SGM HERB A. FRIEDMAN (Ret.)
De Forest's first commercial Audion receiver, the RJ6 which came out in 1914
This is a story I did not want to write because the subject is just so big. Radios have been used in every war since WWI, and not just one radio; but dozens of radio stations by all the combatants. In WWII, the Germans had numerous propaganda radio stations as did the British and the Americans. In Vietnam, we had a half dozen and Hanoi had a large number of stations too. I finally came up with a solution. Instead of writing about the big picture, I will try and take some smaller operation in each war and just talk about one or two particular stations. As you read this, remember that we are just looking at a very small portion of any war and we have selected the segment because we thought the reader would find it interesting.
We might start with the question Why Radio? What is it about the radio that has made it such an important part of psychological operations since WWII? First of all, in the case of technically advanced nations, the great majority of the population will have radios in their homes and vehicles. In fact, in Germany, their government built inexpensive radios that could be purchased by all the people to assure that Dr. Goebbels propaganda could be heard by everyone. In those nations where only the upper classes have a radio, the political and military leaders that are always a target for propaganda will have them.
In those Third World, areas where radios are scarce, PSYOP units can give away free radios to the poor so that they can hear the propaganda message. In Vietnam the U.S. airdropped cheap transistor radios, or floated them to the people along rivers and creeks. In the Muslim world, the U.S. has given gift radios to those that make the Hajj, the visit to the holy site at Mecca. If the target audience lives in deep valleys surrounded by towering mountains, satellite radios can be given that can receive the message from satellites strategically placed overhead. Some countries lack electric service to the poor and the radios are often dropped with batteries, and in some cases a more expensive type will be dropped with a hand crank. The most important thing is that the target audience hears the message. Vast study and detailed intelligence has been used to write the text in such a way that it will move an audience and cause change. If they cannot hear it, all that work and study is wasted.
WORLD WAR II - 1941
I will arbitrarily use the American entry into WWII as my starting point for this war although I could clearly use the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and China and the German invasion of Poland in 1939 which is certainly a better choice. I choose this date because it is Americas official start in the war although it was certainly involved in arming some nations illegally while it claimed to be neutral at the time.
Sefton Delmer The Head of British Black Radio
Sefton Delmer of the British Political Warfare Executive was running an anti-Hitler radio show for the British called Gustav Siegfried Eins. The show featured what was alleged to be an early Party member called Der Chef who constantly attacked the Nazi leadership for being not loyal enough to their Fuehrer and for their corruption. He also attacked That old Jew Churchill which made many Britons unhappy, it but was all part of the false persona. The Chief was voiced by a 39-year-old German exile named Peter Seckelmann. He had fled Nazi Germany to England in 1938. As "The Chief," his radio voice embodied the harsh tones of an enraged Prussian military officer, and he knew enough of both barracks curses and Germany under Hitler to hit the right notes as he railed against the Nazi Party leaders shortcomings.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of this story is The Chiefs death. Delmer decided he should die on the radio so in the middle of his last show, the PWE staged a Gestapo raid and the audience heard, Ive finally caught you, you pig! There followed a hail of machine gun bullets. The Chief was dead. The only problem is that one technician played the same live broadcast later that evening and the Chief was killed again. One of the few radio personalities to die twice the same day in two different broadcasts.
The story of that war is far too big to be written here. There are hundreds of books on the subject, so I will just touch lightly on the subject showing some of the very interesting propaganda leaflets that were prepared in an attempt to get the enemy to listen to the propaganda radio. Germany prepared some excellent leaflets using different images. The Germans also had some famous (or infamous) broadcasters on their side so we will mention them too. The United States and Great British used both regular and clandestine radio and much of what those countries did might be considered on the dark side.
The use of radio as a medium of propaganda in wartime was made famous during WWII by Tokyo Rose (Born in Los Angeles in 1916, a Nisei first generation American) and Axis Sally (Rita Zucca, who was born in New York). The British listened to William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) broadcasting from Germany. Lets take a brief look at these propagandists.
Tokyo Rose - Iva Toguri
Perhaps no broadcaster was as infamous as Iva Toguri - better known to Allied listeners as TOKYO ROSE. The American-born Toguri became stranded in Japan when the war began, and she was eventually coaxed behind the microphone and instructed to read radio scripts aimed at demoralizing U.S. troops in the Pacific. Toguri always maintained that she was a loyal American who had been forced onto the radio by circumstance, but after the war ended her 1949 trial resulted in a conviction on one of eight counts of treason and sentenced to several years in prison. U.S. President Gerald Ford pardoned Toguri in 1977. For more information on Tokyo Rose click here.
Axis Salley - Mildred Gillars
One of the most famous American Nazi collaborators was Mildred Gillars who would become known as AXIS SALLY. In 1933, she was in Europe acting as a governess and salesgirl. In 1934, she moved to Dresden, Germany, to study music, and was later employed as a teacher of English at the Berlitz School of Languages in Berlin. In 1940 she accepted employment Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG), German State Radio as an announcer and actress. Her fiancé, Paul Karlson, a naturalized German citizen, said he would never marry her if she returned to the United States. Shortly afterwards, Karlson was sent to the Eastern Front, where he was killed in action. Alone after his death, she signed an oath of allegiance to Germany to protect herself. Within a short time, the radio program director convinced her to make broadcasts for Hitler. After the war, Gillars was indicted and charged with ten counts of treason at her trial which began on 25 January 1949. On 10 March 1949, the jury convicted Gillars on one count of treason. She was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine. For more information on Mildred Gillars click here.
Lord Haw Haw
Lord Haw Haw was a nickname applied to the Irish-American William Joyce, a propagandist against Great Britain early in WWII. While many of the German propagandists tried to sound like common British workers, Lord Haw Haw pretended to be an aristocrat. The broadcasts opened with Germany calling, Germany calling, spoken in an affected upper-class English accent. Joyce was a senior member of the British Union of Fascists and fled England when tipped off about his planned internment on 26 August 1939. Joyce was captured by British forces in northern Germany just as the war ended, tried, and eventually hanged for treason on 3 January 1946.
American newsman Edward R. Murrow making his famous
broadcasts from London to America during the Blitz.
German Radio Leaflets
The Germans prepared great number of radio leaflets and dropped them on the Allied troops in Italy and later Europe. They were sometimes prepared in two sizes, a large sheet for dropping from aircraft and a smaller sheet for delivery by artillery shell. Some are marked with an "AI" code which indicates that the leaflet was prepared by the Propaganda Abschnitts Offizer Italien organization. This unit's printed material was produced in both Berlin and Verona, Italy. Other radio leaflets are marked with a small star. That indicates that the leaflets were printed in Italy by the Sudstern (Southern Star) section of the Skorpion South propaganda organization of the German 10th Army.
JERRY'S FRONT RADIO
This leaflet for the British serves two purposes. First, it lets the soldier think about the benefits of capture ("alive and out of danger") and thus sets a pattern that might lead to lesser resistance against the Germans. Second, it tells the British Tommies that they will hear the name of their buddies on the radio and this might encourage the troops to listen to the Nazi propaganda messages.
This leaflet was aimed at the American troops in Italy. It is interesting to note that the Germans talk of the Americans dying on foreign soil, when in fact, the Germans were also on the foreign soil of Italy. Logic was never their strongpoint.
This German radio leaflet is aimed at both the British and American troops and mentions times and wave lengths. The front of the leaflet depicts a radio antenna at the left and the text at the right.
This leaflet is interesting because it uses some humor and also tells the soldier very honestly that the stations are broadcasting enemy propaganda. That might cause the soldier to trust the station more for its honesty and listen in to hear just what the Germans are peddling. German records indicate that the leaflet artwork was done by Unteroffizier Ziegenhagen and the text was written by an individual named Goedel. An Unteroffizier is a non-commissioned officer, similar to an American Army sergeant. Notice that the leaflet makes fun of the famous British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
WAY DOWN UPON THE SWANEE RIVER
The Germans prepared a small series of radio leaflets that featured a black trombonist. Although they considered themselves a super race far above all others and certainly thought of the American black troops as inferior, here they imply that those soldiers would do better with the Germans than with their own American comrades.
The Germans also prepared leaflets for the Free Polish troops fighting alongside the British in Italy. The title of this leaflet is Colleagues!
Some of the text on the front is:
Have you heard Wanda? Wanda broadcasts daily.
You must listen to Wanda!
Find a suitable opportunity and discuss the details. You shouldnt believe the stories you are hearing about the way the German soldiers are treating you. The Germans are decent soldiers and are guaranteeing you a return home. In Poland youll have complete freedom in your choice of work. Just give yourself up at the German battle front.
So Listen to Wanda!
Youll get to know what you want to know.
Leaflet *339/11 44
It was not only the Poles that the Germans talked to over the radio. Both the Germans and the Japanese had dealt with an Indian nationalist named Subhash Chandra Bose who wanted independence from Great Britain and was more than willing to lead those troops against British forces. In both cases prisoners or war had been recruited, trained and armed to fight for Indian Independence. This leaflet depicts two Indians listening to the German propaganda broadcasts. The leaflet says:
Whoever listens to the radio always remains connected and up to date.
The back is all text and gives the wavelengths of various propaganda stations in various languages. The text is:
You can listen daily in the evening.
Between 5:30 PM to 6:00 PM: MW 449.1 and SW 47.6
Between 8:30 PM to 9:00 PM: SW 47.6
The Voice of Bhai [Brother] Band Radio.
Broadcasts correct news from all over the world, plays Indian music and news for the betterment of Indian soldiers.
Anthony Rhodes talks about the Japanese plans for India in Propaganda, Wellfleet Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1987.
India was regarded as potentially part of Japans Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. A Free India radio station was installed in Saigon, which encouraged the natives of the subcontinent to rise against their aggressors while the British were weak and fully occupied elsewhere. Indian Independence transmitters were also set up in Bangkok and Singapore, as was an Indian Muslim Station.
Roger E. Tidy tells us more about the various Indian propaganda radio stations:
Free India Radio (Azad Hind Radio) was the main propaganda station for India set up by the exiled Subhas Chandra Bose with German assistance. Boses Provisional Indian Government in Berlin also had two other radio stations, namely National Congress Radio and Free Moslem Radio. (National Congress Radio, by the way, had nothing to do with the short-lived Congress Radio, which was a clandestine station operated by Gandhi supports on British soil). Moreover, there was an Italian-sponsored Indian station known as Radio Himalaya, run by the exiled Indian Moslem Iqbal Shedai. In addition to these stations, there was a German station manned by Indians called The Brothers.
The German Small Receiver Deutscher Kleinempfanger
We should stop for a moment to mention the importance of radio in wartime Germany. The Nazi Party and Propaganda Minster Joseph Goebbels wanted every loyal German to listen to Party broadcasts. They reinforced loyalty to the Führer and the nation. At the opening of the 10th German Radio Exhibition on 18 August 1933 he gave a speech entitled Radio as the Eighth Great Power Goebbels talked about the direction German radio would take in the future and the introduction of a cheap peoples radio receiver, the Volksempfänger, that made the radio affordable for the average citizen.
The Volksempfanger or Gobbels Schnauze
A second version of the Volksempfanger or Gobbels Schnauze had a square rather than a round opening for the speaker. This variant was built in 1938 by C. Lorenz AG, and was made to run on 110, 130 and 220 Volts.
In 1933, Goebbels became Propaganda Minister and immediately took charge of the large building known as The House of Broadcasting. Only 25% of Germans had a radio so Goebbels demanded that a cheap radio be designed and produced immediately. Nine months later the Peoples Receiver was placed on sale to the German public at a discounted price. The radios were fixed so no foreign stations could be heard on them. The radios were everywhere and even at work when Hitler gave a speech all work was to stop and everyone listen intently. Goebbels also had a special switch in his office that he could use to break into any broadcast should he wish to make an announcement. The Nazis ruled the German airwaves.
Allied Radio Propaganda
The amount of information on Allied radio propaganda is tremendous. In my library I have Publicity and Psychological Warfare which tells about radio propaganda in Europe by the 12th US Army Group. I also have Daugherty and Janowitzs A Psychological Casebook, which has no less than 50 references to radio. I am going to cover this area very briefly mostly showing the propaganda leaflets produced by the United States and Great Britain.
American leaflet number 214 is entitled Written Off. The words are printed at the top of the leaflet over the name of the town Lorient. Below the title there is a depiction of the present battle lines and the German position in Lorient at a distance of just 900 kilometers from Germany. Text on the front is:
The American Field Radio before Lorient broadcasts daily at 1400 and 2130 Oclock on 432 meters:
News from all around the world.
News about your comrades from Lorient.
Serial: Letters from home.
Music and entertainment.
The back is all text and entitled War News. It tells the Germans of the war situation on the Western Front, Germany, Italy, and the Eastern Front and in the Balkans. The text is too long to translate in total, but the section entitled Germany says:
Since the crossing of the German frontier, the Siegfried Line has been pierced in several places. A new secret weapon was used in these breakthrough operations. After occupying Rotken and other German towns, American armored units are now fighting behind Aachen and are advancing in the direction of Stolberg.
It is interesting to note the American use of the term Secret Weapon in their message. The Germans were regularly being told that their secret weapons would turn the tide of war so perhaps the Allies thought this would be an especially powerful phrase to attack the German morale.
B. B. C.
(The British Broadcasting Corporation)
Has considerably extended its transmissions in the German language.
Will find overleaf the complete list of times of transmission, wavelengths, and all details of the various news, talks and entertainment programs.
The text on the back is in part:
Transmissions in the German language.
German daylight saving time 6:00 6:30, 6:30 7:30.
Wave lengths: 49, 261, 285, and 373 meters.
Contents: News from the night service and topical commentaries of special interest to German workers. Music.
The entire back of the leaflet is filled with similar station information and other comments such as:
We know that in Germany, unlike in Great Britain and the U. S. A. and other free countries, it is forbidden to listen to foreign stations But
YOU TOO CAN LISTEN WITHOUT DANGER
Window closed! Put your set on a cushion! Dont place it against the wall! Tune in softly! There is no secret method of detecting listeners to foreign stations. It often happens that our transmissions are deliberately jammed. Dont forget that we always transmit on several wave lengths, which can never be jammed all at once. If you find that you cant hear us clearly on your usual wavelength, youll get us in the one that is being used by the German monitoring service.
British leaflet 522 was dropped over Germany from 6 September to 22 October 1941. We have seen documentation on at least 12 leaflet raids and some of the cities targeted were Braunschweig, Leipzig, Magdenburg, Kiel, Dortmund, and Hannover. The English title in A Complete Index of Allied Airborne Leaflets and Magazines is listed as, "The Ban on Foreign Stations."
The leaflet is all German text:
THE BAN ON FOREIGN STATIONS
Goebbels, in the magazine "Das Reich" and on the wireless, has again threatened with the severest penalties all who listen to London. If Goebbels wanted to carry out his threat, he would have to empty the factories and offices and decimate the ranks of the military, and Hitlers war machine would come to a stand-still. For the people he is threatening are too numerous.
Four paragraphs follow, three starting with "Goebbels said." An example is:
Goebbels says: "The German nation is informed concerning the actual situation to quite another extent than any other nation." Yes, to quite another extent. No other nation learns so little of what is happening, or is kept so much in the dark by its own government. This is the reason, and the only reason why the German people listen to foreign radio stations. It is hungry for the truth. It cannot believe a government that tells it nothing about either casualties in the East or bomb damage in the West.
We mention Sefton Delmer above. I corresponded with him for many years prior to his death. One of his ploys involved the German invasion of Great Britain. Delmer wanted to convince the Germans that the invasion would cause the death of thousands of Wehrmacht troops. He produced a leaflet and a radio broadcast. This leaflet is not a radio leaflet, but radio propaganda was used with it so I think we can add it here.
WIE FAHREN GEGEN ENGELLAND (We Journey against England) is the title of the famous German military tune that tells of their coming attack on England:
Our flag waves as we march along,
it is an emblem of the power of our Reich,
and we can no longer endure
that the Englishman should laugh at it.
So give me thy hand, thy fair white hand,
Ere we sail away to conquer Eng-el-land.
At the bottom of the leaflet there is a parade of goose-stepping German soldiers in bathing suits and life jackets boarding an invasion barge. The center consists of three vertical columns in German, French and Dutch. The title at the head of all the columns is "The Little Invasion Interpreter." There are 15 phrases listed under "Before the Invasion." Another 15 are listed "During the Invasion," and a final 13 "After the invasion." The columns continue on the back of the leaflet where two further images are depicted. At the top the invasion fleet is seen being destroyed, while at the bottom the white cliffs of Dover are shown pristine and secure beneath a Union Jack. Some of the phrases of the leaflet are:
The sea is vast - cold - surging.
This is a bomb - a torpedo - a shell - a mine
Our boat capsizes - sinks - burns explodes.
The sea stinks of fuel oil.
The water burns here
Look how well the Captain burns.
Sefton Delmer, Director of Britain's "Black" Radio during WWII, talked about the British deception plan in Black Boomerang, The Viking Press, New York, 1962. He talks about his English lesson to the Germans:
We English, as you know, are notoriously bad at languages, and so it will be best, meine Herren Engellandfahrer, if you learn a few useful English phrases before visiting us.
For your first lesson we will take: Die Kanaluberfahrt. The Channel crossing, the Channel crossing.
Now just repeat after me: Das Boot sinkt. The boat is sinking; the boat is sinking.
Das Wasser ist kalt. The water is cold. Sehr kalt, very cold.
Now, I will give you a verb that should come in useful. Again please repeat after me, Ich brenne, I burn. Du brennst, you burn. Er brennt, he burns. Wir brennen, we burn. Ihr brennt, you are burning.
Yes, meine Herren, in English, a rather practical language, we use the same word "you" for both the singular and the plural. Ihr brennt, you are burning. Sie brennen, they burn.
And if I may be allowed to suggest a phrase: Der SS Sturmfiihrer brennt auch ganz schon, The SS Captain is also burning quite nicely, the SS Captain is also burning quite nicely!
The British prepared a small gummed sticker that could be stuck on walls and mirrors in France by partisans to advertise the station. There is a broom at the left and the following text in French at the right:
Listen to the Known Voices of the Unknown Radio
Every day (With the permission of the Gestapo and Police) on
30.77 meters at 8:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 8:00 p.m.
The Knights are there!
American Radio Leaflets Against Japan
OWI Leaflet 2077
The United States Office of War Information (OWI) produced radio leaflets for Japanese troops during WWII.
This leaflet is coded 2077 and depicts a radio antenna on the front and a microphone on the back. The purpose is to create a desire among the Japanese people to listen to the American OWI radio station on Saipan. The concept is to discuss the fact that war news has been withheld from the people for long periods of time because the military leaders do not want the people to know the truth about their "clumsy" campaigns. The leaflet lists the schedule for the "Voice of America from Saipan." The text is extensive. Some selected portions are:
The fact that Saipan and Leyte had fallen to the Americans was withheld from the Japanese people for a long time. If you are interested in the latest news, listen to the Voice of America from Saipan (850 meter band, 1100 kilocycle).
Your military leaders who are carrying on a clumsy military campaign, do not want you to listen to the truth. If you want to listen to the news without interference, dial your radios to 850 meters, 1100 kilocycles, every evening at 6:00 p.m. In order that we may be able to give you the news, this station will change its frequency from time to time. By this method, you will be able to learn the true situation concerning your sons and husbands who are fighting on various fronts. Also, you will hear the true situation of soldiers who are being cared for by America.
Some of the programs broadcast from 6:00 to 11:30 p.m. are:
6:55 Interesting peoples and places.
7:05 News of the world from America.
7:20 News of the world from England.
7:35 News commentary from Washington.
7:50 Special commentary on the news.
8:25 The way of reason.
8:45 Short commentary (highlights).
8:50 Science news, postwar matters.
OWI Leaflet 2001
This American OWI leaflet was produced on Saipan and depicts a radio broadcaster who is muffled so that the Japanese people cannot hear true reports of the war news. Some of the text is:
Sanji Muto, who was assassinated on March 9, 1934, says in his book The Story of Applied Economics, page 140, as follows:
When I first came to this paper, The Jiji Shimpo, I was shocked to find that, contrary to expectations, there was actually no freedom of speech
If this was true in 1934, how much more is it true now?
Why do you not have freedom of speech?
It is because your militarists do not want you to know the truth. If the people of Japan heard the truth now, they would know that Japan is losing on every front .
We know that this is an Office of War Information leaflet designed in Honolulu by American artist Frances Blakemore. This information is found in An American Artist in Tokyo, Michiyo Morioka, the Blakemore Foundation, Seattle, WA. Morioka describes the artistic aspects of the leaflet and says:
Francess illustration condenses the complex topic of media control into a single powerful image. A gagged radio announcer is flanked by the hands of a naval officer and an army officer, each holding a book and newspaper with torn out pages. The masses in front reach out their hands in vain for the truth.
U.S. Army PWB Leaflet 9-J-1
I add this American WWII leaflet to the Japanese only because of the image, which depicts a microphone in front on a bright red field. The leaflet was produced by the US Army Psychological Warfare Branch in the Philippines and is coded 9-J-1. This leaflet does not ask the Japanese to listen to Allied radio, but instead attacks Japanese radio for lying to the troops on a regular basis. The leaflet depicts a microphone making false claims to the Japanese people about the Imperial Navy destruction of British and American ships. The theme is "Truth of Leaders." The text on the front is:
Excerpts from Radio Tokyo broadcasts:
The Americans apparently have no fleet left in the Pacific. 25 Feb. 42.
The Japanese fleet has virtually destroyed the enemy forces. 9 May 42.
All American British and Dutch fleets have been wiped out. The Japanese Navy dominates the Pacific. 20 Sep. 42.
Japanese forces have wiped out the cream of the American fleet. 20 Nov. 43
The text on the back is:
Does hearing a thing 100 times equal thinking about it once?
That is a variation on an old Japanese proverb.
When you are hearing or reading the war news, don't you sometimes have questions like the following:
If the American fleet was destroyed in 1942 and 1943, why was the Japanese fleet unable to prevent the retaking and holding of the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and Saipan?
If the main bulk of the American fleet was annihilated, could the American fleet have brought material and troops 9000 kilometers and landed them on the Philippine Islands?
If the Allied fleet suffered critical damage in the battle off the Philippines, how is it possible for the American forces to continue to land troops in the Philippines and keep spreading out over the islands? Why does the Japanese Navy allow the American fleet to dominate the seas around the Philippines?
When you think over these points, do the war reports of the military leaders always seem entirely reasonable to you?
THE KOREAN WAR 1950
Following Japans surrender in World War II, Korea was arbitrarily divided into zones of Soviet and American occupation, north and south of the 38th north parallel. By 1948, it was clear that reunification of the two countries was hopeless, in May 1948, the Republic of Korea (ROK) was created in the south, with Dr. Syngman Rhee as president, and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) was formed in the north.
