SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

Note: The Paris gallery, Chargee d'action artistique et culturelle, asked to show some of the images in this article to their exhibition. In September 2023, The History Channel requested the use of information and images in this article for a program about Psychological Operations used in Operation Just Cause, Panama. They are interested in including some of these images and videos in their documentary.  

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A psychological operations specialist mans a M249 SAW machine
gun mounted atop a HMMWV, fitted with a loudspeaker system

I am no expert on electronics, machinery, volume or sound. My expertise is really in Propaganda leaflets. However, over the past 40 years I have written well over a hundred articles on psychological warfare and I mention loudspeakers in many of them. The human voice is very powerful and personal, and if a well-written and culturally-correct message is spoken by a person with the proper diction, pronunciation and accent, it can be very powerful. In this article we will not go into any great detail on loud speaker specifications, although we could. The PSYOP manuals are full of illustrations and wiring diagrams. Instead, we will tell the reader about the many wars and operations that the loudspeakers took part in. We will mention the more exciting ones and point out where they did well and where they failed. I have a hundred stories to choose from. I shall endeavor to select the most interesting ones.

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Special Forces Recruiting Poster

Psychological Operations Soldiers use a variety of media such as traditional print, unmanned aerial broadcasts, social media posts, and television to disseminate messages to foreign populations and enemy forces. Their careful analysis of the media environment determines the best platform to deliver precision messages designed to change behavior of the target audience. PSYOP Soldiers often use loudspeakers in tactical environments to provide immediate messaging in support of Special Forces elements.

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A Soldier in the Psychological Operations Specialist Course attaches a loudspeaker on top of a HUMVEE, at Forward Operating Base Freedom, Camp MacKall, N.C.

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A Psychological Operations soldier rides on top of a HUMVEE fitted with loudspeakers and a M249 SAW machine gun.

The Army field Manual Loudspeaker Operations, FM 3-05.302 dated October 2005 discusses the uses of loudspeakers in depth. It says in part:

Loudspeaker operations are an extension of face-to-face communication and can have an immediate impact on a Target Audience (TA). During combat operations, loudspeakers are the most effective PSYOP medium in high-intensity conflict or civil disorder environments. They can provide immediate and direct contact with a TA. As a result, tactical PSYOP rely heavily upon loudspeaker operations in high-intensity conflict or civil disorder environments.

Loudspeakers can move rapidly…transmit speeches, music, or sound effects to the audience. Tapes, minidisks, and CDs are preferred when conducting loudspeaker operations, because of their superior audio quality. Loudspeakers are commonly mounted on wheeled vehicles or carried in a rucksack; however, they may also be placed on other vehicles such as armored personnel carriers (APCs), watercraft, or rotary-wing aircraft. Loudspeakers can broadcast to enemy forces that have been cut off, urging them to surrender or to cease resistance. Loudspeakers are often used to issue instructions to persons in fortified positions and locations. They are also used for deception operations to broadcast sounds of vehicles or other equipment.

The advantages of employing loudspeakers should be considered during mission planning, such as flexibility, mobility, the exploitation of target, the range of transmission, the effectiveness with an illiterate audience, the ability to pinpoint targets, and immediate feedback to the broadcaster.

Climatic conditions and enemy forces are the most common limiting factors to consider when planning loudspeaker operations. Other limitations include vulnerability to hostile fire, the loss or distortion of messages over time, and environmental conditions such as wind, hills, high humidity and moisture, vegetation and structures.

Close coordination by the loudspeaker team with personnel of the supported unit and other supporting elements is essential. Commanders within audible range of the broadcasts must be informed about loudspeaker operations being conducted in their Area of operation. Commanders must make sure troops are briefed on the opponent’s possible reaction to the broadcast, which may include enemy soldiers attempting to surrender.

To achieve maximum effect in the loudspeaker broadcast, PSYOP personnel should observe certain rules governing speech delivery. They should make sure that their translators: speak loudly, but do not shout; speak deliberately and take time for message delivery: maintain constant voice volume with an even rate of delivery; never slur or drop words; avoid a sing song delivery; sound out every syllable of each word; sound the final consonant of each word; think if each word as it is spoken; and most important, speak into the microphone.

The United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917. American propaganda relied heavily on the American press, considered second only to the British at the time. Although most of the combatants among the Allies and the enemy "Central Powers" practiced propaganda of one type or another, the main protagonists were the British, the United States, France and Germany. The moving-coil principle commonly used today in loudspeakers was patented in 1924 by Chester W. Rice and Edward W. Kellogg. Earlier loudspeakers existed but they were mostly ineffective.

Field Manual 33-1, Psychological Operations, July, 1987, give a brief overview of the American campaign and points out that loudspeakers were a minor part of the propaganda campaign:

American military PSYOP centered on leaflet production, since radio did not exist as a means of mass communication and loudspeakers were still primitive.

Loudspeaker mounted on tank

Since the U.S. apparently did not use loudspeakers much in WWI we will start this article with WWII. Jonathan B. Keiser and Mark C. Engen wrote a 2006 thesis entitled Adapting the Vehicle Mounted Tactical Loudspeaker System to Today’s Operational Environment for the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. The introduce loudspeakers in WWII:

During World War II, loudspeakers were initially mounted on Army wheeled vehicles. However, wheeled vehicles lacked the cross-country capability required for evolving armored warfare, so loudspeakers were adapted to be mounted on “half-tracks” to enable the speaker teams to keep up with the fast pace of tanks during battle. As loudspeaker operations became more effective against the enemy, PSYOP vehicles soon became magnets for enemy direct and indirect fire. The loudspeakers were once again adapted to be mounted on light tanks, providing the speaker teams the armor protection required for the operational environment of armored battle.


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Loudspeakers were often mounted on jeeps

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WWII loudspeaker truck


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British soldier uses loudspeaker to broadcast surrender appeal in Burma

Some Indian troops who escaped the Japanese were formed by British Force 136 in late 1943 into five platoons called the Indian Field Broadcasting Units (IFBU). They were assigned the task of propaganda patrols and raising the morale of civilians while attacking the Japanese with loudspeakers and small 2-inch by 3-inch leaflets fired from 2-inch mortars.

The loudspeakers played Japanese music and gave reports of Japanese defeats, laced with exhortations to desert. Force 136 was the cover name for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and operated in South-East Asia from 1941 to 1945. Curiously, the current British 15 (UK) PSYOP Group has adopted as an insignia the stag's head first worn by the IFBU. According to their website:

The deer's antlers symbolize both the combat support function of PSYOPS and the antennae associated with a major means of dissemination of psychological warfare messages.


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A Psychological Warfare Division soldier holds a loudspeaker
in the window of a factory to broadcast a surrender appeal

British researcher Lee Richards reported on the British use of loudspeakers at Cassino by political/psychological warfare field units of the British Army. He said in part:

At the beginning of 1944 several more field units were created including the 815th Political Warfare Forward Units. The 815th was an entirely self-contained, wholly military mobile unit. Its sub-units were designed to be capable of independent action for a limited period. It was composed of 17 officers, some of which were parachute trained, and 54 other ranks. It was organized with a mobile headquarters and three Reconnaissance (or forward) Sections. It had its own radio communications and motorcycle dispatch riders for maintaining contact between the mobile headquarters and the Reconnaissance sections.

The recce sections, which could advance up 30 or 40 miles, were intended for the interrogation of captured German troops and could operate loudspeaker equipment for broadcasting purposes. The HQ Wing included typesetting facilities and printing presses for the production of leaflets. The 815th was sent to taly but the personnel and its equipment were soon dispersed amongst other psychological warfare units being operated by the pre-existing Psychological Warfare Branch.

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This halftrack, with huge speaker, was driven into French forests near the frontline from where it broadcast pre-recorded audio to give the impression that a massive army was gathering in the area

One officer of the 815th did take part in a loudspeaker broadcast during the last battle of Cassino in mid-May 1944. The Public Address truck was parked up in the Cassino cemetery between two houses for cover. Ten loudspeakers were then installed over one mile away in a ruined house in Cassino town. The preparation took several days and the four sets of cables running to the loudspeakers were being continually cut by enemy shell fire. On the evening of 17 May, the officer in command was instructed to broadcast the message “If you wish to give up you most come over to us immediately, as long as it is light, if you wait till dark we will not be able to tell if you are surrendering or trying to break out, and will have to shoot at you”. The next day a longer message was repeatedly broadcast and 9 German parachutists, who had already been cut off, did surrender to the PA truck.


Uncovering the speakers on a sonic half-track for the sonic deception unit.

One of the most famous uses of loudspeakers was the deception plan to make the Germans believe that allied armored forces were concentrated in one area when they were many miles away preparing to attack. The Ghost Army was a United States Army tactical deception unit during WWII officially known as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. The 1100-man unit was given a unique mission within the Allied Army: to impersonate other Allied Army units to deceive the enemy. From a few months after D-Day, when they landed in France, until the end of the war, they put on a used sound trucks, inflatable tanks, and fake radio transmissions to fool the enemy. They staged more than 20 battlefield deceptions, often operating remarkably close to the front lines.

The 3132 Signal Service Company Special handled sonic deception. Aided by engineers from Bell Laboratories, a team from the 3132 went to Ft. Knox to record sounds of armored and infantry units onto a series of sound effects records that they brought to Europe. For each deception, sounds could be mixed to match the scenario they wanted the enemy to believe. This program was recorded on state-of-the-art wire recorders (the predecessor to the tape recorder), and then played back with powerful amplifiers and speakers mounted on halftracks. These sounds were audible 15 miles (24 km) away.

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Loudspeaker equipped tank patrols the street

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A U.S. Army sergeant urges German troops to surrender from a sound truck of the Psychological Warfare Division of the Allied Expeditionary Force behind a farmhouse near Balue in the St. Malo area of Brittany. Thousands of German soldiers surrendered to Allied forces on all fronts after listening to these broadcasts.

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A US Army loudspeaker car broadcasts a message to the town's people in the main square of Flamanville in the province of Manche, France in 1944.

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French Resistance circa 1944: Members of the resistance group, the French Forces of
the Interior, on the streets of Reims, playing the Marseillaise through a loudspeaker car.

Western Europe

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Loudspeaker equipped tank in Germany

Arthur T. Hadley has appeared in several newspaper articles over the years. His first appearance was in Stars and Stripes, 15 April 1945:

1LT Hadley disappeared a week ago, or so his commander thought. When he reappeared, his Commanding Officer found that Hadley had taken 5,000 German prisoners, and Hadley found that his CO had filed AWOL charges. Hadley is assigned from the 9th Army to a Corps as a Psychological Warfare liaison officer. "I just interpreted my orders to mean that I should do as much psychological warfare as possible. Now you can't do much of that at Corps headquarters can you?"

So, he rigged up a tank with a loudspeaker and started "Hadley's War." Whenever the rolling tanks met some resistance, they would send Hadley's tank to the head of the column and his assistance, T-3 Walter Freund would start some smooth talking. Almost always, the German would come out from behind buildings in groups of two or three or ten and surrender. In the week of his AWOL, Hadley made more than 100 broadcasts of which, he estimated, only five did not net any prisoners. He talked whole towns into giving up, brought about the surrender of single snipers and when the week was over the 2Armored credited him with capturing more than 5,000 prisoners.

Arthur T. Hadley talks again about the first use of American loudspeaker tanks in an article entitled "Firing Potent Words from a Tank," The New York Times, 25 September 2006. He says in part:

As a young Army lieutenant, I had the job of making clear to the enemy, via loudspeaker or leaflet-filled artillery shells, that the accords would be honored. Over and over, from Normandy to the Elbe, in tanks and in foxholes, my sergeants and I would say in German, "You will be well handled according to the Geneva Conventions."

We soon discovered that reminding Germans that they would be treated according to the Geneva Conventions was one of the most effective ways to persuade them to surrender. We would first outline the German position; then describe the weight of artillery and air power that was about to fall on them; then end with assurances that those troops who surrendered would be well treated under the Geneva Conventions.

After the Battle of the Bulge, we mounted a loudspeaker on a light tank of the Second Armored Division. The jury-rigged tank worked remarkably well. The loudspeaker itself was mounted on the forward slope of the turret and partly covered by a metal casing that resisted light machine-gun fire. Some of the ammunition racks inside the tank were removed and the amplifiers for the loudspeaker fastened to the steel insides. The broadcasters were in the turret, the tank driver was forward in the driver’s compartment and the electrician who maintained the loudspeaker and electronic equipment occupied the assistant driver’s seat. In three weeks fighting beyond the Rhine in 1945, the Second Armored Division credited the talking tank for the surrender of 5,000 prisoners.

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Drawing of the British 2nd Army Amplifier Unit Political Warfare Section attacking the morale of Luftwaffe Gunners near Rheine Airfield. Tanks of the Scots Greys and soldiers of the Royal Scots Fusiliers provide 'cover' - 1945. This drawing was originally published as a double page spread in The Illustrated London News

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German POW broadcasts a surrender appeal

In WWII, M5A1 or M4A3 tanks were used for PSYWAR operations and they were nicknamed Talking Tanks, Baloney Wagons, Bullshit Wagons, or Big Boy Talkers. A loudspeaker was mounted on the front of the turret above the gun, a power unit was located in an armored box at the back of the turret and two amplifiers were located in the wet stowage ammo bins or inside the turret on either side of the gun. The co-driver (or commander in a M5A1) was replaced by an announcer who spoke German, the loader was replaced by a PSYWAR technician.

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Loudspeaker Jeep on the road to Hunxe

The Twelfth United States Army Group European Theater of Operations book Publicity and Psychological Warfare 1943-1945 has an entire section on Combat Loudspeakers. Some pertinent comments are:

The first loudspeaker systems were of low power, their military objectives were limited and the method of commitment often brought them to the scene of action too late to be of use. For these reasons, the loudspeakers were not in great demand during the Normandy campaign and the Battle of France. By the time the West Wall was reached the situation had changed. High-powered loudspeaker systems mounted on tanks traveled with the armored spearhead ready at the psychological moment of breakthrough to assist in and exploit the disintegration of the enemy. The combat loudspeakers were responsible for the capture of thousands of prisoners, the surrender of strong points and enemy rear guards, and the capitulation of many towns without a shot being fired by their garrisons.

Daniel Lerner talks about loudspeakers in Sykewar, George W. Stewart, NYC, NY, 1949. He says that the Americans sometimes called the use of the loudspeakers on tanks to bring in Germans “Hog Calling.” They would first use the loudspeaker to tell their own forces what they were going to broadcast:

Attention. Attention. All American soldiers. You will now hear a broadcast in the German language addressed to the enemy asking them to surrender. They will be given detailed instructions in how to surrender. When they do; do not shoot at them. Let them come over. But, be on guard for any tricks.

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Loudspeaker equipped halftracks

The loudspeakers would then be turned on the Germans. The message is very long so I will just quote a few lines:

This is not a propaganda broadcast because we realize you are indoctrinated with propaganda, day in and day out. This broadcast is meant to tell you facts, nothing but bare facts. Some of them you might already know, some of them might be new to you…Your Division Commander had a nervous breakdown…Do you know that Konigsberg was captured by the Russians? Do you know that The Allies are just a few kilometers away from Koln? All these statements are bare facts, but you might not know these facts…

He also lists the chief uses of loudspeakers in Western Europe near the end of the war.

To liquidate pockets of enemy troops.
To address surrender appeals to points of resistance.
To deliver surrender ultimatums to towns holding up the advance of tanks.
To do consolidation work in towns the Allies controlled.
To conduct white flag mission prior to attack.
To aid in static situations where there was evidence of low morale.
To obtain prisoners without the use of patrols.
To control civilians, displaced persons, and prisoners of war.

The WWII classified Confidential booklet Psychological Warfare Branch Combat Team prepared by the 5th Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company mentions the use of loudspeakers:

Mounted on tank or jeep, loudspeaker equipment is frequently used for occupational broadcasts to civilians. Its most importtant use is for the Combat Team, however, lies in frontline broadcasts to the enemy. This appeal is never more than 90 seconds in length and is usually prepared beforehand by script writers. Such a message might be an ultimatum prefaced by a medium-heavy artillery and concluding with a threat of a redoubled barrage if the ultimatum is not obeyed. Two horns are usually set up for surrender broadcasts. Under ideal weather and terrain conditions, voices can carry for two or three miles.


The M-5 Tank with Loudspeaker

The untitled 9-minute, 35 seconds film was prepared during WWII to tell the American troops about the use of a loudspeaker tank. It begins with officers discussing a mission against a German defensive position to take a town of 18,000 people. They are told German prisoners of the 329th Infantry Regiment have said their unit, dug in behind a stream, had a low morale. They decide to try and get the loudspeaker tank close to the German headquarters in a mill, and in the picture above we see them preparing to leave on the mission. A mine clearing team goes ahead to clear the way and the tank advances. The unit is somewhere near Neiderlieppe, Germany 25 April 1945. The film ends with the M-5 tank in position and a German-speaking American soldier broadcasting a surrender message to the Germans. The film seems to have been produced or copied at the Army Pictorial Center in Long Island City, New York. Curiously when I was younger, I lived just a few blocks away from the building.

The 12th Army Group talked about the use of loudspeakers on tanks from D-Day to VE Day. Some of the comments were:


During the advance of the 2nd Armored Division, the combat loudspeaker mounted on an M5 tank, made an average of 20 broadcasts a day. The tank came to be considered not just as an oddity to be used on special occasions, but as an integral part of every attack. After the tanks were deployed, the infantry held their fire while the personnel in the tank gave a talk to the enemy troops. If this talk was unsuccessful the attack was started but was halted before the mopping up phases to make the final broadcast.

Leaflet shells were also fired from the assault guns to lessen the time between the arrival at a town and the presence of the leaflet. The tank was used successfully against large towns. The commanders of the large towns of Badpyrmont and Blomberg surrendered their sword personally to the tank commander and guaranteed that the soldiers in the town would not fire a shot. Counting the garrisons and hospitals of towns, over five thousand prisoners of war were taken. However, though the successes were more spectacular in the large towns, the place where the tank really proved its worth was in the fighting at the roadblocks, and the cleaning up of stubborn pockets. The fact that from 10 to 30 bazooka firing Germans surrendered at roadblock after roadblock, assisted in making the advance more rapid and less costly.

These missions could not have been accomplished with a soft vehicle, as the tank was under fire during the broadcasts and speed was essential. On One occasion during the breaking out of the Teutoburger Wald, an infantry platoon was pinned down by enemy automatic fire. The tank, having swung around the flank, made a broadcast. The enemy ceased fire, and the platoon, hastily rising from the ground, accepted their surrender. At the town of Hildesheim, the tank, after clearing approximately 200 prisoners from the outskirts, made a broadcast to the foreign workers to remove the explosive charges from under the bridge. On being told that this was done, the tank proceeded into the town proper, where it induced 50 more German soldiers to surrender. However, the lack of support, and the presence of heavy machine gun fire caused the tank to withdraw. The next day the tank returned with a company of infantry and a company of light tanks and assisted in clearing the town without a shot being fired.

The report of operations of the 12th Group said about tanks and loudspeakers in general:

The combat loudspeakers were responsible for the capture of thousands of prisoners, the surrender of strong points and roadblocks of enemy rear guards, and the capitulation of many towns without a shot being fired by their garrisons.

At the time of the St. Lo breakthrough, the loudspeaker teams could not keep up with the armored spearheads and many pockets had to be cleaned up the hard way. It should be remembered that only a tracked vehicle can move across the country where there are fences, ditches, brush, and vineyards. Even the most intrepid crew are unable to stay with the attacking force unless they are riding a tank. This then was the answer: a combat loudspeaker mounted on a tank. Results exceeded expectations. Various armored divisions of First, Third, and Ninth Armies made every effort to secure a tank mounted combat loudspeaker for each combat command, that is a minimum of 3 loudspeakers per armored division.

The use of loudspeakers in tanks during combined infantry tank operations should not be overlooked. Many times, tanks so equipped might inform supporting infantry units of their peril or intention - either in code or clear - in such fashion and with such speed that the enemy could not move quickly enough to counter it.

The Second Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company

Unit Organization

The Second Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company was organized on 29 December 1943 at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. It was the first propaganda company to reach England, the first to land on the French Coast. And the first to bring in prisoners during the Normandy Campaign. Preliminary estimates of the company's accomplishments show that its members printed more than 10,000,000 tactical leaflets and produced more than 100 different leaflets in German, Polish, Russian, and French; distributed over 25,000,000 leaflets by shell and bomb; caried out several hundred combat and rear area and consolidation loudspeaker missions; edited dozens of  editions for newspapers for German soldiers and civilians; and from Cherbourg, Rennes, Lorient, and Luxembourg broadcast radio programs to the people of Europe. Although the name sounds like the company specialized in radio, the chart above shows that it was involved in every phase of psychological warfare to include Intelligence, loudspeakers, the printing, preparing, and delivering leaflet shells to the artillery, and of course, radio. Toward the end of March 1944, after months of hard training the unit consisted of 143 enlisted men and 23 officers. On 1 April, the company sailed for England. On 6 April, the company disembarked. Once in combat the loudspeakers proved their worth:

There was activity almost every day in the loudspeaker field, but the use of the company equipment was hindered by its low power of 25 watts. That made it always necessary to place the speakers within 200 yards of the enemy lines, and on several occasions the enemy was less than 100 and once only 50 yards away. Even supporting infantry units were hesitant about exposing our crews to this danger and on some occasions would not permit a mission to be carried out despite the willingness of our men.

Loudspeakers in Action

In the Saint Lo sector, when on 15 July one of the company units made a broadcast for the 30th Infantry Division, which resulted in the surrender of 18 German paratroopers, a fine tribute was paid by a hard-bitten infantry soldier who originally had scoffed at the equipment as it was brought up to the front lines. When he saw the crew go out in front of the forward lines and set up the speaker less than 50 yards from the enemy, with small arms all the while peppering the vehicle, and then saw the number of prisoners that responded to the appeal by surrendering, he commented: "I guess I was wrong. Why the hell don't you guys bring that thing up here all the time?"

Since the British unit had a 250-watt output, there was no similar drawback to its employment. On 26 June, the unit succeeded in convincing the Colonel of a field artillery unit to surrender himself and the 600 members of his command, and at the same time a nearby German field hospital containing approximately 1000 men also surrendered. On 27 June, the strongly fortified arsenal at Cherbourg, which included one German general, 600 enlisted men and 200 Russian civilians surrendered to the same unit after hearing a 15-minute ultimatum declaration.

The Eastern Front

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Soviet T-34 tank equipped with powerful loudspeakers on each side.

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Russian soldiers carry a snow-covered field sled with loudspeaker
equipment to broadcast propaganda programs to German soldiers.

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A Russian soldier sets up a field loudspeaker to broadcast propaganda
to German soldiers somewhere in Russia, on April 21, 1942. (AP Photo)

At the siege of Stalingrad in 1942, it is reported that the besieged Soviets rolled giant loudspeakers to their front lines and played Argentinean tangos to their German attackers to keep them on edge through the long winter nights.

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The Germans call for Soviet Surrender

The Germans replied to the Soviet loudspeaker broadcasts with their own. Buchbender and Schuh mention the German loudspeakers in Die Waffe die auf die Seele Zielt, (The Weapon that aims at the Soul). The caption for the loudspeaker action is:

The calls begin. How does the enemy react? The first Red Army men arise!

The Germans

Enemy use: Author Leo J. Margolin says in Paper Bullets (Frozen Press, New York, 1946):

In the briskness of the winter air on 1939-1940, the French soldiers’ will to fight evaporated like his breath. The Germans asked, "Where are the British troops?" German loudspeakers constantly repeated that message that The British troops were not in the Maginot Line and that they were instead back in Paris with French women.

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German loudspeaker use on the Eastern Front
The Weapon that aims at the Soul - Psychological Warfare 1939-1945

A German PSYOP troop broadcasts to the Soviets along the Eastern Front. A Soviet prisoner seems unhappy standing next to the German. I assume he is about to broadcast a surrender message to his own people.

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In the picture above a German propaganda officer auditions several willing Soviet prisoners-of-war that have volunteered to make loudspeaker messages to their former comrades.

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Hello Tommy! 

I normally would not add a propaganda leaflet to a loudspeaker article but the text of the German leaflet caught my eye. The text is on English on one side, in French on the other. The leaflet was apparently aimed at the British and Canadians in Western Europe about February 1945. The "EK" code represents "Englander Kanadier." I wondered about the French text but then I realized a good deal of the Canadian Army was French-Canadian. The opening lines of the leaflet are:

Hello Tommy! 

Say boys, what has bitten your commanders? Your loudspeakers have been telling us for days, we should give up fighting you and join you against the Bolshies…


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Soldiers set up loudspeaker in Iwo Jima to broadcast surrender appeals to the Japanese

Discussing the U.S Navy’s propaganda outpost on Saipan, Lieutenant Robert Morris, the Navy officer on Admiral Nimitz’s staff in charge of the entire project said in part:

The OWI was all over the place. It had a large office in Honolulu…printing presses, great supplies of precious paper, loudspeakers, public address systems and various other field devices…In the first days of 1945, I devoted my energies toward setting up a working unit on Saipan. We had two language officers, a yeoman striker and three gunner’s mates. The OWI at the time had about six technicians operating its Saipan radio transmitter. With the establishment of our advanced unit, the staff was more than doubled, including a printer and three assistants.

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The OWI PV-1 "Polly" Aircraft

A PV-1 aircraft with a special loud speaker system providing audible speech from 6,000 feet altitude was available for day or night harassment of Japanese troops if atmospheric condition were right. The loudspeakers were located just aft of the rear exit.

Four PV-1s were built, but only one was sent to the Pacific. It had a Navy crew of three officers; a pilot, co-pilot and a propaganda officer to handle the sound gear. In early embarrassing tests the loudspeakers failed from 2,000 feet and later blew a fuse. The aircraft was finally sent to the Marshall Islands. On 15 February 1945, Polly made its initial 15-minute broadcast over Wotje Atoll at an altitude of 4,500 feet. The aircraft played “My Blue Heaven” and “Red River Valley” and broadcast a “hopelessness” message that had been recorded in Hawaii by a Japanese prisoner-of-war. It took heavy fire and lost an engine. About the middle of April, Polly left the Marshall Islands and deployed to Okinawa. Immediately after the Okinawa campaign Polly was replaced by four PB4Y2s Privateers, the Navy version of the Army B-24 Liberator

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Loudspeaker Truck

A few days after the Japanese surrender the new loudspeaker aircraft flew over Tokyo and played the song, “I Surrender Dear.”

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U.S. Marines set up a loudspeaker on a pole

During the battle for Okinawa, The U.S. Propaganda newspaper, The U.S. Army Campaigns of WWII – Ryukyus said in part:

The fighting had been devastating, but it might have been worse had it not been for the work of the Tenth Army's psychological warfare units before and during the invasion. Between 25 March and 17 April carrier planes from the supporting Fifth Fleet dropped some five million leaflets on the islands, as well as copies of the psychological warfare office's newspaper, the Ryukyu Shuho, which attracted considerable attention among enemy soldiers and civilians alike. Other propaganda tools-such as tank-mounted amplifiers, aircraft with loudspeakers, and remotely controlled radios parachuted behind enemy lines-contributed to the psychological operations effort by underlining the harsh conditions the defenders were enduring, disparaging Japanese chances for success, and promising humane treatment for those who offered no resistance to the approaching Americans.

Elliot Harris mentions the use of loudspeaker tanks against the Japanese in The “Un-American” Weapon, Psychological Warfare.

Loudspeakers, mounted on tanks, were rolled into action. They had radio-telephone communication that could be used between the different tanks comprising a tank team and also could be employed to communicate back to headquarters. American-Japanese soldiers, whose American accents had painstakingly been deleted from their voices via special Army public-speaking classes, sat ready and waiting at various headquarter posts…A voice, seemingly coming from all directions at once, would say in perfect Japanese, something like: “Attention, Japanese troops, attention! This is the American tank commander calling. I am going to destroy all resistance in this area. Gunfire will close the cave mouths. You are commanded to cease firing and assemble in front of the native burial places at the American left flank, your right flank.”

As the loudspeaker blared, the pattern often would be one Japanese soldier, then another, and then more and more would come to the assembly point indicated.

A Japanese soldier surrenders to an American Loudspeaker Vehicle
The classified military booklet 1945 Progress of the War in the Middle Pacific

The LIFE magazine of 9 July 1945 mentioned the use of loudspeakers on the Island of Guam against Japanese forces in an article titled “Leaflets Dropped on the Home Islands Attack Nippon's Militarist Caste.” It said in part:

On Guam which has been in U.S. hands since August 1944, isolated groups of Japanese Officers and men had been refusing to give up. After a year of hiding in the jungle, a Japanese officer had become a Guam legend. Now he stood in the clearing, ready to surrender to the Americans. When Colonel Howard Stent, USMC, arrived in his jeep, the Japanese officer snapped his men to attention. "You are now prisoners of war," he said. "This is no disgrace. It is a mistake to think of it as such." The 35 men turned toward their Emperor in Tokyo and bowed, eyes closed. Then they went off to the prisoner stockade.

This was the biggest single haul of Jap prisoners since Guam was secured last August. Their surrender was a significant success for Colonel Stent and his psychological-warfare men. With sound truck and leaflets they had been on the trail of the officer since September, trying to get him to surrender. Not until April did they get any hint of results. Then a Japanese soldier, who gave himself up, revealed that he had first asked the officer's permission to surrender. "Go ahead," the officer answered. "I'm thinking of it myself."

The victory over the stubborn officer came after a war of nerves which is proving more successful in routing out the Japanese on Guam than the most adroit patrolling. At first the American sound trucks used Japanese-speaking Americans and Nisei, whose strange voices and accents brought meager results. After one Japanese prisoner volunteered to speak to his comrades in the jungle, surrenders came more frequently. Other prisoners-of-war were used. Willing to help, they suggested useful changes in the surrender appeals. Today the favorite themes addressed to the Japanese are: “Jungle life is so difficult. What is the use of dying there when you can surrender and save your life for Japan?” and “Your family and friends are worrying about you. Give up now and live to rebuild Japan for them.”


Artist Dick Zayac of the 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company depicts a loudspeaker mission in Korea in 1953

I thought I would start this section off with some humor. Paul M. A. Linebarger says about loudspeakers in Psychological Warfare, Second Edition, 1954:

The temper of the U.S. forces in Korea in 1951 was demonstrated by a Reserve sergeant who scarcely knew he was in the Reserves until he was on a boat bound for Pusan. He was a practical man, anxious to get home, but willing to do his share in this war if he had to. He was given the assignment of testing the voice plane of U.S. headquarters at Taegu. The loudspeaker was not working quite right, and he was instructed to test the plane at 500, 1,000 and 1,500 feet.

The plane flew low over U.S. headquarters. The roar of the engines almost deafened everyone within the building, yet even above the roar of the engines there could be heard the bone-chilling hum of the silent loudspeaker—an immense magnification of the noise one hears from a radio set which is turned on without being tuned to a station. Everyone expected the sergeant to say, "This is the EUSAK voice plane testing; one-ah, two-ah, three-ah!" Instead, the immense voice came through clearly, through brick, and plaster, and wood, through air and trees. It must have travelled four miles. The gigantic voice of the sergeant seemed to roar over half of South Korea as he said, "Why—don't—you—imperialist—sons o' bitches—go—back—to—Wall-Street—where—you—belong?"

