The Black Leaflet

SGM Herb Friedman (Ret.)

Symbol of the Skorpion

There are several types of leaflets, the most common is the white leaflet, the rarest is the black leaflet. There are numerous definitions for the two, but they are all about the same. The white leaflet is acknowledged, and the finder knows who sent it. The black leaflet is not, and the finder (in theory) does not know who sent it. There are so many ways to say the same things. One is:

White propaganda was that whose origin was clearly labeled, and which had a transparent purpose. Black propaganda is information put out by an opposing government or institution and made to look as though it came from a friendly source.

Psychological Operations FM 33-1

Back in 1979 the U.S. Army said in Psychological Operations FM 33-1 that:

White: Its source is openly stated. Black: Attributed to other than the true source. This type is normally used to support strategic objectives. It generally emanates from the highest levels of command or government and is disseminated by designated specialists. black propaganda purports to emanate from a source other than the true one. White and black do not refer to the content of the propaganda message. The terms merely refer to the methods used to carry out the operation. It went on to explain the advantages and disadvantages.


Black propaganda may originate within or near the enemy homeland, or enemy-held territory, and may provide immediate propaganda messages for a specific audience.

The presumption of emanating from within an enemy country lends credibility to black propaganda and helps to demoralize the enemy by suggesting that there are dissident and disloyal elements within his ranks.

Through the skillful use of terminology, format, and media, messages appear to be a part of the enemy's own propaganda effort, making the enemy appear to contradict himself, and forcing him to mount an expensive, difficult, and exploitable counterpropaganda campaign that highlights the original black propaganda message.

The covert nature of black propaganda and the difficulty of identifying the true source also hinder the enemy's counterpropaganda efforts.


Stringent and compartmented precautions are required to keep the identity of the source hidden.

As covert PSYOP seldom uses regular communications channels and must copy enemy characteristics, they are difficult to coordinate with the overall PSYOP effort.

Covert operations may be difficult to control because covert PSYOP operating agencies are decentralized. Stringent security requirements and long-term campaign plans limit

These operations are extremely vulnerable to discovery, manipulation, and elimination (of equipment and personnel) when operating within enemy territory.

These operations normally require special personnel, procedures, and equipment available from US agencies outside the US Army.

World War II

United States of America

When the manual mentions “US agencies outside the US Army.It is, of course, alluding to clandestine organizations like the WWII Office of Strategic Services or the postwar Central Intelligence Agency. During WWII the OSS produced thousands of forged documents and hundreds of black leaflets. We show some examples below.

OSS forged German workbooks, membership cards, a forged or parodied Japanese
banknote, Counterfeit Nazi Party stamps, and items for France and even Japan.



Gummed Propaganda Labels and Leaflets

The Office of Strategic Services offices in Rome and Berne produced hundreds of different “pinprick” gummed labels and leaflets as part of their mission to destroy the morale of the German people and military and to make the Nazis believe there was a vigorous underground movement in their midst. Most of these had short messages, sometimes with an illustration, and they were all meant to be stuck on tables, walls, mirrors, etc.; wherever the Germans congregated so they were daily reminded of the folly of the war and the evils of the Nazi regime. In general, these small, gummed labels are always between 2 and 4-inches in size. Some of the short messages on the gummed labels are:

Die for Hitler?; Freedom! Peace!; Nazis out; One people: Austria; one Empire: Austria, No Leader!; Peace on Earth not peace under the Earth; Later is too late; Away with the (Swastika image), Peace still today; The last cartridge for the [swastika]-bigwigs; Hitler´s death – Germany´s life; Volkssturm = SOS of the SS: [swastika] this is the enemy!: [burial cross] you?; [cross with helmet] you?; You are fighting for the party, not for Germany!; Down with the [swastika]; Shit; End the war!; and Germany 1939: “people without territory…” Germany 1945 territory without people?

Each comrade of the people...

This OSS product is very handsome, and we see Adolf Hitler standing in a graveyard near three buried SS members. The bottom of the card says “1918,” to remind Germany of its terrible losses in WWI. The card is coded “Y.” 5,000 of these propaganda postcards were printed. Hitler says:

Each comrade of the people has a right to his own piece of land.

And the postcard reminds the reader:

Hitler in his Reichstag speech of March 8, 1938.