On Sunday morning, June 25, 1950, 93,000 North Korean troops with approximately 100 Russian-made tanks attacked southward early in an attempt to force reunification. The forces of South Korea were almost pushed into the sea, and communist forces occupied the capital Seoul and much of South Korea.
U.N. troops, largely from the U.S. and Japan and commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, landed at Inchon on 15 September and launched a counterattack. The operation involved some 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels, and led to the recapture of the South Korean capital Seoul two weeks later. Initial success brought the U.N. troops to the Chinese border by late November 1950, but on 29 November, China entered the conflict and pushed the U.N. forces southward. Seoul fell again on 4 January 1951.
Another U.N. counteroffensive in February and March drove the North Korean and Chinese troops back to the 38th parallel. Despite much bloody fighting, the battle lines remained stable for another two years. As the fighting moved up and down the peninsula, ravaging the land, there were an estimated three million casualties. Armistice talks began in July 1951 but repeatedly failed to reach agreement. A truce was signed on 27 July 1953 establishing a demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel and creating a framework for a permanent settlement of the war. Talks have continued fruitlessly ever since.
The United States had broken up all the psychological warfare units at the end of WWII and was unprepared to act in Korea. Yet, they were able to mount a force within days of the attack and quickly rebuilt PSYWAR units to take part in the war. The first leaflets disseminated by U.S. forces during the Korean War came less than twenty-four hours after President Truman authorized military intervention against the north, and the first broadcasts from Radio Japan began less than twenty-four hours after that. Both of these efforts, however, were conducted by the small staff in the Far East Theater and were in no way indicative of an actual capability to sustain a PSYWAR campaign.
In 1947, General MacArthur had activated a small Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB) in the G-2 (Intelligence) division of General Headquarters, Far East Command (GHQ FECOM) in Tokyo. Major General Charles Willoughby, MacArthurs G-2 (intelligence), appointed a civilian and retired army colonel, J. Woodall Greene, to head the PWB.
Leaflet 1004 depicted a heroic image of General MacArthur and promises good treatment to any captured or surrendering North Korean troops. The text under the photograph is:
Listen each day at 2100 Korean time over 950 kilocycles to truthful news broadcasts from General MacArthurs headquarters.
The 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet (RB&L) Group
The recruitment of staff for the first PSYOP Group to be deployed to Korea is mentioned in a reunion book entitled Psychological Warfare in Korea - 1952 Life and Times of the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group - 50 years Later, Klein, Herguth and McConaughey, RHP Books, 2002:
The Army, to find enlisted men for jobs that required a university degree, set up a special classification and assignment unit at Ft. Myer, in Arlington, Virginia. Towards the end of 1950, orders went out to send all draftees with college degrees to Ft. Myer after they finished basic training to be interviewed for possible special assignments. It was through this process that draftees with experience in journalism, radio, advertising and graphic arts found themselves in the 1st RB&L Group.
The Group arrived in Tokyo, Japan, on 6 August 1951. The group consisted of three companies. Paul Linebarger discusses them in Psychological Warfare, Combat Forces Press, Washington DC, 1954. He says:
The Headquarters and Headquarters Company contained the command, administrative, supervisory and creative personnel necessary for propaganda operations. The 3rd Reproduction Company contained intricate equipment and skilled personnel capable of producing leaflets and newspapers of varying sizes and multiple colors. The 4th Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company was designed to replace or augment other means of broadcasting radio propaganda.
The Fourth Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company was based in Tokyo, Pusan and Seoul. It consisted of 16 officers and 99 enlisted personnel. It was authorized various mobile radio broadcasting systems to transmit Psywar messages in the field in a variety of languages and dialects. The Radio Company had three platoons, each with a complete mobile transmitter that could be attached to more powerful theater elements. In 1953, a Consolidation Company was added to the group when it became clear that there was a need to prepare propaganda specifically aimed at civilians in the rear or in occupied areas under Allied control.
South Korean soldier reads script while recording a broadcast
An Operations research Office report entitled Technical Memorandum Strategic Radio Psywar in FEC by Murray Dyer discusses the Allied propaganda radio in the early stages of the war up until January 1951.
Dyer tells of Major Tom O. Mathews being ordered to produce 30 minutes of radio propaganda against North Korea on 29 June 1950. The Major had no staff, no transmitters, no translators and no news facilities. He was a can do officer and at 2100 that evening he broadcast his first program to Korea from a small studio in Radio Tokyo. He was soon broadcasting around the clock from Tokyo. He hired Koreans living in Tokyo as writers and translators. He then found a number of Korean radio technicians who had come under the control of Allied forces on the peninsula. His staff rose to eleven native-borne Koreans. Within a few days of North Korean invasion Mathews had 19 medium and shortwave transmitters of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation sending programs to Korea. It was later learned that many North Koreans found ways of listening to the forbidden broadcasts.
Mark R. Jacobson wrote a PhD dissertation titled Minds Then Hearts: U.S. Political and Psychological Warfare during the Korean War, Ohio State University, 2005. He said in regard to radio:
As had been the case during the Second World War the U.S. military disseminated propaganda via leaflets, loudspeakers, and radio broadcasts. Radio broadcasts were almost exclusively used for strategic purposes or as a consolidation Psywar tool in areas occupied by the United Nations forces and under military government. Operating with the assistance of the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and the Japan Broadcast System (JBS), the Voice of the United Nations Command broadcast throughout the war to South Korean, North Korean, and eventually Chinese audiences...Throughout the war FEC broadcast as The Voice of the United Nations Command (VUNC) from the Radio Tokyo studios of the Japan Broadcast Corporation. Far Eastern Command programs included newscasts and commentary for the Republic of Korea and North Korean audiences and dictation speed newscasts for the ROK press. When possible, FEC also broadcast and retransmitted VUNC programs from Radio Seoul, Radio Pyongyang, and other civilian transmitters on the peninsula.
Translators working on leaflets and scripts at the Seoul radio station
Once Seoul was retaken by U.N. Forces, Mathews put augmented the station in the capitol city with a 50-kilowatt medium transmitter and a 10-kilowatt short wave transmitter under the command of the General Headquarters. His translators worked on both leaflet and radio texts and were on the air about six hours a day. The Psychological Warfare Branch installed a 500-kilowatt short wave station to serve Pyongyang.
A U.S. Army PSYOP Mobile Radio Station during the Korean War
Daniel A. Castro adds:
Throughout the war, many of the millions of PSYOP leaflets that were being dropped on the enemy soon began to be augmented with limited radio broadcasts that utilized Koreans in the PSYOP effort. The first radio station was set up in the destroyed American embassy in Seoul on October 4, 1950. This station began its broadcasts with General Douglas MacArthur's demand that Kim Il-Sung, the chief of the North Korean troops, surrender. As battle lines changed and the Korean War progressed, the station broadcast from mobile trucks and had many names such as: Radio Kilroy, Radio Vagabond, Radio Comet and Radio Mercury. Such radio stations, albeit possessing a small daily broadcast cycle compared to the Soviets and the Chinese, along with the hundreds of millions of leaflets dropped began to have moderate success with getting North Koreans and Chinese to surrender.
At the same time, the Chinese were broadcasting to the Korean people one hour a day and the Russians three and one-half hours a day on as many as 13 frequencies.
In regard to Communist broadcasts Jacobson adds:
Chinese and Russian radio broadcasts and pamphlets put forth atrocity stories attempting to discredit the UN intervention in the eyes of the world. In particular, the Chinese made great use of arranged or extorted confessions by U.S. prisoners of war to a variety of war crimes and atrocities...Chinese and North Korean forces developed radio programs broadcast in English and Korean.
U.S. Soldiers in Korea gather around a radio
Paul M. A. Linebarger says in Psychological Warfare, Infantry Journal Press, Washington D.C., 1948:
Radio in the Korean conflict was used jointly as a strategic and a consolidation medium. From the beginning of the war, radio was the voice of our military policy. An ambitious network, supervised in 1950-51 directly by PWS and thereafter by the 1st RB&L Group, became known and recognized as the Voice of the United Nations Command. The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and the Japan Broadcasting System (JBS) transmitted on a cooperative basis, with the U.S. Government buying air time. The 1st RB&L Group's radio unit furnished programming assistance through key stations in Seoul (KBS), Taegu (KBS), Pusan (KBS) and Tokyo (JBS). In addition, the Group furnished technical assistance to KBS in order to keep as many as twelve network stations on the air.
From the very beginning of the campaign, PSYOP had been based on a weekly plan specifying themes to be used in radio, leaflets and other media. The themes changed frequently according to the tactical situation. The one essential ingredient that never changed was truthfulness.
Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, Jr. believed Korea offered an especial opportunity for highly profitable exploitation of psychological warfare, and the secretary advocated quality rather than quantity in producing radio broadcasts. In spring 1951, strategic plans were under way to augment thirteen hours of daily radio broadcasts in Korean by adding short-wave broadcasts in Chinese to Chinese troops in Korea and Manchuria. Aircraft by then were flying leaflet missions nearly every day ofthe week.
Free World Weekly Digest No. 223 22 July 1956
The 8339th Army Unit, Far East Psychological Warfare Detachment, published the Free World Weekly Digest for the citizens of the Republic of Korea. Early issues featured short news stories and cartoon strips For instance; Number 219 dated 22 June 1955 mentioned Adenauer of Germany, Chou En-lai, Confucius, Life behind the Iron Curtain and the Voice of the United Nations radio schedule. Number 223, dated 22 July 1955 depicted above mentions Eisenhower, Vishinski, Life behind the Iron Curtain, satellite farm workers miserable, and the Mayor of Seoul granting citizenship to North Korean pilot defectors.
The North Koreans also used the radio as a media of propaganda. Stephen E. Pease says PSYWAR - Psychological Warfare in Korea 1950-1953, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA, 1992, that the North Koreans disguised their war plans by calling for open elections in Korea a week before they invaded the South. During the war, they constantly called for peace talks in an attempt to confuse the United Nations Command. They broadcast reports of imaginary victories on the land and in the air. In February 1952, the North Koreans started a radio and newspaper campaign claiming that the United Nations Forces were using germ warfare. The claims were obvious fabrications, but some third-world countries gave them limited credence.
Seoul City Sue
Like Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally, the North Koreans had their own female radio propagandist, the infamous Seoul City Sue. She first went on the air about 10 August 1950. She would read the names of dead American troops while jingling their dog tags as soothing music played in the background. She was later identified as Mrs. Anna Wallace Suhr, wife of a Korean newsman, a former missionary schoolteacher in Korea from 1930-1938 who married a Korean national and later became politically active in what became North Korea. She was never as popular as the WWII broadcasters, probably because her Communist bosses did not allow her to play popular American music. There was also Peking Polly, who spoke a very formal and well-educated English and chastised American pilots for the promiscuous bombing of schools and strafing of farmers. Peking Polly went on to have a long career and there are reports of her haranguing American Army and Navy forces well into the 1960s. For more information on Seoul City Sue click here.
Many Communist leaflets had a message at the bottom of both sides on their leaflets that reminded the troops that they could listen to the Communist radio:
Pyongyang radio arranges an English program for you at 22:15 every Tuesday evening.
THE COLD WAR RADIO FREE EUROPE 1950
Free Europe Press and Radio Free Europe Headquarters - Munich
Crusade for Europe Advertisement
The money raised was use for both radio broadcasts and Propaganda leaflets
Early in the Cold War, Radio Free Europe was transmitting shortwave broadcasts from locations in Germany and Portugal. However, powerful jamming stations in Soviet Russia were able to interrupt many of the broadcasts. A new way to reach those behind the Iron Curtain was needed. The answer was balloons. An RFE Receiving and Monitoring Station located in Schleissheim, a small village about 12 miles north of Munich on a former Luftwaffe fighter strip was used to track the balloons. A small radio with a trailing antenna was placed in the balloon that could broadcast altitude. Direction finding equipment could tell where the balloon was. A number of systems were invented to allow the leaflet drop to be triggered by radio from Germany. The system was now ready. The balloons could be launched and tracked and when they were over their target the Balloon Plotting Center transmitted a coded release signal and the leaflets were dropped.
Put Your Truth Dollars in this Envelope
In the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, propaganda specialists became aware of numerous psychological warfare leaflets that were prepared by the Free Europe Press (FEP) of the Committee for a Free Europe. Although the patriotic umbrella organization Crusade for Freedom appeared to be their banker, it never raised enough money to fund more than a small part of the Free Europe Press and Radio Free Europe budget. The Crusade for Freedom actually was used to quietly funnel money from the Central Intelligence Agency to the propaganda organizations.
Radio Free Europe Control Room in Munich
Although there were numerous operations, the most popular were four major campaigns that took place against Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland. They are by name, PROSPERO and VETO to Czechoslovakia, FOCUS to Hungary and SPOTLIGHT to Poland. There were massive radio campaigns that went along with these operations.
To the People of Czechoslovakia
The schedule and frequencies of Radio Free Europes broadcasts to Czechoslovakia were on the reverse side of the leaflets.
The Free Europe Press One Koruna Banknote Leaflet
PROSPERO was the code name for the Free Europe Press balloon program in the summer 1953, when in a time span of only four days, 6,500 balloons with over 12,000,000 Free Europe Press leaflets were launched into Czechoslovakia. RFE broadcast news of the launching during the first news programs at 6:00 a.m. This was the first time balloons were launched in conjunction with specific radio programs. This project was explained in a small booklet entitled A New Weapon, published by the Free Europe Press. It would involve the sending of 6,512 balloons and saturation broadcasts at the rate of twenty hours a day from the RFE transmitters located at Holz-kirchen, West Germany.
The Ten Demands Leaflet
In April 1954, the FEC and the FEP started Operation VETO as an integrated balloon and broadcast campaign over the Voice of Free Czechoslovakia aimed at achieving eventual liberation from Communism in Czechoslovakia. This operation continued until September 1954. Radio Free Europe, calling itself the voice of the opposition, urged regime leaders to give Czech and Slovak citizens a way to veto that years election. Operation Veto developed a platform and 10 limited demands, all possible within the constraints of a communist state. A special VETO song was introduced by Radio Free Europe.
One of the artists was Miroslav Sasek. He joined RFE in 1951 as a producer and quickly became an actor, speaker and singer on radio broadcasts. He spoke Czech, German, French and English.
Hungarian Freedom Fighters on a Liberated Tank
The U.S. propaganda campaign (mostly the Radio Free Europe broadcasts) have often been accused of encouraging the people to revolt against their Communist masters, and worse, leading them to believe that U.S. military aid was on the way. This became such a sensitive point that there were numerous official inquires dedicated to determining exactly what was said to the Hungarians and when it was said. A number of politicians that were against the whole program used the Hungarian Revolution and its brutal defeat by the Russian armed forces as a reason to try to stop all propaganda sent behind the Iron Curtain.
A Black Radio Free Europe Operation?
The British asked the Americans if they had in fact been inciting Hungarians to revolt. A classified British War Office document mentions the American answer:
They add, however, in strict confidence that a black radio station, purporting to be from R.F.E. had been making the wildest and most irresponsible broadcasts to the Hungarians. The Americans assume that the black radio station is operated by the Russians for the express purpose of discrediting R.F.E. and American policy generally.
The Inside Story of the Security Apparatus and the Party
In December 1953, Jozef Swiatlo, a colonel in the Polish secret police, defected in Berlin. He was the most highly ranked defector from Poland. After this defection, he was sent to a CIA Defector Reception Center in Frankfurt, Germany, and then to Radio Free Europe. Broadcasts of his revelations, over RFEs Voice of Free Poland, started on 28 September 1954 and continued through 31 December 1954. Swiatlo was a constant figure on RFE's Voice of Free Poland broadcasts, with over one hundred taped programs and 150 news items. Swiatlo's broadcast over Radio Free Europe reportedly caused a major chain reaction in Poland with the dismissal, transfer, and worse, of thousands of Communist Party members and government officials. Perhaps as many as 150,000 party members, according to one estimate, were affected by RFE's programming.
Czech Republic "Be Free!" Exhibition
As the Cold War diminishes in our memory, some of the old Communist-bloc nations such as the Czech Republic remember the days when balloons and radio were their only sources of news from the West. In late 2009, their new National Museum exhibited audio and video material from the Communist era. The exhibit was entitled Za Svobodu! ("Be Free!").
Map of Cyprus
The Mediterranean Island of Cyprus was ruled by the Ottomans for over three hundred years although it was always claimed by Greece due to its majority Greek population. In 1878, the Ottoman Empire granted control of the Island to Great Britain in exchange for their support in the Russian-Turkish war. It was annexed by Britain in 1914 at the start of WWI. In 1915, Britain offered to cede Cyprus to Greece in return for their entry into the war against the Central Powers. Greece turned the offer down since it was still recovering from the bloody Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. By 1925 Cyprus was a British crown colony. Like the British experience in Ireland, the people rose up on numerous occasions to demand freedom.
Greek Cypriots made up an overwhelming majority of 82% of the islands population of just over 500,000 in 1950. A plebiscite sponsored by the Cypriot Church that year resulted in a vote of 95.7 percent of the Greek Cypriots in favor of becoming part of the Nation of Greece.
The radio story of this small war is interesting. Usually both sides use the radio, in this case the British used their radio but the actual guerrillas on Cyprus did not have a radio. Their radio propaganda came from Greece, an allegedly neutral country having no part in the war, but supporting the rebellion on the Island of Cyprus that wanted to be part of the Greek nation.
Archbishop Makarios III
The Greek Orthodox Church led the movement for enosis, or union with Greece. After the Second World War, Archbishop Makarios secretly invited Cypriot-born retired Greek Army Colonel Georgios Grivas (code name Digenes), to form the Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Aghoniston, (EOKA) or National Organization of Cypriot Struggle, a military arm of the Enosis movement. The British troops derogatory nick-name for Archbishop Makarios was Black Mak
Archbishop Makarios and Colonel Grivas
In October 1952, Archbishop Makarios traveled to the U.S. He organized a three-month information campaign on the Cyprus question. He met with politicians and representatives of Greek community organizations, he talked to radio and TV stations and, finally, he formed a liaison committee called Justice in Cyprus, with the support of wealthy Greeks and Americans. This is what we call Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield. He was setting up the world public to recognize the legitimacy of the insurrection that he knew was coming.
David French wrote an article entitled British Intelligence and the EOKA Insurgency. He says about Grivas who was carefully watched by British intelligence:
He visited Cyprus in July 1951, and again between October 1952 and February 1953. The result was that on his return to Athens he was able to put before the Liberation Committee a comprehensive plan for an armed insurrection on the island. On 8 July 1952, General George Theodorou Grivas, a leader of the Hites (an extremist Right-Wing organization in Greece) arrived?
Colonel Georgios Grivas
Nico Carpentier mentions Grivas and EOKA in the book The Social Construction of Death, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. He says in part:
EOKA officially announced the start of what they called the liberation struggle on 1 April 1955 with a series of bomb attacks. With a small group of between 250 and 300 guerrilleros, EOKAs leader Grivas had no intention to tackle the British head-on, but relied on sabotage and small-scale killings, combined with propaganda and strengthened by the passive resistance of the Greek Cypriot population.
Digenes and his guerilla fighters in the mountains of Cyprus
The British moved their Middle East Headquarters to Cyprus in December 1954, making it clear that they intended to stay on the island for the immediate future. The main MI6 station for Middle East was based in Nicosia, and the Middle East High Command in Episcope. Permanent radio signal monitoring stations were placed on Aghios Nicolaos and Mount Troodos, Olympus and Pergamos.
On one occasion Grivas attacked a British radio station and then distributed a leaflet claiming responsibility, signed Digenes and bearing a Byzantine double-headed eagle.
By December 1956, British strength on Cyprus was 20,000 troops. At the height of the war, the British had about 40,000 troops and perhaps 400 Turkish police auxiliaries on Cyprus. At its height, EOKA probably had about 300 members. There was a general strike on the island in April 1958 that brought the island to a standstill. In August of that year, EOKA declared a truce. Colonel Grivas returned to Greece in March 1959 and was promoted to Lieutenant General, the highest rank in the Greek Army. He was also awarded the Grand Cross of George I and made a Commander of the Order of Bravery. In December 1959, Archbishop Makarios was elected President of Cyprus and just 11 days later EOKA declared a cease-fire.
Sir John Harding
Field Marshall Sir John Harding, formerly Chief of the Imperial General Staff, was appointed Governor General of Cyprus. He was well versed in putting down insurgencies, having already fought them in Malaya and Kenya. The British acted quickly. The British Prime Minister criticized Athens Radio, saying that Athens nurtures terrorism. The British blocked the signal of the station, and broadcast messages saying that EOKA is made of incompetent agents of political terrorism and cowardly killers.
Grivas apparently planned at least three attacks on Hardings life, all unsuccessful. At the same time he was trying to kill Harding he used every available medium to attack him. Greeks were encouraged to send hate letters to the Governor which likened him to Genghis Khan, Tamerlane and Hitler. He was described as a bloodstained ogre whose hands drip with the blood of his victims. At the same time, Radio Athens attacked the Governor, accusing him of tyranny, vandalism, and cowardice.
Grivas Wanted Image
The British next put posters on the walls all over Cyprus with four different photographs Grivas, one with a Greek Army officer uniform. 10,000 pounds sterling were offered as a reward for information that would lead to his arrest. Other EOKA fighters were soon identified, the amounts offered for their arrest up to 5,000 pounds sterling.
Sir Anthony Eden, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1955-1957 blamed all the Cyprus problems on Greece in Full Circle, The Memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden, London, 1960:
EOKA received direct support from Greece in money, arms, organization and propaganda. Greek-speaking Cypriots were awed by EOKA terrorists and subject to bombardment by Athens radio.
An example of the British concept of Radio Athens is mentioned by Stanley Mayes in Cyprus and Makarios, Putnam and Company, 1960. The author says in part;
To the Athens broadcasters, all Cyprus had become a vast concentration camp, rivaling Buchenwald and Dachau. British troops indulged in Hitlerite orgies. Patriots were subjected to mediaeval tortures by sadists and cannibals. The British set their dogs to bite their victims to death; they bind and strike the genital organs; they kick their victims in the belly to leave no mark; they inflict burns with red-hot irons; they place metal binders on the heads of patriots and screw them tight to force a confession; they use narcotics and injections to wring confessions; they pierce the breasts of women with needles; they stretch their naked victims on ice and when the patriots die they claim that they were shot while trying to escape.
Byford Jones adds:
Radio Athens made the most savage attacks Sir John Harding Likened him to Genghis Khan, Tamerlane and Hitler. Others called him Anthropoid Harding. He was also described as the bloodstained ogre whose hands drip with the blood of his victims. Another radio speaker said Field Marshal Harding commits tyranny, vandalism, cowardice and incites treachery.
The British regularly replied to the claims of torture. An example is the Picture Post of 22 September 1956. The article says in part:
The TRUTH about the BRITISH BELSEN
Next week Lord Radcliffe returns to Cyprus with a draft constitution for the island. The fate of suspected terrorists held in British detention - Athens Radio calls them British Belsens - camps will depend upon his mission.
