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. Images from this article were used with permission in a documentary film for the German Broadcaster ZDF entitled “The Power of Music.” Images and text from this article were used in in 2007 Rand report “Why the Iraqi Resistance to the Coalition Invasion Was So Weak.” The RAND Corporation used images from this article for a 2015 study for the U.S. Army looking into U.S. efforts to support Iraqi nationalism after 2003 titled “Operation Iraqi Freedom: Decisive War, Elusive Peace.” Images from this article were used with permission in the textbook "Armed Conflict and the Environment" published by ABC-CLIO in 2016. “Operation Iraqi Freedom – Decisive War, Elusive Peace.”

On 12 September 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush, told the United Nations’ General Assembly:

Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime’s forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped, by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations. To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq’s dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations. He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge, by his deceptions, and by his cruelties, Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

burningbaghdad2.jpg (15424 bytes)

The Initial Strike

President George W. Bush announced the opening of the second war Gulf War at 2215 on 19 March 2003 just 90 minutes after the deadline for Saddam to exile himself and his sons from Iraq. The initial strikes on Baghdad were a target of opportunity. Intelligence reports placed senior Iraqi military leaders with Saddam at a secret meeting place. The initial salvos against Baghdad consisted of 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from six Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, as well as precision-guided 2,000-pound bombs dropped from two F-117A Nighthawk stealth jets. Three hours after the raids began, a defiant Saddam, wearing military fatigues, appeared on state television calling on Iraqis to defend their country. Iraq retaliated by firing missiles at U.S. troop positions in Kuwait.

We should mention a brief word about the terminology in this article. The attempt to win the hearts and minds of friends and enemies was first called “Propaganda” (from the Catholic Church - Congregatio de propaganda fide), and later changed to “psychological warfare” (PSYWAR) about 1920. The term was changed to “psychological operations” (PSYOP) about 1945, although it did not gain popularity until about 1960 when it became clear that many of the influence operations like asking the people to support a new national government took place during peacetime. The Army then experimented with the term “information operations” (IO) about 2003 which started to blur the lines between PSYOP, military deception, operational security, electronic warfare and computer networks operations. In 2010, the military decided on the term “military information support operations” (MISO). It is important to remember that no matter what we call the art of influencing the enemy, the methods used and the personnel involved really do not change. For the purposes of this article we will use the term PSYOP. In future articles I suspect we will be forced to use the term MISO, unless the military decides to make another change.

The PSYOP preparation of the battlefield had been going on since the previous December. From 12 December 2002 until 18 March 2003, Central Command conducted PSYOP against Iraq. The PSYOP objectives were:

1: Establish a radio listenership in Southern Iraq.

2: Undermine Iraqi military forces confidence in the ability of Saddam Hussein to maintain power in Iraq.

3: Degrade Saddam Hussein’s confidence in his ability to control Iraq.

4: Deter any use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in the Iraqi theater.

PSYOP forces benefited from extensive experience conducting operations against Iraq in support of Operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, and Desert Fox. In addition, much of the PSYOP support, command, and production capability were already in place as a result of Operation Enduring Freedom. The total PSYOP planning phase for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) was extensive, lasting 9 to 12 months before the start of major combat operations, and the total number of PSYOP personnel committed to the Joint Psychological Task Force in support of OIF reached as high as 700 personnel.

Martin J. Manning and Clarence R. Wyatt edited the 2-volume set titled Encyclopedia of Media and Propaganda in Wartime America. They wrote about the various wars that the United States was involved in and I have added a brief part of what was written about the Operation Iraqi Freedom campaign in this article (edited for brevity).

After the attacks against the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 that American propaganda began to escalate against Hussein. The new assault on Iraq would be framed around an assertion that Saddam Hussein was a terrorist who colluded with al-Qaeda in its attacks on 9/11. With the surge of patriotism that swept across America in the wake of 9/11, the administration of President George W. Bush worked with his advisors to personally link Iraq and Saddam Hussein to the attacks in the minds of the American public. By creating memes such as "axis of evil" and "weapons of mass destruction," the Bush administration drew upon one of the classic tactics of propaganda: repeating a phrase ad infinitum until it becomes accepted as a truth. Bush claimed that Iraq was part of an "axis of evil" that sought to actively overthrow the United States, and that it was producing weapons of mass destruction to do so. Moreover, Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein had personally harbored al-Qaeda terrorists, linking him directly to the attacks of 9/11.

Despite Iraqi attempts to stall an U.S.-led invasion through a media blitz around the world, the United States and Great Britain did invade Iraq in March 2003. During the 2003 war in Iraq, as well as the subsequent occupation of the country by the United States and its allies, a variety of propaganda platforms were used to attempt to win over sympathy from the local population. Psychological operations units of the U. S. Marine Corps, for example, distributed leaflets and posters denigrating the Ba’ath regime and praising the U.S. occupation, as well as Iraqi leaders that the United States found favorable. Radio and television broadcasts were also utilized to promote the values that U.S. leaders wanted Iraqis to embrace, including ideas of democracy, secularism, and pro-U.S. governance.

Often linking U.S. support for Israel with war crimes, Iraqi propaganda declared that the United States would eventually be overthrown by a strong Iraqi military, if the United States was ever bold enough to invade. Center stage in Iraqi anti-U.S. propaganda was a virulent hatred for the Bush family. For example, images of George H. W. Bush, the U.S. president who led the world against Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, were embedded on the ground at entrances to public buildings, so that those entering would wipe their feet on his face. Moreover, when the attacks of 911 occurred, Saddam Hussein declared his assertion that the hijackers were only paying the United States back for its own aggressive crimes against humble nations throughout the world. He also warned that this was only the beginning of crisis for the United States, due to its aggressive and intolerant foreign policy. The common theme throughout all examples of Iraqi propaganda at this time was the image of Saddam Hussein as a superhuman leader who would bravely lead Iraq through war to ultimate military and moral victory.

A Saddam Hussein Patriotic Morale Poster for his People

Saddam Hussein seems to have always underestimated Americans willingness to fight and their military strength. This poster shows him sitting at his desk writing various patriotic slogans for his people. I have changed some of the text on the front to make it more readable.

                                                                                                                                                Ministry of Defense
                                                                                                                                                Army Chief of Staff
                                                                                                                                                Public Guidance Directorate


The great soil of Iraq will become a cemetery for the invaders.
We fight to the last drop of blood in defense of our land.
We will make their troops food for the predators of Iraq.

There are more slogans on the back. Some of them are (edited for clarity):

Strike the enemies with all force and defeat them.
Have faith in God and patience and we will defeat the aggressors.
Faith is the basis of victory and truth is your shield against lies.
Oh, staunch warrior. The enemy is waging psychological warfare to undermine your morale.
With firm conviction and the creative Iraqi mind, we prepare for their malicious acts and psychological warfare.
The weapons and aggressive equipment will not intimidate us for we are right, and the enemy is wrong….

Dr. Daniel L. Haulman says about U.S. PSYOP in his 2003 report: USAF PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS, 1990-2003:

Months before U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, leaflets and aerial broadcasts prepared Iraq for invasion. The psychological campaign produced mixed results. It failed to produce a general uprising against Saddam Hussein either by his military forces or the general public. Perhaps they remembered the futility of the Shiite uprisings in southern Iraq in 1991, when coalition forces rapidly withdrew from Iraq. The biggest contribution of psychological operations in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM was to persuade very large numbers of Iraq’s military forces to abandon their weapons and go home. Psychological messages reduced popular resistance to the invasion by promising freedom and a better future. Once convinced that large coalition forces had arrived in their vicinity, the population was generally ready to welcome the Americans and British as liberators.

Daniel A. Castro adds in his 2007 Naval Postgraduate School thesis: Do Psychological Operations Benefit from the use of Host Nation Media:

The start of the PSYOP campaign in Iraq started months prior to the March invasion and it consisted of a campaign of leaflet drops, cell phone text messages, emails and radio broadcasts that targeted the Iraqi leadership. Over 80 million leaflets were dropped in March of 2003. Some leaflets threatened to destroy any military formation that stood and fought, while others encouraged the Iraqi populace and military to ignore the directives of the Baath Party leadership.

Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Collins adds in “Mind Games,” NATO Review, summer 2003:

One of the more innovative means used by Coalition PSYOPS in the build-up to Iraqi Freedom was the use of mobile phone text messaging and e-mails sent directly to key decision-makers in the Iraqi regime. At the start of 2003, there were only 60 internet cafes in Iraq, and the connection fee of US $25 per home was beyond the means of most ordinary Iraqis. Also, the Iraqi regime was wary of allowing access to the internet throughout Iraq. So, while many ordinary Iraqis did not have access to the internet, most of the Baath Party leadership did, and the Coalition used this means specifically to outline to each the cost of their continued support for Saddam both for Iraq collectively and for themselves personally.

PSYOP primarily used both radio broadcasts and leaflet dissemination. Broadcasts into Iraq originated From Kuwait, Qatar-based EC –130E Commando Solo aircraft, and maritime broadcasts from aircraft carriers in the Arabian Gulf.

In conjunction with PSYOP broadcasts, leaflet drops were employed to influence the Iraqi target audience. By the start of formal combat operations, the number of dropped leaflets totaled more than 20 million. The themes and messages that the PSYOP leaflets conveyed included capitulation; deterrence of WMDs; the preservation of Iraqi oil fields and the radio frequencies for coalition broadcasts.

PSYOP Leadership and Training Booklets

Former Sergeant First Class Steven porter, then the Operations (S3) NCOIC of the 7th PSYOP Group, told me about working on the Leader's book:

The PSYOP Leader’s Book was introduced by 7th PSYOP Group to bridge the information gap created by ever changing doctrine, TTPs, and the lack of necessary training time to master and memorize all the skills required of deploying Tactical PSYOP Teams and detachments. The handbook fit in the chest or arm pocket and provided a quick reference on PSYOP, shoot, move, and communicate tasks.

In the years when Operation Enduring Fredom and Operation Iraqi Freedom were being planned and put into motion, new PSYOP leadership and training booklets were written and distributed. Between 2003 and 2005 several booklets appeared. The first one above is the Psychological Operations PSYOP Leader’s Book. It is 35 pages, well-illustrated, and has 27 chapters on subjects like: PSYOP capabilities brief; PSYOP missions; and Target audience analysis.

The second booklet is the Tactical PSYOP Team Leader Book. It is 25 pages, with some illustrations, and has 18 chapters on subjects like: The PSYOP interview; The PSYOP Annex; and Radio reporting formats.

Doctrine for Joint Psychological Operations
Joint Publication 3-53

The first two booklets are small and very concise. The third booklet is a more detailed publication. It has seven chapters, an appendix, Glossary, and numerous figures. Some of the chapters are: Psychological Operation: an Overview; Psychological Operation Planning in Support of the Joint Force Campaign; and Psychological Operation Enablers.

The 2015 Rand report: Operation Iraqi Freedom – Decisive War, Elusive peace adds:

The coalition mounted a major PSYOP campaign in Iraq both prior to and during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some 19 million leaflets were dropped on Iraqi territory between October 2002 and March 20, 2003, when the ground combat began. An additional 31 million leaflets were dropped during the fighting that followed. Thousands of hours of radio broadcasts were also directed at Iraqi audiences from both land stations and Hercules C-130 Commando Solo aircraft. To cue the potential radio listeners, leaflets were dropped instructing the Iraqis about the frequencies over which the coalition’s “Information Radio” could be heard.

Leaflets intended for Iraqi military forces attempted to influence Iraqi battlefield behavior in at least four ways: (1) to surrender, (2) to abandon their weapons, (3) to return to their families, and (4) to avoid certain actions, such as not to target coalition aircraft or employ Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Examples of coalition messages: (1) calling on troops to surrender were leaflets IZD-0330, IZD-033p, IZD069, and IZD-8104; (2) calling on troops to abandon their weapons were leaflets IZD-017e and IZD-017d; (3) calling on troops to return to their families were leaflets IZD-029, IZD-050, and IZD-7509; and (4) calling on troops to avoid certain actions were leaflets IZD-041 and IZD-2502.

At this point the report advises the readers of this article: A description of the various leaflets dropped in OIF is provided by Herbert A. Friedman, "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

PSYOP messages directed at senior commanders via fax and emails had a “big impact” before those lines of communication were cut ten days before the start of the war. Computer network operations sent PSYOP messages to leadership targets in Iraq. Unfortunately, attempts to contact them were perceived as loyalty tests from the regime’s internal security forces and were therefore ignored.

In addition to radio broadcasts and leaflets, tactical PSYOP teams (TPTs) supported V Corps and I Marine Expeditionary Force along the entire route of march. Teams also supported the United Kingdom’s division and Australian forces. TPTs, three-man teams equipped with a loudspeaker, provided the commanders with a way of communicating directly with the civilian population. These teams were universally used to broadcast civilian noninterference messages. Loudspeakers were also used to communicate with and deceive the enemy.

On March 25, a TPT used loudspeakers to broadcast a surrender message to paramilitary forces fighting marines in An Nasiriyah. The message informed the fighters that bombs would be dropped in their positions if they did not surrender. The fighters began following the surrender instructions within ten minutes of the loudspeaker announcement. Military deception activities remained mostly at the tactical level. Tactical teams used their loudspeakers to deceive small groups of Fedayeen about the direction or nature of an attack. In other cases, they used their loudspeakers to force the Fedayeen to reveal their positions.

The vast bulk of Iraqi military and security forces choose to desert rather than surrender. By the time coalition forces entered Baghdad, the Iraqi army had largely dissolved. But formal Iraqi surrenders were comparatively few. Out of a total enemy force of some 350,000, only about 7,000 (2 percent) were taken prisoner by coalition forces. This is in comparison to the more than 85,000 Iraqis captured by coalition forces in the 1991 Gulf War. Not a single organized Iraqi military unit remained intact when major combat ended. All the Iraqis who survived the war had “self-demobilized” by going home.

Once combat operations began on 21 March 2003, the themes changed to convincing Iraqi forces to surrender or desert and asking Iraqi civilians to avoid combat areas and to listen to the coalition radio broadcasts. Saddam Hussein’s incompetence was emphasized for military audiences and his illegitimacy was underscored for the broader public.

Andrew M. Clark and Thomas B. Christie wrote a content analysis of Coalition leaflets used in Iraqi Freedom entitled “Ready…Ready…Drop” in the Gazette: the International Journal for Communication Studies. The authors found that between October 2002 and March 2003 36 million leaflets with 60 varieties of messages were dropped over regions of Iraq by the US Air Force. They believe that the primary objectives of the PSYOP campaign were to convince the population that the war was against the government, not the people; to persuade the Iraqi military to surrender; and to stop any use of weapons of mass destruction or oil field sabotage.

