SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

Note: Portions of this article were used in the report USAF Psychological Operations, 1990-2003, by Dr. Daniel L. Haulman, 23 May 2003. In 2021, The Tillamook Air Museum of Tillamook, Oregon requested B-52 images from this article to be placed alongside the restored cockpit and forward fuselage of a B-52G. Murat Aslan wrote a PhD paper later published as a book titled INTELLIGENCE AND PROPAGANDA IN THE CASES OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA AND AFGHANISTAN. He was kind enough to credit this author’s article in his acknowledgements section for allowing him to show various propaganda products.

The article is not a history of the Balkan conflict as confined to the old Yugoslavia. It is a look at the PSYOP campaigns fought there in the past decade. By definition, the historical content of this report is just a brief review and meant only to give the reader an idea of what was happening at the time that a specific leaflet, poster, or radio broadcast was disseminated in that war-torn country.

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Map of Yugoslavia

The United States found itself involved in the nation once called Yugoslavia several times in the past decade. There was a violent disintegration of that country after the death of Joseph Broz (Tito) in 1980. Tito had ruled a divided Serbian people. Those Serbs, the largest ethnic group of Yugoslavia, were spread over four "Socialist Federative Republics" and two Autonomous Regions. Much of this population shift had been caused by the Ottoman Empire conquests and the politics of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some 42% of the Serbs were located outside Serbia proper.

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Joseph Broz Tito                      Slobodan Milosevic

In 1989, a new nationalist leader by the name of Slobodan Milosevic took power in the Serbian Republic. He had previously served as the leader of Belgrade Communist Party and the Serbian Communist Party. He wanted to dominate all of the old Yugoslavia, but when it became clear that he could not, he decided upon the ethnic cleansing of his country and the creation of a Greater Serbia. He abolished Kosovo's autonomy. Croats and Slovenes feared that they were next in line. There were daily news reports of murders, rapes, mass killings and other atrocities carried out by the Serbs as Milosevic drove the minorities from their lands and homes, "purifying" his Greater Serbia. The problem of course, was that several portions of this new Greater Serbia were to consist of lands that had never been part of the old Serbia or populated by Serbians. This was a policy of naked aggression.

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. Serbs killed 16 people waiting in line for bread in Sarajevo. 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.

The rapes are mentioned by Editor Dagmar Herzog in Brutality and Desire – War and sexuality in Europe’s Twentieth Century, Palgrave MacMillan, UK, 2009. Herzog published an article by Teresa Iacobelli entitled, “Investigating Mass Rape in Bosnia-Herzegovina through a case study of Foca.” Iacobelli points out that to stir up its people; Serbian leaders recalled both ancient grievances and the more recent memories of the Second World War. She notes that the media reinforced the idea of the Balkan crisis as merely a continuation of old antagonisms, neglecting to point out that these peoples had lived in peace with each other for forty-five years. She says that the goals of the Serb leaders were nationalistic and focused on the conquest of land to form a greater Serbia. In regard to rapes:

In total, it is estimated that between 20,000 and 50,000 rapes occurred within Bosnia-Herzegovina during the course of the war. [Estimates of European Union Commission and the Bosnian Government].

In the case of the Bosnian Muslim women, they were specifically targeted by Serbian military forces in an intentional policy of genocidal rape meant to destroy the Muslim population in the nation.

Milosevic’s 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 Bosnian Serbs remained belligerent and fired on coalition aircraft. They shot down an Italian transport killing the crew. When it became too dangerous to land at Sarajevo Airport, the cargo planes airdropped supplies.

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The two Provide Promise aerial leaflets dropped on Bosnia

Two leaflets were prepared and dropped over Bosnia. They both depict a Hercules C-130 USAF cargo plane in front of a faint United States flag. Both leaflets picture crates falling by parachute marked with a bright red cross, and both are written in Serbo-Croat text, in Latin script on one side and Cyrillic on the other side.

On the first leaflet, the C-130 drops four containers. The leaflet tells the Serbs not to fire on the aircraft. They drop food for all the people. The text is:

American aircraft will be dropping humanitarian aid for all people. Do not fire on American aircraft. Food and medical supplies are intended for all people.

On the second leaflet, the C-130 drops three containers labeled "500 KG." This leaflet was prepared because of accidents that occurred in Somalia. Starving people rushed mindlessly into the drop zone only to be crushed by falling food crates.  The leaflet text is:

Danger! For everyone's safety, let humanitarian aid land before approaching.

This mission was mentioned in the 28 February 1993 issue of The Times of Northwest Indiana:

ABOARD A U.S. CARGO PLANE OVER EASTERN BOSNIA (AP) -- Two giant U.S. cargo planes cut their lights before dropping 1 million leaflets in awkward Serbo-Croatian telling Bosnians that help is coming. The Air Force C-130 Hercules turbo-prop airplanes began a mission designed to help an estimated 300,000 hungry Muslims besieged by Serbs. Food and medicine drops, to Serbs and Croats as well, are to follow in a day or two. The planes dropped the leaflets from more than 10,000 feet and under cover of darkness to minimize the risk posed by Serb anti-aircraft guns and shoulder-fired missiles. As the planes approached the first drop-off point in eastern Bosnia, the aircraft cut off all outside lights and switched to red interior lights to deter detection. Two crewmen, one wearing a parachute and the other a safety harness, were framed against the cobalt blue night sky as they kicked boxes of leaflets out the door. Attached to the plane by straps, the boxes dangled, scattering leaflets to the ground.

Before this first leaflet drop the U.S. Army’s 6th PSYOP Battalion had many alerts, false starts and partial deployments while the great powers decided if the action would be solely by the United States, under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or the United Nations. As a result, these first leaflets were designed in three different formats in Germany. Eventually it was decided that this would be a NATO operation, but the decision was already made that the first leaflets would display the American flag. The images were faxed via a secure link back to Ft. Bragg for printing by the Product Dissemination Battalion. When the leaflets were delivered shortly before the first drop they were found to be poorly printed with a “grainy” appearance. The PSYOP troops were very disappointed with the quality but it was too late to make any changes or reprint the entire stock of leaflets.

There were numerous published reports of the aerial leafleting. On 25 February 1993, U.S. aircraft dropped about 600,000 leaflets over Srebrenica, Cerska, Gorazde, and Zera. On 27 February, two C-130s dropped another million leaflets. Five C-130s dropped 80 1-ton food containers on 28 February. Aircraft dropped another one million leaflets on 1 March.

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The two Provide Promise aerial leaflets not dropped on Bosnia

Two other leaflets were not disseminated. They bear the United Nations seal in the background. It is likely that these leaflets were the original design, but since the United States was taking the risk and sending American airmen into harm's way, the decision was made to show the American flag. This is only conjecture. The UN leaflets are actually a better product with a clearer sharper appearance. The text is identical, except that in the first leaflet the word “American” is deleted concerning the origin of the aircraft.

Three U.S. C-130s conducted the first night airdrops over Bosnia, releasing 16 tons of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) on 28 Feb 93. By the end of the operation, aircraft from 21 countries had flown 12,886 sorties into Sarajevo, delivering 159,622 tons of food, medicine, and supplies and evacuating over 1,300 wounded people.

Operation Allied Harbor was NATO’s first humanitarian operation. In the case of the Kosovo crisis, by the end of March 1999 the normal civilian non-governmental agencies were unable to cope with the massive influx of refugees into Albania. By 15 June 1999 there were 479,223 refugees in the country.

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Operation Shining Hope Emblem

The round sticker above was used to identify non-military NATO and humanitarian relief vehicles so they would get less interference from the local populace while carrying out day-to-day tasks.  It was also a quick means of vehicle ID for gate guards at Tirana airfield. The Product Development Detachment of B Company of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion printed about 7 million leaflets on four Risograph presses in the early days of the operation.

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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.

Joint Task Force (JTF) Shining Hope was the United States contribution to Operation Allied Harbor. The mission was to conduct foreign humanitarian assistance operations in support of US government and non-governmental agencies and international organizations engaged in providing humanitarian relief to Kosovo refugees in Albania and the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Humanitarian Service Medal was authorized for U.S. military personnel who took part in the operation from 3 April 1999 to 5 June 1999.

Master Sergeant (retired) Rod Schmidt of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion adds:

I wish I had a copy of a television commercial my guys (Rick Eller and Rob Hart) designed.  It was a non-interference commercial which asked the Albanian populace for their assistance in helping the Kosovar refugees by clearing roads for relief vehicles, etc.  It was very high quality and was broadcast on three separate Albanian television networks on a rotating and reducing cycle.  The first day it was broadcast, we had reports from the military police and relief organizations that Albanians were actually pulling off of the road to let them pass.

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. Operation Provide Promise continued until 9 January 1996. On that date, the last USAF C-130 brought relief supplies into Sarajevo Airport and ended the longest humanitarian airlift in history.

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. Their mission was to enforce the agreement ending the Bosnian war. The mission in Bosnia represented the alliance's first major involvement in operational peacekeeping. IFOR had a one-year mandate to oversee implementation of the military aspects of the peace agreement. They achieved those goals by June 1996.

Information Wanted

This handout in Cyrillic asks the citizens to keep an eye out and report people who are destroying the property of returning refugees. The back is blank.


The International Police Task Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina needs your help in gathering information to help arrest the people responsible for destroying private property in areas where refugees are returning.


Remember, destroying private property is
a crime, not a political act.




The PSYOP Campaign is mentioned in the report, Target Bosnia: Integrating Information Activities in Peace Support Operations – NATO-led Operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Following the signing of the Bosnian Peace Agreement on 14 December 1995, which put an end to a four-year long war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the UN mandated NATO to oversee and enforce a durable cease-fire between the former belligerents. On 20 December 1995, a NATO-led multinational force, called the Implementation Force (IFOR) started OPERATION JOINT ENDEAVOUR. On 20 December 1996, a smaller NATO coalition called the Stabilization Force (SFOR) replaced IFOR. In operation JOINT GUARD, SFOR received an eighteen month mandate to oversee and enforce the cease-fire.

In Bosnia, IFOR and then SFOR ran an information campaign designed to “seize and maintain the initiative by imparting timely and effective information within the commander’s intent.” The term information campaign refers to the coordinated and synchronized use of different information activities within the command. The campaign had three components.

A public information (PI) campaign designed to establish NATO’s credibility with the international media to gain support from the contributing nations for the mission. Public Information Officers executed this mission.

A psychological operations (PSYOP) campaign designed to influence the local population and its leaders in favor of IFOR troops and operations. PSYOP units (mainly American) undertook this aspect of the campaign.

A Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) information campaign designed to inform audiences about civil-military cooperation and to release information to aid the local populations. CIMIC elements (mainly U.S. Army) undertook this mission.

From reading the above it appears this cooperation with other nations ran smoothly. Target Bosnia: Integrating Information Activities in Peace Operations, Institute for National Strategic Studies, 1998, by Pascale Siegel indicates otherwise:

A Combined Joint Task Force under CJ3 supervision was responsible for implementing the NATO psychological operations campaign. Under IFOR, the task force was called the Combined Joint IFOR Information Campaign Task Force (CJIICTF). With SFOR operations (20 December 1996), the name changed to Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force (CJICTF). Both task forces were directed by U.S. Army Reserve Colonels and were mainly composed of U.S. personnel and assets with supporting elements from France, Germany, and the United Kingdom...Political sensitivities not only made European nations reluctant to using PSYOP, but also complicated the command-and-control situation. From December 1995 to October 1997, U.S. PSYOP personnel (which formed the core of the CJIICTF) remained under national command and control. As a result of the 1984 National Security Decision Directive 130, the U.S. Department of Defense refused to place PSYOP forces under NATO command and control...The American refusal caused problems in everyday operations (such as coordination and logistics problems)...Finally, the U.S. refusal to place its PSYOP forces under NATO C2 caused tensions within the Alliance. European nations felt the PSYOP effort was not fully NATO and were therefore reluctant to become full participants...Finally in October 1997, the U.S. Department of Defense transferred U.S. PSYOP forces in theater to SACEUR’s command and control.

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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.

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.

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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.


This leaflet was clearly used for crowd control. It was printed in several languages; I depict an English version here. This leaflet was handed out to crowds, and the back is blank.


This folded 4-page handout is titled "Justice for all; the police work in a democracy" in Croatian. The image depicts "the scales of justice," showing that under the new governments everyone will be equal. The next three pages show numerous quotes from various famous people. For instance:

Freedom consists only in dependence on the law.
Voltaire, French philosopher.

The only stable form of government is the one governed by law,
and which does not depend on any person.
Immanuel Kant, German philosopher

Placement of the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force in 1997
Note the Various Radio Mir Stations

The Task Force says about this chart:

These are our most important assets of communication, the combined and joint force which talks directly to the people of Bosnia Herzegovina, looks into their eyes, establishes force protection enhancing rapport, and gathers an extremely important sensing for the concerns of the people.

As you can see, we have tactical PSYOP teams deployed in Multi-National Divisions north from the US Army, in the south from the French, Spanish, and German Army (as well as brigade PSYOP support element 30, the American element residing in Sarajevo).In MND southwest, the British-led MND, regular troops are used in tactical dissemination missions. Supplied with tactical products from both the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force in Sarajevo, and products, including Mostovi, produced in Banja Luka by the Information Operations team there, they disseminate on their own schedule, maintaining a stockage in their own storage area.

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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.

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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 SFOR's right, under international law and under the DPA, 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.

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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 is 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. He had three Tactical PSYOP Teams, two in support of the two Military Police battalions supporting Tuzla and Lukavac and one attached to the NORDPOL Brigade (the Nordic countries, the Baltics, Poland and the United States) in Doboj.  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:

Concerning IFOR radio broadcasts, the information attributed to Major John Mills first utilizing civilian radio and conducting a weekly show is incorrect.  I realized that the canned IFOR taped music and messages were inadequate from the start.  By the time the tapes reached the remote transmitters from Sarajevo, the news was outdated.  I requested funding to buy air time on local radio stations but was denied. 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. 

In regard to how PSYOP performed in 1995 he says:

All in all, as far as product design, dissemination and propaganda support of our supported units, PSYOP failed miserably.  We were ill-prepared for a mission which involved more than kicking radios and surrender leaflets out of airplanes especially when we were competing with superior forms of existing local media. 

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Tactical PSYOP Teams provided loudspeaker
support during some tense attempted border crossings

On the positive side he adds:

One of my teams was temporarily attached to the Russian Brigade in the Republika of Serpska to provide loudspeaker support during some tense attempted border crossings by displaced civilians wishing to return to visit their homes, cemeteries, etc.  My team was housed and fed by the Russians for almost a week and that may have been the first time that a U.S. PSYOP element directly supported a Russian unit. 