In its broadcasts beamed towards Cyprus, Athens Radio does not simplify either the facts or the name. It rolls out each syllable of Camp Kokkinotrimithia to symbolize charges of inhumanity on a scale unknown since Hitler. With sinister satisfaction approaching masochism, Athens broadcasts invoke the shadow of the swastika and unfold this tale of terror in its own inflammatory words.
EOKA Heroes Victory Parade
The British never ceased using PSYOP, especially through radio broadcasts that called for EOKA warriors to surrender their arms. On 22 August, the radio transmitted the British proposal, with detailed instructions on how EOKA guerillas can surrender:
You will be allowed to choose: either to depart for Greece, or to stay in Cyprus and face the consequences of your actions as members of a terrorist group. If you depart for Greece, you will be declared persona non grata, and you will never be allowed to return to Cyprus... Present yourselves at the nearest police station or military camp. If you carry a gun, hold it in such a way that it cannot be used. When the guard calls you, hold your hands up and yell I surrender.
Grivas talks about psychological warfare in Guerrilla Warfare:
We were very much at a disadvantage. The Cyprus Government had on its side organized British propaganda, which, in Cyprus, was carried on through the Press, radio and certain persons from England who visited Cyprus pretending to be our friends but, in effect, were agents of the British Government. They had the Cyprus Government Broadcasting Station and the BBC.
The strategic goal of EOKA was never to beat the British. The goal of EOKA was the systematic exhaustion of the opponent, through merciless and continuous guerilla attacks, in order to create a political environment that would facilitate the achievement of Union
On Christmas Day, 1958, the UN Assembly unanimously approved the proposal which called for a peaceful, democratic, and just solution in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter. On the morning of 11 February 1959, the radio station of Cyprus announced that Athens and Ankara reached to an agreement regarding the Cyprus question on the basis of independence.
The British side never did recognize EOKA as anything but terrorists. The 1956 official guidance booklet issued to all service members: Why we are in Cyprus states:
Since March 1955, the political agitation of the Church, the active sponsorship of the Greek Government, and the violent outpouring on Athens Radio in support of the cause of ENOSIS have been supported by an underground terrorist organization known as EOKA. This organization, which copies Stern Gang methods, is an extremist right-wing organization, led by a Greek national, Colonel Grivas, who led a similar strong-arm Fascist organization in the Greek troubles after the war. The organization represents only a small minority of the people of Cyprus. Their immediate aims are far more extreme than is demanded by Greek Cypriot public opinion.
VIETNAM - 1965
This is one of the more difficult wars in regard to propaganda radio. There were dozens of radio stations, both white and clandestine used by both sides. Some of the black ones deserve a section all of their own. I will try to be as concise as I can but this is a long and involved story. I selected 1965 as the start of the Vietnam War, though there are several other years that are just as accurate.
Vietnam was always a battleground. It had fought China and been occupied by France and Japan. From 1940, the Viet Minh, communist guerrillas headed by Ho Chi Minh, fought the Japanese occupiers, and in August 1945, the Viet Minh gained control over a Japanese-sponsored government. France, seeking to re-establish its colonial power in the area, fought nationalist and communist forces from 1946 to 1954, when, on 8 May 1954, France was defeated at Dien Bien Phu. Vietnam was divided at the 17th Parallel into North and South by a Geneva accord on 21 July 1954. Ho Chi Minh's communists took over the north and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; in the south, Ngo Dinh Diem established the Republic of Vietnam. From 1954 on, the North attempted to conquer the South. In 1956 the Viet Cong, aided by North Vietnam, pressed war in the south, and South Vietnam began receiving U .S. aid. Large-scale North Vietnamese troop infiltrations of the south began in 1964, with the support of China and the Soviet Union. Masses of troops were stationed in border areas of Laos and Cambodia.
In 1964, following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the United States began air strikes against the North. Increased activity followed in 1965, including the use of U.S. ground troops. Failure of U.S. and South Vietnamese efforts and disputes in the U.S. over war aims led Richard Nixon in July 1969 to cease bombings of the North and to begin a series of U.S. troop withdrawals referred to as "Vietnamization." U.S. bombing of the North resumed in 1972-73. A cease-fire was negotiated in Paris in January 1973, but it was never implemented. U.S. aid was curbed by Congress in 1974. Increasing attacks from the North overwhelmed the remaining government outposts in the Central Highlands, and the Saigon government surrendered on 30 April 1975. A Socialist Republic of Vietnam, with capital in Hanoi, was established throughout Vietnam.
There were a whole series of Joint United States Public Affairs Office radio leaflets dropped on the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army by Allied forces during the war. Leaflet 2766, 2767, 2825, and 2830 all list American and Republic of Vietnam radio stations and times of broadcast on both the front and back. The text on the front is:
DO YOU KNOW THE TRUTH?
To the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army Cadre and Soldiers:
What is happening to the talks in Paris between Hanoi and the United States? What is the truth about it?
Text on the back is:
Why have you been forbidden to listen to the Free World radio broadcasts? You need to know the truth about the Paris talks, because the outcome determines your own fate.
In order to let you know the truth about the Paris talks, we offer you the schedule of radio news broadcasts from the Free World. You can tear this schedule off and keep it for your own use.
Major Marcus S. Welch mentions radio propaganda by the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office in Irregular Pen and Limited Sword: Psywar, PSYOP, and MISO in Counterinsurgency, Pennyhill Press:
JUSPAO was sizable; at its peak it possessed a staff of over six hundred American and Vietnamese employees, rivaling its military counterparts. Apart from JUSPAOs executive responsibilities, the organization conducted PSYOP in direct and advisory roles, primarily using mass media outlets such as the Republic of Vietnams Voice of Freedom and the overt US Voice of America radio stations.
In Volume I of the Department of Defense contracted the Final Report Psychological Operations Studies ? Vietnam, Human Sciences Research Inc, 11971, Drs. Ernest F. and Edith M. Bairdain mention the value of leaflets:
In regard to the best means for disseminating the Allied message among the Viet Cong, members who rallied to the government stated that 99% saw propaganda leaflets, 100% heard airborne loudspeakers, 98% saw radio sets?Of the enemy who heard the airborne loudspeakerss, 89% of the VC and 98% of the NVA actually listened to the message. The authors point out that this demonstrates that leaflets, airborne loudspeakers, and radio are the best methods to reach Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army personnel.
The Vietnamese had their own PSYWAR battalions consisting of a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, a Technical Company, and three PSYWAR Companies. The Technical Company was comprised of a Special Operations Platoon, a Cultural Platoon, a Radio Augmentation Platoon and a Press Platoon.
The government of South Vietnam established the General Political Warfare Directorate. Their compound contained a TV studio and 16mm movie processing lab, editing and dubbing rooms and a radio studio.
In a Vietnamese-language article entitled Coastal Raiders translated by Donald C. Brewster, Tran Do Cam talks about Vietnamese psychological operations:
Sometimes the fast patrol boats also distributed radios wrapped in waterproof plastic in the villages along the coast so that the population could listen to South Vietnamese radio stations such as the Voice of Freedom and Mother of Vietnam.
Leaflet 4141 depicts a radio antenna on one side and a map of Vietnam featuring Saigon on the other. Text on the front is:
THE VOICE OF FREEDOM
(The Truthful Voice of Vietnam)
Our objective is to provide our listeners with truthful information and enjoyable hours of entertainment.
The back has the heading:
VOICE OF FREEDOM SCHEDULE AND FREQUENCIES
Five radio frequencies are listed below along with the language of the broadcasts (Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin) and the times of the broadcasts.
The Special Operations Research Office of the American University (SORO) published the classified A Short Guide to Psychological Operations in the Republic of Vietnam in 1965. Authors Jeanne Mintz, Herbert Silverberg and James Trinnaman say about radio operations:
In 1965 there were 11 radio stations in Vietnam broadcasting 120 hours a day. (This does not include the Voice of Freedom PSYOP broadcasts). The stations were located in Saigon, Hue, Quang Nhai, Qui Nhon, Banmethuot, Nha Trang, Dalat, Ba Xuyen, Hoi An, Tuy Hoa and Tan An. The Hue station was used by the ARVN for propaganda broadcasts. Of course, the Voice of American also broadcast on a great number of frequencies to Vietnam.
The Voice of Freedom (VOF) was a major player in radio operation. Declassified documents show that it produced 76 different programs weekly with commentaries in Vietnamese, English and French. Some of the program titles are: Vietnamese Traditional Music, Sounds of Poetry, Returnees Songs, the Roman Catholic program, the Buddhist program, Activities Abroad and at Home, the Daily Battle Scene, News Analysis, Propaganda and Truth, the Open Arms program and Liberation Deeds.
The Voice of Freedom was mentioned again during the North Vietnam bombing campaign. Leaflets were dropped over North Vietnam telling them the true news of the status of the war. Robert W. Chandler mentions this in War of ideas: The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam, Westview, Boulder, CO, 1981:
DO YOU KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PEACE TALKS?
The bombing of your area continues because the Lao Dong (Communist) Party leaders are using your land as a road to send North Vietnamese troops to attack the people of the South. Will the Peace Talks in Paris bring an end to the bombing? Do Lao Dong leaders care what happens to you? You can keep yourself informed about the progress of the peace talks by listening to radio broadcasts in the Vietnamese language. News schedules are listed above.
The schedules for Radio Saigon, Voice of Freedom, Voice of America, and the British Broadcasting Corporation are all listed on the front and back.
Black Allied radio stations included the SOG fake Radio Hanoi clone broadcast from Number 7 Hong Tap Street in Saigon; Radio Red Flag, the voice of an alleged breakaway North Vietnamese Communist Party faction; and the CIA station Red Star Radio, allegedly a dissident Communist group in South Vietnam. The small fixed-station radios disseminated to the North Vietnamese by the Allies were codenamed peanuts.
Soldiers in Vietnam take a break to listen to the radio
The December 1973 Survey of Psychological Operations in Vietnam says about the radio output:
There are five CAS-operated radio stations, three broadcasting in Vietnamese and two in Khmer. Mother Vietnam Station, with a Tokyo Rose approach, broadcasts a daily basic three hour program on five transmitters. The Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League radio station, a black operation pointed toward Hanoi, broadcasts five hours a day. The Voice of Nam-Bo Liberation, a black operation directed at communists within South Vietnam broadcasts to the Mekong delta and Central Vietnam. The Voice of Khmer programs are much the same as Mother Vietnam, and a black station, the Voice of the Popular Front of Indochina appears to come from Hanoi but injects divisiveness between Vietnamese communists and their Khmer allies.
The Voice of America reaches Hanoi from two medium wave transmitters. Big Squirt at Hue and a million-watt transmitter in the Philippines.
Radio broadcasting by the Government of Vietnam consists of the Voice of Freedom and two VTVN national radio stations. Channel A broadcasts 18 hours a day and can be heard by North Vietnamese troops in the Vietnam-Cambodia border area. Channel B is the Political Warfare station and broadcasts 18 hours a day to the Vietnamese armed forces and their dependents.
The comment about five CAS-operated radio stations means that they were controlled American source stations and the term was used in government documents as a euphemism for CIA.
What did the Viet Cong think of these radio stations? A 23 May 1967 classified confidential report translates a captured Viet Cong document. In it, the Party complains that many leaders, cadre and soldiers are listening to enemy broadcasts and reading enemy leaflets. They blame this political error on lack of ideological consciousness and lax discipline. It lists those who are allowed to listen to the broadcasts, such as members of their own propaganda teams who need to know what the enemy is thinking and other political cadre, and then goes on to say in part:
Aside from the above mentioned comrades, no cadre is authorized to listen to enemy broadcasts and to read or keep enemy documents.
Mother Vietnam Radios seductive voice, identified over the air as Mai Lan. A sophisticated beauty who had studied broadcasting in the USA, and who became an instant hit
Mother Vietnam Radio was run by South Vietnamese Army psychological warfare staff with American aid during the War. The station had broadcast from 7 Hong Thap Tu Street and was code-designated House No. 7. The station was born in 1971 when Henry Kissinger called for a Psywar radio offensive by the CIA to pressure the Northern communists and Viet Cong into complying with the terms of the ceasefire agreement recently signed in Paris. The station effectively featured a seductive female voice, nostalgic music, and plenty of soft news meant to bury its political message deep in the sentimental appeal that the common Motherland of all Vietnamese at last deserved peace and the end of bloodshed. It was a grey radio station and moderate in comparison to other propaganda efforts. The station encouraged North Vietnamese soldiers to defect to the South and sought to break their morale.
Viet Cong Colonel Tam Ha
Another member of the radio station staff was a former Viet Cong political commissar, a colonel whom was still addressed by his old Viet Cong name, Tam Ha. Just before the Viet Cong launched the May 1968 second phase of their Tet Offensive, Tam Ha came over to the Government side bearing the complete tactical plan for the second VC attempt to liberate Saigon. Thanks to him, the U.S. and Vietnamese troops deployed to meet the Viet Cong and successfully beat off their attacks.
Hanoi Hannah - Trinh Thi Ngo
And of course, Hanoi had its own radio celebrity. Her name was Trinh Thi Ngo. Americans called her HANOI HANNAH. Americans love alliteration. She called herself Thu Houng, the Fragrance of Autumn. Her job was to chill and frighten, not to charm and seduce. Her voice was as smooth as silk, her English impeccable, and as North Vietnam's premier propagandist, she tried to convince American troops that the war was immoral, that they should lay down their arms and go home. Trinh Thi Ngos fame was associated with this program, which was broadcast at night after a long day of fighting. The opening sentence was: This is Thu Huong, talking with American soldiers in southern Vietnam Initially, each program had been 5-6 minutes long and broadcast twice a week before it was extended to 30 minutes and broadcast three times a day. So each day, Ngo spent 90 minutes to have her voice broadcast to hundreds of thousands of American servicemen. For more information on Hanoi Hannah click here.
Although seldom mentioned, the United States Navy was also involved with psychological radio operations in Vietnam. The first "Blue Eagle" aircraft was constructed in January 1965 using a NC-121J Lockheed Super-Constellation shell. Blue Eagle I was the first project aircraft and configured to do AM, FM, and SW radio broadcast missions. A crew of naval officers and enlisted personnel was selected. Operational and flight training began in July 1965. The aircraft was sent to Vietnam shortly afterwards where in October it broadcast the World Series to American troops and became the worlds first operational airborne broadcast station. United States Navy RMC Steve Robbins told me:
I spent three of my four flight tours in Vietnam flying this bird. Blue Eagle I (aircraft 131627) was one of four Navy Project Jenny broadcast birds that we built and operated. This bird was a radio-only bird (unlike the other three which were radio/TV broadcast birds. Blue Eagle I, after doing a test flight in Vietnam which rebroadcast the World Series from the United States, was assigned to PSYOP operations.
Two Blue Eagle aircraft were based at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon to broadcast Channel 11 of Armed Forces Vietnam Television (the American Forces Vietnam Network), and Channel 9 of THVN (the official station of the Government of Vietnam) in South Vietnam until 1970.
A third aircraft was based at Da Nang Air Base to provide airborne PSYOP broadcast missions for MACVSOG off the coast of North Vietnam from 1966 to 1970. It took part in psychological operations from 1965-1967 and earned the nickname Da Nang Dirty Bird. John Plaster mentions the Project Jenny missions in his book about SOG and it was Blue Eagle I that flew those missions.
In Project Jenny, a U.S. Navy EC-121 aircraft broadcast SOG radio programs while flying off the North Vietnam coast, a technique that confused enemy radio direction finders and, because the radio wasnt far away, tended to overwhelm local station signals.
Two Types of Portable Radio Dropped on
Another Radio Similar to the green one at the left above but with a label
New contracts were issued from time to time and that is why the radios differ.
Third Type of Portable Radio Dropped on
Note: This is the same type of radio shown in leaflet HQ-8-68 shown below
A Fourth American Radio given to the Vietnamese
Notice that the label on the radio shows it was issued by CORDS
Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support
A Gift Radio
The gift of the radios is mentioned in Stars and Stripes of 18 July 1967 in an article entitled Drop Radios on North - Psywar Experts. The article says in part:
American psychological warfare experts have proposed the dropping of small transistor radios into Communist North Vietnam in order to get allied views across to the population. Informed sources said the idea was presented to Leonard Marks, Director of the United States Information Service when he visited Saigon recently. The said Marks reacted enthusiastically and asked for cost estimates on the radios in lots of up to one million, an indication that serious consideration is being given to the idea.
Excerpts from instruction book which accompanied the free radios
The radios would be packed in plastic cases with a spare battery, giving them 20 hours playing time. They would be dropped by tiny parachutes and fixed at a pre-set frequency which would pick up the Voice of America or the Vietnamese governments Voice of Freedom station in South Vietnam.
The Communist North Vietnamese reported the finding of Allied propaganda radios on many occasions. Some of the MACVSOG reports of the discoveries are as follows:
On 2 May 1965, fisherman found large and small boxes floating in the water. The small boxes contained childrens clothing and handkerchiefs. The large boxes were sealed with green tape and wrapped in a nylon bag. When opening the eight large boxes they found radios, about 25cm long and 10cm high. The listeners noted that the radios played Vietnamese music and talk stations. Within every box was a piece of paper that said, This radio set is donated to the people of North Vietnam. Do not allow anyone to take it from you. Keep it to follow the situation.
During the night of 9 July 1965, rangers using rubber boats landed on the coast. They advanced 3 kilometers into the mainland near Yen Diem and laid 25 radio sets there, one of which was turned on.
The 8th PSYOP Battalion
In II Corps, an 8th PSYOP Battalion advisory team assists Vietnamese radio broadcasters in programming PSYOP messages to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians, NVA soldiers and Viet Cong. 8th PSYOP Battalion radio technicians man the Group's 50-thousand watt transmitter from its hilltop site outside Pleiku City. In connection with the operation, PSYOP aircraft have dropped thousands of small transistor radios to Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops. All are pretuned to the station's frequency.
50,000 watt AM radio station in Pleiku
In addition to other duties, the battalion was charged with operation of the Groups 50,000 watt AM radio station in Pleiku. The mission of the station was to broadcast to audiences in a large area in the northern provinces of South Vietnam. The Americans had bought tens of thousands of radio receivers and placed them all over the country so people could listen to the broadcasts. Initially these had fixed frequency reception, but they were easily jammed. They later provided tunable radios, so that listeners could change stations as the Americans attempted to avoid the Communist jamming.
The Viet Cong sent about 20 sappers against the radio station on 24 March 1968. They threw satchel charges into several of the sandbagged modules and destroyed the radio tower. Radio Hanoi bragged about the attack the morning afterwards. A new tower was shipped to Vietnam from the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa, all modules replaced, and the radio station was back on the air and the system fully functional in exactly ten days.
In 1967 the unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for their support of military operations. Besides the units mentioned earlier, the 7th PSYOP Group added a Radio Detachment (Provisional) Vietnam. The unit now had 41 linguists who were proficient in 11 different languages. During 1967 they printed 7 billion propaganda leaflets for Vietnam and Korea. Their printing capability was enhanced by using the U. S. Army Printing and Production Center in Tokyo, and the Regional Service Center of the United States Information agency in Manila.
Don Rochlen - October 1965
Donald H. Rochlen is an interesting character. He started off in 1955 in Thailand as a U.S. Embassy Press Officer and later an attaché and the liaison between the embassy and the United States Information Agency with the USIA title of Educational Exchange Officer. After some language training he became a Cultural Exchange Officer in Bangkok for three years (until 1961). He was then assigned to the Voice of America broadcasting in Thai and Lao until about 1965. He next went to Saigon where he served from 1965 to 1971. At first, he was on temporary duty (TDY) to supervise the production of Vietnamese-language radio programs. He advanced to the position of Chief of Special Projects for the Field Development Division of JUSPAO. His assignment was to generate PSYWAR ideas and to develop loudspeaker programs, posters and leaflets.
He was important enough for the Hanoi newspaper Quan Doi Nhan Dan (The Peoples Army Newspaper) to attack him in print. The newspaper claimed that when the Republic of Vietnam was in full retreat in 1975, he developed a rumor campaign to terrify the southerners and motivate their army to fight on. Some of his alleged rumors were that with a Communist victory there would be a blood bath. Well-coiffured heads would be shaved and spread with lime. Fingernails and toenails that wore decadent polish would be torn out by pliers. Collective graves would be dug for hundreds of thousands of people. Long six-inch iron nails would be hammered into the heads of people who had collaborated with the Americans. Buddhists would be immolated. Catholics would be forced into churches and dynamited. Other religious people would be thrown into the rivers to drown. He concluded that the Communists would kill 10 regular troops for every one they spared and the police would all be killed and their skin used to make shoes.
Rochlen later debunked the article in depth. He was not in Vietnam and in no position to pass rumors in 1975.
National Front for Liberation Leaflet
The North Vietnamese produced their own radio leaflets. This one, produced by the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation give information on all their broadcasts to American troops.
The Sacred Sword of the Patriots League
The "Sacred Sword" refers to a Vietnamese hero named Le Loi
who expelled China from Vietnam in the 15th Century with a magical sword
We mention the Sacred Sword of the Patriot League (SSPL) above, but we really dont do it justice. The SSPL was a black operation by U.S. forces trying to convince the North Vietnamese that there was an anti-Communist underground movement within its borders. The Allied had tried the same thing in WWII telling the Germans that there were underground anti-Nazi movements within its borders.
Sacred Sword Kills Communists
The North Vietnamese were not fooled. They kept close watch on their people and borders and knew there were no secret groups plotting against them. Worse, stupid policies by the U.S. Government forbid any actions within North Vietnam that might bring China into the war, and since there was no sabotage, there was no reason to fear an underground. In addition, Radio Free Europe allegedly encouraged the Hungarians to revolt in 1956, leading to the slaughter of thousands. The U.S. feared the slaughter of North Vietnamese thinking they might rise up expecting American aid.
There were some radio operations as well as the kidnapping of North Koran fisherman who were brought to a secret site they were told was within North Vietnam. The fishermen were not fooled. Many fished areas where they expected to be kidnapped, knowing that they would be fed well in their fake captivity and given presents to bring home. It was a total waste of money and resources, but an interesting operation to discuss.
The Military Assistance Command Vietnam, the Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG) was charged with conducting unconventional warfare, including black propaganda. OP-33: PSYOP Studies Branch, Code-named Humidor was comprised of four sections: (a) Research and development; (b) Radio; (c) Special Projects; and (d) Printed media, forgeries and black mail. PSYOP operations conducted by (d) included the Sacred Sword of Patriots League. It was redesignated OP-39, Psychological Studies Group, in 1968.
The Sacred Sword of Patriotism symbol
Cu Lao Cham Island
Paradise Island was actually Cu Lao Cham located south of the
17th Parallel, well inside the waters of the Republic of South Vietnam.