The authors state that Coalition leaflets followed three main themes. The first is survival, leaflets that protect the people, tells troops how to surrender or warn civilians to avoid military targets. The second is to counter disinformation spread by the enemy, and the final is facilitative, the promotion of friendly American images and ideology to the enemy. The authors tested 58 of the 60 leaflets mentioned above and found that approximately 80% were survival, 11% were to counter disinformation and just 9% were facilitative.

The Iraqi Perspectives Project – a view of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Saddam’s Senior Leadership shows clearly that Saddam never believed that the United States would attack Iraq. He refused to listen to his own intelligence officers, believing like Hitler that he had special powers to divine what his enemies were thinking. He saw the US "run" from Vietnam after only 58,000 deaths and related that he once lost that same number of troops on a single day on the Fao Peninsula in the war against Iran. During Operation Desert Storm the indecisive US had let his Republic Guard escape, never occupied Basra, and never threatened his regime. They encouraged the Shiites to rise up, but then deserted them to be slaughtered. The Americans were cowards who would not fight man-to-man. They just dropped bombs from 5 miles high, and Iraq could withstand that. He saw the US flee from Somalia after losing just 19 men in Mogadishu. He looked at Afghanistan and saw that much of the fighting against the Taliban was carried out by the Afghan Northern Alliance. He had complete contempt for the American military.

Three decades after the war, the Iraqi attitude toward an invasion is mentioned in WAR ROOM the official podcast of the U.S. Army War College Online Journal in an interview with military historian and author Samuel Helfont on March 8, 2021:

Influence operations that Saddam is carrying out are not that different from influence operations that other countries carry out against the United States today. Saddam was able to achieve a lot of his goals in the 90s with this outlook. And it is clear he starts off with the goal after 1991. He says, I am going to divide the Security Council and make it so that they cannot impose these sanctions on me. I am going to open my diplomatic connections, my economic connections, and return to normal without fully cooperating with this international regime, which I think is a violation of our sovereignty. And he goes about and does exactly that. And the U.S. is basically caught flatfooted. The Security Council is divided, and Saddam looks out into the world and says, see I am winning. And in the post-War interrogations with not just him, but all the senior officials, they thought there is no way under these political circumstances that the U.S. can invade and overthrow his regime. They will be stopped somehow. They just do not have the political support to do it. That turns out to be a bad assumption

So, you can learn a lot about what you call influence operations, political warfare, different people have different names for it and its successes and the types of things that it can do by studying Saddam, but you also look at its limitations. If you have a president named Bush who has a big military and is willing to use it, then these types of influence operations and political operations just are not going to be that successful.

We also now know that like Desert Storm, the Coalition ran a deception operation against Iraq that appears to have worked. In Desert Storm the Coalition pretended to be massing for an attack from Saudi Arabia to the south and a seaborne U.S. Navy and Marines attack from the east. Saddam kept his troops in place and was surprised by the major attack from the west, the famous Schwarzkopf “Hail Mary.” In Iraqi Freedom, a U.S. military officer, code-named “April Fool” sold Iraqi intelligence the U.S. attack plans which called for an airborne and air assault attack on the northern oil fields near Tikrit and Kirkuk and a ground attack southward from Turkey by the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division. Saddam may have believed that the massive U.S. military buildup to his south and east was just a ploy and apparently never moved 13 divisions stationed north of Baghdad.

Finally, Steven T. Hosmer wrote a report published by the Rand Corporation titled Why the Iraqi Resistance to the Coalition Invasion Was So Weak. They blamed the morale of the Iraqi troops. The report says in part:

Poor planning, leadership, training, and equipment contributed to the rapid Iraqi defeat. However, the prime reason for the lack of Iraqi resistance was the Iraqi military’s extremely poor motivation and morale…Psychological operations and the rapid advance, technical supremacy and firepower of the U.S. ground forces also helped to undermine the enemy’s will to resist. The limited resistance that the Coalition encountered came mainly from Iraqi militia units – the Saddam Fedayeen, the Ba’ath Party militia, and foreign jihadists – although small elements from the Iraqi Republican Guard and Regular Army units did fight…A telling manifestation of the endemic poor morale was the propensity of Iraqi troops to carry civilian clothing along with their military gear. The troops were preparing for their eventual desertion even before the outbreak of hostilities.

OIFPostcardPX.jpg (127736 bytes)

Official PX Operation Iraqi Freedom Postcard 

Whenever American troops are deployed the PX follows them with various forms of patriotic stationery. This card’s caption is: 

Coalition Forces led by the United States and Britain, allies from around the world have joined the Iraqi people in the rebuilding of their country after decades of tyranny and repression.

Before the start of military operations Iraq had done everything possible to counter Coalition psychological operations. The Iraqi Perspectives Project notes:

The regime’s security services went so far as establishing a special psychological operations committee for collecting U.S. air-dropped propaganda leaflets, to study the psychological results, to make recommendations, and destroy them when complete. It was a priority task for local Ba’ath Party leaders to keep the leaflets out of circulation…Citizens of Iraq were forbidden to possess or pass along leaflets dropped around Iraq. Military and political representatives threatened to either imprison or kill anyone possessing any leaflets.

The Iraqis also monitored and initiated rumors. One claimed that the Iraqis were mixing anthrax-laced leaflets with those that the Americans were distributing.

On 20 March The U.S. First Marine Division crossed the border at 2100 and advanced all night through light Iraqi defenses. Cobra attack helicopters and Paladin 155mm self-propelled artillery attacked Iraqi positions across the border from Kuwait. At 2300, the U.S. Army Third Infantry Division crossed into Iraq under a protective umbrella of artillery and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) firing at Iraqi troops.

Turkey's parliament voted to allow the U.S. military two zones to fly bombing missions over Turkish airspace. U.S. Marines occupied the seaport town of Umm Qsar. Coalition aircraft and cruise missiles attacked Baghdad for the second straight night. They struck the Ministry of Planning and several Republican Guard buildings. The Patriot advanced capacity missile (PAC-3) successfully intercepted two Iraqi tactical ballistic missiles. There were reports of four burning oil wells near Basra. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Iraq's military to defy orders to set oil wells on fire. He said, "See those orders for what they are, the last, desperate gasp of a dying regime."

burningbaghdad.jpg (18270 bytes)

Night Attack on Baghdad

The third day of the war was dubbed "A-Day," The Coalition finally unveiled their "shock and awe" attack, sending 1500 bombs and missiles against Baghdad, Mosul, Basra, Tikrit, and Kirkuk. Coalition troops occupied the southern city of Safwan. The Coalition grew to 45 nations.

Saddam Hussein was in shock. After studying General Schwarzkopf’s plan for Desert Storm, the Iraqis were certain that the Americans would precede any attack with a long air bombardment. As so often happens in war, Saddam was prepared to fight the last war, not the present one. He did not expect a simultaneous air and ground assault. Worse, he expected the Coalition forces to become bogged down as they fought city to city. He never expected that like General MacArthur’s “island-hopping” campaign of WWII, the Coalition would bypass many large cities and head directly for Baghdad.

Handout IZG-808

This 5.5 x 8.5-inch handbill depicts a Coalition convoy of trucks and another of tanks. The text is:

Beware of military convoys. Allied forces do not wish to harm innocent civilians.

Take care of your safety and the safety of others.

Handout IZG-809

This handout has images and text on both sides. On the front we see a crowd of Iraqis at the left and a Coalition vehicle and some Iraqi children at the right and the text:

For your children's safety

Keep them away from highways and places that coalition military convoys pass

The back has five photographs that depict happy Iraqi children, some joined by adult men or women. The text is:

Your children are the future of the new Iraq

To ensure their safety, keep them away from military convoys to avoid the occurrence of dire consequences

Iraqisoldiersup2.jpg (14667 bytes)

The Commander of the Iraqi 51st Infantry Division, with 8,000 men and as many as 200 tanks, surrendered with his unit. A 20-mile long convoy of Coalition Tanks and vehicles was 100 miles inside Iraq and about 2-3 days from Baghdad. Fifteen hundred Turkish Special Forces entered Northern Iraq to set up a buffer zone. The Associated Press reported leaflets dropped over Iraq and radio broadcasts urging civilians to stay in their homes and away from military forces.

Before we begin our look at Psychological operations, perhaps I should take a moment to discuss the U.S. Army PSYOP Organization. The reader should understand that the organization changes over time as new doctrine and equipment is authorized and fielded. At the time this article was written the system was the following:

The 4th PSYOP Group consists of six active Duty PSYOP battalions:

1st PSYOP Battalion – Southern Command
3rd PSYOP Battalion – Dissemination
5th PSYOP Battalion – Pacific Command
6th PSYOP Battalion – European Command
8th PSYOP Battalion – Central Command
9th PSYOP Battalion – Tactical

There are two Army Reserve PSYOP Groups. The 2nd PSYOP Group consists of four PSYOP battalions and 15 PSYOP companies. The 7th PSYOP Group consists of four PSYOP battalions and 13 PSYOP companies.

Each PSYOP Battalion can support a corps. Within the PSYOP battalions are Tactical PSYOP Companies (TPC), each of which can support a division. The Companies are made up of Tactical PSYOP Detachments (TPD), each of which can support a brigade. The team is idyllically made up of a Detachment Commander (CPT), Detachment NCOIC (SSG) and two PSYOP specialists (SPC) equipped with two M1025 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) and both an AEM450/900 (1000-1800 meters range) vehicle loudspeaker and LSB-40B (700-1000 meters range) dismounted loudspeaker. The detachments can be broken up into Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPT), each of which can support a battalion. The team is idyllically made up of a team leader (SSG), Assistant team leader (SGT) and a PSYOP specialist (SPC) equipped with two HMMWVs and both a vehicle and dismounted loudspeaker.

Lorne R. Segerstrom wrote the thesis Winning the Soft War: The Employment of Tactical PSYOP Teams in Combat Operations in 2012 for a Master of Military Art and Science at the Command and General Staff College. He described a standard TPT:

A TPT is a rather small element consisting of a team leader who is a Staff Sergeant, a Psychological Operations Sergeant who is a Sergeant, and a Psychological Operations Specialist, who is a Specialist. Locally hired interpreters normally augment teams. TPTs in conventional operations traditionally support battalions and in non- conventional operations support special operations elements.

Operation Iraqi Freedom aircrews dropped more than 2 million leaflets over 29 military and civilian targets on 21 March. Most of the early leaflets are found in full color. As the war went on and the time delay caused by printing the leaflets in the slower full color process became crucial, the leaflets were printed in black and white on high speed presses. It is important to note that a great number of the leaflets dropped on Iraq are found in both color and in black and white.

Iraq did understand the power of American psychological operations. The regime’s security services established a special Psychological Operations Committee to collect Coalition propaganda leaflets, study the psychological results, make recommendations and then see to the destruction of the propaganda. The military and political cadre threatened to imprison or execute citizens who possessed or passed along leaflets.

Melissa Dittman says in “Operation Hearts and Minds,” Monitor on Psychology, June 2003:

The Iraqi leaders worked hard to counter PSYOP leaflets by claiming that they were contaminated with chemical or biological poisons. To reinforce this impression, they wore protective suits as they disposed of the leaflets.

The Iraqi Government also monitored rumors. There were official “rumor forms” used to track the source, analysis and effect of new rumors. Some of the rumors filed by Saddam’s intelligence services were an alleged Iraqi scheme to mix anthrax leaflets with regular Coalition leaflets, Saddam using Iraqis dressed as American soldiers to kill Iraqi civilians for propaganda purposes, and Russian and Baathist Party members and their families leaving the country just prior to the invasion.

The Leaflet Project

A brief word about this article. It was written shortly after the ending of the fighting with the fall of Baghdad. I was careful to use an orderly approach and every leaflet was in its proper place either by date of dissemination or code number. What I never expected was that I would still be adding items to this story 17 years later. It is now 2020 as I write this and there are still leaflets coming out of Iraq. I have placed them as best I could where they seemed to fit, but all sense of order and logic is gone. I apologize to the reader in advance for any confusion.

A second disclaimer. Some soldiers in Iraq have stated that they found leaflets missing from this article. There is a reason for that. Before the actual fighting began there was a No-Fly rule to keep Iraqi aircraft on the ground and unable to bomb or harass the Shi'ites and Kurds. During that period, the Coalition dropped many leaflets over Iraq. In many cases, if a leaflet was dropped before the war and during the war, I did not depict it twice. So, to really understand the leaflet operations you should probably read the No-fly article first.

The 21 March mix consisted of 17 different leaflets. The Coalition previously dropped eleven of the leaflets during the "No-Fire Zone" warning phase of the campaign. They are IZD-001c, IZD-002a, IZD-019, IZD-019a, IZD-036, IZD-038, IZD-061, IZD-69, IZD-070, IZD-071, and IZD-2502. Leaflet IZD-048 was known although not previously dropped. Five of the leaflets are new. They are IZD-022a, IZD-024, IZD-047, IZD-1000 and IZD-1002.

IZD022aF.jpg (22324 bytes)

IZD022ab.jpg (24105 bytes)


IZD-022a depicts a tank in front of a civilian building at the left; a happy Iraqi family and an artillery piece at the right. The text is:

FOR YOUR SAFETY – Stay in your homes and avoid driving your vehicles at night.

The back of the leaflet pictures a Coalition tank at the left and a helicopter and troops at the right. The text is:

Do not interfere with Coalition Forces – The Coalition wishes no harm upon the people of Iraq.

There is an interesting story about the Iraqi family depicted on this leaflet. It may or may not be true, but allegedly the family first agreed to be photographed having no realization that their pictures would appear on millions of propaganda leaflets. After the drops, when they discovered that they appeared on numerous leaflets such as IZD022, IZD022a, IZD022b, IZD023 and IZD-051, they apparently put in a financial claim and asked to by paid a million dollars or some such fee by the United States government.

IZD023F.jpg (20498 bytes)


Although most of the leaflets depict the family in a much-reduced photograph in the upper right or lower left corner, IZD023 features the family in close-up over the entire leaflet in full color. The picture is very clear and the father could certainly be identified from this photograph. It is easy to see why he is unhappy. The Text on the front is:

Stay safely at home with your families.

The Text on the back of the leaflet is:

People of Iraq, please remain in the safety of your home. Do not travel to work or drive at night. Coalition aircraft may mistake your car for a military vehicle. Please do not attempt to interfere with Coalition operations or you will become a target. Do not allow your children to play outside. You will be given specific instructions when Coalition Forces begin to distribute humanitarian aid.

Accordingly, these leaflets are supposed to be a bit scarcer because after a short period of dissemination they were removed from stock and destroyed. I heard this story at Ft. Bragg and from Air Force sources, so it could be true.

A second explanation for the destruction of the leaflets was told to me by a USAF Technical Sergeant who says:

While attending the Joint Psychological Operations Course at the Joint Special Operations University at Hurlburt Field, Florida, the class was informed that the leaflet was destroyed for copyright violation.  The family was actually living in the U.S., possibly not even of Arab descent.  The father figure pictured was a semi-professional photographer, who had posted the image on the World Wide Web.  Use of the image without permission of the owner was a violation of copyright.  While discussion of the cost of reproduction did occur in the class, it was not made clear whether the photographer had actually asked for the money, or had simply asked that the image not be used.

