Note: Some text and images from this article were depicted in the THE LEAFLET DROP, The Newsletter of the PSYOP Veterans Association (POVA), October 2019. In August 2022, parts of this article were used as a reference source in a Facebook presentation called "A Saving Grace: A Unique Story of Vietnam" on the origin of the CIA black radio station Mother Vietnam. In August 2023, I was informed that the story, now a book titled FOR THE LOVE OF VIETNAM, was number seven on Amazon's best seller list. In 2023, the author of GIOVANNI HAS A LONG MUSTACHE: RADIO AT THE FRONT, INFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA, 1934-2000 requested the use of numerous photographs from this article to enrich his book.

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De Forest's first commercial Audion receiver, the RJ6 which came out in 1914

This is a story I did not want to write because the subject is just so big. Radios have been used in every war since WWI, and not just one radio; but dozens of radio stations by all the combatants.  In WWII, the Germans had numerous propaganda radio stations as did the British and the Americans. In Vietnam, we had a half dozen and Hanoi had a large number of stations too. I finally came up with a solution. Instead of writing about the big picture, I will try and take some smaller operation in each war and just talk about one or two particular stations. As you read this, remember that we are just looking at a very small portion of any war and we have selected the segment because we thought the reader would find it interesting.

We might start with the question “Why Radio?” What is it about the radio that has made it such an important part of psychological operations since WWII? First of all, in the case of technically advanced nations, the great majority of the population will have radios in their homes and vehicles. In fact, in Germany, their government built inexpensive radios that could be purchased by all the people to assure that Dr. Goebbels’ propaganda could be heard by everyone. In those nations where only the upper classes have a radio, the political and military leaders that are always a target for propaganda will have them.

In those “Third World,” areas where radios are scarce, PSYOP units can give away free radios to the poor so that they can hear the propaganda message. In Vietnam, the U.S. airdropped cheap transistor radios, or floated them to the people along rivers and creeks. In the Muslim world, the U.S. has given gift radios to those that make the Hajj, the visit to the holy site at Mecca. If the target audience lives in deep valleys surrounded by towering mountains, satellite radios can be given that can receive the message from satellites strategically placed overhead. Some countries lack electric service to the poor and the radios are often dropped with batteries, and in some cases a more expensive type will be dropped with a hand crank. The most important thing is that the target audience hears the message. Vast study and detailed intelligence has been used to write the text in such a way that it will move an audience and cause change. If they cannot hear it, all that work and study is wasted.

The military booklet: BUILDING BRIDGES: Commander’s Guide to Face to Face Communication explains the importance of radio to PSYOP. It says in part: 

The invention of the battery-powered transistor has brought radio broadcasts into most households of developing countries. There are now over 600 million radio sets in the developing world, and the number continues to grow as technology becomes less expensive.

Radio is one of the most effective forms of communication, particularly in developing countries. In Africa for example, people listen to the radio while farming, cooking, or shopping…In addition to local and international radio stations, the U.S. military or coalition forces may have portable stations broadcasting in your local area. Well thought-out and prepared statements can reach distant targets. It is an excellent medium to convey a message to a target audience. Radio is very inexpensive to buy, operate and maintain and is ideal for illiterate audiences. One radio can be listened to by large numbers of people.

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FM 33-1


Radio provides for wide coverage and rapid dissemination of the propaganda message. U.S. Army PSYOP units have medium and short wave radio broadcast capabilities, both mobile and fixed, which are employed in support of PSYOP. Strategic radio operations are broad in scope and messages are developed to reach mass target audiences to support national strategy and objectives. Radio stations at lower political subdivisions are used to inform, orient, and educate the local populace. Local stations are ideal facilities for building support for local leaders and their programs. Radio is used to establish listening habits among the populace by operating on a regular schedule and programming in a consistent format. PSYOP personnel should take advantage of opportunities to vary the sequence of presentation within established program formats to maintain maximum listener interest. This medium appears to be an authoritative source and builds credibility rapidly. Radio has great flexibility and offers unlimited opportunities for the conduct of PSYOP.

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PSYOP soldier prepares a radio broadcast

Field Manual No. 33-1 goes on to say this about the use of radio:

Radio broadcasts can be transmitted to local audiences, or across national boundaries, and behind enemy lines. Political boundaries or tactical situations may hinder radio broadcasts, but they are not complete barriers. Since radio can reach mass target audiences quickly, it is useful for all types of psychological operations. Where radio stations are not common and receivers rare or nonexistent, receivers may be airdropped or otherwise distributed to key communicators, public installations, and selected individuals. Public listener systems may also be set up.