The reader should notice that none of these items were produced by the United States Army. The concept of U.S. propaganda is that it should be clearly marked and tell the truth. To lie, or be caught in a lie, makes all propaganda suspect and the finders will no longer believe it. So, in general the military does not do black leaflets. It is almost unheard of. American leaflets were clearly marked generally coded with a “G: for Germany or a “F” for France. Everyone knew where the leaflets came from, and they often saw them dropped from American aircraft. In theory, the U.S. Army does not product propaganda. But suppose an opportunity was to arise that was so easy to duplicate and strike a blow to the heart of the German military tht it would almost be a sin not to use. Would the American Army take advantage of such an opportunity and prepare black leaflets? The answer is YES.

The Report of Operations, 12th Army Group explains:

A black leaflet is the most difficult of all forms of propaganda leaflets. It purports to be the enemy himself. Therefore, great care must be exercised, and was exercised by 12th Army Group, to see that, even down to the smallest details of type of paper and ink, the black leaflets were exact duplicates of the enemy's own productions for his troops and civilians.

It is a comparatively simple thing to write a propaganda leaflet which is sent to the enemy and carries with it the stamp of the American Army. All that is needed is the facts and a good writer. But to write a black leaflet much more is required, a mind which can project itself into the enemy mind, think the way the enemy thinks and write the way the enemy writes. If one slip is made the whole production is exposed and reacts violently.

Black leafleting was first conducted by the 12th Army Group through agents. It was not particularly successful because infiltration of agents was so difficult. The quantities of leaflets distributed were small and no mass impact could be obtained. In November 1944, the enemy played into our hands when, for the first time faced with a bad morale situation among the front-line troops, he started to airdrop his Skorpion leaflet on his own troops. When this fact was brought forth by Intelligence it was a natural step to decide to confuse them as to the genuine Skorpion. We would give them a little extra for good measure. And the decision was made to airdrop our black Skorpion on the enemy as soon as possible.

A word about the origin of Skorpion is necessary at this point to understand the sequence of events. Prior to and during the initial phases of the Normandy Campaign, the enemy propaganda line to his troops had been very much the same as the home propaganda line, the impregnability of the Atlantic Wall, the invincibility of the German Army, superior military leadership, etc., etc. With the breakthrough in France and the first major defeat of German arms, the enemy propaganda line to his troops was changed and into being came the Skorpion, which was the enemy combat propaganda organization under Field Marshal Model. Skorpion's job was not only to handle propaganda to enemy but also all forms of propaganda to German troops. These new propaganda lines showed up in a new series of leaflets written to German troops which, in a quasi-factual and sober manner, appraised the mistakes of the Normandy Campaign and then went on to develop new themes of secret weapons, additional manpower, total warfare, etc. The first eight Skorpion leaflets, most of them produced in the Pariser Zeitung Office in Paris, were excellent jobs of troop propaganda. They wound up by inviting the German soldier to ask the Skorpion questions, for "Comrade, you can believe the Skorpion."

The Skorpion leaflets were so scarce among the German troops that for wider and more prompt distribution, the German propaganda organization decided to use aircraft to drop them on their own troops. Therein, they made their first mistake. With great care this Headquarters [The Twelfth Army Group] prepared three Skorpion leaflet ideas. They were set up in Paris in the Supreme Headquarters, written and sent to London for editing and production. They were carefully prepared so that they were an exact duplicate of the German Skorpion and over a period of six weeks were dropped in millions over German lines. Interrogation of captured Skorpion personnel proved that the success of these black Scorpion leaflets went far beyond expectations. The first group was successfully dropped, read by German troops, and taken to be the real Skorpion. The head of the Skorpion organization knew that it was a black Skorpion but said nothing about it. The second one was dropped and a copy landed on Model's desk. Being a choleric man, in great anger he called in the head of the Skorpion and demanded to know on whose authority such a leaflet had been dropped to German troops. He pointed out that it was malicious in its final import.

The head of the Skorpion, one Major Damrau, explained that this was an American trick. The Field Marshal was somewhat mollified but still not content. Two weeks later still another Skorpion appeared on the Field Marshal's desk. He became enraged when he discovered that it practically invited mutiny by the German soldiers and furthermore gave the soldiers an excuse to shoot their superior officer, a thing unheard of in the Wehrmacht and certainly, in these chaotic times, treasonable. According to Captain Hassenkamp, of the SS, later of the Skorpion, and still later an American prisoner of war, Marshal Model flew into a rage, called for Major Damrau, and ordered him to cease and desist from all further Skorpion efforts. Field Marshal Model told Damrau, that, if it was so easy for the enemy to make a fool of him, he had better be put out of business. Just prior to this last Model explosion, the Skorpion outfit had put forward as their last venture a countermeasure to our black Skorpion. It was the crowning admission of defeat. Hassenkamp related that the last Skorpion leaflet, which in fact exposed the American Skorpion, had exactly that effect.