Bosnian Propaganda Posters

The website Balkan Transitional Justice published an article on 7 April 2022 that said in part:

Daoud Sarhandi, the British author of the new book Bosnian War Posters, first went to Bosnia and Herzegovina with a humanitarian aid team just after the conflict ended in 1995 and was deeply affected by what he saw. A couple of years later, he was living in the Bosnian town of Tuzla and started collecting hundreds of posters and examples of political graphic design that tell a unique story of what happened during the war years, illustrating nationalist propaganda, appeals for resistance and peace, and the horrors of the siege of Sarajevo which began 30 years ago this week. The book, which is published in May 2022 by Interlink Books, contains reproductions of about 350 of these posters. We illustrate some of the posters below:

Wake up Europe!

The fate of Bosnia and Herzegovina is in our hands – join us! 


Unofficial wanted posters for Bosnian Serb political and military leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic

A calendar produced to promote Serb ‘Red Berets’ forces in the Bosnian town of Brcko in 1995.

In 2009, the U.S. Government asked the Rand Corporation to study the use of PSYOP and report in a document entitled Understanding Commanders’ Information Needs for Influence Preparations. The researchers were not pleased with the Bosnia PSYOP campaign. They say in part:

For the PSYOP contribution to influence operations, target audience analysis was not terribly sophisticated, as PSYOP units lacked adequate language skills and regional expertise. As one brigade commander complained, “PSYOP messages were bland, ineffective, and not properly targeted to the local population.” In Bosnia, U.S. and NATO PSYOP units employed a wide range of delivery tools, including magazines, newspapers, handbills, and radio and TV stations. All of this notwithstanding, PSYOP had difficulty identifying pivotal demographic or other groups, so theme selection was not appropriately tailored to specific audiences. This resulted in products being generated that often were not culturally appropriate, although there was improvement in this area after U.S./NATO forces had been in country for a while. In short, the written record suggests that PSYOP doctrine did not prove useful in executing PSYOP at the operational level.

As of March 1997, IFOR/SFOR had produced 51 television spots to be given to local stations throughout theater.

More than 3 million posters and handbills were disseminated throughout theater between December 1995 and November 1997.

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An American PSYOP Soldier distributes voter registration leaflets in Tajsici, Bosnia

The Task Force Eagle Information Operations Newsletter of January 1999 mentions some specific leaflet operations during 1997. Some of them are:

Leaflets were distributed from helicopters over key cities and towns in the American-led peace enforcement zone in northeastern Bosnia and adjoining areas. About 43,000 leaflets were distributed from the air and by soldiers on the ground. The leaflets presented information about democracy and responsible government, quoting democratic thinkers including such icons as Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, Plato and others.

On 16 October 1997, Task Force Eagle delivered by air, over the city of Brcko, leaflets which urged the inhabitants not to vote for Karadzic and his supporters. Later that month, U.S. helicopters dropped leaflets on the city of Bijeljina in preparation for the November municipal elections. These leaflets supported the Plavsic regime in Banja Luka.

The IFOR Coalition Joint Information Campaign Task Force (CJICTF), supporting the peace operation in Bosnia, arguably produced more diverse printed products than any other mission to date. They produced newspapers, newspaper articles, handbills, posters, magazines, comic-books, and flyers for both the military and civilian implementers of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

The primary mission of IFOR and SFOR Psychological Operations was to deter armed resistance and hostile behavior against IFOR/SFOR troops and operations.

Mine Warning Leaflets

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Warning to Protect Children

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Remember Mines Kill – Tri-fold handout

This leaflet is designed to educate people on how to recognize the danger of mines and avoid them.

Mine Awareness

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This 1999 SFOR handbill depicts various mines, grenades, mortars and Claymores on the front and the back and warns civilians against touching any of the dangerous explosives.

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Mine Poster

This 1998 SFOR poster depicts a child and asks how anyone can believe that mines are harmless. 

Warning civilians about the danger of unexploded ordnance has always been a priority of the Allied military forces. Above is a selection of warning leaflets to the civilians residing in Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo and other parts of the old Yugoslavia.

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Mine warning leaflet

This leaflet depicts seven different explosive devices and has a bright red triangle with the word "Danger." Another shows a child’s foot about to step on a mine or a child about to touch a half-buried mine. The text is:




This is a playground.

This is a warning handout for the children of Bosnia to beware of explosives. It tells them to play in playgrounds in parks, but not to play in areas that might hold mines or explosives. The back is blank. The text is:

This is a playground...

This is not!

Tell children to stay away from areas where there may be unexploded ordnance and mines and report such places.


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Mines kill...
Images courtesy of

This 1996 IFOR Bosnia mine awareness leaflet depicts various types of landmines and says:

Mines kill. Don't touch them

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GTA 5-10-38
Countermine Identification Training (CIT) Program
17 June 1997

As in almost every war the United States fights, mine awareness cards are prepared to protect the troops. They are usually given away as training aides to any member who requests them from Supply. These cards are restricted to U.S. military personnel to protect technical or operational information and are to be destroyed when no longer needed so that the enemy cannot see them. There are 52 cards in this deck: 1 glossary, 1 mine awareness brief, 1 fuse characteristics, 1 fuse types, 19 antipersonnel mines, 10 antitank mines, 8 booby traps, 10 fuses and 1 mine system. The anti-personnel card above shows a mine of the type the United States calls a “Claymore.”

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The Superman PSYOP comic book  

There were many other propaganda publications used in Bosnia. Perhaps the most interesting is the mine-warning 12-page Superman comic book entitled "Deadly Legacy" that was produced pro-bono  with DC Comics. The cover shows the man of steel swooping down to save a two young boys who are about to pick up an explosive device on the ground. The back of the book shows Superman flying the children to safety and the text:

Superman has come to help the children of Bosnia-Herzegovina! But even when he can't be here, you can keep yourself safe from land mines! Mines kill kids! For more information on how you can prevent these accidents, call the mine action center.

IFOR distributed over 1 million of the magazines in their first year in Bosnia.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Swayne was the liaison with DC Comics in New York City tasked with the mine-awareness project that had the blessing and backing of then First Lady Hilary Clinton. The military paid for the materials, ink and transportation, but not the art or concept work. It supplied the photographs of Bosnians, local homes, landscape and backgrounds and the comic book artists did the rest.

The French were not enamored with the comic book, apparently disturbed that Superman represented “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” Superman was very popular among the youth of Bosnia, but was the subject of consternation among certain allies. 

Philip M. Taylor criticized the Superman Comic book in Munitions of the Mind: A History of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Day, Manchester University Press, UK, 2003. I find it hard to accept his premise but he claims:

A classic example of how such well-intentioned propaganda can backfire, this comic had to be withdrawn when it was discovered that some young children were deliberately walking into minefields in the hope that Superman would come and save them.

This comment is rejected by Major Jeffrey White who told me that it was never withdrawn from circulation, and definitely not as Phil Taylor suggests, based on the rationale that he cited. Major White never saw any comic books returned to Sarajevo.  He did feel that there was a significant undercurrent of anti-American sentiment among the NATO Forces, but the criticisms did not bear out in any of the post-testing in Bosnia. There was never even one incident where it was reported that a child went into a known minefield hoping to be rescued by Superman, nor were there any other incidents provoked by the comic book.

LTC Swayne states that he recalls two minor negative reactions to the comic book. The first occurred when he coordinated with the United Nations Mine Action Center in Sarajevo prior to putting their phone number on the back cover of the comic book and matching poster. They were not prepared for the number of calls that flooded their office.  Overnight their office went from a “Sleepy Hollow” to a place where the phone never stopped ringing.

The second was something that did not come out in pre or post-testing among the 10 to 15-year-old target audience.  It was brought up by the International Press Corps at the unveiling of the comic book in the Sarajevo Holiday Inn. They posed questions about the sexist nature of the comic in that the girl was always the subordinate character. The comic was made for an audience and culture where that is the case whether we like it or not. As a result, although it was an overwhelming success among the target audience, it was scrutinized by the international press because it did not depict an unrealistic dominant role for the female characters.

Sergeant Mark Jenkins of the 6th PSYOP Battalion was not very enthused about the comics. He was a stickler for details, planning and Intelligence studies and the comics just appeared one day with the order to disseminate them. He told me:

I disagreed with them on principle, i.e., that they were pushed on us from outside and had not gone through our campaign planning process, nor were they coordinated with any of our existing mine-awareness efforts. So my reaction, as I recall, was, “Whatever,” and I hoped they might do some good. But I was definitely worried it was further evidence of our pre-packaged “ready-fire-aim” approach to it all.

The Talon

The Talon was an Army-funded magazine (It calls itself a newspaper) produced in the interest of the servicemembers of Task Force Eagle headquartered at Eagle Base. The Talon was published weekly by the 1st Infantry Division at Tuzla. I chose to show readers the issue of 31 October 1997 because it features the distribution of the Superman comic book. Two pages in the center of the magazine illustrate a scene from the magazine and four comments by soldiers. One soldier handing out the comics says:

You definitely feel important. The way they look at you, you feel they think of you as Superman. They crowd you. Sometimes little kids come up and touch you. The kids know who Superman is.

The caption says in part:

In Bosnia, they promote peace with a Superman comic book, assorted magazines, and polite personal contacts. When all else fails, they can clamp large loudspeakers to their Humvees and speak with resounding super voices. The Superman comic is written in English and Serbo-Croatian, the latter with Cyrillic or Latin alphabets. The books warn children to avoid minefields and unexploded munitions.

Herald of Progress

Another magazine is the Herald of Progress which features news from the region, economic development, security, and sport in its 12 illustrated pages. Later issues had additional pages. The magazine tells the readers:

The Herald of Progress is SFOR's source of information for the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Please feel free to reprint any of the articles of the Journal of Progress journalists that appear in this issue. previous or next edition of this magazine.

We only ask:

Reprint the articles in their entirety without changes.

That the name of the author of the article be found under each reprinted article.

Reprint only articles that have the signature of a journalist from the Herald of Progress. If the article was not written by a journalist from the Journal of Progress, they had to obtain permission for reprinting directly from the author of the article.

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A “free trade” banknote leaflet

Another leaflet is in the form of a Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Narodna Banka Jugoslavije 20 Novih Dinara banknote of 1994. The front left of the leaflet looks like the banknote, the front right is all text:

In Business...More customers equal more sales and suppliers and more competition equals lower cost for consumers. How can you influence this market? Encourage FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT. It makes economic sense.

The back of the note depicts a small vehicle and a map. The text is:


The leaflet encourages all of the various ethnic mixes of the area to open the borders for free trade with each other.

By December 1996 with the transition from IFOR to SFOR, the PSYOP task force organization somewhat changed. The headquarters and Product Development Cell (PDC) became multinational instead of all-U.S. with French and British liaison officers assigned to the Combined Joint Information Task Force headquarters. The British-led division acquired some printing equipment in spring 1996 to develop products specific to its area of responsibility.

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. The IFOR Information Campaign was conducted by the Combined Joint IFOR Information Campaign Task Force headed by a US full colonel. The British were represented at divisional level, at theatre level, and at the Multinational Coordination Cell which dealt with strategic issues and was involved with the “Herald of Peace,” the theatre-level Information Campaign newspaper.

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 IFOR’s role.

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Grbavica is liberated.

Speaking of March 1996, the last suburb of Sarajevo, a neighborhood called Grbavica, was officially turned over to the Muslim-Croat Federation effectively ending any possibility that the city would be surrounded and attacked by the Serbs in the future. Grbavica was the fifth and final suburb to be transferred to the federation under the terms of the Dayton peace agreement. Bosnian officials replaced Serb street signs, spoke of the final unification of the city, or trotted about in processions with Bosnian flags. Over a thousand Serbs remained in the city, and the above leaflet reassures them and others who left earlier that is they have committed no crimes, they are welcome. The text is:

The Supreme Command of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina

Grbavica is liberated.

Honest Serbs, who do not have blood on their hands, can return to the liberated territory.

Steven Collins goes into greater detail in “Army PSYOP in Bosnia: Capabilities and Constraints” in Parameters, summer 1999.

By contrast, 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. However, as with the French-led division, dissatisfaction with slow product support and a desire to control its own product development processes led the UK to field its own PSYOP element at its headquarters in Banja Luka. This element continued to disseminate some products made by the PSYOP Task Force headquarters in Sarajevo, but the emphasis in the region was centered on its own PSYOP magazine, handbills, and other materials produced in Banja Luka. Once again, oversight from Sarajevo was limited.

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SFOR Headquarters, Banja Luka “Metal Factory.”

British Corporal Rob Walker was an Adjutant General Corps clerk in the Banja Luka “Metal Factory.” This had been an actual factory but was taken over by the Multinational Task Force Northwest as a base for the Bosnia and Herzegovina stabilization force EUFOR (formerly SFOR). Rob worked in Information Operations (Info Ops) as their clerk and soon helped with printing leaflets in the Info Ops rooms. The team was made up of various British Officers, both Active and Reserve, illustrators and some officers and senior noncommissioned officers from the U.S. Army. Later, Walker was assigned the task of writing horoscopes for the free Mostovi (Bridge) newspaper. The Mostovi staff was made up of Brits and Americans and the layout was done by a Royal Marine Illustrator. 35,000 copies of this 12-page publication were regularly distributed. 

Limon continues:

In 1994, French forces were unable to conduct PSYOP. There were no PSYOP specialists to advise the commanders in the field, and no printing facilities to communicate with the local population or factions. PSYOP campaigns were limited to what can be called Civil Affairs. In 1995 an attempt was made to define “Operational Communications” within a frame of Civil-Military Affairs. Later, a service paper refined this concept by stating that Operational Communications aim at legitimate military intervention by explaining the objectives and roles of the forces to the local population and warring factions, and countering hostile propaganda activities directed towards friendly troops and the civil population.

Steven Collins adds:

Multinational Division Southeast, under the control of the French, originally kept PSYOP at arm's length. The French reluctance to incorporate PSYOP into their plans was largely a legacy of their remembrance of French PSYOP's dubious role in the war in Algeria in the late 1950s and early 1960s and participation in the attempted coup against Charles de Gaulle in 1961. 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 Byzantine nature of 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.

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Radio Horizon Flyer

Apparently, the French did trust the Belgians. 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, apparently stirred up by the racist propaganda radio station Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (“Land of a Thousand Hills Free Radio and Television”), the Belgians realized the need for a PSYOP unit of their own.

The Belgian PSYOP patch. 

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.

Even the name used for the campaign became an issue. Target Bosnia states that some members of the North Atlantic Council did not want to be associated with a “psychological operations campaign.” Changing the name to “IFOR Information Campaign” seemed to ease these fears. However, there is little doubt that the “information campaign” was a psychological operations campaign. It was conducted by PSYOP forces and according to NATO’s draft peace support psychological activities doctrine. The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe PSYOP staff officer stated that “I could not use the term ‘psychological operations’ when I first briefed at North Atlantic Treaty Office Headquarters because that would have upset some nations.”