It was said that fifty colonels grabbed for their phones simultaneously, but the purely American gimmick to the whole story lay in the fact that the sergeant was not punished. No damage was done. The Americans thought their enemies were funny or silly. We had shown that we were not afraid of Communist ideas. Several South Koreans told the author that they regarded the Americans as inscrutable people indeed.

United States Army Captain Jeremy S. Mushtare wrote about loudspeakers in the Korean War in his 2005 Naval Post Graduate school thesis PSYOP in Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations: Preparing for Korean Reunification. He found that America was unprepared at the start of the war. We will quote Mushtare first, and then go on to show how the United States solved this problem in the rest of this section.

During the first several months of the Korean War, tactical level loudspeaker operations were only being conducted on an experimental basis. It was noted that, “Although widely and effectively used by many forces on both sides in World War II, there has been little equipment available in Korea, and what has been available has been used with little effect, because of failure to provide adequate personnel for its operation and adequate organizational arrangements for its proper use.” Only two vehicle-mounted loudspeakers and two aerial-mounted loudspeakers were conducting operations by January 1951. The two aerial mounted loudspeakers were operated on C-47 planes and had only been made available in the October-November 1950 time-frame. Not until early 1951 did the Army conduct appropriate aerial loudspeaker tests to determine exactly how audible such broadcasts were from different altitudes. The results indicated that at altitudes of over fifteen-hundred feet the messages were unintelligible. Unfortunately, however, these loudspeaker equipped aircraft had already been operating for months at high altitudes.

Colonel Alfred H. Paddock Jr. says in his 1982 book, U.S. Army Special Warfare – it’s origins, about loudspeakers:

When the North Koreans attacked South Korea in June 1950, the Tactical Information Detachment-organized at Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1947 was the only operational psychological warfare troop unit in the U.S. Army. Sent to Korea in the fall of 1950, it was reorganized as the 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet (L&L) Company and served as the 8th Army's tactical propaganda unit throughout the conflict. Tactical propaganda, sometimes called combat propaganda, was directed at a specific audience in the forward battle areas and in support of localized operations. Mobile loudspeakers mounted on vehicles and aircraft became a primary means of conducting tactical propaganda in Korea.

One noteworthy example was the use of a loudspeaker mounted on a C-47 aircraft that in 1951 circled over 1,800 Chinese Communist troops and induced them to surrender.

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Loudspeaker teams were equipped with a Public Address Set AN/UIQ-1 or a Beachmaster loudspeaker, a Recorder-Reproducer RD74/U (in lieu of a RD 31C/U), a Multimeter TS-352/U, a spool dispenser for a reel of WD-1 wire, a quarter-ton four-by-four truck (Jeep), a quarter-ton trailer, a Generator PE-75, a small wall or Arctic “hexagon” tent and stove (tent or Coleman), and whatever else they could scrounge. (Photos courtesy Veritas magazine)

A Tank from the Film "Psychological Warfare in Alaska."

This film titled PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE IN ALASKA was found in the National Archives and depicts a PSYWAR unit in Alaska in the 1950s. It is short, about ten minutes, but does a good job of explaining leaflets, leaflet artillery and bombs, and loudspeakers both on the ground and in the air. We believe the unit depicted is the U.S. 6th Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group.

The loudspeaker section starts with a loudspeaker being deployed in the Alaskan snow. We are told the only way to be sure the generator will start is to have warmed it up for 30 minutes previously. The loudspeaker horn in placed where it has a good open area to broadcast, but partially protected so it can be recovered quickly and safety when the enemy opens fire on it. The range of the loudspeaker at that time was 1.25-miles. The film next shows a loudspeaker mounted on a tank to be used where jeeps cannot go. We are told that the tank protects the Psywar crew and may have a psychological effect on the enemy. Since the loudspeaker revolves with the turret. It is possible to broadcast in any direction. The generator is mounted on the back of the tank, covered with armor plate to protect it from small arms fire. The speaker is inside the tank by the driver and replaces the machine gunner or tank commander. The loudspeaker is mounted on the forward machine gun rack on the turret.

The film ends with a quote from then President Eisenhower, "Without doubt, psychological warfare has proven its right to a place of dignity in our military arsenal."

Charles H. Briscoe tells us about the Loudspeaker Platoons  in “Volunteering for Combat: Loudspeaker Psywar in Korea,”

The Loudspeaker (L/S) Platoon consisted of four officers and twenty-nine enlisted personnel, although the usual officer complement was three. The platoon officers spent most of their time getting support—administrative, logistics, and maintenance—for the eleven L/S teams spread across the East-West front. Each of the L/S platoon’s three sections had three to four L/S teams assigned based on tactical employment in the corps sectors. L/S teams were supposed to be “tightly knit three-man units” consisting of a Team Chief, Assistant Team Chief, and a local civilian employee (Korean or Chinese, depending on the audience) who served as the translator-announcer-linguist. The L/S team mission was to:

1. Persuade isolated groups of enemy personnel in tactically untenable positions to surrender by means of live or recorded, semi-fixed ground, patrol and/or mobile tank-mounted loudspeaker broadcasts;

2. Beam broadcasts, musical, and feature programs by means of platoon’s primary psychological warfare medium to enemy front line troops in static tactical situations;

3. Beam warnings and make loudspeaker announcements to civilians in enemy-held territory, in coordination with friendly elements;

4. Broadcast news, make announcements, and participate in other consolidation psychological warfare operations under the direction of Psychological Warfare and/or Civil Affairs/Military Government agencies, as directed.


An Introduction to Psychological Warfare

Since the United States had not kept up with the concept of psychological warfare since the end of WWII, this small booklet was issued to the troops about 1950 to explain the background of the specialty, the types and duties of units, and the concept of themes such as symbols, emotive words, sociological information, negative propaganda, and dozens more. The book mentions the concept of the Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company and its loudspeakers:

This is the unit which the combat soldier can call on for direct support. With its 90 enlisted men and 8 officers this unit conducts tactical propaganda operations of a field army, the word "tactical" implying direct assistance to the combat soldier during action. The composition of this company is as follows:

Company Headquarters.
Publication Platoon. Responsible for printing leaflets, newsletters, booklets, and whatever else is needed.
Propaganda Platoon. Operates the Intelligence Section, intercepts enemy radio, interrogates enemy prisoners.
Loudspeaker Platoon. Composed on nine teams, each with a Jeep-mounter loudspeaker. The function of the loudspeaker team is:

1. Control cut-off enemy units susceptible to surrender appeals.
2. Control civilians.

3. Broadcast tactical PSYWAR to enemy units.

These loudspeaker teams are usually attached to lower echelons for long periods of time. Here they may of necessity become dependent on these units for intelligence, maintenance, repair, etc. This dependence requires that the commanding officer of the unit to which they are attached know how to take full advantage of their operations and capabilities. The success of a loudspeaker mission depends on cooperation from supporting front line units. A mission could be snafued by one eager "trigger happy" GI who shoots a surrendering soldier, thereby discouraging others who had considered surrendering.

Psychological Warfare - the War against the Enemy Mind

This 31-page booklet was prepared by the Allied Forces Far East/Eighth Army Truth Information and Education Section at the end of the Korean War to explain how PSYWAR works and what it is. A brief explanation of PSYWAR and Loudspeakers says:

Psychological warfare has become one of the "magic" phrases of present-day conversation. Its name suggests intrigue; it is linked with the mysterious. But PSYWAR, as it is commonly called, is not complicated or difficult to understand. It is merely waging war against the enemy with words and ideas rather than steel. Its users define PSYWAR as "the planned use of propaganda and informational measures. directed at the enemy, and designed to influence his opinions, attitudes and actions in such a way as to support the accomplishment of our national objectives and our military mission." This is an imposing statement at first glance, but just remember this, PSYWAR, like your M1 rifle or the 155mm Howitzer, is a weapon of war, and is designed to hurt the enemy and to help

PSYWAR was quick to get into the fight, and in a matter of months after the outbreak of hostilities, twenty-one loudspeaker teams were in operation with the front-line units. Using powerful ground loudspeakers, these teams roamed the combat lines, directing surrender and "special situation" appeals to the enemy. The effectiveness of this loudspeaker operation is perhaps best evidenced by the harsh and oftentimes severe punishments which the communists dealt out to soldiers caught listening to our loudspeaker broadcasts. These loudspeaker teams, because of their flexibility, were often used effectively in support of artillery as well as infantry operations. For example, loudspeaker teams, coordinated with the artillery and broadcasting from infantry positions would direct appeals to specific enemy groups informing them of the exact time that our "time on target" artillery fire would fall on them. They were advised to stay in their bunkers during the period indicated; to venture out would mean death. In this way such enemy groups learned that their positions were completely "zeroed in" and that our artillery fire could be directed against their positions at will. PSYWAR, exploiting the known enemy vulnerability of fear of our artillery superiority, supported the combat mission by lowering the morale of the enemy.


In 2022, about 10 years after I wrote this article, Dr. Jared M. Tracy, Deputy Command Historian for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command wrote a book titled VICTORY THROUGH INFLUENCE, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, that discussed the history of Psychological Operations in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. The book mentions the Loudspeakers and I have cut down a 31-page chapter to 400 words and edited for brevity:

The Eight Army created its own PSYWAR section under G3 (Operations) with support from GHQ, Far East Command. The PSYWAR Division was created on 24 January 1951, seven months after the war began. It consisted of Projects, Media, Intelligence, and Administrative Branches, and the 1st L&L Company. Regarding ground leaflet dissemination, the Division loaded leaflets into 105mm artillery shells and transferred them to designated artillery units. In June 1951, the 1st L&L Company assumed that mission and the 314th Ordnance Group took over that mission in January 1952. For aerial operations, small aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang and T-6 Mosquito based at Taegu dropped leaflet for the Eighth Army. They soon had two C-47 aircraft, the Voice and the Speaker reserved for PSYWAR missions, including loudspeaker broadcasts.

The 1st L&L Company evolved out of the Tactical Information Detachment (TID) at Ft. Riley, Kansas. It was redesignated the 1st L&L Company on 4 November 1950. It was authorized three platoons, 107 officers and soldiers, three printing presses, and 12 loudspeakers systems. By 8 January 1951 it was fully organized with a Loudspeaker Platoon consisting of three Loudspeaker Sections, each with an officer and about seven soldiers. In April 1951, three Loudspeaker Teams mounted loudspeakers on an M39 armored utility vehicle, an M4 medium tank and a light tank M24. Eighth Army's PSYWAR Division controlled the 1st L&L Company. The Company's Propaganda Platoon melded with the Divisions Projects Branch to write leaflets, while the Publication Platoon printed them. The Loudspeaker Platoon supported Eighth Army's Corps and Division.

In September 1952, the Loudspeaker teams made 565 broadcasts, in October 700, in November 698, and in December 706. In March 1953, the Loudspeaker teams made 1,051 broadcasts, in April 1,308, in May 1,353, in June 1020, but this was partly because other loudspeakers not controlled by the 1st L&L Company made 1082 broadcasts. Between 12 January 1951 and 27 July 1953, the Loudspeaker Platoon reported having made 14,756 broadcasts, to which 3,688 prisoners taken.

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Loudspeaker Jeep in Korea

Keiser and Engen say about Korea:

In the fall of 1950, the 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company arrived in theater and served as the 8th Army’s tactical psychological warfare unit until the end of the war in 1952. This unit relied on vehicle and aircraft mounted loudspeakers to get its verbal messages across. Loudspeakers were used to complement the leaflet campaign which was the major medium of dissemination during the conflict.

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South Korean Army Loudspeaker Jeep

My notes show that the Army’s small Technical Information Detachment (TID) of four officers and twenty enlisted was notified that it was to be changed to a Loudspeaker and leaflet Company on 1 September 1950. It was put on alert for Korea and sent from Ft. Riley, Kansas, to Seattle, and then on to Korea, arriving on 4 November 1950. The unit was reorganized in January 1951 as the First Loudspeaker and Leaflet (L&L) Company with a complement of 8 officers, ninety-nine enlisted men, 3 printing presses, 12 loudspeakers, and 27 vehicles, and assigned to a newly created Psychological Warfare Division (PWD) operating within G-3 of the Eighth Army in Korea. The 1st L&L Company became operational April 1951 and 9 loudspeaker teams were dispatched to divisions in the field.

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Company Loudspeaker Team broadcasting surrender appeals during the Korean War

The Company loudspeaker teams made 14,756 broadcasts to the enemy. They claim 3,688 prisoners came over as a direct result of their broadcasts.

The Loudspeaker Platoon of the 1st L&L Company was organized on 8 January 1951. Four days after the first three teams were organized they were ready for action. The first team was taken to I Corps Headquarters on 12 January 1951. It was found that very few officers had any knowledge of the use of loudspeakers; consequently the platoon leader recommended that the first team be used for controlling refugees and for familiarization to all divisions in the corps. United Nations advances presented vast targets for Psychological Warfare and the divisions who had the teams at the time of these advances immediately claimed the teams. By 7 April 1951, nine teams were in the field consisting of four officers and 27 enlisted men. Forty-eight combat missions were performed in May 1951. That month, 2,943 enemy soldiers surrendered as a direct result of loud-speaker broadcasts. By June, 11 teams were in action. Two Republic of Korea loudspeaker teams were prepared for duty against guerrillas in South Korea.

The Command Report of the 2nd Infantry Division from 1 September 1951 to 30 September 1951 adds:

During the first week in September, a loudspeaker team assigned to the 9th Infantry Regiment broadcast surrender appeals to the 15th Regiment, 6th North Korean Army Division. On 4 September, a broadcast was made which influenced nine enemy troops to surrender to the UN Forces.

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C47 equipped with loudspeaker

The C47 “Dakota” equipped with a loudspeaker was first tested during the Korean War at 8,000 and 10,000 feet. It was discovered that at those heights it was impossible to hear the message on the ground. The best results were at about 1,500 feet but that put the crew at risk. A compromise was reached, and the missions were generally flown from 2,000 to 4,400 feet.

Insignia of the 6167th Air Base Group - B Flight
"The Psywarriors"

NOTE: The 3 photographs below were sent to me by Military Historian Mike Sumrell of Fayetteville, NC who stated that they are all copyrighted, and no reader has his permission to copy the photographs or use them in any way.


The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota
Unidentified 6167th pilot in the cockpit of a C-47 while at Leopard Base on the island of
Paengnyong-do, 125 miles behind enemy lines - 2 June 1952

At one point, the Air Force sought to control U.S. Propaganda. They felt that it was their aircraft that dropped the leaflets and sent the loudspeaker messages to the enemy, so why shouldn't they be the main proponent. The Army later won that battle, but at the present, the Marines have opened their own psychological operations school and many Navy ships carry presses that can print leaflets to be dropped by naval aircraft at sea.

Wikipedia says about the 6167th:

Formed in October 1950 to operate flare aircraft, psychological operations, and behind-the-lines agent insertions and resupply drops during the war. Its designation served as a cover for its actual special operations activities. Its 6167th Operations Squadron was augmented by aircrews from the Clark AB, Philippines-based 581st Air Resupply and Communications Wing (581st ARCW), a cover designation for a special operations unit. Aircraft operated were the B-26 Invader, C-46 Commando, and C-47s

Captain Han of the Korean army and his "kicker."
They throw and "kick" leaflet bundles out of the aircraft - July 1952

Colonel Michael E. Hass, mentioned the 6167th Air Base Group in Apollo's Warriors: United States Air Force Special Operations during the Cold War, Air University Press, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 1977 (edited for brevity): 

Twenty-four years after the close of the Korean War, the U.S. Government finally declassified the Special Operations wartime activities of B Flight, 6167th Operations Squadron, Fifth Air Force. B Flight's PSYWAR operations were to Conduct missions assigned by the psychological warfare section of the 5th Air Force and the 8th Army encompassing leaflet drops and speaker missions.

The two Korean girls who did the broadcasting over the loudspeakers under the plane.
They flew at 7,500 feet and told the communists to surrender - 14 June 1952.

The use of female voices added insult to injury to the North Korean troops, who fear airpower above all other U.S. weapons encountered in combat.

B Flight's leaflet drops were made from 7,500 feet, a safer altitude than the much lower levels attempted earlier in the war. B flight eventually dropped its early attempts to use B-25s and C-47s for PSYWAR loudspeaker missions. Flown at 5,000 feet or lower, these flights took the same enemy ground-fire punishment meted out to all loudspeaker flights. B Flight eventually suspended loudspeaker missions with the cryptic note, "Due to battle damage and scarcity of speaker parts, this method of psychological warfare has been curtailed."


People magazine of 28 January 1953 tells us More about the Female Speakers 

Airman First Class Glenn L. Bloesch tells us in detail what it was like to work a PSYOP mission during the Korean War in 1952:

If the mission was to drop leaflets there would be two extra Koreans assigned to the aircraft; if a loudspeaker mission, then three Koreans were assigned (one to man the audio transmitter while the others spoke in different dialects).

Retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel Robert D. Childre flew leaflet drops and loudspeaker missions out of airbase K-16, (Seoul City), from January 1952 to Late May 1952.

The voice missions were usually made at night and lasted for up to four hours. The loudspeaker aircraft was rigged with belly mounted speakers and operated by Korean females. It required that he orbit low and slow in a race track pattern with 2-minute legs at reduced power to complete the messages. He would complete two orbits and then move to the next site if the speakers were still operating. It was one of his least desirable missions since it always drew lots of ground fire. He says that his electronics were usually shot out before the full mission could be completed.

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A Loudspeaker team broadcasts surrender appeals to North Korean and Chinese soldiers

The Eighth U.S. Army – Korea, Combat Propaganda Operations adds about loudspeaker operations:

“Plan Heartache,” launched in the middle of 1952, sought to lower morale and combat effectiveness by increasing the Chinese soldier’s anxiety over loved ones at home. Loudspeaker broadcasts featured “letters from mom” and music from home. The approach was systematic. First programs sought to build up a listening audience by playing news and music. Once the nostalgia had settled in the “good treatment” and “surrender so you can live for your families” themes were woven into the broadcasts.

People magazine of 28 January 1953 used the Photograph Above

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Korean War Loudspeaker

“Plan Harvest Moon” was designed to work on the nostalgia of the enemy troops. It ran from 5 October 1952 to 16 October 1952. During this period over seven hundred loudspeaker broadcasts were made totaling over 200 hours.

Stephen E. Pease mentions in the use of loudspeakers in his book Psywar - Psychological Warfare in Korea 1950-1953, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA, 1992:

Operation Slowdown was a leaflet-loudspeaker effort…involved a series of eleven tapes of nostalgic music with Korean narration broadcast from voice aircraft and from jeeps, combined with special leaflets. Something similar had been tried earlier in an exercise called Operation Harvest Moon. Its purpose was to make enemy soldiers homesick and lonely. The soldiers were encouraged to slow down and listen to the pleasant music…

The Chinese didn’t use their loudspeakers until the front lines stagnated in 1952. Then they broadcast music and long lectures about how this war was not a U.S. war. Some of the music was nostalgic, making the soldier think about home…

Edward Hanrahan mentioned enemy loudspeakers…I never heard the bugles, but I remember hearing loudspeakers playing music. I think the song was "When the Moon comes over the Mountain."

The Sea Services of the Korean War adds:

In Fall 1952, The static battle situation encouraged the use of psychological warfare. In attempting to influence the minds of their opponents and weaken morale, the Chinese depended upon loudspeakers to carry their propaganda barrage across No-Man's-Land. Enemy employment of this technique was especially heavy during October. To Marines, for example, Chinese directed pleas of "Go home and have peace," "Surrender, we treat POWs well," "Leave Korea," "Marines, come and get your buddies bodies," and the like, often to the accompaniment of music. On occasion, Chinese patrols left propaganda pamphlets behind them in the KMC sector. Infrequently, the enemy displayed signs along patrol routes urging Marines to surrender. Most of the Chinese psychological efforts were directed against the Korean Marines.

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Private First Class Wilson, Sergeant Lawrence O’Brien, and Yang Yunn broadcast to the
Chinese near Munye-ri. This loudspeaker team Sergeant was later awarded a Silver Star.

(Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

Mark R. Jacobson wrote a PhD dissertation titled Minds Then Hearts: U.S. Political and Psychological Warfare during the Korean War, Ohio State University, 2005. He said in regard to loudspeakers:

The use of loudspeaker broadcasts with women’s voices in the aerial broadcasts had an additional impact. As one Chinese soldier explained the reasons for his surrender in 1952;

“I heard a woman broadcasting in Chinese from one of your voice-planes. I thought: if the Americans can circle a slow plane over our positions with a female in it, then I am fighting on the losing side.”

A typical message avoided the political themes associated with strategic messages and simply offered a way out for the enemy soldier:

“Soon you will be committed to battle again to be sacrificed in the UN’s sea of fire. Think of the thousands and thousands of your comrades who have already died for nothing in this foreign land.”

According to one veteran of the 1st L&L, broadcasts of tigers and lions from the Tokyo Zoo “scared the hell out of both sides.” The teams particularly enjoyed telling the enemy that “your family is starving,” “the commissar is screwing your wife,” and “the guys back home are having a great time.”

The Akron Beacon Journal of 3 June 1951 published an article by Paul Leach titled "Thousands of Reds give up in PSYWAR." It said about loudspeakers:

Around a North Korean hill comes a single big plane. But instead of death from its open bomb bay comes a booming voice. "This is just a sample of what is to come. You have three choices. You can drop your weapons and run away. You can surrender and become honorable prisoners of war. Or you will be killed." One C-47 plane is reported to have talked more than 1,800 Communist troops into surrendering near Chunchon. In all, the Army says that nearly one third of the nearly 200,000 Communist Chinese and North Korean soldiers who have been taken prisoner were persuaded by psychological warfare. The Army is seriously considering some new methods, including the use of guided missiles equipped with broadcasting and loudspeaker equipment and carrying leaflets which could be dropped. General McClure also mentioned the possible use of remote-controlled airplanes with broadcasting equipment. He said the advantage of a missile or pilotless plane is that they spread information and propaganda which no edict can keep from reaching soldiers or civilians. General McClure has just returned from Korea where he went on several leaflet dropping or "Big Voice" plane missions. The population of the POW stockades is growing daily. The people there are well fed, deloused, and well treated. They are given unlimited postcards to be sent to their homes telling of their good treatment.

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Chinese “People’s Volunteer" bunker played funeral dirges to dishearten the American and South Korean troops

Enemy use: During the Korean War, the Chinese “People’s Volunteers” often played funeral dirges from their loudspeakers at night hoping to dishearten the American and South Korean troops. In one instance the Chinese played a particularly eerie version of the Hank Williams song, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” that fit well into the fog shrouded night-time battlefield.

Stanley Sandler discusses the Communist loudspeakers in Cease Resistance: It’s Good for You: A History of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations. He says:

The enemy's leaflets ranged from the professional to the pathetic, although they were usually superior to their loudspeaker messages.

Sandler mentions the North Korean use of loudspeakers and their unsophisticated messages:

You have expended all your left-over equipment from World War II. It will start costing you to continue. You should play it safe and stay inside. You are merely tools for capitalist gain.

In one case the Communists even used a sexy female voice that said:

Come on over and surrender. I will give you a good time.

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Loudspeaker jeep in Korea

Mark R. Jacobson mentions a Chinese loudspeaker message in his PhD thesis, Minds then Hearts: U.S. Political and Psychological Warfare during the Korean War, 2005, Ohio State University.

Hello my G.I. friends. Good morning. This is your regular morning broadcast courtesy of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. G.I. friends, this is the dawn of the ten-hundredth and twentieth day of the forgotten war; what your politician chose to call a police action, a minor affair, which has already caused you more casualties than your war of independence. G.I. friends, you want peace. We want peace. We too are young; we too have to leave our homes to fight on foreign soil. Why? Show your stubborn generals haggling at Panmunjom that you will no longer fight for a line on the map. Show them that you want peace just as we want peace. Lay down your arms and we will lay down ours.

Now we can achieve peace even though we are firing at each other. Now is the time to lay down your arms. Your big man, General Clark, and our big man should get together. How can we have peace when your planes and our planes bomb each other? The Chase National Bank had $2,700,000,000 and now has $5,400,000,000. This is an increase of 3 billion dollars. It is a shame to travel 5,000 miles to fight a war, which is not yours. We are spending money; the bigwigs are making it. There should be no more war. Then everyone could go to school and grow up to be an intelligent person.

This cartoon appeared in AFFE / 8A Troop Information Bulletin No. 1
It depicts the use of loudspeakers by the United Nations during the Korean War

Jacobson adds:

The Communists loathed the Psywar teams, probably due to their effectiveness; it was lost on the conventional U.S. soldiers that the Chinese offered a $10,000 bounty for any captured Psywar personnel and threatened to hang them as war criminals if caught.

One female loudspeaker broadcaster encouraged GI's to meet her "in no-man's land and get drunk and be happy" while another made a more sinister suggestion, "why don't you shoot your GI buddies." One of the rare instances of divisive propaganda targeted African-American soldiers and promised them “a blond, a Cadillac car, and to live like a big shot” if they defected.

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Some tanks in Korea were equipped with loudspeakers

Problems: The propagandist has to be very careful that his methods only influence the enemy, and not terrify friendly forces. During the Korean War one enterprising PSYOP specialist assigned to the 25th Infantry Division went to the Seoul Zoo where he recorded growling lions and tigers at feeding time. One evening when he was feeling bored, he played the tape at full volume. Not only did the Communist troops directly in front of the loudspeakers start to run toward their rear, but the South Korean troops along the friendly line took off running too. The innovative specialist soon found himself carrying a rifle and attached to the 45th Infantry Division.

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South Korean interpreter broadcasts a surrender appeal.

The PSYOP specialist also has to be sure that he has the confidence of his own soldiers. Sometimes they may feel that he is not working in their best interests. In the last stages of the Korean War the Chinese put a bounty of ten thousand dollars in gold for captured loudspeaker personnel and threatened to hang them if captured.

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In the above painting by 1st L&L artist PFC Richard Zayac, a loudspeaker team working forward of the front lines is attacked and their abandoned equipment has been overrun by Chinese forces.

Veritas, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2010

The loudspeaker teams also drew artillery fire and were attacked with small arms fire by Communist scouts about one-third of the time that they were out in front of friendly troops. The American infantry was sometimes unhappy about all the fireworks caused by the loudspeakers and cut the wires from the generators to the loudspeakers or filled the loudspeakers with snow.

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Doris Day

The American loudspeaker teams did have a secret weapon to get them out of a jam when their broadcasts stirred up a hornet’s nest. Charles H. Briscoe tells us about the weapon in “Volunteering for Combat: Loudspeaker Psywar in Korea,”

Veritas, volume 1, number 1.

For some reason, the Americans and Chinese loved listening to Doris Day. When our efforts had really stirred them up, resulting in artillery and mortar barrages and machine gun fire being directed at us, and in turn from the American lines, we quickly switched to Doris to quiet things down…Only Doris Day worked.


During the Korean War, a 1952 campaign called Operation Heartache was designed to lower morale and combat effectiveness by increasing the Chinese soldier’s anxiety over loved ones at home. The early programs built up a listening audience by playing news and music. Once the audience was captured, the broadcasts became very emotional with alleged letters from home and offers of good treatment and a safe return after the end of the war for those who surrendered. It is unknown how the messages affected the Chinese, but the sad messages worked on the South Korean soldiers who heard them. Allegedly, some broke down in tears over the loudspeaker broadcasts designed to induce nostalgia, thoughts of home, and worry about conditions at home. The “lesson learned” is to warn your own people when you are going to broadcast very emotional messages…or get them out of hearing range.

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Leaflet 8292

I decided to add this American propaganda leaflet used during the Korean War because it depicts loudspeakers. The front of the leaflet features leaflets dropping from aircraft and a loudspeaker broadcasting at the bottom right. The leaflet was printed by the Psychological Warfare Division of the U.S. Eighth Army G3 (Operations Section) on 1 June 1952. The text and image were provided by Republic of Korea Army Psywar troops. We translate the heading on the front and the comments on some of the 12 leaflets:


Come over! Come back!

One blooded descendants of Tan Goon

True news; Aggressors will decay; UN leaflets; news without Falsehoods; The Free World is stronger than slavery; Free Korea grows day by day; Come Over, come back; Justice will win at last; Aggressors are destroyed by the sea of fire: United Nation’s Forces of Justice will gain victory; Come to the Republic of Korea, the country of hope, freedom, and peace; and Freedom itself is our own power.

The back is all text:

Do not be deceived by the Communist’s falsehoods. The truth cannot be concealed.

You have your ears, but you cannot hear.

You have your eyes, but you cannot see.

You have you mouth, but you cannot speak.

You have no freedom but death, is it not a dog’s death to die for the Communists?

Slavery! Darkness! Death!

Note: The “Tan Goon” mentioned in the text above, (sometimes spelled Tangun or Dangun) was the first Emperor of Korea, the legendary founder of Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom.

North Korean Loudspeakers

We seldom get to hear about how the enemy uses its Psywar weapons. From this report it seems that the North Koreans in the early days of the war did not use loudspeakers in battle against the enemy as much as they used it to control the civilian and their own military population. The 1 February 1951 Technical Memorandum North Korean Propaganda to South Koreans (Civilian and Military) by Fred H. Barton for the Operations Research Office (ORO) talks about North Korean propaganda during the war. The memorandum is limited to the period covering the war from its start on 25 June 1950 to the second NK occupation of Seoul in the early days of January 1951. Some pertinent comments are:

The North Koreans used loudspeakers during the early days of the Korean War when they first attacked and quickly moved down the peninsula of Korea. Before the communist occupation of certain South Korean areas, the Rhee government maintained public address systems in certain South Korean towns. Some loudspeakers were operated by the ROK government for news broadcasting and others were operated by the ROK National Police to broadcast regulations and orders to the population. One such system was maintained by the USIS in the main square of Seoul.

The enemy reportedly did not use to any considerable extent, loudspeakers during military operations. There may not always have been enough loudspeakers available, or power generators handy. During the enemy’s first drive south, as well as after the UN Forces pushed north towards the Parallel, there were occasions when the use of loudspeakers by the enemy was evident.

Upon invading a South Korean town, the enemy found the loudspeaker a very desirable and effective means of conveying orders, information and especially propaganda to the population which, in many cases, had been deprived of radio, newspapers or any other news source. Immediately after the occupation of Seoul, the North Korean Forces rigged public address systems in the main streets and squares of the city and broadcast a constant stream of appeals, messages, patriotic speeches, war news and martial music. Armed vehicles with loudspeakers mounted on them cruised through the city streets broadcasting propaganda messages, slogans, police orders and military orders along with mandates from their new mayor, Lee Sung Yo, a South Korean trained and in NK and Soviet Russia and who assumed the position of president of the Interim Peoples City Government.


The U.S. Special Forces learns about PSYOP

The cover of this lesson depicts leaflet aircraft, leaflet balloons, a loudspeaker tank, leaflets, a leaflet bomb, and artillery shell.
They have the whole field covered.