So, while the OSS was producing black propaganda day and night and sending it behind the lines to destroy Nazi morale, the Twelfth Army Group decided to produce its own black propaganda leaflets in the form of the German Scorpion leaflet. This was such an oddity for a military unit that the Group Report explained its workings in detail:

Black propaganda is a form of propaganda known intimately only to a few but, when used sparingly and well, has tremendous impact. In warfare, it is that form of propaganda which purports to come from within the enemy line; Prior to this war, black propaganda had never been used by the United States against its enemies. But this was total warfare, and the enemy had consistently used black propaganda in the United States.

Black propaganda was used to confuse and deceive the enemy during the Moselle breakthrough under the guise of the enemy himself. It gave false and misleading reports to local German commanders and succeeded in deceiving and confusing them as to the tactical situation.

Because of the dynamite inherent in all black propaganda this medium was carefully controlled at 12th Army Group. It was conducted by one officer reporting directly to the head of the Psychological Warfare Branch. Security was high and the officers, Civilians and enlisted men engaged in its production and dissemination were carefully briefed and trained to handle explosive material. Most of the black propagandists were drawn from the Office of Strategic Services which had been delegated this function by direction of the President of the United States. Assisting them were officers and men carefully chosen for special aptitude.

From August 1944 until January 1945, agents recruited from enemy civilians and foreign workers were infiltrated through enemy lines for the purpose of spreading rumors and distributing leaflets. This was a pursuit which required the highest skill and courage and was most dangerous not only for the agents themselves but also for the infiltration officers whose only method was night patrols. Line infiltration was most difficult because of the German system of close security along his front lines. Infiltration of agents for black propaganda required recruiting tough and resourceful officers fluent in the enemy language. Each agent had to be carefully trained and briefed. A "safe house" close to the front lines had to be maintained where potential agents could be screened, housed, and trained and from which they could be sent forth on their missions. Foreign workers brought to Germany were the best source of 12th Army Group agents.

The work of these agents, once they had infiltrated enemy lines, was comparatively simple. They distributed leaflets, put them in mailboxes, slipped them under doors, left them in railroad cars, in beer halls, railroad stations. By word of mouth, they spread rumors of impending military events.

It is interesting to see the Army publicly stating that some OSS agents took part in this operation. Propaganda, parodies, counterfeits, and other various paper products were exactly what the OSS did daily. I wonder if they really used them, or if this was just a ploy to give the Army a way out if it went bad. They could always blame the operation on those darn civilian spies. The Army certainly had the ability to prepare a leaflet with just a few changes to hurt German morale. On the other hand, higher headquarters might not have wanted to step on the OSS toes, President Roosevelt loved them and had personally given General Donovan the job of leading them. It probably is not relevant, but Roosevelt was a stamp collector and Donovan regularly sent him copies of the OSS counterfeits and parodies of German stamps. That was all kept secret until after the war when the Roosevelt collection was sold by H. R. Harmer in New York City and there were several lots of German stamp forgeries produced by the OSS. I wrote about these in an article on “Operation Cornflakes.”

Enough gossip. Let us take a quick look at the German Skorpion operation. I am going to try and explain a system that takes about 30-40 pages into a few paragraphs. Bear with me. I think most propagandists know that Germany had an excellent propaganda machine during WWII. Like the Americans, military propagandists travelled with the Wehrmacht and printed leaflets and made loudspeaker broadcasts and all the things that a Psywar specialist does during wartime. They were under command of the Chief of Wehrmacht Propaganda troops (OKW/Wpr). That all changed after the attempt to kill Hitler by Count Claus von Stauffenberg. Hitler lost faith in the Army and gave the production of propaganda to the Schutzstaffel, the dreaded SS.

Standartenführer Gunter d'Alquen

The line of command for German propaganda then went directly from Hitler to Himmler, then to Gunter d'Alquen who was commander of the SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers. The "Kurt Eggers" organization was the propaganda arm of the SS, named after Kurt Eggers, a friend of d'Alquen who a SS war correspondent killed in action in 1943. Within all these organizations was the Skorpion unit. They took orders directly from Propaganda Chief Heinrich Himmler through d’Alquen who reported monthly to Himmler. The Skorpion units were independent and not controlled by the Army.