The MACSOG Documentation Study, Annex A, Psychological Operations, 10 July 1970, was originally classified Top-Secret Sensitive, later downgraded to Secret. It is now declassified. It says that the first facilities of the Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League were built in 1964 on Paradise Island (code-named DODO). A black SSPL radio was set up first in Hue, later in Thu Duc. The Navy also broadcast SSPL programs as part of Operation Jenny from EC-121 aircraft. In 1967 SOGs mission emphasized the increasing the credibility of the SSPL as a resistance movement in North Vietnam. The Viet Cong knew that the black radio station Guom Thieng Ai Quoc (Sacred Sword and Patriotism) was an American station. The Black radio station claimed to broadcast from Ha Tinh Province but actually transmitted from American bases in South Vietnam. MACV also produced a marching song titled Let Us Rise up Ardently and Liberate our Nation. The song was sung by the island choral group, the singing fishermen (detainees who recorded songs for SSPL radio).
Herb Weisshart was appointed Deputy Head of MACV-SOG, specializing in psychological operations from its inception in January 1964 to Mid-1965. He recalls some of his activities:
From 1961-1963 activities included leaflet and gift kit airdrops, gray and black radio broadcasts When I went out there and started the SSPL, increased the leaflet drops, accelerated the radio programs, it was only for one reason. That was to see what we could do to force North Vietnam to take some of their assets and divert them to worrying about what we were doing in their backyard Several of my staff had previous experience in leaflets, radios, and propaganda. We casually interviewed several Vietnamese and learned of the Sacred Sword legend. The sword was said to rest at the bottom of a NVN lake (known as Sword Lake). It was said to have been placed there to be used only by those individuals or groups that would rally the people against despotic rulers and outside invaders.
Major General John K. Singlaub
MG John K. Singlaub, Commander of the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force (MACV SOG) in Vietnam mentions the operation in Hazardous Duty, Summit Books, NY, 1991:
A "Black" radio transmitter near Hue broadcast a realistically clandestine program to northerners, which was often disrupted when the "resistance" operators had to shut down to evade Communist patrols. Besides broadcasting enemy casualty figures, the "Patriot" station pounded relentlessly at venal and immoral Communist cadre who not only diverted funds, but also seduced the young wives of NVA soldiers in the south.
This SSPL leaflet depicts Chairman Mao smiling while United States Air Force B-52s bomb Vietnamese buildings, vehicles, bridges and troops. The same image is on the back of the leaflet. Notice the symbol at lower left. The text is:
Why does Chairman Mao laugh at the cruel situation of our people?
Carl Rowan, Director of the United States Information Agency sent a message to the President on 21 April 1964.
Black radio operations have now been expanded to a total of 14 hours per day on two frequencies; white radio activities are carried on for two hours daily while gray transmitters broadcast six hours per day in Cantonese and 20 hours in Vietnamese. In addition, airborne transmitters over the Gulf of Tonkin broadcast for 3 1/2 hours daily, usually repeating black radio broadcasts. Each of these broadcasts is carried on two different frequencies. The success of those broadcasts devoted to the national Sacred Sword Patriotic League is attested by a report that, early in July, 17 Catholic men and women put to sea from Nghe An Province in the hope that SSPL boats would capture them.
Over a thousand fixed frequency radios and several hundred rice bowls, the latter bearing the symbol of the SSPL, are given to fishermen on junks stopped and searched by the patrol torpedo fast boats. Prior to 1967 the SSPL radio was south of the demilitarized zone. After June 1967, the Voice of the SSPL was relayed to a U.S. Navy NC-121 over the Tonkin Gulf to confuse the North Vietnamese radio direction finding equipment.
HQs Building, Camp Dodo, Paradise Island
(Photos courtesy of Master Sergeant Kenneth Mancil)
Black PSYOP production facilities were located at 7 Hong Thap Tu Street, Saigon. This included the studios, print shop, library and secure storage vault, and the Vietnamese counterpart organization. In October 1965, the authority was given to use Vietnamese A1G aircraft for leaflet and gift kit drops. The C-130 became available in 1966. A summary of leaflet, gift kit, and radios dropped over the three-year span follows: In 1965, 67 million leaflets, 24,000 gift boxes, 949 radios; in 1966, 142 million leaflets, 80,000 gift boxes, 5000 radios; and in 1967, 271 million leaflets, 21,000 gift boxes, 11,000 radios.
A former SOG and 6th Psychological Operations Battalion member that took part in the operation told me:
I worked black operations in early 1967. I remember the old Navy Constellation aircraft that broadcast propaganda messages to North Vietnam (piggybacking on Radio Hanoi). It was PACKED with electronic equipment. It was, I believe, previously an Electronics Counter-measures aircraft. It flew out of Japan, but was in Long Thanh for a couple of missions. Otherwise, I think it stayed in Saigon. I flew one mission that paralleled the coastline. They had a mixed American/Vietnamese crew (at least in the broadcasting section) including a pretty good looking French-Vietnamese Female. She also worked at the Vietnamese PSYOP Radio station in Saigon.
We dropped little radios on the north. They had a single frequency, no identification either outside or on any inside transistor or part. They were totally black. The frequency was about 1/10th of a megacycle off of Radio Hanoi so that they thought they were listening to official broadcasts. The little radios that were dropped by C-130 Blackbirds were also distributed by other SOG teams. I think we called the little radios "Peanuts," but can't remember why.
Hoc Tap, September 1967, titled Resolutely Defeat the Psychological Warfare of the American Imperialists.
In addition to increasing the Vietnamese language broadcasting of the Voice of America, and in addition to the open broadcasts of the puppet regime and puppet army, the American imperialists have also set up many radio stations engaged in psychological warfare activities against the North, such as "Sacred Sword Radio," the Voice of Freedom," "Red Star Radio," "Neutrality Radio," and a "Liberation Radio." "Sacred Sword Radio" is the voice of the so called "Sacred Sword Patriotic Movement." Through this station the American imperialists and their lackeys attempt to cause the listeners to believe that that the "movement," which exists only in the minds of the American imperialists and their lackeys, has organized bases against the peoples regime in a number of provinces and regions in the North.
An Army Major who was assigned as deputy director of OP39 from March 1971 to spring 1972 talked about the end of the operation:
The radio insertions kept on going until we ran out of radios. The CIA made it fairly evident that we werent going to go back, find a suitable place, and make a large purchase of radios, batteries and the like. By that time it was fairly evident that we were withdrawing troops, the war was on the wane as opposed to on the increase. By 1969-1970 the Paradise Island operation was cranked down.
Thus ends the story of the Sacred Sword of the Patriots League and the secret base on Paradise Island. It cost millions of dollars and thousands of man hours, required fast boats to be bought, crews to be trained, aircraft to be sent over the north, radios to broadcast night and day, and yet fooled nobody and certainly never caused the North Vietnamese to consider halting their activities in the South. It was a glorious failure. It could have been so much more.
With the fall of South Vietnam all 144 staff members of the CIA and Vietnamese Strategic Technical Directorate "Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League" radio station Mat Tran Guom Thieng Ai Quoc were evacuated along with their families, about 1,000 people in all, to Phu Quoc island off the coast of South Vietnam. The refugees, along with some of their American supervisors, were transported by a leased merchant ship named American Challenger shortly thereafter to Guam, where they were eventually resettled in the United States.
Juan Bosch, the head of the Dominican Revolutionary Party was elected and inaugurated as President in February 1963. His pro-Castro sentiments and left-leaning politics led to a military coup seven months later by an archconservative faction of the military led by Colonel Elias Wessin y Wessin.
Colonel Elias Wessin y Wessin
Wessin controlled the Centro de Entrenamiento de las Fuerzas Armadas (Armed Forces Training Center), an elite group of about 2000 highly trained infantry that unlike the regular army units was supplied with tanks, recoilless rifles and artillery. It was an independent organization formed to protect the government and keep watch over the Army, Navy and Air Force. He declared, The Communist doctrine, Marxist-Leninist, Castroite, or whatever it is called, is now outlawed.
Colonel Francisco Caamano Deno
On 24 April 1965, a group within the Army, led by Col. Francisco Caamano Deno rose up and attempted to restore Juan Bosch to the presidency. The pro-Bosch rebels known as Constitutionalists, took to the streets, seized the national palace and the Government radio and television stations in Santa Domingo, and demanded Bosch's return. Both sides were heavily armed and civilians were caught in the crossfire. Washington began immediate preparations for the evacuation of its citizens and other foreign nationals who might wish to leave the Dominican Republic
U.S. troops were sent in to stabilize conditions on the island and prevent a takeover by Marxist rebels.
Fearing another Cuba on America's doorstep, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered U.S. forces to restore order and sent a fleet of 41 vessels to blockade the island. 400 Marines were ordered to the Dominican Republic on 27 April as part of Operation Power Pack. In addition to the United States military presence, the following troops were sent by each country; Brazil 1130, Honduras 250, Paraguay 184, Nicaragua 160, Costa Rica 21 military police, and El Salvador 3 staff officers. Eventually, a force of 23,000 U.S. troops was in-country. At the end of the operation 27 U.S. troops were killed in action, including thirteen from the 82nd Airborne Division.
1st PSYWAR Battalion troops in front of the Radio Broadcast Van Santo Domingo
LTC Wallace J. Moulis, Commanding Office of the 1st PSYWAR Battalion wrote about Dominican Republic psychological operations in an article entitled "Key to a Crisis," Military Review, February 1966. He says:
Operational elements of the 1st PSYWAR Company, reinforced with radio broadcast and light, mobile audiovisual teams, as well as language experts, were readied for a midnight departure. The 1st PSYWAR Battalion's (later to become the 1st PSYOP Battalion)van-mounted radio was prepared to follow shortly by heavy airlift. Almost before the roar of their aircraft had left their ears, the radio teams with Ray Aylor, Voice of America radio engineer, were rehabilitating a 1000-watt transmitter to begin relaying Voice of America transmission from Greenville, North Carolina.
SP4 Dave Hagen
Specialist 4 Dave Hagen was assigned to the 1st PSYWAR Battalion as a broadcast specialist He told me:
was one of eight or nine GI's running a portable radio station called the "Voice of the Security Zone" that went on the air May 5th. We were up and running a few days before that but I was the only announcer (my MOS listed broadcast specialist) and I did not speak Spanish. We got a civilian in from the "Voice of America" (that is where he said he was from) and were up and running for the next few months.
Because the main government radio station was in rebel hands, Hagen and his team had to broadcast from a small station in the countryside:
We drove west from the San Isidro Air Base several miles and turned off the main road into a residential area before (I believe) we reached the Ozama River and the Duarte Bridge (a scene of heavy fighting). In this residential area we arrived at a one-acre field with a standing AM radio broadcast tower and a small cement building. The building was empty and there were no signs of any combat in the area. This building was about 10' x 10' which was the perfect size for an AM radio transmitter and its associated equipment. There were no studio facilities in the area. We set up our equipment and used the standing antenna. Overall we had a generator, studio truck, transmitter truck, communications truck, and the antenna tuning truck. As mentioned, we were in a residential area, and the rest of the city block we were located in was all single story houses and some duplexes.
Our unit had a complete radio station in our five trucks. We did not re-broadcast Voice of America, we broadcast our own programming. The 1st Psywar consisted of three groups...RB (radio broadcast), Loudspeaker, and Leaflets. Our RB group was commanded by Captain William Perry. We also had two lieutenants, Williams and Pojmanski. We had two Master Sergeants, Tokifuji and Fewles, and three specialists, including myself. We were in a war zone and even slept with our weapons. When things got quiet we tried to win the "hearts and minds" of the kids. We played baseball with them. Many had mitts and softballs.
Was the radio station successful? Hagen adds:
We were trying to let people know what was happening and that American troops had established a buffer zone between three warring factions. We also wanted to let them know that we were their friends. We saw both civilians and military listening to us on portable radios. Reports in the years following the American "intervention" contend that we were simply trying to stop the spread of Communism. That is true, but we also helped to end a civilwar.
In 2015, Dave Hagen spoke again, this time to my friend Lee Richards. To see his complete comments see Psywar.org. He added:
Latin American specialists working for the United States Information Service (USIS) in Santo Domingo could have performed those tasks except that their printing and broadcast equipment were located in buildings now controlled by the rebels. On 4 May we were ready to start broadcasting to the Dominican Republic. Our Voice of the Security Zone hit the AM airwaves and was powerful enough to be picked up in the surrounding countryside. Our team was not involved with any "propaganda" planning and was simply tasked with keeping the radio station on the air. Our radio broadcast equipment consisted of three truck mounted modules and two semi-trailers. The modules contained a communications unit (teletype and voice), an antenna tuning unit, and a power generator. The semis pulled a studio trailer and a transmitter trailer.
The 1st PSYWAR Battalions radio station, "The Voice of the Security Zone" went on the air on 5 May. It had a 5000-watt signal capable of reaching a good portion of the nation. Later, two additional transmitters were added to the network. The Army conducted 600 hours of loudspeaker operations, and broadcast over 900 hours of in-country programs. In addition, they relayed the Voice of America broadcasts for 35 days.
The Destroyer USS Perry, DD844.
It was not only the U.S. Army fighting the various rebel radio stations. Radioman 3rd Class (RM3) Class Carl Black was a radioman aboard the Destroyer USS Perry, DD844. The ship was assigned to the naval battle group sent to the Dominican Republic. He told me:
Initially we were in the destroyer screen closest to shore off Santo Domingo. We were notified that an AM radio station had fallen into the hands of the rebels and we were given its frequency and instructed to jam it. Since we had an AM transceiver with over twice the output power of the radio station we came up on their frequency with a deliberately bad transmitter setup and keyed the transmitter. This bad setup caused the transmitter to create a variable frequency audio tone osculating in the audio range centered on their frequency. We maintained this until we were notified that the radio station was back in government hands.
Lawrence A, Yates mentions the radio campaign in Power Pack: U.S. Intervention in the Dominican Republic, 1965-1966, U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, 1988:
Some of the most important clandestine operations during the intervention attempted to silence Radio Santo Domingo (RSD). Although a poor people by U.S. standards, virtually every Dominican family owned a radio and, because of the country's high illiteracy rate, relied on it heavily for information. RSD, with numerous outlets, studios, and transmitter sites was the country's national station, capable of being heard throughout the island. In the hands of the rebels, the station became a powerful propaganda weapon-in fact, the biggest thorn in the side of the Americans. Langley received a telephone call from a CIA agent with a blunt message. "The difference in Santo Domingo," the agent shouted, "lies in that radio station. If the rebels continue their propaganda they will take over the entire country. The radio must be silenced!"
The problem was that nothing seemed to work. Naval vessels offshore and the Army Security Agency both tried to jam RSD broadcasts, but neither had powerful enough equipment to interfere more than temporarily with the broadcasting range of a commercial station. On 8 and 10 May, Special Forces teams mounted successful air assault operations against RSD transmitter sites at Alto Bandero and La Vega, respectively, thereby reducing the effectiveness of RSD broadcasts in those and surrounding areas. The day after the Special Forces seized the La Vega transmitter, a team of paratroopers and Green Berets slipped into the north and severed telecommunication lines. The operation failed to shut down the radio station, but it did disrupt the telephone system used by the rebels for tactical purposes. By 13 May, Palmer had had enough and requested permission from Washington to mount an overt military operation against RSD. Finally, during Operacion Limpieza, the Government of National Reconstruction captured Radio Santo Domingo.
U.S. Navy Blue Eagle I
It was not just the Army that ran a psychological operations radio station. The Navy was also involved. In late 1964 Navy Capt. George Dixon became Manager of Project Jenny, the U. S. Navy operation to use aircraft to broadcast radio in support of psychological operations. He met with the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) concerning the feasibility of using an aircraft as a radio broadcasting platform. Although dubious, RCA agreed to provide equipment and technical expertise. The aircraft configuration and technical work was performed by Navy enlisted personnel.
The first "Blue Eagle" aircraft was constructed in January 1965 using a NC-121J Lockheed Super-Constellation shell. Blue Eagle I was the first project aircraft and configured to do AM, FM, and SW radio broadcast missions. A crew of naval officers and enlisted personnel was selected. Operational and flight training began in July 1965. In September 1965 Blue Eagle I was ordered to Naval Air Station Roosevelt Roads Puerto Rico to fly radio missions in support of U. S. PSYOP efforts in the Dominican Republic. Blue Eagle I was on station for approximately 2 weeks and then returned to Andrews AFB.
The RCA TR-22 Video Tape Recorder
We learn more about the navys use of aircraft as propaganda platforms from Electronics Technician Second Class Chuck Hammond who was stationed at the Anacostia Naval air base from mid-1963 to November 1966. Chuck was assigned directly to Chief of Naval Operations for special assignments. He told me:
The equipment that we had in our possession at the time was two RCA TR-22 video tape recorders. I believe they were the first solid state recorders and used a 2 tape.
On about 12 May we were sent to Andrews Air Force base and deployed to Roosevelt Roads air base in Puerto Rico. On board the plane were the two video tape recorders and a diesel generator to provide power to them. We initially had RCA technicians come in and train us on-site. The diesel generator was 55 kilowatts which to me to be a case of overkill Our job was to maintain the recorders as the plane flew over the Dominican Republic and broadcast a TV signal. I dont know what we broadcast since it was all in Spanish but it was surely a propaganda message.
Hewson A. Ryan, Associate Director USIA (Policy and Plans) was assigned the task of coordinating all PSYOP in the Dominican Republic. He had been involved in the Cuban missile crisis and as a result was aware of the need for air delivery of leaflets, radio and loudspeaker broadcasts. A temporary base of operations was set up in the home of the Public Affairs Officer near the American Embassy. The PSYWAR Battalion soon moved into a nearby school building. The Army supplied radio transmitters, mobile presses, multilith machines, loudspeaker trucks, and aircraft for leaflet and loudspeaker operations.
The Falkland Islands - 1982
The Falkland Islands are approximately 8000 miles from Britain and the only major island group in the South Atlantic, about 300 miles east of Argentina and the continent of South America in the Strait of Magellan. The Buenos Aires government, which had declared its independence from Spain in 1816, claimed sovereignty over the Falklands. Britain began settling the islands and declared a colonial administration in 1842. Argentina never recognized the claim and historically has demanded that the islands be part of that nation.
Argentine soldiers invade the Falkland Islands
Argentina decided to take the island by force. The campaign was originally named Operación Azul after the blue robe of the Virgin Mary, but later changed to Operación Rosario (Rosary) in what appears to be an attempt by the Argentine government to give the impression of a patriotic Catholic religious crusade. On 3 April 1982, the Argentineans attacked in force and after a furious battle with a small number of British defenders took the islands. The British established a naval task force under the code name Operation Corporate. They set sail for the Falklands at flank speed with a modern fleet consisting of a carrier battle group, destroyers, frigates, troop carriers, tankers and submarines. The British did eventually retake the islands but that is another story. Lets talk about the British propaganda radio station.
South Atlantic Radio - 1982
The Front of this British propaganda leaflet is all text:
Notice to the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands
I have the great pleasure of announcing to them a new radio station.
South Atlantic Radio will transmit news daily from
8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on a frequency of 9.71 MHz.
This broadcast will operate like an additional station
to the LRA National Radio of the Falklands.
The back of the leaflet bears the code 5 and the text:
From 8:00 to 11:00 p.m.
R. A. S. (inside a lightning bolt)
9.71 MHz frequency.
The 15th (UK) Psychological Operations Group says on its website:
A limited British PSYOP campaign was developed during the brief Argentine occupation and subsequent liberation of the Falkland Islands. A radio station was set up on the Ascension Island, known as Radio Atlantico del Sur and broadcast to Argentine troops and included music, news and sport.
A British government draft interim assessment for the radio station dating from about 12 May 1982 said in part:
The station must first build up credibility and audience loyalty. The advantages of radios immediacy will be wasted if either the programming is not live or the necessary immediate material cannot be delivered to it. Broadcasts could at least persuade the Argentine conscripts to hesitate for even a fraction of a second before firing on British troops. At best they could, by keeping the hopelessness of their position in the minds of the garrison, persuade an earlier surrender than would otherwise be achieved.
The 2017 Report on the station adds:
Between 19 May and 15 June 1982 when the project ended, 47 broadcasts were made, three hours each evening between 2300-0200 hours and an hour in the morning between 0830-0930 hours. Argentinian attempts to jam were reported from the second broadcast but monitoring by the Task Force and by the American monitoring station in Paraguay confirmed that these efforts were largely ineffective at stopping broadcasts reaching the Falkland Islands, possibly because the jammers were in the Buenos Aires area.
Argentine Annie - Silvia Fernandez Barrios
Of course, Argentina retaliated with a very sexy sounding lady named Silvia Fernandez Barrios. Some of her radio comments after a rousing Hollywood orchestral version of the entrance of the chariots into the Roman Colosseum from Ben Hur were:
That was a good war tune, but it belongs of course to Roman Empire days. And empires today are not what they were, are they Mrs. Thatcher?
Grenada - 1983
The Grenada story began on 13 March 1979 when Maurice Bishop overthrew the legitimate government and established a communist society. The New Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation (New Jewel Movement) ousted Sir Eric Gairy, Grenada's first Prime Minister, and established a people's revolutionary government. Grenada began construction of a 10,000-foot international airport with the help of Cuba. There was speculation that this airfield could be used to land military fighters and transports, threatening South America and the southern United States.
The safety of these Americans became a factor when Maurice Bishop and several members of his cabinet were murdered by elements of the people's revolutionary army on 13 October 1983. The United States reacted to the bloody coup in Grenada within two weeks. On 25 October 1983, American troops landed on the beaches of Grenada.
Some aspects of the PSYOP campaign were carried out by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Reserve and National Guard. For instance, according to Retired Colonel Alfred H. Paddock writing in an article entitled PSYOP: A Historical Perspective, for Perspectives, Volume 22, Number 5 & 6, 2012:
Working with the 4th Group, the Navys Reserve Audiovisual Unit (NARU 186) produced a cassette tape of PSYOP messages and music which the Pennsylvania Air National Guards 193d Special Operations Group (then Coronet Solo) broadcast over radio to the Grenadian people concurrent with the landing of U.S. Marines and Army Rangers. The Navy deployed its mobile 10 kilowatt radio station (AN/ULT-3) which, together with Coronet Solo, provided coverage of the island until the Armys 50 kilowatt set could be installed.
We learn more about the PSYOP broadcasts in Operation Urgent Fury - Grenada, Ronald H. Cole, Joint History Office, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1997:
Navy Admiral McDonald requested guidance on themes for PSYOPS broadcasts to the Grenadian populace. The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved McDonalds concept the following day; radio broadcasts began on 28 October.
The Los Angeles Times of 15 November 1983 also mentioned the radio operations in an article entitled U.S. Psychological Unit on Offensive in Grenada written by staff writer Rone Tempest. The article says in part:
In the hours before the American invasion of this island on October 25th, a powerful new radio station began broadcasting from a Navy ship somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. In Spanish, it asked Cubans on the island to give themselves up. In English it asked Grenadians to open their home and help the friendly soldiers find opposing soldiers.