In 2015, a third problem with the picture was mentioned by former Canadian infantryman Alex Moreau who wrote:

What struck me immediately about the leaflet is the “Father” is serving food with his left hand, the hand that is used for wiping after defecation. That would be a huge insult among Muslims.

This seems to be a correct observation according to the Koran:

When the Prophet saw a man eating with his left hand he said to him: “Eat with your right hand.” The man said: “I can't.” The Prophet there upon said: “May you not be able.” He refused (to eat with his right hand) out of arrogance only. He was not able to raise that hand again.

So, the right hand was for purification and food, and the left hand was for using the toilet and anything that was dirty. I asked specialists in the 4th PSYOP Group if touching the plate was also prohibited. One specialist answered:

Yes it's still Haram to touch the plate, cup, etc., with the left hand. Anything handed to a person of the Arab if culture should be done so with the right hand. It is cultural.

However, another sent a comment from a religious leader that said:

It is not forbidden to hand a person something with one's left hand. There is no sin in doing so. This is merely a question of etiquette…At the same time, if a Muslim knows that certain people take offense by having things offered to them by the left hand, then it is wrong for that Muslim to persist in offering things to them with his or her left hand.

Of course, if this was a staged photograph the family might not be Iraqi, or even Muslim. And, some thought that since the father held a spoon in his right hand, holding the plate in his left might be excused. Regardless of how the custom is interpreted, someone in PSYOP might have spotted this “error” and realizing the cultural mistake and how some might see it as an insult called the leaflets back for destruction.

So, although we are not sure exactly what went wrong with this leaflet, it does seem clear that it was withdrawn and destroyed.

IZD051F.jpg (63124 bytes)

IZD051B.jpg (79039 bytes)

Leaflet IZD-051

Leaflet IZD-051 also shows the Iraqi family in question and I have seen no evidence that it was ever disseminated. The leaflet has been seen in both black and white and full color. On the front an Iraqi soldier sits it deep thought. The text is:

Come back to your homeland

The back of the leaflet depicts the Iraqi family and the text:

Your family is waiting for you

Accordingly, these leaflets are supposed to be a bit scarcer because after a short period of dissemination they were removed from stock and destroyed. I heard this story at Ft. Bragg and from Air Force sources, so it could be true.

A second explanation for the destruction of the leaflets was told to me by a USAF Technical Sergeant who says:

While attending the Joint Psychological Operations Course at the Joint Special Operations University at Hurlburt Field, Florida, the class was informed that the leaflet was destroyed for copyright violation. The family was actually living in the U.S., possibly not even of Arab descent. The father figure pictured was a semi-professional photographer, who had posted the image on the World Wide Web. Use of the image without permission of the owner was a violation of copyright. While discussion of the cost of reproduction did occur in the class, it was not made clear whether the photographer had actually asked for the money, or had simply asked that the image not be used.

So, although we are not sure exactly what went wrong with leaflets that featured this photograph, it does seem clear that most were withdrawn and destroyed.

IZD024F.jpg (14115 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-024 depicts Saddam Hussein crushing the country of Iraq under his rule. The text on the front reads:

The Coalition is here to put an end to the oppression caused by Saddam and his regime.

The back of the leaflet is text only with the message:

The Coalition wishes no harm to the people of Iraq. The Coalition is here to end the oppressive rule of Saddam and his regime.

IZD047F.jpg (16021 bytes)

IZD047B.jpg (11836 bytes)


IZD-047 depicts naval ships, landing craft, helicopters and fighter aircraft attacking a beach. The text is:

For your safety stay away from military operations near Iraqi waterways.

The back pictures a warship and a civilian ship sailing by a peaceful beach. The text is:

The Coalition does not wish harm to innocent civilians. Once Saddam’s regime is defeated, the waterways will return to the Iraqi people.

IZD1000F.jpg (15947 bytes)  IZD1000b.jpg (23233 bytes)


IZD-1000 Depicts an Iraqi family offering food to a downed Coalition pilot. The text is:

ASSIST DOWNED COALITION PILOTS – Help them return to their families! You will be REWARDED for your hospitality!

The back shows pilot in a parachute falling toward a friendly hand. The text is:

If you encounter a Coalition pilot: Treat them properly. Offer them food and water. Give medical assistance. Allow for their safe return. Provide them directions to Coalition forces. Coalition forces will REWARD your hospitality!

At the same time that the Coalition forces were offering a reward for helping downed pilots,  Iraqi radio announced a $14,000 reward for anyone killing a Coalition soldier, and $28,000 for anyone taking a live prisoner. The announcement further reported that shooting down an enemy fighter plane would bring a reward of $55,500, a helicopter $28,000, and a missile, $5,500.

The United States Air Force has a big airbase on the island of Diego Garcia where B-52 bombers are stationed. During Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom these bombers were used to both bomb and leaflet Iraq and Afghanistan. One Technical Sergeant who served as a Crew Chief said that sometimes when the leaflets were being loaded into their dispensers he would take a few as souvenirs of the mission. The crew worked 12 to 16 hours daily in the early days of the operation. He told me:

The high quality of men I worked with, all working toward a common goal, made the time seem to go by more quickly. I felt a sense of accomplishment when my aircraft flew a 20 hour mission; 6 hours to Iraq, then loiter for 6 to 8 hours in case there was a request for close air support, and another 6 hours to return to base. The aircraft would loiter in the area with the support of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System), EC's (electronic countermeasures), etc. They had a continuous bomber presence to be able to respond to ground support especially in Afghanistan where our guys occasionally needed to take out a mountain or two. You launch that aircraft full of ordnance on Tuesday evening and you recover the same aircraft the next day and it is empty, there is a feeling of pride that you did your part to combat evil in the world.

I mention all this simply because the sergeant in question sent me the leaflet above with about a half-dozen others that he had personally handled.

IZD1002F.jpg (15682 bytes)

IZD1002b.jpg (24441 bytes)


The final new leaflet is IZD-1002. The front depicts two radar sites. A group of Iraqi soldiers in front of one site watches Coalition aircraft drop leaflets. One soldier reads a leaflet:

It says, ‘Don’t report Coalition aircraft positions. Doing this will result in your destruction.

The back pictures the second radar site being bombed. The soldier says:

I told you they won’t harm us if we don’t report them.

At the bottom of the leaflet is the text:


A U.S. military “Lessons Learned” after-action report points out that the United States and Britain had“considerable success” in developing PSYOP products that caused inaction among the Iraqi military and helped expedite surrenders. The PSYOP effort involved 58 EC-130E Commando Solo sorties, 306 broadcast hours of radio, and 304 television hours. Teams prepared approximately 108 radio messages and over 80 different leaflets. During combat operations, coalition forces flew over 150 leaflet missions, dropping nearly 32 million leaflets.

IZD048F.jpg (17169 bytes)


The leaflet, which surfaced previously, is IZD-048. The front of the leaflet depicts a Coalition warship near an Iraqi cargo ship with a helicopter on station overhead. The text is:

Do not help the Iraqi military and regime leadership attempting to escape.

The back bears the warning:

ATTENTION! The Coalition is here to block the escape of Iraqi leaders attempting to flee. If you harbor, aid, or assist these individuals you risk confiscation of your vessel and endanger yourself and your crew. If you observe defectors, report it to the Coalition forces. DO NOT LET SADDAM’S REGIME ESCAPE JUSTICE!

Leaflet IZD-049

I have no information about this leaflet. I did not see it printed by the Army, but it was among a group printed by the U.S. Navy at sea. This USS Constellation leaflet depicts the same Iraqi ship as IZD-048, but instead of a single U.S. destroyer, it shows a group of four destroyers and naval aircraft flying overhead. The text on the back is:

For your safety, leave Iraqi waterways immediately. Coalition forces are conducting military operations in support of the UN Security Council resolutions. The coalition does not intend to harm unarmed individuals.

The leaflets dropped previously follow:

IZD001c.jpg (16785 bytes)


IZD-001c is an information radio leaflet. It depicts a map of Iraq at the center and radio towers at left and right. The text is:

Information Radio - “756 KHZ AM - 1800-1200, 690 KHZ AM - 1800-2300, 9715 KHZ SW - 24 hours a day, 11292 KHZ SW – 1800-1200, and 100.4 MHZ FM – 1800-2300.

The same message appears on both front and back.

IZD002a.jpg (15762 bytes)


IZD-002a depicts a radio tower in the center and small portable radios to the left and right. The text is:

Information Radio 1800-2300 daily. 756 KHZ AM, 693 KHZ AM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW, 100.4 MHZ FM.

The same message appears on both front and back.

During this article you are going to see radio leaflets mentioned again and again. They are among the most popular of the Coalition leaflets. From the start of the campaign EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft from the 193rd Special Operations Wing broadcast to the Iraqis by commercial AM, FM and short wave radio as well as by television. At first the aircraft flew outside Iraqi airspace. Later they were tasked with broadcasting to western Iraq, which made them vulnerable to attack. The aircraft normally trailed a 400-foot long antenna which makes a quick reaction to attack almost impossible. By April 2003 the aircraft was broadcasting a television show called “Towards Freedom TV.” It also broadcast a message from President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

A standard EC-130E Commando Solo radio message might be as follows:

People of Iraq. The standard of living for Iraqis has dropped drastically since Saddam came into power. Every night, children go to sleep hungry in Iraq. The sick suffer from ailments that are easily treatable in the rest of the world.

Saddam has built palace after Palace for himself and has purchased a fleet of luxury cars, all at the expense of the Iraqi people. This money would be much better suited to build libraries and schools…

Saddam and his close associates live in lavish palaces and live above and beyond the law. Saddam lives like a king while his soldiers are underpaid, and under equipped.

How much longer will this incompetent leader be allowed to rule? How many more soldiers is he willing to sacrifice? Will your unit be the next one to be sacrificed? When will the Iraqi Army become a legitimate army of the people and not serve as bodyguards for Saddam's Regime?

Besides the aircraft, there were also the ground based Special Operations media System-Broadcast (SOMS-B). The SOMS-B consists of two primary systems: a mobile radio broadcast system and a mobile television broadcast system. Between them they can broadcast on AM, FM, shortwave radio and television. The 4th PSYOP Group initially set up a SOMS-B in Kuwait in December 2002. The initial broadcasts were five hours a day, but by February 2003 it was eighteen hours a day. A second unit was with the 3rd Infantry Division as it raced toward Baghdad. A third unit was placed in the Baghdad International Airport once it had been taken by Coalition troops. The three systems and the EC-130 could cover all of Iraq.

SOMSBsiteinBaghdad.jpg (214957 bytes)

The SOMS-B site in Baghdad

IraqiTransmitterinTikrit.jpg (240388 bytes)

An Iraqi Transmitter in Tikrit

A PSYOP soldier working an Iraqi transmitter that was being used by Coalition Forces to broadcast in Tikrit. This system was in a large box-truck and consisted of a 10K Watt AM transmitter with full back up. The soldiers found it and put it to use.

IZD019F.jpg (21058 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-019 shows a group of Iraqi soldiers standing in line wearing gasmasks and full protective gear.  A mushroom shaped fireball is in the background. The symbol for biological hazard is at the lower left. Text is:

Do not use weapons of mass destruction.

The back is all text:

Any unit that chooses to use weapons of mass destruction will face swift and severe retribution by Coalition forces. Unit commanders will be held accountable if weapons of mass destruction are used.

explosionphoto.jpg (23911 bytes)

The Original Photograph

The depiction of an explosion on this leaflet was taken from the photograph of an explosive thermal decomposition of a peroxidizable compound originally taken by Explosive and Reactive Chemical Specialist Thomas Gundlach in the early 1980s. It appears on his website www.rhr-inc.com. It is interesting to note that the 4th PSYOP Group discussed the ethics of using this picture in one of their legal briefings. They point out that the use of this photo could be considered copyright infringement because of use without authorization, the image was altered, and the original photographer was not credited. However, there was no infringement because the owner of the copyright gave permission for the photographs use.

Over a dozen of the Coalition leaflets were also printed at sea by the U.S. Aircraft Carrier Constellation (CV-64) and dropped over southern Iraq by Naval aircraft. This is one of those leaflets. The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Constellation (CV-64) reported that it had prepared 5.5 million leaflets and dropped them from F-18 Hornets during the war. Carrier Air Wing 2 (CVW-2) F-14 Tomcats and F-18 Hornets disseminated leaflets from the aircraft carrier Constellation in the Navy’s "Operation Litterbug." They also printed and dropped leaflets in the No-fly buildup to the war.

In 2003, the Voice of America mentioned leaflets dropped by Navy F-18 fighters that were printed on the Constellation. The article, by Mary Kennedy, said in part (edited for brevity):

A machine aboard carrier cuts and trims the leaflets before they are dropped over Iraq. The messages are composed by a U.S. Army unit in charge of psychological warfare. Naval technicians receive the images by computer and use a standard copier to print both sides. The forms are marked “secret,” because when they are received, they are secret, until they are dropped by naval aircraft. The leaflets are packaged into a roll and you can get about 3000 per roll. You can place 20 rolls in each canister for about a mix of 60,000.

Sailors pack the leaflets into canisters in their mess hall. The work parties are drawn from throughout the ship’s company. The paper is heavy so the paper can flutter everywhere, but not rip. On the Constellation, the printing presses are as busy as the flight decks. They can go from printing to dropping within 24 hours.

The cruise book for the USS Constellation mentions the leaflet printing and dissemination done on the ship. It says in part:

In an historic first for any carrier group, the USS Constellation’s Commanding Officer was assigned duties as the Information Wartime Commander (IWC) and commanded all organic airborne, surface, and subsurface Information Warfare assets. Providing expert assistance was a senior Cryptologic Officer, designated the Deputy Information Wartime Commander. Also part of the Information Warfare Team were two officers and three enlisted personnel from the Fleet Information Warfare Center Detachment in San Diego. An Information Warfare Targeting Officer, from Naval Security Group, San Diego, created non-kinetic target folders in support of Strike Group electronic attack assets.

The Propaganda radio system on the Constellation

During Operation Iraqi Freedom the Constellation Strike Group Information Warfare team executed record-setting Information Warfare operations, to include transmitting over 1,000 hours of PSYOP radio broadcasting into Iraq and printing over 5 million PSYOP leaflets, with Air Wing two dropping over 9 million leaflets into Iraq. The PSYOP effort in Operation Iraqi Freedom played a significant role in the liberation of Iraq. All Constellation sailors should be proud of their role in this new form of warfare.

The leaflets Packed in Boxes

One of the sailors who got the work detail told me:

We printed thousands of them and then stuck them in these little bomb-looking boxes. Day and night, we worked for about a week around the clock.