In February 1945 d’Alquen wrote that:

The military situation is extremely precarious…We know that the American soldier, as well as the English soldier, does not seem to see the danger Bolshevism poses for his country…We think it is necessary to start a campaign to inform the Anglo-Saxon World about the economic and political results of Bolshevik success.

Skorpion leaflets promised to tell German soldiers the truth about the war. The leaflets had a caption that said:

If you want to know the truth Comrade, ask the Skorpion.

There seem to be 14 leaflets in the Skorpion series. The U.S. Army counterfeited numbers 2, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14. The changes were small, but they were interesting. Some are:

Troops are allowed to do away with commanders giving the order to retreat.
Nobody is allowed to capitulate, not even the responsible leader (Hitler).

The concept is to shock the German soldier by telling him that even if he gets a lawful order from his superior to surrender, he is to kill him, and the SS will continue the fight forever.

The Genuine German Skorpion 11 Leaflet

I chose to depict the genuine and the black Skorpion number 11. The size of this leaflet is 21 x 39 centimeters. It was disseminated starting in October 1944. The text on the front is almost a silly little conversation with questions being asked about life after Germany capitulates and the Skorpion telling them there will be no life. The Allies will take everything. It is two guys talking on a bunk and just shooting the bull. Soldier talk.


What if...?

Corporal Koppen asks the scorpion; "What would really happen if we all just drove home tomorrow at eight o'clock in the morning?"

Well, we take his question and ask him: "What if we all just drove home?"

This is where our first doubts arise, because when capitulation comes the administrative apparatus of the Reich collapses, and with it the railway industry.

Corporal Koppen is not lying about his answer, he says he still had 16 liters of fuel in the tank. That will get him a long way.

All right, Corporal Koppen, and what about when the 16 liters are gone? You can't refuel at the army fuel depots anymore; the English have confiscated them.

If there is no train and no more fuel, we just walk. And if we're supposed to tiptoe from Aachen to Upper Bavaria, we'll come home."

But where do you get your cold portions of Koppen on the go? Fourier went home too.

It's not so bad, replies Koppen, I will take a whole sandwich with me when I flee; that's enough for at least three days.

Yes, and after the three days? We must ask again, what do you live on then?

I've got a lot of money with me, I can buy something on the way, bread, sausage.

Are you sure that your Reichsmark will be accepted as a means of payment after our collapse? we ask further. Perhaps the baker or the butcher no longer wants your Reichsmark.

Well, then we'll beg something together on the way, it's not all that bad. We're coming home, says Koppen.

Okay, you came home, and what do you do then?

Then we sleep in for 10 days in a row and then we go back to our factory.

Perhaps your factory has been destroyed, broken up, like so many in the Reich; or it has remained intact, but it no longer works after the collapse because it has no coal and no other raw materials.

Well, then we'll wait a few days until the coal and raw materials are there again; the train will bring some, says Koppen.

We think you'll be waiting in vain for a while, Corporal Koppen; de Gaulle's French want the Saar and Ruhr coal basins, and Stalin wants Upper Silesia to cash in. And there are trains either because Stalin wants a few, de Gaulle a few, Belgium a few and England a few locomotives from us, which we confiscated, shot to pieces, bombed. These few locomotives are to be deducted from the locomotives that remained operational in the Reich after the Anglo-American aerial war.

If you come by the dog, you come by the tail," says Koppen. If there are no trains, I run, if there are no factories, I stay at home with my mother. They might still have a little stock of food. Then we'll just wait and see what the Americans and Russians want from us!

You can already know today, Corporal Koppen, what the Russians want from you and what the Americans don't want from you.

The Americans and the English do not want any goods from you, from all Germans, because all the raw materials that Germany has at their disposal, America and England have more than enough in their world empires, and above all, America has 20 million after the war Unemployed, 100 million Americans already worry about their employment today…

The American Black Skorpion

The size of this leaflet is 21 x 27 centimeters. It was disseminated starting in September 1944 before the real German Skorpion was published. The Americans made a mistake on their copy, using the wrong German field post number, 00020 on the back, for those who wanted to write and ask a question of the Skorpion. The text does not sound anti-German, but it tells the youngest and most inexperienced soldier that he may kill his commander or anyone who is not willing to fight to the death. He can legally take command. It also casually states that “the only thing we have to oppose the material superiority of our enemies,” which tells the troops that Germany is overmatched. The propaganda is quite sneaky and not out in the open. The text on the front is:

Do you want to know the truth, comrade, ask the Scorpion!