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Vietnam loudspeaker team

Let us start with a description of Air Force loudspeaker operations at the start of the war from Vietnam War: Special Operation Forces and Warfare Training on U.S. Military Installations:

Air Force PSYWAR operations date to at least 1962 but were not consolidated until 1965 with the formation of the 5th Air Commando Squadron. Responsible for all PSYOPS in Corps Areas III and IV, the squadron supported Army PSYOPS by distributing propaganda leaflets and broadcasting messages to enemy troops and groups deemed susceptible to enemy influence. The 5th Air Commando Squadron was designated the 5th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) and placed under the 14th Special Operations Wing (SOW) in 1968, but their missions remained unchanged.

Air Force PSYOP crews were busy. In a 12-month period spanning the latter part of 1965 into 1966, the crews logged more than 16,600 hours in the air, over 4,000 hours of which included loudspeaker broadcasts. Over an 11-day period in January 1966 they dropped 130 million leaflets and broadcast 380 hours of tape. According to reports, the Air Force dropped over one billion leaflets over Vietnam in 1966 and broadcast hundreds of hours of propaganda. Air Force sources claim that the efforts led to the defection of more than 15,000 Viet Cong.

The PSYOP missions lasted up to 4 hours and were conducted in cooperation with United States Army Special Forces and Vietnamese Army Forces (ARVN). The ARVN and Army provided the propaganda leaflets and tapes which were flown over target areas by Air Force C-47 "Gooney Birds" and U-10 aircraft. Air Force PSYOPs leaflet drops continued in 1967 and 1968, but at a reduced rate. During one week in 1970 (15 - 22 April), a total of 109,988,000 leaflets were dropped.

Mervyn Roberts talks about the first use of aerial loudspeakers in Vietnam in his treatise United States Psychological Operations in Support of Counterinsurgency: Vietnam, 1960 to 1965, the University of North Texas:

During the summer and fall of 1963, U.S. PSYOP advisors and U.S. Air Force Air Commando aircraft increasingly supported ARVN operations. The major themes continued to be the Chieu Hoi program and surrender appeals. The first operational use of the aerial loudspeaker took place in June 1963. In an effort to remove noncombatants from the battlefield, Montagnard tribesmen in contested areas surrounding the Kon Brai outpost in Kontum Province were informed that after a certain date “anyone found in the area would be killed.” Tapes were made by tribe members and repeatedly broadcast over the area. Within five days, 2,400 Montagnards had come to the outpost for aid and protection. Soldiers found through testing that aerial loudspeakers were most effective at night, which also added a safety factor for the crews.

By 1965 the Americans were making innovative use of aerial loudspeakers. They were used to assist stranded refugees, assist in humanitarian actions, encourage surrender, spread national level messages, and harass the enemy.

The PSYOP Guide

The United States Military Assistance Command Vietnams' April 1968 PSYOP Guide serves as a handbook of information to assist users to accomplish Psychological Operations in the Republic of Vietnam. It sets forth broad concepts and specific "dos" and "don'ts" which comprise the guidelines for effective PSYOP. It says about loudspeaker operations:

The use of loudspeakers in the execution of PSYOP in support of military operations offers the opportunity to capitalize on enemy vulnerabilities in many unique ways. Recent increases in the numbers and types of loudspeaker systems available for use by PSYOP personnel make it imperative that all personnel understand the techniques involved in loud sneaker broadcasting and the capabilities and limitations inherent in such broadcasts.

The primary consideration to remember, whether using live broadcasts or taped messages, is that the audio message has no permanency. Unlike the printed leaflet, it cannot be tucked into a pocket to be studied at a more convenient time and place. The listener will often hear a brief portion of the total broadcast. For this reason, each broadcast must be as clear and complete as possible. Because of listening time factors, it must be consistent with other types of appeals and always reinforce, not contradict those appeals. The best themes are those that are adaptable to short messages. In all cases, the theme chosen must conform to current JUSPAO policy guidance. A theme that is counter to policy should never be used even though there is a reasonable expectation for success.

Since sound waves are projected by, as well as through the air, they are strongly affected by wind, weather, time of day, and intervening objects. Maximum advantage should be taken of natural elements if sound projection is to be successful over long distances. Bearing this in wind, you would select a hillside as a prime location, Then the sound could be projected either down the hill or across the valley. Sound also carries well over water; therefore, maximum use should be made of any available body of water such as a river or lake. If a strong wind is present, it is desirable to place the speakers up-wind from the target. If this is not possible, the speakers should be placed directly aero ss the prevailing wind direction so that the sound may be carried to the target by the wind. An adjustment of 25 meters per mile should be made for each ten knots of wind. The speaker site should be free of foliage and interfering objects for several hundred meters, if possible.

PFC Bobby E. May carries a loudspeaker system on a search and destroy mission with the 3rd Bde, 25th lnf Div. Psychological Operations teams use the speakers with Vietnamese interpreters when approaching a village.

A "Secret" Project CHECO (Contemporary Historical Evaluation of Combat Operations) report titled Psychological Operations by USAF/VNAF in South Vietnam was published on 18 September 1968. It is important to remember that the report speaks of things as they were at the time.

Aircraft with loudspeaker systems were given to the Vietnamese Air Force in 1964. They have supported psyops activities, since that time by means of leaflet drops and loudspeaker broadcasts. Due to limitations in the amount and quality of equipment, the VNAF has been able to support only about 10 percent of the overall in-country airborne PSYOP effort. The USAF has supported Psychological Operations, in South Vietnam and Laos with leaflet drops and loudspeaker broadcasts since 1965.

Airborne Psychological Operations have been performed by the VNAF and USAF in support of several programs. These have principally taken the form of leaflet drops and loudspeaker broadcasts which: (1) present general political propaganda; (2) warn of impending airstrikes. herbicide missions. and insecticide missions; (3) provide information on current events; (4) explain welfare and reimbursement programs; and the like. The goal of these efforts has been to improve the sympathy and support of the people for the government.

The B-52 strikes, in-country and out-country, have a major psychological effect upon enemy troops. Within four hours after B-52 missions, leaflet drops, and loudspeaker broadcasts are performed by psywar aircraft in the target and surrounding areas over which the bomb blast noise would have been clearly heard. Warnings are given of other strikes coming, and it is suggested that these strikes can be avoided by surrendering and rallying to the GVN.

The Ho Chi Minh Trail Campaign consists principally of leaflet and loudspeaker operations directed at way stations, staging and supply areas, and the routes and trails leading to these areas, which are in North Vietnam, the Laotian Panhandle, the Laos-RVN Border areas, and the Cambodian-RVN Border areas. Thematic content is designed to create fear, anxiety, and insecurity in the NVA soldiers on their way to South Vietnam, to cause defection, desertion, and a loss of effectiveness in the units.

The three types of aircraft used to support the in-country PSYOP effort, the U-10, 0-2B, and the C-47 are equipped with a loudspeaker system for either live or taped airborne broadcasts. The C-47 uses an Altec speaker system with 1,000-watt capacity. The U-10s have a 1,000-watt Ling-Tempco-Vaught University system. The 0-2Bs have an improved 1,800-watt speaker system which is the most powerful system in the inventory.

Specialist Five John Irwin is awarded an Air Medal

In 1967, John Irwin was sent to the 6th PSYOP Battalion, being formed at John F. Kennedy Center. This is the original 6th Battalion before the authorization of 4 Battalions and one PSYOP Group in Vietnam. In Vietnam, he was reassigned to the 246th PSYOP Company at Bien Hoa. While at Bien Hoa, he flew night loudspeaker missions in a C-47. He also did some helicopter loudspeaker missions in Phan Thiet. That was the only place he broadcast from helicopters.

I thought this might be a nice time to point out that the 246th PSYOP Company was very involved with playing propaganda messages over their loudspeakers. I have seen about a dozen such tapes but thought I would pick two to show the readers here:

Music-Buddhist Funeral

Mama! Where 's Daddy? Mama!

Don't ask for your Daddy anymore. It makes me suffer.

But I miss Daddy. Where is he now, Mama? Where is he? He went to work so long ago. I have not seen him home in so long. Mama, do you miss Daddy?

Oh! God! I tell you, never ask for your Daddy anymore.

But do you miss my Daddy? Toll me this, Mama.

Yes, Yes, I miss your Daddy very much.

You miss him, I do too. But why has my Daddy left home for so long? I'm sure that he doesn't miss me and you, He has already given us up.

Don't say that, probably your Daddy will be home soon.

Mama do not lie to me anymore. You told me many times that Daddy would be home, but he hasn’t returned. And Daddy also, like you, he lied to me too. He told me he would be home a few days later, but he wasn't.

Go away, my child and leave me alone.

(With tears in eyes) I don't want to go anywhere. (Then shouting) I don't want to go anywhere. (Then crying) Daddy! Daddy! Be home with me! Be home with Mama! Daddy! Daddy!

Eerie Noises

End of tape one.

Daddy, come home with me, with Mom, Daddy!

GHOSTLY VOICE: Who's there? Who calls me? Oh God! It is my beloved daughter, my wife. I am coming home to you darling. But what a shame, I've lost my body. I was dead, oh darling. Oh, my dear friends! I am now back here to let you know that I was dead. What the hell was that death of mine! It was meaningless, uncalled for and totally absurd. It is too late, too late for me to know about it now. Oh, my friends! You are still living. You shall have a day when you see your darlings again. Do you hear me?

Go home, my friends. Think it over! Make up your mind! Flee! Or else you shall be me; you shall have my tragic death! Go home before it is too late, too late! Go home, my friends!

Go home…Go home…home. How tragic is my fate!

End of tape two.


SP5 Irwin's C-47 [callsign Gabby] on the ramp at Nha Trang.
The front door is open, rear door removed for the loudspeaker system.

The USAF loudspeaker C47s [callsign GABBY] had an enlarged door to accommodate cargo, unlike the civilian or even WWII DC-3 versions.  The door opened to the front, and the rear half of the door frame was left empty as a large speaker system was bolted to the floor, aimed out the opening.

The C47 loudspeaker is mounted in the doorframe.
A second door was created forward to load and unload cargo and crew in the GABBY aircraft.

John told me about his loudspeaker operations:

When we got to Vietnam, each field team had a 45-pound loudspeaker system. Mine was mounted on a Special Forces rucksack. Battery power was a problem and we later learned to use the batteries from the standard Army PRC-25 radio, issued to all the military field units. It meant we could always get another battery. We jury rigged the system, learning which was the positive feed and where we needed to plug in the other wire. The PRC-25 radios had a multi- pronged connection that plugged in to power their radios. We had to figure out ourselves how to power the loudspeaker.

With a two-man PSYOP team, one being an officer, and the other being me, it is not difficult to figure out who carried the 45-pound backpack with the loudspeakers.

Someone found us a small and lightweight portable loudspeaker. Even though we always carried one or the other, we never used either of the 45-pound large systems or the smaller portable one in field trips. We had no tape recordings, no ability to connect to the speakers, no good power supply, and no local southern dialect interpreter (I spoke Northern Vietnamese). We did use the large unit on missions with trapped enemy units, which the psywar team delivered by helicopter and using a local unit interpreter for a live broadcast.

The Operational Report of Lessons Learned for the Quarterly Period ending 31 July 1968 of the 6th PSYOP Battalion mentions testing the man-pack loudspeaker:

Observation: The Field expedient 250 Watt loudspeaker system when properly mounted can be easily carried by one Individual and is audible in a range of 300 - 500 meters. The 250 watt loudspeaker, Jungle rucksack mounted, is a system which is easily carried by one individual and weighs less than 40 pounds. Its component parts are; loudspeaker, one cluster 250 watt, one amplifier audio, one Jungle rucksack frame, one BA 386/PRC-25, spare battery should always be carried with this unit, one microphone, one power cable. Mounting is accomplished by the following steps: loudspeakers are strapped to top of rucksack, amplifier minus airborne junction box is strapped to bottom of rucksack, BA 386/PRC-25 is strapped alongside or on top of amplifier. Jacks of power cable are connected to loudspeaker and amplifier, the two leads of power cable are plugged into the battery, the white lead into the hole marked TA 215V, the black into -A,-A2, place the spare BA 386/PRC-25 in between the horns, connect the microphone and the system is ready for broadcasting.

Test #1 - Conditions: weather, raining; speaker about 2 feet from the ground; terrain, flat ground surface. Results: the speaker was audible up to 260 meters; past 260 meters the clarity of the message sharply decreased‚ At a distance of 300 meters, the message could no longer be understood. Maximum effective range under above conditions:

260 meters weather, clear; speaker about 6 feet from the ground; terrain, from a ridge to a valley. The message was clear but started to weaken at 500 meters. At 540 meters the message was clear but weak. At 560 meters only portions of words could be understood. Maximum effective range under the above conditions:

Recommendations: This field expedient system creates a one-man portable system weighing less than 40 pounds with an effective range of approximately 500 meters under fairly good conditions. The system is accessible to all areas, audible, and should be extensively used in ground operations. During both tests it was found that the amplifier should not be turned above 2; if turned any higher the amplifier will be blown out.

Soldier equipped with an AN/UIQ-11 backpack loudspeaker

The 4th PSYOP Group report for April 1970 mentions the 6th PSYOP Battalion preparing a Loudspeaker booklet for the 25th Infantry Division:

In response to a request from the 25th Infantry Division, a “Bull-Horn Booklet” was developed by the 6th Battalion. The book consists of 24 printed messages, varying from rally appeals to warning to the civilian populace to avoid restricted areas. The purpose of the booklet is to provide a selection of announcements applicable in a number of instances. Thus a tactical unit may select an appropriate message for instant broadcast over a bull-horn or other sound amplification system.

Roberts mentions the problems with the airborne loudspeakers:

After-action reviews from the Korean War described the poor performance of aircraft-mounted loudspeaker systems. However, the lesson had apparently gone unresolved. Tests of the C-47-mounted system in Vietnam found that due to the Doppler Effect, the belly-mounted speakers kept changing pitch as the aircraft approached and departed, leaving no more than two or three intelligible words out of a complete sentence. As a consequence, these aircraft were relegated to leaflet drops while a technological fix was devised. The fix took two years and eventually required side-mounted loudspeakers.

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The use of loudspeakers began early on in the Vietnam War

Roberts also mentions the enemy defense against American and South Vietnamese loudspeakers:

Viet Cong propaganda teams typically consisted of four to five armed men who arrived in a hamlet between seven and nine in the evening. ..Typically, they distributed handbills and leaflets urging villagers to stop supporting the South Vietnamese government and the strategic hamlet program using threats and persuasion. The Viet Cong also attempted to ‘jam’ loudspeaker broadcasts by requiring villagers to beat on pots and pans in order to make the broadcast unintelligible…One can look at indirect indicators such as villagers’ behavior and enemy reactions to the messaging over time to make an estimate. By this measure, the attempts to ‘jam’ loudspeakers by banging pots indicate a fear the villagers would hear and believe the messages.

The Summary of Dong Nai Province Military Proselyting Operations During the Resistance War Against the Americans, 1954-1975 mentions loudspeaker operations by the Viet Cong:

Using many different methods, the different Party chapters propagandized and educated 60,800 families of enemy soldiers and 5,300 enemy soldiers and People's Self-Defense Forces. During protest demonstrations, our military proselyting organization conducted almost 3,000 loudspeaker operations aimed at 2,500 enemy outposts and distributed 205,000 leaflets in the English or Thai languages and 108,000 Vietnamese-language leaflets. The content of the loudspeaker broadcasts and the leaflets clearly explained that the American war of aggression was unjust and criminal and that our people's resistance war was just.

Keiser and Engen say about Vietnam:

There was little need for tank-mounted loudspeakers in Vietnam. The unconventional nature of the conflict along with technological advances to loudspeakers and microphones, making them lighter and more powerful, enabled PSYOP personnel to broadcast their message to the enemy without having to come within small arms range. Dismounted loudspeakers were used extensively as well as boat-mounted loudspeakers along the waterways, probably one of the earliest uses of waterborne PSYOP in U.S. military history.

Robert Chandler says in War of Ideas, The US Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1981:

One technique developed in 1967 [For the use of airborne loudspeakers], used 2,100-watt loudspeakers that could be heard in a two-mile radius from altitudes of 3,000 to 4,500 feet. This was important because early in the conflict airborne broadcasts from equipment developed during the Korean War were generally inaudible on the ground. The new system permitted thousands of hours of taped messages to be aired during the remainder of the war. Particular was the use of them at night against Communist troops in the jungle to try to wear down morale and persuade them to give up the fight.

We should also mention that by 1959 the USAF had developed a system called EARLYWORD. We read about it in Department of the Army PAM 525-7-2, The Art and Science of Psychological Operations: Case Studied of Military Operations, Part Two:

Its objective was enhancing the Allied tactical propaganda capability. The Viet Cong or NVA captive would speak into a standard military ground radio and the voice appeal would be picked up and broadcast on either live or delayed basis through the Earlyword’s 1800-watt speaker system as the aircraft circled the location of the enemy unit. With the introduction of Earlyword in 1969, it became possible for a Hoi Chanh (rallier) in Allied hands on the ground to speak directly to his former comrades within minutes after rallying. No single technique can assure effectiveness, but Earlyword at least significantly increased the timeliness of tactical PSYOP.

The Vietnam Archive Oral History Project Interview with pilot Captain John Hodgin mentioned the night missions where strange sounds were played from C-47 loudspeakers:

We had what was called a NO DOZE Mission. This was usually over places where the Viet Cong were coming in from the Ho Chi Minh Trail. It was over the troops, not the villages. We would go up somewhere around 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. at night over where we knew the Viet Cong troops were massed, and fly over their area all night with screams and funeral music, just to keep them awake. Screaming, babies, people, and in the background funeral music. If they ever shot at us, we would back off and then the gun ship with the Gatling guns would come in there and just wipe them out. We then go back and broadcast again. We would stay there all night for as long as you can fly, maybe eight hours with that music. It was loud inside the plane. We had earplugs we had to use. Of course, we had our headphones over the top of the earplugs. It was all Vietnamese I had no idea what they were saying. We did that at 3,000 feet, which kept a lot of the rifles from hitting us. Back during that time, the Viet Cong also had those .50 caliber machineguns which were the first things really that could reach an airplane and tear it up. We had a standing policy that if we got shot at with a .50 caliber, we left. You can see the machinegun tracers. When they are coming your way, it looks like they are going so slow with the tracers because they are coming straight at you. They would usually not reach you. Every now and then there would be a big white flare go "Phoom!" And go right on by you quick. You say, "Uh-oh that's one of those," and you would get out of that area.

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Hand held loudspeaker system used in the early years of the Vietnam War

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Sergeant Jack O'Neil with Armed Propaganda Team

In Volume I of the Department of Defense contracted the Final Report Psychological Operations Studies – Vietnam, Human Sciences Research Inc., 1971, Drs. Ernest F. and Edith M. Bairdain mention the value of loudspeakers during the Vietnam War.

In regard to the best means for disseminating the Allied message among the Viet Cong, members who rallied to the government stated that 99% saw propaganda leaflets, 100% heard airborne loudspeakers, 98% saw radio sets, 34% saw newspapers, 13% saw magazines, 9% heard ground loudspeakers, 7% read posters, 4% saw television sets and just 1% saw PSYOP novelty items. Of the enemy who saw the leaflets, 81% of the VC and 97% of the NVA actually read them. Of the enemy who heard the airborne loudspeakers, 89% of the VC and 98% of the NVA actually listened to the message. The authors point out that this demonstrates that leaflets, airborne loudspeakers, and radio are the best methods to reach Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army personnel.

Second Lieutenant Fred Young first commanded a loudspeaker and leaflet team in An Khe attached to the 1st Cavalry. He told me:

When my team arrived in An Khe, the Cavalry promptly assigned my team to the G5 (Civil Affairs). There was some tension when the G-5 personnel insisted that we use our loudspeakers to make announcements to local Vietnamese civilian workers who were helping to prepare the An Khe base and get it ready for the Cavalry personnel who had not yet arrived. My team was soon re-assigned to the G-3 and we began to be written into the combat operations and were soon making regular leaflet drops and conducting loudspeaker operations from C-47s in conjunction with the Chieu Hoi program to try to induce Viet Cong to surrender.

AN/AIQ-2 900-watt airborne loudspeaker system on a swivel mount

Since we mention the 1st Cavalry above, we should mention a loudspeaker appeal by PSYOP personnel working with the 1st Cavalry Division asking the Viet Cong to rally to the government side as part of the Chieu Hoi program.

Attention members of the V-21 Regiment. You cannot win!

You were severely beaten when you attacked the ARVN base camp, located west of the Saigon River in Tay Nihn Province. You suffered more than 289 casualties while the ARVN suffered small losses. You fought well, but against a better and stronger force you did not have a chance. Now many of you are wounded and dying. Do you want to be buried in an unmarked grave? You have two choices: die where you are, or rally to the Government of Vietnam. If you rally you will be given medicine and be treated well. Rally now. Hide your weapon and rally during daylight hours to any ARVN or Allied soldier or GVN official.

Specialist 5 Albert Viator

Specialist 5 Albert Viator was a trained broadcaster and journalist who found himself assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam and instead of writing articles for a newspaper or broadcasting on a radio station found himself in the bush humping a loudspeaker or in the air dropping leaflets. He wrote a biography of his 1968 tour titled An Accidental [Psy] Warrior and mentioned some of his daily activities (edited for brevity).

The 6th designed and printed millions of propaganda leaflets and created hundreds of hours of prerecorded audio messages that were broadcast from loudspeakers onboard small aircraft and carried on the backs of field teams that joined in infantry operations throughout the country. Never having been trained in PSYOP, I was picking up the things I must know in what amounted to a 12-month On the Job Training (OJT) exercise. My first assignments as a PSYOP Specialist would involve dropping leaflets from Huey helicopters and broadcasting prerecorded audio tapes from speakers hung beneath the wings of small planes. The ones I was involved with most days during my tour was a specially equipped version of the two-seat U-10 Courier fixed wing aircraft for PSYOP missions. It has an external high power speaker array attached beneath the overhead wings, and an amplifier and cassette tape recorder mounted behind the front seats that I controlled from my position behind the pilot. I would fly over an operation on the ground playing a series of tapes designed to convince the enemy fighters that they were hopelessly outnumbered and if they gave up, they would be treated humanely. If Military Intelligence found out that the VC in a as area were running low on ammunition or if they had taken a lot of casualties or if morale was low, I would craft a message that capitalized on these concepts and my interpreter would translate them on the spot and we would broadcast them using my speaker pack.

I should add that not only was Viator untrained for the job he was given, but he also points out in the book that he had four different officers during his year in Vietnam and not one of them was trained in PSYOP. It was quite common in those days to just "shanghai" an infantry or artillery officer and assign him to PSYOP. Now, all the officers and enlisted men are trained and have their own PSYOP military occupational specialty (MOS).

Bob Cutts mentioned loudspeaker missions in an article titled, "Spooky Voice fills VC with Shivers of Fear" in Stars and Stripes of April 28, 1968:

It was midnight and the Green Berets knew they could expect the attack from the vicinity of the nearby Cambodian border any minute now. There was no sky so there would be no air support. Just the unending rain. But somewhere up there was a drone of engines, a plane circling in the night. Then it began, a long, unearthly wailing, coming out of the sky, filling Cai Cai and the soggy marsh around it with a gigantic voice.

A Vietnamese voice began calling names, the names of the Viet Cong battalion commander, his company chiefs, and their platoon leaders. Each man was told that the Americans knew who he was, what he was doing, that he was being watched.

"We know exactly where you are, and we know what you are doing. We are ready for you. If you come close enough to the camp, we will kill all of you. Our forces are ready and waiting for you. Will you be so foolish as to charge into certain death?"

This went on for hours. The attack never came. The VC battalion which might have claimed Cai Cai that night pulled out without a sound and disappeared in the night. There had been no reaction force, no "superior forces," no one watching. Just the voice, naming names and warning of death. It saved Cai Cai.

First Lieutenant Valentine was the "old man" of the 5th Air Commando Squadron. "C" Flight, the Binh Thuy AB unit that flies all PSYWAR missions over the Mekong Delta, in planes armed only with 10.000-volt speakers and tape recorders. He said: 

We are always getting scrambled for stuff like that. We never know where it will be, sometimes we just go out at night and harass a VC unit. We just fly over them all night, keeping them awake and letting them know we know where they are. Night missions are the most frightening but the most interesting. In the daytime you cannot see them shooting at you. But at night, you see all these big yellow balls coming straight up at you. The tapes are best. We have got one we call the "Wandering Soul" tape. It lasts about four minutes. It starts with Buddhist funeral music, then this spooky, wailing voice. Then a little child is crying, then the child is crying for its father. Then a Vietnamese woman comes on and tells how her husband was killed fighting for the VC. And all the time, this eerie background voice, wailing about death. It is a real beauty, guaranteed to raise ground fire anywhere. It even sends chills down my spine. It's so effective that even the government restricts use of it, they only let us use it in extreme occasions."

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Loudspeaker in the doorway of a Bell “Huey” HU1D helicopter.

Staff Sergeant Ron Baker was a member of the 245th PSYOP Battalion located in Pleiku. He talks about some of his missions:

I departed Pleiku for the 2d Brigade on 9 August 1966. On 10 August, I made a Chieu Hoi tape with a North Vietnamese Army prisoner of war. On 12 August, I went on a loudspeaker mission telling NVA soldiers how and where to surrender and also made Chieu Hoi surrender appeals. We took the NVA rallier along to make appeals to NVA soldiers. We used a 1000 watt Western Electric Beachmaster loud speaker in the doorway of a Bell “Huey” HU1D helicopter. The loudspeaker system was first used in WWII to help bring order to invasion forces on the beaches of the South Pacific. It was then known as the Navy Public Address Set (PAB-1).

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Captain Audris Endrijonas adjusts the 1,000-watt speaker system mounted in a U6A Beaver,
prior to a PSYOP mission from the 25th Infantry Division base camp at Cu Chi.

The 4th PSYOP Group booklet Guide for Psychological Operations, dated 6 August 1967 mentions Quick-Reaction results:

In a 1st Infantry Division operation during September 1966 one Viet Cong rallied with his weapon. He was immediately interrogated by PSYOP personnel, and he taped an appeal to his former comrades. The Hoi Chanh appealed to his former company members by name, asked them to rally and reported on the good treatment he had received. The tape was broadcast by loudspeakers throughout the tactical area. Within 24 hours, 88 members of the unit defected to the Allied side.

Tropic Lightning News, Vol. 3, No. 29, dated 15 July 1968 adds:

Never in the history of the United States have we practiced a more extensive use of psychological warfare tactics, than in Vietnam. Last month we dropped approximately 22 million leaflets over the division's area of operations. Another 30,000 leaflets were disseminated by ground teams, and 98 hours of loudspeaker broadcasts were logged. The teams develop a theme based on that particular weakness and then deliver the message by means of either aerial or ground loudspeaker broadcasts, or printed leaflets. The message presents an opportunity for the enemy to "Chieu Hoi", or rally to the government of South Vietnam. He is assured he will be treated not as a prisoner but as a citizen of the Republic of Vietnam.

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This 1965 photo depicts Marine Intelligence Officer John M. Mattice flying out of Da Nang in a "Huey" helicopter with a Vietnamese interpreter broadcasting news to the hamlets below. They are armed only with a loudspeaker and provide the latest news to the villagers who may have no access to newspapers or radio.

In 1968 and 1969 there was another loudspeaker operation using strange sound tapes meant to mess with “Charlie’s” mind that we should mention. The 1969 Army Concept Team in Vietnam publication Employment of U.S. Army Psychological Operation Units in Vietnam says about Operation Tintinnabulation:

Operation Tintinnabulation was a new Propaganda technique being tested by the 10th PSYOP Battalion, in cooperation with the 5th Special Operations Squadron, was recently employed against two VC battalions. Tintinnabulation (which literally means the ringing of bells) involves two C-47 aircraft, one "Spooky" (minigun-equipped) and the other a "Gabby" (loudspeaker-equipped). During the initial phase, the Gabby employs a frequency pulsating noisemaker designed to harass and confuse the enemy forces during night hours, while the Spooky provides air cover. During the second phase, the harassing noisemaker continues, however, emphasis is given to use of Chieu Hoi tapes. The first phase is designed to eliminate the feeling that the night provides security to the target audience, while the second phase is designed to reinforce the enemy’s desire to rally. Targets for both phases are recommended based on the results of daytime ground operations.

During a recent operation in Vinh Long Province, a total of 24 missions were flown with over-the-target time of approximately 2 hours per aircraft. The number of Hoi Chanhs in the province more than tripled (122 in September to 379 in December), and ralliers stated that the effects of the night missions caused them to rally. The initial success of Operation Tintinnabulation suggested this concept should be considered for use in other areas.

A November 1968 report states that phase I of Operation Tintinnabulation ended on 14 November. A night operation, this phase utilized the C-47 aircraft and speaker system with the frequency pulsating generator (Noisemaker) and various tapes of eerie music designed to eliminate the feeling that the night provides security to the target audience. Phase II was initiated on 15 November and incorporates the use of loudspeaker and C-47 aircraft equipped with mini-guns to suppress ground fire. Specially designed tapes based on Hoi Chanh feedback are used in this phase. On 19 November, 16 Hoi Chanh rallied and 14 of them stated that the night loudspeaker – gunship operations were a major factor in their decision to rally.

8th PSYOP Battalion 1000-watt loudspeakers manned by Kit Carson Scouts
Chieu Hoi messages to villagers near Landing Zone ENGLISH - 1970, in support of the 173rd Airborne Brigade

Former Sergeant Jerry C. Bowman landed in Vietnam on 3 October 1967 assigned to the 8th PSYOP Battalion. He supported the 173rd Airborne. He learned early that you have to be careful what kind of tapes you play at the enemy.

His first battle was at Dak To in the Central Highlands. It was an area of triple canopy jungle and hills and it was infiltrated by the North Vietnamese army regulars. Discovering that the enemy lines were porous, a commander ordered Bowman and his interpreter to make their way to a village of Montagnards, Vietnam’s mountain people who were American allies. Bowman said:

We set up our speakers on a hill and started playing tapes to the North Vietnamese. I asked my interpreter what we were saying in Vietnamese, and he told me a mother was telling a North Vietnamese soldier a baby crying on the tape was not his. It was a psychological game. She was basically telling the soldier that she had cheated on him while he was away at war.

The ploy was not successful:

It upset the enemy and they started mortaring the village and shooting rockets at us. It was like the Fourth of July. We had really pissed them off. I had two other tapes with me, one was the Mamas & the Papas and the other was the Four Tops from Motown. I started playing them and it was echoing all over the place. I guess the echoing kind of confused them and they stopped shooting.

Perhaps the North Vietnamese simply enjoyed hearing the latest American hits rather than the annoying sounds of a crying baby.

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An ARVN soldier broadcasts a message to the people of a coastal village
from a Navy Coastal Patrol Boat. With him are 8th PSYOP Battalion
First Lieutenant John D. Meiners and Specialist 4 James K. Havelka.