An unnamed author discussed the United Kingdom PSYOP operation in Kosovo in an untitled British Joint Services Command and Staff College abstract:

Approximately 104.5 million leaflets were dropped by the coalition, primarily by the US, but despite the 78-day bombing campaign the Serbian Army withdrew largely intact. One commentator lamented that NATO’s PSYOP efforts were belated and perceived as threatening as well as being effectively countered by the Serbs who were able to demonstrate that modern high-tech precision weapons could be deceived using simple camouflage and concealment techniques. Reflecting on this in a House of Commons Select Committee, Air Vice-Marshal Mike Heath stated:

“There was no U.K. information campaign during the Kosovo crisis. When we came out of it and we had firmly come second, we realized that this was something we needed to do pretty quickly.”

The campaign in Kosovo marked the inception of the Directorate of Targeting and Information Operations (DTIO) and the beginning of PSYOP integration into the wider Information Operations (INFO OPS) strategy in Kosovo.  However, Kosovo also highlighted a “weakness” in capability as the adversary demonstrated a clear awareness of the importance of Information Operations and were able to counter NATO PSYOP very effectively.

The French, German, Italian, and Spanish contingents all conducted PSYOP activities in support of their missions. The Italian contingent developed a comic strip featuring Bugs Bunny to raise children’s awareness of mines. There was little coordination between these efforts. Additional themes were added to the list of PSYOP priorities. The CJICTF was tasked with promoting democratic action, adherence to the rule of law, acceptance of returnees, and the ability of SFOR to enforce a secure environment in an even-handed manner.

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The German magazine Mirko

Major Richard C. Sater wrote a 19 September 2001 article about Mirko that appeared in the SFOR Informer. It said in part:

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Mirko gives a face to a magazine named after him, a monthly publication specifically targeted to teenagers in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The glossy, colorful pages include interviews with celebrities (singers, writers, and film stars), both national and international, Britney Spears side by side with Boris Maric, a young poet from Brcko. Fashion, sports, films, the pop charts, reader letters … just like any other teen magazine… published by NATO's Psychological Operations Task Force, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe.

The magazine is a tool, and a very effective one. A quick look at the contents reveals the subtle message: we share common interests, and we can get along. Tolerance is a key message, and Mirko is a forum aimed at a specific audience.With a monthly circulation of 160,000, the publication has a devoted readership. Three versions are published each month; 90 percent of the run is Serbo-Croatian, with half printed in the Roman alphabet and half in Cyrillic. The third version alternates each month between English and German.

The name of the magazine has no special significance - it's simply a boy's name - but "Mirko" was chosen because the name is common to all three of the primary ethnic groups in Bosnia: Bosnian-Croats, Bosnian-Serbs and Bosnians…Once the issue has been approved for release, it is printed in Sarajevo and readied for distribution. The magazine has enviable name recognition. It's estimated that 89 percent of the young people know it…

Target Bosnia adds:

A monthly youth magazine. The German OPINFO battalion developed Mirko, a monthly magazine designed to appeal to the teenage audience. Publication began in June 1996 and production increased to reach a hundred thousand copies per edition in Fall 1997. Throughout the operations, various nations involved in the PSYOP effort retained review or approval authority. For example, German PSYOP forces, which developed the monthly youth magazine Mirko, had to send each issue back to Germany for a final review before dissemination. This review was established as Germany wanted to avoid any problem with its World War II legacy in operations. To make sure that no material could be misinterpreted, all editions of Mirko went back to headquarters in Germany for final review (although not for approval). This process did not cause delays. As Mirko was a monthly publication, there was always time for the review process to take place without delaying publication or dissemination.

There were also a number of magazines and newspapers published by the Allied forces. U.S. forces in Sarajevo published a weekly news magazine called Herald of Peace. The paper, each edition of which numbered 150,000 copies, was initially published in Stuttgart, Germany, later in Zagreb, Croatia, and finally in Sarajevo.

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Then Major Roger Smith (Ret.) with then Captain Karl Zetmeir (Ret.)

My good friend retired Lieutenant Colonel Karl Zetmeir was the publisher of the Herald of Peace for a short time. He told me about his experience with the magazine:

One of the most professionally satisfying psychological operations products I ever worked on was the Herald of Peace. Though a relatively short-lived product, it represented the hard work and true dedication to our craft on the part of its PSYOP soldiers as no other. In a leaflet-dominated world often marked by simple illustrations and hip-shoot phraseology, the Herald of Peace stands in a class of its own.


The Herald of Peace

We simply called it “the HoP.” It was a magazine produced by the Combined Joint Information Task Force (CJICTF) in Sarajevo, Bosnia from 1996 through 1997. I myself reported to the CJICTF in June 1997, where I worked for the Product Development Chief, Major Roger Smith, as the Officer in Charge for all print product development, which included being Chief Editor of the HoP, as well as the Budget/Finance (BUDFIN) officer for our overall PSYOP campaign efforts. The officer I was replacing in both those functions was Captain Roger Lintz. Roger’s drive and initiative had raised the bar from the HoP’s initial format to that of a glossy, four-color, 36-page, TIME-quality magazine. He’d also negotiated a robust print contract with a Zagreb-based company that made this quality leap possible. Our transition from his team to mine was seamless and we eagerly accepted this challenging job.

The operational direction of the HoP came from our boss Roger Smith. Roger insisted the magazine hold true to stories that supported the Stabilization Force’s country-wide objectives, and we focused on themes like freedom of movement, election participation, and other peace initiatives. The major stories covered subjects like the recently restored Sarajevo ambulance service or the purchase of new firefighting equipment. We deliberately steered clear of ‘collage’ photos of US or other nation’s military forces conducting peacekeeping operations, unit rotations, changes of command, etc. One Stabilization Force logo was found on the inside cover, along with letters from the chief editor (Roger Lintz, followed by myself) and our Noncommissioned Officer editor (Bob Kellogg followed by Hans-Marc Hurd) in each issue. In retrospect, we were going for the same appeal as that of a “Readers Digest,” that even older copies would be interesting and fresh to a war-devastated target audience, particularly in the hinterlands, that rarely saw any printed media at all.

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Mujo, Grujo and Lujo walk a fine line between peace and war
Herald of Peace – July 1997

In addition to its varied stories, the HoP had its own unique political satire cartoon. The Balkan-renown and award winning cartoon artist, Hasan Faslic was contracted to write for us and he created “Mujo, Grujo and Lujo,” representing a Serb, Croatian and a Bosnian. These three characters reduced very controversial political issues into simple and humorous cartoon illustrations. Also hired were two other host-nation illustrators who created crossword puzzles and horoscopes for each issue. We published 250,000 copies of the Herald of Peace each month. Following lessons learned in disseminating the first few editions, we printed articles in both Latin and Cyrillic alphabets in a page-alternating style that prevented the magazine from being torn in two by the recipient just to keep the portion in “their” preferred alphabet. Horoscopes enjoyed wide popularity among all three entities and we deliberately placed this on the back cover, so serve as the ‘hook’ to generate interest.

Many times we’d disseminate copies to people on the street to watch them start reading the horoscope, then take out a pen and begin working the crosswords. As we’d return to our vehicle a half hour later, we’d see those same folks now thumbing through the rest of the articles. The arrival of a new printing was always met with great excitement and anticipation within both the Combined Joint Information Task Force and Stabilization Force headquarters. Bundles of the magazine would then be divided between our allies and disseminated across Bosnia-Herzegovina.

I was Chief Editor for two monthly editions of the Herald of Peace before production was abruptly stopped in August of 1997. That month the Combined Joint Information Task Force was inspected by a PSYOP Assessment Team (POAT) headed by the then 4th Psychological Operations Group Commander and a small staff. Suffice it to say our vision of a PSYOP publication didn’t match theirs. Among other things, they wanted a portion of the issues printed in English for the Stabilization Force HQs staff, coverage of SFOR units included, broadened from what they thought was a Sarajevo-centric focus, and most importantly, they wanted the HoP printed every two weeks so the articles would be more current. As the Budget/Finance officer who paid the bills for all the PSYOP products we made in each media, I knew these conditions far exceeded our contracted print agreement. Production of the Herald of Peace thus came to a sudden and disappointing end. We continued to publish “Mujo, Grujo and Lujo” as independent cartoons in various Bosnian newspapers. However, in a particularly satisfying victory that Fall, the same Combined Joint Information Task Force print contract that had once produced 250,000 copies of the Herald of Peace across BiH was used to mass-print voter registration cards in the nick of time to ensure that the first nation-wide democratic elections in Bosnia could take place. Ours was the only unit capable of accomplishing this feat.

Under SFOR the Herald of Peace became the Herald of Progress with a circulation of about 100,000 by 1997. Its admirers stated that the Herald of Progress was a dramatic departure from former, traditional PSYOP print journalistic endeavors. It was a “Madison Avenue-quality” monthly journal with pertinent articles, color photos, and political cartoons and commentaries. It was published in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabet.

Sergeant Mark Jenkins of the 6th PSYOP Battalion tells us more about the Herald of Peace, some of these facts from his After Action Report prepared 11 June 1996.

Production work for the Herald of Peace in Zagreb began the week of 25 December 1995.The first Zagreb issue was laid out on 28 December 1995 and printed at Radin Press over the weekend. Dissemination began in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 4 January 1996. Approved articles were received early in the week (usually Tuesday), translations were completed by Wednesday evening, Disk files were prepared and forwarded to EuropaPress on Thursday, printing over the weekend, quality control check on Monday, delivered and placed on pallets on Tuesday, shipped to Bosnia on Wednesday.

After production in Zagreb ceased with issue 21, remaining personnel in Zagreb deployed forward to Sarajevo on 22 May 1996.

The approval process proved to be slow and unwieldy; placing extreme time pressure on the translation section to meet weekly deadlines.

Jenkins also mentions problems that were not in his AAR. For instance:

There were meaningless bureaucratic change requests. One time we were told to change the word “happy” to “glad,” even though it translates to the same word in the foreign language. Naples was annoyed that some of the broadsides we printed said “We will react to enemy actions against our convoys.” They wanted “unfriendly” instead of “enemy,” but once again it's the same word in Serbo-Croatian, "neprijatelj," literally “un-friend.” These kinds of problems caused added time and work to people on a very tight schedule.

Target Bosnia adds:

IFOR printed a weekly newspaper, The Herald of Peace. This publication became a monthly called The Herald of Progress with SFOR. In Fall 1997, the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force (CJICTF) decided to only print special editions of The Herald of Progress. The CJICTF printed 100,000 copies of most of the first 65 issues published by fall 1997.

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British Forces magazine Mostovi

British forces in Banja Luka printed a regionally attuned newspaper insert and later a magazine called Mostovi. The German forces in Sarajevo published a bright and lively monthly magazine for teenagers entitled Mirko. Publication began in June 1996 and production increased to a hundred thousand copies per edition by fall 1997.

Germany deployed more than 1,350 soldiers in the crisis area. They included soldiers of the PSYOPS forces who have been part of an international Press and Information Office (PIO) since May 2001.

It was their task to convey the mission and goals of SFOR by means of targeted information campaigns. Added to which, they were to influence the attitudes and behavior of the target audiences so that the spiral of violence was broken, and the Dayton Peace Accord respected. 

The SFOR Informer 

The SFOR Informer mentions Canadian patrols in Suica and says:

Approximately once a week, members of the Canadian Company of paratroopers based in Tomislavgrad carry out patrols in the nearby villages. These patrols are carried out with a low profile with only a few soldiers walking the streets, visiting restaurants and cafes, and talking to people they meet. In the small community of Suica, 15 minutes north of Tomislavgrad, this day's patrol has two purposes. First of all the patrol is looking for kids to distribute the “Mostovi” magazine. This magazine is produced by MND-SW and aimed at children and teenagers, presenting SFOR and topics of interest for kids. The children are offered an opportunity to distribute the magazine in the village for monthly pay.

After talking to people in the local café, the patrol moved back on to the street. When the school day ended the paratroopers got in touch with some children. While talking to the first young boy, the other children realized the patrol was offering them a job so they swarmed around the busy Canadians. “No problem finding eager kids in this town,” Pvt. Paddy Walsh said, while the last magazines were handed out. Finally, another social patrol is over, while young new SFOR “employees” start earning their pay distributing the “Mostovi” magazine.

American products had to be approved both by IFOR/SFOR (NATO chain of command) and by U.S. EUCOM (U.S. chain of command). This dual procedure created conflicting requirements, as two staffs (at IFOR/SFOR and at U.S.EUCOM) had to see the final products before dissemination when the task force was under pressure to get products to target audiences as quickly as possible.

There are always humorous stories that come from these PSYOP campaigns. One operator told me of his problems in disseminating the newspapers:

While in Bosnia working on the newspaper the pressure was on to distribute as many newspapers as possible to make the numbers look good. Typically we would have 10,000 or so to distribute, and a town might have just a few hundred people. Many shop owners and local citizens were not real enthusiastic about receiving our "propaganda." However, one store owner was more than happy to take them, and in fact asked for more. Upon our second visit to the town we realized how they were getting distributed. The gentleman was a butcher and was using the papers to wrap meat! Oh well we thought, at least the people are getting the newspapers.

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Distributing the Herald of Peace

Major Thomas Bergman also mentions Herald of Peace distribution problems:

There was an ENORMOUS disconnect between Headquarters Sarajevo and the rest of the PSYOP units in other parts of the country.  The Herald of Peace, while a good idea, contained information that was usually outdated by the time it arrived to the Tactical PSYOP Teams for dissemination due to an inadequate distribution network.

I remember traveling to Sarajevo for a PSYOP “Meeting of the Minds,” I believe sometime in February or March of 1996.  It was revealed that initially foreign nationals were contracted to distribute the Herald of Peace to various towns for dissemination in shops, etc. similar to the free papers here in the U.S. but there was no plan of action to verify that they were actually delivering them.   The belief was that they were getting paid and just dumping the product.  That was the reason for the creation of the "Red Ball Express" which was run by other members of the 18th Psychological Operations Company who were attached to PSYOP command in Sarajevo answerable to Col. Altschuler.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization Stabilization Force (SFOR) succeeded IFOR on December 20, 1996. The mission's aims became more ambitious. In addition to deterring a resumption of hostilities and promoting a climate in which the peace process could continue to move forward, they included providing an increased level of selective support to civilian organizations.

NATO-led Operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina concludes with the following statement about psychological operations:

PSYOP was entrusted with a vital mission in a difficult environment: provide an honest alternate viewpoint in a sea of local propaganda and disinformation to facilitate the Dayton Peace Accords implementation. However, three sets of factors limited the effectiveness of the PSYOP campaign. First, political sensitivities surrounding the use of PSYOP forces made it more difficult to run an effective, multinational PSYOP campaign. Second, the weak and conciliatory nature of the PSYOP message limited its potential impact on the local populations. The task forces’ difficulties in adapting to the local culture and media habits further impaired the campaign. Finally, these shortcomings were all the more difficult to correct as PSYOP’s assessment of its effort was at best limited.