Who can surrender?



In his speech at the rally for the formation of the Volkssturm, the Reichsführer-SS and commander of the replacement army coined a guiding principle on this question that sounds almost revolutionary.

He said: "But if at any point a responsible leader in a hopeless situation believes that he has to give up the fight, then the usual custom in our brave Navy applies that he then hands over the command to those of his subordinates who has all the rights - even if it was the youngest - who has the will to continue the fight.”

These words, which apply to us soldiers as well as to the People’s Army, reflect perhaps more than any other word the situation in which we find ourselves today.

For us there is only one thing that matters now: to resist the enemy with the utmost tenacity, to maintain the space we need for the use of the new weapons and to gain the time to do so.

To achieve this goal, every means is justified. Anyone who sabotages our will to defend must be put down. Because this will is the only thing we have to oppose the material superiority of our enemies until the new weapons are ready for the front line.

The soldier who sees his superior deciding against the interests of the people has a duty to act immediately. Giving up a position in the current situation means betraying the people. And a traitor should be shot down like a dog.

The soldier who acts in this way embodies the real power of command. It shows the determination and willingness to assume responsibility for the National Socialist fighters, without which we would have long since laid down our arms.

That is the meaning of the new guiding principle of the Reichsführer-SS and Commander of the Reserve troops, which for the first time gives the simple soldier the opportunity to be the executor of the will of the people, even if he must take up arms against his superiors.

The OSS – Masters of the Black Art


The VEK Letter Sheet

The American OSS in Italy was busy making all kinds of propaganda to attack German morale. The produced stamps, postcards, and eight fake field post letter sheets in the German language. The Morale Operations Unit (MO) printed them in Rome in mid-1944 to early 1945. These large sheets fold into an envelope before mailing. Rome printed 287,000 letter sheets between 15 July 1944 and the end of the war. Almost all these letter sheets claim to come from associations or groups that are in fact, nonexistent. I now want to tell you about the one most written about by historians.

The OSS produced the first letter sheet to destroy the morale of German troops by telling them that their wives, girlfriends, or sisters were having casual sex while they were fighting at the front. The letter allegedly originates from the Verein Einsamer Kriegerfrauen, (VEK), ("Association of Lonely War Women"). The text is:

Summer 1944.                

Dear soldier at the front!

When will you have leave again?

When will you be able to forget your arduous soldier’s duties for a few days of fun, happiness, and love? We at home know of your heroic struggle. We understand that even the bravest tires sometimes and need a soft pillow, tenderness, and healthy enjoyment.


For you who must spend your leave in a foreign town; for you whom the war has deprived of a home; for you who is alone in the world without a wife, fiancée, or girlfriend.


Cut our symbol from this letter. In every coffee shop, in every bar near a railway station, place it on your glass so that it can be clearly seen. A member of our VEK will soon contact you. The dreams you had at the front, and the longings of your lonely nights, will be fulfilled... We want you, not your money. Therefore, you should always show our membership card (to anyone who may approach you). There are members everywhere, because we women understand our duties to the homeland and to its defenders.

We are, of course, are selfish too – we have been separated from our men for many years. With all those foreigners around us, we would like once more to press a real German youth to our bosom. No inhibitions now: Your wife, sister, or lover is one of us as well.

We think of you and Germany’s future.

Which rests – rusts. [Use it or lose it]


The emblem of the "VEK" is printed in the lower left corner of the letter. It is a shield with two hearts inside, one with a key, the other with a keyhole. The emblem is self-explaining. Above the hearts are the letters "V.E.K." The soldiers placed this symbol on their beer glasses. There was no such association. The OSS simply attempted to create unrest among the German soldiers as to the faithfulness of their wives, fiancées, or girlfriends at home.

Some American Deceptive Leaflets

D Day - WWII

The following two leaflets are not black, there is no doubt of their origin and in both cases, it was American aircraft that dropped them. What is amazing is that they are about 45 years apart but they both are for the exact same purpose. A dictator had invaded a foreign land and now has defensive lines protecting an invasion from the sea. In both cases, one in WWII, the other in Desert Storm, the deceptive leaflets seem to have locked the enemy in place leading them to ultimate defeat.