The journal of the Viet-Nam Helicopter Association wrote about Vietnam Loudspeaker missions in January 1969. The article details operations of 6th Battalion PSYOP aerial crews being diverted to combat situations in which injured Americans needed rescue from their serious injuries. I have edited it for brevity:

A rescue team radio message working at the crash site of a U.S. 0-1 Birddog forward observer aircraft in Phuoc Long Province was heard by the crew of a UH-1D "Huey" helicopter of the 195th Assault Helicopter Company conducting aerial PSYOP missions with a 6th PSYOP Battalion field team. During the 10-minute flight to the downed Birddog, Staff Sergeant Ray Fowler, PSYOP team leader, and the chopper door gunner began rigging a 250-foot rope to be used in the rescue. PSYOP Specialist Four Dennis Leach manned the chopper's M60 machine gun as the two prepared for the rescue. Amid a Viet Cong attack the wounded pilot was rescued and then evacuated to a military hospital by the rescue team.

Sixth Battalion, Company B, First Sergeant David K.H. Lee added: "The PSYOP helicopter team operating out of the Bien Hoa headquarters averages six-hours of flight time each day. A minimum of two-hours of loudspeaker broadcasts are logged daily. The helicopter fills several vital roles in our field operation at the 6th Battalion. We use it for quick reaction PSYOP mission, planned missions, the delivery of PSYOP supplies to line units and liaison with PSYOP personnel located throughout III Corps. We support U.S., Vietnamese, and other Allied units. Current emphasis has been placed on night PSYOP delivery and the UH-1D has again proven its merit."

"From the very first our chopper team has seen action on virtually every mission. Earlier in November the chopper came across a tank that had been demolished by a land mine. Its badly burned driver was medevacked by the chopper crew and PSYOP personnel - Specialist Five Chad Spawr and Specialist Four SP4 James Axelrod. The chopper has given our PSYOP support capabilities a tremendous boost. We've used it every day since it's been assigned to support our operations. Several Viet Cong defectors have been directly credited to our aerial PSYOP team's efforts."

Chad Spawr added

On many occasions, 6th PSYOP Battalion aerial missions took enemy fire, with several shot down by Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army antiaircraft. One such shoot-down resulted in the death of Specialist Four John Lynch in June 1969.

A good buddy of Chad Spawr, Sergeant Howard Patrick also flew helicopter loudspeaker missions and took ground fire.

Sergeant Howard Patrick

One of the things that always amazed me when you speak or read about PSYOP troops back in the 60s is how often they were "shanghaied" and sent to a unit with little or no training. Sergeant Patrick told me about finding himself a "Psywarrior" one day with absolutely no training:

My draft notice said to report to the local processing center on 25 May 1967. Then it was off to Fort Bragg, NC, for Basic Training.

After Basic came Advanced Infantry Training, and then I was sent to a new training program called NCO School. This was a 22-week course that culminated with a promotion to the rank of Sergeant. I would go to Vietnam as a noncommissioned officer and leader of men never having spent a day in combat. That would usually cause some resentment from the men that had spent months learning their trade. I was a "Shake and Bake." Then it was on to Vietnam and the First Cavalry Division. I was assigned to a newly formed Reconnaissance Unit as a squad leader, my military occupational specialty was 11B Infantry. In mid-January, I was transferred to the Civil Affairs unit at 2nd Brigade HQ. I asked what civil affairs was all about and what I got for an answer was "you'll find out when you get there, so grab your gear, you're on a mail chopper that leaves in 5 minutes." I never even had a chance to say goodbye to my squad.

I met my new Lieutenant, who informed me I was the Noncommissioned officer in charge of the 2nd Squad of a Recon Platoon and introduced me to the men I would be working with. They gave me a brief rundown on what the unit does and then it was off to the local village to show a movie.

Howard Patrick's PSYOP Chopper

What I didn't find out until the next day was that I would also be running PSYOP missions. I then met sergeant Chad Spawr. It was Chad who provided all the relevant info about PSYOP. I was assigned a Vietnamese interpreter, Sergeant Binh soon after I arrived. His job was to broadcast surrender messages to the North Vietnamese soldiers and the Viet Cong guerrillas, while I dropped leaflets with the same messages. Apparently, the enemy we were trying to reach weren't happy with us, it was rare that we didn't take ground fire. I alternated between village-related civil affairs missions and PSYOP missions. The civil affairs missions were few, the PSYOP missions were constant. We did MEDCAPs where we treated the sick Vietnamese, gave concerts, "meet and greets," and all the things involved with winning the trust of the people.

Chad and I worked together on many joint missions and a very solid bond developed between us. That was until Chad got wounded and was medevacked to one of the field hospitals not long before my time in Vietnam was done. The tour at that time was one year, but I had spent so much time in school I was only scheduled for 10 months. Shortly after that, I refused to do any more air missions of any kind. We had just taken off for another PSYOP mission when we lost our engine, thanks to being hit with a steam of .51 caliber machinegun rounds fired by the Viet Cong. Our pilot was outstanding. He somehow managed to auto gyrate all the way back to the base runway we had taken off from. We were quite shaken up from bouncing down the runway before we came to a stop, but no one was hurt. That was it for me. I was too short with just 2 to 3 weeks to go to be in the air getting shot at.

Veterans, especially combat veterans, refer to each other as Brothers, and to a certain extent we are. That's especially true with those who were side by side in the same combat units, in the same firefights, on the same combat missions. Those are some of the things that create even stronger bonds. I think, however, the bond I have with Chad (whose real name is Clarence) goes even further. I only have one sibling, a sister, but my mother gave birth to a son before I was born. My brother was a still born, having died in the womb. At times, I feel he is with me, especially when I'm thinking about, or talking to, Chad. I never asked my mother what his name was, or what it would have been, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was Clarence.

I asked Sergeant Patrick if he had any funny stories to tell me. He said:

On one mission we were ordered to take some vats of the pungent fish sauce Nuoc Mam to a local village. The Vietnamese put that sauce on just about everything they eat. Somewhere along the trip it got bumpy, and a lot of the sauce spilled on the floor of the chopper. Our eyes were watering. I understand they never got the smell out of that helicopter.

Note: During the Vietnam War, one infantry division dropped white flags soaked in the Vietnamese fish sauce called Nuoc Mam to hungry enemy soldiers to persuade them to rally.


Long line Loiter PSYWAR Package

U-6A Beaver aircraft

I would like to mention an experimental loudspeaker operation in Vietnam that I suspect nobody ever heard of. It was called the U-6Z Long line Loiter PSYWAR Package. This July 1970 experiment was a package that employs a circling line to remotely broadcast from an altitude of 500 feet while the aircraft flies at 3,000 feet above the target. The research began in 1969, with the long line loiter system where broadcast messages originate in an aircraft and are sent to a set of speakers at the end of a long trailing line in a circular configuration. Leaflets can be dispensed at the end of the line during broadcast or independent of them. The package was built to be mounted in a standard U-6A Beaver aircraft. The package consists of a winch, an amplifier, line, and a speaker cone. The line was 3600 feet of rope with a breaking strength of 2,500-pounds. The amplifier had a total output of 400 watts that delivered 200 watts to the speaker cone. The speaker cone had four University Sound SH loudspeaker horns. I should add that the system came with a cutter to snip the long line in case of an emergency.

The Aircraft flies in a circle

The aircraft would fly over the target in a circle. During testing with the speaker at 200 feet, the words could be clearly heard from 950 feet away. Twelve different test messages were broadcast. Three of the twelve messages were:

Warning! We are about to saturate this area with bombs. Please move your family to a safe place.

Attention. Villagers on the ground. We are dropping leaflets. Take them to your village leader. You will be given work on a project.

Warning to villagers. Please move out of the wooded area immediately. It is going to be attacked.

Combat Photographer Richard N. Levine

Richard N. Levine also flew such missions. He arrived in Vietnam in April 1968 where he was a member of the 4th PSYOP Group. He was a combat photographer, but like all PSYOP troops took part in many other missions. In one case he was assigned to a Chieu Hoi loudspeaker mission. He was in a Cessna 0-2B Skymaster mounted with loudspeakers that broadcast Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) messages. He encountered heavy ground fire but said that the unarmed aircraft could take a lot of punishment. The enemy hated propaganda aircraft and would also open fire upon their approach. On other occasions he flew in a Huey helicopter low and slow broadcasting a propaganda message. His job was to draw fire because his chopper was followed by a helicopter gunship ready to destroy the enemy. These missions were called "Sparrow Hawks."

The 8th PSYOP Battalion loudspeakers were mentioned in the 1st Field Force official magazine TYPHOON of June 1969. Specialist 4 Vaughn Whiting wrote an article titled “Madison Avenue, Vietnam,” in which he said in part:

It's what you say and how you say it that counts at the 8th PSYOP Battalion. A hundred miles from the nearest railroad track, the crashing sound of a steam locomotive shakes the jungle night. Whistles shriek. Bells clang. Steam explodes from open valves in a hissing crescendo that makes men cover their ears. A quiet little valley near the Cambodian border suddenly sounds like the Rock Island Line in the days before diesel engines. But Charlie never sees the train.

The sound comes from loudspeakers aboard a low flying C-47 on a psychological operations mission with only one object: mess Charlie's mind, mess it so badly that he will shoot at‚ the sound out of pure frustration and give away his position. When that happens, a Spooky gunship, which has been circling just out of sight, glides in with its miniguns blazing and quiets the valley for the night.

Night after night, these C-47 Teams called Gabby-Spooks fly over areas where they think large enemy units are camping and broadcast their repertoire of ear-splitting, raucous sounds. Sooner or later, the harassment t proves too much for the hungry, sleepy, homesick soldiers below. One of them breaks discipline, rushes into a clearing and takes an angry potshot at Gabby. Then it's all over.

The PSYOP battalion also maintains a library of more than 150 tape-recorded messages, each one custom-made for a specific kind of audience, in a particular type of situation. "You have just experienced a barrage of naval gunfire from the U.S.S. New Jersey," says the voice of a native speaker on one such tape." Lay down your arms and follow your comrades who have already rallied. You never know when the next shell will come."

"We tell them the New Jersey can fire 20 miles. Scare Charlie very much," said ARVN Sergeant Nguyen Anh Tuan, an interpreter attached to the PSYOP battalion's Company A. New weapons and tactics often have a psychological effect on the enemy when he realizes the overwhelming odds that face him. Shadow gunships, for example, are described in one leaflet as "the evil genie that can see you in the dark." Advanced technology and age-old superstition are thus combined in a powerful PSYOP message.

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The PSYOP-POLWAR Newsletter

The PSYOP Newsletter was printed by the United States Military Assistance Command to inform commanders, PSYOP personnel, and PSYWAR advisors of psychological operations in Vietnam and to exchange idea and lessons learned. Later Vietnamese POLWAR personnel were added and the name was changed to the PSYOP-POLWAR Newsletter. Looking through my copy from December 1967 I find the following comment on the subject of loudspeaker music:

The Addition of music to North Vietnamese Army Chieu Hoi loudspeaker appeals: This concept was evaluated by the JUSPAO Evaluation Panel. The Hoi Chanh felt that an extremely effective device to maintain attention would be to set the Chieu Hoi appeals to the music of Popular North Vietnamese folk songs, sung by a North Vietnamese female. Another device the Hoi Chanhs would be effective was to write Chieu Hoi appeals in the form of short poems and have them read by a North Vietnamese female. There is a traditional manner of reading poetry (Kieu style) in a special musical tone that is very popular among the North Vietnamese. Tape 125 has been produced for Tet and has four separate poems recorded in the “Kieu” style for use again the NVA troops.

Nhan Ngoc Mai, a former Viet Cong soldier, uses a microphone to speak to villagers on the shore from
a boat during Project Loudspeaker, conducted by the 7th PSYOP Battalion, in the Chu Lai area, in 1969. 

The Navy is mentioned in the September 1967 issue:

U. S. Navy patrol craft operating off the coast or on the rivers Of Vietnam can conduct loudspeaker broadcasts to known enemy locations along the seashore and riverbanks. In April of this year, one hundred thirty-eight 350-watt loudspeaker systems with adaptable tape recorders were ordered for Naval Forces, Vietnam. As an interim measure, the U.S. Navy officer in Combat Tactical Zone I has been employing speaker teams from the 244 th PSYOP Company for broadcast from U.S. Navy boats. 80 hours of broadcasting were accomplished during July, and 200 hours during August.

The May 1968 issue added:

A platoon of Navy SEALs seized one of the largest caches of weapons ever captured by Game Warden units because of a PSYOP loudspeaker broadcast. The cache included mines, machine guns, 75mm recoilless rifles and ammunition. The Hoi Chanh who led the way rallied to River Station 532 during a speaker broadcast in the Delta and further revealed extensive intelligence on Viet Cong movement. He also pointed out three Viet Cong who were apprehended and turned over to the National Police.

The May 1969 issue discussed loudspeakers vs. leaflets:

The 8th PSYOP Battalion has received indications from returnees that loudspeaker operations were more effective than leaflet drops except when the leaflet contained a message from a former comrade who they personally knew. Most of the returnees interviewed had heard aerial tapes and the messages were clear and easy to understand. Although the interviewees had seen leaflets in abundance, they did not feel that they were as effective as tape messages. Although many had read the messages secretly, the fear of being caught with a leaflet made them very cautious.


Speaking of the Navy, I am not sure if this picture would be allowed in an Army official publication, but the Navy let it slide in the Naval Force Vietnam PSYOP Newsletter, volume 11, number 4. It had a nice pun in the caption. The Newsletter adds:

COMNAVFORV has been sending news tapes to the field on a weekly basis. These tapes, produced on 5-inch reels by JUSPAO in Saigon, must be returned to Commander, Naval Force Vietnam once transcribed. There is no reason to hold them longer than two weeks as the news becomes outdated.

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Australian Corporal Arthur (Tiger) Feltham with man-packed broadcast equipment and power supply adapted from AN/PRC 25 set radio batteries, accompanied by ARVN Interpreter Staff Sergeant Trinh, photographed while broadcasting to villagers.

Courtesy of Derrill de Heer

Stanley Sandler mentions loudspeakers in Vietnam in Cease Resistance: It’s Good for You! Some of his comments in part are:

Operation Falling Leaves concentrated on the use of local assets and personnel…including two Armed Propaganda teams composed 100% of surrendered Viet Cong soldiers. Loudspeaker teams penetrated deeply into the forest, while other forayed through its waterways using gigantic, boat mounted loudspeakers. The clearing operations in the U-Minh forest garnered no less than 1150 ralliers. In the six weeks before and two weeks afterwards only 211 defectors were taken.

PSYOPS in Vietnam: Indications of Effectiveness, JUSPAO Planning Office, Saigon, Vietnam, May, 1967, mentions that from 1 Jan 1966 to 1 October the 245th PSYOP Company designed and printed 61 million leaflets with their own facilities. Five thousand hours of loudspeaker missions were logged in the same period. The result was that 6,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars defected. That was a 300% increase over the same period in the previous year.

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Sergeant Richard Hosier, Marine Sergeant Bob Conticelli and Hoi Chahns by helicopter with Loudspeakers

The PSYOP troops often played tapes over loudspeakers from low-flying aircraft and patrol boats. There are dozens of such messages recorded; I will mention just a few here:

Tape 100 – 26 seconds:


The Government of Vietnam welcomes you back. Your leaders have lied to you and led you down a road of suffering and despair. Return to the Government of Vietnam. You will receive good treatment and a chance to build a new life.

Tape 101 – 22 seconds:

The government forces are winning. Their firepower is overwhelming. Their resources are inexhaustible. Death comes closer to you every day. Accept the Government of Vietnam offer of Open Arms. Come back friends! Come back before it is too late.

Tape 103 – 25 seconds:

You are surrounded by forces of vastly superior firepower. Your leaders who misled you have abandoned you. There is only one way to escape a violent and useless death. Surrender now and you will be well treated by the Government of Vietnam. Choose life, not death. Choose life, not death.

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Leaflet 3123

It was not only the Americans that used loudspeakers. The South Vietnamese used them too, and in fact had Armed Propaganda Teams (APTs) that went into the field to entertain and educate the people. The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office honored an entire marching company of Vietnamese APTs, each with a loudspeaker under his right arm. To the right of the photograph are a Chieu Hoi symbol and the text:

Return to alleviate the suffering of the people.

The back is all text:

The Chieu Hoi Cadres of Long An Province.

Deeply encouraged by the success of the Chieu Hoi program, the armed propaganda teams of Long An welcomes the prime Minister and Vietnamese government officials to long An. The event was the opening ceremony of the “spring for the fatherland” campaign. The aim of the Chieu hoi program is to urge those still on the other side to return to their families and alleviate the sorrows of separation.

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L-19/O-1 Bird Dog aircraft equipped with loudspeakers

The 1969 document Employment of U.S. Army Psychological Operation Units in Vietnam says about Operation Tintinnabulation:

Operation Tintinnabulation was a new Propaganda technique being tested by the 10th PSYOP Battalion, in cooperation with the 5th Special Operations Squadron, was recently employed against two VC battalions. Tintinnabulation (which literally means the ringing of bells) involves two C-47 aircraft, one "Spooky" (minigun-equipped) and the other a "Gabby" (loudspeaker-equipped). During the initial phase, the Gabby employs a frequency pulsating noisemaker designed to harass and confuse the enemy forces during night hours, while the Spooky provides air cover. During the second phase, the harassing noisemaker continues, however, emphasis is given to use of Chieu Hoi tapes. During a recent operation in Vinh Long Province, a total of 24 missions were flown with over-the-target time of approximately 2 hours per aircraft. The number of Hoi Chanhs in the province more than tripled (122 in September to 379 in December), and ralliers stated that the effects of the night missions caused them to rally.

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South Vietnamese Loudspeaker Truck

Loudspeakers were used to sell Agent Orange to the people too: We read in the August 1969 working paper; A Review of the Herbicide Program in South Vietnam:

The herbicide PSYWAR effort which is an important part of the overall program has been accelerated in 1967. Both aerial loudspeakers and leaflets are used to explain necessity of the program to the people, to emphasize the non-toxicity of chemical defoliants to humans and animals, and to gain understanding and support from the civilian population. Procedures to reimburse civilians for inadvertent losses are also provided.

Loudspeaker tapes were prepared that said in part:

Dear Citizens,

The Viet Cong takes advantage of dense and lush terrain and its thick growth to place mortars and bombs to kill honest people and infiltrate provincial capitals to conduct barbarous actions against innocent people.

The Government of Vietnam sees that it is necessary to spray chemicals to make the leaves fall and so destroy the jungle and thick leaves to prevent the enemy from using them as hiding places. Set your mind at ease. These chemicals do not harm your health or lives.

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PSYOP Officer discusses script with interpreter before loudspeaker mission.
Note the leaflets stacked to be dropped with the broadcasts

During the Vietnam War the “Snoopy” helicopters had two large air scoops that led to a console with a visor over it so that an operator could stick his head in there and read what was being smelled even in bright light. Since the choppers had to fly low and slow to sniff, it was a very dangerous mission. This operation was mentioned in the formerly secret United States Military Assistant Command Vietnam Command History Volume II 1967. In a section entitled “Novel Ideas and Innovations” we find the following comments:

In November the 9th Infantry Division developed a hard-hitting PSYOP plan to be used with the “People Sniffer,” a human detection device mounted on a helicopter. Once the enemy elements are located by the people sniffer, leaflets were dropped and loudspeakers were used to warn the enemy that an air or artillery attack was eminent. Following the offensive action, the enemy was reminded again by leaflets and loudspeakers of the destruction that could be brought upon them, and urged to rally to the Government of Viet Nam. Maximum psychological impact could be gained by locating the enemy in an area he thought was safe, by warning him of the destruction that was going to be brought to bear, and by following up with an appeal to him to rally to avoid future attacks.

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Jimmie Hurley, in 1965, standing in front of the loudspeakers on a U10 Courier aircraft at Bien Hoa Air Base, Vietnam. His mission was to fly over known enemy territory, broadcasting messages and dropping leaflets

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Loudspeaker equipped U-10s

While looking through my files I ran across a 1967 50-page report on loudspeaker tests during the Vietnam War by the 14th Air Commando Wing. The problem:

Our psychological warfare aircraft are encountering increased ground fire and are being forced to operate at higher altitudes. Broadcast messages are probably the most effective means of conducting psychological warfare operations available today. Interviews with the 1967 Hoi Chanhs (defectors that surrender through the Chieu Hoi “Open Arms” program) disclosed that more of them learned of the South Vietnam Government’s Chieu Hoi appeal through loudspeakers than any other media.

The 0-2B Aircraft

The 0-2B Speaker Test Program report dated December 1967 says in part that the purpose of the test was to determine if the University Corporation SA-1800C speaker system was effective in the 0-2B aircraft. The test was conducted by the 9th Air Commando Squadron at Nha Trang Air Base, Vietnam, with U.S. Army cooperation and assistance. It was found that satisfactory sound reception could be obtained by operating the aircraft between 3000 to 4500 feet above the target using bank angles of 20 to 30 degrees. Tape recording quality was a major factor. Without a high-quality tape recording it was questionable if the tape could be understood, even at 3000 feet. Bad tapes meant bad messages. The new system had a power output of 1800 watts, 80% more powerful than the system used in the C-47 or U-10 aircraft.

On a straight run through a target area the 60-second message could be heard from one-half to one mile away. At altitudes over 4500 feet above target the sound level was noticeably reduced. Below 3000 feet the sound became overloud and distorted. The best reception occurred during early morning hours. Altitudes between 3000 and 4500 feet were ideal. The banking angles should be between 20-30 degrees. Quality tapes should be used. The SA-1800C was better than the 1000-watt system. It was also better than the Applied Electro mechanics 2100-watt system. All 1000-watt systems should be converted to SA-1800C systems.

Tests of the new SA-1800C system found that the more powerful loudspeaker was suitable for use by the U-10, 0-2B, C-47 and C-123. The system is capable of broadcasting intelligible male speech from 10,000 feet altitude, but only under ideal circumstances. The optimum altitude is 4000 feet. The system can broadcast to a circular area up to two miles diameter from 4000 feet altitude. The frequency is completely adequate for male voices. Women's voices suffer a loss of consonants which limit the range of intelligibility. Music is recognizable but it usually not pleasant.

It is too bad that female voices may have not worked so well. Another 4th PSYOP Group Monthly Operation Report for May 1969 says about female speakers:

Recent interrogation reports have indicated that aerial tapes utilizing female voices for Chieu Hoi appeals may be very effective, especially during the hours 2000-2400 when both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops are resting. 4th Group interrogators are questioning Hoi Chanh to determine what hardships and burdens were suffered because of the absence while serving with the Viet Cong. Research is being conducted for the purpose of constructing short, sentimental messages to heighten the feelings of loneliness, home-sickness and worry over the welfare of the family.

Since we talk about loudspeaker use in 1967 above, perhaps we should show the readers some of the many messages that were broadcast. Here are a few from the 1967 Tet Campaign:

Tape 76. Attention men of the Front! How many defeats have you suffered lately? If you stay with the front you will continue to be led to defeat. If you continue to fight, then it is sure that death waits for you. As the new spring approaches, choose a new life. Choose Open Arms and stay alive. Choose Open Arms!

Tape 78. Attention fighters of the Front! The new spring approaches. Will it be your last? Your revolution has been misled. If you stay with the Front, you face only defeat and death. A warm welcome awaits you if you rally to the National Cause. Join the Social Revolution of the GVN through Open Arms - Open Arms! Open Arms! Open Arms!

Tape 80. Your family and people welcome their misled sons with love. The nation opens its arms to welcome you with good treatment, food, clothing, and a new life. On Tet, awake and return to the GVN and to the great family of the nation to fulfill your duty as a cherished son of the country. We wish you a Happy Tet!

Tape 82. Attention! You men who have fought so hard for the Front - You wanted to help the people and the nation but now you can see the mistakes of your leaders have only done harm - Do not continue to be misled. If you want to help the people, come back to the National Cause and join the true social revolution. A warm welcome awaits all who return - Rally now through Open Arms.

Retired USAF Colonel Jerry L. Thigpen adds in The Praetorian Starship: The Untold Story of the Combat Talon:

In March 1973, the 1st Special Operations Squadron received the more advanced SA-1800CC airborne speaker system, project codenamed Big Mouth, to augment its PSYOP capabilities. On 9 May the system was tested over the Ie Shima training range, and optimum operational altitudes were established. The speaker system provided either a microphone or tape input capability that was amplified and then transmitted outside the aircraft through the left paratroop door. Although not immediately employed in Southeast Asia, the new system promised to improve PSYOPS capabilities for the squadron.

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Loudspeaker Team Leader SP5 Mario Villamarzo

Specialist Fifth Class Mario Villamarzo told me about his leaflet operations in Vietnam as part of the 245th PSYOP Company in 1966-1967:

I also flew in U-10s on loudspeaker and leaflet missions. The aircraft would come from Nha Trang where the 5th Air commando Squadron was stationed and I would wait for it the airfield in Pleiku. I would load the U-10 with my leaflets and put my recorded tape in my cassette player and hook it up to the speaker on the aircraft. Once I got us to the target area we would fly in a circle around the target dropping leaflets and playing the loudspeakers.

John Schlight mentioned loudspeakers on the U-10s in The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia: The War in South Vietnam - The Years of the Offensive 1965-1968:

The American buildup late in September and December of 1965 was accompanied by attempts to centralize and improve several psychological warfare programs already under way. On the 20th of November, seventeen U-10 Super Courier light observation planes were assembled and flown to Nha Trang to join four C-47s in a recently organized Air Force squadron, the 5th Air Commando "For nearly a year, a handful of Vietnamese light planes had been beaming broadcasts and dropping leaflets in both North and South Vietnam. Their equipment, however, was unequal to the task, and the mounting volume of enemy ground fire was forcing them to higher altitudes from which their messages could not be heard. Loudspeakers mounted under the wings of the U.S. planes were 4 times as powerful as those of the Vietnamese, allowing the ships to fly safely at 3,000 feet and the messages to be heard from that altitude" Leaflets and broadcasts warned of impending airstrikes and herbicide missions, provided information on current events and explained government programs.

The Americans also produced radio and loudspeaker messages on the theme of the danger of Allied bombing. For instance, tape 104 is a 24-second message in a male voice in both Vietnamese and Cambodian that warns:

You will soon be bombed by airplanes. Your fortifications and trenches will be smashed by the power of their explosives. There is no safe place to hide. Surrender now and you will escape a terrible and useless death. Soon you will be bombed by airplanes. Surrender now. Avoid a flaming death.

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A Hoi Chanh broadcasts to his former Comrades
AP Wirephoto by George Esper

There were some phrases that combat troops in Vietnam had to learn. One was Chieu Hoi. If an enemy called out that phrase it meant he wanted to surrender and come over to the National Cause. The prisoner, if he was deemed to be faithful and dependable might become a Hoi Chanh. That meant he volunteered to work with the South Vietnamese and American forces as a scout and guide. Some were called “Kit Carson” scouts after the early American frontiersman. In the picture above, a North Vietnamese prisoner captured by the 101st Airborne Division west of Hue appeals to his comrades to surrender over a loud speaker. Some 352 NVA soldiers were reported killed in the area in the first week of May, 1968, and 97 surrendered.

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You did not have to be a full gown adult to be a Viet Cong fighter. Here a young Guerrilla, captured in the Mini-Tet Offensive in Cholon, 6 June 1968, broadcasts an appeal for his comrades to surrender.

Photo by SP5 Edward Worman, National Archives

Monta L. Osborne was the Chief of Field Development Division in the Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) in Saigon in charge of the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) program during the Vietnam War. In an 18 March 1966 dairy entry Osborne said:

Vietnamese songs are often used as PSYOP media. They are composed by the most competent and best known composers in South Vietnam. Many of these songs are, in effect, appeals from Vietnamese young ladies to their erring husbands and lovers who are with the Viet Cong to come back home and resume their marital responsibilities. Songs are printed as sheet music and they are tape recorded by the foremost singers of Vietnam for broadcast by radio stations and loudspeakers, both aerial and ground. They are produced as films featuring attractive young female singers for television showings and are released as 35 mm. films for the theaters and 16 mm. films for showing in rural areas. In fact, songs are one of the most effective mediums. In the case of the 1968 TET (Lunar New Year) Nguyen Song, the South Vietnamese Army Staff advised against playing it where it could be heard by GVN troops, since it might make them so homesick they would desert.

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An HH-46A Sea Knight helicopter with a 1400-watt AEM-SYS-2 sound
system and related loudspeaker, visible here on the helicopter's left front.
The sound system is generally referred to as the Loud Hailer.

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Close up of Sea Knight's 1400-watt loudspeaker.

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A PSYOP officer uses a loudspeaker to encourage the Viet Cong to surrender
Staying the Course

Eric B. Villard mentions loudspeakers in his book: Staying the Course, Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 2017:

Between 1 November 1967 and 31 January 1968, U.S. forces in the 4th Division’s tactical area of responsibility delivered 61 million leaflets, 302 hours of airborne and 318 hours of ground loudspeaker broadcasts, and 32 hours of audiovisual presentations.

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Huey Helicopter with mounted loudspeakers

There are some strange stories about music PSYOP missions in Vietnam that may be true or may be just a rumor. One of the best was told to me by a former Specialist Five of the 8th PSYOP Battalion. He flew loudspeaker missions and recalled a mission he had heard about that did not quite go exactly as planned:

There was also an incident that as I recall was reported in “Stars & Stripes” where a field team in IV Corps; I think they were from the 10th Battalion, headed out for an aerial night loudspeaker mission. Once airborne, they discovered they had grabbed their personal tapes rather than the propaganda tapes. So, they performed the mission playing Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Apparently, that song terrified the Viet Cong enough that three of them walked out of the boonies and surrendered the next morning. It might have been reported in Credibilis [The 4th PSYOP Group official publication] too. It would have been in 1969 or 1970, I think; in any event it would have been during my time in the Republic of Vietnam.


Guidelines for Production of Taped Propaganda

On 27 March 1970, the 4th PSYOP Group published the classified Guidelines for Production of Taped Propaganda, Number 1. The procedures were intended only as guidelines for writing and producing taped propaganda to be used on aerial loudspeaker systems, ground loudspeaker systems, River Patrol Boat speaker systems, or over radio stations in the Republic of Vietnam. The questions are valid for any propaganda medium used, whether it is a leaflet or a radio broadcast. I will just mention some of the more important points:

Does it gain attention? Is it clear and easily understood? Is it geared to the needs of the audience? Does it offer a solution? Does it have cultural acceptability? Is it credible? Does it balance logic and emotion? Is it mainly positive in tone? Does it use repetition? Is it consistent with what has been said before, and what is to follow?


The first type of tape to be considered is for use with an aerial loudspeaker system. In some respects, it is the most difficult tape to produce due to the limitations placed upon the product by the means of dissemination. Because of the limited time an aerial tape can be heard by the target audience in one pass of the aircraft, the message should be short, simple, and clear. If the script is written in English, the length should not exceed 25 seconds read aloud at a slow rate of speech. If the script is written in Vietnamese, the total length should not exceed 40 seconds read aloud at a slow rate of speech.


Tapes to be produced for ground loudspeaker systems and PBR loudspeaker systems offer some of the same challenges as aerial tapes. Depending on the military situation, tapes to be used on ground based or river boat-based speaker systems will vary in length and complexity. Preparation of tapes for these two media does not significantly differ. In tactical situations the loudspeaker team is likely to come under fire if it stays in one position too long. MEDCAP missions may allow for tapes of a half hour to an hour in length. The length of the tape message will depend on the mission.