Help protect your hard fought freedom one such message boomed. Help send the Cubans back to Havana where they belong.
Stanley Sandler says in an article printed in Mindbenders, Vol. 9, No.3, 1995:
The 4th PSYOP Group distributed leaflets giving the Grenadian population guidance and information, and a newly-deployed 50-kilowatt transmitter, "Spice Island Radio, broadcast news and entertainment throughout the island.
The Grenada Radio Station antenna with wires cut by the U. S. Navy Seals
Radio Free Grenada was one of the first targets of American bombs. To replace Radio Free Grenada, the U.S. set up Spice Island Radio, under the overall control of the Psychological Operations Section of the Army. A twelve-man team of Navy journalists immediately flew in from Norfolk, recruited some local announcers, and Spice Island Radio was on the air. Their first broadcast called on Grenadians to lay down their arms. The head of the Navy team, Lt. Richard Ezzel, told Reuters, "We wanted to save lives.
An American radio PSYOP specialist added:
One of the first objectives was the islands commercial AM transmitter. The Soviet Union had provided it. The control panel of the transmitter gave control functions in Russian. The locals had put labels in English below those controls. The US Navy sent in a Seal Team to quiet the transmitter just prior to the invasion. While the building exterior received a lot of light weapons damage, the transmitter was reasonably unscathed. The Navy cut the feed lines to the antenna to disable the transmitter. The US Navys PSYOP 10KW broadcast transmitter aboard ship off the coast of Grenada began broadcasting using a tethered balloon antenna. The 4th PSYOP Group brought in the TRT-22 and after several days of being bounced around from site to site, finally set up near the new airport at Port Salines. It was there several months.
Donald R Wooldridge told me about putting up the antenna. He was part of a 9-man team from Fort Huachuca, Arizona that installed the 250 foot TRT-22 antenna for the 4th PSYOP Group. He said:
Everything turned out well because of our leadership. We had a lot of problems with the supported unit and ended up sleeping outside of the building and got rained on every single day. We installed it in four days with a team that had seven members who just graduated from school.
FM 33-1-1, Psychological Operations Techniques and Procedures, mentions the antenna in Appendix K: The PSYOP Dissemination Battalion Operational Procedures. It says in part:
The AN/TRT-22 system is a radio production and broadcast system. The 50-kw AM transmitter can broadcast on any frequency from 535 KHz to 1620 KHz to a range of approximately 120 to 150 kilometers. The system is manned by one 8-man broadcast team from the radio platoon. The 256-foot antenna tower requires a special team to erect with an installation time of 5 to 7 days. This antenna erection team, which consists of one NCOIC and five enlisted personnel from the signal/communications support element at Fort Huachuca, AZ, must be deployed from other units; the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion does not have organic capability to erect this antenna.
The complete AN/TRT-22 system consists of nine S-280 shelters with dolly sets, two 200-kw generators, a large heliax cable spool, and a prime mover (M35A2). The system requires one C-5 for air transport. The AN/TRT-22 has limited mobility in that it is designed to be deployed to one location. The 50,000-watt transmitter requires two 200-kw generators working alternately for 24 hours of broadcast power consuming 568 to 605 liters of fuel per 24 hours.
The website of the 193d Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard adds:
The EC-130 was also used over Grenada, originally modified using the mission electronic equipment from the EC-121, known at the time as the Coronet Solo. Soon after the 193rd SOW received its EC-130s, the unit participated in the rescue of US citizens in Operation Urgent Fury, acting as an airborne radio station informing those people on Grenada of the US military action.
The Commando Solo's airborne radio station played an initial pre-invasion "warning" broadcast tape to the people of Grenada on 25 October, the first day of the American invasion. The tape was produced two days earlier on 23 October at the request of Army Lieutenant Colonel George Coburn, the PSYOP Plans officer of the Atlantic Command (LANTCOM) J58. A Naval Reserve PSYOP element, Naval Reserve Atlantic Fleet (LANTFLT) Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) Audiovisual Unit (AVU) 0286, drilling at Naval Air Reserve Norfolk assisted with the project.
The revised Radio Free Grenada began broadcasts within days of the invasion. Major General George Crist selected a group of local radio announcers to operate the station even before the new pro-American interim government was formed. Resistance was moderate and security was ensured on the island, opening the doors for a multilateral peacekeeping force with American and Caribbean troops to rebuild peace and stability on Grenada.
Cole says about Major General Crist:
On Grenada, Major General Crist immersed himself in PSYOP and politico-military affairs. After locating local radio announcers to broadcast on Radio Free Grenada, he worked with the Governor General to establish an interim government. By late 26 October, the ground force commanders on Grenada had provided Crist with many captured Cuban and Soviet documents. At Crists request the CIA sent several linguists to translate them. The captured documents included five military assistance agreements between the Bishop government, the Soviet Union, and Cuba which provided for the training of Grenadian soldiers in both countries. The documents indicated a Soviet promise of $30.5 million worth of uniforms, rifles, machine guns, antitank weapons, antiaircraft guns, and other military supplies to be delivered to Grenadian authorities over a five-year period. Crist recommended that Admiral McDonald display the weapons and copies of the documents to counter the mounting criticism of URGENT FURY in Canada and Western Europe.
The Grenada Radio Fiasco
Perhaps the most famous fiasco was depicted in the Clint Eastwood movie Heartbreak Ridge. Enemy machine-guns pinned down navy SEALs assaulting the Governor-Generals mansion. Two American gunships flew overhead but the men on the ground were unable to communicate directly with them. There were major problems with the radios of the various services and communication was curtailed. As a result, one pinned-down American actually used his personal credit card to send a collect call from the mansion to Fort Bragg N.C to request a fire mission. The message was forwarded from North Carolina to the naval ships off shore and the fire order was carried out.
General Manuel Noriega
General Manual Noriega led Panama from 1983 to 1989. He was a student and graduate of the U.S. Army Psychological Operations School. Noriega rose to power in 1983 and initially served as an important conduit for U.S. aid supporting the Nicaraguan Contras. He was simultaneously shipping arms to Marxist rebels in El Salvador, passing classified information to Cuba, Libya, and Warsaw Pact states, and dealing with terrorist organizations. The United States thought he was their man, but he belonged to the highest bidder. Secretary of State George Shultz observed: "You cant buy Noriega, you can only rent him. By the fall of 1989, the Noriega regime was barely clinging to power.
Dignity Battalion members march in the street
Noriega's Dignity Battalions (irregular paramilitary units) also made a point of physically beating opposition leaders. Alone and trusting only his Dignity Battalions, Noriega started to harass Americans and made life unsafe for American troops, dependents and citizens. Newspapers in the United States wrote daily reports of Soldiers and their dependents being stopped, interrogated or beaten on the streets. On 15 December 1989, Noriega was given the title of Chief Executive Officer of the government by his legislature. The Noriega-led assembly then foolishly declared that a state of war existed between Panama and the United States of America. The next day Panamanian soldiers killed United States Marine First Lieutenant Robert Paz.
President George Bush
On 20 December 1989, a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense was prepared on White House stationery and signed by George Bush. The memorandum stated in part:
In the course of carrying out the military operation in Panama which I have directed, I hereby direct and authorize the units and members of the Armed Forces of the United States to apprehend General Manuel Noriega and any other persons in Panama currently under indictment in the United States for drug related offenses.
The campaign to free Panama of Noriega and his dignity battalions was named Operation Just Cause. The invasion of Panama would take place on 20 December 1989 at 0100 local time.
U.S. military units stationed within Panama also attacked. The Americans struck with overwhelming force. It was the largest American combat operation since Vietnam. Twenty-seven sites were attacked simultaneously throughout Panama. The 75th Rangers and Navy SEALS also took part. The F-117 Stealth fighter saw action for the first time. The number of Panamanians killed in the operation was estimated at 200-300 combatants (soldiers and paramilitaries) and some 300 civilians. The U.S. lost 23 soldiers killed. Hundreds from both nations were wounded. The entire operation was over within a week and the withdrawal of U.S. forces began on 27 December.
There was not a lot of radio propaganda during the short war. Most of the radio propaganda occurred in driving the hiding Noriega out of the Vatican Embassy
The Little Bird Shot Down during the Muse Rescue
An American citizen by the name of Kurt Muse living in Panama actively opposed President Noriega, secretly broadcasting anti-government radio broadcasts from his home. He broadcast on Voz de la Libertad and Radio Constitucionado (both 91.5 MHz). He was caught and arrested.
Delta operators were inserted onto the roof of the prison by MH-6 Little Bird helicopters under Operation Acid Gambit. After breaching the roof-top door, the Delta operators raced down the two flights of stairs towards Muse's cell. Muse's cell door was blown and Delta operators moved him to the roof, where they would be exfiltrated by MH-6 Little Birds back to the US base. During extraction from the prison, the Hughes MH-6 Little Bird helicopter transporting Muse crashed. Muse was uninjured. An armored personnel carrier from the 5th Infantry Division extracted Muse and the retrieval team.
Panama was besieged by American radio. The CIA was already broadcasting into Panama from Costa Rica, using their Radio Impacto. The U.S. Army broadcast on Radio Liberacion on medium wave from the U.S. Panama Canal base. The Southern Command Network increased its FM schedule at the start of the invasion. Elements of the 4th PSYOP broadcast The Voice of Liberty from a mobile transmitter from the opening of the campaign and remained on duty 24 hours a day. They claimed that 70% of the Panamanian people listened to the station for the latest unbiased news.
There were numerous safe conduct passes prepared by American PSYOP troops during Operation Just Cause. Most of them are all in English on one side and Spanish on the other. One large 8 ½ x 5 ½ inch pass is all text:
This safe conduct pass is for use by the Dignity Battalions and Codepadi. The bearer of this pass, upon presenting it to any U.S. Military member or Public Panamanian force, will be guaranteed protection, medical attention, food, and shelter.
For more information tune into 1160 AM on your radio.
(Signed) Major General Marc A. Cisneros, Commanding General, U.S. Army South.
Authors note: The Codepadi are Institutional Committees to Defend the Country.
This same pass also was printed in a smaller version, 4 ¼ x 2 ¾ inches. The message is identical.
In Psychological Operations, Air University Press, Maxwell AFB, AL, 1996, Colonel Frank L. Goldstein discusses the amount of PSYOP product used against Panama. He says:
By 8 January, The PSYOP task force had produced and disseminated over one million leaflets and handbills, 50,000 posters, 550,000 newspapers, and 125,000 units of miscellaneous other printed material. Volant Solo had conducted TV broadcasts for the first several days, the PSYOP AM radio station had been operating 24 hours a day, and countless messages had been aired on commercial radio and television stations and published in commercial newspapers. Loudspeaker teams continued to support tactical units by broadcasting advisories, interacting with the population, and providing timely PSYOP advice to US commanders.
We will end this article with a look at the radio operation used against Noriega as he hid in the Vatican embassy.
PSYOP Loudspeaker Teams around the Vatican Embassy
President Bush offered a one million dollar reward for the capture of Noriega. On Christmas Eve, the general entered a Toyota sedan flying the papal flag in a Dairy Queen parking lot near San Miguelito and fled to the Vatican nunciature (embassy) where he requested refuge and sanctuary. The United States PSYOP troops surrounded the embassy and played loud music. The newspapers and magazines all believed that this was some kind of subtle sonic torture. They had a field day. The Associated Press said:
These guys are the fingernails on the blackboard broadcast U.S. propaganda from bullhorns and blast rock music at the Vatican Embassy where Manuel Noriega was taking refuge, hoping to unnerve him.
The Washington Post News Service said:
With U.S. troops at the Vatican embassy continuing to wage psychological warfare against Noriega by blaring rock music over loudspeakers and greeting him with a hearty "Gooood Morning Panama," the general's small circle of supporters shrank further
PSYOP soldier speaks to the crowd outside the Embassy
There was no special selection of particularly awful mind-numbing music selected by the psywarriors to quickly drive Noriega into the open. In fact, just regular popular music of the times was played; whatever the troops had in their personal possession or whatever was requested or played by the local radio stations. A complete list of all the songs played was featured in the U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs After-Action Report Supplement, Operation Just Cause, Dec. 20, 1989 - Jan. 31, 1990.
The military radio station has stated that on 20 December 1989 they took no requests because they wanted the telephone lines kept open. The request lines were opened on 21 December. At first the requests were few, but gradually they picked up. The Marines asked for Guns and Roses' Welcome to the Jungle, the canine handlers requested Billy Idols Flesh for Fantasy, and the Special Forces wanted the Doors Strange Days, "People are Strange," and "The End." Other calls were for patriotic songs like Lee Greenwoods God Bless the U.S.A. and hard rock songs like Were Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister.
On the 25th the station played Christmas music. On the 26th, they returned to taking requests. On the 27th and 28th the station played a lot of rock and roll. The requested play list is at least 95 songs long and contains such favorites as; Born to run, Bring down the hammer, Dancing in the Streets, Hang Em High, I Fought the Law and the Law Won, Judgment Day, Nowhere to Run, Run Like Hell, The Partys Over, Theyre Coming to Take Me Away, Wanted Dead or Alive and Your Time is Gonna Come.
By the 29th the station had ceased playing requests and returned to playing the Top Forty From Billboards Top 100. Requests kept coming in for music for Noriega but the station explained to each caller that they were no longer taking requests.
A report written at the time of the Noriega surrender stated:
SCN (Southern Command Network) Radio, which had been broadcasting for the Army Broadcasting Service since 1941, increased its FM schedule at the start of the invasion on December 20, 1989. It was primarily on the air to support troop morale by taking requests and playing Armed Forces Radio, CNN, and ABC programming, but on December 27 after Noriega took refuge in the Vatican Embassy, PSYOP began blaring it through mobile loudspeakers outside of the embassy compound.
Noriega's "Mug" shot
It is interesting to read all these comments about special music played to drive Noriega out into the open, we know that the loud music had nothing to do with harassing or chasing Noriega out of the Embassy. The noise was simply to allow delicate negotiations to continue inside without being overheard by the press, waiting outside by the hundreds with their parabolic microphones and dishes aimed at the embassy windows. In fact, General Marc Cisneros (commander of the U.S. Army South) and the highest-ranking Latino in the Army played a major role in the negotiations and was the man who talked General Manuel Noriega out of the embassy.
In conclusion, the use of the radio got most of the publicity during this short war and as we have shown, it had nothing to do with wearing down or torturing the enemy. It was a way to keep conversations inside the building private. It worked. After this operation, radio was used in many police sieges or hostage negotiations and even interrogations. The door was opened for a new experimental way to try to weaken and exploit an enemy.
OPERATION DESERT STORM - 1990
The Official Department of Defense Poster showing the Strategy of the Ground War
Saddam Hussein fought Iran for eight years. The Unites States and his fellow Arab nations backed him believing that the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran were the greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East. At the end of the war Saddam found himself deep in debt to the Arab countries who had loaned money to Iraq. He owed 40 billion dollars to Kuwait alone. Worse, he felt that they had taken advantage of him. On 17 July 1990, he accused Kuwait of oil overproduction (which drove that price of Iraqi oil down on the world market) and theft of oil from the Rumailia Oil Fields. He claimed that Kuwaiti oil rigs were drilling diagonally into Iraqi oil reserves.
Official Iraqi Saddam Hussein Patriotic Portrait Set
At about 0200 on 2 August 1990, seven divisions of Iraqi armor, mechanized infantry, helicopter forces, and the elite Republic Guard invaded Kuwait.Rumor has it that the Iraqis hoped to coordinate the invasion with a commando attack on the royal palace. Allegedly, the goal was to capture and execute the royal family. The invasion force of 120,000 troops and 2,000 tanks quickly overwhelmed Kuwait.
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.
There was also a brief war of words on the radio the day of the Iraqi invasion. Radio Kuwait broadcast at 2:05 p.m.:
O sons of Kuwait, O Arab nation. If the wolf lives as a recluse he will deceive, and if he shows goodness he is only pretending. The treacherous futile lie for which Kuwait is being invaded is a kind of base barbarism and high-handed superiority. God does not like the arrogant. O friends and brethren everywhere. In the same way Kuwait opened its doors to all honorable freemen with love and affection, now the entire population of Kuwait is appealing to you with one voice, whose echo is heard throughout the world: If you value Kuwait and its freedom, then Kuwait is calling you, so come to its rescue.
Baghdad (Voice of the Masses) answered 20 minutes later:
It seems that some mercenaries of the defunct regime abroad are trying to carry out desperate activities in favor of this regime and through exposed coordination with US and Zionist quarters. The Provisional Free Kuwait Government announces that those people do not represent Kuwait. Kuwait and its people are represented by their free government that has been formed to safeguard the interests and rights of the Kuwaiti people.
Radio Kuwait came back on the air at 6:30 P.M.:
Dear listeners everywhere. Do not be fooled by extraneous radio stations. Their news and bulletins are totally false. They are broadcasting poison through their propaganda, which should not be believed. Do not pay attention to what these radio stations are broadcasting. This is our radio station. It is the sole and official radio station, which is broadcasting its programs from Kuwait and in the name of Kuwait. This is Kuwait.
Bagdad (Voice of the Masses) issued Communiqué number 4 at 7:33 p.m.:
The sons of Kuwait know the facts regarding the continued acts of plunder of the people's money by Jabir Ahmad and his clique. Their wealth reached legendary figures, squandered in their pursuit of pleasure and deposited with their suspect partners. It is high time for returning these plundered funds to their rightful owners, the sons of the Kuwaiti people. Therefore the Provisional Free Kuwait Government has decided to confiscate all the money whether this money is found in Kuwait or abroad. Our government warns foreign banks in which they deposited their money against any tampering with this money in a manner harming the Kuwaiti people.
On 3 August Kuwait Radio broadcast slogans, appeals and patriotic songs. The last thing they broadcast was the following appeal:
In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful. This is Kuwait. O Arabs, O brothers, O beloved brothers, O Muslims, your brothers in Kuwait are appealing to you. Hurry to their aid.
The station then immediately went off the air.
American Secretary of Defense Cheney met with King Fahd of Saudi Arabia on 7 August. As a result of that meeting, the 82nd Airborne Division and several U. S. A. F. fighter squadrons were permitted to deploy to Saudi Arabia for the protection of the Kingdom.
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.
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.
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
On 17 January General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said in part:
Soldiers, sailors airmen and Marines of the United States central Command You are a member of the most powerful force our country, in coalition with our allies, has ever assembled in a single theater to face such an aggressor. You have trained hard for this battle and you are ready. During my visits with you, I have seen in your eyes a fire of determination to get this job done quickly so that we may all return to the shores of our great nation. My confidence in you is total. Our cause is just! Now you must be the thunder and lightning of Desert Storm. May God be with you, your loved ones at home, and our country.
4th PSYOP Group
Colonel Jeffrey B. Jones discusses the Psychological operations in an article entitled Psychological Operations in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Urban Freedom, Special Warfare, July 1994
Before the Gulf War, during combat operations, and in the aftermath, approximately 650 soldiers from the 4th Psychological Operations Group and from reserve-component PSYOP units contributed to the coalition efforts. They provided radio and TV support, broadcast tactical loudspeaker messages and produced 29 million leaflets. PSYOP messages persuaded approximately 44 percent of the Iraqi army to desert, more than 17,000 to defect, and more than 87,000 to surrender. Integrating their efforts with those of the U.S. Central Command, 21 PSYOP soldiers, working with their Turkish counterparts in Joint Task Force Proven Force in southern Turkey and using radio broadcasts and leaflets, helped cause the defection, desertion and surrender of some 40,000 Iraqis all without firing a shot.
The 8th PSYOP Taskforce provided support to Urban Freedom, the liberation of Kuwait City, and to Task Force Freedom, the consolidation operation in Kuwait, with the mission of re-establishing radio and print activities to support repatriation and settlement of the capital.
Major Peter A. Whitenack, USMC, discusses the PSYOP campaign in his 1993 thesis An Analysis of Gulf War PSYOP and their applicability to Future Operations.
Before Coalition forces fired the first shots in the Persian Gulf War, a different type of force had already been assembled for months, and was engaged in a pitched battle for dominance over Iraqi forces. Far away from headlines and newscasts, PSYOP initiatives were bombarding Saddam's empire in the form of wave upon wave of leaflet and radio assaults.
4th PSYOP Group Leaflets of the Persian Gulf War Publication
The Central Command clandestine radio network, Voice of the Gulf broadcast from ground-based stations in Saudi Arabia and airborne transmitters on a pair of EC-130 Volant Solo aircraft on six frequencies 18 hours per day for 40 days reaching every Iraqi soldier in the KTO.
A U.S. Army Reserve Loudspeaker Team Attached to the Marines
PSYOP Loudspeaker Team Charlie of the United States Army Reserve 245th Psychological Operations Company attached to 3/3 1st Marine Division - Task Force Taro. On the ground there is a stripped down LSS-40 loudspeaker system they disassembled and mounted on a PRC-77 Radio pack. They hold a surrender flag from the Iraqi infantry.
General Schwarzkopf had served in Vietnam and remembered the effect of the Rolling Thunder" B-52 raids on the enemy. He wanted those B-52s over the Iraqis, and he wanted to use PSYOP to frighten them and cause them to abandon their posts. Schwarzkopf came up with the idea of announcing to a designated Iraqi that they would be bombed on the following day. At first the Air Force was hesitant, but daily attacks on Iraqi radar and anti-aircraft sites and American electronic jamming aircraft had made the high-flying bombers reasonably safe from attack. Schwarzkopf wanted to announce a bombing attack on one day and hit the Iraqis the next. He figured they would have 24 hours of anticipation and worry. He would then drop a second leaflet that said something like "We told you we would bomb you and we did. We are going to bomb you again" As the leaflets were dropped, the Coalition's Voice of the Gulf radio station broadcast the same message. The Iraqi front-line divisions stayed glued to their radio hoping that their unit would not be designated as the next target.
Gulf War radio broadcast
Newsweek magazine added in an article entitled Secret Warriors 16 June 1991:
The 4th PSYOP Group out of Bragg set up a special radio program to woo defectors. To compete with BBC and other international broadcasts, the PSYOP team had to offer something special. What the Voice of the Gulf began broadcasting, along with prayers from the Koran and testimonials from well-treated Iraqi prisoners, was precise information on the units to be bombed each day. Iraqi soldiers began tuning in. It's a quick way to increase your market share," said PSYOP commander Col. Layton Dunbar, with a smile. Almost three quarters of the defectors coming over the border said the leaflets and broadcasts influenced their decision to go AWOL.
The Blu-82 Daisy Cutter Bomb
The Giant Blu-82 Daisy Cutter leaflets were dropped by the 8th SOS on at least four occasions between 6 February and 16 February 1991. At the same time these bombs were dropped the Coalition radio warned the Iraqis
Brave Iraqi soldiers. Tonight some of you are going to die. Your families will miss you. May Allah rest your souls.