ZG.2 - Four-Front War

Most people know that in June of 1944 the Allied forces invaded France. Hitler as expecting them and had spent years building defenses along the coast facing England. The Americans had used deception to convince him that the invasion would occur on the closest spot to the British Isles, Calais. In fact, the Americans intended to hit the beaches of Normandy. Could a leaflet help to convince the Germans the target was Calais?

Six-hundred thousand copies of leaflet ZG.2 were prepared by the Allies to drop on the Germans from 6 June to 15 June 1944. The front of the large leaflet shows the invasion force labelled "Western Front," the "Southern Front" in Italy, the "Eastern front" as the Russians advance, and bombs are depicted dropping on Germany labelled "Home Front." The back has a long message telling the German forces of their nation's peril due to the Eastern Front, Home Front, and Southern Front. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this leaflet is that the arrow showing the invasion route from the British Isles depicts the invasion landing at Calais. Since the leaflet was dropped starting June 6, the Allies were still hoping to convince the Germans that the Normandy landings were only a ploy, and the real invasion would land further east. Some of the text is:






East Front: Two years ago, Hitler chose the anniversary of the beginning of Napoleon's ill-fated campaign to commence his invasion of Russia. Hitler's armies have retreated as Napoleon's army retreated. The Russian armies are already deep into Poland and Romania and stand on the boundaries of Czechoslovakia. They await the order for the final offensive.

Home Front: Four years ago, Hitler issued his communique, "The war in the West is over," and began his assault on the British Home front. His assault was defeated. The Royal Air Force and the American Air Force have now gone over to the air offensive and have opened a front unique in the war, the German home front where Goering promised no bombs would fall. By day and by night Allied air fleets are assaulting aircraft factories, oil refineries, heavy industries, and the entire communications network of the Reich…

Catastrophe on the Home Front

Catastrophe on the South Front



Just in case the German missed the landing in Calais on WG.2, the Americans used the exact same image on WG.4 with a different text message. We enlarge the picture showing the invasion:

ZG.4 – WHY?

The front of ZG.4, dropped from 11 to 15 June 1944, is the same "Four Front War" image as found on ZG.2 above. 2,000,000 copies of this leaflet were printed. The back is all text with the title "Why." The text is:

The Allied Expeditionary Army was landed on the British coast without the German air force intervening. Why?

Many thousands of Allied ships were docked in the British ports without the German air force intervening. Why?

The Allied Expeditionary Army reached the coast of France, without the German air force intervening. Why?

The Allied Expeditionary Army broke through the first line of the Atlantic Wall, and created a bridgehead, without the German air force intervening. Why?

Montgomery and Rommel have given the answer. Montgomery said:

"You must first win the battle of the air, only then you begin the land or sea battle."

"Above all German fortifications, air superiority will make the difference, regardless of what the opponent chooses to do."

Japanese Black Leaflets

All the warring sides in WWII produced black leaflets. The Japanese and Germans did many. Here is one of my favorite leaflets from the Japanese to the Filipinos. They were very proud people and respected their women greatly. Here the Japanese prepare a leaflet allegedly from the United States Army that warns American soldiers to be wary of Philippine women. They are dirty, immoral, and have venereal diseases. The text is:


Lately there has been a great increase in the number of venereal diseases among our officers and men owing to prolific contacts with Filipino women of dubious character.

Due to hard times and stricken conditions brought about by Japanese occupation of the islands, Filipino women are willing to offer themselves for a small amount of foodstuffs. It is advisable in such cases to take full protective measures by use of condoms, protective medicines, etc.; better still to hold intercourse only with wives, virgins, or women of respective character.

Furthermore, in view of the increase in pro-American leanings, many Filipino women are more than willing to offer themselves to American soldiers, and due to the fact that Filipinos have no knowledge of hygiene, disease carriers are rampant and due care must be taken.

U.S. ARMY                   

This leaflet was disseminated by the Japanese during the Leyte campaign.

Deadly Snakes

Another interesting black leaflet was meant to terrify the Americans of the hazards of the jungle and slow both their advance and their retreat. It is a simple white leaflet with the text:


U.S. ARMY                   

What is interesting about this leaflet is that I have studied training leaflets prepared by American PSYOP Candidates at Ft. Bragg over the years and they often use this same theme, sometimes mentioning snakes, other times, black widow spiders, mosquitoes, leeches, or whatever they think will scare the hell out of the target audience.