Enemy use: During the Route 9-Tri Thien campaign, the department provided staff advice for the General Political Department’s effort to produce and ship hundreds of thousands of leaflets, consisting of 16 different types of leaflets targeted on puppet army troops and four different types of leaflets targeted against American troops and to ship to the front lines 560 leaflet rockets, 7,200 leaflet mortar rounds, 238 megaphones, and 19 loudspeakers.

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Government of Vietnam Armed Propaganda Team

Problems: Second Lieutenant Winston Groom of the 245th PSYOP Company in Vietnam talks about the problems that sometimes occurred when using local interpreters and translators:

One curious situation arose when I received word from Nha Trang not to use the standard surrender tapes they had made for us in Saigon and which we played over the bullhorn or over the loudspeaker system in the U-10 aircraft if the enemy were encountered. Somebody had discovered that the Vietnamese who translated the tapes was apparently Viet Cong, because he told the guerrillas not to surrender but to fight on. After that, we made our own tapes on a small and unreliable recorder using our own interpreters, who hopefully were not Viet Cong. I believe that after a month or so, they sent us new vetted tapes out of Saigon. It should not have taken that long. It should have taken only a few days.

When you talk to numerous PSYOP veterans, certain stories seem to be heard over and over again. One is their reaction to receiving fire while flying overhead and dropping leaflets or broadcasting messages. I have been told by several PSYOP troops that after receiving ground fire they began following their leaflet or loudspeaker aircraft with a blacked-out gunship. This is all very good as far as killing the enemy goes, but if we were trying to gain their trust and have them read our propaganda, this firing on the readers and listeners was counter-productive. No Viet Cong guerrilla is coming out of the woods to pick up a Chieu Hoi leaflet and possibly defect if he fears being shot to pieces by a blacked out gunship hiding just out of sight.

This use of PSYOP to kill the enemy was practiced often in Viet Nam. In 1966, under an operation known as “Quick Speak,” the USAF 5th Air Commando Squadron flew C-47 aircraft equipped with 3000 watt loudspeakers over the enemy. They would fly over a target at 3,500 feet broadcasting a propaganda message. When the enemy fired at the aircraft, an AC-47 “Spooky” gunship flying escort behind and below the loudspeaker aircraft would open fire with three 7.62 mm mini-guns that loosed 16,000 rounds a minute.

An Army PSYOP Lieutenant recalls:

I remember when the PSYOP squadron I worked for got shot up particularly bad one night while playing Robert Brown's “Fire” to the Viet Cong over the big University 1000-Watt speaker. The next night they went up again but “Spooky” flew with them. Our speaker plane flew a wide orbit playing “Fire” again, and Spooky flew opposing orbit. It was night and the speaker plane was lit up like a Christmas tree to draw attention. Spooky was blacked out. The enemy opened fire with everything they had. Spooky opened up with all three miniguns on at high cyclic rate and mysteriously all of the ground fire suddenly ceased.

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A Loudspeaker-equipped Patrol Boat

It wasn’t only men, vehicles and aircraft that used loudspeakers. Vietnam was covered by creeks, streams and rivers all of which could be easily entered and watched by small patrol boats called PBRs. They did well on psychological operations because they could get so close to the people who lived along the delta's rivers and canals. These PBRs were rigged with a tape recorder and large speakers to broadcast their message, an appeal for the South Vietnamese Government's Chieu Hoi program. A sign on each side of the PBR said in Vietnamese:

This is a Chieu Hoi Rally Point. You will be welcomed here.

The PSYOP Newsletter, 14 September 1967 reminds the Army that the Navy has loudspeakers too:

U.S. Navy patrol craft operating off the coast or in the rivers of Vietnam can conduct loudspeaker broadcasts to known enemy locations along the seashore and river banks. In April of this year, one hundred and thirty-eight 350-watt loudspeaker systems with adaptable tape recorders were ordered for Naval Forces, Vietnam. As an interim measure, the U.S. Navy PSYOP Officer in the I Combat Tactical Zone has been employing speaker teams from the 244th PSYOP Company for broadcasts from U.S. Navy boats.

The U.S. Navy also did regular PSYOP campaigns as is told by their Vietnam After-action Monthly Reports. Some examples:

The 1968 Tet Psychological Operations Campaign began on 1 January with the distribution of printed material designed to instill a desire for unity under the National Government. U. S. Navy units conducted loudspeaker broadcasts providing entertainment, news and Chieu Hoi appeals throughout the coastal and river areas.

In April 1968, psychological operation efforts continued to be directed to the exploitation of the Viet Cong Tet Offensive via increased loud-speaker broadcasts and leaflet distribution. One fertile field exploited was the recruitment of juvenile males and females by the Viet Cong Among captured Viet Cong Here youths as young as 11 years of age who were used in combat, Capitalizing on this action, broadcasts were directed to parents in contested, insecure and secure areas stating that although the Viet Cong promised not to use their sons and daughters in the front lines they failed to honor their pledge.

Naval units dropped 511,000 leaflets, hand-delivered 37,600 leaflets and conducted 138.5 hours of surface and aerial broadcasts in April 1968.

On 18 May 1968, units of River Section 535 came under heavy enemy fire while distributing psychological operation material 5.5 miles northeast of Vinh Long. The PBR's suddenly came under heavy automatic weapons and B-40 rocket fire. Thirty-eight loudspeaker missions were conducted with a total of 18 of the boats drawing hostile fire, It was stated by one PBR sailor that “if you want to draw enemy fire start broadcasting.”

In November 1968, over one million leaflets were dropped, 14 loudspeaker broadcasts made and 300 posters distributed. On 5 November 1968 near the mouth of the Mekong River, 1,400,000 leaflets were air-dropped in the area surrounding the Cua Tien and Cua Dai Rivers; waterborne loudspeaker broadcasts were made during these patrols.

In January 1969, U.S. Navy loudspeaker broadcasts during the month totaled 1000 hours.

One also has to be careful about who hears the broadcasts. Kenneth Conboy says in Shadow War – The CIAs Secret War in Laos about an operation to convince the Pathet Lao that one of their dead generals was talking to them:

Ghost music and recordings allegedly in the general’s voice were played from airborne loudspeakers; on one of these flights, the broadcasting aircraft passed too close to a Royal Laos Army garrison, causing the spooked Royalist troops to desert en masse.

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ARVN soldier with loudspeaker hands a leaflet to local villager

LAOS: The 16 September 1968 declassified secret USAF report: Psychological Operations by the United States Air Force and the Vietnamese Air Force in South Vietnam says about the PSYOP war in Laos:

The USAF has supported Psychological Operations in South Vietnam and Laos with leaflet drops and loudspeaker broadcasts starting in 1965… This Trail campaign is a program against NVA infiltrators. It was initiated in January 1966, and has gradually increased in intensity since that time. It consists principally of leaflet and loudspeaker operations directed at way stations, staging and supply areas, and the routes and trails leading to these areas, which are located in North Vietnam, the Laotian Panhandle, the Laos-Republic of Vietnam Border areas and the Cambodian- Republic of Vietnam Border areas. Thematic content is designed to create fear, anxiety, and insecurity in the North Vietnamese Army soldiers on their way to South Vietnam, in order to cause defection, desertion and a loss of effectiveness in the units.

The U.S. Army 7th PSYOP Group wrote a PSYOP Intelligence Special Report in February 1972. It says in part:

To carry out these goals the Government uses posters, leaflets, motion pictures, still pictures, cartoons, travelling theatre groups, PSYOP teams, loudspeaker programs, radio broadcasts and printed media. The Government has five radio stations which transmit to an estimated 70,000 radio receivers in the country. The Government publishes Khao Phap Pacham Sapda, a weekly news and photo sheet with a circulation of 20,000.The value of leaflets were shown when large numbers of the enemy defected and stated that leaflets and loudspeaker programs were influential in their decision to desert.

The threat of not being buried near your ancestral home and having your spirit wander forever is found in dozens of propaganda leaflets. The allies used just such a campaign after the mysterious death of Pathet Lao general Phomma Douangmala in 1970. The C.I.A. claimed that the North Vietnamese had murdered the general and then left his body unburied. In addition, loudspeaker aircraft flew over Pathet Lao sites playing ghost music and a message allegedly in the voice of the dead general.

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The Australians also used loudspeakers in Vietnam. Captain ‘Algy’ Bruzga Headquarters, the 1st Australian Task Force, and a Vietnamese interpreter prepare a tape-recorded message to be broadcast to the Viet Cong. The message was broadcast from vehicles and helicopters and tells Viet Cong troops that they can obtain meals and medical attention if they surrender.

The Australian 1st PSYOP Unit in Vietnam also did many loudspeaker broadcasts. Looking through the classified Commander's Diary of Captain Meredith of June 1970, we see 27 missions listed. Many planned missions were cancelled due to bad weather. Some of the missions were:

02 June 1970 - Team B conducted loudspeaker missions on Cambodian operations.
05 June 1970 - Team A conducted loudspeaker broadcasts and dropped leaflets.
08 June 1970 - Air team conducted voice mission over suspected D445 location.
09 June 1970 - Air team conducted voice mission over suspected Chau Duc unit.
12 June 1970 - Air team conducted voice mission over suspected CA1 unit.
15 June 1970 - Air team conducted voice mission over suspected D440 unit.
21 June 1970 - Air team conducted a quick reaction voice mission in support of 2RAR.
24 June 1970 - Air team conducted voice mission over HQ Ba Long unit.

15 June 1970 - Voice mission to warn civilians to stay inside during friendly forces sweep.

I thought the readers might want to see a few of the loudspeaker messages that were saved. This was broadcast right after an airstrike on the Viet Cong:

Attention Cadre and Soldiers who are still on the other side; you have just witnessed an artillery and gunship strike. Look around you. How many of your comrades now lay suffering? Can you stop their bleeding and save their lives? We have medical personnel who can and will save them if you throw down your arms and surrender now. Give them and yourself a chance to live. Surrender now or your loved ones will mourn your death.

Here is an appeal to rally:

Attention soldiers of the Viet Cong. Will you choose life or death? There is no escape for you now! Your suffering gets greater every day. You choose now. Will it be death or Chieu Hoi? Death or Chieu Hoi? Death or Chieu Hoi? Death or Chieu Hoi?

A surrender appeal:

Attention. Attention. You are now surrounded by the Army of Vietnam and American forces. Escape is impossible. Soon we will call in artillery and airstrikes in on your positions. You will be bombed by powerful war planes, death and destruction will rain down upon you from the air. There is no place to run and hide. Ley your weapon down and Chieu Hoi or allow yourself to be captured. If you have been wounded, you will receive immediate medical attention. Chieu Hoi now to save your life.

My buddy Australian Sergeant Derrill De Heer seemed to think that the loudspeakers used by the Australians were superior to that of the Americans. He says in his Master’s dissertation Victoria per Mentum : Psychological Operations Conducted by the Australian Army in Phuoc Tuy Province South Vietnam 1965-1971 (edited for brevity):

The Australian 1st PSYOP Unit in Vietnam Voice (loudspeaker) airborne missions were carried out during the day and night. During the early phases of military operations conducted during 1970, the operational teams preferred planned night operations. There was a belief held by unit members that the local VC guerrilla units would be on the move during the evening rather than being in base camps. Evening broadcasts were expected to be more effective because the guerrilla leaders could not readily prevent their troops from hearing the message. However, it had been discovered from an interrogation of a returnee under the ‘Open Arms’ amnesty program that when a voice aircraft had flown over a base camp bunker system during the day or night, the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army Political Officer or other unit leaders would order the soldiers into the bunkers so that the broadcast message would be muffled or not heard. This was the first time it was established that the Viet Cong had instigated any direct countermeasures to the Australian propaganda broadcasts. Other returnees said that they had heard messages, but they were unable to decipher them from the background helicopter noise, or that the aircraft had been too far away.

All members of the Australian-American teams flew in US helicopters over suspected enemy base areas or areas the enemy had occupied and made broadcasts from external speakers located on the left hand side of the aircraft. The unit evaluation of these helicopter voice missions revealed that the noise from the helicopter rotor wash, particularly when the aircraft banked in a turn, drowned out the message being broadcast. It was also felt that the angle of the speakers did not allow the message to be directed downwards towards the target and its effect lessened. The use of standard flying patterns over the target area could not be undertaken because of configuration of the speakers. Some broadcast patterns allowed the aircraft to fly in circular patterns along the planned track for the mission.

Reception of the broadcast message was affected by the height of the aircraft’s flight. If it flew too high, the message could not be heard and if the aircraft was too low the output became highly distorted from the helicopter background noise. A few months before the PSYOP unit was formed, the Australian Army took delivery of the fixed wing Pilatus Porters. Bids had to be lodged for the use of these Porter aircraft for voice missions through the Task Force Command Post Air Cell. Voice broadcasts were to be undertaken in operational support of the Chieu Hoi program.

A commercial model Kudelski five-inch reel-to-reel tape recorder
broadcasting from inside a 161 Reconnaissance Flight Pilatus
Porter aircraft in Phuoc Tuy province in 1971

One particular taped message produced by the Americans for general use was the message that was referred to as “Wandering Soul,” The first part of the message could be described as electronic music with a voice in an echo chamber in Vietnamese saying “they were wounded and they did not know where they were, they were dying.” In the second part of the taped message the music changed to a slightly weirder and psychedelic style of ghostly music making the voice changes to sound like a spirit voice. The voice declared that “I am dead and my soul (spirit) is wandering,” This demonstrated how the victim was no longer in the region of the village and his “spirit” would be condemned to wander forever. The psychological effect of these taped messages even had an impact on some Australian pilots and the PSYOP observers flying with them. One pilot said the broadcasts gave him the “creeps” and he often found fault with the aircraft that prevented him from flying the assignment. On one occasion the psychological operations staff tricked the pilot by informing him that the “spooky” tape was not being used. After discovering the deceit the pilot abused them on his return to Nui Dat.

After the Australian Army purchased its own voice equipment the use, quality and range of the broadcasts increased. The Australian sound equipment power output was 1800 watts as compared to the 1000 watts US speakers. The speakers were mounted through the floor of the aircraft and as they were pointed directly towards the ground, they were more effective than the angled speakers mounted on helicopters and the loud rotor blade noise.

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A 500-W loudspeaker that was used to broadcast propaganda during the Vietnam War is kept as historical relic outside the Headquarter of the Voice of Vietnam in Hanoi. (AFP Photo/Hoang Dinh Nam)

To conclude this section, retired U.S. Army Colonel David A. Napoliello has been researching the use of the eleven Native American named helicopters used for propaganda during the Vietnam War. Here are some of his thoughts on helicopters being used for audio broadcasts over hostile territory:

Some helicopters, including the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Iroquois, and Cayuse, found themselves engaged in some rather unique missions which capitalized on their low and slow capabilities, missions that did not envision the lethal engagement and demise of their People's Army of North Vietnam or Viet Cong opponents. Helicopters became dispensers of targeted audio messages, and paper leaflet drops for those opposed to the South Vietnamese government and American and allied forces.

Most PAVN and VC combatants understood that their remains were likely never to be found, recovered, and properly buried. They would be numbered among approximately 300,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers still missing from the war. To undermine this emotional weakness, the 4th PSYOP Group initiated an operation that delivered aerial broadcasts of "eerie sounds intended to represent the souls of enemy dead who have not found peace,"admonishing the listener to avoid the same fate by ceasing fighting or defecting.

The PSYOP units would report to the supported maneuver unit, which provided the helicopter or fixed-winged aircraft from its available assets. Single or multiple high-powered loudspeakers like the 1000-watt Westerner Electric Beachmaster loudspeaker, also known as the Navy Public Address Set (PAB-1) or AN/AIQ-2 900-watt airborne speaker was mounted to the aircraft structure with the audio system including controls and cassette or reel-to-reel tape deck and microphone set-up in the cabin. The Military Assistance Command Vietnam demonstrated a "zealousness" in Vietnam for conducting loudspeaker missions. In 1969 alone, the 4th Psychological Operations Group pre-recorded 13,146 messages. It is impossible to estimate the number of broadcasts made from cassette tapes. Taped loudspeaker messages were thirty to forty seconds in length and typically produced in three dialects of Vietnamese. Typically, a daily helicopter broadcast mission was six hours with two hours of broadcasting.


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1st PSYWAR Battalion Loudspeaker Jeep in the Dominican Republic
Lieutenant Lawrence Karlock in the front right passenger seat

After 4 May 1965, the 82nd Aviation Battalion provided support for units of the division in the form of extensive aerial reconnaissance, medical evacuation, loudspeaker and leaflet drop missions, airlift or personnel and cargo, command control missions, classified missions into the interior for the U. S. Embassy and Special Forces, and provision of airlift for a platoon quick reaction force.

LTC Wallace J. Moulis, Commanding Office of the 1st PSYWAR Battalion wrote about Dominican Republic psychological operations in an article entitled "Key to a Crisis," Military Review, February 1966. He said:

Almost before the roar of their aircraft had left their ears, the radio teams with Ray Aylor, Voice of America radio engineer, were rehabilitating a 1000-watt transmitter to begin relaying Voice of America transmission from Greenville, North Carolina. Production of leaflets by mimeograph began even before the arrival of light, mobile presses. Loudspeakers took positions along the Ozama River to bring the voice of the United States to the people.

The 1st PSYWAR Battalion’s radio station, "The Voice of the Security Zone" went on the air on 5 May. It had a 5000-watt signal capable of reaching a good portion of the nation. Later, two additional transmitters were added to the network. The Army conducted 600 hours of loudspeaker operations, and broadcast over 900 hours of in-country programs. In addition, they relayed the Voice of America broadcasts for 35 days.

Hewson A. Ryan, Associate Director USIA (Policy and Plans) was assigned the task of coordinating all PSYOP in the Dominican Republic. He had been involved in the Cuban missile crisis and as a result was aware of the need for air delivery of leaflets, radio and loudspeaker broadcasts. Cooper says that to assist him, the Army sent the entire 1st PSYWAR Battalion to Santo Domingo from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, in early May. A temporary base of operations was set up in the home of the Public Affairs Officer near the American Embassy. The Battalion soon moved into a nearby school building. The Army supplied radio transmitters, mobile presses, multilith machines, loudspeaker trucks, and aircraft for leaflet and loudspeaker operations.

Captain Blaine Revis who commanded the 19th PSYOP Company from June 1964 to August 1965 told me about deploying his troops to the Dominican Republic during Operation Power pack.

We sent two loudspeaker teams augmented with two Spanish speaking linguists and a print section (a 3/4-ton truck with pod). They flew into San Isidro on D+1 on a C47 Skytrain and a C119 Flying Boxcar. Our assigned sector was rather agrarian and soon quiet and compliant. I attribute that to some extent to the rice and beans and odd C-rations that we gave out to the people, along with Latin music that we played on the loudspeakers.


This article mostly mentions U.S. PSYOP units but thousands of miles away on the Island of Taiwan we support our old WWII ally, Nationalist China. Their tradition of psychological warfare goes back decades to when they fought the Communist for control of mainland China. They lost that battle but continued to fight on using propaganda and sometimes artillery as their weapons. When the Vietnam War heated up, the Nationalist Chinese acted as mentors to the South Vietnamese and many of their political warfare techniques were Chinese in origin. Today, the Republic of China still exists, and still hopes someday to return to the mainland.

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Propaganda Envelope

The Chinese sometimes prepared gift envelopes of leaflets to present to visiting dignitaries. We show one here because along with the images of leaflets, balloons and artillery leaflet shells at the right, they have included a loudspeaker.

Irving R. Fang, in an article entitled “The Chinese-Chinese Psywar,” said in 1979 in that both sides send out their propaganda by radio, balloons, artillery shells, sea floats and loudspeakers. Small gifts were sent too; he mentioned underwear, toys and cooking oil.

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Nationalist Chinese loudspeaker vehicle

The Chinese still drill daily since any moment the Communist Chinese might decide to take the Island of Taiwan. Here we see Nationalist PSYOP troops training, supported by a loudspeaker vehicle.

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People’s Republic of China Loudspeaker Vehicle

Of course, the Communist Chinese are not standing still. Here we show the ZFB05 PSYOP armored vehicle designed and manufactured by the Chinese Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles. The PSYOP ZBF05 wheeled armored vehicle is equipped with loudspeakers mounted to the roof of the crew compartment. Search lights and a video camera are also mounted on the roof of the vehicle. One single camera is installed on the back of the vehicle. The camera can be lifted up to 6 meters high, thanks to a telescopic mast. Inside the vehicle, two television screens are available with recording and data transmission systems.

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A People’s Republic of China Loudspeaker

In 2018, the China News prepared a short TV production on the PSYOP tools of the Chinese Army. A small loudspeaker was depicted in use by a Chinese soldier. We know very little about this small speaker. Unfortunately, the script was in Chinese.

A military truck blares sound effects of fighter jets flying by, shells dropping, and tanks rolling during the Han Kuang exercise

One might think that by 2022 all this Chinese propaganda activity was a thing of the past. It is on rebound. In 2022, Russia decided to try and take back Ukraine, one of its former possessions, and the rest of the world helped Ukraine to fight for its independence. U.S. President Biden strongly backed Ukraine and in conversation said that he would also defend Taiwan should Red China try to invade and take that island nation that it had always claimed. On 28 July Biden spoke to President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China for two hours. About Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. On the same day, Taiwan decided to hold war games that used various techniques of psychological warfare. Focus Taiwan reported:

Taiwan conducts psychological warfare drill with broadcasts, leaflets: During the drill in Taoyuan, a psychological warfare task force from the Political Warfare Bureau dispatched a drone to scatter leaflets, while its trucks broadcast video and audio propaganda to boost the morale of Taiwanese soldiers in the scenario of an invasion by China. Meanwhile, a military truck blared sound effects of fighter jets flying by, shells dropping, and tanks rolling, which were all meant to distract and confuse the enemy on the battlefield, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said. According to the ministry, cognitive warfare, disinformation campaigns, and rumor spreading have become a major part of modern warfare, alongside conventional kinetic warfare. The Political Warfare Bureau's special task force can create and broadcast audio and video propaganda material and drop leaflets within 30 minutes of receiving an order to do so, according to the ministry.

The 1980 Cuban Mariel Boat Lift

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A Printing and Graphics Section Poster quoting President Carter
The United States will accept with open arms and an open heart the thousands of Cuban
Refugees who are arriving aboard the Freedom Flotilla -President Jimmy Carter
Welcome to the United States of America

On 4 April 1980, the Cuban government suddenly allowed its citizens to leave for the United States. Hundreds of small boats made the trip to Cuba and brought back family members and friends. At the same time, it was rumored that Castro had emptied his jails and forced the small boats to also take the prisoners to the United States. This operation was called the Mariel Boat Lift and resulted in a mass exodus of more than 130,000 refugees to the United States. On 7 May 1980, Operational Detachment II, 1st Psychological Operations Battalion, was alerted for deployment to Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas.

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PSYOP soldiers used a jeep-mounted loudspeaker system during the 1980s.

The detachment contained an Audio-Visual section. It initially consisted of one non-commissioned officer in charge and 6 enlisted men. The audio-visual section had three distinct missions: loudspeaker operations, movie projection and recording. Loudspeaker broadcasts comprised 90% of total missions conducted. Vehicular mounted loudspeakers proved especially effective for crowd control. Missions varied from routine announcements to crowd control during crises. A typical message like the one below was broadcast after some injuries and assaults in the camps:

Attention, attention. Silence, please, silence. Pay attention to the following instructions: If you do not live on 26 St. "The Boulevard" immediately move towards 3rd Ave. All 26 Street residents return immediately to your respective barracks. This is an inspection for your own health and well-being. It's not done with the intention of arresting someone. We are interested in obtaining and confiscating any illegal or contraband objects in the area. Starting now there will be 10 minutes of amnesty during which you will have the opportunity to get rid of any illegal object in your possession exempting you from any guilt. If you have anything illegal in your possession, drop it on the ground. If you have anything illegal inside the barracks throw it out the window. If you obey these simple instructions no actions will be taken against you.


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United States Special Forces Conducting Aerial Loudspeaker

U.S. Military Deployments to Africa: Lessons from the Hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, introduces the Lord’s Resistance Army in his report and I will use that data, although edited for brevity:

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) seems to have originated as a quasi-religious rebel group in Northern Uganda during the mid-1980s. The group is a loosely organized band of armed militants that for several years was engaged in an intense and bloody insurgency against the Ugandan government, and is now roaming the thick jungles of Central Africa. They are often described as a terrorist group by scholars, journalists and government agencies, largely because of their longstanding use of violence or the threat of violence to coerce the behavior of local populations and governments in pursuit of a political agenda.

Major Jonathan Easter wrote an article titled “A Mission of Attrition” in the January-March 2019 issue of Special Warfare. Some of his comments on Loudspeakers were:

Another technique the U.S. employed was the use of aerial loudspeaker systems. These loudspeakers were mounted on helicopters and flown over the bush to broadcast messages over a range of approximately one mile on either side of the aircraft. These systems were used to broadcast pre-recorded messages as well as live broadcasts from well-known communicators… One former LRA fighter recalls:

"We heard many messages. Since we were in Garamba National Park, we could listen to radios and the Dwog Cen Paco [‘Come Home’] program. Then on helicopter we heard voices of different people who were with us before, we even saw pictures which were dropped using the helicopter. All of them were telling us to come home. Others asked us to put our weapons down. For me, I heard my mother’s voice and saw her picture, too."

By the middle of 2004, more than 5,000 former LRA fighters had defected and applied for amnesty.

In his original Thesis, Major Easter mentioned U.S. loudspeaker operations:

Another technique the U.S. employed was the use of aerial loudspeaker systems. These loudspeakers were mounted on helicopters and flown over the bush to broadcast messages over a range of approximately one mile on either side of the aircraft.

With the aid of local partners, the Special Operations Command – Africa translated messages advertising these programs into seven languages (Acholi, Arabic, French, Lingala, Pazande, Songo, and Swahili) and used leaflets, radio, and loudspeakers for dissemination throughout the LRA’s range.


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In regard to PSYOP in Grenada, Stanley Sandler says in Cease Resistance: It's Good for You: A history of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations, 1999:

4th PSYOP Group loudspeaker teams attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, in addition to persuading significant numbers of frightened Peoples Revolutionary Army (PRA) troops to turn themselves in, confirmed the enemy's low morale as well as the desire of even some of the Cuban "Construction Battalions" to remain on the island with their Grenadian wives and families.

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U.S. PSYOP soldier reads off a prepared script in Grenada

Retired Colonel Alfred H. Paddock, writing in an article entitled “PSYOP: A Historical Perspective,” for Perspectives, Volume 22, Number 5 & 6, 2012:

There was a very successful PSYOP amnesty program. It used radio, loudspeaker, and face-to-face media to announce the governor general’s three-day amnesty program. During this period, more than 1,000 members of the People’s Revolutionary Army — over half of the main force — turned themselves in. This successful program offered rewards for weapons, ammunition, or information leading to the capture of Cubans. Conducted over an eight-week period, this campaign employed face-to-face communication, radio, loudspeakers, posters, handbills and leaflets dropped by helicopters. By mid-January 1984 more than 196 weapons, 400 grenades, 13,500 rounds of ammo, and a Soviet BTR-60 armored personnel carrier were turned in.


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Ft. Amador after the 508th Assault

On 20 December 1989, the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division conducted their first combat jump since World War II onto Torrijos International Airport on Panama. The 1st Battalion of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment had the mission of securing Ft. Amador, an installation shared by the American and Panamanian Defense Forces. PSYOP loudspeaker teams were a key asset. The battalion sealed off the Panamanian Defense Forces portion of Ft. Amador and ensured that all noncombatants were safe. After daylight, the task force set about systematically securing the area. When initial appeals failed to persuade the Panamanians to surrender, the American commander modified the broadcasts. The holdouts were warned that resistance was hopeless in the face of overwhelming firepower and a series of demonstrations took place, escalating from small arms to 50 caliber machinegun and 105mm howitzer rounds. A scout who took part in the operation told me that after the 105s were fired directly into the buildings at Amador, the Americans asked the Panamanian Defense Force survivors why they didn't surrender when the PSYOP loudspeaker kept calling for them to come out and not be harmed. They replied:

After that first 105 round hit, we couldn't hear anything!

Operations Just Cause Lessons Learned - Soldiers and Leadership, 90-9, Volume 1, October 1990, says:

The 1st Battalion of the 4th PSYOP Group provided loudspeaker teams to maneuver battalions during D-Day operations. Its mission was to assist maneuver units in convincing the PDF elements to surrender by announcing the conditions of surrender after a show of force by the maneuver unit. Its efforts to convince the PDF to surrender saved American and Panamanian lives. Additionally, PSYOP elements were critical during stability operations by assisting in refugee control, disseminating information, and participating in programs such as money for weapons.

When the 75th Rangers jumped into Panama on the first night, eight loudspeaker teams accompanied them. When the 82nd Airborne Division jumped shortly afterwards, 12 more teams accompanied them.

Major Robert W. Caspers, Executive Officer of the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion was interviewed about his part in the Panama campaign by Major Robert P. Cook of the 326th Military History Detachment on 13 April 1990. He talks about the loudspeaker teams from the 8th PSYOP Battalion. I have edited his comments for brevity:

We had been given the mission by 4th Psychological Operations Group to be the tasking contingency planning support for the PSYOP group to XVIII Airborne Corps. We side-saddled with the 1st Battalion representatives, who were, of course, the regional experts in the area to help plan the PSYOP support to the corps operation.

We worked almost at this level or within this unit in preparing for what you could call a generic operation. Very restricted information as to actual contingency provided; focused on our loudspeaker assets as the most likely portion of the unit to be utilized during this operation, which turned out for this unit to be precisely true. What we were very effective in this unit was to have both the people and the equipment required (both the man-packed and the vehicular systems) ready to move on a relatively short notice to anywhere. The loading lists and so forth that were prepared and implemented were, in fact, capable of operating in a wide variety of areas. So when it came down to a specific area, there was very little in the way of last minute changes that had to be made. This battalion, in fact, ended up deploying the three loudspeaker-equipped Humvees [M-998-series High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicles] that were actually dropped on the operation. All of which did, in fact, come up on line once recovered from the heavy drop equipment platforms and operated during Just Cause.

The process gave us seventeen people on the assault wave, actually jumping in with man-packed loudspeakers and ready to accompany the vehicular systems with liaison officers for the battalion and brigade from the 82d Airborne Division that were going in. And they all participate in the drop. Our knowledge was fairly accurate from I would say about October. We were given a set of tasks from group on equipment and number of man-packed loudspeaker teams that we had to have available. And in fact, that is, plus or minus one or two people, exactly what we ended up deploying.

Just to set the stage just a little bit, the commander, Operations and Intelligence were the three people that were most knowledgeable. So they knew precisely where we were going. Personnel and Logistics were pretty much responding as directed with little real knowledge at all of the actual content of the operation. They responded very well. It was more one of individual preparation and then monitoring our people as they moved with their supported units and in other cases, to adjust their loads as they went into detailed planning and come up with additional batteries and so forth. We had to have some additional copies of tapes for the loudspeakers made during that time frame. There were a total of I believe 40 personnel that ended up actually on the assault phase, perhaps a little more than that. Don't quote me on the exact number on that.