  • Speed. Radio programs can be quickly prepared for broadcast. This is important when attempting to capitalize on targets of opportunity.
  • Wide coverage. Radio programs can reach members of large and varied audiences simultaneously.
  • Ease of perception. It requires little or no effort to visualize the radio message. Illiteracy does not prevent the listener from forming his individual image as he listens.
  • Versatility. Radio is easily adaptable to drama, music, news, and other types of programs.
  • Emotional power. A skilled radio announcer can exert tremendous influence on the listener simply with pitch, resonance, inflection, or timing.
  • Availability of receivers. Where availability or ownership of receivers is common, listening to radio is a habit. Ownership of receivers has increased greatly with the invention of transistors.


  • Enemy restrictions. The target group may be subjected to severe censorship, thereby reducing the effectiveness of radio broadcasts. Some countries have only single channel radios with the frequency set to the government-owned station. In some areas central receivers are connected to household receivers to control listening.
  • Jamming. Jamming may prevent the target group from receiving radio broadcasts .
  • Technical. Signal may be made inaudible or distorted by fading or static due to unfavorable atmospheric conditions.
  • Lack of receivers. In certain areas, so few receivers are available that radio may not be an effective medium.
  • Fleeting impressions. Oral media do not have the permanency of written media. Messages may be quickly forgotten or distorted.


Radio programming consists of planning the schedule, content, and production of programs during a stated period. Words, music, and sound effects are put together in various ways to produce the different kinds of programs. Some of the major types of radio programs are:

  • Straight news reports (without commentary).
  • Musical (popular, folk, classical).
  • Drama.
  • Speeches, talks, discussions.
  • Sports.
  • Interviews.
  • Special events; i.e., on-the-spot coverage of an election or the arrival of an important visitor, etc.
  • Religious.
  • Variety, a combination including music, skits, comedy, vaudeville, etc.
  • Announcements.


Regularity. Regularity is an essential element of programming. The radio programmer must create habitual program patterns in order to build a regular audience. Content, style, and format should follow an established pattern.

Repetition. Repetition is necessary for oral learning; therefore, key themes, phrases, or slogans should be repeated.

Suitability. The radio program must suit the taste and needs of the audience. Program style and format should follow the patterns to which the audience is accustomed.

Exploitation of censorship. Discussion or presentation of banned books, plays, music, and political topics is readily received by the audience. The same is true for news withheld by censors. In breaking censorship, the psychological operator must be certain that the reason for censoring the items was political and not moral.

Voice. Having announcers with attractive voice features is essential to successful radio operations.

  • The emotional tone conveyed by the voice may influence the listener more than the logic of arguments.
  • Announcers whose accents are similar to those of unpopular groups should not be used.
  • Female voices are used to exploit nostalgia, sex frustration, or to attract female audiences. However, in some parts of the world, due to the status of women, female voices are resented.


Programs are classified according to content, intent, and origin:

  • Content. The most common and useful radio program classification is by content. News reporting, commentaries, announcements, educational or informative documentaries, music, interviews, discussions, religious programs, drama, and women's programs are the most common examples.
  • Intent. Classification by "intent" is useful in planning to obtain a desired response with a particular broadcast(s). Programs are produced to induce such emotional reactions as confidence, hope, fear, nostalgia, frustration, etc.
  • Origin. Classification by "origin" pertains to the source of the message; i.e., official, unofficial, authoritative, high military command, political party, etc.


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I will arbitrarily use the American entry into WWII as my starting point for this war although I could clearly use the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and China and the German invasion of Poland in 1939 which is certainly a better choice. I choose this date because it is America’s official start in the war although it was certainly involved in arming some nations illegally while it claimed to be neutral at the time.

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Sefton Delmer – The Head of British Black Radio

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The Chief

Sefton Delmer of the British Political Warfare Executive was running an anti-Hitler radio show for the British called Gustav Siegfried Eins. The show featured what was alleged to be an early Party member called Der Chef who constantly attacked the Nazi leadership for being not loyal enough to their Fuehrer and for their corruption. He also attacked “That old Jew Churchill” which made many Britons unhappy, it but was all part of the false persona. “The Chief” was voiced by a 39-year-old German exile named Peter Seckelmann. He had fled Nazi Germany to England in 1938. As "The Chief," his radio voice embodied the harsh tones of an enraged Prussian military officer, and he knew enough of both barracks curses and Germany under Hitler to hit the right notes as he railed against the Nazi Party leaders’ shortcomings.