Desert Storm – The Liberation of Kuwait

Decades after WWII the U.S. found itself in a similar predicament. The Iraqis had invaded and occupied Kuwait. Saddam Hussain had 43 Divisions of battle-tested soldiers in strong defensive positions. Some watched the Southern Border with Saudi Arabia; others watched the Eastern Shores where the American Navy prowled. Where would the Americans strike?

General Schwarzkopf wanted to Deceive the Iraqis. He faked movement directly in front of their line, used massive radio communication to keep their intelligence busy and the taped sounds of tanks and heavy trucks was heard day and night. At the same time the American SEALS did reconnaissance near the shores of Kuwait and aircraft carriers and other warships roamed the sea close to the shoreline. Saddam was led to believe there would be an invasion by the United States Marines soon. As result he kept a half-dozen divisions watching the sea. Meanwhile, Schwarzkopf quietly moved most of his forces west, then north, and prepared to attack the Iraqis from the flanks and back. It was a masterful plan. Could the U.S. produce a leaflet to sell the idea that the American were coming from the sea?

CENTCOM Leaflet – The Wave (Color)

The problem was that the attack from the west was so obvious to even the most amateur of tacticians that it seemed impossible to surprise the Iraqis. Military experts on CNN and other news channels were talking about the open flank of the Iraqi army on a regular basis. How could the Coalition entice the Iraqis to look southward and eastward while they unleashed their "blitzkrieg" from the west? CENTCOM decided that the best way to hoodwink the Iraqis was to prepare and disseminate an aerial propaganda leaflet that seemed to indicate an invasion from the sea. The leaflet was code-named "The Wave." It was produced in both color and black and white. It depicted a snarling United States Marine in a tidal wave approaching the shore of Kuwait. The Marine holds a bloodstained "Kabar" fighting knife and three Iraqi soldiers are shown running away. In the background helicopters, aircraft and naval ships take part in the invasion. The back of the leaflet is all text:


To seek refuge safely, the bearer must strictly adhere to the following procedures.

1. Remove the magazine from your weapon.
2. Sling your weapon over your left shoulder, muzzle down.
3. Have both arms raised above your head.
4. Approach the Multi-National forces' positions slowly,
with the lead soldier holding this document above his head.
5. If you do that, you will not die.

The full-color leaflet was requested by CENTCOM on 7 January to be delivered on 11 January 1991. On that date 12,000 of the leaflets were to be stuffed into empty plastic water bottles and placed where the waves and tides would carry them to the beaches of Kuwait.

CENTCOM leaflet – The Wave (Black & White)

88,000 of the black and white leaflets are believed to have been dropped by U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon all-purpose fighter-bombers on 15 January and another 120,000 leaflets on 6 February 1991. I recall removing a few of the black and white varieties from a roll in a demonstration leaflet bomb shortly afterwards.

The Iraqi plan was to clog up and mire the Coalition armored forces with their frontline divisions made up of recruits and draftees. The poorly trained and unmotivated regular conscripts would take a terrible mauling, but Saddam hoped they would slow the Coalition forces, break up their formations and make them vulnerable for his elite Republican Guard divisions which would then attack the Allies from deep within Kuwait with speed and force.

To convince the Iraqi leadership that an attack was about to be launched from the sea, the US Navy maneuvered in the waters just off the Kuwait shoreline. Navy seals conducted beach and island reconnaissance missions. The Marines appeared and disappeared practicing their invasion techniques, all designed to keep the Iraqis nervous. Meanwhile, south of Kuwait, the 1st Cavalry Division aggressively raided into Kuwait from their positions in Saudi Arabia even before the start of the ground war. Coalition forces broadcast increasing radio traffic to indicate the presence of several divisions. All these acts were part of a deception aimed at keeping the Iraqis from looking everywhere but to the west.

From The Psychological Operations Guide
December 1965

I suspect many of my readers will think this idea of floating leaflets ashore is a brand new and novel way to deliver propaganda. It is not, The Office of Strategic Services used it in WWII. In Vietnam, SOG, the Navy SEALS, and other Special Forces used it to float propaganda and even miniature radios onto the beaches of Vietnam that were controlled by the Viet Cong. I add a page from a U.S. reference manual above.