We were able to put, either from our own assets or from the assets of the supported units, at least one Spanish speaker with pretty good fluency with each team. Now we had to draw some Spanish speakers from the infantry units that we were supporting. Of course, only the 1st PSYOP Battalion is regionally oriented. Each of our units possesses some native Spanish speakers just by the makeup of the units. Once the loudspeakers were on the ground and had shown themselves to be effective at reducing the level of resistance met, nobody wanted to turn loose of them. An asset in hand is always better than one that somebody promises you will come back later. There are numerous stories of various loudspeaker teams, both those from this battalion and those from other areas that played very significant roles in diminishing casualties on both sides. Like capturing and processing information or helping talk people into surrendering. I think the numbers of Panamanians were very light compared to what could have developed. And we certainly can't take all the credit for that, but I do think the individual efforts of the people there on the ground really did contribute to that.

Master Sergeant Danny Elder added:

We also jury-rigged an LSS350 to an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter in the Arraijan Tank Farm and nearby Howard AFB, Panama, while playing games with the dignity battalions in 1988-1989. That caused a ruckus. I almost fell out of the thing trying to manage a huge spotlight, the loudspeaker remote while pointing my M16 out the door. Had a near disaster with the spotlight going off in the cabin as the dang thing had a hair-trigger while we were flying using night vision goggles.

Dr. Jared M. Tracy mentions loudspeakers in “Background of Loudspeaker Teams in Panama,” Office of the Command Historian, September 2019. He says in part:

Since 1st PSYOP Battalion did not have enough teams to cover its U.S. Southern Command commitment and a Panama contingency, personnel from the other 4th POG battalions (6th POB, 8th POB, and 9th POB) had to support the mission, despite having different regional alignments and language capabilities.

Supporting the Task Force RED-Tango Airborne Assault
A 1st PSYOP Battalion 37F PSYOP Soldier puts a Loudspeaker into Operation
After Parachuting onto the Runway at Torrijos-Tocumen.
Eden Tracy and Daniel Telles
From Veritas, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2019

The tactical loudspeaker teams were issued bilingual booklets entitled Loudspeaker Message Handbook prepared by the 1st PSYOP Battalion and prerecorded tapes. Some of the prerecorded messages are:

Message 1. Phase 1.

Attention, attention, attention. Everyone clear the building. Lay down your weapons. Come out one at a time with your hands on your head and you won't get hurt. The building is surrounded.

Message 1. Phase 2.

Attention, attention, attention. Everyone in the building. You have 5 minutes to lay down your weapons and come out with your hands on your head. We intend to destroy the entire building and kill all of you in it unless you do as you are told. You can't escape. The building is surrounded. Don't die when you don't have to. Your five minutes has started.

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President Manuel Noriega 1988

Perhaps the most famous loudspeaker operation of all time occurred when Noriega took sanctuary in a Vatican building A report written at the time of the Noriega surrender stated:

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Loudspeaker teams took action after Noriega sought sanctuary in the Vatican Embassy

SCN (Southern Command Network) Radio, which had been broadcasting for the Army Broadcasting Service since 1941, increased its FM schedule at the start of the invasion on December 20, 1989. It was primarily on the air to support troop morale by taking requests and playing Armed Forces Radio, CNN, and ABC programming, but on December 27 after Noriega took refuge in the Vatican Embassy, PSYOPS began blaring it through mobile loudspeakers outside of the embassy compound. Noriega was known to love opera and hated rock music with a passion, so U.S. soldiers began making requesting songs that had a “musical message” for (him)... either by the words or the song title. Songs broadcast included such titles as "I Fought the Law and the Law Won," "If I Had a Rocket Launcher," "You're Messin' with a SOB," "Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down," and "Nowhere to Run."

The Operation Just Cause After-action report adds:

When Noriega found his way into the Papal Nunciature, the song requests were almost totally aimed in his direction. Christmas Day, only Christmas music was played, but people still called in asking for musical requests with a message. The following day, the “requests” were played and the phones were constantly ringing with some very imaginative requests.

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U.S. PSYOP soldiers discuss an upcoming loudspeaker mission
during Operation Just Cause. (Photo by Kirk Wyckoff)

It is interesting to read all these comments about special music played to drive Noriega out into the open. However, we know that the loud music had nothing to do with harassing or chasing Noriega out of the Embassy. The noise was simply to allow delicate negotiations to continue inside without being overheard by the press, waiting outside by the hundreds with their parabolic microphones and dishes aimed at the embassy windows. In fact, General Marc Cisneros (commander of the U.S. Army South) and the highest-ranking Latino in the Army played a major role in the negotiations and was the man who talked General Manuel Noriega out of the embassy.

Some Loudspeaker Humor

When old soldiers get together they tend to tell war stories about the crazy stuff they did. My personal best regards a cobra and a whore house, but that is for another article. Talking about loudspeakers, Specialist (E4) William Yaworsky of the 1st PSYOP Battalion told me about some of his stunts:

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“Chesty” Puller

Bored to death by routine guard duty, PSYOP soldiers find the attraction of broadcasting unauthorized messages over the loudspeakers irresistible. During the 8 months in 1988-1989 in which I served on a loudspeaker team in Panama, unauthorized messages were not uncommon. In the summer of 1988, two of us were providing loudspeaker support to a Marine unit guarding fuel supplies at the Arraijan Tank Farm, located on the Pacific side of Panama. My teammate got the bright idea to shout “Chesty’s a leg” over the microphone, almost precipitating a small war with the Marines. Now for you civilians, Chesty Puller is a legendary Marine hero and a “leg” is an insult used by airborne troops to demean the infantry that walks to battle. Them are fightin’ words! Another time we were bored and one PSYOP soldier broadcast “What’s the word?” over the 450-watt loudspeaker system. To our astonishment a Marine gave the correct response: “Thunderbird.” This was directly from an ad for Thunderbird, a cheap whiskey you drank when you were broke.

One time my pals got back at me. Back at the Tank Farm, I was talking to an old friend from the 1/508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was filling me in with updates when all of a sudden he stopped and said, “Hey, there’s somebody calling you.” Listening to the broadcast being made by another PSYOP team deployed nearby, I heard the following message playing in Spanish: “Yaworsky…Yaworsky! This is a warning for you. We will use deadly force against you…”

One day a Marine tried his hand at PSYOP. Presumably both bored and frustrated, the Marine waited for our PSYOP broadcast to finish. After our message to stay away ceased blaring, the Marine yelled out towards the jungle: “Alright, motherfuckers! If you don’t hit the wire tonight, you’re all a bunch of fucking pussies!” No human wave of Panamanian terrorists assaulted the perimeter that night, and the one authentic attempt at communication that I witnessed between the US Marine Corps and their presumed opponents ended in failure.

Sometime the best loudspeaker stories are the ones that never happened. An old retired PSYOP officer told me a story that made me laugh. Ghosts are always interesting and during my career I was involved in two such “ghost gags.” Here is his story:

A group of PSYOP officers at the Ft. Bragg Officers Club during the Friday night “happy hour” were talking about a TV news story that said the ghost of a Cavalry officer was wandering up and down the halls of West Point. This was maybe a week before the annual Army-Navy Football game. One officer said: “Wouldn’t it be something if the West Point Ghost was haunting the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.” The magic of “happy hour” then took over.

One officer stated he could probably get a mannequin and Cavalry uniform from the Base Training Aids Office. Or, we could dress someone in the uniform and have them hang below a helicopter in a harness. Another officer who was an Army pilot said he could get a Huey as he needed to fly this month to keep his certification current. We had PSYOP loudspeakers that could be rigged to work on the helicopter and one officer knew some parachute rigger friends who could equip the helicopter with a STABO (Stable Body) harness that we could dangle the mannequin or live volunteer dressed in the old Calvary uniform.What should our ghost say from the loudspeaker-equipped Huey? We decided some eerie creepy Halloween type noises transitioning into sounds of war. Scary music had worked in Vietnam on the Viet Cong. Maybe start with rifle shots gradually increasing in volume to the roar of cannon fire.

Finally, we would turn a spotlight on the flying ghost and have a ghostly sounding voice shout “GO ARMY, BEAT NAVY!” We even discussed dropping “Go Army, Beat Navy” Leaflets from the same helicopter. With our plans written out on bar napkins we agreed to start the ball rolling on Monday morning.

Monday morning came and we were ordered to report to the 4th PSYOP Group Commander’s Office early that Morning. On reporting, we were surprised to see our Battalion Commander already there. The Group Commander informed us that he received a strange call from a friend in the Inspector General’s Office who happened to be visiting the Officers Club during happy hour on Friday. The IG reported that he had overheard an interesting conversation at the table next to him. Apparently some clearly insane officers were planning a ghostly PSYOP air assault on the U.S. Naval Academy.

The Group Commander stated that although he personally thought the idea was brilliant, the backlash on answering and justifying the military resources to the press was not worth the hassle. He admitted with a smile that it would have been an innovative PSYOP training mission.

Jaret M. Tracy wrote about loudspeakers in Panama in an article titled "Spreading the Word Fast," in VERITAS, volume 18, number 1, 2022.

When JUST Cause began at 0100 hours on 20 December 1989, approximately forty 4th PSYOP Group soldiers joined invasion forces as planned, providing loudspeaker and linguistic support to their supported units. By the end of D-Day, there were 66 personnel from the 4th POG in Panama. For several days loudspeaker teams continued to support combat and clearing operations. According to one loudspeaker operator, "We would roll up with a rifle company. I'd get with the company commander, and we would decide that we were going to broadcast into the house to try and clear out innocents before we would hit it. In three or four cases we got 50 or 60 people out of a home before the troops went in and cleared it."

I will end this section with some loudspeaker data from the booklet Psychological Operations in Panama during Operations Just Cause and Promote Liberty, U.S. Special Operations Command, Directorate of Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs, J9, MacDill AFB, Florida, March 1994. At the time this book was published, much of the Panama operation was still classified, but there is good information on loudspeaker operations:

On the tactical level, loudspeaker teams were scheduled to accompany all major ground combat units - A few months prior to the operation the designated commander of the Joint Task Force South directed loudspeaker teams be provided to support each Army and Marine Corps infantry battalion and to each SEAL battalion equivalent participating in the assault phase. That was probably the highest loudspeaker-to-combat force ratio in the history of the U.S. Military. Prerecorded TV, radio, and loudspeaker tapes; radio and loudspeaker scripts; were developed from 1987 to 1989. In May 1989, the U.S. deployed additional security forces to Panama including three loudspeaker teams. In September 1989, 4th PSYOP Group personnel were placed on recall status for possible deployment on short notice. Prerecorded tapes for loudspeakers were revised. Both tapes and booklets were taken to Panama for use by the deployed teams. The Panama population listened to, and complied with instructions from U.S. military PSYOP TV, AM radio, and loudspeaker broadcasts. Tactical loudspeaker teams contributed to demoralization of the Panama Defense Forces and Dignity Battalions and to the cessation of hostilities and surrender.

The loudspeaker message handbook and extracts. The bilingual handbooks were carried by Tactical
PSYOP Loudspeaker Teams, along with prerecorded tapes of the same messages in Spanish.


Then Major Jack N. Summe wrote an article titled "PSYOP Support to Operation Desert Storm" in Special Warfare, December 1992.

Although loudspeaker operations were not highly publicized, they were extensive, and they played an important role in the overall PSYOP effort. Designed to support specific corps- and division-level tactical operations, loudspeaker operations focused on communicating with the enemy and reinforcing leaflet and broadcast messages of futility and surrender.

Loudspeakers were also used in deception operations to simulate the movement of heavy combat equipment to disclose enemy artillery positions to counter-battery and TAC air fire. Marine Corps units were particularly successful with both types of loudspeaker operations, and the XVIII Airborne Corps used loudspeakers successfully to encourage enemy surrender prior to the beginning of the ground campaign.

Loudspeaker operations used Kuwaiti and Saudi linguists attached to the tactical-support PSYOP battalions as well as linguist's organic to the 4th PSYOP Group. Of the EPWs post-tested, 34 percent were exposed to loudspeaker operations, 18 percent believed the PSYOP message, and 16 percent stated that loudspeaker operations induced surrender or defection. Such response proves that loudspeaker operations are not obsolete in a large armor-heavy ground operation.

The June 2022 Psychological Operations Veterans Association Newsletter added:

During Desert Storm the 4th PSYOP Group fielded 71 Tactical loudspeaker teams. These teams provided support to USARCENT (both XVIII Airborne Corps and VII Corps), USMARCENT and USSOCCENT. Loudspeaker teams broadcast surrender appeals, harassment, and deception tapes.

Most loudspeaker teams had Saudi Arabian, Egyptian or Kuwaiti linguists attached to execute live broadcasts as the situation dictated. Loudspeaker teams were also innovatively employed for prisoner control at the EPW camps with broadcasts designed to accomplish prisoner pacification and underscore Military Police authority.

One of the best examples of the successful use of loudspeakers occurred during the Gulf War. The allied coalition effectively isolated, both physically and psychologically, a large element of Iraqi forces on Faylaka Island. Rather than reduce the island by direct assault, a tactical PSYOP team from the 9th PSYOP Battalion, aboard a UH-1N helicopter, flew aerial loudspeaker missions around the island with cobra gunships providing escort. The message told the adversary below to surrender the next day in formation at the radio tower. The next day 1,405 Iraqis, including a general officer, waited in formation at the radio tower to surrender to the Marine forces without a single shot having been fired.

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Members of the 245th PSYOP Company during Operation Desert Storm

There are at least three cases where PSYOP troops used music during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. During the initial ground attack across the Saudi-Iraqi border, the American armor advanced north through the sand berms to PSYOP loudspeaker broadcasts of “The Ride of the Valkyries,” reminiscent of the movie “Apocalypse Now.” The PSYOP loudspeaker unit was attached to broadcast surrender messages, but the armor commander thought it was better used as a morale booster on the initial breakthrough. A day later the United States Marines crossed the Saudi-Kuwait barrier as PSYOP loudspeakers played “The Marine Hymn.” At the end of the brief war, a PSYOP team searched for a suitable victory song to play as the guns fell silent. Perhaps the signature song of Operation Desert Storm was Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” but it was unavailable. As a result, the final song of the war played by PSYOP loudspeakers was James Brown’s ‘I feel good.”

Master Sergeant Danny Elder

Master Sergeant Danny Elder added:

We normally used the AEM 900-watts system, but we did fabricate a helicopter floor mount for a 2700-watt system using three 900s in a series. I used a vehicle AEM 450 system rigged to the floor in a Blackhawk during the capture of Tallil Air Base in 91 during Desert Storm. The door gunner literally kept us from getting shot down.

A lot of people WRONGLY say that the messages cannot be heard when these are used from aircraft. They are WRONG. By using messages 30 seconds or less and repeated three times while in a low fast circle of the target audience, they can not only hear it but understand it well. I have personally witnessed enemy soldiers following our directions exactly as we were giving them. Of course, the Cobra running as our wingman helped a great deal in convincing them.

We very effectively used a simple jerry-rigged 450 vehicle system during the capture of Tallil AFB in 1991. I personally saw Iraqi T-72 tanks turn their guns around and down along with hundreds of Iraqi Soldiers unloading their weapons and pointing their mussels down while heading toward a designated assembly area in accordance with our surrender appeals. Initial reports said only 60 Iraqi Soldiers, but that was just the initial group who surrendered. Tallil was a big area, and the Iraqi Soldiers were in bad shape, so it took a while for all of them to get to the Assembly area. 450 Civil Affairs troops were running several busses of captured Iraqis to detention centers over the course of most of the day. We picked up a few more when we landed next to a big MI24 "Hind" helicopter gunship.

Later, we also used the same system to evacuate Iraqi civilians in Khamisiyah as soon as possible when mismarked Katusha Rockets were destroyed resulting in an exceptionally large wave of Sarin Nerve Gas.

The reason the outward loudspeakers are slightly canted outward is that the normal left and right yaw of the aircraft causes the sound to fade in and out. Canting the outward loudspeakers slightly outward mitigates that. I was the one supervising the fabrication of the speaker floor mounts. We designed them to work in both MH-60 Black Hawk and UH-1 Hueys. I cannot remember the actual degrees we used after we conducted some tests.

One system was created to mount loudspeakers on attached wings in lieu of a fuel tank. That was not well thought-out as that limited the gunner's field of fire, and VERY FEW MH60 Blackhawks have access to the wings which made it about impossible to task a Blackhawk capable of using the system intended. In addition, Marines at the time still had upgraded Hueys and not UH-60s.

We instead would just leave the wing loudspeaker system in the transportation rack and *jerry-rig* it to the floor in the same position as the older Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corp AEM systems.

The January 2023 issue of VERITAS, the Journal of U.S. Army Special operations History, featured an article titled, “Building the Airplane in Flight, PSYOP In operation Desert Shield, Part 2, by Dr. Jared M. Tracy. He says in part about loudspeakers, (edited for brevity):

As radio, leaflet, and video equipment trickled into theater, one to two-man loudspeaker teams from 9th PSYOP Battalion began dispersing throughout the coalition (primarily XVIII Airborne Corps units). The 8th PSYOP Task Force allotted some Arabic speakers to the loudspeaker mission, but not enough for every team. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) at Fort Bragg also tried to identify Arabic speakers within its formations for this mission. However, there were never enough to go around, which forced PSYOP units to rely on pre-taped messages and Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti interpreters. Another problem was a shortage of serviceable vehicle-mounted and man-pack loudspeaker systems.

Into early 1991, the 8th POTF (with around fifty loudspeaker systems in its possession) shuffled loudspeaker teams around the coalition. By that point, loudspeaker teams had been attached to the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, 1st Cavalry Division, 24th Infantry Division, 5th Special Forces Group, the 16th Military Police (MP) Brigade, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions, and other units from U.S. Marine Corps Central (MARCENT) which alone would ultimately have around 25 teams).

A 9th PSYOP Battalion team was also attached to the 18th Aviation Brigade to man a 2,700-watt loudspeaker (with a two-to-three-mile range), mounted on a UH-1H Iroquois (‘Huey’) helicopter. To help integrate PSYOP into operational planning, including loudspeaker team assignments and activities, the 8th POTF seeded Liaison Officer teams throughout the coalition. Like the loudspeaker teams, the LNO team requirement fell heavily on 9th POB. Despite the in-theater presence of more than 400 soldiers from PSYOP units, there were still not enough to support the entire coalition.

On 1 December, USCENTCOM received the formal request for additional forces, which would consist of some 200 soldiers and equipment from the Fort Bragg-based 6th POB and select USAR units. Ten days later, GEN Schwarzkopf forwarded to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) his request for these forces to deploy no later than 16 January 1991.

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Task Force Troy loudspeaker equipped M113

There were numerous deception operations using loudspeakers during Operation Desert Storm. In one, the American tried to convince the Iraqis that they were facing entrenched American troops while those same troops had moved far to the west in what has been called the “Hail Mary” maneuver. General Tommy Franks says in his autobiography American Soldier, Harper-Collins Books, NY, 2004:

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

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

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Failaka Island

The allied coalition effectively isolated a large element of Iraqi forces on Failaka Island. Rather than reduce the island by direct assault, a tactical PSYOP team from the Marine forces, aboard a UH-1N helicopter, flew aerial loudspeaker missions around the island with cobra gunships providing escort.

The message told the Iraqis below that should anyone wish to do so, they had until the next day to demonstrate their intention to surrender by relocating away from their defensive positions to the large radio tower on the island. The next day, to everyone's surprise, 1,405 Iraqis, including a general officer, waited in formation at the radio tower to surrender to the Marine forces without a single shot having been fired.

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Staff Sergeant Bernard (left) Staff Sergeant Wright (center) with loudspeaker equipped Marine UH-1N

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Loudspeaker UH1N returning from 1st Scarface mission

Staff Sergeant Larry Wright, NCOIC of the Marine Task Force’s 1st Marine Division Detachment, had this to say about the mission:

The 2700 watt loudspeaker system was the accountable property of LTC Kelliher, Commander, PSYOP Dissemination Battalion (PDB). It was an original component of the system used in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, and had been partially cannibalized when PDB technicians reconfigured it for airborne deployment. Effective range based on ground tests was up to 5.5 miles depending on wind direction.

The two UH-1N helicopters were Marine Commanding General Boomer’s personal birds. When airborne, the loud speaker effectively broadcasted just over 3 miles. The Marine codename for our missions was “Scarface” and we were the only game in town for the Huey pilots (GEN Boomer was holding them in reserve) so we had an abundance of enthused pilots. The pilots always wanted us to play “Flight of the Valkyries” as they buzzed the compound at lift off.

The Failaka Island loudspeaker mission is mentioned in depth on Special Operations Forces: Roles and Missions in the Aftermath of the Cold War, DIANE Publishing, 1995:

Radio and tactical loudspeaker appeals from 66 teams helped encourage tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers deployed in Kuwait to desert and defect. In one instance, almost 500 Iraqis surrendered en masse to the 101st Airborne Division just before the ground assault was launched. In another case, over 1,400 enemy troops, including a general officer, were standing in formation, ready to surrender when the Marines came ashore on Failaka Island…PSYOP appeals ultimately helped persuade over 86,743 Iraqis to surrender in the Kuwaiti theater. Additionally, as part of Joint Task Force Proven Force in Turkey, 21 PSYOP soldiers were credited with the surrender of 40,000 Iraqi soldiers in Northern Iraq, without firing a shot.

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Iraqi bunker complex

Another interesting operation occurred when an Iraqi bunker complex was discovered right in the middle of General Schwarzkopf’s “Hail Mary.” How to quietly remove the enemy? In order not to reveal the Coalition plans, the western theater of operation, where the “left hook” offensive was about to be launched, was spared the brunt of the air attacks. On 20 February 1991, just a few days before the ground assault was to begin, an Iraqi bunker complex was discovered at Thaqb Al Hajj which was right smack in the middle of the road that the 101st Airborne Division wanted to use for its main supply route. As the enemy's size and strength was unknown, this posed a real threat to the 101st Airborne Division's assault plans.

The 101st Airborne Division's PSYOP Liaison team formed an impromptu 3-man loudspeaker team. When the team arrived at the site some 60 miles north of the division's position, they found not one, but a network of thirteen bunkers within the enemy complex. The team first tried dropping leaflets but the enemy below showed no response to the leaflets. The team then attempted to use the man packed loudspeaker system by having a member hang out the helicopter holding the speaker in his hands while another read from a script that was flapping in the wind. Add to this scenario the accompanying backwash of the helicopter rotor blades and the effort appeared fruitless.

The team then asked the pilot to put them on the ground. They carried the loudspeaker to a hill about 500 meters from the Iraqis where they again started broadcasting. Slowly, Iraqi soldiers began coming out of the bunker complex. The team counted about 20 enemy soldiers when they received a radio call from their Blackhawk pilot informing them that they had to go as he was running low on fuel. When they arrived back at the base the team and the pilot started receiving congratulations from everyone on the ground. They discovered that their decision to broadcast on the ground had resulted in the entire complex, some 435 enemy soldiers of the 45th Division, choosing to surrender.

Let’s hear the story in the words of one of the men on the mission as found in the 1993 booklet Psychological Operations during Desert Storm – A post-Operational Analysis.

We had to persuade the company commander to let us PSYOP people try coaxing the alleged 20 Iraqi Guards out of their underground bunker. “Sir, the 101st has been pounding all morning and didn’t do it,” we said, “so why not give us a try?” The three of us arranged for a Blackhawk helicopter to take us to the bunker area.

When we arrived, we began dropping leaflets.

Nothing happened — no surrenders, no movement, nothing. We flew back to base and decided to try loudspeakers. We jumped back on the Blackhawk, this time with our speaker system and an audio cassette tape. We pointed to a spot on the ground about 800 meters from the bunker and started broadcasting downward.

Again nothing. We figured we couldn’t be heard because of the noise of the rotor blades. We motioned to our pilot to land near the spot. With serious reservation but with a kind of a feeling of protection from another Blackhawk up to our right plus three Apaches in the area, the pilot eventually let us down. He took right off, yelling he’d stay with us over the radio.

Three of us were now on the ground staring at this bunker with 20 Republican Guards in it. Captain Wright lifted the speaker from the sand, then me and Jensen picked up the cord and other stuff. We started running closer. We stopped dead after about 200 more meters, put our equipment on the ground, snapped in the tape, and started blasting the surrender message.

Still nothing. After a while, Captain Wright lifted the speaker again and began carrying it even closer. He kept walking until the electrical cord jerked him to a stop at 50 meters. He stood up and pushed the speaker high over his head, and like some kind of statue, he stood there for a while pointing the speaker at the bunker.

Nothing! I turned off the tape and told Jensen, who was fresh out of language school, to go live, and to keep on talking until something happens. After a few minutes, a voice crackled over our radio. It was our pilot saying he’d spotted movement. We began to see it. Little by little, and soldier by soldier, movement started to come from that hole. The Iraqis coming out were waving little white flags instead of weapons. About 20 came out before our pilot ordered us to return to base to refuel.

When we finally got back, the three of us and the pilot started getting all kinds of congratulations. The guys were saying we captured not 20 Iraqis that Intelligence said were in the bunker, but about 435 Iraqis. The Republican Guards just kept crawling out after we left.

4th Psychological Operations Group Capabilities Handbook

This 55-page booklet was issued by the 4th Psychological Operations Group prior to Operation Desert Storm to let all the combat commands know what they could accomplish as a force-multiplier. It explains their capabilities in printing, radio, loudspeakers, audio-visual, etc. Regarding loudspeakers, it says in part:

The primary dissemination media of the tactical battlefield is the loudspeaker. Loudspeaker operations are conducted by three-man dismounted teams or mounted teams using the M1025 HMMWV. Loudspeaker missions are also adaptable to other platforms based on the supported unit's mission, to include helicopters, patrol boats. And tracked vehicles.

The AN/LSS-40 Loudspeaker System

The 9th PSYOP Battalion currently utilizes three series of loudspeakers. The AN/LSS-40 350-watt systems are utilized by dismounted teams and can achieve effective broadcast ranges of 700 to 1000 meters -The AEM 450 and 700/900-watt systems mounted in the M1025 can attain ranges of 1000 to 1800 meters.

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Man packed Long Ranger II loudspeaker system

A supplemental loudspeaker system, the Long Ranger II has recently been fielded for short range/duration broadcast and deception missions. It has an effective range of 100 meters.

The Helicopter Loudspeaker System

2100-watt and 2700-watt loudspeakers are available for use on the UH-60 and UN-1 aircraft. Both systems have an audible range of 2-3 miles and can broadcast live or cassette recorded messages. Either speaker can be mounted on a plate that bolts to the troop door floor of either aircraft.

In the 13th Psychological Operations Battalion (EPW) during mobilization, Desert Shield / Desert Storm and Demobilization, 1993, Colonel James P. Noll mentions the use of loudspeakers in the prisoner of war camps:

Numerous disturbances within the EPW camps were defused by direct intervention of 13th Battalion PSYOP camp teams with back-pack loudspeakers…Over our loudspeaker systems, the teams played music and rebroadcasted recordings from the “Voice of the Gulf,” the U.S. PSYOP radio station. But during prayer time, we would stop and play a recorded Moslem “Call to Prayer.” In this manner, we were able to deliver our PSYOP messages to the Iraqi EPW with maximum effectiveness.

The 13th PSYOP Battalion Also used prisoners in the field against the enemy:

The 48th Iraqi Infantry Division was targeted with concentrated leaflet drops and broadcasted surrender appeals. This culminated in the mass surrender of an entire battalion, to include the commander. A three-man tactical PSYOP loudspeaker team was airlifted into the Iraqi battalion position and used to organize the prisoner extraction by CH-47 helicopter. The broadcasted surrender appeal used on the Iraqi battalion which surrendered enmasse was produced by a prisoner from the 48th Division.

Of course, everything did go as planned. There were sometimes problems with the supported combat units. A PSYOP Liaison officer during Operation Desert Storm wrote several reports of loudspeaker operations. I edit them for brevity and add them here.


On 28 February 1991 one loudspeaker team prepared and broadcast a surrender tape. Due to the overwhelming multinational force's combat power and the lack of the enemy's will to fight their entire force surrendered.

On 2 March 1991, a loudspeaker team in a UH-60 helicopter were sent over enemy forces at Talil airfield with no aircover or ground fire support as was promised. Even without the fire support the mission was successful and the loudspeaker team persuaded 60 armed Iraqi soldiers to drop their weapons and surrender.


Of four loudspeaker teams supporting the 82nd Airborne Division, only two had secure FM voice communication capability. Secure FM voice communication capability is a must for all teams because that is what the supported tactical teams use. For command and control they expect all teams to be on the net.

The 9th PSYOP Battalion needs tactical environment vehicles in every theater of operations. Supported brigades and battalions were reluctant to provide transportation for the PSYOP teams and often left them to fend for themselves. In one case a team was left in the desert with no transportation. Another team was told to get vehicles from Civil Affairs because "they were all the same." The 9th POB must coordinate for additional vehicles and systems for future operations. Each team must have a HMMWV, a 900 (preferable) or 450 system, plus a 350 system as a backup and to give dismounted capability to the team.

The maintenance team was located at Quasumah Airfield throughout Desert Storm. The PSYOP equipment was to be sent there as needed. After the first jump, the maintenance unit was 225 kilometers away. After the second jump it was 250 kilometers away. The maintenance team should be located centrally in the XVIII Airborne Corps operational area and move forward when the divisions move.


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Loudspeaker equipped helicopter in Haiti

Loudspeakers are mentionerd in the United States Army Special Operations Command Historical Monograph: Operation Uphold/Restore/Maintain Democracy: the role of Army Special Operations, November 1991-June 1995. It says in part:

Loudspeaker teams flew 67 missions in support of ground operations. Using Blackhawk helicopters from the 10th Mountain Division as their support platform, the messages broadcast varied from surrender appeals during the seizure of weapons caches to the very popular reggae tune “Up with Peace.” The song itself proved especially effective in conveying the message that Aristide's arrival meant a return to peace and tranquility. The Joint Psychological Operations Task Force had contracted for the writing and production of both the lyrics and the music for song. In village after village where PSYOP helicopters announced their arrival with the playing of “Up with Peace,” crowds gathered to listen.

The general story is told in The Concise History of the U.S. Army in Operation Uphold Democracy, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Press, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, 1998. It says in part:

From December 13-17, roughly seven million leaflets were released over Port au Prince, Cap Haitien, and Les Cayes…the Air Force dropped roughly 10,000 radios across parts of Haiti…Both Joint Task Force 180 and 190 incorporated Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs) with loudspeakers.

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Each team normally consisted of four persons, although some split into two-person teams in support of remote Special Forces operations. Those TPTs that would have supported a forced entry were armed with taped messages in Creole demanding immediate surrender.

The 4th PSYOP Group booklet PSYOP Support to Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY adds:

Tactical PSYOP Teams would eventually conduct over 760 ground PSYOP missions covering an area from the northern tip of Haiti near Port-de-Paix to the southwestern city of Jeremie. Aerial loudspeaker teams flew 67 missions in support of ground operations, facilitating PSYOP dissemination in the rugged and mountainous regions bordering the Gulf of Gonave and in other denied areas.