PSYOP Problems

Target Bosnia discusses problems with the PSYOP effort. For instance, there was a belief that the PSYOP forces in Bosnia used equipment and media adapted to Third World countries with relatively low-literacy levels. U.S. PSYOP had been mostly involved in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Haiti, and Rwanda among others, and leaflets and newspapers were important in those locations. However the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina was literate, relatively well-educated, and tended to look to television and computers for most of their current information and news.

In addition, U.S. PSYOP assets remained under U.S. control from December 1995 to October 1997. Other nations that were expected to support and supply these assets were often slow in doing so. There was a certain distrust of U.S. PSYOP policy. European nations felt the PSYOP effort was not fully NATO and were therefore reluctant to become full participants. They pressed the U.S. to transfer authority to NATO as a prerequisite for more participation. Finally, in October 1997, U.S. PSYOP forces in theater were transferred to Supreme Allied Command Europe’s command and control.

There occasionally arose a lack of knowledge of habits and customs. For example, during 1996, a handbill depicting a “checklist” of what was done and what had to be achieved was prepared. After the product was disseminated, it was realized that Bosnians don’t do checklists. In another example, they developed a poster with a chess game to encourage voting. Bosnians interpreted it as the international community playing with Bosnia’s future. Other products did not take into account the local population’s knowledge. For example, SFOR developed several products on the role of the military, the police, and the media in a democracy. These products used quotes from Western historic figures like Lincoln, Roosevelt, Clausewitz, or Clemenceau, which were not appropriate for Bosnia-Herzegovina. These products did not appeal to the Bosnians’ culture or history.

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas K. Adams mentioned these very leaflets in “Psychological Operations in Bosnia” in Military Review, l December 1998-February 1999. He seemed to think they were appropriate.

Air-distributed leaflets were a medium of communication that could reach this audience. The leaflets were prepared by PSYOP soldiers, who sought to give them an educational tone. These products stressed such themes as the role of officials in a democratic society, especially the role of police as enforcers of the law rather than political police. Other leaflets presented the facts concerning international aid and the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina enforcement. These leaflets were distributed from helicopters over key cities and towns in the American-led peacekeeping zone in northeastern Bosnia and adjoining areas. This included every major Serb-held area in northern Bosnia, where anti-NATO and anti- General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina broadcasts were being made by the state-run media. About 43,000 leaflets were distributed from the air and by soldiers on the ground. The leaflets presented information about democracy and responsible government, quoting democratic thinker icons which included Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, Plato and others. For example, one leaflet quoted Locke: The end of law is, not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. Another cited Jefferson’s advice: When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself as public property. Ironically, given the Serbs historic distrust of anything German, a third quoted Immanuel Kant: The only stable form of government is where the rule of law reigns and does not depend on any person.

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Sergeant Mark Jenkins
Sarajevo Airport - Good Friday, 1996.

Sergeant Mark F. Jenkins of the 6th PSYOP Battalion told me some of the problems that he encountered:

Many of my memories are of frustration. We in the 6th PSYOP Battalion had been alerted and then stood down so many times about Bosnia that I think some people had decided we were never really going to go. I was apparently one of the few Serbo-Croat linguists that had kept up language skills (and there were only three in the Battalion and one did not deploy), something that I found difficult to comprehend, (and I was only all too aware of my shortcomings as a translator). The potential for deployment to the former Yugoslavia had been apparent for several years. We went in with so many good ideas and were consistently defeated and ground down by bureaucracy and worse, such as the ridiculously long time it took for news items to get approval for publication. At one time, we had to submit everything back to Naples, and they tended to sit on it, no matter our deadlines.

I took pains whenever I was briefing any officers to stress that this was a European country we were dealing with, one with modern media, and if we weren't speedy, we had to at least be credible, or we could kiss our influence goodbye. I'd watched some of Milosevic's speeches on Serbian TV during my stint at the US embassy in Belgrade a year or two earlier, and I was struck by how media-savvy he was (so unlike his portrayal in many Western sources).

My position was that the Americans and NATO coming in should be like a wave of fresh air, and we needed to rapidly establish ourselves. One thing that definitely drove me up a wall was the way we threw our doctrine out the window as soon as it was “game time.” I was drawing up targeting forms, audience assessments, and all that stuff, and then I was told from the rear in Stuttgart to “stand down.” That is preposterous. If doctrine doesn't work, you don't ignore it, you amend the doctrine, or else the lessons learned never get institutionalized.


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.

NATO dropped no leaflets during the first week of bombing. This was surprising. Since the Serbs tightly controlled their news, the citizenry had no idea of why they were being bombed. It was crucial for NATO to explain to the masses that the bombing was a direct result of Milosevic's stubbornness, and that the bombing would cease the moment that Milosevic withdrew Serbian troops from Kosovo.

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Psychological Operations Support to Operation Allied Force.

I should mention here that many of the translations found in this article were first reported in the 1999 4th Psychological Group (Airborne) booklet Psychological Operations Support to Operation Allied Force.

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First Lieutenant Jurica Sare, here part of the U.N. Mission to India and Pakistan

Other translations were prepared by my friend, former Croatian Army First Lieutenant Jurica Sare.

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Serbian Leaflet to Kosovo

The Yugoslav Central government dropped aerial propaganda leaflets on the Kosovars on several occasions. In August of 1998, a Serbian Internal Affairs Ministry aircraft dropped leaflets over Kosmet and the southern province of Kosovo-Metohija calling on all ethnic Albanians to return to their homes. The leaflet guaranteed their safety. Since Milosevic was ethnically-cleansing the land of Albanians at the same time, it is doubtful that many took his offer of guaranteed safety. The all-text leaflet says:


Albanians to return to their homes and villages

We invite you to return home. We invite you to return to your homes and villages. We guarantee your safety.

The Serbian government makes a clear distinction between our citizens and the Albanian terrorists.

It is in the interest of every citizen in Kosovo and Metohija to have peace in the countryside and cities, peace for your families, and peace for women and children.

Terrorists can bring nothing good. They only bring evil. They take your villages, put guns in your hands, dishonor your women and girls, they take your money for payment to the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army. They forbid free movement.

WE INVITE you to come home to your villages; we guarantee safety for you, for your wives, and your children.

Go through the designated streets. Make contact with the police checkpoints which are found in the streets. Contact the police station first. We will help and ensure you reach your homes and your villages.


The leaflet printed in Serbian and Albanian stated:

The Government of Serbia knows the difference between our Albanian citizens and terrorists. Every citizen wants peace in Kosmet. It continued: Terrorists can bring nothing good. They only bring evil…take your villages, put guns in your hands, dishonor your women and girls, take your money for the so-call Kos Liberation Army, and block roads.

The Serbs dropped leaflets again in April of 1999. The Serbs dropped the leaflets over the displaced person's camp outside of Kisna Reka in Kosovo. As before, the leaflets told the ethnic Albanians that it was safe to return home and promised safe passage.

NATO finally responded in early April 1999. American Hercules EC-130 Commando Solo aircraft from the 193rd Special Operations Wing broadcast propaganda programs to the Serbs that filled the airwaves with news and films of the thousands of refugees caused by Milosevic's ethnic cleaning in Kosovo. The aircraft, flying from Ramstein Air Base in Germany is able to broadcast AM, FM and TV images over any frequency.

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Camp Bedrock Task Force Commander LTC Burch is interviewed on Radio Zivinice. Informational radio was regularly used by PSYOP to keep the people of Bosnia updated.

A brief word of introduction about the production of PSYOP in Kosovo and Serbia. According to documents released by the United States Army, 104.5 million aerial leaflets were dropped over Kosovo during the 78-day air campaign of Operation Allied Force. There were 34 distinct types prepared and disseminated. The leaflets contain 4-part codes. The code relates to target audience, theme, action desired, and number of a leaflet in a series.

There are minor differences in the size, paper and ink. Half the leaflets were produced at Ft. Bragg on digital Heidelberg printers; half were prepared in Germany on the 3750 series Risograph or the Mobile Print System (MPS). The sizes vary according to printing machine, local paper availability, and in some cases the artistic layout of the leaflet designers. In addition, there are minor variations of type size, font and color.

Most of the leaflets are in black and white, though many have words or paragraphs highlighted in color. We know the total number of leaflets dropped and even the individual numbers. The problem is that the latter were published using code names like “Think again” and “Questionnaire.” In those cases that we can identify the leaflet I have listed the number dropped. In other cases it is impossible to determine what the code name of a specific piece is.

NATO aircraft dropped 2.3 million leaflets in the Serbo-Croatian language over Yugoslavia on the weekend of April 3 and 4. These leaflets told the people why they were being bombed, and how to stop it. The majority of the drops were over the northern area of Yugoslavia where there was little knowledge of the atrocities occurring in Kosovo.

NATO reported a second leaflet drop of 2.5 million leaflets overnight on 10 and 11 April. Aircraft made the drop during the Orthodox Easter weekend. The leaflets explained that NATO would stop bombing if Yugoslavia withdrew its forces from Kosovo, allowed refugees to return home, and accepted an international peace force in the province of Kosovo.

According to Rand's Understanding Commanders’ Information Needs for Influence Preparations, the PSYOP campaign in Kosovo was very efficient:

The Information Operations (IO) staff participated in intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), analyzing the use and flow of information to social, civil, political, media, and paramilitary organizations and key leaders. IO staff also identified conduits for engaging target audiences and studied how Albanians and Serbs collected, disseminated, and used information, and how to prevent adverse use of the information infrastructure. Themes disseminated by Serb and Albanian media were monitored. Feedback obtained from face-to-face interactions was very important for assessment efforts.

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"NATO Strikes"

The first three NATO leaflets are the standard 6 x 3" size, considered the optimum for pinpoint dropping on selected targets. The first has black text on white paper. The text is in Serbo-Croatian and Cyrillic. The left side of the leaflet is blue. There is a NATO symbol at the right and the word "HATO." When turned over, the paper is all white, the NATO symbol is at the upper left and lower right, and two words are highlighted in red. There is no code number on this leaflet, but the official code number is 04-Q-07-L0001-d. The title of this leaflet is "NATO Strikes."

The text on this leaflet says:

In March 1998, the United Nations called for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Kosovo. Since then, the international community has made every effort to find a peaceful compromise. On 18 March 1999 the Kosovar Albanians agreed to a plan that would disarm the KLA and keep an autonomous Kosovo as a legal part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However, your political leadership not only spurned this opportunity, but also stepped up its military campaign of repression and violence against the entire Kosovar Albanian population. The Interim Political Agreement – the road to peace.

Text on the other side of the leaflet states:

As a direct result of your government's actions, NATO has conducted air-strikes against military targets. NATO has no quarrel with the Serb people, or their right to national Sovereignty. NATO and the international community still desire a peaceful solution for Kosovo.

The leaflets were first dropped on the far-northern town of Subotica. NATO aircraft dropped 3.6 million of this leaflet.

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"NATO Strikes"

The second leaflet is somewhat similar. It has the same NATO symbol and word "HATO" at the lower right. They are in blue. The rest of the text is in black and the paper is white. When turned over, the paper is all white, the NATO symbol is at the upper left and lower right in blue, and several words are in blue. The NATO title for this leaflet is "NATO Strikes II." 300,000 of these leaflets were dropped.

Some of the text reads:

For the last week Serb armies and police, under direct orders of Slobodan Milosevic, have emptied the villages and towns of Kosovo and burned or destroyed thousands of houses. Heads of families have been pulled from the arms of their wives and children and shot. Thousands of innocent and unarmed people are feared dead. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing Milosevic's pogrom. Do not allow misguided patriotism to blind you to his atrocities. NATO defends the defenseless.

The code number on this leaflet 04-B-02-L001.

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"Is it really his to gamble?"

The third leaflet bears two photographs. One side shows a gruff looking Slobodan Milosevic. The text and photo are in black on white paper. The text beneath the photo of Milosevic reads:

For years, Slobodan Milosevic has gambled with the future of the Serb people. His policies have lost Krajina, Western Slavonia, Baranja, and Sarajevo. Now he gambles again with his pogrom in Kosovo. He is wagering Serbia's sacred places, her place in the world, and the lives of his own people. Are these truly his to lose?

The other side of the leaflet shows a burning building. Text next to the burning building is:

Is it really his to gamble?

This leaflet is coded 04-B-02-L002. The title of this leaflet was “The Gambler.” This same general format was used on about seven leaflets other leaflets, with the Milosevic portrait sometimes in red, sometimes in blue. NATO aircraft dropped 7.6 million of these leaflets.

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Leaflet 04-B-02-L005

Another leaflet picturing Milosevic is found in two formats, the difference being that one version is in a darker blue with some blue text in the message while the other is in a lighter blue and the text is all black. 5.9 million of these leaflets were printed with the codename “Nepotism.” The text to the right of Milosevic’s picture is:

War and sacrifice for you
Good money for him, his family and his friends.

The back is all text:

Serbia 's economy is crippled; her war machine under attack. But through it all, Milosevic, his family, and his inner circle have managed to make millions. Tight control of state-run monopolies has given Milosevic an illicit financial empire at the expense of those he claims to defend.

His son Marko waits out the war in comfort. He does not serve as ordinary Serbs must. While your sons and husbands fight, Marko Milosevic parties in Belgrade or works on his sun-tan at the family villa in the Mediterranean.

Milosevic's nepotism, cronyism, and genocide in Kosovo have drained Serbia's economic resources and dragged the country into war with the world. Is he the kind of leader you really want?

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Another leaflet that uses the same photo of a gruff Milosevic has the question on the front:

All the right answers?

The back has a chart with three questions and little boxes where the finder can check “yes” or “no.” The text is:


Tens of thousands of Kosovar refugees all tell similar stories of mass deportation, rape, murder and destruction by Serb authorities. Are they all lying?

If Kosovar refugees are fleeing “NATO aggression,” would they really flee through the mountains to refugee centers in areas protected by NATO?

Are the Serb people willing to risk increasing isolation and economic collapse by supporting Milosevic’s policies in Kosovo-Metohija?


I believe this is the leaflet NATO coded “Questionnaire.” If so, 2.2 Million of these leaflets were printed and disseminated. I have two varieties of this leaflet. In the first, the red color on the front and the black text on the back are a bit more prominent than in the second. The darker variety is also about 5 mm longer and taller than the lighter version.  The same leaflet was printed with the code 04-B-02-L011.

In mid-April 1999, the NATO attack plan added tactical strikes against the Serb military forces in Kosovo to the strategic bombing of Serbia. Aircraft searched out troops, vehicles and armor taking part in the Kosovar persecution.

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So many NATO leaflets depict Milosevic. This one is short and to the point. The Serbian leader is depicted at front left with the text:

Why don't you ask Milosevic?"

The back of the leaflet has a large question mark at the left and the text at right:

Why are our factories burning?
Why are our bridges blowing up?
Why is NATO bombing Serbian targets?
How long this will this go on?