Dr. Stanley Sandler discusses the deception operation in "Cease Resistance: It's Good for You": A History of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations, 2nd Edition, 1999. USASOC, US Army. He says:

Other leaflets added to the CENTCOM Commander's deception plan, reinforced by idle civilian speculation, that hinted broadly of the probability of a spearhead Marine Corps landing on the beaches of Kuwait. Presumably to retain the Coalition's PSYOP reputation for telling the truth, this leaflet did not state that "The Marines are coming," but rather simply called upon the Iraqis to "Cease resistance - Be Safe."

General Norman H. Schwarzkopf

Speaking of the disinformation campaign, Commanding General Norman H. Schwarzkopf said on 27 February 1991:

We continued our heavy operation out in the sea because we wanted the Iraqis to believe that we were going to conduct a massive amphibious operation in this area. And I think many of you recall the amphibious rehearsals we had, to include "Imminent Thunder" that was written about quite extensively for many reasons. But we continue to have those operations because we wanted him to concentrate his forces where he did.

Mark Price discussed the leaflet campaign in The Fayetteville Observe-Times, 21 July 1991. He said:

Three weeks prior to the January 15 deadline, the Army's most unusual unit, the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), set out on the Persian Gulf War's most unusual operation.

The Wave, as it was called, was an offbeat yet critical mission in which psychological warfare leaflets were stuffed into bottles and set adrift for the shores of Kuwait. The idea was simple: reinforce the Iraqi's fear of an amphibious invasion by sending them little pictures of Marines assaulting the beaches.

The Army had no intention of following through, but that wasn't the point. If Saddam Hussein focused his defense of the shores of Kuwait, there would be little to stop the true Allied attack from the south and west. Dumped offshore by a smuggler from the United Arab Emirates, the bottles caught a predesignated current and began washing up on the beaches of Kuwait on January 14, one day before the deadline.

General Tommy Franks says in his autobiography American Soldier, Harper-Collins Books, NY, 2004:

Every night, psychological operation units drove trucks fitted with gigantic loudspeakers slowly back and forth along the border, playing recordings of clanking tanks and Bradley armored personnel carriers. And this ruse complimented another of our PSYOP efforts, which broadcast bogus radio transmissions mimicking several heavy divisions moving forward to their final pre-attack tactical assembly areas.

Fox News reported that the Army built a fake base to fool Saddam Hussein. The centerpiece of this deception effort was at Forward Operating Base Weasel, an effort unlike anything since Operation Fortitude during WWII, the misinformation campaign designed to cover the real location for the D-Day invasions. The Americans even taped "Egyptian" radio traffic messages about the supposed American presence to be intercepted by the Iraqis.

Task Force Troy loudspeaker equipped M113A2

The deception campaign was known as Task Force Troy. A 460-man "ghost" unit was created made up of 5 tanks, several wheeled vehicles and elements from the US Marines, British Army, and the 4th Psychological Operations Group. Task Force Troy was given responsibility for an area of the Kuwaiti front which would normally have been covered by a full division. To deceive the enemy, the unit relied on the use of deceptive decoys, armored vehicles, artillery pieces and helicopters, as well as a series of loudspeakers and dummy emplacements to complete the illusion. The unit played various PSYOP tapes, ranging from the sounds of tanks and trucks to helicopters landing and taking off. Those members of the Iraqi listening posts foolish enough to investigate were promptly engaged by awaiting Apache gunships or by A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft that were on standby to support the deception. The Iraqis soon lost interest in investigating the sounds and believed that they were faced with a military force of at least division strength.

On the night of 23 February, the SEALS attacked the beach at Mina Su'ud. A six-man demolition team set off explosive charges along the beach while Navy ships and planes bombarded the area. Clancy says that two Iraqi divisions rushed to guard the beaches just as the Marine and Arab Forces ground attack pushed north into Kuwait.

As the ground campaign opened, Iraq had 43 divisions in the Kuwaiti Theater of War, comprising more than 500,000 personnel. They had just fought an eight-year war with Iran and were thought to be battle-hardened.

Iraqi III Corps commander's sand table

The ground war took exactly 100 hours. We will never know for sure what part "The Wave" leaflet played in Saddam's defeat, but we do know that the Iraqi III Corps commander's 20' x 30' sand table found in Kuwait City depicted virtually every Coalition Avenue of approach from the sea. To the very end, Iraqi troops nervously watched the Persian Gulf for any sign of the dreaded U. S. Marines. They waited in vain.

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