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Tactical PSYOP Loudspeaker Teams in Haiti

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Arata adds in an article entitled Psychological Operations in Haiti, Small Wars Journal, April 2005:

PSYOP teams would use their loudspeakers and linguists to communicate the consequences of certain actions. Finally, they would give directions for subsequent actions or movement. Tactical PSYOP teams also helped with the seeking out and capture of several known members of the FRAPH who were wanted by the joint task force headquarters for questioning. In early October, one task force planned a series of raids on suspected locations of members of an activist political organization and other hostile individuals known as attaches. The tactical commander decided to use a graduated response tactic that began with TPTs broadcasting surrender messages, followed by a countdown sequence. Approximately 80% of the individuals at each objective surrendered and the rest offered no resistance when the assault team entered the building. Not a shot was fired during the entire operation. Again, a well-planned and well executed PSYOP campaign, in direct support of the tactical commander’s mission and intent, was invaluable to the successful and safe accomplishment of the mission.

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U.S. PSYOP Loudspeaker Team in Haiti

In the Special Operations History magazine Veritas, Volume 11, No. 1, 2015, Dr. Jared Tracy wrote about Haiti in an article entitled “A True Force Multiplier – Psychological Operations in Operation Uphold Democracy, 1994-1995. Some of the loudspeaker messages mentioned by Tracy are:

Encouraged pro-Cedras militants to lay down their arms; Neighborhood crime watch; preventing Haitian-on-Haitian crime violence; political reconciliation; No to violence, no to vengeance, yes to reconciliation; Support Aristide; Turn in you weapons for cash.

The 2nd Group deployed 67 reservists to Haiti, assigned from Cap Hatien in the north to Jeremy Jagmel in the south. They put 18 loudspeaker teams in the field.

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Corporal Aquila Knopf handing out leaflets from Loudspeaker Vehicle

Corporal Aquila Knopf handing out leaflets and conducting loudspeaker information operations in the Grand'Anse District of Haiti in support of the 20th Special Forces Group from the Alabama National Guard. Corporal Knopf was a member of the 320th PSYOP Battalion (then 320th PSYOP Company), of the 7th PSYOP Group, an Army Reserve unit based out of Portland, Oregon. His team was made up of 12 Special Forces operators, 2 PSYOP specialists, 2 translators, and 1 or 2 Civil Affairs specialists. The leaflets and loudspeaker broadcasts were on the subject of how to vote and how to utilize the new justice system. Loudspeakers were used since a large portion of the adult population (sometimes as high as 50%) was illiterate. To reinforce the message, he asked the children to read the leaflets to their parents. Also, he always ensured the back of the leaflets were blank so the children could use it for note paper in school. The first Haitian phrase he learned was Garcon, patage si vous plais (“Children, share please”) since handing out leaflets could turn into a chaotic mess rather quickly as the children fought to get the largest number of leaflets possible.

Corporal Knopf told me:

Our call-sign was Delta Eight Romeo; however, after 7 of the 18 contracted of us contracted Dengue fever (present company included) we earned the nickname “Dengue Eight Romeo.” I am 19 years old and bare-chested in this photo because I wanted a sun tan and my sergeant gave me permission.


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PSYOP Loudspeaker Humvee with Patrol

On 3 December 1992, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 794. The Council authorized the United States offer to help create a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid in Somalia and authorized, under Chapter VII of the Charter, the use of "all necessary means" to do so. United States President George Bush responded to Security Council resolution 794 with a decision on 4 December to initiate Operation Restore Hope, under which the United States would assume the unified command.

The first elements of the Unified Task Force came ashore on the beaches of Mogadishu without opposition on 9 December 1992. The first PSYOP soldiers deployed from Fort Bragg to Mombasa, Kenya, where they joined the U.S. 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Tripoli. They accompanied the initial Marine landing at Mogadishu. As most people know, a “mission creep” eventually occurred, leading to major battles, “Blackhawk down” and the United States pulling out of Somalia. We will just mention the loudspeaker operations. Many of the comments are from Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Borchini Commander of the 8th PSYOP Battalion.

One of the civilians working for LTC Borchini was a Somali named Abdi Hirad. He served in Somalia from December 1992 to May 1993 along with over 100 other translators and linguists working with the operation. The civilians were sent to Somalia in military aircraft, wore U.S. battledress uniforms, and were fed and billeted by their supported units. He told me:

For the first operation in Somalia (Operation Restore Hope), my main tasks were: Consultant augmenting the US Army's Joint Psychological Operation Task Force; I managed a radio station that broadcast daily programs, supervised and trained local employees; edited a daily newsletter, translated leaflets, handbills, posters, and handbooks; and produced mine awareness literature and recorded loudspeaker messages.

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PSYOP Loudspeaker teams advised the people not
to block the roads or interfere with the covoys

The 4th PSYOP Group mentions the use of loudspeaker teams in Somalia:

From the initial landing on the beach at Mogadishu to the transition to UNOSOM II, the eight loudspeaker teams participating in Operation Restore Hope faced many different challenges. The loudspeaker teams broadcast numerous messages, including surrender appeals, instructions during weapons sweeps and at roadblocks and announcements to organize crowds at feeding sites.

Restoring Hope in Somalia with the Unified Task Force 1992-1993 goes into more depth:

To ensure this valuable support [PSYOP] was planned and integrated into the UNITAF operation, a joint psychological operation task force was organized under the supervision of the director of operations, Brigadier General Anthony C. Zinni. This specialized task force, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Borchini, USA, was formed from elements of the Army's 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne). The nucleus of the task force came from the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion and the Product Dissemination Battalion. The 9th Psychological Operations Battalion provided two brigade psychological operations support elements and eight loudspeaker teams. These last units were attached to the 7th Marines, and the Army's 10th Mountain Division. On 9 December, loudspeaker teams accompanied the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit during the initial landings. A Marine CH-53 carded a team for the first leaflet drop over the city of Mogadishu. After that, loudspeakers and leaflet drops were a part of each movement of coalition forces into the relief sectors.

Loudspeaker teams were conspicuous during the Marine assault against the weapons storage sites in Mogadishu in early January and in the Army's efforts against the forces of Mohamed Said Hirsi (General Morgan) in Kismayo in February. They accompanied coalition forces on sweeps of arms markets and during Clean Street operations.

Speaking of the loudspeaker teams, Major General Charles E. Wilhelm, the Marine Forces commander, summed up the value of the psychological operations efforts: "They reduced the amount of unnecessary bloodshed by convincing Somali gunmen to surrender rather than fight."

In a 2001 televised interview on C-Span, then full Colonel Charles P. Borchini added:

PSYOP saves lives. Some argue that it is a combat multiplier it can help magnify the impact of overall military operations. It's also a diplomatic multiplier to help magnify what our diplomats are trying to accomplish. It can reduce the incidence of combat and also save the lives of American soldiers and the lives of our allies and coalition partners and friends as well as the lives of the civilians that are caught in the middle of a battle.

When we were in Somalia, the Marines rolled into Mogadishu and then later they entered the other outlying towns in the different sections. We helped prepare the battlefield for the arrival of the Marines for several days before they arrived. We would drop leaflets out of the helicopters or planes that would say: “U.S. forces are coming to provide security for humanitarian relief operations. Don't interfere with them.” When the Marines arrived, we dropped more leaflets and also sent loudspeaker teams in to the town to help keep the peace.

Sometimes the Marines would approach the small walled compounds where the enemy kept the “Technicals,” armed pickup trucks with machine-guns and other weapons. The Marines would surround these compounds with their tanks and their “Humvees,” and men with their machine guns and M-16s. We would have one soldier who could speak the language get on a loudspeaker and say: “Put your weapons down and your hands up and walk out slowly. You will be allowed to leave peacefully.” Every time that they did that in the early days in Somalia, it worked. It saved the lives of the Marines and the Somalis.

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Specialist 4 Jamie Santos eating Ramen noodles for breakfast
from a canteen cup while waiting for the chopper - 3 October 1993
Photographed by Matt Reilly - Etching by Scott Sullen

Sergeant Joe Zimmerman and Specialist 4 Jamie Santos of the 9th PSYOP Battalion used a loudspeaker Humvee while deployed to Somalia. They operated out of Bardera and used their 700-watt loudspeaker to convince the Somalis to cooperate rather than to fight. The team traveled from the Somali capital of Mogadishu along 300 miles of pitted, dusty roads to the lawless towns of Baidoa and Bardera, helping the 7th Marine Battalion expand the security umbrella over much of the country.

Matt Reilly told me a little bit about the daily life of a Loudspeaker soldier in Somalia:

This started just before Christmas in 1992. I was happy to get a deployment out of Ft. Bragg. I slept under a generator on a C-141 out of Pope AFB. The flight was about 20 hours with in-air refueling 2 or 3 times and we landed at Cairo. Then into Humvees for the drive into Mogadishu, then on to the old U.S. embassy compound.

They started me writing and reporting for the propaganda newspaper RAJO. Then I caught some details filling and loading sandbags for the dining facility. After a while I took some Rest and relaxation (R&R) in Mombasa, a coastal city of Kenya along the Indian Ocean. I got food poisoning the very first night. Then back to Mogadishu.

Shortly afterwards, I was sent to Bardera, an important agricultural city in Bardhere District, Gedo region of Somalia. The airstrip was full of Marines, Seabees, and a few Army types. We did some loudspeaker missions in an armored Humvee. I had brought some personal mixed music tapes, including some nostalgic Vietnam tunes. I was ordered to fly a Marine C-130 loudspeaker mission with an electrician with the 2700-watt system to tell the people about our spraying for mosquitoes. As a pretest to the mission, we hooked the 2700-watt system to our Humvee. With my personal tape I blasted out the Jimi Hendrix version of the National Anthem as a test. When the music was over, I could hear the whole camp shouting and clapping. That was a great moment for me. The next day we mounted that 2700-watt system on a Marine Huey helicopter.

The next morning as I was eating breakfast, out of the morning sun comes this Marine Huey and it buzzes the airfield playing "I Can't get no Satisfaction." That was right out of "Apocalypse Now." Just another day in the life of a loudspeaker monkey.

The Blackhawk Helicopter in Somalia

Sergeant First Class Joel Krall told me that Members of both A and B Company of the 9th PSYOP Battalion took part in the Somalia operations. He remembers taking that UH60 Blackhawk to Somalia. It was used all through the operation and the leadup to the battle of Mogadishu. He told me:

The loudspeaker array was a last-minute purchase from Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corporation and there was no hardware for us to install it. So, MSG Danny Elder and I took the parts to the Mobile Maintenance Depot and literally did an emergency fabrication from speaker wings to a mounting plate. The plate was a problem and had to go over to the Army Airfield to mark mounting holes for the UH60. The 2100/2700 Loudspeaker system did not have a dedicated airframe. Which is why we fabricated it so it could go from UH 60 to UH 60. This was the newest system of its type and the only one used in Somalia to my knowledge. Another problem was determining where to get the electric power to charge the loudspeakers. There was an auxiliary power place for an auxiliary power unit, and we had to get one of those too. The 9th PSYOP Battalion S4 (Logistics) opened most of the doors for us, but then came the mounting of the amplifiers in a fabricated box. That took about 36 hours as I recall, and then into my trailer on my hummer and onto the chopper. We did not have time to test it before deployment, but we did some tests at Baledogle before taking it to Kismayo. I did manage to fly a couple of missions with it after the battle of Mogadishu. During the Blackhawk Down phase of the operation, the chopper took part in the Durant hostage crisis when Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant was almost killed by an angry Somali mob while in the downed helicopter but was taken prisoner instead. After 12 days in a violent captivity, he was set free.

Years after I wrote this article, the website We are the Mighty added more about the mission in an article titled POW in Mogadishu, by Blake Stillwell. He said in part:

This makes for an agonizing scene, with Durant suffering from a broken cheekbone, eye socket, back, femur, and nose as the sun goes down over Mogadishu. He thought he was going to die. And the Somalis did try to kill him three times. But the Army did not just remind one of their soldiers that he would not be left behind, his friends in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment wanted him to know they were actively looking for him and they would not stop until they found him. When you’re in captivity, if you hear an aircraft, it obviously gets your attention because the first thing you’re trying to determine is, do they know where I am?

Durant heard a telltale BONG of his favorite song, and then the opening lines of AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells. It was an incredible moment, Durant recalled. They had loudspeakers attached to this Black Hawk, flying around the city, broadcasting this music. That’s when the voice bellowed the words echoed in the movie: Mike, we won’t leave here without you.


Propaganda loudspeakers in the door of a Blackhawk helicopter

Staff Sergeant Anthony Hardie of B Co, 9th PSYOP Battalion, sent me a picture of his 2700-Watt loudspeaker in Somalia. The loudspeakers sit in the door of a Blackhawk helicopter. On his inaugural flight in Somalia from Kismayu he imitated APOCALYPSE NOW and played the Flight of the Valkyries. He flew many missions with this chopper and loudspeakers during the early phase of Operation Restore Hope in southern Somalia. SSG Hardie told me:

My teams and I did a few missions with the Blackhawk during Operation Restore Hope in early 1993. The Blackhawk was based at the Kismayo airport (we were based at the Port of Kismayo). We did various broadcast missions, including curfews and other public service-type announcements, and at least one consolidation mission. We also did various leaflet drops. On one Blackhawk mission over a village out beyond Kismayo, our messaging was not well received, and I will never forget the sound of bullets pinging off the Blackhawk as the pilot rushed us upwards out of range. That mission was a leaflet drop, but while my memory is fading, I believe it was also simultaneously a loudspeaker mission. It was especially challenging that our Somali-American translator had a severe fear of heights and flying with the door open caused special challenges for him, including the time he vomited out the open door and the rotor wash blew it back in on him.

There were also issues with sound quality and altitude, too low and the broadcast was overpowered by the noise of the Blackhawk; too high and it was lost entirely. As we learned during our combat deployments, we had to improvise, adapt, overcome, and relearn a lot of key knowledge that was certainly gained during Vietnam, and then lost. It was during this deployment that we perfected (rediscovered?) the use of the cheap-trash-bag method of helicopter leaflet delivery rather than the unwieldy, ineffective BOX method we had been taught at the Special Warfare Center and School. The trash bag method used a thin, poor-quality trash bag, filled with leaflets. We shook the leaflets in the bag to get a good mix (like laundry in a washing machine) so they were not stuck together in big stacks that were heavy and would fall too far, too fast. We used a tie-down ratcheting cable tied tightly around the top of the bag. For leaflet deployment, toss the bag out into the rotor wash, attached to the inside of the helicopter of course. The rotor wash forced the bag to stretch, and because it was poor quality, break open, spreading the leaflets in a cloud over the target. Then encourage the pilot to zoom up to high altitude for occasions when they were not received well, and the locals sent some rounds back at us.

This was our first deployment to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. Most everyone in the 9th PSYOP Battalion redeployed home in February/March 1993. I stayed on, dropping down to Tactical PSYOP Team leader with the Quick Reaction Force, and was joined by Eric Christopher, and then later augmented by Hans Marc Hurd and a translator. During those couple months, March-April 1993, we were entirely on the ground (Hummer, with a 900-watt loudspeaker I believe). Elements of the 9th PSYOP Battalion were tasked out across the Somalia theatre of operations and were all doing different things, dependent on location and type of unit supported (Conventional of the 10th Mountain Division, Rangers, USMC, Special Forces, etc.). The missions were widely disparate. In early 1993, Mogadishu got quieter while Kismayo heated up and at times was augmented with additional resources.

The Daily Rajo Newspaper delivery - Kismayo, Somalia, early 1993

In Kismayo, we did daily missions into the city, and on occasion beyond the city limits. We delivered the newspaper RAJO ("Hope"), did face-to-face PSYOP, less frequent vehicle use but still occasional helicopter loudspeaker broadcasts. We even did a tactical deception loudspeaker mission near Buur Xanni, a remote village.

I also note that in those days (early 1990s), those of us with foreign language skills got pulled for taskings and missions on that basis, without regard for our unit of assignment. For example, I got the same kinds of taskings and missions in and related to Sub-Saharan Africa, attached to 5th/3rd Special Forces Group A-detachments, when I was assigned to the strategic 6th PSYOP Battalion and the tactical 9th PSYOP Battalion. I was also pulled for the 1992 Guantanamo Haitian boat people relief/refugee camp operations, I was there with a lot of people from 1st PSYOP Battalion, and beyond. So, we never know exactly where we will be when a situation arises.

The Marines were happy to have the Army PSYOP specialists attached to their unit and used them several ties to save both American and Somali lives. Colonel Greg Newbold, Commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU) said about the PSYOP broadcasts:

They didn’t have to sell us. We were very interested in the technique. It is absolutely the right way to maximize the ability to save lives.

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An Armed “Technical”

In the town of Baidoa, Intelligence sources located a warehouse that contained Armed Somali fighters and vehicles equipped with heavy weapons known as “Technicals.” The Marines surrounded the building. Colonel Newbold did want the Somalis to feel trapped and decide to fight their way out of the warehouse. He called the PSYOP team. The team played a tape that said in part:

Lay down your weapons and walk away.

The Somali fighters realized they were surrounded and that any attempt to resist would result in a firefight and probably their deaths. They took about six minutes to consider their options and then walked out, lifting their shirts to show they were unarmed. The Marines entered the empty building and found five Technicals, a rocket propelled grenade, rockets, machine-guns and food stolen from the local civilians.

The Somalis were sent home unmolested. The Marines believed that they would tell their story and the people would understand that they did not have to fight to the death.

The loudspeakers often used prerecorded tapes. Santos told me that the military had searched their records for Somali speakers and found only a very few. In one case a Naval Petty Officer was found in Norfolk News, VA. Over two days he recorded 20 propaganda messages to cover a great number of scenarios like armed convoys and food convoys.

The United States Forces, Somalia After Action Report and Historical Overview: The United States Army in Somalia, 1992-1994 adds:

Psychological Operations Lessons Learned. Operations require a PSYOP capability. Recent experience in Somalia demonstrates that PSYOP can play a vital role in peace enforcement operations. PSYOP in Somalia focused primarily on tactical operations. Leaflet drops and loudspeaker teams were effectively used to limit casualties among non-combatants (warnings); to enhance the security and image of military forces during operations; to inform Somalis about humanitarian assistance operations ongoing; and to a limited extent, to tell the UNOSOM story.

In June 1993, the Coalition used loudspeakers when attacking the armed enclaves of the warlord Aideed. The coalition plan to clear, search and secure the enclave was designed to capitalize on the success of operations conducted 12-15 June and to maintain pressure on the USC/SNA militia. The operation was conducted in two phases. During Phase I, AC-130 gunships attacked selected targets in the objective area (Aideed Enclave) to destroy weapons caches and militia concentrations. PSYOP loudspeaker teams issued 15-minute warnings and spotlighted each target prior to the strikes so that non-combatants could clear the target area.

United Shield Symbol

As the Somalia operation neared its end in 1995, plans were made to remove all the troops from the many nations involved. Over a period of several days the troops were safely removed under an operation code-named United Shield. Many taped messages were prepared to be played by loudspeakers to ensure that the Somalis did not interfere with the withdrawal of UN troops. Seven scripts were written with short messages telling the Somalis that if they interfered with the U.N. movement in anyway, they put their lives at risk.

A memorandum from General Zinni dated 21 February 1995 said in part:

The seven following loudspeaker messages/themes are approved for dissemination:

US/Coalition forces are ashore only to support UNOSOM II withdrawal.

US/Coalition forces are ashore only for s short period of time.

Work in cooperation with Somali leaders.

US and Coalition are partners and will not interfere with internal Somali affairs.

UNITED SHIELD is a Coalition effort (seven countries).

Every country is playing an important part in the operation.

The Coalition is comprised of personnel of many different religions, a significant number of which are Muslim

Some of the LSS-40 loudspeaker scripts are as follows:

Attention! Attention! The United States military is peacefully relocating U.N. personnel. Any attempt to harm them or interfere with the operation will be considered a hostile act. All hostile acts will be met with force.

Attention! Attention! Interference with this operation will not be tolerated. The United States has overwhelming power and will use whatever force necessary to protect against threats to the operation. Leave this area immediately or you may be injured or killed.

Attention all U.N. Personnel. Attention all U.N. Personnel. This is the United States military. We are conducting retrograde operations in this area. This area has been secured by American forces. Do not delay. Proceed to the sound of this broadcast.

The German Signal Battalion 950 PSYOP Unit also used loudspeakers in their propaganda. Some of their comments on the subject are:

The length of a call should not exceed 60 seconds. Messages should be short and concise, with a simply structured sentence.

On 2 September 1993, The Germans used the medium of loudspeakers for the first time. The following priorities were set. The basic positive attitude of the Somali population towards the German soldiers had to be maintained and strengthened. The announcement of humanitarian measures should be as specific as possible, without making promises that cannot be fulfilled. Help for self-help should always be mentioned. By using local proverbs, it was possible to achieve a special closeness to the target group.

The specialist literature on the Somali language that had been procured before the start of the deployment made it clear that it was characterized by flowery idioms. The consequence of this was that the principles conveyed in the course about writing loudspeaker announcements in the country of assignment were not applicable and required the loudspeaker personnel to rethink their thinking.

Composing the German loudspeaker text, considering the limited knowledge of the Somali language, showed that the content had to be divided into a total of 4 messages in order not to exceed the 60-second limit. The resulting breaks should be bridged by Somali music.

At the start of the operation, the Germans assigned an English-Somali translator to the teams on an hourly basis.

The first thing to do as a preliminary to the translator's work was to translate the adapted, rather excessive German texts into English. However, to transmit these texts and phrases, considerable language skills were required, which the speaker personnel did not have. This task fell to the information center cell, which had a suitably qualified editorial soldier. In addition to translating the loudspeaker texts into the Somali language, the Somali interpreter also helped select the music.

The following guidelines for the use of loudspeakers have been established: The live transmission of a Somali text was excluded; The loudspeaker texts were to be recorded and translated back into English by another uninvolved interpreter; And if possible, the uninvolved translator should belong to a different clan than the speaker.

German text of the loudspeaker message to Matabaan on 2 September 1993:


We German soldiers greet the Somali brothers of MATABAAN.
You have never seen a visitor who stays less than a day and pays less than one person.
As friends we are here for the 4th time to help.
We want to help lay the foundation so that you can rebuild your country.
May today be another successful day.


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

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

Milosevic’s actions forced the United Nations to deploy peacekeeping forces and begin humanitarian relief operations. Operation Provide Promise began on 2 July 1992. Twenty-one nations formed a coalition to resupply war-torn Sarajevo with food and medicine.

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First Sergeant Jorge Altamirano

First Sergeant Jorge Altamirano of A Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion shared some of his memories of deployment to Kosovo. He pointed out that the 9th PSYOP Battalion was there before the resolution was approved. They were on the front line ready to go forward if Milosevic did not withdraw his troops. Fortunately, Milosevic did withdraw. He said:

We had to put KFOR on our vehicles before we were allowed to convoy to Camp Bondsteel. Since we were not prepared for the KFOR branding, we used paint brushes and white paint. On one vehicle, we had to use masking tape. As you can see, we also had to wear “flack vest,” and the “Fritz” helmet. Our Sergeant Major used to call it “The dome of Obedience.”

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PSYOP Loudspeaker Teams in Kosovo

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

U.S. Army Reserve Major Thomas Bergman is a member of the 18th PSYOP Company, 10th PSYOP Battalion, 7th PSYOP Group. He was activated in December of 1995 for a tour in Bosnia. He had three Tactical PSYOP Teams, two in support of the two Military Police battalions supporting Tuzla and Lukavac and one attached to the NORDPOL Brigade (the Nordic countries, the Baltics, Poland and the United States) in Doboj.  His unit provided the first U.S. Army Reserve PSYOP soldiers in Bosnia reporting to the 4th POG. In regard to how PSYOP performed in 1995 he says:

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

The entire Bosnia operation was studied in depth in Lessons from Kosovo: The KFOR Experience, Larry Wentz, The Command and Control Research Program (CCRP), 2002. In regards to Tactical PSYOP Teams interaction with the maneuver brigades he said:

One of the other big challenges was timely and accurate translation into Albanian and Serbian. TPTs were also used to support special events, such as the 1-year anniversary of the liberation of Kosovo. They also supported cordon and search missions where weapons were confiscated. In these cases, the TPTs deployed with loudspeakers in order to help the maneuver battalion with crowd control should a disturbance occur.


Robert W. Jones, Jr. discusses loudspeaker in Iraqi Freedom in an article titled “Getting the Message out - Tactical PSYOP in Operation Iraqi Freedom” in VERITAS, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2005: He says in part:

Tactical Psychological Operations supported the full spectrum of the force during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Both active and reserve component units supported special operations forces and Army and Marines conventional forces. The 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, reinforced with several Army Reserve PSYOP companies, provided support to both the Coalition Forces Special Operations Component Command and Coalition Forces Land Component Command. Tactical PSYOP companies, including those of the 9th PSYOP Battalion, provided support to both conventional and special operations units across Iraq… Junior non-commissioned officers operating independently from their detachments and company elements accomplished the majority of the work conducted by Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs).

TPT 1092 found themselves fulfilling a number of missions in support of the 101st Airborne. In one case, the TPT contributed to the capture of several members of a Syrian mercenary death squad by broadcasting extremely effective surrender appeals.

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During an attack by insurgents, TPT 983’s M1205 HMMWV loudspeaker vehicle crashed into a telephone
pole. The team had to abandon the vehicle and ride back to the task force medical station on an M1A1 tank.

TPT 983 of C Company, 9th PSYOP Battalion also found itself in several tense situations while performing tactical PSYOP missions…At a large weapons cache the TPT broadcast a civilian noninterference message and warning messages of the upcoming explosion. TPT 983 broadcast for five minutes… The convoy had moved only a few hundred meters when an explosion occurred about fifty meters behind them. Insurgents had taken the opportunity to attack the patrol under cover of darkness. The explosive concussion swept over TPT 983 in its M1025, rendering all four men unconscious. The men of TPT 983 climbed aboard a tank and rode it to the task force medical station, where they remained overnight.

Some of the PSYOP companies involved in the operation were the 301st, the 315th and the 318th.

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Man packed loudspeaker system

The use of music as part of a PSYOP campaign was used again In Iraq. It is discussed by Peter J. Smyczek in “Regulating the battlefield of the future: the legal limitations on the conduct of psychological operations under public international law,” Air Force Law Review, winter 2005:

During the November 2004 battle of Fallujah, Marine Humvees with loudspeakers blasted the song “Back in Black,” by the heavy metal band AC/DC, during the fighting. There were also reports that the Americans “played the cavalry charge and loud sonar pings, along with the sounds of maniacal laughter and babies wailing.” Another tactic employed in the battle for Fallujah was disrupting the insurgent’s ability to rally their troops by playing high-pitched whines from loudspeakers whenever the insurgents issued their calls to arms over their own loudspeakers. These often ad hoc tactics are meant to frighten and disrupt the minds of the enemy and may be especially effective among certain cultures.

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When the Marines were unable to advance farther into Fallujah, an Army psychological operations team attached to the Marine battalion played messages from a loudspeaker mounted on a Humvee along with selections from Jimi Hendrix. When the firing stopped, they played sound effects of babies crying, men screaming, a symphony of cats and barking dogs and piercing screeches.

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Tactical PSYOP teams often took a creative approach to their missions. Instead of the usual loudspeaker truck,
one TPT created a loudspeaker boat to get the message out while patrolling the waterways near Baghdad.

Keiser and Engen say about Fallujah:

In March of 2004, during the siege of Fallujah, Iraq, Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPT) surrounding the city utilized the directional capability of their loudspeaker systems to broadcast rock music into the city to interrupt the sleep patterns of the insurgents. One TPT used its loudspeaker to broadcast armored vehicle sounds to draw insurgents into an ambush; in this instance, the insurgents themselves were setting up an ambush to destroy the “tanks” with rocket propelled grenades.

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SGT Joe Diraddo uses the unmounted manpack loudspeaker in the
al Sarai neighborhood in Tall'Afar, Nineveh Province, Iraq.

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SSG Jack Lewis broadcasts using the Long Range Acoustical
Device from Tall'Afar Castle in Iraq

The Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD) was originally built for the U.S. Navy, intended to warn boaters out of the 500-meter exclusion zone around their warships. It’s a big, black disc, maybe three feet across and about six inches thick, and it will reach out and touch someone at over 1,000 meters. It is ideal for PSYOP applications. The LRAD becomes increasingly directional as distances to targets increase.

Tests proved that a broadcast could be heard clearly by a dismounted unit in a cemetery over 1,400 meters distant from the LRAD’s position. During distance tests at 100 meters, the sound was painful to listeners, even with hands held over the ears and ear plugs in. At 300 meters, they could understand every word, still with his hands over plugged ears. At 800 meters, they could hear every syllable through ear plugs. The U.S. Navy has about 60 of the devices in Iraq and other regions. Several U.S. law enforcement agencies also use the device.

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TPT members meet with some of the locals to conduct face-to-face communication

We should point out that loudspeakers were also used for deception. FM 3-05.302, Tactical Psychological Operations Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures says in part:

Loudspeaker broadcasts to replicate the sounds of weapons systems, vehicles, and aircraft are very successful at masking movement. Sonic deception to deceive the enemy into believing there are multiple pickup zones or landing zones in a certain area and loudspeaker broadcasts off rotary-wing aircraft can be very effective. A Tactical PSYOP Company supporting a division in a major city in Iraq used sonic deception to suppress the use of mortars against friendly units. Two brigades used PSYOP loudspeakers to broadcast Apache helicopter noises at night to discourage enemy mortar teams from setting up. A pattern of aggressive patrolling by Apaches had conditioned the mortar crews to displace immediately when hearing helicopters in the area. Movement of the mounted loudspeakers gave the perception of helicopter movement. Loudspeaker broadcasts were only used at night to mirror night Apache patrols. Daytime Apache patrols were used to suppress daylight mortar attacks.

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Loudspeaker equipped motorcycle

On the motorcycle: Tactical PSYOP Team 983 April 2003 Iraq: SGT Joey Tetreault (driver), SGT Skip Ewing (side car), PFC Justin Warden (back). This was like a week or two after the team lost their vehicle to an IED. None of the men were seriously injured. The vehicle was riddled with holes from shrapnel and basically blown apart - back hatch blown down and in, doors blown out, and suspension broken.

According to Bing West in No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah, Bantam Dell, New York, 2005:

Before jumping off to the attack, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Brian P. McCoy had the habit of gathering his troops and playing at full blast “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.” …Marines attacked under the blare of hard rock music composed by Eminem.

Each battalion had its idiosyncrasies. Byrne’s Battalion 2/1 – more partial to blasting Jimi Hendrix at 110 decibels…Platoons in 1/5 competed to dream up the filthiest insults for translators to scream over the loudspeakers. When enraged Iraqis rushed from a mosque blindly firing their AKs, the Marines shot them down.

The insurgents returned the favor and used their own loudspeakers to play Arabic music, patriotic slogans and prayers:

The Mullahs responded with loud speakers hooked to generators trying to drown out Eminem with prayers, chants of “Allah Akbar,” and Arabic music. Every night discordant sound washed over the lines.

The same message was broadcast from most minarets: America is bringing in Jews from Israel and stealing Iraq’s oil. Women, take your children into the streets to aid the holy warriors. Bring them food water and weapons. Do not fear death. It is your duty to protect Islam.

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TPT taking a break.