This is the leaflet that NATO called “Ask Milosevic.” 4.8 million of these leaflets were printed and dropped over Serbia. The leaflet is found in both black and blue ink.

A new series of leaflets threatening the Serb military forces was prepared. Each of these took the NATO four-pointed star and turned it into crosshairs as might be seen through a target scope.

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Don't  wait for me! Apache Helicopter

The first (fourth overall in the new series) leaflet pictured an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter in the foreground, and a small Serb tank silhouette in target crosshairs in the background. The Apache helicopter has a M230 30mm multi-barrel chain gun and 16 laser-guided Hellfire missiles. The Hellfire has a range of 4.4 miles and a speed of Mach 1.7. It is a deadly tank killer.

The Coalition dropped this leaflet about 15 April. The leaflet says in Serbo-Croat, "Don't wait for me" on the front beneath the helicopter. Text on the back (fig. 8) reads:

Attention VJ (Yugoslav Army) Forces! You can hide, but NATO forces still see you. Remain in Kosovo and face certain death; or leave your unit and equipment, and get out of Kosovo now. If you choose to stay, NATO forces will relentlessly attack you, with many different weapon systems, from many different nations, from the land, from the sea, from the sky. Stop following Milosevic's orders to commit genocide and other atrocities against civilians in Kosovo. You are responsible for your own actions, and ultimately will be held accountable. The choice is yours.

The text is in black except for the first and last lines which are in blue. The code number is 03-Q-09-L004. The same message appeared on both this leaflet and the following A-10 leaflet. NATO aircraft dropped 4.5 million of the leaflets with this text message.

Philip M. Taylor criticized this leaflet in Munitions of the Mind: A history of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Day, Manchester University Press, UK, 2003:

Given that the Apache was never deployed during the air campaign because of orders to fight the war from above 15,000 feet, the failure to deliver what was promised in the messages was symptomatic of a defective PSYOP campaign that failed to break either the Serb military or civilian morale.

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We should point out that the threatening portrait of an Apache attack helicopter was used again by the SFOR PSYOP team about 1999. The text is:


Bringing about cooperation and providing peace for all

One wonders how good this leaflet was as PSYOP since it is difficult to motivate people to accept cooperation and peace while threatening them with annihilation.

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"Don't wait for me!" A-10

The fifth leaflet is similar. It pictures an A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft (commonly known as "the warthog") in the foreground. The Thunderbolt is firing a missile. Once again, a small Serb tank silhouette in target crosshairs is shown in the background. The A-10 is armed with a GAU-8/A 30mm seven-barrel Avenger cannon which fires approximately 4,000 armor-piercing rounds per minute, and six Maverick missiles. The Maverick has a range of 25 miles at subsonic speed. This leaflet was called A-10/Helicopter Short text.” 4.5 millions of these leaflets were dropped.

Text on the front of this leaflet beneath the aircraft is:

Don't wait for me!

Text on the back is:

Over 13,000 Yugoslavian service members have already left the armed forces because they can no longer follow the illegal orders in Milosevic's war against the civilians in Kosovo. Remain in Kosovo and face certain death, or leave your unit and equipment, and get out of Kosovo now. If you choose to stay, NATO forces will relentlessly attack you from every direction. The choice is yours.

The text is in black except for the first and last lines which are in blue. The code number is 03-Q-09-L004. The same message appeared on both this leaflet and the previous Apache leaflet. NATO aircraft dropped 4.5 million of the leaflets with this text message.

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"Attention Serbian Forces. You are a NATO target".

A sixth leaflet shows target crosshairs on a Serb tank. The title of this leaflet was Nightsight II. Text on the back reads:

Attention Serbian Armed Forces. You are a NATO target. Halt your current operations and return to your garrisons immediately. If you fail to follow these instructions, NATO will continue to attack your unit. Save your own lives: Leave while you can.

This leaflet is coded 03-Q-02-L003. NATO aircraft dropped 300,000 copies of this leaflet.

Version 2

A second tactical version of the same leaflet had the title Nightsight. Again. The leaflet shows target crosshairs on a Serb tank. The text on the back is:

Attention 78th Motorized Brigade, 211 Armor brigade, 52nd and 78th Mixed Artillery, and attached units.

You are a NATO bombing target.

You will continue to be bombed until you return to your garrisons. Return while you still can.

The code number of this variation is 03-Q-02-L008. NATO aircraft dropped 800,000 of this leaflet.

A third variation also exists with the same code number 03-Q-02-L008. The only difference is that different units are named. The text on the back is:

Attention: 243rd Mechanized Infantry, 252nd Armored Battalion, 125th Motorized Infantry, 549th Infantry Battalion, Ist Armored Brigade, and adjacent units:

You are a NATO bombing target.

You will continue to be bombed until you return to your garrisons. Return while you still can.

Master Sergeant (retired) Rod Schmidt of B Company of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion  told me:

The sniper-scope green target leaflet dropped on Yugoslavia was based on a design I provided to 6th POB, although they modified it.  Originally, I had designed it to resemble the light green, grainy tinge of low-light scopes without the NATO symbol.   They were forced to darken the green color because the presses they had at that time just couldn't print the light green design at a high enough resolution to render the image clearly.

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There is another set of three leaflets from this “Q” series. They each are in black and white and each has a different image on the front. The first depicts a photograph of a burning Serb T-72 tank. The second features a photograph of an FA/18 Hornet fighter dropping a bomb. The third image is a cartoon-like drawing of three aircraft attacking a Serbian tank, armored personnel carrier and artillery piece. The text on the back is Cyrillic. Note that in one version all three leaflets mention the number 57, tactically aimed at that brigade. In a second identical set of three leaflets coded 03-Q-16-L003 the number “57” is missing so they would be aimed at any unit that found them. The text is:

Attention 57th brigade!

Stay in your barracks and you will be safe.
Deploy to Kosovo and you will destroyed.

My translator said:

This is bad leaflet. The language is not good. It looks like they wrote the massage in English and then translated it with Google translator. It's even worse than my English. If NATO’s intention was to scare soldiers, it failed.

Apparently, this was an ongoing problem. One website said:

The leaflets were full of grammatical errors in the beginning so they mostly made people laugh. The quality of content changed in a better way after a while so it is believed that new translators were used.

Information-Related Operations in Smaller-Scale Contingencies, mentioned translators, although those using loudspeakers, not writing leaflets. The problem seems to be the same though:

To be maximally effective, PSYOP units should be provided with linguists from the outset. In both Somalia and Bosnia interventions, the PSYOP units that were deployed had no linguists for a period of several weeks and had to rely on prerecorded messages for their loudspeaker teams. Such prerecorded messages proved of limited utility. In Somalia, only three or four of the numerous prerecorded messages that were prepared prior to deployment could be used in the situation the PSYOP teams encountered. As one report put it: "There is no substitute for live broadcasts. Messages must be exact, down to inflection and emphasis."

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List of radio frequencies and television channels

A seventh leaflet gives the frequencies of five radio and a television channel that the people could tune in to receive NATO radio and television broadcasts. 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

TV 21

We want to talk to you.

Television channel 21 is listed, but I understand that only fuzzy pictures and weak audio could be heard over this channel. 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.

The code number of this leaflet is 04-E-03-L001. NATO aircraft dropped 1.2 million copies of this leaflet.

An Early Version?

There seems to be an earlier variation of this leaflet. This variation has the same text on the back of the leaflet, but the front only shows three stations, FM 92.5, FM 101.2, and AM 1003 and no television station at all.

A third version depicts the following five stations, FM 92.5, FM 102.2, AM 1003, FM 106.4, and TV 21. All three versions have the same code number.

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TV Channel 21

This captured still from a TV screen was broadcast from an EC-130 orbiting over Serbia. It clearly shows the logo of UHF Channel 21. The picture depicts a crying child at the right and what appears to be hand with a “V” for victory in a window at the right. The hand is being pulled from the window, apparently to safeguard the person giving the sign.

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"No gasoline, no electricity, no trade, no freedom, no future."

A ninth leaflet shows a photograph of Slobodan Milosevic with an arrow pointing backwards. The text above the president's name reads:

No gasoline, no electricity, no trade, no freedom, no future.

The text on the back of the leaflet is:

How long will you suffer for Milosevic?

As long as Milosevic is going to continue his program of destruction, rape, and murder in Kosovo, Serbia will drift deeper into international isolation.

Don't let Milosevic hold you hostage to his atrocities.

This leaflet was dropped in late April as a warning of the coming bombing of crucial services like electricity and water. On 3 May, NATO attacked the hydroelectric power station west of Belgrade and darkened much of Serbia. The weapon used was a bomb containing thin graphite wires and particles that short-circuit the power lines, but do not destroy the generators. There were continued attacks on oil and gasoline stocks, and talk of a NATO boycott.

How long will you suffer for Milosevic? As long as Milosevic is going to continue his program of destruction, rape, and murder in Kosovo, Serbia will drift deeper into international isolation. Don't let Milosevic hold you hostage to his atrocities.

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The code number of this leaflet is 04-B-02-L004. This leaflet was printed in two varieties with minor color difference. In one version the circle around Milosevic on the front and the arrow is red.

The same leaflet was printed as 04-B-02-L008. The only difference is that the arrow on the front is highlighted in red. This leaflet was called “Pyramid” and 5,600,000 leaflets were dropped.

By 29 April, over 19 million leaflets had been dropped over Yugoslavia. Many of these leaflets were dropped along the Kosovo border where Serbs troops were operating. Belgrade radio reported that NATO had dropped propaganda leaflets on 27 April near the Macedonian border and over Novi Sad on 29 April. This number grew to 33 million leaflets by 9 May, with 14 leaflet drops over 12 cities in Yugoslavia.

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"The world is watching you! You will be held accountable"

There was no mention of leaflet drops for several weeks, than another flurry at the end of May. The first mentioned the alleged dropping of thousands of NATO leaflets over Serbian troops in Kosovo on 26-27 May. This leaflet was meant to remind the Serb military leadership that they were being watched and their crimes would be prosecuted. The officers were told that their names had been collected and evidence of genocide, killings, ethnic cleansing, rapes, forced deportations, mass graves, looting, destruction of homes, destruction of religious and cultural objects, and crimes again humanity were being recorded.

This information was being collected and forwarded to a tribunal in The Hague. The leaflet reminded the troops that every commander and other Army officers are responsible for the behavior and acts of his subordinates. It reminds soldiers that they do not have to obey illegal orders because everything will be documented and they will pay the consequences. These leaflets list the names of the commanders of the units operating in Kosovo.

Text on the front of the leaflet is:

Attention VJ forces! Right now the world is recording evidence of widespread war crimes by Serb military and paramilitary forces in Kosovo. The emerging picture of atrocities against innocent civilians is clear and compelling. Detailed intelligence reports are going to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at the Hague. Remember the Nuremberg Trials. Commanders: every leader is responsible for the actions of his subordinates. Soldiers: Illegal orders must not be obeyed. The world is watching you! You will be held accountable.

The back of the leaflet names the commander and units:

Units and Commander…under scrutiny in Kosovo. MG Vladmir Lavarevic - Prishtina Corps, COL Milos Mandic - 252nd Armored Brigade, COL Mladen Cirkovic - 15th Armored Brigade, COL Dragan Zivanovic - 125th Motorized brigade, COL Kirsman Jelic - 243rd Mechanized Brigade, COL Bozhidar Delic - 549th Motorized Brigade, COL Milos Djosan – 52nd Light Air Defense, and MAJ Zeljko Pekovic - 52nd Military Police Battalion.  Reported atrocities. Genocide, murder, human shields, ethnic cleansing, rape, forced evacuations, mass graves, robbery, deportation, destruction of protected property, and crimes against humanity. The world is watching you. Every leader is held accountable for the actions of his subordinates.

The code number of this leaflet is 03-X-04-L002. NATO aircraft dropped 8.7 million of this leaflet.

The Allies did something similar during WWII when they showed photographs and dossiers of certain Nazi leaders on leaflets and mentioned that the hangman's rope was awaiting them.

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Indicted for War Crimes

The Coalition was serious about war crimes. As soon as the “shooting war” was over they began to search for and arrest individuals they considered war criminals. This poster is interesting because it is an early use of the “wanted” poster, later used by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan after the 2001 terrorist attacks. This 1998 poster shows both wanted war criminals and those who have already been captured.

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"Your Blood Their Rewards"

On 29 May, two additional leaflets were mentioned in the press. Pentagon officials announced that NATO was trying to exploit friction between Yugoslav Army troops and the Interior Ministry Police by exacerbating the situation. NATO is dropping leaflets that read:

Attention VJ Troops! While you endure NATO bombing in the field, low of fuel and supplies, unpaid and past your service obligation, the MUP return home to count the profits from their confiscated "booty." They draw regular pay, use your equipment at your expense, and investigate you for not following their orders. meanwhile, you have been drafted and forced from your families to wage a war which you know is dishonorable and wrong. The only thing you share is blame for the MUPs atrocities.

The red text on the back of the leaflet is:

Your blood, their rewards.

The code number is 03-K-06-L001.  NATO aircraft dropped 2.7 million of this leaflet.

Like Hitler’s “SS” and Hussein’s “Republican Guard,” The police are considered loyal to President Slobodan Milosevic. They are better equipped and often receive better treatment than their army counterparts. The inequality of treatment has created a long-standing animosity between the two services. Once again, this technique was used in WWII to cause friction between the German Wehrmacht and the SS, and again in the Persian Gulf to point out inequalities between the Iraqi conscripts and the Republican Guard.

A United States Air Force officer told me that this leaflet was very effective and there was at least one case where a Serbian Reserve military unit mutinied and elected to return to Serbia to protect their families from the alleged abuses of the MUP. He said that it made him a believer in PSYOP.

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"Attention VJ Forces, Leave Kosovo"

The second leaflet reported on 29 May depicts the USAF B-52 Stratofortress. It was reported that two such aircraft were seen over Pristina at 1400 GMT dropping leaflets that warned Yugoslav troops to leave Kosovo. The title of this all black and white leaflet is “General Short.” The text on the front by the B-52 bomber is:

Thousands of bombs…and the will, capability and support of the

world to drop them on your unit.

The text on the back is:

Attention VJ Forces, Leave Kosovo, NATO is now using B-52 bombers to drop MK-82 225-kilogram heavy bombs on the Yugoslav Army units in Kosovo. Every B-52 bomber can carry more than 50 of these bombs. These planes will keep coming back for you until they expel your unit from Kosovo and prevent you from committing atrocities. If you want to survive and see your family again, abandon your unit and weapon and leave Kosovo immediately!

The back of the leaflet shows a B-52 dropping bombs. The code number of this leaflet is 03-NN-17-L002. NATO aircraft dropped 700,000 of this leaflet. 

There is a second variety of this leaflet with the same code number but a different name, “B-52” The text is the same and the difference is that some of the text is in bright red ink. 1,600,000 copies of this version were printed and dropped on Serbia.