The book went on to explain the navy concept of the Information Warfare Organization. It says in part:

Information warfare is a new area of warfare to strike group operations. It is composed of five pillars: Psychological Operations; Operational Security; Military Deception; Electronic Warfare; and Computer Network Operations. The five pillars of Information Warfare were employed in support of airborne, surface combatant and Special Operations forces and forged unprecedented and successful new tactics.

During deployment, the Constellation Strike Group successfully conducted several exercises to practice our ability to confuse an adversary.

[Author’s Note: The Navy regularly sailed off the beaches of Kuwait to keep the Iraqis on guard awaiting a Marine landing.Those Iraqis were caught totally by surprise when General Schwarzkopf did his daring “Hail Mary” maneuver around the flanks of their dug-in forces and attacked from the west instead of from the south.]

Navy Information Operations and Psychological Operations in OIF

About 30 years after this article was written I was given a briefing report held by the Navy about their PSYOP actions during Desert Storm on 13 December 2003. I will add some of the comments below and warn the reader that there might be some repetition if some of the data in the report matches data that I received back in the 1990s.

The briefing shows that the Navy conducted 2000 hours of PSYOP broadcasts. The range of their radio broadcasts was 200-300 miles. They supplemented the Commando Solo aircraft to provide 24-hour coverage. Their ships printed and disseminated over 9 million leaflets. The USS Constellation deployed with the “Afloat Print Production System” (APPS) and printed 5.6 million leaflets while their aircraft dropped 9 million leaflets.

Some of the leaflets I have seen that were prepared on the Constellation are: 020-200, IZD:002, 006, 007, 009, 11a, 17d, 019, 019a, 028, 028a, 041, 046, 049, 054, 057, 061, and 089. The majority of these are in black and white but several are in color.

IZD019aF.jpg (14803 bytes)


Nobody benefits from the use of weapons of mass destruction

Any unit that chooses to use weapons of mass destruction will face swift and severe retribution by
Coalition forces. Unit Commanders will be held accountable if weapons of mass destruction are used.

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

One of our main concerns was that the Iraqis might try to preempt our attack by launching weapons of mass destruction (WMD) strikes against our massing troops, and I wanted our PSYOP effort to dissuade the Iraqis from exercising the WMD options I believed they had. Renuart [Gene Renuart, J3 - Operations, U. S. Army Central Command] and his team had taken on the task of creating these leaflets, which combined sophisticated images with clear and concise Arabic text. And, for the past 24 hours,Coalition plane flying Operation Southern Watch tracks in the no-fly zone had been dumping hundreds of thousands of them on Iraqi positions.

The message of the leaflets was powerful and direct. One showed a battlefield montage, in which heavily armed Coalition troops protected by gas masks and MOPP suits attacked unprotected Iraqi soldiers, choking, and falling through a haze of poison gas that had been dispensed by their own military. The leaflet also featured an actual photograph of a dead Kurdish mother clutching her dead infant - victims of the nerve gas Saddam had used against his own citizens in 1988.

It is interesting to note that Saddam had told his own generals that he had no weapons of mass destruction, but swore them to secrecy because he thought that the threat of his non-existent weapons kept his enemies as bay. The Iraqi Perspectives Project says:

Saddam walked a tight rope with WMD because as he often reminded his close advisors, they lived in a very dangerous global neighborhood where even the perception of weakness drew wolves.  For him, there were real dividends to be gained by letting his enemies believed he possessed WMD, whether it was true or not.

Saddam privately had commented that “the better part of war is deceiving.” When it came to WMD, Saddam was simultaneously attempting to deceive one audience that they were gone and another that Iraq still had them.

Saddam found it impossible to abandon the illusion that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction – especially since the illusion played so well in the Arab world.

Saddam went on to explain that if Iraq made such a declaration, it would not only show Israel that Iraq did not have WMD but might actually encourage the Israelis to attack.

An example of the way that Saddam exaggerated his position and helped to bring the Coalition attack down upon himself was his boast in an April 1990 conference with Yasser Arafat:

Iraq has chemical weapons and successfully used them on the Iranians and Iraq won’t think twice about striking Israel with chemical weapons. When you ask Israel, why would the Iraqis use chemical weapons against you? The answer is to restore Palestine for the Arabs and that is it!

This information was verified in 2008 when Lebanese FBI agent George Pirro assigned to the Iraq Survey Group discussed his interviews with Saddam Hussein on the subject of weapons of mass destruction on the CBS news show Sixty Minutes. Saddam stated that most of his WMD were destroyed by U.N. inspectors in the 90s and the rest were destroyed by Iraq. Saddam believed that the perception that he had WMD were all that kept Iran from invading his country.

Saddam seems to have assumed that the CIA was aware that he had discarded his weapons of mass destruction. Years after the Iraqi invasion when no weapons were found there was a lot of debate in the United States about whether George Bush had lied to the American people or the CIA had lied to George Bush. It seems that the answer was “no” in both cases. In February 2011, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by German and US intelligence officials who used his testimony as a major reference for the invasion of Iraq told the British newspaper Guardian that he fabricated the tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein government, from which he had fled in 1995. The informant now lives in Germany and has been receiving £2,500 a month for at least five years after they knew he had lied. Some German Members of Parliament have said that the informant could be arrested and tried for warmongering under German laws.

General Tommy Franks certainly believed that the WMDs existed. He states that everywhere he went in the Near East and everyone he spoke to warned of Saddam’s weapons. He specifically mentions King Abdullah II of Jordan who said “I believe the Iraqis are hiding chemical and biological weapons” and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt who said “You must be very careful. We have spoken with Saddam Hussein. He is a madman. He has WMDs, biological actually, and he will use them on your troops.”

It appears that General Franks was correct. The American public was told from the start of the war until 2014 that no chemical weapons were found in Iraq. On 14 October 2014, the New York Times printed an article by C. J. Chivers entitled “The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons.” Chivers reported that:

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule. In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003. American officials said that the actual tally of exposed troops was slightly higher, but that the government’s official count was classified. The secrecy fit a pattern. Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’ encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq was neither publicly shared nor widely circulated within the military. The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.

IZD036F.jpg (18503 bytes)

IZD036B.jpg (24026 bytes)


IZD-036 depicts armed Coalition soldiers at the right and left and the text:

Do not interfere with Coalition Forces. Coalition Special Operation Forces do not wish to harm or injure non-combatants.

The back of the leaflet pictures a helicopter unloading armed Coalition troops. The text is:

For your safety do not interfere with Coalition Forces. Coalition Special Operation Forces are here to end the oppressive rule of Saddam’s regime and liberate the people of Iraq.

IZD036Variant.JPG (30759 bytes)


There is a variant of this leaflet with the same code number but a different back. The front depicts armed Coalition soldiers at the right and left as in IZD-036 and the same text:

Do not interfere with Coalition Forces. Coalition Special Operation Forces do not wish to harm or injure non-combatants.

The back on this variety is the same as IZD-043, a truck in a bomb crater with the symbol of the 1st Infantry Division at the left and the 4th Infantry Division at the right and the text:

To confront them would bring you certain destruction.

IZD038F.jpg (20902 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-038 depicts a satellite over Iraq spotting drums of hazardous chemicals and a scud missile on a mobile launcher. Text is:

We can see everything. Do not use nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons.

The back is all text:

Do not attempt to use nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The Coalition has superior satellite technology, which allows Coalition forces to see the preparation and transportation on nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Unit commanders will be held accountable for non-compliance.

IZG074A.jpg (173455 bytes)

Handout IZG-074A

This leaflet is a handout, not dropped by aircraft. I have no proof that it was ever disseminated, but because it depicts weapons and symbols of mass destruction I have placed it here. The back is cross-hatched so the enemy could not place their propaganda on a blank side. The images on the leaflet all seem to point to WMDs. At the top, a masked Iraqi scientist is working on some sort of chemical or biological weapon. Symbols of chemical weapons and biological hazards are shown at the lower left and right. At the center we see barrels of some sort of liquid weapon. At the far right a Scud missile is depicted on its trailer, which we can assume has been loaded with the chemical or biological weapon. The text is:

Do not Personally Transport Materials and Equipment.

Do your part in cleaning up Iraq. Coalition Forces will provide cash rewards of up to 200 thousand American dollars for whoever supplies information to find weapons

This includes: Rockets, Artillery, Missiles, Rocket Launchers, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Chemical Items, Refineries, and other production equipment in addition to documents.

IZD061ArabicF.jpg (20882 bytes)

IZD061ArabicB.jpg (23294 bytes)


The front of IZD-061 shows four radio antenna and the text:

! ATTENTION ! In times of crisis, tune in to “Information Radio” for important news and information. 756 KHZ AM, 690 KHZ AM, 100.4 MHZ FM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW.

The reverse shows two hands clasping in front of a desert-style camouflage background. Text is:

Coalition forces support the people of Iraq in their desire to remove Saddam and his regime. The Coalition wishes no harm to the innocent Iraqi civilians.

Leaflet IZD-100

This is one of the most attractive leaflets of the campaign. On the front we see two hands clasped in friendship while at the left and rights mosques are featured. The back depicts a mother and child at the left and happy children at the right in an idyllic surrounding. It is one of the few leaflets that use both friendship and religion as a theme. The text on the front is:

The Iraqi people do not do violent acts against each other.

Put your problems aside, it is time for union

The text on the back is:

Peace and stability are in in the hands of the Iraqi people

Saddam’s rule is over. It is time for union and work together do new Iraq

Wallet card IZG-32534

Speaking of mosques, this is a beautiful wallet-sized card on a plasticized paper. It was probably made so it could be carried in a wallet for years without suffering any damage. It has a religious scene on both sides. The side we show depicts Muslim worshippers at the Hajj in Mecca which every adult Muslim must make at least once in his or her lifetime. In Islamic terminology, the Hajj is a pilgrimage made to the Kaaba, the "House of God" in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to Allah. The text is from the Koran: al-Hajj 22:27. It is:

In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful

And proclaim to the people the Hajj; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass

Allah almighty has spoken the truth

The back shows the building from a distance with the text:

Allah's Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

Hajj is Arafat

"Hajj is Arafat" says the Prophet Muhammad. These three words make it clear that Hajj means nothing without fasting this day. It is the sole difference Umrah (visiting Mecca during non-Hajj season) and the actual Hajj. It refers to the Mt. Arafat. If one does not go there on the 9th day of the hajj, then the hajj is not considered completed.

IZD069F.jpg (20863 bytes)


IZD-069 depicts a group of Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles with a white flag tied to their antennae at the right, and a group of unarmed Iraqi soldiers at the left. Between them is an arrow overprinted "1 Kilometer." Text above the vignette reads:

To avoid destruction, follow Coalition guidelines.

The back of the leaflet is all in text. It tells the Iraqi military:

For your safety follow these Coalition Guidelines. Park vehicles in squares, no larger than battalion size. Stow artillery and Air Defense Systems in travel configuration.   Display white flags on vehicles. No visible man portable air defense systems. Personnel must gather in groups, a minimum of one kilometer away from their vehicles. Officers may retain their sidearms; others must disarm. Do not approach Coalition forces. Wait for further instructions.

I have often been asked why the Iraqis did not surrender in the thousands as they had during Operation Desert Storm. The fact is that during the first operation, the Iraqis were attacked for months and suffered from lack of sleep, lack of food, proper communication and leadership. This led directly to massive surrenders. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Coalition surprised Saddam by its fast attack and movement toward Baghdad. The Iraqi Army simply had not been psychologically prepared to surrender. Having said that, the 3rd Infantry Division did capture 2,600 Enemy Prisoners of War. Many Iraqis deserted their units and abandoned their equipment, but instead of surrendering, they just went home. We should also point out that Saddam conducted a massive counter propaganda campaign against the Coalition and Iraqis who deserted or surrendered could be shot on the spot.

Much of the problem with the intact surrender of the Iraqi Army is discussed in the Rand Report After Saddam – Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq, prepared for the U.S. Army and published in 2008.

It was expected that police forces, being largely non-Ba’ath Party and professional, would remain cohesive and be able to maintain law and order in occupied Iraq with limited involvement from the coalition. It was further expected that certain units of the Iraqi armed forces would stand aside from the fight and could later be used to assist in reconstruction and security efforts. CENTCOM PSYOP campaigns instructed army units to capitulate, i.e., to stay in formation and surrender…

Coalition forces found that rather than standing aside from the fight as intact units, the Iraqi army was nowhere to be seen. Some of its soldiers may have changed into civilian clothes and gone home, as suggested by piles of abandoned military footwear. Many, seeing their senior leadership flee saw no reason to stick around themselves. They took weapons and other equipment that seemed valuable with them, and coalition staff found Iraqi military facilities quite thoroughly looted.

A later 2019 Rand Report titled The U.S. Army and the Battle for Baghdad, Lessons Learned and Still to be learned blames much of the postwar problems on the United States decision to disband the Iraqi Army:

Multiple accounts suggest that recalling the army was practical. One former senior military commander counters that the Iraqi military did not self-disband, rather “at our instructions, they went home. The military dropped leaflets telling them to go home, which they did, but the United States never brought them back like the leaflet said.” If the United States wanted to recall the Iraqi army, it was possible to do so. Other figures agree that the former Iraqi army could and should have been recalled. To these critics, both orders smacked of poor strategic thinking, if not ideologically induced naivete, in which evils of the Saddam regime could be purged in one fell swoop.

The demobilization order was a psychological body blow to men who were very proud. We unnecessarily disenfranchised Saddam’s army, air force, and navy. Whatever the political reasons were at the time, it was a terrible decision.

IZD070F.jpg (15494 bytes)

IZD070B.jpg (23079 bytes)


IZD-070 pictures an oil refinery with a father and child at the upper left. The text is:

The oil industry is your livelihood! Your family depends on your livelihood.

The back of the leaflet depicts and Iraqi family looking at a burning oil refinery. The text is:

If the oil industry is destroyed, your livelihood will be RUINED! Help to prevent the sabotage of the Iraqi oil industry! Your family depends on it!

KuwaitOilFire001.jpg (37072 bytes)

OilFireLake001x.jpg (113034 bytes)

Burning Oil Fields in Kuwait
Photos by Adel al Yousifi

This is what the Coalition feared; Saddam Hussein’s insane burning of the Kuwait oil fields. The photos are from the personal collection of my good friend Adel al Yousifi.

The preserving of the Iraqi oil fields and the preservation of the environment was a major strategic objective. The Coalition did not want another environmental disaster like Operation Desert Storm where the Iraqis blew up hundreds of oil wells and dumped crude oil into the sea. The Army and Marine forces were sent ahead of the main forces to protect the fields. In addition, a number of propaganda leaflets were printed and disseminated that had as a theme the preservation of the oil fields and the petroleum producing and refining facilities within Iraq. The speed of the Coalition movement to the oil fields and the use of the PSYOP campaign contributed to the prevention of almost all sabotage to the Iraqi oil industry. Five such leaflets are IZD-046 (Dumping oil poisons Iraqi waterways as well as your family’s future), IZD-046a (The release of oil into the waterways will kill the sea life and ruin Iraq’s chance of economic growth), IZD-070 (The oil industry is your livelihood), IZD-072 (Do not destroy Iraqi oil wells or distribution facilities) and IZD-099 (Do not destroy Iraqi oil fields).

