuing chaos and total breakdown of law and order resulted in widespread looting and general lawlessness throughout the island. From 200 to 600 prisoners escaped from the island's only territorial prison. On 20 September 1989, President Bush invoked the Insurrection Act to federalize the National Guard to impose order following violence and looting in the wake of Hurricane Hugo. Elements of the Army, Navy and the Coast Guard, along with a contingent from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation formed Joint Task Force (JTF) 40 for Operation Hawkeye.
Broadcasting news and instructions
The 6th Psychological Operations Battalion deployed to Saint Croix and the U. S. Virgin Islands as part of JTF-140 to provide Humanitarian Relief after Hurricane Hugo in support of Operation Hawkeye. In general, when natural disasters occur the PSYOP troops tell the people where to find food and water, where the medical tents are located and generally inform the people and try to keep them calm. To see hurricane relief in greater detail click here to see my article on PSYOP during Hurricane Andrew.
Clinton R. Van Zandt mentioned the hurricane in an article entitled When Forces Work Together: Army PSYOP & the FBI in St. Croix in Special Warfare, May, 1993:
With the approval of both the FBI special-agent-in-charge and the commander of U.S. Army personnel in St. Croix, the FBI negotiators and PSYOP soldiers developed an assessment of the psychological mood of the local residents. They provided their respective commanders with proactive ways to stop the looting of local businesses. The looting had to be halted to prevent the situation from escalating into a full-scale riot. The FBI advisers and their PSYOP counterparts made the following recommendations to the FBI and the U.S. Army on-scene commanders:
The PSYOP detachment should obtain current information on distribution sites for food, water and medical aid from the local office of the Virgin Islands Emergency Management Agency.
The PSYOP detachment should be authorized to disseminate that information via mobile broadcast units and leaflets and to provide taped messages for broadcast by local radio stations when they became operational.
To ensure that the image of U.S. forces was one of providing assistance, public-service leaflets should be distributed by FBI and military personnel while on patrol throughout St. Croix.
Once the local citizens saw the FBI and the U.S. military forces providing information, aid and assistance, they began to view the joint operation as one of assistance, not occupation. Local residents began to provide FBI and military personnel with information concerning the location of escaped prisoners and the identity of looters, and order soon returned to paradise This blending of psychological thought and direct application supported the mission of U.S. government forces deployed there, and broke new ground in joint civilian law-enforcement and military operations.
U.S. Officer mentors Ethiopian military officers
In June 2009, Michelle Butzgy wrote an article in Paraglide entitled Fort Bragg Soldiers work at winning hearts and minds around the world. She said about the 6th Battalion:
Specialist Esther Cutler, 6th PSYOP Battalion worked in Ethiopia, part of African Command. She said:
There's tension in those tribes. The battalion designed a tri-arm logo for unity and promoted a basketball team to spread the word. During their games, they stop and talk to the audience about unity. They (travel) around the regions of Ethiopia so they're going to take that message with them. The battalion is also sponsoring a soccer league with the same unity message. They also put together a unity concert with world musicians Pras Michael, Aster Awoke and Gosaye. It was huge.
Libya Independence Protests in Benghazi
A civil war erupted in Libya on 15 February 2011. The situation began as a series of peaceful protests. On the evening of 15 February, between 500 and 600 demonstrators protested in front of the police headquarters in Benghazi after the arrest of human rights lawyer Fathi Terbil. The protest was broken up violently by police, resulting in 38 injured, among them ten security personnel. Protest rallies were held in Al Bayda, Az Zintan, Benghazi, and Darnah. Libyan security responded with lethal force. A Day of Rage was planned for 17 February inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Within a week, this uprising had spread across the country and Gaddafi was struggling to retain control. Gaddafi responded with military force and other such measures as censorship and blocking of communications.
The rebels established a coalition named the Transitional National Council based in Benghazi. The International Criminal Court warned Gaddafi that he and members of his government may have committed crimes against humanity and the United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and ten members of his inner circle, and restricting their travel. The United Nations intervened, the initial coalition expanded to 17 states. The effort was initially largely led by France and the United Kingdom, with command shared with the United States. NATO took control of the arms embargo on 23 March, named Operation Unified Protector. On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone, while command of targeting ground units remains with coalition forces.
Captain Geoffrey Childs wrote an article entitled Military Information Support to Contingency Operations in Libya for Special Warfare, January-March 2013. He summed up the PSYOP well and I thought we would use his numbers as a guide in this article. Some of his comments are:
More than 50 messages were disseminated throughout the first 12 days of Operation Odyssey Dawn and an additional 200 were disseminated during the seven months of the Operation Unified Protector Commando Solo flew its first sortie, broadcasting 11 MISO messages in three languages, the same day the JTF dropped its first bomb. These messages were developed, approved, translated, recorded, uploaded and disseminated within a 17-hour time period Of the more than 9 million leaflets disseminated, only a few achieved their desired effect, but most were credited to have bolstered the spirit of the TNC forces and civilians in fear of the regime alike.
Childs mentions the activities of the 6th PSYOP Battalion and says in part:
PSYOP approval authority was limited in scope to support exclusively the non-combatant evacuation mission, which therefore remained the singular focus of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. When UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizing the use of force to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under the threat of attack was ratified on
March 17, 2011, the company, at Fort Bragg, began developing a PSYOP series based on the secretary of defenses preapproved psychological operations programs in anticipation of coalition lethal actions against the Gadhafi regime.
It is impossible to empirically prove that the PSYOP campaign directly caused the eventual collapse of the Gadhafi regime. While NATOs approach to PSYOP was, at times, at odds with the American process, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest 6th PSYOP Battalion-enabled NATO messages contributed to the overall success of contingency operations in Libya.
Leaflet Operations in Libya
I am going to show three Leaflets Captain Childs used to illustrate his article although I have all the leaflets used in the campaign. Readers who want to learn more about the PSYOP of the Libyan campaign will find my article here.
This leaflet depicted Gaddafi at the right and Libyan citizens near a bomb blast at the left. The text is:
Colonel Gaddafis orders to attack civilians are illegal and as a result he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
One of the more interesting leaflets depicts a Libyan banknote on fire. It was believed that Gaddafi was paying foreign mercenaries to fight for his regime. Text on the front of the note is:
Non-Libyan fighters, this is the only money you will receive for continuing to endanger Libyan citizens.
Stop Tearing Libya Apart
This leaflet depicts a Libyan soldier on the front, split down the middle to show a government soldier on one side and a rebel on the other. Behind the soldier is a tank, behind the rebel an armed truck (sometimes called a technical) and armed fighters. NATO symbols appear at the lower left and right. The text on the front is:
Stop Tearing Libya Apart
One Libya, one people
6th PSYOP Battalion Awards and Decorations
The Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for VIETNAM 1966-1967 and again for VIETNAM 1967-1968
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for SOUTHWEST ASIA 1990-1991
The Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class for VIETNAM 1967-1970
The 6th PSYOP Bn received campaign participation credit for:
Vietnam: Counteroffensive; Counteroffensive, Phase II; Counteroffensive, Phase III; Tet Counteroffensive; Counteroffensive, Phase IV; Counteroffensive, Phase V; Counteroffensive, Phase VI; Tet 69/Counteroffensive; Summer-Fall 1969; Winter-Spring 1970; Sanctuary Counteroffensive;Counteroffensive, Phase VII.
Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait.
This ends our very short look at the history of the United States Armys 6th PSYOP Battalion, a unit that has deployed to numerous nations to support legal governments and fight anti-government guerrillas and armed enemies of the United States for over 50 years. Readers who wish to comment or send further information are encouraged to write the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.