The expressed reason for these leaflets from the very first day was to educate the common Serb of the reason for the bombing. For instance, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said on 11 April:

We have dropped leaflets on Yugoslavia…to allow any willing Yugoslav to be able to read the position of the international community….

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Leaflet 05-B-03-L001 was designed to lower the morale of the Serbians by reminding them that their loved ones were in harm’s way and could be killed at any moment. It depicts a number of troops boarding a military truck at the left, and a group of men carrying a coffin containing a dead Serbian soldier at the right. The leaflet is found in two varieties; black and white as shown here, or with the front images in a bright red color. This leaflet was called “Sons not coffins” and NATO printed and disseminated 5.9 million of these leaflets. The text beneath the group carrying the coffin is:

Sons, not coffins!

The back is all text:

Sons, Not coffins!

Your sons and husbands are being sacrificed in an unnecessary war. Every day they spend in Kosovo-Metohija increases the chance they will be killed by a sniper's bullet or NATO bombs. They are forced to fight without adequate food, ammunition, artillery, support, or fuel. All for what your government calls a "police action" against an "ineffective terrorist army".

Demand the immediate return of your sons and husbands.

You need your family more than you need a war in Kosovo

There were some negative comments about the leaflet campaign. A number of Serbs indicated that the language was stilted, incorrect, and not as good as the leaflets dropped by the Nazis during WWII. This could be an attempt to attack the technical quality of the leaflet while ignoring the message -- The old "shoot the messenger" ploy.

Philip Taylor didn’t think this leaflet was very effective. He says that:

In Kosovo itself, VJ forces received warnings that they were about to be attacked unless they left the area. This technique was copied from Kuwait when leaflets warning of impending attacks by Daisy Cutter bombs and B-52s were successful in clearing the battlefield of enemy forces. In Kosovo, however, the Yugoslav army was a very different proposition to that of Iraq’s largely conscripted forces. The Yugoslav army did not flee. Highly skilled in deception and camouflage techniques, it moved around with considerable skill to avoid the destructive power of the NATO air campaign.

In Vojvodina an elderly man was quoted as saying that the Nazi leaflets were good for cigarette rolling paper, but the NATO leaflets "aren't even good for that." Many academians believed that the threats and bullying tactics would harden the will of the Serbs.

Perhaps a stronger criticism was made by one of our ex-military officers who spent a lifetime in PSYOP. He said:

Where is the empathy with the masses? Where is the expression of sorrow for the disruption in the lives of the innocent? Where is the expression of regret for the damage to the infrastructure? It sounds as if our total PSYOP effort is about as subtle and psychological as a turd in a punch bowl.

A rather colorful way to express one's disdain of the campaign.

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Just as the first “NN” leaflet threatened death and destruction from NATO bombs, This “NN” leaflet seems to threaten the Serbian fighter with death by NATO bombs or imprisonment by the International Court. The leaflet depicts an armed soldier on the front and the text:

While the Serbian army, police and paramilitary units continue to fight in Milosevic's war against civilians in Kosovo, NATO continues to bomb your positions and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia continues to document atrocities and war crimes.

The more you continue to fight in this war, the better the chances that you will be a victim of NATO bombs or that you will be involved in crimes against humanity.

Don't leave your mothers, wives and children to mourn your death or to be ashamed because of your actions. Save your lives. Leave your unit and equipment and run from Kosovo before it is too late – NATO.

The back of the leaflet features text in a triangular form similar to that of 04-B-02-L004 above, but with the text a bit more extensive. NATO code-named this leaflet “VJ Pyramid” and 2,300,000 of these leaflets were printed and disseminated. The text is:

No more pay
No more supplies
No more artillery support
No end to the NATO air strikes
No protection from indictment for war crimes

No glory in a war against civilians

To refute the NATO propaganda the Serbs used rumors of the leaflets being soaked in bacteriological contaminated liquids to frighten their own people and keep them from picking up the leaflets.

The Serbs have been masters of using the Internet for their own purposes. One letter in Soc.culture.Yugoslavia was entitled "NATO is using biological warfare." It went on to state that:

I have already wrote you that NATO airplanes are dropping propaganda papers from time to time on cities all over the country. In addition, those papers are found to be bacteriological positive. There's another thing…workers who were packing these papers in airplanes were wearing special anti-bio-chemical suits…strange?

This attempt to frighten the masses with germ or explosive scares is an old trick used on many occasions in warfare. The last thing a government in power desires is that you pick up and read enemy propaganda.

U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Tulak mentions the Serbian use of propaganda in his 2004 paper Improving Tactical PSYOP Video Dissemination in Media-Austere Operating Environments:

In the Kosovo Campaign, during Operation ALLIED FORCE, U.S. and NATO forces were surprised by the Internet campaign waged by Serbia. The government of Serbian President Slobodon Milosevic employed hundreds of pro-Serb web sites, which effectively disseminated the message of Serbian propaganda both regionally and internationally. The Serbian regime demonstrated its flexibility in exploiting the new media, and did so faster than NATO forces could respond with counter-propaganda, with the result that the Serbs maintained the initiative in the information realm.

The Milosevic regime employed the Internet to globally post “propaganda depicting Serb victims, bombings in violation of international law, and NATO [in the role of] aggressors.” In the process, the Serbs accomplished strategic PSYOP objectives at almost no cost. While Serb television and radio had been shut down by the NATO air campaign, the Serbs still got their messages through the international media, which reinforced the spread of Internet propaganda by reporting the claims being made by the Serbs.

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   Serb Propaganda Posters

The Serbs also used posters and postcards to tell their side of the story. Some of their work was very well done. They used scenes of terrified and threatened women and children to strike an emotional chord in the viewer.

Perhaps the most interesting Serb retaliation was mentioned by Melissa Dittman in “Operation Hearts and Minds,” Monitor on Psychology, June 2003:

The enemy can also try to counter PSYOP more directly. During the Kosovo contingency operations, Serb agents reportedly contacted Serbo-Croatian translators working with the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg and threatened harm to them and their families if they continued to support U.S. information efforts.

Croatian Propaganda Posters

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The Croatians are not often mentioned in PSYOP articles because for the most part, their war with Serbia was not covered as extensively. The Croats had been Pro-German and anti-Communist during WWII in an attempt to win their independence so the press did not know exactly how to address them. It was easier to ignore them rather than come out for or against them.

Briefly, in 1990, the Croatian Democratic Union under Franjo Tudman, a former general in Josef Broz Tito's wartime Partisan army won the first free election. Tuđman wanted independence for Croatia and that quickly led to an escalation of violence between the Croats and the Serbs. The Serbs first attempted to form a nation within Croatia called the Republic of Serbian Krajina, and the Serb military moved in to protect the new unrecognized country. Hundreds of thousands of Croats moved away from the Bosnian and Serbian border areas, while thousands of Serbs moved towards it. The Serb army practiced a form of ethnic cleansing while their propaganda machine reminded the world that Croatia was pro-Nazi in WWII.

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Vukovar water tower during the Siege of Vukovar.
The tower came to symbolize the town's resistance to Serb forces.

The border city of Vukovar underwent a three month siege, finally falling to the Serbs on 18 November 1991. A massacre of the Croats followed. The indictment at a later war crime trial stated:

On or about November 21, 1991 Serb forces removed approximately 255 men, Croats and other non-Serbs from Vukovar Hospital in the aftermath of the Serb take-over of the city. The victims were transported to the Ovcara farm located about 5 kilometers south of Vukovar. There, members of the Serb forces beat and tortured the victims for hours. During the evening of November 21, 1991 the soldiers transported the victims in groups of 10-20 to a remote execution site between the Ovcara farm and Grabovo, where they shot and killed them. Their bodies were buried in a mass grave.

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Vukovar – A shame for Europe and the world…

Croatian Information Center – Zagreb

There were many patriotic Croatian posters, especially at the start of the war. Most targeted international organizations and the citizens and governments of Western Europe like Great Britain, France and Germany.

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A final prayer before I must flee…

Croatian Information Center – Zagreb

I am informed that the Croatians were involved with three leaflets though I have seen none of them. The Yugoslavian People’s Army dropped one “deception” leaflet on the Croats. The Croats dropped a warning leaflet on a Serbian military parade and there was at least one information leaflet for civilians that told them of safe movement routes during “Operation Storm.”

In the summer of 1995, the Croatian army mounted Operation Storm, a successful summer offensive into the region of the Krajina. In less than a month they ejected Serb-supported forces and 150,000 Croatian Serb civilians. Control of the region, long held by the Serbs, returned to Zagreb. The Croat forces used integrated air, artillery, and infantry movements, as well as maneuver warfare targeted against Serbian command, control, and communication systems. The battle, launched to restore Croatian control of 4,000 square miles of territory, was the largest European land battle since the Second World War. Operation Storm commenced at dawn on 4 August 1995 and was declared complete on the evening of 7 August. Now it was the Serbs on the move as hundreds of thousands fled back to Serbia.

During the war with Serbia there was a pro-Croatian, anti-Serbian group called the "Croatian Freedom Action Committee" that was headquartered in New York City. This group produced a number of English-language propaganda posters that depicted various Serb atrocities and war crimes.

As we stated earlier, by the conclusion of the operation, 104.5-million leaflets were dropped by NATO, 34 different leaflets in 31 distinct varieties. There were numerous themes. Some of the more interesting ones are:

1.  Divide and conquer. For example, the leaflet telling the Army that the police were better-equipped and committing crimes that the military would be blamed for.

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While You are Away

Leaflet 03-NN-20-LOO2 uses this theme by telling the troops that while they are away at the front, Milosevic is attacking their families at home. This leaflet attempts to divide the military troops from the Serbian government. The front shows Serb troops carrying protective shields advancing against civilians. This leaflet was called “VJ Krusevac” and 1,400,000 copies were dropped. The text is:

While you are away Fighting Milosevic’s war in Kosovo

Families in villages and town across Serbia and Montenegro have begun to protest the war, calling for the return of their sons and husbands…

The back is all text and says in part:

Only unity will save the Serbs

In response, Milosevic has greeted them with water cannons, riot police, and charges of treason. It seems there is no difference to Milosevic between a Kosovar Albanian rebel and a Serb civilian trying to express their frustration with Government policy.

In response to the violent Serb crackdown, entire units from the Krusevac and Alexsandrovac area have left their positions in Kosovo-Metohija against orders and returned home to defend their families…from their own government. Return home where you are needed.

Before Milosevic treats Paracin…like Pristina.

I am told that at least two Serbian cities were taken off the bombing target list because allied leafleting had caused mothers and grandmothers to take to the streets in protest. The “riots” were photographed and helped to convince some military units to return home from Kosovo. This leaflet was extremely effective at destroying the Serbian military morale.

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Leaflet 04-B-02-L017ţ

This leaflet is very strange because the front of it is sinilar to the back of leaflet 03-NN-20-LOO2 above. The leaflet is found in all black and in a variation with some blue highlights. The leaflet was called “Krusevac” and 5,100,000 leaflets were dropped. The front is all text with a fancy banner and the text:

Only unity will save the Serbs

Just shortly before his tragic death, famous journalist Slavko Curuvija, publisher of the “Daily Telegraph” co-authored a public letter to Mr. Milosevic on the subject of the future of Serbia. About Serbian unity he said:

You destroyed the spirit of tolerance, encouraging artificial conflicts and provoking conflicts between rich and poor, city and village, between Serbia and Montenegro, and between the police and army. You turned students against professors and the literate against the illiterate.

And today situation is even worst...

The text on the back is:

How long will this madness last?

Now, Milosevic turns state forces against his own citizens who protest the war in Kosovo and Metohija. As a result of brutal suppression [lit. asphyxiation] of the protests by police, entire military units in the area of Krusevac and Alexandrovac, against [or despite] orders, are abandoning their positions in Kosovo and Metohija and returning to their homes to protect their families...

...from their own government!

Only your united voices can change things.

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Many NATO leaflets display military strength in an attempt to threaten the Serbians and force them to return to their own lands. Two examples are 03-K-09-L001 and L002. They are very similar. In fact the text on the front of each leaflet is identical. On L001 the front depicts an A-10 Thunderbolt II known by the troops as the tank-killing Warthog and an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. On L002 the same two weapons systems appear but there is an added M-270 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). The text is:

NATO prepares more weapons to attack and destroy the Yugoslav army units in Kosovo and Metohija.

DON'T be there when it happens.

On the back side of L001 we find the missing M-270 multiple launch rocket system and the text:


Projectiles with explosive warheads like the APACHE's “Hellfire” rockets and mini-bombs from the MLRS, which upon impact create beams of molten metal which penetrate through their target's armor and cause fires and explosions. Inside the vehicle, people and equipment are very often completely burned alive.

Come back alive to your families.
Leave your unit and your weapon system.
Leave Kosovo and Metohija before it is too late.

The back of L002 is all text with no images:


Kinetic munitions, like the automatic tubular projectiles of the APACHE helicopter and “Tank-killer” airplanes like the A-10, use hyper-speed to penetrate armor of vehicles and to convert organic and non-organic matter inside vehicles into ashes. Very often the result of this shock is a catastrophic explosion.

Come back alive to your families.
Leave your unit and your weapon system.
Leave Kosovo and Metohija before it is too late.

My translator said that this message was worded very strangely. He felt that NATO clearly hoped to scare the Serbs, especially tankers, but there was no mystery about these weapons; the Serbs had many of the same general type of weapons in their army. They already knew what a rocket could do to a tank. I am not sure what leaflets these were in the NATO code. I see two together called “Heat” and “Sabot” and if these two are those leaflet, 1.3 million of each were printed and dropped.

2.  Overwhelming strength of NATO forces. The leaflets showing helicopters, fighter aircraft, rocket-launchers and B-52 bombers.

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Flags of the Allied Forces

3.  Overwhelming size of the force aligned against Serbia. A good example of this theme is the “flag” leaflet. During the Korean War, leaflet 2506 depicted 54 flags of the nations aligned against the Democratic Republic of (North) Korea. During the Vietnam war, the allies printed a leaflet showing the flags of the seven nations aligned against the Democratic Republic of (North) Vietnam. During Operation Desert Storm, the Coalition dropped leaflets bearing the flags of the 27 nations aligned to drive the forces of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. The theme of the great number of powers gathered against an enemy has always been a favorite of U.S. PSYOP. The allied forces that took part in the war to drive the forces of Slobodan Milosevic from Kosovo disseminated leaflets showing the flags of the 19 NATO members. Text on the front is:

We are fully committed…The arsenals of Democracy run deep. We can fight this campaign for months and months…if not years. General Henry Shelton, Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, 30 April 1999.

The back is all text:

Slobodan Milosevic has been terribly successful in using his military and paramilitary forces to commit horrendous atrocities, including mass murders, systematic rapes and forced evacuation against unarmed civilians in Kosovo-Metohija, and hiding the fact from his own citizens. What he didn't expect was that he would be even more successful in isolating Serbia from the rest of the world and in unifying NATO and the world community of nations in its resolve to stop Serb atrocities and return the people of Kosovo-Metohija to their homes in safety. He would do well to listen to the words of his own military experts: "Serbs have fought a war since 1991 while still not having a single ally anywhere. Not even the Russian Federation has declared itself our ally..." Col General Momcilo Perisic, Former VJ Chief of Staff, February 1999.