Major General Victor E. Renuart, Central Command Director of Operations, discussed the PSYOP impact of the oil leaflets in his 10 April 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom Briefing:

As we were going back into the oil fields with the U.K. engineers, U.S. engineers, Kuwaiti engineers, and returning the Iraqi oil workers back to the sites, we were interviewing the staff of the Iraqi oil industry. We noticed that many of these wells had, in fact, been wired to be destroyed. And we also noticed that many of them, even though there were explosives set in place, had the valves turned off, so that, even if you had an explosion, it wouldn’t necessarily damage the oil well. And we said, “You all were here. You watched this happen. How did they do this?” And they said, “We read your leaflets. We heard your broadcasts. We understand that keeping the oil infrastructure was important to our future. And so while we complied for our own protection with the regime, we ensured that true damage to the oil fields would not occur.”

IZD046F.jpg (18007 bytes)


This leaflet depicts a handsome Iraqi family at the left and a dirty oil-covered waterway at the right. The text is:

Dumping oil poisons Iraqi waterways, as well as your family's future.

The back is all text:

DO NOT RELEASE OIL INTO WATERWAYS! Dumping oil in the waterways will ruin the chance for economic recovery. It will kill or taint the sea life, which feeds your family. Saddam has poisoned your waterways before. You must not aid him in doing it again.

I have chosen to add a leaflet here that was released later in the war only because the back of the leaflet uses the same vignette as the front of IZD-046. Notice that the face of the father of the Iraqi family is depicted in this leaflet. The same vignette was used on leaflet IZD-2509, except that the father’s face was covered by a question mark.

1zd2509f.jpg (17684 bytes)

1zd2509b.jpg (27709 bytes)

Leaflet IZD-2509 

The photographs on the front of the leaflet depict two destroyed Iraqi tanks. It looks very threatening and similar to many leaflets used in the first Gulf War. The tank at left is very interesting with its main gun split wide open. The text is:

The Baghdad Battalion of the Republican Guard could not halt the Coalition’s advance.

The back of the leaflet depicts an Iraqi family with husband, wife, and two children. However, the husband’s face has been replaced by a question mark. The text is:

Saddam’s regime did not protect your family!
It was not just your family that they neglected.
It was all Iraqi families that they neglected!

There is a variation of this leaflet coded IZD-058 that depicts the family with the question mark over the face of the husband (Same as IZD-2509) on the back. The front depicts a sad Iraqi wife awaiting the return of her husband.

Leaflet IZD-026b

About 17 years after Operation Iraqi Freedom occurred some leaflets showed up that were not in the regular dissemination schedule. Soldiers told me they had heard of them but never seen them. They were made especially for the Republican Guard and other elite forces and dropped over the areas they protected. The first Leaflet depicts an M1 Abrams tank at the left and a convoy of trucks and Apache helicopters at the right. The text is:

The Apaches - The Tanks - This is your final Chance

The back is a long text message:

The Coalition forces slowed down their attack to give you a further chance to avoid attack

Indicate you are not a threat by following these coalition instructions:

Park vehicles in squares, no larger than battalion size.
Place gun barrels over back deck of vehicle.
Stow artillery and air defense artillery systems in travel configuration.
Display white flags on vehicles.
No visible manned portable air defense systems.
Personnel must gather in groups, a minimum of one kilometer away from their vehicles.
Officers may retain their side arms; all others must disarm.
Do not approach Coalition forces.
Wait for further instructions.


This leaflet depicts two destroyed Iraqi armored vehicles of the Ah Fad Farouq Tank Battalion. the text on the front is:

The Ah Fad Farouq Tank Battalion of the 70th Armored Division did not comply with Coalition guidelines.

The back is all text and the same as the above leaflet IZD-026b: The Coalition forces slowed down their attack…

Note: The same two destroyed Iraqi Tanks featured on IZD-033o were depicted on IZD-033p. The message on the front was:

The 1st Tammuz Battalion of the 24th Mechanized Brigade, 10th Armored Division did not comply with Coalition guidelines.

The message on the back was the same: The Coalition forces slowed down their attack…

IZD058.jpg (83117 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-058 

The text on the front is:

Return to your homes!
Your families are waiting for you!

The text on the back is the same as IZD-2509 except the first line of text and the question mark is in gold.: 

Saddam’s regime did not protect your family!
It was not just your family that they neglected.
It was all Iraqi families that they neglected!

IZG9231F.jpg (34823 bytes)

IZG9231b.jpg (34638 bytes)

Handout IZG-9231

Curiously, the same vignette was used again on Handout IZD-9231. The front of the leaflet shows the family of four as in 2509 (although the picture has been reversed and the husband is now depicted), a dead body, and a small commercial business all with an “X” over them, certainly destroyed by terrorist actions. The text is:

The Muqtadah Militia will cause you to lose all that is important to you…and your family…and your job…and finally, your life.

Report any information concerning the Muqtadah Militia to the proper authorities or contact by phone 7901924719

The back of the handout depicts flames. The text is:

Muqtadah’s militia and its criminal activities are stopping the swift progress in Iraq!

They bring chaos and violence to your society.

The “Muqtadah” mentioned above is certainly the Shia religious leader Muqtadah Al-Sadr (AKA Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr), head of the anti-American and anti-Iraqi Government Mahdi Army.

IZD057Color.jpg (91960 bytes)

Leaflet IZD-057

This leaflet also asks the Iraqi soldier to return home to protect his family. The front depicts Iraqi soldiers with a dead Iraqi at the center. The text is:

Do not risk your lives and the lives of your comrades!

The back depicts the soldier in civilian garb surrounded by his family and the text:

Leave now and go home

Watch your children learn, grow and prosper.

Note: This leaflet was dropped on 2/27/03, 3/1/03, 3/4/03, 3/6/03, 3/10/03, 3/11/03, 3/16/03, 3/17.03, and 3/18/03.

IZD046af.jpg (70239 bytes)


This leaflet depicts three photos: dead fish, polluted water, and an Iraqi dumping oil in the ocean. The text is:

The release of oil into the waterways will kill the sea life and ruin Iraq’s chance of economic growth.

The back depicts a U.S. carrier taskforce. The text is:

Spilling oil into waterways will not hinder Coalition operations.

IZD045Frontsm.jpg (100500 bytes)

IZD045Backsm.jpg (118438 bytes)


The previous leaflet mentioned poisoning the waterways. The Coalition was also worried about Iraqi mining of the waterways. As a result, two leaflets were prepared that warned of retribution to any ship found mining the waters off the Iraq coast. The first depicts what appears to be a fishing boat that is actually laying mines. The text is:

Mining waterways will not affect Coalition vessels. Any vessels suspect of mining waterways will be destroyed.

The back of the leaflet shows an Iraqi boat aflame. One would think that the vessel had been attacked by the Coalition, but there are two bags marked "food" below the boat, so this probably means that the ship carrying food to feed the Iraqi people hit one of their mines. Curiously, the word "food" is in English, not Arabic. This could imply that the people were already being fed by the Americans and it was believed that they would recognize the word "food." Rather strange. The text is:

Report mining activity to Coalition forces. Mined waterways will only harm the Iraq people.

IZD045aFrontsm.jpg (111621 bytes) 


This leaflet shows an Iraqi vessel overhead and under the water various types of mines and what appears to be torpedoes. The text is a much more specific threat:

Any vessels suspected of mining the Kor Abd Allah or Umm Qasar waterways will be destroyed.

The back of the leaflet is the same as IZD-045 but the text has been changed to mention specific waterways rather than a general threat.

Mining the Kor Abd Allah or Umm Qasar waterways will not affect Coalition vessels. They will only hurt the Iraqi people.


We do not know exactly when this leaflet was dropped but since the Iraqi ships are also burning in the two leaflets above, this seems a good place to add this leaflet. We see a destroyer at the left and Coalition aircraft above firing on Iraqi ships that are burning. Because this leaflet is in B&W rather than color, the flames are hard to see. The text on the front is:

In the case that fighting breaks out, Iraqi units that do not surrender immediately will be destroyed by coalition ships and planes

The text on the back of the leaflet is:

When you see coalition ships or aircraft, point the bow of your ships toward Iraq and surrender, or run them aground

IZD072F.jpg (21522 bytes)

IZD072B.jpg (30723 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-072 depicts an Iraqi soldier guarding an oil refinery and a civilian oil worker. The text is:

Attention Iraqi military. Do not destroy Iraqi oil wells or production facilities.

The back depicts an Iraqi family watching burning oil fields and facilities. The text is:

Destroying Iraqi oil fields and production facilities will not hinder Coalition operations. Those who commit or assist in such acts will be held accountable.

Major Wayne Bergeron, Joint Psychological Operations Task Force: OEF/OI Executive Officer, said in a briefing:

Our analysis has not been able to determine the overall effectiveness of pre-combat PSYOP in achieving coalition information goals, but some have used anecdotal reports to argue that the effect was significant. For example, after reading a PSYOP leaflet, the manager of an oil well claims that he shut off the flow of oil to wells rigged with explosives to limit the damage.

IZD099F.jpg (34140 bytes)

IZD099B.jpg (44543 bytes)


Oil leaflet IZD-099 is interesting because it is mentioned by General Tommy Franks:

The PSYOP shop also produced a series of leaflets aimed at preventing sabotage of Iraq's oil fields. The front of a typical leaflet showed a well-maintained and obviously productive oil field with adjacent refinery and pumping station. The back displayed a similar facility, with flames engulfing charred and melted equipment. "Attention Iraqi Military and Security Forces!" it reads. "Do not destroy Iraqi oil fields. If the oil industry is destroyed, your livelihood will be RUINED."

Cherilyn A. Walley and Michael R. Mullins mention the campaign in “Reaching Out: Psychological Operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Veritas, volume 1, number 1:

Major General Victor E. Renuart, CENTCOM Director of Operations, discussed the PSYOP impact in his 10 April 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom briefing.

We mentioned the 40-some-odd million leaflets. And the people have said, “Well, so what did they really do for you?” As we were going back to the oil fields…we were interviewing the staff of the Iraqi oil industry. We noticed that many of the wells had, in fact, been wired to be destroyed…We said “You were all here. You watched this happen. How did they do this?” And they said, “We read your leaflets. We heard your broadcasts. We understand that keeping the oil infrastructure was important to our future. And so while we complied with the regime for our own protection, we ensured that true damage to the oil wells would not occur.

One report indicated that the operators of an oilfield in southern Iraq primed the station to be blown up as ordered by Iraqi authorities. However, based on a leaflet warning operators about the consequences for Iraq’s economy and future generations if the station was blown, the operators turned off the valves for the flow of oil. The operators had satisfied the requirements of both parties!

Saddam’s plan to blow up his oil wells is mentioned in Iraqi Perspectives:

Captured Iraqi documents indicated that at a national or even local level plans had been made to destroy the northern and southern oil fields, and that some preparations were underway at the end of 2002.

It seems that Saddam later changed his mind. Kamal Al-Tikriti, the Secretary of the Republican Guard said:

Saddam felt that destroying the oil fields would affect the morale of the soldiers and the people. Saddam worried about history indicating that he had destroyed the wealth if Iraq.

Zuhayr Al-Naquib, Saddam’s Director of Military Intelligence agrees:

Saddam saw oil as the primary source of wealth for the Iraqi people and he specifically directed them not to destroy the oil fields.

The use of aerial propaganda leaflets warning about the looting and destruction of oil refineries goes back to WWII. The British Special Operations Executive produced a leaflet in October 1943 that attacked the German looting of Austrian oil and called for the Austrians to slow down production and sabotage their own oil installations to guarantee that there would be jobs after the war. The leaflet was coded H.609 and depicted a red and white Austrian flag in the background. Its title was:

Our Oil will save Austria!

The oil was called was a treasure that would prevent Austria from falling into poverty and unemployment after Germany had lost the war. The Austrians were told to save their oil by giving a twist to any valve-cock they saw in the oil fields or in the refineries. They were told:

When you see a valve, turn it. If it is open, close it. If it is closed, open it. No damage will be done to our oil fields and our expensive machinery.

Curiously, although American leaflets wanted the oil fields and refineries protected during the Iraqi Freedom campaign, they never asked the oil workers to slow down and they specifically warned against sabotage. Different wars, different priorities.

IZD071ArabicF.jpg (19773 bytes)

IZD071ArabicB.jpg (16802 bytes)


The front of IZD-071 depicts an antenna at left and a map of Iraq at the right. The text is:

Information Radio. 756 KHZ AM, 693 KHZ AM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW, 100.4 MHZ FM.

The reverse shows antenna at left and right and the text:

The Coalition stands with the Iraqi people against Saddam. For your safety stay in your homes and away from military targets. The Coalition does not target civilians. Listen to information.

IZD2502F.jpg (18230 bytes)

IZD2502B.jpg (27980 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-2502 depicts three Coalition troopers and a vehicle “buttoned up” in preparation for a chemical or biological attack. The text is:

Coalition forces are prepared and well trained to defend themselves against chemical weapon attacks.

The back of the leaflet pictures dead children at the left and right, and a group of Iraqis carrying a casket in the center. The text is:

Your comrades and innocent Iraqi people will be victims if Saddam uses chemical weapons. Don’t be a part of this crime. Unit commanders will be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons.

Iraqi officials ordered CNN staff to leave the country. They said that the film of surrendering soldiers and Coalition advances into Iraq were fabricated propaganda.

On the fourth day of the war US and British forces continued to move forward into Basra. The Coalition forces were about 24 hours ahead of schedule and the bulk of the troops had yet to enter yet Iraq. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri complained to the United Nations that the Americans were targeting homes, schools, mosques and churches.

Warplanes began to strike Baghdad for the third straight day about 1915 local time. The intelligence headquarters was gutted and appeared to have taken a direct hit. Allied forces crossed the Euphrates River and were now half way to Baghdad. U.S. Special Forces unsuccessfully searched for weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon announced that it had abandoned plans to use Turkey to open a northern front. The U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division will be sent to Kuwait instead.

oilblackskies.jpg (8932 bytes)    oilblackskies2.jpg (14190 bytes)

Oil Fires Blacken the Skies

Al-Jazeera television reported that Iraqis had set fire to oil containers around the city to obscure targets. Iraqi state television said that Saddam met twice Saturday with senior government members. Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf told the Iraqi people that the government had repulsed the U.S.-British attacks, destroying five tanks in the process. He also said those captives taken by coalition troops were civilians, not Iraqi soldiers.