The Rand Corporation 2015 Report: Operation Iraqi Freedom: Decisive War, Elusive Peace mentions loudspeaker operations:

In addition to radio broadcasts and leaflets, Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs) supported Army V Corps and I Marine Expeditionary Force along the entire route of march. Teams also supported the United Kingdom's division and Australian forces. Tactical PSYOP Teams, 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-Communications with the enemy included threats, deception, and challenges to their masculinity. The results included revealing enemy positions, surrenders, and desertions. For example, on March 25, a Tactical PSYOP Team 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.

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The New Iraqi Army Loudspeaker Vehicles.

When the United States invades a tyrannical dictatorship and removes the old government, it always tries to builds a new democratic army with moral values. PSYOP is an important part of that training as the new troops learn to tell the truth and use psychological operations to help the people. Above we see members of the new Iraqi Army PSYOP teams in Loudspeaker vehicles of the of the Military Intelligence Directorate in 2017.


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Loudspeaker Team accompanies a patrol

On 11 September 2001, terrorists of al-Qaida (the Base), some trained and financed by Saudi Arabian exile-in-hiding Osama bin Laden, attacked the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC. On 12 September, the day following the attack, Tactical PSYOP Detachment 940 began target audience analysis of Afghanistan, including the Afghan populace, the Taliban, and al-Qaida. On 4 October 2001 a 95-man Joint Psychological Operations Task Force was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and placed under the operational control of the Central Command. The 9th PSYOP Battalion (sometimes called the “Dissemination battalion” at that time) deployed to Kuwait that same month to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

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U.S. Army Spc. Josh Brimm, assigned to the 307th Psychological Operations company, 10th PSYOP Battalion, 7th PSYOP Group, plays a counter improvised explosive device message on a loud speaker during a mission with U.S. soldiers assigned the 4th Infantry Division, to patrol the villages around Malajat, Afghanistan.

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US Army Specialist (SPC) sets up a loudspeaker system in order to broadcast non-civilian interference messages to the local people in Afghanistan, during Operation Mountain Sweep, part of ongoing operations in Afghanistan conducted in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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Sergeant Timothy Wones of A Company, 13th PSYOP Battalion, in Nangahar Province, Afghanistan 2007-2008

Sometimes PSYOP specialists that were imaginative would accidently target the wrong audience. A case in point occurred during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Retired Sergeant  Timothy Wones told me about an experience he had back around 2007-2009 first as a member of A Company of the 13th PSYOP Battalion Tactical PSYOP Team 1323/33 in most of Nangahar Province, and later as a member of the B Company of the 13th PSYOP Battalion, Detachment 232 based at Camp Bucca.

Wones was in mid-tour in 2007 based at Forward Operating Base Mehter-lam.   He was testing his vehicle-mounted loudspeaker system for a mission he was assigned to perform the next day. He knew that the terrorists were afraid of the Close Air Support A-10 "Warthog" and its mini-gun that sounded like a zipper opening and the depleted uranium ammunition that could take an enemy tank apart like a hot knife going through butter.  He had downloaded the sound effects of a low flying A-10 but without the Brrrrrrt of the minigun. He told me:

I pumped up the volume and played it several times in multiple directions, shifting the turret back and forth since I wanted to hear what it sounded like bouncing off the hills around us. It was good. The jet screaming overhead was very loud and very realistic. I thought it would scare the hell out of the fighters hiding in the hills.

I did not know the effect it was having on my own people. The unit's S-5 (the civil- military operations staff officer) told me about it later.  He was laughing hard while telling me. He said that the Sergeant Major of the unit we were supporting came charging out of the chow hall furious. He wanted to know "Who is that damn pilot and why in Hell is he flying so low around us? Nobody called in any air assets for  us that I know of! I have to get to the Tactical Operations Center and wave that SOB off."

I don't know if I scared the fighters in the hills, but I think I did a pretty good job of making our own troops in the chow hall damn nervous.


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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) officially known as the Islamic State and by its Arabic language acronym Daesh is a jihadist militant group that follows a fundamentalist, doctrine of Sunni Islam. It gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul. The group is widely known for its videos of beheadings and other types of executions of both soldiers and civilians, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites.

In Syria, the group conducted ground attacks on both government forces and opposition factions and by December 2015 it held a large area in western Iraq and eastern Syria, where it enforced its interpretation of sharia law. The United States formed as coalition and with the help of Kurdish troops attacked ISIS positions. Syria was helped by Russian and Iranian troops. In July 2017, the group lost control of its largest city, Mosul, to the Iraqi army. Following this major defeat, ISIS continued to lose territory to the various states and other military forces allied against it, until it controlled no meaningful territory by November 2017. In December 2018, U.S.-led Kurdish fighters captured Hajin, the last major town held in Syria by ISIS,

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A U.S Marine Trains an Iraqi Soldier to operate a long-range
Acoustic hailing device on a Humvee in 2018

In December 2018 it was reported that U.S. cultural advisors assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), approved 25 separate audio messages that American forces wanted to blare out at ISIS. CJTF-OIR is main U.S.-led coalition fighting the terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Messaging has apparently focused primarily on urging fighters to abandon a futile cause and calling on civilians to support U.S.-backed authorities. Darker audio broadcasts, included simple recordings of crying in an attempt to confuse, unsettle, and perhaps convince militants they’re going crazy. The internal control codes for the 25 audio messages that month begin with “OIR” and “SY.”

Message OIR16A024vaTC0005 is:

Do you regret choosing this life with Da’esh? You probably miss your family at home… Or, perhaps you long for some of the comforts of your life before Da’esh… Electricity that works all day… Or being able to watch television, or freely use the internet…Join your comrades now that have already saved their lives by leaving Da’esh.

Message SY16A02aaTC2000 is:

I don’t know whether to laugh at you or pity you, Brother. You joined Da’esh to fight and be part of something. But look! The foreign fighters get paid more than you; they get better food, better places to live, and the spoils of war. What do you get? Honestly, my friend, you have been cheated! Da’esh would be nothing without you, and look, you are barely treated better than they would treat a nonbeliever, and enemy prisoner. Is this what you signed up for?”

Messages OIR16A02vaTC0008 pretends to be ISIS fighters in a battle:

Fall back! They are everywhere! (Pause w/ static) Why is no one answering me? You need to move back! We cannot hold our position if you do not fall back you will be overrun! (Pause w/ static) If you can hear me fall back, I cannot hear you. You must fall back now or you will be killed! Is there anyone there? (Static that fades out).

Message OIR15A02aTC0008 is just endless crying.

At present, the U.S. military has a mix of fixed radio broadcasting systems, vehicle-mounted speakers and so-called “acoustic hailing devices.”


The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was fought between the elected Liberal government of Spain (Republicans) and the Nationalists led by General Francisco Franco. The Republicans, who were loyal to the left-leaning and relatively urban Second Spanish Republic, fought against the Nationalists, a Falangist, Catholic, and largely aristocratic group led by General Francisco Franco. The war has often been portrayed as a struggle between democracy and fascism, particularly due to the political climate and timing surrounding it. The Communists helped the Republicans while the Nazis and Italian Fascists helped Franco. In early 1939, the Nationalists achieved victory, and ruled over all of Spain until Franco's death in November 1975.

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During the Spanish Civil War, a huge truck mounted loudspeaker was used to transmit morale boosting speeches to the soldiers in the trenches. The speeches included speeches of “La Pasionaria,” a female Spanish Republican leader and communist politician of Basque origin. She also spoke on the Republican radio station Espana Independiente.

During the war both sides used rockets and artillery to send leaflets to each other, printed and placed numerous posters on the wall, and of course used loudspeaker propaganda.

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A 1938 Poster depicting the giant loudspeaker truck. The poster shows enemy troops throwing down their arms and coming forward like be drawn by a giant magnet and the text:

The turmoil between the enemy advances the day of our victory.

The political leaders of the Italian volunteers on the Republican side, the Garibaldi battalion, mounted a propaganda campaign intended to destroy the morale of the Italian fascists, pulling loudspeakers up to the lines and dropping leaflets from the air, exhorting the Italian soldiers not to shoot against their brother workers and to leave the Fascists.


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South Korean Military Loudspeakers at the DMZ

Retired Major Ed Rouse told me about peacetime Korea:

We would sometimes play loud rock and roll music over our loudspeakers on the Korean DMZ to counter (drown out) the North Korean propaganda broadcasts.

In 1995 Pyongyang broadcast over thirty propaganda programs over loudspeakers at the DMZ, repeating them anywhere from two to ten times for ten or eleven hours per day.

After years of relative quiet along the border between North and South Korea, conflict returned in March 2010 when North Korea torpedoed the South Korean warship Cheonan killing 46 sailors. South Korea resumed propaganda broadcasts airing Western music, news and comparisons between the South and North Korean political and economic situations. South Korea also threatened to install dozens of propaganda loudspeakers and towering electronic billboards along the heavily armed border between the two Koreas to send messages enticing communist soldiers to defect to the South. North Korea’s military warned that it would fire at any propaganda facilities installed in the Demilitarized Zone.

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South Korea soldiers reinstall psychological warfare loudspeakers at the border

In October 2010, after six years of quiet along the border, South Korea reinstalled 11 sets of psychological warfare loudspeakers along its border with North Korea. In addition, Minister Kim Tae-young said that the south had switched its transmitters to the easier-to-receive AM band and was ready to send thousands of AM radios and propaganda leaflets across the border using helium balloons. Mr. Kim also said the ministry had readied plans to add more loudspeakers and install huge video screens along the border.

In 2015, North and South Korea almost came to war after a North Korean provocation when two South Korean soldiers were severely injured by a hidden land mine placed in the demilitarized zone. South Korea placed portable loudspeakers along the border that were capable of broadcasting more than 20 kilometers at night. The two Koreas blasted propaganda at each other until 24 August 2015 when North and South Korea reached an agreement to resolve the showdown, with Pyongyang expressing regret for recent provocations. In return, Seoul agreed to turn off the loudspeakers that had angered Pyongyang so much that it had entered a “quasi state of war.” The South had also played a number of modern South Korean pop songs (sometimes called “K-Pop”) like “Tell me your wish” by Girls Generation.

Alexandre Dor wrote about the power of the broadcasts from the South in an article entitled “North Korea's Achilles Heel: Propaganda Broadcasts” published in The Diplomat, 12 September 2015. He said in part:

Spread from Gyodong Island in the west to Goseong in the east, South Korea has 11 loudspeaker locations along the DMZ. Playing between two and three times a day in three to five hour intervals, the broadcasts can be heard for a distance of roughly 15 miles at night and six miles during the day. The decibels output of these 30 foot tall speakers is about 147. For perspective, at 141 decibels you incur long-term hearing damage and feel physically nauseous within minutes. At 145 decibels your vision blurs due to eyeball vibration.

The genius of the broadcasts is that they non-violently undermine the stability of Kim’s kingdom by becoming reliable, trusted source of knowledge at the expense of North Korean propaganda. It starts with banal topics such as weather reports, defectors talking about how to deal with hot weather or giving warnings about coming showers and advising people take their laundry in.

North Korea apparently inaugurated a novel way to disrupt the messages broadcast from South Korean loudspeakers. North Korea has placed giant loudspeaker banks along their border with the south and pointed them north toward their own population. It is believed that this may be for a “sound-masking effect” to dilute the content coming from South Korean loudspeakers. The effect is to counter the sound wave by projecting another sound.


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Infrared Image of Hurricane Andrew

In 2017, the United States was hit by 4 hurricanes by October. They were Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate. I thought it might be interesting to look at the use of PSYOP loudspeakers used in the support of the victims of Hurricane Andrew in in 1992.

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Loudspeaker Teams broadcasted public service messages

A United States Army Southern Command document dated 1 July 1998 justifies the use of psychological operations in cases like Hurricane Andrew.

Psychological Operations (PSYOP) are prohibited by law from targeting U.S. audiences. The National Command Authority has granted exceptions for specific disaster situations, such as Hurricane Andrew. PSYOP is used for the preparation and dissemination of Command Information essential to each phase of the operation. The PSYOP product approval chain may include one or more Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials. PSYOP commanders and personnel must remind civilian agencies and populations continuously that they are only in a supporting role and solely for purposes of communication and information dissemination. At the same time, PSYOP personnel and the US Southern Command staff need to convey the special capabilities PSYOP offers FEMA and other agencies in support of disaster relief.

We note that because of the worry about the term PSYOP, and perhaps political correctness, the psychological operations task force (POTF) was called the Humanitarian Assistance Information Element and the PSYOP troops were referred to as humanitarian information support teams.

Hurricane Andrew was one of the most destructive storms in US history in terms of property losses with 25,000 homes destroyed and an additional 37,000 homes left uninhabitable. Overwhelmed county emergency medical services, limited access to hospital patient care, and difficulty in procuring supplies exacerbated the already complicated situation resulting from the storm.

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Copy of loudspeaker announcement written on notebook paper showing that it should take exactly 20 seconds.

Army PSYOP specialists steered victims of Hurricane Andrew to relief centers throughout southern Dade County with a three-week blitz of public service information - via print products, radio and loudspeakers. The POTF comprised of active-duty soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 4th PSYOP Group, and Army Reservists from the 5th PSYOP Group.

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LSS-40 Loudspeaker

While PDC soldiers worked at their headquarters, eight loudspeaker teams hit the streets as a sort of electric town crier, broadcasting public-service news similar to the radio and print teams, but reaching people whose radios and television were destroyed. The loudspeaker teams used the LSS-40, a 3-by-2-foot box like contraption which can be mounted on a soldier's back with a battery pack or mounted on a Humvee roof.


A 2020 Version of a Humvee Loudspeaker Vehicle.

When you talk to people who worked with loudspeakers or just heard them, you hear some funny comments. I thought I would list some of them here from troops deployed all over the world. Everyone seems to remember where they were when they heard a loudspeaker.

A Command Sergeant Major chased down my truck to yell at me during an Iraqi firefight because I was playing BOMBS OVER BAGHDAD. He didn't see the morale-boosting factor of it as I did.

Play hard rock all deployment, you're the hero. But play one measly TINY TIM song, suddenly you're a weirdo.

1995 in Haiti - They used to put on Hawaiian shirts driving out the gate playing the BEACH BOYS on the way to a local beach.

Never found them, just heard Screaming babies on Sicily Drop Zone at Ft. Bragg.

In Iraq in 2003; our song was BOMBS OVER BAGHDAD.

They used to drive around in Bosnia in 1996 blaring FLY LIKE AN EAGLE.

During the invasion of Iraq, one crossed the Kuwait Iraqi border blaring, RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES.

In 2003, they were playing DROWNING POOL while we moved through the valleys in Afghanistan.

I can hear LED ZEPPELIN blasting from here.

The 2022 U.S. Army Oshkosh JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) in PSYOP Loudspeaker Operations Configuration.

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is a United States military (specifically U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps) and United States Special Operations Command program to part-replace the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV; colloquial: Humvee) with a family of more survivable vehicles with greater payload. The U.S. Army approved the JLTV for full-rate production in June 2019. An estimated 19,727 JLTVs ordered by January 2022, with about 19,000 of those for US armed forces.


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The Aggressor Forces Symbol

There are specified U.S. Army military units know as Aggressor Forces. They dress a bit odd with a helmet that looks something like the old Greek or Roman helmets and wear uniforms that look somewhat like Russian uniforms. They are taught Iron Curtain tactics, speak in Esperanto, and generally are used to train American troops how to fight against a foreign dedicated enemy. Their symbol was the Circle Trigony. They printed 4 manuals on tactics and an Esperanto language dictionary. The helmet was a standard helmet liner with a piece of wood attached by a wire. They were headquartered at Ft. Riley, Kansas.

I often played Aggressor when I taught infantry tactic to troops. All the instructors would get together in the middle of the night and sneak up on our own students in the field and try to catch them unprepared and kill them (in theory) That always led to an interesting class the following day. However, we had no special uniforms or tactics. We just played it by ear, maybe drawing a big soviet star or hammer and sickle with chalk on a vehicle if we decided to use one. Later, when I trained troops to hold try and defend Germany against Russian invaders in a training scenario called the “Fulda Gap,” I acted as both friendly and aggressor forces as I taught the men how to defend while at the same time using the scenario to slowly push them back as they were attacked by superior Russian armored divisions.

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An Aggressor Loudspeaker System

Since the Aggressors want the American troops to know what it is like in a real battle they will use both leaflets and loudspeakers in an attempt to destroy their morale and cause them to surrender. This is an opportunity to give U.S. troops the chance to hear the kind of enemy propaganda they will hear in actual combat.

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An Aggressor Loudspeaker in Action

Here the Aggressors broadcast a message:

Soldiers of the United States! This is a hopeless war. You cannot hope to win. You have been deceived by your leaders. You will lose your homes, your wives, your families, everything you have worked for. Give up the fight now while there is still time to save yourselves and your loved ones from the shame, the destruction...


In 1962, the 3rd PSYWAR Detachment of the 1st PSYWAR Battalion, (Broadcasting & Leaflet) produced a booklet entitled The Pictorial Story of the Psychological Warfare Soldier. There were about a dozen images of PSYOP soldiers at work. The one above was captioned:

At front-line positions, soldiers of Psychological Warfare units utilize long range loudspeakers to reach enemy troops.

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An early photograph of members of the 350th Psychological Warfare Company team training on a loudspeaker at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 1960. 

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U.S. PSYOP personnel make use of local transport during
Cobra Gold '03 in Thailand with an elephant mounted loud speaker system

Exercise Cobra Gold is a recurring multinational and multi-service exercise hosted annually by the Kingdom of Thailand and developed by the Thai and U.S. military, scheduled to be held throughout Thailand. Cobra Gold is designed to advance regional security by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the 2003 exercise there were two main training events for the exercise. The first was the combined training that included hands-on jungle survival, weapons cross training, and aircraft static load training. During the jungle survival training American soldiers watched as their Royal Thai counterparts skinned lizards alive, cooked rats, and killed a chicken by breaking its neck and drinking its blood as a source of hydration.

The second major event was the simulation-driven Command Post Exercise where division staff members commanded units on a virtual battlefield.

The Naval Health Research Center conducted laboratory-based surveillance for febrile respiratory infections at the 2003 Cobra Gold Exercise in Thailand.

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Operation Iron Sword Symbol

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A German PSYOP soldier prepares his loudspeaker during Exercise Iron Sword in 2016

4000 Soldiers from 11 NATO Allies took part in Exercise Iron Sword, a two-week Training exercise in Lithuania in 2016. The annual exercise tests the combat readiness, coordination and interoperability of the participating forces. The participating NATO countries included Canada, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Canadian participation in the exercise took place in the General Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area, in Pabrad, Lithuania.

U.S. Army Specialist Eric Isaacs with the 345th Psychological Operations company holds a loudspeaker while they broadcast about a free medical clinic that will be provided by the U.S. Army at San, Marcos, Guatemala, March 31, 2016. Task Force Red Wolf and Army South conducts Humanitarian Civil Assistance Training to include tactical level construction projects and Medical Readiness Training Exercises providing medical access and building schools in Guatemala with the Guatemalan Government and non-government agencies from March 5, 2016 to June 18, 2016 in order to improve the mission readiness of US Forces.

The Gray Wolf

Loudspeaker operations can sometime go wrong. In August 2020, the Canadian Army's 36th Canadian Brigade Group was training when their Reserve PSYOP people thought up a wonderful plan that could be used to demoralize and frighten an enemy force. Such things had been done in other wars, most notably the sound of tigers recorded and played against the Communist forces during the Vietnam War. The Canadian plan used loud recordings of WOLVES howling in the woods through a loudspeaker. To make the campaign more realistic and forceful, they also prepared a leaflet in the form of a forged letter that appeared to be from a government ministry. The letter used a forged logo of the province's wildlife division and was signed be an official of that division. The letter stated in part:

On the 3rd of August 2020, the Department of Lands and Forestry of Nova Scotia in conjunction with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada untook [sic] the significant act to reintroduce the Gray Wolf to the forests of Nova Scotia, Unfortunately, the "pack" has migrated to the Annapolis Valley floor in search of easy pray [sic] and livestock...If a Gray Wolf is encountered, do not provoke, engage, or feed the animal. Back away slowly while remaining calm "do not turn and run."

That is a common leaflet used in such operations and I have seen training leaflets that mentioned disease, spiders, ticks, poisonous snakes, and similar creatures meant to scare the enemy. Of course, the PSYOP specialists edit the text carefully to be sure it is correct. Misspelled words immediately point it out as a fake and the PSYOP unit producing such an item loses all creditability.

The letter somehow got out into the public who flooded the ministry with question which led to the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry stating on Twitter:

Alert: This letter has been showing up in some mailboxes. It's fake. We do not know who circulated it or why. There have been no Gray wolves released anywhere in Nova Scotia by any government agencies.

In this case, Reserve troops put together a campaign that embarrassed the Canadian Army and the PSYOP unit. The Canadian Army's 36th Canadian Brigade Group apologized for the fake letter. The entire operation was investigated by the government to make sure such a panic was not created again.


The Philippine Military Believes in and Supports Loudspeaker Operations

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MLX4 Loudspeaker

The Philippine Army uses the Manpower Loudspeaker Version IV (MLX4) which was developed by the Civil-Military Operations Group (CMOG).  The MLX4 is powered by a 220 watt dual source batteries which can last up to 14 hours of continuous usage. It has a USB/SD port, two microphone inputs, a DVD player, AM/FM radio, an MP3 port and a siren all arranged in a backpack aluminum carriage for easy mobility. The speaker range in open terrain is approximately 1 kilometer and around 500 meters in built up areas.

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The Philippines - Joint Task Group Tabang, Joint Task Force Marawi

On 23 May 2017, Maute terrorists attacked Marawi City. The Maute group, also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, was a radical Islamist group composed of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas and foreign fighters led by Abdullah Maute, the alleged founder of a Dawlah Islamiya, or Islamic State, based in Mindanao, the Philippines. The terrorist group conducted a protection racket in the remote settlements of Butig, Lanao del Sur. It clashed on several occasions with Armed Forces of the Philippines troops.

In Marawi City, hundreds of houses were destroyed, thousands were left homeless and hostages were held by the terrorists. The Philippine Army Civil-Military Operations Regiment immediately deployed Loudspeaker teams to Marawi to support the front-line troops. Loudspeaker operations were primarily used during the liberation of Marawi City to guide the trapped civilians to safe areas, uplift the morale of the assault troops and induce the surrender of the terrorists.

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Philippine Army loudspeaker team sets up their loudspeaker

The Philippine Army loudspeaker team is made up of a team leader who coordinates with the supported units, a broadcaster that can speak the local dialects, a technician that can operate and repair the equipment and an assistant technician. The loudspeakers are hand-held, mounted on poles or carried on tanks.

One civilian said: “Through the gunfire you can hear loudspeakers broadcasting constantly, urging the rebels to surrender.” Another civilian said: “It was a very good announcement. It was very loud and clear, especially at night.”

The motto of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment is: “Winning hearts, winning minds.”

Patricia Ann Cantero and Lydia Caviar of the Philippine Star talk about the loudspeaker system MLX4 in a 2016 article entitled “The MLX4: Voice of Success.”

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One of the seven CMO Loudspeaker Operations Team members, Corporal Loygen Pelio,
puts his life at risk to play recorded surrender messages through his MLX4

On Sept. 25, the Iner Misuari (a nephew of rebel leader Nur Misuari) group, composed of 36 rebels, yielded to government forces following surrender procedures from the loudspeaker broadcasts. The next day, a group of 40 rebels surrendered, followed by another group of 42, and so on as many more came out from their hideouts.

Loudspeakers to Explain Coronavirus Guidelines in the Philippines

Personnel of the 6th Civil-Military Operations (Kasangga) Battalion conducted information dissemination through loudspeaker operations to remind the crowd of community quarantine protocols and guidelines during distribution of the Social Amelioration Program in Cotabato City.

On 01 May 2022, the 6th Civil-Military Operations "Kasangga" Battalion conducted loudspeaker operations within Cotabato
City to inform and remind the public about their right to vote in connection with the upcoming 2022 National and Local Elections.

Courtesy - PSYOP Reference Material

South Africa

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Ground Shout variant of the the Casspir

The South African Casspir is considered to be the father of all modern enclosed mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles which have been developed and deployed by many Western armies. The Casspir was designed and produced at a time when South Africa was subject to ever more strict international embargoes because of its Apartheid policies. Today, the Casspir is also widely used as the vehicle of choice for demining, which involves the removal of anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines, but also in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations by the United Nations around the globe.

The Ground Shout psychological warfare system variant of the Casspir was used for psychological warfare as early as 1986. The South Africans used the system against the insurgents trying to overthrow its government with support from surrounding African nations. Apart from propaganda messages, other broadcasts included music and the chilling sounds each night of screaming hyenas. The Casspir was equipped with 3600 Watts from four 900 watt amplifiers that drove 32 speakers. Making use of a hydraulic skyjacks the speakers were elevated high above the vehicle for broadcast.

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The Dingo 2A3 German Armored PSYOP Loudspeaker Vehicle

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A detailed view of the loudspeaker equipment

The German Army’s Operation Information Battalion 950 also has a new toy designed for longer distant operations. The Vehicle-Mounted PSYOP Loudspeaker Equipment is called the DINGO 2A3. It replaced the short lightweight all-terrain loudspeaker team truck. The equipment consists of a long-range loudspeaker for long-distance speech reproduction (greater than 875 yards), an omnidirectional loudspeaker for speech and music reproduction, as well as the associated recording and replay devices for loudspeaker announcements and microphones for use by team leaders, translators and interpreters. The vehicle is equipped with a GEROH 3-meter KVK 5 Telescopic Mast. The system has a retracted height of 3.28 feet and an extended height of 3.39 yards. The loudspeaker weighs 66.13 pounds and the system can be combat ready in less than 40 seconds. The German PSYOP Forces have ordered 20 systems.

China vs the Corona Virus

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Chinese drone ewquipped with camera and loudspeaker

This one is a bit of a push, but my Buddy Ed Rouse thinks it should be added so here we go.

The Wuhan coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019. In early 2020, The Wuhan coronavirus spread from China around the world and seems likely to become a pandemic even with the extraordinary travel restrictions and quarantines now imposed by China and other countries, including the United States. The Wuhan coronavirus is spreading like influenza, which is highly transmissible. So, what has this to do with loudspeakers? In order to stop the transmission of the disease in China, loudspeakers have been placed on drones that search out citizens not wearing facemasks and berate them. Some of the comments have been recorded and televised:

Yes Auntie, this is a drone talking to you. You had better go home and wash your hands.

What are you looking at? You are not even wearing a mask. Go home now!
Beauty and handsome. I see you both brought masks with you.
Uncle, we are in unusual times. Why did you come outside?
You don’t even wear a mask. Hurry and go home.
You should not walk about without a mask.
The coronavirus is very serious. Run!

Robot dog equipped with loudspeaker

In March 2022, Shanghai was hit with a second wave of COVID infections. The city was placed in full lockdown with a new subvariant of the Omicron variant driving a spike in illness. To inform the public, China used both robot dogs and drones that also told residents to stay at home. Residents are not even allowed to take out their trash. In the picture above, a robot dog with a loudspeaker tells the people to stay indoors.


In April 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a Twitter message by Visegrad 24 depicted a Ukraine soldier using a loudspeaker to broadcast to the Russians. The comment was:

Ukrainian soldiers using loudspeakers to blast a message toward enemy soldiers at the frontline near Kherson. The Ukrainians are telling the Russians that they will be well-fed and clothed if they surrender.


A Russian ZS-88 (a BTR-80 fitted with loudspeakers) calling on Ukraine troops to surrender, somewhere in the Donbas region.

A Russian ZS 88 Loudspeaker unit dug in directing surrender messages to Ukrainian forces.
Courtesy of Andrew Chaney

A side view of a Russian ZS 88 Loudspeaker unit

A Russian Tiger PSYOP vehicle in Melitopal
Courtesy of Andrew Chaney

Military Slang

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Speaker Monkey

During the years I have spent in the military I have heard slang descriptions for many specialties. I have heard tankers called “tread heads,” Helicopter crews called “rotor heads,” infantry called “dog faces” or “Grunts,” and artillerymen called “cannon cockers.” Sailors of course are “swabbies,” and Marines are “Jar heads.” There are several nick-names for PSYOP troops and products. The British call leaflets “Nickels,” loudspeaker aircraft are sometimes called “voice aircraft” and some PSYOP veterans have called themselves “bullshit bombers,” in regard to the messages they drop. Small transistor propaganda radios dropped from aircraft are sometimes called “Peanuts. During the Korean War, the 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company called itself “Hogcallers.”  The 6th PSYOP Battalion in Bien Hoa during the Vietnam War called themselves “Professional Litterbugs” and the 8th PSYOP Battalion in Pleiku called themselves “Mindbenders.” I recently heard a new one and that is why I added this section. A loudspeaker specialist called himself a “Speaker Monkey.” I told him I had not heard that one before…but I liked it. He replied:

It was a common term back in the 90s. The Speaker Monkey just presses “play.”

A second PSYOP veteran said:

I first heard it in 1990 so it probably came from the late 1980's. Back then, tactical PSYOP was not appreciated and got the short-straw on details like picking up pine cones at Ft. Bragg. We were just Speaker-Monkeys to the brass.

Mars Attacks

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Loudspeakers saved the earth from Martian attack

Politicians often like to start or end their speeches with a touch of humor. They say a joke loosens up the audience. Perhaps we should do the same.

Perhaps one of the most well-known uses of civilian and military loudspeakers to the American people was the comedic movie Mars Attacks. In that 1996 feature, the Earth is attacked and on the verge of defeat when a young man discovers that Slim Whitman's "Indian Love Call," is the key to defeating the invasion. The high-pitched yodeling causes the Martians' heads to explode; and once the military is notified to play the amplified music live from loudspeakers on armored personnel carriers and attack helicopters the Martians explode, their ships crash and the planet is saved. The movie is about as silly as can be, but very funny, and it actually does show a fairly accurate picture of the use of military loudspeakers in a planetary war leading to the victory of humanity.

The Mad Max "Fury Road" Loudspeaker Vehicle

A collection of custom cars from the 2015 movie Mad Max: Fury Road was put up for auction on 16 September 2021by Lloyds Auctions. Among the 13 vehicles, special mention was made of the Doof Wagon, the Doof Warrior's amp-carrier truck. Coma (also known as The Doof Warrior) is a blind guitarist who was part of Immortan Joe's militia, riding and playing a flame-throwing electric guitar upon the Doof Wagon. He is portrayed by Australian musician iOTA. The Lloyd's description adds:

Every army has a little drummer boy, to keep the beat and stir the heart, and the War Boys of the Wasteland are no exception. Here, mounted drummers pound a taiko beat on huge resonators built of aircon duct, while Coma, The Doof Warrior, blind and disfigured, slung in a web of bungy and spread-eagled before a stack of speakers, hurtles across the desert landscape on a repurposed 8 x 8 M.A.N. missile-carrier. The wail of the banshee, the distorted lick and demented, driving bass, the call to arms and the baying for blood, all music to the ears and grist to the mill, a symphony, a song, a single scream, the soundtrack to the end of civilization.

This has been a short look at the use of loudspeakers in war told by stories and anecdotes. Any reader that has an interesting loudspeaker story or comment is encouraged to write the author at sgmbert@hotmail.com.