The code number of this leaflet is 04-B-02-L009. This leaflet was called “NATO flags,” NATO aircraft dropped 4.3 million of this leaflet.

4.  Leave your equipment. The leaflets showing Serb tanks in crosshairs is a good example.

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Crying Women and Children

5.  Criminal acts of the Serb military. Showing Serb atrocities was a major part of NATO PSYOP. One leaflet depicted five photographs of crying children, elderly women, and even a dead Kosovar.This leaflet has at least three variations; Large or small text in vertical format on the back and one type with a horizontal message. Text on the back of this leaflet is:

Guess what Milosevic isn’t telling you.

Milosevic uses lies to misdirect your patriotism in support of his own power. He censors your media and silences any and all criticism. Yet more Serbian leaders and citizens are starting to realize the truth and speak out.

With every day he continues his pogrom of mass murder, systematic rapes, forced evacuations, and other atrocities in Kosovo. Milosevic gambles with the political and economic future of Serbia. His policies are ruining the country and isolating you from the world community.

The code number of this leaflet is 04-B-03-L001. The title of this leaflet is “Guess what." NATO aircraft dropped 4.9 million of this leaflet.

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The same image of the crying woman is depicted on this leaflet, as well as Kosovars being herded into trucks and dead bodies on the ground. The text on the front of this leaflet is:

Atrocities on civilians of Kosovo and Metohija..

...are not's a war crime!

The back is all text:


- Do you think that the world will not discover a truth?
- Do you think that your superiors will take responsibility for your actions?
- Do you think that Milosevic will protect you?


You will be personally responsible.

Because this leaflet asks the Serbs to think, I suspect it might be the one that NATO called “Think Again.” If so, 2.1 million of these leaflets were printed and disseminated.

Note that this leaflet is aimed at the Army of Yugoslavia instead of Serbia. A retired Croatian Army officer explained that after the disintegration of the former socialistic Yugoslavia, Milosevic wanted to continue to use the name for the union of Serbia and Montenegro. Many Europeans still respected the name, especially France and Russia. Yugoslavia also had friends in the Arabic world and in Africa. There were also material things like money and gold in foreign banks, real estate around the world, weaponry, etc. Milosevic wanted to inherit all of the Yugoslavian good will and wealth. It was like the spoils of a divorce after a marriage breaks up. He still called his country Yugoslavia and thus the NATO leaflet uses the same name.

6.  The threat of punishment. The leaflet naming Serb military commanders.

7.  Crimes of the leader, not the people. The many leaflets showing Milosevic, and stating that NATO was fighting the political leadership and not the people of Yugoslavia.

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8.  Corruption of the leader. The many leaflets showing Milosevic's son as a playboy in Belgrade, or showing yachts and villas allegedly owned by the president. NATO prepared one leaflet that depicted Marko Milosevic. It was printed in three formats, black ink front and back, blue ink front and black ink back, and black ink front and red ink back. Beneath his photograph is the text:

If only Unity will save the Serbs, why does Marko Milosevic escape his federal service dancing at his Disco in Pazarevic or sun-tanning at the family villa in the Mediterranean?

The back is all text:

While you suffer every day in the mud and blood of Kosovo-Metohija? Slobodan Milosevic is willing to sacrifice you to constant and increasing NATO bombardment, and subject you to charges of war crimes in an illegal program against civilians. But he will not order his own son to serve. Do not become another victim in Milosevic's version of "Serb unity". Leave your equipment and your unit, and get out of Kosovo-Metohija now. You need your family more than you need a war in Kosovo.

I believe that NATO designated this leaflet “Civilian Marko.” Aircraft dropped 2.1 million of this leaflet.

The same general leaflet with Marko reversed and facing to the right, and the same message except that the first paragraph was printed in red and is coded 03-NN-19-L001. This leaflet was called simply “Marko” and 2,100.000 leaflets were printed and dropped.

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Leaflet 04-B-02-L012 depicts a villa and a luxury yacht. It would seem to be a clear attack on the riches of the Milosevic family. The text on the front is:

What has Milosevic gained during his presidency?

- Proxy control of state banks;
- Monopoly on the black market;
- Millions in secret offshore accounts;
- Expensive Mediterranean villas and yachts like these in the pictures.

The back is all text:

What's in it for you?

Under the control of Slobodan Milosevic, Mira Markovic and their croniess the economy of Serbia collapsed while they earned millions. Milosevic's policy kept Serbia under economic embargo during the better part of the last decade. For their perpetual support the Serbian people are awarded with:

- Government default on salaries and pensions;
- A 97% decrease in Serbia's cash reserves.
- 35 % unemployment rate.
- Runaway inflation

It is finally time for a change.

Mira Markovic was Milosevic's wife. This leaflet is written in such a way as to imply criminal activity on the part of the Milosevic family. My translator said that once again, there is bad grammar and poor use of words.

This leaflet was called by NATO  “Milo’s Stuff” and 1.9 million were printed and disseminated.

Leaflet 04-B-02-L027 discusses the corruption of Milosevic’s friends. It depicts Milosevic, his wife and another woman on the front and the text:

How much are Milosevic, Mira, and their friends leaving for Serbia’s future?

The back is all text

DM 600,000,000 stolen by Srpska Majka
DM 100,000,000 stolen by Gazda Jezda
DM 1,800,000,000 transferred to South Africa by Borka Vucic

Is it any wonder that Serbia’s cash reserves have dropped 97% from 18 billion to 540 million while Milosevic has been in power?

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The privileged Marko Milosevic was clearly a favorite target of NATO propaganda. In this leaflet he is depicted once again, this time looking left instead of right. This is the leaflet that NATO calls “Prince Marko” so we know that 2.2 million leaflets were printed and disseminated. The text on the front is a quote about the young man from his mother as written in her dairy entitled Night and Day:

My son drives his car more than 250 kilometers an hour and sends me massages with his pager to tell me that he loves me, and bathes himself four times a day; He is a completely modern and trendy young man who haven't been weighed down with a traditional education.

Mira Markovic
"Night and day"

The text on the back is:

After six centuries Prince Marko is again among the Serbs!

But, unlike the legendary hero who shared his good wine and used his courage to help others, the new “Prince Marko” smuggles cigarettes to Sweden.

Instead of riding his fierce horse into battle, the new “Prince Marko” endangers the lives of his countrymen with his fierce sport cars.

Instead of wiping the sweat of honest work from his forehead, the new “Prince Marko” bathes himself with shampoo four times per day.

To be a modern person is completely OK...but it is too bad that among the traditions which Marko Milosevic renounces is the honor of the real Prince Marko.

Don't allow Milosevic's famiglia or their pals to play Royal Family, while leading Serbia into disaster.

Note that in this message NATO uses the word famiglia, which is an Italian word, sometimes used in Serbia and parts of Croatia, but with Mafia connotations. Once again NATO implies that Milosevic and his family are a criminal conspiracy.

Historically, Prince Marko was not a hero; he was a vassal of Turks. Traditionally, to the common Serb, he was thought to be a hero with almost super powers. The comparison of Marko Milosevic to Prince Marko would seem to be good propaganda.

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Leaflet 04-B-02-L027

In this leaflet Marko is ignored and Milosevic, his wife and his friends are attacked. This leaflet turned out to be a bit of a problem. First of all, it is fairly rare. I saw it back at Ft. Bragg in the late 1990s and made a note of it, and never saw it again until 2015. My own translator was not sure who some of the people depicted in the leaflet were, so this seems to be a bit obscure, although the message clearly indicates that Milosevic is a criminal and he and his friends have been looting Serbia. The front depicts three people; Slobodan Milosevic, Mirjana Milosevic his wife, and a third un-named woman holding a stack of banknotes. This leaflet requires the reader to be fairly knowledgeable on Serbian culture, finances and politics. It probably was not considered a very good leaflet for the common Serb. Perhaps that is why it is so rare. There is a bright red question mark to get the reader’s attention. The text on the front is:

How much has Slobodan, Mira and their friends left for Serbia’s Future?

The back is all text, with black print at the top and red print below, once again with a bright red question mark. It is:

600,000,000 DM - Stolen by a “Serbian Mother”
100,000,000 DM - stolen by "Boss Jezda”
1,800,000,000 DM - Transferred to South America by Borka Vucic

Does it seem strange then that Serbian money reserves decreased by 97 percent, from 18 billion to 540 million since the start of Milosevic's rule?

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Borka Vucic

My translator was not sure who the “Serbian Mother” represented, most likely Milosevic’s wife Mira. He did recognize “Boss Jezda” as Jezdimir Vasiljevic, a Serbian banker who in 1992 established the Jugoskandik Bank, the first privately-owned bank in Yugoslavia. The bank turned out to be a front of a pyramid scheme. In 2007 he fled to Israel. In 2009 he was arrested in Holland and was eventually returned to Belgrade. “Borka Vucic” served as the acting President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. She was also head of the state-owned Beogradska Banka under former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and was considered an important part of his regime. Borka Vucic was later elected to the Serbian Parliament and died in a car crash in 2009.

9.  Explanations. The leaflets explaining Serb crimes against the Kosovar people and the UN resolution.

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10.  Serbia is at a crossroads. NATO told the Serbian people that their actions were causing them to be outcasts in all of Europe. An example is this leaflet showing a destroyed bridge and two arrows going in opposite directions over the European Union flag, a blue flag with gold stars. The bridge at the left is one of the destroyed bridges over the Danube. Serbs view themselves as European, while Europeans view them as eastern Slavs. NATO tried to appeal to their desire to be part of western Europe. The text on the back is:

Serbia at the Crossroads

The conflict with NATO will not last forever. Now is the time to think about the future. Where do you envision yourself in five years?

Each day brings unwanted destruction and isolation because of Milosevic’s pogrom. How will Serbia pay to rebuild, and where will in stand in cooperation with the European community? Will any other European nation want to help, or will you have to pay to rebuild all by yourself? What kind of burden and future will this leave for your children?

Call on your leadership to stop its atrocities in Kosovo-Metohija and remove the troops to the safety of Serbia. Tell them to return to meaningful negotiations with the nations of Europe and begin to claim the nation’s rightful place among the nations of Europe and the world.

The choice is yours.

The code number of this leaflet is 04-B-06-L001. NATO called the leaflet "Crossroads" and aircraft dropped 1.400,000 of this leaflet on 2-3 June. 

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Why the Allies bomb civilian neighborhoods

In this explanation leaflet, the people of Serbia are told why bombs are falling where they live. The front depicts a Serb tank and the text:

Don’t let Milosevic make you a target

NATO will never deliberately target non-military related activities. However, your government’s placement of military targets in civilian areas, and the continued use of civilian facilities to support the military have increased the risk to you.

A safety message for the Serb people

The back is all text with a bit of bright red color to catch the eye of the finder:

For your own safety, avoid the following:

These types of area are potential targets. Evacuate your families from these area if you are able. If you choose to remain and you hear explosions or gunfire, stay away from your windows and move immediately below ground level whenever possible.

VJ or MUP facilities – Air bases – Large TV or radio towers – Power stations – Governmenr buildings – Petrol storage facilities – Transportation routes – Roads, bridges or pipelines routinely used to supply the military.

Don’t become another victim of Milosevic’s war.

The leaflet was coded 04-R-11-L001 and called "Warning." 1.6 million of these leaflets were dropped.

British Leaflets

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British leaflet

The British apparently prepared and disseminated a small number of propaganda leaflets in an attempt to get the local populace to turn in their hand grenades under threat of incarceration. The leaflet depicts a hand grenade at the left and a person behind bars at the right. The image is the same on both sides. The uncoded leaflets were distributed by British troops around the area of Gracanica, Kosovo. The former commander of a British patrol base in the village of Slivovo told me that after years of internal strife civilians walking the street with grenades were quite common. The leaflets were mainly distributed by 4th Armored Brigade Headquarters, Signal Squadron 204, and the 4th Regiment of the Royal Artillery. They were disseminated by hand to males of a potentially weapon bearing age (14 and over). The text says in part:

The carrying of weapons, especially hand grenades, is prohibited in this area. Persons who are found in possession of them will be arrested and detained pending trial.

British researcher Lee Richards discovered three other leaflets prepared by the British 15th PSYOP Group. They are all-text and each bears the British flag at the lower right. Allegedly they were designed to be airdropped. None of the leaflets bear codes.

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Military and veterans: Do not fire on those seeking food or water

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Warning – If you carry weapons in Kosovo you will be arrested

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The text on the leaflet above is believed to be in part:


British forces here to ensure compliance with all...

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Reward Leaflet on $50 banknote

When the war ended, Milosevic was wanted for war crimes by the NATO powers. The United States Department of State printed a reward leaflet in the form of a U.S. $50 banknote. The left of the leaflet appeared to be a regular banknote, the right depicted photographs of Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. This banknote leaflet was printed in three different formats: Serbo-Croat, Cyrillic and English. The text is:

Up to $5 million reward – WANTED… Text above and below the photographs of Milosevic is: For crimes against humanity – Slobodan Milosevic, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The back of the leaflet is all text:

Milosevic, Karzdzic, and Mladic have been indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity, including murders and rapes of thousands of innocent civilians, torture, hostage-taking of peace keepers, wanton destruction of private property, and the destruction of sacred places.  Mladic and Karadzic  also have been indicted for genocide. To bring Milosevic, Karadzic, and Mladic to justice, the United States Government is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the transfer to, or conviction by, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of any of these individuals or any other person indicted by the international Tribunal. If you believe you have information, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate, or write the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service at: REWARDS FOR JUSTICE, Post Office Box 96781, Washington, D.C. 20090-6781, U.S.A. e-mail:,, telephone 1-800-437-6371 (U.S.A. Only).

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A Second Reward Leaflet on $50 Banknote

A second $50 bill was printed by the U.S. Department of State; this one depicting a dead mother and her crying child on the front. The text is:

This is a crime…against all humanity

The back is all text. The message says in part:

Since 1991, thousands of residents of the former Yugoslavia have been murdered, raped, tortured or imprisoned. The victims of these crimes against humanity deserve justice. Many of these crime are serious violations of international humanitarian law, and many of the people who committed them are subjects of criminal indictments by the United Nations International Criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia…

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$5,000,000 reward leaflet parody of a Bosnia banknote

Another type of United States currency reward leaflet depicts Radovan Karadzic and gives the finder a telephone number where Karadzic can be handed over for a substantial reward. The leaflet is in the form of a parody of the Bosnian 50 Federal Convertible Maraka note of 1998. The convertible mark was established by the 1995 Dayton Agreement and replaced the Bosnia and Herzegovina dinar, Croatian kuna and Republika Srpska dinar as the currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1998. The text is printed on a black background in orange and white. The email address is in English. The back of the leaflet is a faithful reproduction of the back of the genuine Bosnian note. This image on the back of the note identifies it as the Albert Pick Standard Catalog of World Paper Money number 67.