Coalition aircraft again dropped leaflets on 23 March. The leaflet mix consisted of 11 items. Leaflets IZD-019a, IZD-038, IZD-061, IZD-069, and IZD-2502 were dropped on 21 March and have already been described. Leaflets IZD-003 and IZD-050 were dropped earlier during the No-Fly Zone phase of the operation. Four of the leaflets are new. They are IZD-017e, IZD-022b, IZD-060a and IZD-8104.

IZD003Arabic.jpg (19128 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-003 depicts a radio antenna at the left and the CENTCOM stations and frequencies in the center. The right of the leaflet pictures a map of Iraq. The front and back are identical. The text is:

Information Radio. 1800-2300 Daily. 756 KHZ AM, 693 KHZ AM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW, 100.4 MHZ FM.

IZD050F.jpg (20653 bytes) 


Leaflet IZD-050 depicts an Iraqi mother with child at the right and a smiling Saddam Hussein at the left. The text is:

As your family struggles to survive – He lives in splendor.

The back of the leaflet shows happy Iraqi citizens at the right and a stern-faced Iraqi military officer at the left. The text is:

Who needs you more? Your family or the regime? Return to your home and family.

This type of propaganda is a common theme of American PSYOP. During WWII, allied propagandists regularly attacked Nazi Party officials for the way they lived in luxury and were unaffected by rationing and deprivation. During the recent Kosovo campaign, the allies regularly attacked the family of Slobodan Milosevic for owning luxurious villas and yachts while the Serbian people starved. Good propaganda never attacks the enemy population, only their leaders.

IZD017eF.jpg (18169 bytes)


New leaflet IZD-017e depicts Iraqi soldiers surrendering at the left and the destruction of an Iraqi tank and two artillery pieces by Coalition aircraft at the right. The text is:

The Medina RGFC has been targeted for destruction.

The back is all text:

FOR YOUR SAFETY – Abandon your weapons systems. Whether manned or unmanned, these weapons systems will be destroyed.

The Medina Division is one of the elite Republican Guard units. It is better fed, paid, trained and armed than the regular Iraqi Army units. Their tank battalions have nine more tanks than regular army battalions. In addition, they have the most modern weaponry, such as the Russian T-72 tank. They are highly motivated volunteers rather than conscripts. The Republican Guard is subordinate to the State Special Security Apparatus, not the Defense Ministry. Five such divisions are deployed around Baghdad and one more north of the Iraqi capital.

The Original Photograph of the Iraqi Prisoner Up Front.  

Researcher Hollen Song found this picture of the Iraqi soldier surrendering during the Persian Gulf War while holding a Koran. The same image was used in this Iraqi Freedom Leaflet, but the Koran has been changed to a surrender pass.  

IZD005F.jpg (165334 bytes)

IZD005b.jpg (155277 bytes)


On the subject of burning tanks, leaflet 005 depicts two pictures of Iraqi tanks on the front as Coalition jets fly over. The text is:

Do not take an offensive posture and you will not be destroyed.

On the back of the leaflet the tank has raised its main gun and in the final picture has been destroyed. The text is:

Take an offensive posture and you will be destroyed.

IZD022bF.jpg (26670 bytes)

IZD022bB.jpg (29740 bytes)


IZD-022b depicts Iraqi armor in a civilian neighborhood at the left and a happy family and an artillery piece at the right. Text in the center is:

FOR YOUR SAFETY – Stay in your homes and avoid driving your vehicles at night. Stay away from buildings that have military weapons near them. FOR YOUR SAFETY.

The back of the leaflet pictures an American tank and helicopter at the left and Coalition soldiers at the right. The text is:

Do not interfere with Coalition forces. The Coalition wishes no harm upon the people of Iraq.

IZD060aF.jpg (25612 bytes)

IZD060aB.jpg (26250 bytes)


IZD-060a depicts four photos on the front. There are tanks at the left and right, and a helicopter and Saddam Hussein at the center. The text is:

The noble people of Iraq are not the target of Coalition military operations! The target of Coalition military operations is the ruthless regime!

The back shows four photos of happy Iraqi children at the left. Text at the right is:

Do not interfere with Coalition forces. Stay in your homes. Coalition forces will establish a curfew for your protection. Stay tuned to information radio for updates.

IZD8104F.jpg (11709 bytes)

IZD8104B.jpg (15264 bytes)


IZD-8104 is all text. The front is:

Iraqi commanders and soldiers – show that you will not resist Coalition forces. Make clear your intentions.

The back tells them how to make their intentions clear:

CONTACT US ON Thuraya Ascom – HF 5102.0 KHZ – Tel # 88 216 21 12 32 39 – VHF 31.2250 MHZ – UHF 381.500 MHZ. TELL US: Unit size – name – location – combat vehicles. CONTINUE to attempt contacting the COALITION on the listed frequencies until we acknowledge you. COMPLY with our instructions and you will not be DESTROYED.

The CENTCOM site reported two additional leaflets. As yet, there is no report of their use. Both are tactical leaflets that mention specific Iraqi units. 

IZDO33oF.jpg (18197 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-033o depicts two destroyed tanks on the front. The text is:

The Ah Fad Farouq Tank Battalion of the 70th Armored Division did not comply with Coalition guidelines.

The back is all text. It is:

Indicate you are not a threat by following these coalition instructions: Park vehicles in squares, no larger than battalion size. Place gun barrels over back deck of vehicle. Stow artillery and air defense artillery systems in travel configuration. Display white flags on vehicles. No visible man portable air defense systems. Personnel must gather in groups, a minimum of one kilometer away from their vehicles. Officers may retain their sidearms, all others must disarm. Do not approach Coalition forces. Wait for further instructions.

IZDO33pF.jpg (17246 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-033p is very similar. It depicts the same two tanks on the front. The text is now:

The 1st Tammuz Battalion of the 24th Mechanized Brigade, 10th Armored Division did not comply with Coalition guidelines.

The back is all text and identical to IZD-033o.

Al-Jazeera television reported the capture of American military from the 507th Maintenance Company. A number of dead soldiers appeared to have been executed. The POWs were paraded in front of the TV cameras.

On 23 March over 900 sorties were flown against Iraq. 30 cruise missiles were fired into Iraq through Turkish airspace. A huge 100-acre chemical plant and complex was overrun near An Najaf.

There were troubling reports of stiffening Iraqi resistance. As the armored spearhead raced toward Baghdad, now just 100 miles away, pockets of enemy troops were bypassed. Not wanting to be slowed by enemy prisoners of war (EPWs) the Coalition apparently just disarmed surrendering Iraqis and continued to move forward. Some of these Iraqis may have then rearmed themselves and become a force in the Coalition rear and along the supply lines. Several groups reportedly used ruses and opened fire on Allied forces after indicating that they wished to surrender. The Fourth Infantry Division was still at sea and there was no viable second front opened in the north. There were reports of civilians being used as human shields by military forces.

U.S. Marines fought Iraqi forces near the southern city of An Nasiriyah. There were reports of fighting near Basra. Umm Qsar was allegedly pacified but fighting broke out there. Pro-Hussein Fayadeen-Saddam (a 30,000 strong force controlled by his son Qusay) was rumored to have taken over the defense of some areas. At the same time, Iraqi forces ambushed an army supply convoy that apparently took a wrong turn. Al-Jazeera television reported the capture of five American combat-support troops from the 507th Maintenance Company. They broadcast film of seven dead soldiers, who appeared to have been executed.

IZD022.jpg (305713 bytes)


The front has three photographs: A civilian building with nearby tank covered by a “prohibited” symbol; a happy Iraqi family at dinner; and an artillery piece covered by a “prohibited” symbol. [See IZD022b above for image]. This leaflet was dropped on 3/24/03, 3/29/03, 3/30/03, and 4/1/03. The text is:


Stay in your homes and avoid driving your vehicles at night

The back left depicts two Coalition wheeled armored personnel carriers with a Cobra helicopter overhead, and at right, a Coalition soldier. The text is:

Do not interfere with Coalition Forces. The Coalition wishes no harm upon the people of Iraq.

The Coalition dropped a mix of four leaflets on 24 March. The code numbers are IZD022, IZD022b, IZD023, and IZD024. There are no new leaflets in this mix. The total number of leaflets dropped is unknown.

 Britishleaflet.jpg (23082 bytes)

British handbill D24

A British handbill was distributed near Basra. It was a simple drawing of a British soldier designed to aid communication. The Arabic text beneath the soldier is:

British forces are active in your area.

These handbills were developed by th 15th (UK) PSYOP Group and were distributed by British Brigade troops. The British researcher Lee Richards says that Leaflet was also dropped on the Al Faw peninsula along with 32 joint direct action munitions (JDAMS) or “smart bombs” before the British assault at H hour-2..

A brief description of the British PSYOP campaign in Iraq is in order. During the course of this article we will illustrate and discuss more British leaflets, handbills, and iniatives.

The Third Report of the Select Committee on Defense to the British House of Commons outlines the PSYOP objectives for “Operation Telic,” the British name for the Iraq invasion. Air Vice-Marshal Heath said in part:

Initially, the key objective was to deter the deployment and use of weapons of mass destruction. It was to deter willful damage to the Iraqi infrastructure either by the people or by the regime; it was to promote the coalition's aims and objectives in terms of deterrents, potential hostile action and the reconstitution that came afterwards. All three were equally important. It was to prevent or limit civilian casualties, predominantly through creating an understanding with the population that they were not the target group if we moved into conflict, and how they could remain relatively safe, and also to convey to military personnel how they could surrender and remain safe throughout the process.

An unnamed author says in an untitled British Joint Services Command and Staff College abstract:

United Kingdom’s decision to contribute to the coalition was highly contentious and the intense political debate that ensued had implications on the timescales for military planning. In turn, this impacted on the pre-deployment phase and the establishment of the British PSYOP Support Element was affected.

The approval process was initially delayed by the dual nature of coalition effort and the requirement for two lines of approval – the U.K. and the U.S. This resulted in the loss of utility of products that had been developed for use prior to the conflict. One of the lessons learned was that a set or catalogue of pre-approved products might have supported the process. Lacking an air delivery capability, dissemination of product in the non-benign environment of the early part of the campaign was dependent on U.S. support.

[Note: This is an interesting comment because as early as the Vietnam War the United States PSYOP units had pre-prepared PSYOP catalogs that any military commander or organization could search and select leaflets from as needed.]

British Air Vice-Marshall Heath said:

We learned that, to be brutal, 40% of the people had neither listened to us on the radio nor read our leaflets. 60% had. Of that 60%, I would judge that about 50% were moved to listen to what we had to say. I will not say that they were swayed towards tacitly joining the coalition. I would suggest to you they were already there. What they needed was a demonstrator that we were not going to stop short of Baghdad and leave Saddam Hussein in power. They were wary of us but we encouraged them to be less wary than they had previously been. We encouraged them, quicker than we would have done on the street, to be trusting and we were then able to give them the demonstrators that we were going all the way to Baghdad and that regime change should now become a necessary element of the conflict.

Prisoners of war who were interviewed were persuaded by leaflets not to open valves in the oilfields: we saw battalions that took up defensive surrender positions that came directly out of the PSYOP messages; we had people in Basra who, when they were asked to go out into the streets and riot against the Baath Party, said:

No, the reason we are staying indoors is because you have been telling us on the radio for the last month to keep out of the way and we will be out of harm's way and we will be safe.

The British PSYOP capability is provided by the 15th Psychological Operations Group based at the Defense Intelligence and Security Centre, Chicksands. Its role is to provide PSYOP and information support capabilities. The Reserve element of 15 PSYOP includes personnel from civilian radio stations some of whom were used in the setting up of a local radio station in Basra—Radio Nahrain. The group uses equipment that was bought commercially and which is therefore not designed for the rugged situation of military operations. The 15th PSYOP is supported by information officers at battalion and regimental level within the operational units.

The conclusion of the report was that the British PSYOP campaign did not begin early enough and that their PSYOP capability is underfunded and understaffed:

We are, however, persuaded that information operations are an activity which can be expected to become of increasing importance in future operations. There were a number of successes which provide evidence of the potential effectiveness of information operations. We recommend that the Government should consider significantly enhancing our capabilities in this area.

IZD027aF.jpg (19412 bytes)


CENTCOM reported a new leaflet. It is coded IZD-027a. At the right of the leaflet, a road leading to the Ziggurat of Ur is empty. The text is:

The Coalition does not wish to destroy your landmarks.

On the left side, Coalition aircraft attack two Iraqi tanks on the road. The text is:

The Coalition will destroy any viable military targets.

Text on the back is:

Coalition forces do not wish to harm the noble people of Iraq. To insure your safety, avoid area occupied by military personnel.

Ur, modern Tall al-Muqayyar, was an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia, located in present south Iraq. Although Ur was once a coastal city near the mouth of the Euphrates on the Persian Gulf, the coastline has shifted and the city is now well inland, south of the Euphrates on its right bank, 9.9 miles from Nasiriyah. The city dates from about 3800 BC, and is marked by the partially restored ruins of the Ziggurat of Ur, which was excavated in the 1930s.

General Tommy Franks stated that 28 million leaflets had been dropped on Iraq since the start of operations. This number probably goes back to October of 2002 when warning leaflets were first dropped over the no-fly zone.

In the Christopher J. Lamb report General Franks records a secondary reason for his decision to approve leaflets. He hoped that some Iraqis would directly comply with their messages, but he also believed they would remind Iraqi soldiers that their air defenses were useless and that U.S. forces could bomb them with iron as easily as with paper:

Interviews with Iraqi prisoners of war suggest many were, indeed, more impressed by General Franks’ secondary motivation for dropping the leaflets than by their primary message. They believed that their cover, concealment, and deception activities were working until the leaflets essentially notified them that U.S. forces were well aware of their precise locations. Thus, PSYOP was able to leverage the hugely coercive value of U.S. military power through the implied message that a kinetic strike could be delivered just as easily as a leaflet bomb.

The Coalition was reported to be just 50 miles south of Baghdad, but stalled in a sand storm. Swarms of American helicopter gunships attacked Medina Division Republican Guard emplacements around Baghdad and met fierce resistance. One Apache helicopter was downed and the crew captured. As in Desert Storm, a company of the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles) deployed deep into Iraq by helicopter to set up a forward base about 20 miles south of An Najaf. Aircraft attacked Iraq's northern oil capitol of Kirkuk. President Bush asked Congress for 75 billion dollars to pay for the cost of the war. Brigadier General Vince Brooks said at a press briefing that:

The Coalition had dropped 28 million leaflets, 5 million more than was dropped during Desert Storm.