Coalition Radio Leaflet
The front and back of this leaflet is identical. An Iraqi officer tunes to the Coalition radio as two of his soldiers listen, and the text:
Please turn your radio to medium wave 1134 KHZ daily.
The Voice of Liberty Card
The folded card has The Voice of Liberty at the top and below:
Pulse cycle: Frequencies: 630 KHZ medium wave
1053 KHZ medium wave
1341 KHZ medium wave
Daily between 12 noon and midnight
The back was a calendar and there was an unsubstantiated rumor that the horizontal and vertical boxes of the calendar on the back of this "Voice of Liberty" radio card were used to send coded messages to the Underground. This is doubtful, but a lot of soldiers believed the story and one Special Forces Captain whispered it in my ear, so maybe it is true.
A British Joint Services Command and Staff College abstract says:
The United Kingdoms contribution to the coalition PSYOP effort in the Gulf consisted of only 3 officers, whose energies were largely focused on radio in the form of the Voice of the Gulf. It has been assessed that since the Voice of the Gulf gave accurate details of forthcoming coalition air strikes, there was an overriding imperative for the average Iraqi soldier to listen. Despite the strenuous efforts on the part of the Iraqi leadership to apply brutal censorship measures, approximately 50,500 (58%) of all Iraqi prisoners reported hearing the station, with the overwhelming majority (88%) acting upon the instructions it broadcast. The success of U.S. led PSYOP in the Gulf provided considerable impetus to review and develop the UK PSYOP capability.
Philip M. Taylor in Munitions of the Mind: A history of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Day, Manchester University Press, UK, 2003, says that there was CIA involvement in Desert Storm.
The latter consisted of black radio transmitters posing as Iraqi stations manned by internal enemies of Saddam Hussein. Because none could supposedly detect the genuine source of messages broadcast by these stations, they were able to deviate from the official coalition line that desert Storm was about the liberation of Kuwait and not about the overthrow of Saddam Hussein Black radio stations therefore carried messages encouraging an internal revolt within Iraq , but when signs of success in doing this appeared towards the end of the war in the form of Kurdish and Shia uprisings, no actual military support was forthcoming from the West. This was another classic example of the dangers of policy and propaganda getting out of step.
Kuwaiti Consolidation Radio Leaflet
This leaflet depicts a Radio station at left and the seal of Kuwait at the right. The text is:
Listen to Radio Kuwait on FM frequencies 92.5, 97.5, 87.9, and 98.8 MHZ
Listen to Radio Kuwait on AM frequencies 1341 KHZ, 1134 KHZ, and 540 KHZ
Iraqi Radio Propaganda
Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf
Iraqi Minister of Information
The main purveyor of audio and Television propaganda during the Gulf war was the Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf. He became quite a favorite among Coalition troops and the American public. No matter how black things were, how beaten the Iraqi Army was, or how bleak things looked for the Iraqi Air Force, he regularly came on the air to state that the news was nothing but American lies and the Iraqis were victorious everywhere. He soon earned the name of Baghdad Bob.
Daniel A. Castro adds in his 2007 Naval Postgraduate School thesis: Do Psychological Operations Benefit from the use of Host Nation Media:
Prior to the invasion, Iraqi broadcast capabilities included two prime-time television broadcasts, two domestic radio services Baghdad Domestic Service and Voice of the Masses (VOM) and shortwave radio broadcasts of VOM in Kurdish, Turkoman, and Assyrian. Shortly after the invasion, Iraq seized several Kuwaiti media centers and began operating the Provisional Free Kuwait Government Radio Program. They also implemented at least five additional shortwave radio programs destined to undermine the Saudi and Egyptian governments and the morale of Arab troops in the Gulf.
Probably the most famous purveyors of Iraqi propaganda were radio personalities Baghdad Betty and Iraqi Jack. Iraq's anti-Coalition radio programming started in early August 1990, shortly after the arrival of the 82nd Airborne Division. The radio shows were taped and about two hours in length. The tapes were replayed multiple times during the day in the hopes of getting their message to the largest possible audience. Before each show ended the announcer would inform the listeners what time the next broadcast would be aired. This notification became more important with the initiation of the air campaign as transmissions became more irregular.
The shows were reportedly broadcast from downtown Baghdad, which was about 500 miles from the Coalition forces. Baghdad Betty first broadcast in English to Coalition troops in Saudi Arabia in early September 1990. The format for the broadcasts typically included a mix of popular top 40 hits, "Oldies" and some "Blues" music by contemporary artists.
A soldier takes a break to listen to the radio during the Gulf War
Unfortunately for Iraq, although the music selections were attractive to the target audience, the text was both silly and absurd. The Iraqi propaganda machine ignored the first rule of PSYOP, Know and thoroughly understand your target audience. Iraq's propaganda developers had a predetermined opinion of life in the United States and it clearly showed in their perception of American culture. Their misguided presentations clearly destroyed any credibility that they could have hoped for. Betty's efforts to broadcast morale-busting messages to troops in the Gulf were, like most of Iraq's military efforts, a failure. Her alleged comments that the American soldier's wives were in bed with Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis and Bart Simpson made Iraqi radio a constant source of jokes on late-night American television.
Saddam Hussein was similarly unimpressed. In mid-December 1990, he sacked Betty after three months of broadcasting and replaced her with a bevy of announcers who called themselves the "Mother of Battles Radio." Unfortunately for them, Mother of Battles Radio was near the top of the Allied target list and was bombed off the air in mid-January, when the mother of air wars began.
American PSYOP troops then used the same frequency, and in partnership with Saudi Kuwait and Egyptian forces, they broadcast in Arabic 18 hours per day for 40 days. They transmitted from two ground stations in Saudi Arabia, a platform in Gulf waters and a transmitter in Turkey. Jones continued:
Thanks to Saddam we were pretty effective. The Iraqi soldier was betrayed by Saddam. Hey were ill-supported and vulnerable to everything we broadcast, which was basically just the truth.
Curiously, Baghdad Betty turned out to be an efficient broadcaster when not reading badly written Iraqi propaganda. North told me:
In 2003 I was Senior Advisor and Journalist trainer at the Iraq Media Network in Baghdad, a radio and TV station organized by the Pentagon. The woman who had been "Baghdad Betty" was hired and under supervision became a valued announcer on Iraq Media Radio.
An Iraqi Radio Leaflet I09
On this leaflet an Iraqi soldier listens to radio marked USA. Saddam wants his soldiers to ignore the Coalition radio. The text is:
It is part of psychological warfare
This might be the best PSYOP leaflet prepared by the Iraqis. It is a morale leaflet for their own soldiers and reminds them that the Coalition radio is filled with lies and they should ignore it. The problem was that the Coalition was broadcasting day and night on several frequencies and telling the Iraqis the truth about the war. It was their only real source of information. There was not much chance that they would stop listening.
The United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM I) was set up to facilitate humanitarian aid to people trapped by civil war and famine. The mission developed into a broad attempt to help stop the conflict and reconstitute the basic institutions of a viable State. From November 1991, there was heavy fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu between armed elements allied to various warlords. In resolution 767 of 27 July 1992, the Security Council approved the proposal to establish four operational zones - Berbera, Bossasso, Mogadishu and Kismaayo. The first group of U.N. security personnel arrived in Mogadishu on 14 September 1992. On 3 December 1992, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 794. The Council welcomed the United States offer to help create a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid in Somalia and authorized, under Chapter VII of the Charter, the use of "all necessary means" to do so.
Radio Psychological Operations
Somalia Radio Leaflet
The U.S. did produce one radio leaflet to advertise its radio station. The leaflet is uncoded and depicts a family of five in silhouette, hand-in-hand, in front of a radio. Text on the back is:
Lieutenant General Bir, Commander of the UNOSOM Forces will make a speech to the people of Mogadishu.
Date: 7 October 1993
Time: All day repeatedly
Station: Radio Maanta
Short Wave: 31 / 9.540 KHZ, daytime.
Medium Wave: 49 / 6.170 KHZ, nighttime.
The American Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) was comprised of approximately 125 members of the U.S. Armys 4th PSYOP Group, and several of its subordinate battalions. Four days after the arrival of the main contingent of forces in Mogadishu, the JPOTF began publishing a daily newspaper and broadcasting a daily radio program both called RAJO, which is Somali for HOPE.
A soldier from the U.S. Joint PSYOP Task Force produces material for broadcast over Radio Rajo
Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Borchini told me:
I managed a radio station that broadcast daily programs, supervised and trained local employees; edited a daily newsletter, translated leaflets, handbills, posters, and handbooks; and produced mine awareness literature and recorded loudspeaker messages.
For the second operation in Somalia (Operation United Shield), I was in Fort Bragg from November to December 1994, and then deployed off the coast of Mogadishu aboard the USS Belleau Wood to March 1995. My main duties included: Service as a civilian linguist with the Joint Psychological Operation Task Force; deployed with the PSYOP Group and monitored and translated daily radio broadcasting of local languages; and summarized local newspapers to gauge the sentiments of the population.
The 4th PSYOP Group published a book entitled
Psychological Operations in Support of Operation Restore Hope in late 1993
The 4th PSYOP booklet mentions the use of radio as a PSYOP medium:
As a compliment to the RAJO newspaper, the JPOTF established a radio station on the US Embassy compound. Radio RAJO conducted a 45-minute Somali language broadcast twice daily on AM, FM, and short wave. The program included a reading from the Koran, a reading of the RAJO newspaper articles, selections of Somali poetry and short stories, news about Africa, significant events throughout the world, and Somali music. After extensive antenna adjustments, the radio programs broadcasted over short wave eventually reached every city and town in Somalia where UNITAF forces were deployed.
The quality of the PSYOP radio improved with the arrival of Abdullah Omar Mohammed. He was a naturalized citizen who was born in Mogadishu, and a contract interpreter for the State Department. He told the Americans not to broadcast a weather report. Weather comes from Allah, and it would be presumptuous for the Americans to attempt to guess what God might do next. He also insisted that the broadcasts start with a passage from the Koran. The station then played a Somali song and the local news. After that, the station played upbeat American music, which was a favorite of many Somalis.
Radio RAJO began broadcasting with 600 watts. It was first heard on 1480 kHz but in January 1993 was heard on the short-wave frequency 9540 kHz. The humanitarian mission was multinational so the station later identified itself as the "Voice of the United Task Force." When UNOSOM II took over the station it became Radio MANTA (TODAY) broadcasting on both the old frequency of 9540 kHz as well as 6170 kHz. Italian psychological operations troops also broadcast Radio Ibis on 89.7 MHZ FM.
The Italian PSYOP Contingent
The Italian military contingent in Somalia produced PSYOP leaflets, newspapers and radio broadcasts. The Italian psychological operations troops broadcast on Radio IBIS on 89.7 MHZ FM. The station only broadcast music and messages from Italy for the Italian armed forces. The few messages that they did send to the Somali people were concerning medical treatment and vaccinations. Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Borchini said more about the Italian PSYOP campaign in his personal monograph "Psychological Operations Support for Operation Restore Hope." He says:
The Italian forces came to Somalia confident in their ability to deal with the Somali people. Based on their historical relations, many Somalis spoke Italian, and the Italians believed that they would have a special relationship with the Somalis. This probably was true to some extent.
The German PSYOP Contingent
This German operation is discussed in a 1999 British Joint Services Command and Staff College Defense Research Paper by Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon. He says in part:
The German PSYOP organization is Das Fernmeldebataillon 950 Operative Information. This battalion, based in Andernach, consisted of 709 regular personnel with a Headquarters Company and a Company Two, which produced radio and television programs (live or video). The produced a weekly 45 minute radio program called Radio ANDERNACH from Andernach, Germany. Its programs targeted the Somali population to support and explain the UNOSOM II mission.
Warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed
The NY Times of 24 June 1993 mentions the United Nations military campaign against Mogadishu warlord and clan leader Mohammed Farah Aideed and mentions that the warlord had his own radio station:
American gunships bombed the clan leaders weapon depots and Radio Mogadishu, the site used for General Aideeds broadcasts.
Lieutenant General Anthony Zinni
American Lieutenant General Anthony Zinni noted in Battle Ready that bombing Aideed's radio station wasn't necessarily a good idea:
The months to follow would show that the UN failed to learn this lesson. Instead of countering Aideeds hostile media blasts in kind, they tried to close down his radio station. Freedom of the press has to work both ways; we dont shut down the radio stations just because we dont like what is broadcast. The resulting confrontation was the opening of the violent war between the UN and Aideed.
When UNOSOM II replaced UNITAF, it broadcast on the radio and published a newspaper with a new name. Instead of Radio RAJO, UNOSOM used the name Radio MANTA (Radio Today). The radio station was operated on shortwave by the United Nations staff in Mogadishu. Radio Manta began broadcasting on 4 May 1993 following the handover of the international operation in Somalia from the US-led Unified Task Force (UNITAF) to the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). It broadcast news, inquiries about missing persons, songs, plays and poems. The station transmitted in the Somali language from two 600-watt shortwave transmitters. Their schedule was as follows: 0415-0500, 1000-1045, 1100-1145 and 1300-1345 on 9540 kHz. The station also broadcast at 1600-1645, 1700-1745 and 1900-1945 on 6170 kHz. The radio signal was not strong enough to reach all over Somalia.
I could have picked a few different start dates for this section on the Balkans. Serbia tried to cleanse Bosnia, Kosovo and Croatia from about 1992 to the end of the decade. I start with 1992 since that seems to be when the concept of a Greater Serbia began its rampage.
In 1989, a nationalist leader by the name of Slobodan Milosevic took power in the Serbian Republic. 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.
Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from the Yugoslav Federated Republic. In Croatia, ethnic Serbs and Croats begin a long, bloody conflict. Serb snipers fired on peaceful demonstrators in Sarajevo, marking the beginning of the war. The West recognized Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state. The UN imposed sanctions on Yugoslavia. There were new reports of "ethnic cleansing," a policy of slaughtering Muslim inhabitants of towns or driving them away in order to create an ethnically pure region. There were reports of concentration camps and mass rapes.
Operation Shining Hope Bumper Sticker
The bumper sticker above was attached to all U.S. relief supply cartons and cases. Although SHINING HOPE was a NATO venture, the U.S. senior officers wanted to ensure that relief supplies from the U.S. were clearly identified.
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. This ended the fighting between these factions.
The Serbs continued to act aggressively toward their neighbors. This forced NATO to undertake an intensive, month-long bombing campaign in August 1995. These air strikes produced the desired effect. A cease-fire went into effect in October, and peace talks began on 1 November 1995. These negotiations produced the framework for peace known as the Dayton Peace Accords. US Servicemen came to Bosnia in December 1995 as part of the Implementation Force (IFOR), the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia created under the Dayton accords.
The Rock of the Balkans radio leaflet
A number of leaflets were prepared and distributed during this phase of the forced peace. IFOR had a radio station in Tuzla that played music, news and sports for the people. The Allies produced a standard radio leaflet that showed a radio antenna at the left and identified the station as:
Radio IFOR - Tuzla - Rock of the Balkans - 1017 kHz
'Rock the Balkans" Radio Station in Tuzla
The number and location of the IFOR/SFOR radio stations varied throughout the operations. Originally, IFOR set up five radio stations located in the five most populated cities across the country: Sarajevo, Tuzla, Banja-Luka, Mrkonjic Grad, and Mostar (struck down by a lightning on 14 September 1996). During the first six months of SFOR operations, the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force operated three radio stations in Sarajevo (Radio Mir), Brcko, and Coralici. In the fall 1997, the French agreed to man and operate a new station in Mostar. These radio stations operated at least 18 hours a day with music, news bulletins and messages
Radio Mir Sticker
Programming on Radio Mir consisted of: Current news five times a day; Classic rock and roll, Top 40 hits, Rhythm and Blues, Eurohits, and local area music; Interviews with SFOR commanders and the Office of the High Representative; and Broadcast talk shows with guest radio station personalities from local stations.
A PSYOP interpreter talks with residents of Brcko,
Bosnia, to get their opinions of the SFOR-sponsored "Radio Mir"
(Photo by Henry S. Block)
Major John Mills discusses PSYOP: Radio Operations in Bosnia, in Special Warfare, fall 2001. He notes that from January 1997 to August 1997, elements of the United States Army Reserve's 11th Psychological Operations Battalion and personnel attached from other USAR PSYOP battalions deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina. He says in part:
After brainstorming numerous concepts, we hit on the solution - radio. Our radio-production capability was limited. Radio Mir in Sarajevo was producing various types of music tapes that contained intermittent soft-sell, radio-announcer voice-overs. We decided to use radio to broadcast translations of open-source information from existing international news media (Reuters, the Associated Press and United Press International) to supplement the information products produced by the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force.
A PSYOP specialist (left) and one of the local Bosnian
interpreters prepare to broadcast from inside an MSQ-85 shelter
We needed a dedicated broadcast booth and professional-quality equipment. The answer was an MSQ-85B shelter. The MSQ-85B mobile audiovisual shelter was at the time one of the primary systems of the PSYOP community. This HMMWV-mounted shelter was fielded during the 1980s. The shelter provided a complete capability for recording, editing and reproducing audio and video products. Had it been equipped with an FM transmitter, it would have been a complete broadcast studio.
Our major objective was to put out a message that would forcefully explain the Stabilization Forces (SFOR) right, under international law and under the Dayton Peace Accords, to seize indicted war criminals. We translated press releases from the Coalition Press Information Center, or CPIC, in an attempt to counter the tirade of messages being broadcast in Serbian controlled areas. Each week, at Radio Tuzla, we produced and broadcast a 30-minute show that came to be titled "The Week in SFOR."
From January to August 1997, the information campaign in Bosnia used local radio to communicate the SFOR message to the formerly warring factions. While it was difficult to precisely measure the program's effectiveness, the success of the combined efforts of the SFOR was reflected by a lack of active hostilities. The radio program laid the groundwork for establishing long-lasting relationships with the local radio-station managers and personnel - some of the people who controlled what was being communicated in Bosnia.
A member of the PSYOP TASK Force (POTF) displays a box of the
audio tapes prepared for the distribution to Bosnian radio stations.
U.S. Army Reserve Major Thomas Bergman was a member of the 18th PSYOP Company, 10th PSYOP Battalion, 7th PSYOP Group. He was activated in December of 1995 for a tour in Bosnia. His unit provided the first U.S. Army Reserve PSYOP soldiers in Bosnia reporting to the 4th POG. In regard to the radio comments above he says:
I approached several Tuzla radio stations and pitched the idea of a weekly hourly call-in talk show where we could give out current news and answer questions from the populace. Radio Tuzla agreed and in early spring 1996 I began conducting a weekly show with the aid of my interpreter.
Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon discusses the British and French effort in a Joint Services Command and Staff College Defense Research Paper:
The British deployed up to 14 members of their 15th PSYOP Group to support the US led NATO PSYOP or IFOR Information Campaign. In mid-March 1996, the British troops achieved the capability to produce their own printed products. By late March 1996, the British Divisional PSYOP element had print, reproduction, audio/radio, video and other imagery capabilities and three Land Rovers and trailers. By spring 1996, IFOR had established a strong link with the independent radio station in Banja Luka, (Radio Big). Personnel from IFOR appeared on a weekly show that combined music, conversation and questions from a live audience to deny any rumors and misconceptions and to promote a greater understanding of IFORs role.
Steven Collins goes into greater detail in Army PSYOP in Bosnia: Capabilities and Constraints in Parameters, summer 1999.
In the Multinational Division Southwest area, controlled by the United Kingdom, the importance of PSYOP was recognized early. The UK military, drawing upon its extensive experience in Northern Ireland as well as its intimate familiarity with the region as part of the UN Protection Force, knew the critical importance of the battle for Bosnian "hearts and minds." Thus they requested deployment of US tactical PSYOP soldiers and radio broadcast equipment.
Multinational Division Southeast, under the control of the French, originally kept PSYOP at arm's length. The French also seemed to mistrust the motives of the US PSYOP personnel, who dominated the early effort in Bosnia. Over time, the French began to accept increased US PSYOP support, including a PSYOP radio station in Mostar and a small group of US tactical PSYOP soldiers who disseminated materials. The French frustration with the US/NATO PSYOP product approval process contributed to their desire to develop their own capability in order to influence the PSYOP context more directly. This led to the establishment of a French-run PSYOP radio station and creation of a French/Spanish/German PSYOP print product development capability in Mostar, all with virtually no oversight from the PSYOP Task Force headquarters in Sarajevo.
Radio Horizon Flyer
Belgium has a small PSYOP Support Element (PSE) unit called the Information Operations Group (Info Ops Grp) consisting of about 30 regular military personnel and selected reservists as needed. After the loss of ten Belgian paratroopers in Rwanda in 1994, the Belgians realized the need for a PSYOP unit of their own. Their first operation was in late 1999 in Kosovo where they installed a PSYOP radio station called Radio Horizon in the Belgian camp called Center City in the French-occupied section of Kosovo in Leposavic.
In early 1999, the Serbs again seemed intent on purifying their lands of all foreign ethnic groups. Television reports told of thousands of ethnic Albanians persecuted, raped, or murdered. This time the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took action. NATO demanded full compliance with UN Resolution 1199 of 23 September 1998. The resolution called for all parties to cease hostilities. At a meeting held 15 March 1999, the Kosovar separatists agreed to a cease-fire, but the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic refused. NATO warned that refusal to cease hostilities against the Kosovar civilians would lead directly to military force. After a week of Serbian refusals, the 19-member organization unanimously agreed to initiate air strikes. The first occurred at 1400 on 24 March 1999. NATO aircraft pounded military and political targets within Serbia as part of "Operation Allied Force." Fighter aircraft later attacked Serb military forces in Kosovo.
Allied Radio Leaflet
This leaflet gives the frequencies of five radio and a television channel that the people could tune in to receive NATO radio and television broadcasts. NATO aircraft dropped 1.2 million copies of this radio leaflet. The leaflet was called Radio Ad by NATO. The front depicts text and the NATO Symbol. The text is:
FM 87.9 AM 1003
FM 102.2 FM 106.4
We want to talk to you.
The text on the front of the leaflet is:
Mornings in Belgrade.
Interviews with world leaders.
News: international and regional.
Messages to the Serb people. NATO policy statement.
NATO allied voice. Radio and television station.
Destination the Hague
War Criminals will face Trial
Retired Major Robert J. Jablonski, United States Army Reserve, Co, B, 13th PSYOP Battalion served in the Stabilization Force (SFOR) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from 2002 to 2003 told me:
As the Media Director I was responsible for the creation and dissemination of print, radio and video product throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina (BIH). The PSYOPS main mission was to Create a supportive atmosphere and willingness to cooperate among the parties in conflict and civilian population in the area of operations.
Destination the Hague was a PSYOP product done by Stabilization Forces of NATO by the PSYOPS Support Branch (PSB) in Sarajevo Bosnia-Herzegovina as a companion product to a one-hour documentary on the Hague Tribunal.