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A Second $5,000,000 reward leaflet parody of a Bosnia banknote

This note is almost identical to the 50 Maraka Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible note above except for some very minor changes on the front and a different back. The note is on a heavier plastic type paper that would make it more able to resist moisture on the ground. The text is in yellow and white. This back of the banknote identifies it as Albert Pick Standard Catalog of World Paper Money number 68.

Karadzic is accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of personal and command responsibility for numerous war crimes committed against non-Serbs, in his roles as Supreme Commander of the Bosnian Serb armed forces and President of the National Security Council of the Republika Srpska. He is accused by the same authority of being responsible for the deaths of more than 7500 Muslims. Under his direction and command, Bosnian Serb forces initiated the Siege of Sarajevo. He is accused by the ICTY of ordering the Srebrenica genocide in 1995, directing Bosnian Serb forces to “create an unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope of further survival of life” in the UN safe area. In addition, he is accused by the ICTY of ordering that United Nations personnel be taken hostage in May–June 1995.

A 2021 article by Steve Maguire is a British Army Officer serving with The Royal Irish Regiment says that the UN was partially to blame in an article called “UN Intelligence in Balkans” on Wavell Room:

It is now generally accepted that UNPROFOR did not perform well during its mission. It watched and failed to prevent widescale ethnic cleansing, culminating in the genocide at the Srebrenica and Zepa ‘safe areas’ in July 1995. The planning phase of the UNPROFOR cycle was multifaceted and undermined by strategic tensions. UNPROFOR was unable to centrally direct its requirements and was disjointed between the operational and tactical level.

These leaflets were thrown from NATO helicopters into the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, western parts of Serbia and northern parts of Montenegro.

The front of the note is replaced by the reward notice, which shows a photograph of Karadzic at left, along with Bosnian text:

Program Rewards for Justice Offers up to $5,000,000

Program Rewards for Justice Offers up to five million dollars for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons who have been accused by the International Tribunal for War Crimes in The Hague for violation of international law, including Radovan Karadzic. If you possess any information, we ask that you please call Rewards for Justice on the telephone numbers or on the email address shown below. All your connections will be treated as confidential... / CALL NOW! / 061 222 305/

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Other Uncoded Reward for Justice Leaflets for Milosevic

And what of Milosevic? After his military defeat he had used the Yugoslavian State Television in an attempt to convince the Serbs that they were victorious in Kosovo. On 12 June 1999 the television news depicted flag-laden Yugoslav tanks returning from Kosovo to the cheers of massive crowds gathered along the highway. The narration was:

Tonight our victors returned home to their joyful families. The crowds cheered the modern heroes of Kosovo.

Milosevic appeared and said:

We gave our word that we would not give up Kosovo. We have not given up Kosovo. The guarantee of our sovereignty and territorial integrity is backed by the United Nations.

At the same time that Milosevic was attempting to hold power by using the government’s communications services, his opposition was preparing their own campaign. It started with the printing of stickers and posters depicting a fist. The fist represented the resistance and the motto, “wake up.” Soon the walls of Belgrade were covered with the fist. Milosevic had never faced a united opposition, but the United States now poured 30 million dollars into the other Yugoslav political parties and sent advisors to teach them modern campaigning strategies and the use of radio and television. Just before the scheduled election the entire country was covered with signs and stickers that simply said “He’s finished.” Milosevic attempted to steal the election, but after 500,000 Yugoslavians marched on Belgrade in open opposition; and the Army and Police refused to fire on the demonstrators, he fled to his home, where he eventually surrendered to the new government.

After defending and protecting him for months, the Serbs finally arrested him on 1 April 2001 after a 24-hour standoff with police at his Belgrade home. He had claimed that he would fight to the death. He was immediately moved to Belgrade's central prison where he was questioned by a judge investigating allegations of corruption and abuse of power. His successor, Vojislav Kostunica, said a potential "bloodbath" had been avoided with Milosevic's peaceful surrender. The U.S. had given Yugoslavia a deadline of March 31 to demonstrate compliance with the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague or face a cut-off of U.S. funds, about $50 million in assistance. This is certainly the real reason that the Government gave up their ex-President. Meanwhile, other war criminals still are free in Yugoslavia although the United States Department of Justice has offered substantial rewards for their arrest.

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Dritarja magazine produced by German PSYOP

German PSYOP troops have been deployed in Kosovo since May 2001. It is their task to convey the KFOR mission and goals by conducting targeted information campaigns. They print Dritarja, a 16-page glossy magazine, published fortnightly with a circulation of 35,000 copies. The magazine is distributed free of charge to the Albanian population. There is also a magazine called PROZOR that is published for the Serbian population.

Even though the "shooting war" is over, there is still a need for PSYOP to win the peace. This work is done in part by the Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A recent story in the SFOR Informer #145 dated 15 August 2002 says that the purpose behind (Consolidation) PSYOP is:

to help a theater commander guide the host nation he is working in toward a goal – a goal of the common good.

Three American Army psywarriors are among the team station in Butmir in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Campaigns promoted by PSYOP are geared toward helping the people of BiH recover from the war and are as varied as the local culture.

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One of the campaigns attempts to get the local people to turn in the vast array of weapons they accumulated during the war with Serbia. A poster shows a pistol pointed at the viewer and says:

When you see this it’s too late!! Turn in illegal weapons now!

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A U.S. PSYOP soldier distributes leaflets to citizens of Brcko,
urging them to turn in arms and ammunition. (Photo by Henry S. Block)

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Other campaigns involve mine awareness and the need for tolerance among people who are of different religions, races, and often speak different languages. A poster that promises equal prosecution under the law depicts four faces in different colors and the text:

Although their nationalities might be different – all war criminals are the same.

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Destination the Hague

The poster depicts a lone man in silhouette on the second floor of the Sarajevo airport. The text is:

Destination the Hague

Escorted or alone

All indicted personnel are tried individually and fairly at The Hague. Report all persons indicted for war crimes.

At the same time a short 29-second video production was produced with the above text both spoken and printed.

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 program’s 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).

This product was the idea a civilian Croatian writer who worked for SFOR. In the great majority of our products that dealt with war criminals we chose not to show them directly. This was to minimize the audience from saying SFOR is targeting one group and minimized hero worship of the indicated criminals. After much debate on where to shoot the picture we settled on the second floor of the Sarajevo Airport as a civilian and not military location. A local artist using Photoshop modified the sign to read “International departure Destination The Hague”

Working with a native civilian we translated the original text to ensure that it was correct Bosnian. The highest number of war criminals were Serb, followed by Croat and lastly the Bosnians. This piece was developed and then tested to ensure that it did not come across as specifically targeting one group. This product was published in Bosnian Political magazines, revised to go onto billboards, and turned into a television video and a radio ad.

We never got any definite feedback as to its effectiveness. Anecdotal evidence is that is worked. Radovan Karadzic was later arrested in Serbia and Ante Gotovina was arrested in the Canary Islands.

The entire Kosovo operation was studied in depth in Lessons from Kosovo: The KFOR Experience, Larry Wentz, The Command and Control Research Program (CCRP), 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 goal was to create conditions for the implementation of a political settlement. This resulted in themes such as: promote a safe and secure environment, deter violence and criminal activities, encourage a free and open society, promote a positive UNMIK and KFOR image, and mine and UXO awareness, to name a few. The target population was mainly 20 to 50 year olds and was a mix of Roma, Turkish, Albanian, and Serbs. Teenagers were not a major factor in the KFOR information campaign. In Bosnia, the German PSYOP product “MIRKO” was specifically targeted for teenagers, and was one of the more useful products produced by the IFOR/SFOR information campaign. A similar product was not funded for Kosovo and little effort was directed at addressing teenagers’ needs.

Wentz says in part in regard to the 315th U.S. Army Reserve PSYOP Company and its interaction with the maneuver brigades:

The PSYOP company consisted of a tactical PSYOP detachment with three tactical PSYOP teams (TPT) and a product development detachment (PDD), located at Camp Bondsteel. In order to meet Multinational Brigade (East) force protection requirements, each TPT consisted of four military personnel plus an interpreter. Although the PDD developed and produced their own products, they did some local contracting for publishing as well. 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.

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Crowd Control Poster (English Version)

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A Bosnian woman tries to stop a PSYOP broadcast by striking the loudspeaker

One of the other big challenges was timely and accurate translation into Albanian and Serbian. TPTs were also used to support special events, such as the 1-year anniversary of the liberation of Kosovo. They also supported cordon and search missions where weapons were confiscated. In these cases, the TPTs deployed with loudspeakers in order to help the maneuver battalion with crowd control should a disturbance occur. In addition, the PDD developed 5 to 7 print documents weekly and a newsletter, the K-FORUM a one page, front and back newsletter. Other publications were the Dialogue, the KFOR magazine produced in Pristina and the Multinational Brigade (East) PAO published Falcon Flier when it was available. Posters addressed a variety of issues, such as reporting crime, the KFOR and local veterinarian program to capture stray dogs, and mine awareness.

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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 6 regional stations in April 2000 to 14 by the end of July with coverage that extended to all 7 municipalities across the brigade’s sector.

PSYOP team also launched a cross training exchange with the German, UK (referred to as Shadow Element) and French PSYOP elements. PSYOP fliers were distributed to the public as different needs or events arose. Fliers announced curfews, explained KFOR actions, and promoted community-building initiatives.

Although the shooting phase of the war is long over, Kosovo is still an open wound. On 17 February 2008, Kosovo formally declared itself an independent and democratic state backed by the United States and key European allies but contested by Serbia and Russia. In the capital, Pristina, revelers danced in the streets, fired guns into the air and waved red and black Albanian flags in jubilation at the birth of the world's newest country. Two years earlier in October 2006, a Serbian referendum had declared Kosovo an integral part of Serbia. In June 2007, U. S. President George Bush said that Kosovo needs to be independent “sooner rather than later.” After the independence announcement Serbian President Boris Tadic urged international organizations to immediately reject the act, “which violates the basic principles of international law.” Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a former rebel leader of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, said “Kosovo will never be ruled by Belgrade again.”

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Radovan Karadzic in Disguise

Thirteen years after the manhunt for war criminal Radovan Karadzic began; he was finally tracked down and captured in Belgrade. He had been working as a doctor before his arrest. He had disguised himself as an intellectual with a white beard, a mane of hair and black robe. He used the false name Dragan Dabic and was a doctor of alternative medicine with a clinic in Serbia’s capital Belgrade. He had also founded a Belgrade magazine called Healthy Life and wrote for it.

He had been free for over a decade, but with the appointment of a new, pro-European government in Belgrade that hopes to join the European Union, Serbia was under considerable pressure to hand over indicted war criminals to the UN tribunal in The Hague.

Karadzic was ordered to be extradited for trial at the UN war crimes court in The Hague, Holland. There was jubilation in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. During the war in the former Yugoslavia, the Serbs shelled the city for 43 months and carried out merciless ethnic cleansing against Bosnian Muslims and Croats. In the worst atrocity in Europe since World War Two, 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Karadzic’s troops in Srebrenica. Karadzic was charged with several counts of genocide, persecutions and other crimes when forces under his command killed non-Serbs during and after attacks on towns throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ratko Mladic Arrested

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Ratko Mladic in the prime of his power

Ratko Mladic at the time of his capture

On 28 May 2011, Serbian authorities finally arrested Ratko Mladic, who some called “the bloodiest butcher in Europe since World War II.” Mladic had two pistols when he was arrested but offered no resistance. Serbia raised its national security level and banned all gatherings after nationalist groups pledged to pour into the streets in protest. Mladic was idolized and sheltered despite a 10 million euro ($14 million) Serbian government bounty, plus $5 million offered by the U.S. State Department.

The United Nations tribunal had charged Mladic with two counts of genocide. He had led the Bosnian Serb forces in the shelling of Sarajevo that killed hundreds of civilians daily in 1993, and he personally led the troops that massacred about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995. War crimes tribunal judge Fouad Riad said during Mladic's 1995 indictment in absentia that the court had seen evidence of unimaginable savagery:

Thousands of men executed and buried in mass graves, hundreds of men buried alive, men and women mutilated and slaughtered, children killed before their mothers' eyes, a grandfather forced to eat the liver of his own grandson. These are truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.

Mladic was long protected by friends, but the advent of a new government in Belgrade that wanted to join the European Union gradually eroded his protection. The EU made Mladic's arrest a condition for membership. In 2006, a Serbian court indicted 10 people for helping Mladic hide after 2002 and Mladic ended his unmolested outings.

The Serbs took further action in 2015. Eight members of the Bosnian Serb special police were charged in the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica. They had filled a warehouse with 1,300 civilians and then used machine guns and grenades to kill as many as possible. The survivors were asked to come out and when they did so, they were killed. This seems once again to be part of the Serbian attempt to join the European Union as a legal and lawful nation.

The Kosovo Liberation Army Finally Charged with War Crimes

All during the Serbia-Kosovo conflict the Allies attacked Serbia for war crimes and genocide. Coalition propaganda painted the Serbs as murderers and the Kosovars as innocent victims. Kosovo got a free ride although there was some evidence that they alto took part in genocide and ethnic-cleansing. In 2014, as Kosovo tried to join the European Union, they discovered that some leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army were being investigated for crime against humanity, including killings, abductions and sexual violence. It seems odd that it took 15 years for these charges to come to light. It does point out once again how a propaganda campaign can make one party appear guilty and another appear to be victims.

Polish soldiers, part of a NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo near the border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia
September 28, 2021. Reuters/Laura Hasani/File Photo

Kosovo heats up Again!


On 1 September 2022, Reuters reported that Kosovo will begin a two-month implementation period for a controversial move to oblige Serbs, mainly those living in the northern part of the Balkan nation, bordering Serbia, to start using license plates issued by the government in Pristina. Ethnic tensions over the decision erupted last month when ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo, who are backed by Serbia and do not recognize Pristina's authority, set up roadblocks to protest the new rule. Serbia still considers Kosovo to be an integral part of its territory and rejects suggestions it is whipping up tensions and conflict within its neighbor’s borders. Belgrade accuses Pristina of trampling on the rights of minority Serbs. Ethnic Serbs account for 5% of Kosovo's 1.8 million people, with ethnic Albanians making up about 90%. Kosovo is recognized by some 100 countries including the United States and all but five EU members, but not by several other states, notably Russia and China.

In April 2023, in the Hague, Netherlands, Hashim Thaci (AKA the Snake), former President of Kosovo, and three others were charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes during the 1988-1989 war for independence from Serbia. All four were military leaders and members of the Kosovo Liberation Army General Staff.

The author encourages anyone with further information on this campaign to write him at