On 25 March the Coalition bombed Baghdad for the sixth consecutive night. Oil barrels around the city were set on fire again in an attempt to conceal targets. Most of the air attacks were aimed at Republican Guard units south of the city. Coalition aircraft struck Mosul in northern Iraq. Bad weather caused combat missions from two American aircraft carriers to be cancelled. President Bush personally called Russian President Vladimir Putin to complain that Russian companies illegally sold GPS jamming devises to Iraq. During a press briefing in Qatar, Major General Victor Renuart said that six such devices had been identified and destroyed during the last two days bombings. He went on to say that the Coalition scheduled 1,400 air sorties, but high winds and some thunderstorms continued to slow the advance of the ground forces. Coalition forces used radio broadcasts and dropped leaflets over Basra urging residents to oppose Saddam's militia within the city.

iraqitankburn.jpg (18715 bytes)

Burned out Iraqi tank

Later in the day U.S. Marines seized a hospital in Nasiriyah. They captured 170 Iraqi soldiers and confiscated over 200 weapons, 3,000 chemical suits with masks, nerve agent antidote injectors, and a T-55 tank in the hospital compound.

Christopher J. Lamb says in Review of Psychological Operations Lessons Learned from Recent Operational Experience, National Defense University Press Washington, D.C. September 2005:

Tactical PSYOP teams (TPTs) were attached to ground forces to provide PSYOP support directly to maneuver units and special operations detachments. In the southern region, PSYOP teams were deployed with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, the 1st Marine Division, and the 10th Special Forces Group. In western Iraq, TPTs assigned to support the 5th Special Forces Group provided assistance in securing the town of Ar Rutbah, while PSYOP units in the north were attached to the Joint Special Operations Task Force–North.

These TPTs played an important support role to infantry and special operations units, particularly through their loudspeaker operations. PSYOP teams supporting ground forces often communicated surrender appeals to enemy units via loudspeakers. They also conveyed messages of non-interference to civilians in order to avoid non-combatant casualties. One example of the value of loudspeaker operations occurred on March 25 at an Nasiriyah. TPT 1141 was supporting Task Force Tarawa assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Tarawa was fighting paramilitary forces that threatened to bog down the Marines' advance. Iraqi paramilitary forces hiding in a hospital were sniping and firing mortars and machine guns at Marines crossing the bridge over the Euphrates. TPT 1141 broadcast a surrender appeal and a statement about the inevitability of their defeat, and told them that the Coalition would drop bombs and artillery on the hospital if they did not surrender.

Approximately 10 minutes into the broadcast, Iraqi personnel emerged from the hospital and complied with TPT 1141’s instructions. TPT 1141 also supported Task Force Tarawa by ensuring safe passage of civilians and by obtaining valuable intelligence from civilian sources in the process.

More was told in All Roads Lead to Baghdad – Army Special Operations Force in Iraq, USASOC History Office, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 2006:

Another team, TPT 1142, played helicopter sounds from their loudspeakers to chase snipers from the Iraqi town of Ash Shatrah. They cleared the town without firing a shot.

The Pentagon announced that 20 personnel were killed in action and another 14 were captured or missing as of that date. There was a report of an anti-Saddam uprising among the Shi'ite Muslims of Basra. There were reports of Feyadeen in U.S. garb killing Iraqi soldiers who attempted to surrender. The U.S. 7th Cavalry fought a battle in An Najaf and reportedly killed 300-500 Iraqi troops. The Coalition bombed Baghdad TV and put it off the air.

Coalition aircrews dropped 600,000 leaflets over Iraq on 25 March. Although the winds were clocked at well over 50 mph and there were sand storms throughout the country, the PSYOP missions continued. The aircraft dropped leaflets IZD-001, IZD-003, IZD-022a, IZD-023, IZD-027a and IZD-069. There are two new leaflets in this mix.

IZD001ArabicFront.jpg (32099 bytes)


IZD001 is almost identical to IZD001c dropped on 21 March. It is an information radio leaflet. It depicts a map of Iraq at the center and radio towers at left and right with text:

1800-2300 Daily.

The text is:

Information Radio - "756 KHZ AM - 693 KHZ AM - 9715 KHZ SW - 11292 KHZ SW – and 100.4 MHZ FM.

IZD017dF.jpg (17317 bytes)


CENTCOM reported two more new leaflets. The first is IZD-017d. The front depicts Iraqi soldiers surrendering at the left and the destruction of a scud launcher with scud ready to fire and two pieces of artillery at the right. The text is:

Artillery units have been targeted for destruction.

The back is all text:

FOR YOUR SAFETY – Abandon your weapons systems. Whether manned or unmanned, these weapons systems will be destroyed.

Leaflet IZD-017e also exists in a Black and white format.

IZD017b.jpg (144046 bytes)


There is also a third version of this leaflet coded IZD-017b that depicts the same general image although the target is an Iraqi multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) and two Iraqi artillery pieces. According to Coalition records this leaflet was dropped on 28 February, 4 March, 10 March and 18 March. The text on the front is:

Surface to surface missiles have been targeted for destruction.

The text on the back is:

FOR YOUR SAFETY. Abandon your weapons system. Whether manned or unmanned, these weapon systems will be destroyed.

IZD017cxs.jpg (139934 bytes)


Leaflet IZD-017c depicts Coalition aircraft attacking motorized anti-aircraft vehicles. The image is not clear but I pulled out my old Desert Shield Armored Vehicle Recognition handbook and I believe it is a Soviet Union ZSU-23-4 (Shilka) self-propelled anti-aircraft gun normally employed in pairs and packing four 4x23mm guns. This leaflet has the text on front:

Air defense artillery units have been targeted for destruction.

The text on the back is the usual:

FOR YOUR SAFETY. Abandon your weapons system. Whether manned or unmanned, these weapon systems will be destroyed.

IZD022F.jpg (22307 bytes)

IZD022B.jpg (22263 bytes)


The second new leaflet is IZD-022. This leaflet seems to be identical to IZD-022a on the front. The leaflet depicts a tank in front of a civilian building at the left and a happy Iraqi family and an artillery piece at the right. The text is:

FOR YOUR SAFETY – Stay in your homes and avoid driving your vehicles at night. Stay away from buildings that have military weapons near them. FOR YOUR SAFETY.

The back of the leaflet pictures Coalition armor and an attack helicopter at the left and a soldier at the right. The text is:

Do not interfere with Coalition Forces. The Coalition wishes no harm upon the people of Iraq.

On 26 March, sandstorms continued to hinder the advance of Coalition ground forces. There were reports that the U.S. Army Third Mechanized Division was running low on fuel and ammo and awaiting resupply. A 1000-vehicle convoy of Republican Guards was reported moving south toward the U.S. Marines while trying to avoid the Army forces. There were reports of Iraqi soldiers dressed in Coalition uniforms strapped with explosive, and of the Baghdad bridges rigged with explosive. About 1000 parachutists of the U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade jumped from C-17 Globemasters into northern Iraq. The total of American troops inside the country is now 76,000. British Harriers and Tornado jets attacked a 120-vehicle convoy of Iraqi armored vehicles leaving Basra under cover of the sandstorm. British troops set up loudspeakers and dropped leaflets urging Basra residents to come out and receive food and water.

USSConstellation.jpg (22600 bytes)

U.S.S. Constellation

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Constellation (CV-64) reported that it had prepared 5.5 million leaflets and dropped them from F-18 Hornets during the current conflict. Carrier Air Wing 2 (CVW-2) F-14 Tomcats and F-18 Hornets disseminated leaflets from the aircraft carrier Constellation in the Navy’s "Operation Litterbug." The US Navy Psychological Operations assets include the capability to produce documents, posters, articles, leaflets, handbills, and other material for PSYOP. Administrative capabilities ashore and afloat exist to prepare and produce various quantities of printed materials. The Navy is developing in large deck ships a high-speed leaflet and handbill production capability that can be used in conjunction with naval air assets to rapidly disseminate PSYOP products early in a crisis.

Veritas, Volume 1, Number 1, 2005, adds:

The 4th PSYOP Group, who orchestrated the entire PSYOP effort of the war, designed the leaflets and delivered them to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers by computer, where they were printed and packed in canisters typically holding sixty thousand leaflets each. Naval F-18s stationed aboard aircraft carriers, including the USS Harry S. Truman, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and USS Constellation, then dropped the leaflet bombs in targeted areas throughout Iraq.

PankingandSteelBandingRings.jpg (51521 bytes)

Leaflet packing ring and steel banding ring

Just before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, PSYOP Soldiers were assigned to USN aircraft carriers for leaflet bomb preparation. USN personnel were quick to understand the effectiveness of such operations and requested ad hoc instruction on preparing leaflet bombs for operation. Carriers have machinists and other personnel who can fabricate equipment such as packing rings that are necessary to build leaflet bombs. Once specific, detailed instruction had been given regarding the loading of both types of leaflet bombs, Navy personnel could simply order leaflet bomb casings through their normal supply channels and prepare their own leaflet bombs. Eventually, aircraft personnel were able to use their own on-board print facilities to print and cut leaflets to the correct size using the correct weight paper. The USN was then empowered and enabled to carry out the mission, freeing PSYOP Soldiers to concentrate on other missions.

ConstellationOIF01.jpg (181636 bytes) 

 ConstellationOIF02.jpg (102476 bytes)

At sea aboard USS Constellation (CV 64) Dec. 30, 2002 Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Steve Reed from Westbury, N.Y., loads leaflets into canisters that will be loaded on coalition aircraft and dropped over Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Richard Moore.)

ConstellationOIF03.jpg (210733 bytes)

Lithographer 2nd Class Michael Gomez from Guam prepares leaflets that will be dropped over Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Richard Moore.)

AviationOrd2ndClassVictorAquino.jpg (99120 bytes)

Aviation Ordnance 2nd Class Victor Aquino loads oeaflet rolls into PDU-5/B

TechsAttachPDU5BtoF18Hornet.jpg (79784 bytes)

Technicians attach a PDU-5/B leaflet delivery system to an F-19 Hornet

Rear Admiral Barry Costello said that the U.S. Navy's 80,000-ton aircraft carrier is the only American warship with a printing press onboard. The ship produced its own templates of the leaflets, chose the paper best suited for the mission and printed up to 30,000 leaflets an hour. They were then cut and rolled by hand and placed in canisters that were inserted in modified Rockeye bombs. Each canister can hold 60,000 leaflets. At the end of the war the unused leaflets were dumped into the ocean.

The USS Constellation was decommissioned on 7 August 2003 at Naval Air Station North Island. She had served in the Arabian Gulf from 17 December 2002 to 17 April 2003, returning to San Diego in June. The Constellation was the first to launch air strikes in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and subsequently flew more than 1,500 sorties, dropping more than 1.7 million pounds of ordnance on strategic military targets. In addition, the USS Constellation produced, packaged and dropped about 600 million leaflets over Iraq, more than 25 for every man, woman, and child in Iraq.

The possibility of a major battle loomed south of the capital as a second huge convoy of perhaps 1,000 vehicles and members of Saddam's elite Republican Guard tried to avoid the U.S. Army Third Infantry Division and advance in the direction of the smaller U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). B-52 bombers and A-10 "Warthog" fighter-bombers struck the convoy. There were reports of Iraqi soldiers dressed in Coalition uniforms strapped with explosives, and of Baghdad bridges rigged and ready for destruction.   

The Coalition dropped a mix of two leaflets. The code numbers are IZD002 and IZD069. There is one new leaflet in this mix. The total number of leaflets dropped is unknown.

IZD002Arabicf.jpg (24251 bytes)    IZD002EFB.jpg (20141 bytes)

IZD002 (Arabic and English Translation)

IZD002 is identical to IZD-002a dropped on March 21. It depicts a radio tower in the center and small portable radios to the left and right. The text is:

Information Radio 1800-2300 daily. 756 KHZ AM, 693 KHZ AM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW, 100.4 MHZ FM.

The same message appears on both front and back.

Coalition warplanes flew more than 600 bombing missions over Iraq on 27 March. Kurdish fighters crossed over two miles into Iraqi government-controlled territory in the first such advance since the start of the war. The United States Army Fourth Infantry Division began airlifting members to Kuwait. The Pentagon reported 100,000 U.S. and U.K. troops in Iraq. That number will double to 200,000 in April. The U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division advanced into Iraq. Tomahawk cruise missiles trailing carbon fiber wires destroyed Iraqi electrical transmissions.

The Coalition dropped a mix of five leaflets. The code numbers are IZD002c, IZD-036a, IZD7507, IZD7509 and IZD7519. All five of the leaflets are new. The total number of leaflets dropped is unknown.

IZD002cENG.jpg (16887 bytes)


IZD-002c depicts a radio tower in the center and small portable radios to the left and right. The text is:

Information Radio - 756 KHZ AM – 1800-1200, 690 KHZ AM – 1800-2300, 9715 KHZ SW – 24 hours a day, 11292 KHZ SW – 1800 -1200, 100.4 MHZ FM – 1800-2300

The same message appears on both front and back.

IZD036aF.jpg (21226 bytes)

IZD036aB.jpg (30769 bytes)


IZD-036a depicts parachutists falling from the sky and the patch and tab of the 82nd Airborne Division. The text is:

For your safety do not interfere with Coalition forces. Coalition Special Operations Forces are here to end the oppressive rule of Saddam’s regime and liberate the people of Iraq.

The back depicts two photographs of armed Special Forces. The text is:

Do not interfere with Coalition forces. Coalition Special Operations Forces do not wish to harm or injure non-combatants.

Leaflets disseminated by Task Force 20

Task Force 20 was a multi-service Special Forces unit consisting of elite troops assigned the task of finding high-value targets like weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein, his family, and leading members of his government. Their original mission was to "seize, destroy, render safe, capture, or recover weapons of mass destruction,"

As the war in Iraqi continued, some of their missions included the capture of Palestinian guerrilla leader Mohammed Abbas in Baghdad in mid-April 2003 and the Iraqi scientists Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash (Mrs. Anthrax) and Rihab Rashid Taha (Dr. Germ). It fought a bloody battle behind Iraqi lines to prevent a catastrophic release of floodwaters from the Haditha Dam, and took part in the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch from a hospital in Nasiriyah. The unit was involved in the 22 July 2003 raid in Mosul in which Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay were killed.

TF20 is believed to consist of about 750-1,500 troops, drawn from several established units under the U.S. Special Operations Command such as the Army's Delta Force, Rangers, the Navy SEALs, and other units. In addition, British and Australian Special Forces are assigned to the unit. The TF20 leaflets are appear to be coded in the 7500 series. Some of the leaflets and hand-outs known to have been prepared for Task Force 20 by April, 2003, are as follows: IZD-7502, IZD-7505, IZD-7507, IZD-7509, IZD-7519, IZD-7529, IZG-7500, IZG-7501, IZG-7510, IZG-7525, IZG-7527, IZG-7532, and IZG-7539.

IZG7500.jpg (33832 bytes)


This leaflet instructs Iraqi soldiers how to act when they have been taken prisoner. The front depicts a surrendering soldier, and Iraqi civilians. The back is all text:

You have been captured by Coalition forces. Our dispute is with Saddam and his regime, not the Iraqi soldier. We will not detain you. Cease resistance, return to your home and live in peace. If you again bear arms against Coalition forces you will face the consequences.