Der Chef, a fanatic NAZI thought that Hitler had gone soft and regularly called Churchill a flat-footed bastard of a drunken conquered old Jew, and even a Nigger. He called the King that stuttering fool on the throne. Der Chef was a true believer and wanted a meaner and sterner Hitler. Of course, to Delmer this had nothing to do with insults or sex, it was about building a listening audience among the German enlisted soldiers. Another funny fact about this story is that the naive American intelligence operatives fell for it. In another article I mention that the OSS sent reports to Washington D.C. of a Himmler plot to take power and the issue of a Himmler postage stamp that replaced the image of Hitler. That was a British propaganda operation. Here they again fall for the British trick and report on the radio station to Washington DC. According to the World War 2 Documentary Sex and The Swastika:

The U.S. Embassy in Berlin reported to Washington that there was an illegal radio station using unbelievably obscene language. “Superficially it is violently patriotic and it is supposed by many German officers that it is supported by the Wehrmacht in secret.”

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this story is The Chief’s death. Delmer decided he should die on the radio so in the middle of his last show, the PWE staged a Gestapo raid and the audience heard, “I’ve finally caught you, you pig!” There followed a hail of machine gun bullets. The Chief was dead. The only problem is that one technician played the same “live” broadcast later that evening and the Chief was killed again. One of the few radio personalities to die twice the same day in two different broadcasts.

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Sir Leslie Charles Glass

Sir Leslie Charles Glass was an Army officer in the Psychological Warfare Division in South East Asia in the Second World War, Director-General of Information in Cyprus during the Emergency and later Chairman of the Counter Subversion Committee. He said in a lecture to the National Defence College on 14 March 1973 to an audience cleared for Top Secret:

Sefton Delmer’s outfit concentrated mainly on ‘black’ radio stations which pretended to speak from Europe itself and to be run by our enemies. The most famous of these were “Soldatensender Calais” which pretended to be a German Forces broadcasting station; and the “Atlantiksender West” which did the same for the German Navy and particularly aimed a subtle attack at the morale of U-boat crews. Later in the war Woburn Abbey also ran an Italian black station called “Radio Livorno” against the Italian Navy, and “Radio of the Italian Republic” which aimed to split the Italians from the Germans; and even a station called “Christ the King” which implied that it was supported by the Vatican against the whole philosophy of Nazism. And finally, they broadcast a left wing ‘worker’ radio broadcasting instructions to foreign workers in German factories on how to commit almost undetectable sabotage.

The story of that war is far too big to be written here. There are hundreds of books on the subject, so I will just touch lightly on the subject showing some of the very interesting propaganda leaflets that were prepared in an attempt to get the enemy to listen to the propaganda radio. Germany prepared some excellent leaflets using different images. The Germans also had some famous (or infamous) broadcasters on their side so we will mention them too. The United States and Great British used both regular and clandestine radio and much of what those countries did might be considered on the “dark side.”

The use of radio as a medium of propaganda in wartime was made famous during WWII by Tokyo Rose (Born in Los Angeles in 1916, a Nisei first generation American) and Axis Sally (Rita Zucca, who was born in New York). The British listened to William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) broadcasting from Germany. Let’s take a brief look at these propagandists.

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Tokyo Rose - Iva Toguri

Perhaps no broadcaster was as infamous as Iva Toguri - better known to Allied listeners as TOKYO ROSE. The American-born Toguri became stranded in Japan when the war began, and she was eventually coaxed behind the microphone and instructed to read radio scripts aimed at demoralizing U.S. troops in the Pacific. Toguri always maintained that she was a loyal American who had been forced onto the radio by circumstance, but after the war ended her 1949 trial resulted in a conviction on one of eight counts of treason and sentenced to several years in prison. U.S. President Gerald Ford pardoned Toguri in 1977. 

You seldom see any of the messages of a Tokyo Rose broadcast, but there is a dairy by James Heineoki aboard the destroyer Robinson in mid-1944 to late 1945. He mentions her quite often. She says:

The stupid Americans are fighting a useless war.They are being slaughtered by the tens of thousands in Europe and the South Pacific. How would you like to be home now with your best girl. [“You’d be so nice to come to” in the background].

The Americans have nothing to gain in the South Pacific but the lives of their men. [“Bolero” in the background].

The British and Americans are in full retreat in the European invasion [“Tiger Rag” playing in the background].

The foolish American forces are making a sad attempt to gain positions in the Marianas, but the Japs are too strong for them.

Some comments from Heineoki:

Tokyo Rose has reported over the radio that the destroyer 562 has been sunk. They got our number at Lingayen when they came up to our bow that morning. I hope nobody at home heard the broadcast over the short wave. Mom would hit the overhead.

I just heard ole Tokyo Rose over the radio sending us her daily cheer. According to the Japs, we have lost the damn war. Their news broadcast said that we lost two battleships, three cruisers and about a million tin cans.