The programs name was Viking and its main focus was to drive a wedge between the Persons Indicted for War Crimes and the local populace. The majority of the war criminals were highly regarded military and civilian leaders in the former Yugoslavia and were held in high regard by their respective people. Our goal was to discredit them in general with an inevitability theme and we paired it with the promise of a fair trial at the International Criminal Tribunal (The Hague).
Camp Bedrock Task Force Commander LTC Burch is interviewed on Radio Zivinice. Informational radio was regularly used by PSYOP to keep the people of
The entire Kosovo operation was studied in depth in Lessons from Kosovo: The KFOR Experience, Larry Wentz, The Command and Control Research Program, 2002. He said:
The KFOR information operations weapons of choice were public information, PSYOP, Civil-Military Cooperation, and the Joint Implementation Commission. Use of disinformation and deception were not allowed. Only white PSYOP was employed, and there was no KFOR-led counterpropaganda campaign in spite of extensive use of propaganda by the Serbs. The general rule of thumb was do not react to disinformation. Instead, react to selective issues of importance and tell the truth.
The 315th U.S. Army Reserve PSYOP company consisted of a tactical PSYOP detachment with three tactical PSYOP teams (TPT) and a product development detachment (PDD), located at Camp Bondsteel. The PSYOP team used print media, radio, television, and face-to-face dissemination. The PDD could generate print products in 12 hours or less once approved. Radio scripts could be done in less than 2 hours. However, getting product approval for dissemination could take up to 12 days.
1998 Informational Radio Leaflet
In addition to producing and disseminating fliers, handbills, posters, and other print products, the PSYOP Company was capable of producing radio and television programming. There were two Serbian radio stations, Radio Max in Silovo and Radio Zupa in Brezovica. There were seven Albanian stations under contract: Radio Festina in Urosevac, Radio Victoria in Gnjilane, Radio Iliria in Vitina, Radio TEMA in Urosevac, Radio Energji in Gnjilane, Radio Pozaranje in Pozaranje, and Radio Kacanik in Kacanik. UNMIK ran a joint Albanian/ Serbian radio station in Kamenica. The number of contracted radio stations grew from six regional stations in April 2000 to fourteen by the end of July with coverage that extended to all seven municipalities across the brigades sector.
In December 1990, the people of Haiti elected former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President with 67% of the vote. He took office in February 1991, but the military overthrew him in September of the same year. The United Nations passed Resolution 970 which imposed an oil and arms embargo aimed at forcing the Haitian military to the negotiating table. As a direct result of the embargo, over 21,000 Haitians left the poverty-stricken country, many attempting to illegally enter the United States.
Haitians at Sea being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard
General Raoul Cedras
General Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian armed forces, signed an agreement on 3 July 1993, which approved the return of President Aristide by 30 October 1993. These were known as the Governors Island Accords.
The air-dropped Radio for Haiti bought in bulk from Radio Shack
On 18 June 1994, the U.S. created a Military Information Support Team (MIST) in Washington, DC. The MIST consisted of soldiers from the 4th Psychological Operations Group and a number of Creole speaking civilian linguists. Two radio stations were created: Radio DEMOCRACY, an FM station focused on delivering Aristide's message and Radio AM 940, which carried messages designed to deter Haitian immigration. One of the problems facing the Washington MIST was the availability of radios in Haiti to make a campaign built on that medium viable. As an interim solution to the problems, SOG aircraft parachuted 10,000 small radios complete with batteries into various urban centers in Haiti.
This operation is discussed in a 1999 British Joint Services Command and Staff College Defense Research Paper by Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon. He says in part:
PSYOP staffs provided intelligence on regional, social and religious preferences of Haiti. Its aims were to assist President Aristide to broadcast towards his country and to fight the Juntas propaganda. A series of 900 hours of broadcast were transmitted by the commando SOLO aircraft before any troops had landed on the island. These messages were carefully combined with popular programs of Haitian music and local news. To increase the impact of this campaign, 10,000 radio sets were sent to Haiti.
The United States military and the multi-national force eventually numbered over 23,000 troops from over a dozen nations. General Cedras and his military staff left Haiti and President Aristide returned on 15 October 1994.
The White House formed a PSYOP Working Group to decide on themes each week for radio messages. A Ft. Bragg team set up a makeshift studio near the Pentagon, which Aristide used to tape speeches for daily broadcasts. There were some that were very critical of President Aristide.
193rd Special Operations Wing
A major part of American efforts was the use of EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft for radio broadcast operations by the 4th Psychological Operations Wing working through the Air Force 193d Special Operations Group (of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard). To facilitate the effectiveness of the broadcast campaign, transmitted on three FM bands, sought to discourage the flotillas of boat people by announcing that entry to the United States would henceforth be possible only through the INS office in Port-au-Prince. A dramatic drop in boat interceptions after July 7, 1994, suggests that the campaign had the intended effect. Later messages aimed at preventing local vigilantes from taking retribution against supporters of the Cedras regime.
PSYOP Support to Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY
The 4th PSYOP Group booklet PSYOP Support to Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY adds:
Tactical PSYOP Teams would eventually conduct over 760 ground PSYOP missions covering an area from the northern tip of Haiti near Port-de-Paix to the southwestern city of Jeremie. Aerial loudspeaker teams flew 67 missions in support of ground operations, facilitating PSYOP dissemination in the rugged and mountainous regions bordering the Gulf of Gonave and in other denied areas.
One of the major PSYOP problems in Haiti was the lack of linguists who spoke Creole. The military did a quick search and found thirty-three linguists throughout the armed forces, many born in Haiti. PSYOP soldiers who had served in Haiti in the past were also tapped to serve during the intervention.
The original invasion plan called for US forces to take over intact radio stations. The peaceful landing left those facilities in Haitian hands. The Joint PSYOP Task Force had to request $750,000 to cover operating costs and material expenses over the next six months.
One of the songs that were played over the radio in the fall of 1994 by U.S. PSYOP as the American forces spread across Haiti was Long live Peace. The song promises democracy, work for all, education and good health. There is no talk of vengeance, or peoples justice, since that would tear the country apart and discourage international aid. Reconciliation was the key to jobs and economic recovery.
The Radio Leaflet for Haiti
This leaflet depicts a radio at the far right with the frequency of the American-sponsored government station, a map of Haiti and the flags of the United States and Haiti at the left. The text is:
Help us to help you. Listen to Radio 1080 AM 24 hours a day
The back is all text:
The American Army has arrived to re-establish democracy. For your own and your family's safety, follow the advice below: Remain calm. Stay indoors. Keep away from windows. Do not form in groups on the street. Leave the American Army alone to work. Do not block traffic. Listen to the radio on 1080 for information. For more information tune your radio to 1080 AM.
This leaflet was dropped along with portable radios on 15 September 1994. In the Special Operations History magazine Veritas, Volume 11, No. 1, 2015, Dr. Jared Tracy wrote about Haiti in an article entitled A True Force Multiplier Psychological Operations in Operation Uphold Democracy, 1994-1995. Speaking of the portable radios, Tracy mentions the radios handed out to Haitians so that they could hear the American programing several times. Some of his comments are:
An earlier airdrop of 10,000 radios had broadened the listening audience; [On 12 October] 1,300 radios were distributed around Port au Prince; [Between 12 and 14 October] 2,100 radios were distributed.
Tracy mentions that the small portable radios that were given to the local people were bought in bulk at Radio Shack. Some of the PSYOP radio messages were:
Violence is not an answer to the road to peace and reconciliation; the New Year is a chance to reconcile, start anew, and give peace a chance; Make your community a safer place to live. Support and join your community watch program.
A Haitian who was on the ground during the drop makes an interesting observation. Admittedly he is Pro-Army and anti-Aristide but he says about the American PSYOP campaign:
The Americans were broadcasting to Haitians who knew the truth. There was no systematic violence or rape. I can remember the night when low flying 130s dumped radios all over the place. Many of these were turned in to the police, while Haitians claimed to have converted others so they could listen to Radio Superstar. Loads of leaflets could be seen cluttering the streets. I saved a few.
The New York Times agreed on 16 September:
Paramilitary forces seized many of the thousands of radios that were dropped from an American plane that flew over the capital after President Clinton's speech.
Douglas Waller mentions the military-PSYOP connection in an article entitled "How a Spec Ops Campaign Saved Lives," Armed Forces Journal International, June 1995. Some of his comments are:
The Army's 4th PSYOP Group at Fort Bragg, NC, divided Haiti's population into 20 target groups. Radio broadcasts began with the crow of a rooster, the mascot for Aristide's party Two months before the September 19 intervention, the daily Commando Solo broadcasts began - from 4 to 8 a.m. and 6:30 to 10 p.m. Market surveys showed many Haitians slept during the day because of the stifling heat.
This will be one of the largest radio sections but that is because as I write this, the Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan has gone on for 17 years.
On 11 September, 2001, terrorists of the al-Qaida (the Base), some trained and financed by Saudi Arabian exile-in-hiding Osama bin Laden, attacked the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC. In response to the terrorist attacks, the United States launched the Global War on Terrorism.
On 12 September, the day following the attack, Tactical PSYOP Detachment (TPD) 940 began target audience analysis of Afghanistan, including the Afghan populace, the Taliban, and al Qaida. On 4 October 2001 a 95-man Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and placed under the operational control of the Central Command (CENTCOM). The 3rd Psychological Operations battalion deployed to Kuwait that same month to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
Leaflets and radio scripts were prepared.
This is discussed in some depth in FM 3-05.301, Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, August 2007.
8th PSYOP Battalion
During the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 8th PSYOP Battalion became the PSYOP Task Force in direct support of the Central Command commander. The POTFs print assets were stationed initially at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This necessitated printing the leaflets and recording the radio messages at Fort Bragg, then distributing these messages to forward locations. Just two days before the start of combat operations on 5 October 2001, EC130 Commando Solo aircraft began to transmit radio broadcasts to Afghanistan. The first B-52 leaflets from Diego Garcia were dropped on 14 October 2001, almost a week after combat operations began.
The United States also explained the reason for the bombings and the American invasion over their propaganda radio. One of the messages was:
A grave crime has been committed against the United States. Four of our planes have been hijacked, several building in our economic centers destroyed and more than 6,000 innocent people, hundreds of which were Muslim were murdered by the hand of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaida, his supporters, and the Taliban. We see these actions as acts of war. We will not sit idly by and do nothing in these times. However, we do not wish to spill the blood of innocent people, as did the cowardly terrorists. We do not blame the Muslims or Afghans for these attacks. We do not hold those who follow true Islam responsible. We will hunt down and punish these terrorists. They will pay with their blood. America is not against the beliefs of Islam, nor is it against Muslims. More than 6 million Muslims live and worship Allah in peace in the United States, a number equal to almost half the population of Afghanistan. In the United States people of all religions live side by side in peace. Muslims living in America have the same rights to worship as any other citizen of any other religion.
Readers wanting to see more of the Coalition radio messages can find them here.
The first leaflet drop took place on October 15, coordinated with Coalition radio broadcasts. EC-130-E Command Solo aircraft from the 193rd Special Operations Wing flying out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, broadcast to the Afghan people. The modified C-130 can broadcast radio or TV signals - AM, FM and HF. It broadcasts across the band from 45 kilohertz to 1000 megahertz.
This leaflet depicts a radio tower and two radios. Text is identical on both sides in Pashto and Dari. The leaflet states:
0500-1000. 1700-2200 daily.
864, 1107, 8700 kilohertz.
The leaflet tells the Afghan finder what radio stations to dial in order to hear the latest news from the coalition forces. Part of the PSYOP plan was to tell the Afghan people why their country was being bombed. The radio broadcasts stress that this is simply a war against terrorism and not against the people of Afghanistan. The Taliban's main Kabul radio station, Voice of Sharia, ("Islamic Law"), was taken off the air by an American cruise missile several days earlier. 7,931,000 copies of this leaflet were disseminated by M129 leaflet bombs in the first year of the war. These leaflets were also handed out by Tactical PSYOP teams on the ground.
P.W. Singer discusses the Taliban radio station in Analysis Paper No. 5, Americans Response to Terrorism, Winning the War of Words: Information Warfare in Afghanistan:
The Taliban broadcasts continually stressed that the one rallying point in Afghan history has been for the various tribes to join to throw out invaders, from the Persians and the British, to most recently the Soviets. The Taliban's broadcasts painted US demands on their country as falling in line with this long procession of outsiders attempting to interfere in their own local matters. The dominant message was that the US was yet another imperial power targeting Afghanistan.
Afghans listening to the Coalition broadcasts
There is a lot of published information about the production of these radio leaflets. Weapon of Choice, ARSOF in Afghanistan, Charles H. Briscoe, Richard L. Kiper, James A. Schroeder, and Kalev I Sepp, authors, Combat studies Institute Press, Fort Leavenworth, KS 2003 says:
Whether it was a leaflet offering a monetary reward, providing a radio listening frequency, extolling the new government, or warning about land mines, the 30 million leaflets 2nd Platoon, A Company, 3rd PSYOP Battalion, printed were a significant contribution to the global war on terrorism. When radio broadcasts by the Air Force EC- 130 Commando Solo aircraft became possible, Donovan's [PSYOP squad leader] squad printed handbills that ground units could distribute to villages. The handbills depicted a radio tower and had various frequencies for music and news.
On 30 January 2002, the American Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, now located in Prague, Czech Republic, began broadcasting to Afghanistan in the Dari and Pashto languages. Radio Free Afghanistan (Radio Azadi) broadcast 12 hours a day on FM radio from Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Kandahar. The broadcasts can be heard on short wave, medium wave, and satellite radio and also on demand via the Internet.
On 17 October 2001, it was reported that small battery-powered portable radios were dropped to those without radios or electricity. Initially, several thousand KAITO brand portable radios were distributed by hand. The KAITO was a 220-volt AC radio that was battery, solar and crank (dynamo) powered. It was usable for people who lived in central Afghanistan with no electric power. AM and FM radio was only available in cities. In rural areas the people relied on SW radio. Cost was low for quantity purchased and the power source was the prime requirement. The sensitivity and selectivity were poor, and required a very strong signal to work. It was not successful in the mountainous countryside of Afghanistan.
Under the Taliban, possession of a radio was a crime, and thus few were available. More than 7,500 small battery-powered transistor radios were distributed by airdrop and by tactical PSYOP teams operating with Special Forces detachments.
A local Afghan elder is excited to receive his new radio from an 8th PSYOP Battalion member attached to the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division in Malajat, Afghanistan. The purpose of the mission is to gather information from the local population and to distribute Psychological Operations products.
The Freeplay Plus Radio
A military report entitled PSYOP Radio in Afghanistan adds in part:
The US military is air-dropping Freeplay wind-up radios among the Afghan people. Unlike the Freeplay Plus Radio we offer, which has the AM, FM and most of the short wave spectrum, these specially designed Freeplay radios are locked on a frequency that automatically tunes in US military broadcasts. With these radios, Afghans will know about aid facilities in their area as well as food drops. They'll also hear messages like the one below, assuring them of the US intentions in Afghanistan, and that we're there to help them.
The Grundig FR220 radio
There was a recommendation to use the Grundig FR220 radio. It worked well in the mountainous terrain and was battery and dynamo powered. The 10th Mountain Division psychological operations officer headed the purchase of 100,000 FR200 Grundig Emergency Radios for Coalition Joint Task Force (CJTF) 180 to be delivered to Bagram, Afghanistan, between November 2003 and February 2004. Over 30,000 Grundig radios had been distributed by the time he left Afghanistan in April 2004.
Passing out radios
For a while the Americans dropped the WR-004 "World Receiver" AM, FM and short wave radio produced by the STL Group in the Netherlands under the brand name "Super Tech." They were dropped with the batteries already in the radio. The inability of the Afghans to replace the batteries was a liability. The British apparently dropped crank-powered radios at the same time. Broadcasts that same day told the people where to find the yellow cartons containing food dropped by American aircraft.
A local Afghan citizen reads a flyer handed to him by soldiers assigned to the 10th Psychological Operations Battalion, during a mission to Kuchi village, Afghanistan, May 27, 2011. The purpose of the mission was to distribute radios and flyers to local villagers, and to evaluate the needs of the locals.
Worldspace model WSSR-11 Digital receivers
During a spring of 2004 visit to Fort Bragg I was able to confirm that the US Army did indeed distribute radios to the people of Afghanistan so that they could hear the latest news from the Coalition powers. I also learned that the radios then being disseminated were Worldspace model WSSR-11 Digital receivers. They are battery-powered and allow the listener to access over 40 satellite radio services from around the world. Each radio comes with a directional line-of sight antenna. The service uses three satellites, AmeriStar, AfriStar, and Asia Star. These new radios were not without problems. They were given to Afghans selected as "key communicators." The problem was a lack of Pashto or Dari radio broadcasts on the satellites. The best broadcasts were still coming from the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Voice of America, or the local PSYOP radio stations. Many Afghans were happier with the cheaper Kaito radio because they could get all the local stations in their own language.
U.S. Psychological Operations soldiers hand out radios to children in a village in southern Afghanistan. The new radio shows on Army-run stations are seeking to reach wider audiences.
NATO distributed more than 700,000 radios in the first half of 2006. The NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency announced that eligible firms were invited to provide bids on a Psychological Operations Radio Network for the International Security Assistance Force. The US military broadcasts on short wave, the U.S. Embassy uses 23 host nation stations, and of course there is the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America.
The Special Operations System B (SOMS B) ground-based PSYOP radio in Afghanistan. The DRASH tents attached to the vehicles are the operational areas for the system set up in Bagram.
Elements of the 4th PSYOP Group set up radio stations in Afghanistan. One of the radio specialists from Ft. Bragg told me:
The Special Operations System B (SOMS B) was the first ground-based PSYOP asset in Afghanistan. There was a SOMS B in Bagram and one in Kandahar. Initially broadcasting was done on AM and FM. Eventually, all broadcasting was migrated to shortwave (SW). The three short wave radio frequencies are 9325, 9345 and 9365 kHz.The stations broadcast from 0030 to 1830 with the heading in Pashto Da Sola Radyo day, and in Dari Inja Solh-e Radyoe, (You are listening to Peace Radio.).
Soldiers erect the antenna of the Special Operations Media System-Broadcast (SOMS-B) capable of providing local radio and television support including editing of radio and audiovisual products
The antenna field was very crowded in the beginning because all three (AM, FM, and SW) antennas had been set up in the same small area. The AM antenna was a discone antenna supported by four masts, which were only 50 feet off the ground at the highest point.
The Voice of Peace Radio station building in Jabal os Saraj Afghanistan
The sign above the door reads VOICE of PEACE.
PSYOP soldiers had visited the Voice of Peace FM broadcast station in Jabal os Saraj a couple of times to try and improve the coverage of this station, which was supporting US efforts. The station was housed in a donated building up on the side of a tall hill. The transmitter was a 500 Watt Japanese made solid-state system that had some repairs done by the local welder. The civilian tech advisors working with the soldiers were able to improve the repairs and determine that the existing omni-directional antenna was only rated for 200 Watts, limiting the system. Replacement antennas were acquired which provided a directional coverage and increased effective radiated power to extend their coverage area.
The requirements of the operation are such that the SW broadcasting is now done from three locations in Afghanistan. Each location has its own SW transmitter as the SOMS B systems have all returned to FT Bragg. The audio products are edited using a Deployable Audio Production System (DAPS) designed for PSYOP use by the civilian technical support in the Media Production Center, FT Bragg. Video products are edited using the Deployable Non-Linear Editor (DNLE) which was developed by the same resource.
Inside the video production and editing tent of the SOMS-B complex at
Kandahar, Afghanistan during a broadcast in support of Operation Enduring Freedom
The SOMS-B system is discussed in depth by Scott R. Gourley in a Special Operations Technology Online Archives article:
The SOMS-B system consists of two primary subsystems: the Mobile Radio Broadcast System (MRBS) and Mobile Television Broadcast System (MTBS). Each of these subsystems consists of a primary HMMWV, a cargo HMMWV, and a mission trailer carrying a 33 kW generator, environmental control unit, and Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH) tent system. The two subsystems can be deployed together or separately.
Interim Afghanistan President Karzai had told the Americans very early that their broadcasts were found wanting. ARSOF in Afghanistan notes:
The Pashtun leader knew that radio broadcasts in various dialects would have a greater effect than leaflets. He had listened to the programs broadcast by the Air Force EC- 130 Commando Solo aircraft and told MAJ Barstow that the music was very effective, but the BBC and VOA had better-quality programs. Karzai urged Barstow [Major, C Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion] to make the messages more forceful. The people needed to be told what they should do about the Taliban and al-Qaeda who were still in their midst.
Inside a PSYOP mobile radio studio
Later, PSYOP soldiers in Bagram and Kandahar went on the air. They literally took over their mission on the same frequencies using the Special Operations Media System. The eight-man team now broadcasts round the clock. The Afghan programming, simultaneously broadcast on both AM and short wave is presented in the countrys predominant languages, Dari and Pashto. Using hour long formats like commercial stations, news and information is broken up by blocks of Afghan music. And of course, the news is all good. Two current messages include the reopening of Kabul University and story of two bicyclists in Kandahar training for the 2004 Olympics. They also air public service announcements about things such as the need for identification cards and polio vaccinations. What locals really like is the music, and they tell the team how the Taliban kept most music on the forbidden list. From Bagram, PSYOP radio extends about 30 miles, and begins breaking up at the outskirts of Kabul. The short wave broadcast can reach the entire country depending on weather conditions.
A member of the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion,
shows some of the Afghan music CDs that
the battalion's radio station from Kandahar Airfield.
The Stars and Stripes issue of 31 July 2002 points out that the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion is broadcasting Afghan music from the battalion's radio station at Kandahar Airfield. They regularly broadcast the music of Naghma & Mangal, Khaliq Aziz and Ahmed Zahir, some of hottest pop artists and musicians in Afghanistan. Some of the article says:
When the Taliban ruled, radios were forbidden. However, some people hid them in their house and huddled around at night to listen to the BBC or Pakistan programming. Soldiers with the 8th Psychological Operation Battalion operate the mobile 5,000-watt radio station which has a range of about 20 miles from a small group of tents. Ninety-percent of the programming is pure Afghan music, including some dance, contemporary and folk music. None is American. Each hour, the Army broadcasts three informational spots. The messages tell listeners such things as what to do if they come across unexploded ordnance, news about the interim government and assurances that U.S. troops are not an occupying force.
The Police give Radios to the People
A former PSYOP detachment sergeant in Kandahar and later team chief in Geresk mentioned the distribution of the radios. He said:
The radios were given to all returning Hajjis, people who went on the Hajj to Mecca. This was a good way to get the radios out since each district was allotted a certain number of people to go on the Hajj. When they returned to their remote areas with the radio, it gave the radios a status symbol quality, since going on the Hajj is such a big thing. Then we would give radios to schools, key communicators and random people in our travels. We used them as an inducement to work with us. It was a good benefit for the people and everyone wanted more than we could ever give out. People who gave us directions along the road would frequently be rewarded with a radio.