IZD7501.jpg (60677 bytes)


This leaflet is IZD not IZG, so may not be in the correct place. However the difference between the two is simply the size of the leaflet so in this case I am going to assume it was made in two versions. The front depicts a smiling Iraqi soldier surrendering with safe conduct pass in hand, along with his comrades and their equipment throw away behind them on the ground. The back is all text.

Leaflet IZD-7502

This Task Force 20 leaflet is a bastardized version of several leaflets used earlier in the war. For instance, leaflet IZD022, 022a and 023. The front of the leaflet has a photograph of an Iraqi woman near a tank covered with a “prohibited sign” and below it a happy family meal that we also see on IZD-022a and IZD-023. The text on the front is:

The criminals of the Saddam war ran away, and they are coalition forces targets

To maintain your safety, do the following:

- Stay at your home
- Do not become a refugee
- Do not make mistakes that will make you a target
- Stay far from the streets
- Do not drive

It is for your safety.

The back of the leaflet is the same as IZD-022 and depicts Coalition armor and an attack helicopter at the left and a soldier at the right. The text is:

Do not interfere with Coalition Forces. The Coalition wishes no harm upon the people of Iraq.

IZD7505.jpg (175738 bytes)


This leaflet depicts three pictures: a burning Iraqi tank; an American aircraft; and Coalition aircraft in the sky. The text is:

Iraqi soldiers: Your position has been targeted for destruction by Coalition forces. Leave this area and you will not be harmed. Non-compliance will result in death.

The back is all text:

Iraqi soldiers: Don’t die needlessly. Abandon your equipment and depart this position. If encountered by Coalition soldiers; drop your weapon and raise your hands over your head. Follow all instructions and you won’t be harmed.

IZD7507F.jpg (16729 bytes)

IZD7507B.jpg (11377 bytes)


IZD7507 depicts five photographs of wanted Iraqi fugitives, headed by Saddam Hussein. Text over the photographs is:

Coalition forces are offering rewards for information leading to the detention of top supporters of Saddam’s terror.

The back is all text:

Report any information you have on the supporters including leaders of the Ba’ath party, the SSO, the IIS, and senior military leaders.

The Al-Amn al-Khas (Special Security Organization) referred to as the SSO, is responsible for command and control oversight of the concealment operations of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. There are an estimated 5,000 members in this organization mostly from Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. The International Society of Iraqi Scientists (ISS) Is a global scientific organization, established to create and maintain communications among Iraqi scientists and promote research and collaborations among various organizations. 

IZD7509F.jpg (13944 bytes)

IZD7509B.jpg (12974 bytes)


IZD7509 depicts Saddam Hussein on the front. The text is:

Our fight is against Saddam and his regime - not the Iraqi people. We wish only to liberate the people of Iraq from Saddam’s tyranny.

The back depicts a happy Iraqi family walking together and the text:

For your safety, return to your homes and live in peace.

IZD7519F.jpg (17372 bytes)

IZD7519B.jpg (20041 bytes)


IZD7519 depicts an armed Coalition soldier at a checkpoint. Text over the photograph is:

Coalition forces have established checkpoints to prevent Saddam’s war criminals from escaping.

The back is all text:

All vehicles and personnel who attempt to evade checkpoints will be subject to detention and/or temporary seizure of vehicles and property. If you do not support Saddam, you have nothing to fear. For your safety, please cooperate with Coalition forces.

IZG7525.jpg (57114 bytes)


One of the most interesting of the Task Force 20 leaflets is IZG-7527. The handout simply shows a pair of eyes looking at the viewer. The text is:

No matter where you run, no matter where you hide, Coalition Special Operations Forces will find you and bring you to justice.

IZD7529.jpg (28690 bytes)


Leaflet 7529 depicts a sniper with a silenced rifle and the text:

Coalition forces will end the Saddam Fedayeen. There is nowhere to hide.

The back depicts Coalition helicopters, artillery and armor. The text is:

Coalition forces will not tolerate those who cause terror and commit crimes against the innocent people of Iraq. Coalition forces will not stop until Saddam’s evil thugs are defeated.

IZD7542.jpg (70364 bytes)


We do not know for sure if 7542 was used by Task Force 20, but we do know that when the original data came out they had used leaflets as high as 7539. I suspect that this leaflet was used after the original information was obtained. The image on the front is odd and you have to think about it a bit before you get it. It seems to show a mine or improvised explosive device on a lone highway in Iraq, the image magnified above as if by a satellite. The text is:

Stay away from land mines!

Maintain the safety of your family. There are land mines alongside the road. They are very precise and sensitive to movement. They are capable of destroying vehicles. Some land mines have wires that can set off the mine by touch alone.

8107FIraq.jpg (54299 bytes)

8107BIraq.jpg (60659 bytes)


The Coalition targeted the Fedayeen again in leaflet IDZ-8107. One side shows a bomb exploding and a member of the Fedayeen who has been captured by the Coalition forces. The text is:

We will destroy the Fedayeen, they are our target.

The other side depicts a peaceful Iraqi family and the text:

Leave your weapons and go back to your homes now.

TF207539.jpg (52637 bytes)


Handout 7539 depicts a Coalition soldier carrying another soldier on his back. The text is:

Coalition Forces respect and abide by the Geneva Convention. We will not tolerate mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilians.

One wonders if this leaflet might have been used during the Jessica Lynch rescue.

Australian Leaflets

About 2000 members of the Australian military initially took part in the Iraqi Freedom campaign. There were also Australian PSYOP units attached to TF20. One 16-man Australian unit made up of linguists is the Army’s 2 Intelligence Company PSYOP Platoon. A member of the unit stated during a briefing that when the Coalition troops entered Baghdad they were the only PSYOP troops on the ground with the advancing forces. During the same briefing they stated that they had produced and delivered 8 Million leaflets during that part of the conflict. The Australians are mentioned in All Roads Lead to Baghdad:  

Although psychological operations was still a new field for the Australians, the four-man team’s more advanced printing equipment could produce leaflets faster that the American’s equipment could.

The Australians printed a number of leaflets that were coded IZL. Those known to have been distributed by April, 2003, are IZL-006, IZL-007, IZL-11, IZL-13, IZL-14, IZL-16a, and at least one that bears no code. Those in my possession are poorly cut and trimmed, but it may be that they are all printers’ waste. Additional leaflets surfaced in 2007 and have been added to this section.

IZL003Aus.jpg (54593 bytes)

Leaflet IZL-003

Leaflet IZL-003 depicts an Iraqi family. You will find elsewhere in this article that the photograph was first used by the Americans, and later disapproved when it was discovered that it was not a genuine Iraqi family. It is interesting to note that in the case of this leaflet we know exactly who disseminated it because it is clearly a file copy stamped by the Australian Special Air Service, Squadron Q.

Although little is written about the movement of the Special Air Service and all of their operations are secret, it is known that during the first weeks of Operation Iraqi Freedom the Australian Defense Force deployed a 100-strong squadron of SAS soldiers who conducted covert operations inside Iraq. They played a pivotal role in the first strike on Iraq, launching a secret raid on Scud missile sites in western Iraq a day before US President George Bush declared the invasion had begun.

It is impossible to tell how many SAS are in Iraq at any time, but it is known that in February 2007 Australia had a total of about 900 troops in Iraq. It was ranked seventh among coalition troop contributors to Iraq at that time. Australia planned to send another 450 troops to guard Japanese engineers in southern Iraq and to help train Iraqi security forces.

IZL004.jpg (32707 bytes)

Leaflet IZL-004

Leaflet IZL-004 depicts a group of soldiers walking on a street in Iraq. The leaflet has been stamped by the Australian Special Air Service, Squadron Q. The text is:

Do not interfere with the coalition forces.

The coalition forces do not wish to harm the honest Iraqi citizen.

IZL006.jpg (143627 bytes)


Australian handout IZL-006 depicts Coalition armor, helicopters, and vehicles on the front. The text is:

Coalition forces are here. Coalition forces will outnumber you. Leave now. You cannot win.

The back depicts a dead Iraqi at top and a destroyed building at bottom. Text on the back is:

Leave this area now. You do not have the capability to fight Coalition forces. If you resist, you will die.

Leaflet IZL-007 depicts Coalition vehicles and Helicopters on the front and the text:


Coalition forces will destroy resistance. RETURN HOME. You cannot win.

The back of the leaflet depicts happy children and Iraqi families. The text is:

How long has it been since you have seen your family? Return to your families now or risk death.

IZL008F.jpg (55645 bytes)

IZL008B.jpg (60006 bytes)


Leaflet IZL-008 depicts portraits of Saddam Hussein at left and right on the front and dead Iraqi soldiers at left and right on the back. Text on the front is:

Do Not fight for this Tyrant
Do Not Trust the Smiles of Saddam the Liar.
Honor your Family, Return to Your Home

The text on the back is:

If you fight on the side of Saddam
You Will Die
Return to your homes and stay alive.

Leaflet IZL-009 depicts Saddam on the front and an Iraqi child. The text is:

Your children suffer while Saddam spends money on houses, cars and parties. Saddam does not care for your children.

The back of the leaflet depicts four pictures of happy children. The text is:

Don’t let your children continue to suffer. Support the Coalition effort to bring you a better life.

IZL011F.jpg (50763 bytes)

IZL011.jpg (53092 bytes)


Leaflet IZL-011 depicts three photographs of Saddam with his generals and inner circle. The text is:

Do not trust them. Saddam and his government are telling you and your government lies.

The back depicts photographs of injured Iraqis at the left, and new cars and houses tied with a bow at the right. The text is:

Leaving you and your family to starve. Saddam wastes your money to buy the loyalty of government officials with gifts of cars and houses.

One wonders if the Iraqi people would recognize the significance of a bow to indicate a gift.

IZL012.jpg (25456 bytes)

Leaflet IZL-012

Leaflet IZL-012 depicts troops in full Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP). Once again the leaflet has been stamped by the Australian Special Air Service, Squadron Q. The text on the leaflet is:


This area is contaminated. For your safety, leave to the appointed safe area and do not return until you are told to do so.

IZL013F.jpg (56671 bytes)

IZL013B.jpg (60796 bytes)


Leaflet IZL-013 depicts a father holding his injured child at left, and Saddam at right. The text is:

Saddam is a coward. Saddam wants you to die. He will use you and your family as human shields while he hides behind his palace walls.

The back of the leaflet depicts happy Iraqi children at left and right. Text in the center is:

Do not give your life for Saddam. Do not continue to endure his evil deeds. The Coalition is here to help you and your family.

IZL014.jpg (104865 bytes)


Australian leaflet IZL-014 depicts Saddam and a wounded Iraqi child. The text is:

Do not trust Saddam. Saddam is a ruthless tyrant. Do not believe Saddam’s lies.

The back depicts two photographs of happy Iraqi families and the text:

Coalition forces are here to help you. Co-operate with the Coalition.

IZL016Aus.jpg (36327 bytes)

Leaflet IZL016

Leaflet IZL016 depicts the might of the Coalition forces. Three scenes show Allied tanks, trucks and helicopters. The text is:

The uprising is the cause of death. Surrender to the Coalition Forces

IZL016a.jpg (35547 bytes)

Leaflet IZL-016a

Leaflet IZL-016a depicts a hand wearing a very obvious wedding band, a dead Iraqi on the ground, and a dead Iraqi being carried away by other Iraqis. The text alludes to the terrible beating that the Iraqi Army took during Operation Desert Storm. The reminder might have been needed because Saddam Hussein had told his people for a decade that Iraq had won the war and pointed out that no Americans had ever marched through Baghdad. The text is:

Your brothers were destroyed when they fought the Coalition in 1991.

Do not repeat the mistake.

IZL031Iraq.jpg (168408 bytes)

Leaflet IZL-031

Leaflet IZL-031 depicts a single Australian soldier down on one knee holding a rifle. The back depicts a single AK-47 rifle with a “prohibited” symbol over it. The text is:

Coalition forces cannot distinguish between civilians and military forces when they are carrying weapons. Get rid of your weapons. If you are carrying a weapon you will be a target for death.

IZL0032F.jpg (53296 bytes)

IZL032B.jpg (17534 bytes)


Leaflet IZL-032 depicts seated Iraqi government figures with a red "X" over them on the front. The back has an Iraqi flag and hooded Iraqi fighters. The text on the front is:

The Ba'ath Party threatens you and threatens your families in order to fight and to protect their positions.

The time has come for the People of Iraq to cooperate with Coalition Forces to expose Ba'ath Party Cadre.

The text on the back is:

Since the year 1995 Saddam's Fedayeen has walked on the corpses of the innocent Iraqi people for control of Iraq.

The time has come for the Iraqi people to destroy these cruel-hearted criminals.

IZL045.jpg (20228 bytes)


This Australian leaflet turned up in 2016. The Australian leaflets are fairly rare so even though the photograph is not perfect I feel we should add it. The front of the leaflet bears four photographs, three depicting Coalition soldiers interacting with Iraqis. It seems to be a consolidation leaflet. The text is:

Now only, the people were able to unify Iraq as a peaceful country

The back is all text:

Iraqis need to work side by side to build a better Iraq

UncodedAusIF.jpg (28109 bytes)

Uncoded Australian Leaflet

The uncoded Australian leaflet above depicts small symbols representing death, missiles, biologicals, radiation and chemicals at the top and the bottom, each with a line through the image indicating “prohibited. The text in the center of the leaflet is:

The coalition forces are here to put a stop to the threat of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. To protect your safety, remain in your houses with your families.

IZL081.jpg (24435 bytes)

Leaflet IZL-081

Australian leaflet IZL-081 depicts over a dozen armaments, shells, grenades, mines and other explosives and the text:


You should not pick up or play with unexploded mines or weaponry which is on the ground.

These warning leaflets to children and adults are almost always dropped in the consolidation and government-building aspect at the end of a war, and the fact that the code number is so high indicates that it was probably dropped during the late occupation period.

The Coalition ordered a 4-6 day "pause" by ground forces due to a major sandstorm that made movement almost impossible. At the time it was reported by the various news channels that the Coalition had attacked with just a week’s worth of supplies and halted to resupply advance elements with food, ammunition and fuel. I was actually called by a major news channel at the time and asked to comment. I told them that it was impossible to say if the halt was planned or not without reading the operation order (OPORD). The news people got annoyed and told me “But we have put aside four minutes for the interview.” They would rather have incorrect information than no information. Meanwhile, the Iraqis watched CNN too and decided that they need not move because the Americans had stopped to rest. Since the Coalition knew exactly where the Iraqis were, they sent in waves of B-52 and B-1 bombers and assorted other aircraft with precision-guided bombs. The Republican Guard was pounded from 25 to 27 March. It was the beginning of the end of all Iraqi organized resistance.

Next Page