The U.S. Government released several radio broadcast texts to the public. One of the messages was:
Attention Taliban! You are condemned. Did you know that? The instant the terrorists you support took over our planes, you sentenced yourselves to death our helicopters will rain death down upon your camps before you detect them on your radar. Our bombs are so accurate we can drop them through your windows you have only one choice, surrender now and we will give you a second chance. We will let you live.
In order to entice the Afghans to listen to the radio, about three-quarters of all broadcasts consist of music. The Taliban had condemned music.
The Taliban showed signs of collapse on 14 November 2001. They had threatened to fight to the death, but they surprised everyone by fleeing the Afghan capital of Kabul in the dark of the night. The war now entered a new phase as American Special Forces hunted bin Laden and his terrorist group in the mountains and caves of southeastern Afghanistan. They set up roadblocks along the refugee-filled roads. That same day the United States broadcast radio messages and dropped 1.5 million leaflets offering 25 million dollars to anyone willing to betray bin Laden.
On 7 September 2002, the Coalition Commanders discussed the PSYOP status of the war. 138 PSYOP radio programs were broadcast and 523 different scripts were written. Over 6,000 hours of radio was broadcast by PSYOP forces and close to 4,000 hours by the Voice of America. To insure that the broadcasts were heard, Coalition forces handed out 7,670 radios. In a second briefing on 2 October 2002 The PSYOP radio hours had reached 6,622 with 162 radio programs and 538 different scripts.
A survey showed that 51% of Afghans listened to the Information Radio on a regular basis. 57% of those approved of the broadcasts and 30% regularly complied with the instructions. Some examples of Coalition radio messages are:
Noble people of Afghanistan. Kabul University, once one of Asias finest institutions, has re-opened. Workers have cleared away the rubble and prepared for the new academic year...The partnership of Nations has donated window glass for several buildings. Machinery and vehicles have been repaired and donated to insure the universitys physical plant is operational Peace and prosperity in Afghanistan grows closer by the day. Many of Afghanistans regional commanders have vowed to put aside ethnic and tribal disputes. They have sworn allegiance to the Afghan national army .
Flag of Great Britain
In 2012, the British 15th Psychological Operations Group was presented with the Firmin Sword of Peace for their valuable contribution to humanitarian activities. A team from the 15th POG has been continuously deployed to Helmand for six years. The unit runs a network of seven radio stations employing local Afghans as disk jockeys, broadcasts music, poetry, debate programs and even a soap opera, as well as producing graphical posters and leaflets to communicate in an area where literacy rates are only around 20%.
Flag of Canada
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported in 2006 that the Canadian military has contracted with the communications expert Ivana Previsic to teach soldiers how to become effective news broadcasters and get the militarys messages out to locals in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Another military contract won by Ottawa-based International Datacasting Corporation ensures that the first graduates will be broadcasting digital radio broadcasts from Kingston, Canada, into their Afghanistan area of operations by satellite.
In 2010, the Associated Press reported that the Canadians were broadcasting from five small local radio stations in Kandahar Province called the Voice of Panjwaii. The station has been on air since June, broadcasting news, government announcements, weather and other programs throughout the district southwest of Kandahar city where Canadians have been concentrating their efforts in Afghanistan. About 80 per cent of Panjwaii residents have radios. Canadian soldiers have handed out an estimated 30,000 units over the past two year in the province.
Flag of Germany
PSYOPS forces were an integral part of the German contingent with approximately 15 soldiers on the ground. In addition to the soldiers' radio Radio Andernach, the PSYOP radio station Sada-e Azadi (Voice of Freedom) was established. Sada-e Azadi broadcasts in the two main languages spoken in the country, Dari and Pashtu.
Flag of Italy
In April 2010, The Italian radio stations Sada and Azadi West, which translates to The Voice of Freedom - West began broadcasting. The radio station, as part of the NATO radios network, was developed with Italian funds by the staff of the Regional PSYOP Support Element (RPSE), composed of personnel of the 28th Pavia Regiment, a unit specializing in Operating Communications." All of the programs will be broadcast exclusively in Pashto and Dari languages. The station will offer information of public interest for the Afghan people in an attempt to increase knowledge on the purpose of ISAF coalition forces present in Afghanistan. The program will include musical entertainment, local news and in-depth sections on important social issues and local culture. The radio is the main tool to disseminate information throughout Afghanistan and will reach people even in the most remote areas.
In spring 2009, the American military began attempting to prevent the Taliban from using radio stations and Web sites to intimidate civilians and plan attacks. American military and intelligence personnel worked to jam the unlicensed radio stations in Pakistan's lawless regions on the Afghanistan border that Taliban fighters use to broadcast threats and decrees. In Pakistan, Taliban leaders use unlicensed FM stations to recite the names of local Pakistani government officials, police officers and other figures that have been marked for death by the group. There are about 150 illegal FM radio stations in Pakistan's Swat Valley which allow militants to broadcast every night the names of people they're going to behead or they've beheaded.
In 2011, more than 20 radio Disk Jockeys in Paktika Province, and dozens more across the country, engaged in what the U.S. military considers a crucial operation, convincing residents in an area dominated by insurgents to embrace Afghan and NATO forces. They play hit Pashto ballads but never tell their listeners that they are broadcasting from studios on U.S. Army bases. Their job is to pause between Pakistani love songs and passages from the Koran to read about the heroism of Afghan and American forces, as well as the destruction wreaked by insurgents. In a region with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, where the vast majority of families are unable to afford a television, 92 percent of Paktika residents listen to the radio every day.
IRAQI FREEDOM 2003
President George W. Bush announced the opening of the second war Gulf War at 2215 on 19 March 2003 just 90 minutes after the deadline for Saddam to exile himself and his sons from Iraq. The initial strikes on Baghdad were a target of opportunity. Intelligence reports placed senior Iraqi military leaders with Saddam at a secret meeting place. The initial salvos against Baghdad consisted of 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from six Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, as well as precision-guided 2,000-pound bombs dropped from two F-117A Nighthawk stealth jets. Three hours after the raids began, a defiant Saddam, wearing military fatigues, appeared on state television calling on Iraqis to defend their country. Iraq retaliated by firing missiles at U.S. troop positions in Kuwait.
Daniel A. Castro says in his 2007 Naval Postgraduate School thesis: Do Psychological Operations Benefit from the use of Host Nation Media:
The start of the PSYOP campaign in Iraq started months prior to the March invasion and it consisted of a campaign of leaflet drops, cell phone text messages, emails and radio broadcasts that targeted the Iraqi leadership.
An Iraqi civilian listens to a radio broadcast
PSYOP primarily used both radio broadcasts and leaflet dissemination. Broadcasts into Iraq originated From Kuwait, Qatar-based EC 130E Commando Solo aircraft, and maritime broadcasts from aircraft carriers in the Arabian Gulf.
IZD-001c is an information radio leaflet. It depicts a map of Iraq at the center and radio towers at left and right. The text is:
756 KHZ AM - 1800-1200,
690 KHZ AM - 1800-2300,
9715 KHZ SW - 24 hours a day,
11292 KHZ SW 1800-1200,
100.4 MHZ FM 1800-2300.
The same message appears on both front and back.
The 2016 Rand report: Operation Iraqi Freedom Decisive War, Elusive Peace adds:
The coalition mounted a major PSYOP campaign in Iraq both prior to and during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Thousands of hours of radio broadcasts were directed at Iraqi audiences from both land stations and Hercules C-130 Commando Solo aircraft. To cue the potential radio listeners, leaflets were dropped instructing the Iraqis about the frequencies over which the coalitions Information Radio could be heard.
IZD-002a depicts a radio tower in the center and small portable radios to the left and right. The text is:
756 KHZ AM
693 KHZ AM
9715 KHZ SW
11292 KHZ SW
100.4 MHZ FM.
The same message appears on both front and back.
Once combat operations began on 21 March 2003, the themes changed to convincing Iraqi forces to surrender or desert: asking Iraqi civilians to avoid combat areas and to listen to the coalition radio broadcasts.
At the same time that the Coalition forces were offering a reward for helping downed pilots, Iraqi radio announced a $14,000 reward for anyone killing a Coalition soldier, and $28,000 for anyone taking a live prisoner. The announcement further reported that shooting down an enemy fighter plane would bring a reward of $55,500, a helicopter $28,000, and a missile, $5,500.
President Bush on Commando Solo TV Broadcast
From the start of the campaign EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft from the 193rd Special Operations Wing broadcast to the Iraqis by commercial AM, FM and short wave radio as well as by television. At first the aircraft flew outside Iraqi airspace. Later they were tasked with broadcasting to western Iraq, which made them vulnerable to attack. The aircraft normally trailed a 400-foot long antenna which makes a quick reaction to attack almost impossible. By April 2003, the aircraft was broadcasting a television show called Towards Freedom TV. It also broadcast a message from President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The front of IZD-061 shows four radio antenna and the text:
! ATTENTION !
In times of crisis, tune in to Information Radio for important news and information.
756 KHZ AM
690 KHZ AM
100.4 MHZ FM
9715 KHZ SW
11292 KHZ SW
The reverse shows two hands clasping in front of a desert-style camouflage background. Text is:
Coalition forces support the people of Iraq in their desire to remove Saddam and his regime. The Coalition wishes no harm to the innocent Iraqi civilians.
Inside the EC-130E
A standard EC-130E Commando Solo radio message might be as follows:
People of Iraq. The standard of living for Iraqis has dropped drastically since Saddam came into power. Every night, children go to sleep hungry in Iraq. The sick suffer from ailments that are easily treatable in the rest of the world.
Saddam has built palace after Palace for himself and has purchased a fleet of luxury cars, all at the expense of the Iraqi people. This money would be much better suited to build libraries and schools
Saddam and his close associates live in lavish palaces and live above and beyond the law. Saddam lives like a king while his soldiers are underpaid, and under equipped.
How much longer will this incompetent leader be allowed to rule? How many more soldiers is he willing to sacrifice? Will your unit be the next one to be sacrificed? When will the Iraqi Army become a legitimate army of the people and not serve as bodyguards for Saddam's Regime?
The front of IZD-071 depicts an antenna at left and a map of Iraq at the right. The text is:
756 KHZ AM
693 KHZ AM
9715 KHZ SW
11292 KHZ SW
100.4 MHZ FM
The reverse shows antenna at left and right and the text:
The Coalition stands with the Iraqi people against Saddam. For your safety stay in your homes and away from military targets. The Coalition does not target civilians. Listen to information.
Besides the aircraft, there were also the ground based Special Operations media System-Broadcast (SOMS-B). The SOMS-B consists of two primary systems: a mobile radio broadcast system and a mobile television broadcast system. Between them they can broadcast on AM, FM, shortwave radio and television. The 4th PSYOP Group initially set up a SOMS-B in Kuwait in December 2002. The initial broadcasts were five hours a day, but by February 2003 it was eighteen hours a day. A second unit was with the 3rd Infantry Division as it raced toward Baghdad. A third unit was placed in the Baghdad International Airport once it had been taken by Coalition troops. The three systems and the EC-130 could cover all of Iraq.
15th Psychological Operations Group Patch
The British PSYOP capability is provided by the 15th Psychological Operations Group based at the Defense Intelligence and Security Centre, Chicksands. Its role is to provide PSYOP and information support capabilities. The Reserve element of 15 PSYOP includes personnel from civilian radio stations some of whom were used in the setting up of a local radio station in Basra: RADIO NAHRAIN. The group uses equipment that was bought commercially and which is therefore not designed for the rugged situation of military operations. The 15th PSYOP is supported by information officers at battalion and regimental level within the operational units.
British Forces disseminating the new leaflet
The British "Desert Rats" distributed a handbill around Basra. The handbill depicted a British soldier shaking hands with an Iraqi. The text is:
This time we won't abandon you. Be patient - together we will win.
The back is all text:
People of Al Basra, we are here to liberate the people of Iraq. Our enemy is the regime and not the people. We need your help. To identify the enemy. To rebuild Iraq. English speakers please come forward. We will stay as long as it takes. Listen to Radio Nahrain 100-4 FM (94.6 in the evenings) for important news and information.
IZD-8104 is all text. The front is:
Iraqi commanders and soldiers
Show that you will not resist Coalition forces. Make clear your intentions.
The back tells them how to make their intentions clear:
CONTACT US ON Thuraya Ascom
HF 5102.0 KHZ Tel # 88 216 21 12 32 39
VHF 31.2250 MHZ UHF 381.500 MHZ
TELL US: Unit size name location combat vehicles
CONTINUE to attempt contacting the COALITION on the listed frequencies until we acknowledge you.
COMPLY with our instructions and you will not be DESTROYED
British 15th PSYOP Group Radio Station in Iraq
British Radio Nahrain (Two Rivers Radio), programming is similar to Information Radio, with a mixture of Iraqi songs, job offers, western pop music, and messages to the local population. The handbill was designed by the 15th (UK) PSYOP Group. On 31 March a report on CNN said that the transmissions were being stepped up.
Radio Nahrain Poster
After the end of the war, the station continued as Radio Nahrain 96FM. The British say about the station:
The group provided a state-of-the-art, radio station, RADIO NAHRAIN, which beamed across Basra, home to more than 1.5 million people, broadcasting music, news, and public information around the clock.
Lt ColColin Mason said, "The set up here in the desert is similar to what you would find at any commercial radio station in the UK. . . we have been able to provide the people of with vital information - warning civilians to stay away from areas of military action and advising them of distribution areas." Basra
A British propaganda poster appeared in Basra. This poster is all text except for a British flag in full color at the top. The text is:
We are here to work with you cooperatively to make things better.
Try to get back to your normal routine.
Obey the rule of law.
Support the new interim administration.
Do not carry weapons on the street.
Follow the Instructions of Coalition forces.
Listen to Radio Nahrain 100.4 FM for important news and information.
The second British poster shows a vertical strip of five cartoons of Iraqis in a car meeting a Coalition soldier. The car cartoon is actually very interesting and represents the stages of government from the beginning of the operation through to Iraqi self-government. The text is:
Coalition forces are steering towards a better future. We are here to work with you cooperatively to make things better. Try to get back to your normal routine. Obey the rule of law. Support the new interim administration. Do not carry weapons on the street. Follow the instructions of Coalition forces. Our stay will be temporary, when we have finished our work we will leave. Listen to Radio Nahrain 100.4 FM for important news and information.
Missiles hit the Iraq Ministry of Information Building
The Ministry of Information in Baghdad was struck by cruise missiles on 29 March. The building was damaged, but not destroyed.
The Central Intelligence Agency set up a deceptive or Black PSYOP radio station called RADIO TIKRIT. Radio Tikrit was purported to have been managed by local Iraqis and at first ran news editorials that were loyal to Saddam Hussein. After a few weeks, the radio station grew more and more critical of the dictator. These efforts were designed to undermine the legitimacy of the Hussein regime and to discourage those loyal to it from fighting.
Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Collins adds:
The US Central Intelligence Agency reportedly set up Black PSYOP stations as early as February 2003. One such station, Radio Tikrit, tried to build up its credibility by claiming to be managed by loyal Iraqis in the Tikrit area and by maintaining an editorial line slavishly supportive of Saddam Hussein. Within a few weeks, however, the tone changed and the station became increasingly critical of Saddam. The hope of Black PSYOP is that the target audience does not see through the ruse and believes the information is coming from the wrongly attributed source, which it sees as more credible. The risk, of course, is that if the ruse is discovered, the trustworthiness of the entire PSYOP effort, both White and Black, is damaged.
Although this article is about radio, the same aircraft and stations that broadcast radio often broadcast television. Leaflet IZD004b depicts a TV set and map of Iraq at the left, and text at the right. The front and back are identical. The text is:
Families of Baghdad
Turn your television antennas to face SSW
To receive important information from the Coalition Forces
Daily from 6 am until 11 pm
On Channel 3
According to the 30 April 2003 United States Central Command Air Force Assessment and Analysis Division, Operation Iraqi Freedom by the Numbers, the Coalition dropped 31,800,000 PSYOP leaflets during 158 missions. There were 81 different leaflets messages dropped during 32 A-10 missions, 34 B-52 missions, 24 F-18C missions and 68 F-16CJ missions. There were 58 Commando Solo sorties with 306 broadcast hours consisting of 108 different messages and 204 TV broadcast hours. If you lined up the leaflets end to end they would stretch from Ft. Worth, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska, or make 120,454 rolls of toilet paper.
Leaflet IZ-05-5228 depicts a large radio antenna on both the front and back. The text is identical on both sides:
There is a new station in the city today,
transmitting its program to your area on
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 307th Tactical PSYOP Company conducted a campaign to influence Baghdad citizens to increase reporting of insurgent activities. Using billboards, posters, wallet cards, and radio and TV spots, and using local news media to publicize the programs successes, the Tips Hotline received enormous exposure throughout the Baghdad area. Within the first months of the PSYOP series, the call volume rose from its baseline of 1 or 2 a day to a range of 6 to 8 a day, a 688 percent increase in calls.
USMC Major Andy Dietz was interviewed about operations in Fallujah. He said in part:
We did things such as tell them how much money had been allocated for Fallujah for reconstruction and why that money wasnt coming. We would have already been spending X-million number of dollars to repair your city with these projects and now we cant. The next drop would up the ante on what projects werent getting done, the money, so we kept doing that. Other methods we used were radio messages, some of which were generic to the Al Anbar Province, but a lot of them were targeted to the people in Fallujah. There were rumors that nobody during the day would be caught listening to one of our radio stations in public. So we would usually run most of our public service announcements as well as our radio messages at night when people would be inside their houses and had the freedom to listen to the radio.
This black and white leaflet was printed and disseminated during the consolidation campaign. Both sides of the leaflet are identical and depict a radio antenna at the center and radios at the right and left. Radio station information is found at the top and the center of the leaflet.
Medium Wave 756
Medium Wave 864
Most of the information about current operations in your areas comes from the Coalition to the radio on one of the following every 24 hours:
If you have any information about terrorist activities or violent acts report them at the following number:427-232
Flag of Poland
Polish PSYOP Loudspeaker Team
The PSYOP Units name is Centralna Grupa Dzialan Psychologicznych Dowodztwa Wojsk Ladowych The Central Group of Psychological Actions of Land Forces Command. It was headquartered in Bydgoszcz and commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Witold Klinger, a 20-year veteran of electronic reconnaissance. Candidates are required to be fluent in at least one foreign language. Psychology and Sociology college graduates are preferred as are specialists in electronics, information sciences and telecommunications. The unit cooperates closely with PSYOP units from the US and Germany. Among the sections are one that deals with Polish-language information (radio and TV), a second that deals with English-language information, A third that studies the regions where the unit deploys and a fourth that gathers information on Eastern Europe.
Leaflet IZD-9587 surfaced in late 2005. At least 109 insurgents and one American soldier were killed overnight in a major offensive launched by U.S. in October 2004 in the Sunni Triangle. An estimated 3,000 U.S. troops moved into Samarra in what the United States called repeated and unprovoked attacks by anti-Iraqi forces. Possibly in support of this operation, a radio leaflet for Iraq coded IZD-9587 was distributed, which depicts a radio antenna at the left and the text:
Radio Samarra on wave length 106.1 FM
Radio Samarra for all the information
TRAINING AND WAR GAME RADIO
Training PSYOP is an interesting subject because by definition, it will be cruder and less finished than products produced by a psychological operations unit during a war. In wartime, the unit will have the best artists, translators, writers and radio equipment. The training exercise is generally a simple test given to students asking them to prepare a script and broadcast on some subject. It might just be one or two students and they are expected to do all the work with whatever data or instruction they have on hand. They are still in school and have not yet perfected their military occupational specialty. Because the training products are so crude, they would generally never be used against a real enemy where credibility is important.
War game PSYOP is similar, except the PSYOP troops will have graduated and joined a unit. However, since the war game is just for play and training by combat forces, to test their mettle and strategy, there will be just a few PSYOP people involved and they will make some simple and meaningless leaflets and broadcasts as part of the general horse and pony show. In other words, everyone knows it is a war game and the 82nd Airborne Division is not going to convince the 101st Airborne Division to surrender by implying their wives are lonely and seeing other men. So, it is an opportunity to produce propaganda in the field, to show what a PSYOP team can do, but it is understood that it serves no purpose except to train the troops.
Meet Combine Connie
This COMBINE leaflet was prepared by the 5th L&L Company to get the enemy to listen to its radio broadcasts. The back lists five different propaganda stations where you can hear Connies seditious messages. Combine Connie was Dorothea Kovelas who broadcast on American Forces Network Europe. She asked the men to visit Connies Inn, because she hated maneuvers but loved soldiers.
The United States always wants the enemy to listen to its broadcasts during wartime. That is one way to get them to hear the surrender messages and eventually defect. In this 2nd Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company training leaflet used in Exercise Southern Pine in August 1951, a Lovely woman is depicted at the left with a microphone. The girl was a local named Gladys Mathews. The text is:
Listen to Lorelei
The velvet voice of aggressor in her nightly broadcasts
Just for you!
The back of the leaflet is in the form of a handwritten letter. It says in part:
Hello to all you fellows in the U.S. Army I do so want to please you, to comfort you, maybe to recall a memory or two of time you used to know Ill try to help you fellas, help you to maybe get away from all this sweat and dirt and the bugs, if youll only let me. How about it? Will you listen for me each night .
An Informal history of the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Battalion adds:
In the summer of 1951, the 2nd Leaflet and Loudspeaker Company participated in the first maneuver in which a psychological warfare unit was deployed. This major maneuver, Operation Southern Pines, took place in the Ft. Bragg area. Local girls were recruited to record and type the L&Ls nostalgic appeal, The Velvet voice of Lorelei, the L&Ls answer to the Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose broadcasts of WWII.
This training leaflet for Exercise Flintlock depicts a rather odd looking dragon and tells the enemy where to find the radio station WIZZ that broadcasts four times a day. Eurock (European Rock) was apparently a popular form of music for young men at the time.
Russian Training Propaganda Messages for Interoperability 2016
Many of the leaflets above mention radio broadcast and tell the enemy what stations to listen to. In 2016, the Russians held a war game where they broadcast anti-NATO messages. I thought it might be interesting to add their training broadcasts here. The training exercise was called Interoperability 2016 and combined the forces of Russia and its old colonies; Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The message was transmitted in several languages, including Russian, German and English:
NATO soldiers! You are being deceived! You are not peacekeepers! Lay down your weapons! You are fighting on the foreign territory. With your treacherous invasion, you have interrupted the peaceful life of an innocent country. You will be brought down by a just revenge and an anger of the people that have never been defeated in war. Drop your weapons and stop being puppets in the hands of your leaders!
This has been a short look at the use of propaganda radio in wartime. Any reader wishing to comment is encouraged to write theauthor at firstname.lastname@example.org.