Just heard from my good friend, Tokyo Rose, shouting her mouth off. She is having a hell of a time explaining the Japs getting their asses kicked clear on back to the China Sea. They sure left the Nips on Saipan and Tinian in a heck of a fix. They cannot even retreat. I feel so-so sorry for them. Here is hoping they will not give up. Then we can butcher them down to the last man.

According to "Tokyo Rose," we are really doing awful. I guess it is bad when we lose more carriers than we have ever owned. They still have good music so they can blab from here to hell for all I care.

For more information on Tokyo Rose click here.

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Axis Salley - Mildred Gillars

One of the most famous American Nazi collaborators was Mildred Gillars who would become known as AXIS SALLY. In 1933, she was in Europe acting as a governess and salesgirl. In 1934, she moved to Dresden, Germany, to study music, and was later employed as a teacher of English at the Berlitz School of Languages in Berlin. In 1940 she accepted employment Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG), German State Radio as an announcer and actress. Her fiancé, Paul Karlson, a naturalized German citizen, said he would never marry her if she returned to the United States. Shortly afterwards, Karlson was sent to the Eastern Front, where he was killed in action. Alone after his death, she signed an oath of allegiance to Germany to protect herself. Within a short time, the radio program director convinced her to make broadcasts for Hitler. After the war, Gillars was indicted and charged with ten counts of treason at her trial which began on 25 January 1949. On 10 March 1949, the jury convicted Gillars on one count of treason. She was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine. For more information on Mildred Gillars click here.

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Lord Haw Haw

Lord Haw Haw was a nickname applied to the Irish-American William Joyce, a propagandist against Great Britain early in WWII. While many of the German propagandists tried to sound like common British workers, Lord Haw Haw pretended to be an aristocrat. The broadcasts opened with “Germany calling, Germany calling,” spoken in an affected upper-class English accent. Joyce was a senior member of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists and fled England when tipped off about his planned internment on 26 August 1939. After 1937, he formed his own organization, the British National Socialist League.

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National Socialism Now and Fascism and Jewry

Joyce was captured by British forces in northern Germany just as the war ended, tried, and eventually hanged for treason on 3 January 1946.

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American newsman Edward R. Murrow making his famous
broadcasts from London to America during the Blitz.

German Propaganda Radio to Great Britain

During WWII, Germany sponsored several black radio stations aimed to destroy the morale of Great Britain. Among them were: New British Broadcasting Station, Workers’ Challenge, Radio Caledonia, and Christian Peace Movement. Lee Richards mentions this operation in an article titled “Home Office Security Executive - Enemy-operated Pseudo-British Broadcasting Stations” on his website.

“New British Broadcasting Station” was first heard on 25th February 1940. By June there were two transmissions a day at 19.30 and 20.30; a third transmission was then added at 21.30. On 16th March 1941, the station broadcast “Off Duty Program,” recordings of modern music interspersed with weak jokes with a political moral. The Station uses “The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” as a signature tune and closes its transmission with “God Save the King”. Its general character is Fascist, and it is overall designed to appeal to a higher class of the British population than the other three freedom stations addressed to Great Britain.

“Workers’ Challenge” was first heard on 8th July 1940. At first there were three transmissions a day at 18.10, 19.10 and 20.10, but they were later reduced to one at 20.10. No signature tune is used, and reception is good. Workers’ Challenge remained at the same time by until August 1942, when it changed to 19.10. The announcer employs material copiously interspersed with foul language to attack capitalists in general, and Churchill, Cripps, and the Cabinet in particular. At one time it called upon workers to stop the war immediately by withdrawing their labor from the service of the State. It makes little or no mention of America.

“Radio Caledonia” broadcasting at 19.20 daily was first heard on 18th July 1940. Reception was invariably poor. On 8 February 1941 it started daily transmissions at 18.00; subsequently these took place at 19.45 and 21.15. Caledonia used “Auld Lang Syne” as a signature tune. The speaker, who had a pseudo-Scots accent, appealed to Scotsmen to make a separate peace from England, by whom, he alleged, their native land had for too long been exploited.

“Christian Peace Movement” was first heard on 15 August 1940, broadcast twice daily at 17.45 and 18.45. The broadcast often took the form of a religious service. It opened with a hymn and contained Bible readings, prayers, and a long, involved, and ill-reasoned address from the speaker, who dwelt on the horrors of aerial bombardment of the civilian population, and, using the text “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” appealed to all true Christians to refuse to do anything to aid the war and thus to force the Government to make peace.

German Radio Leaflets

The Germans prepared great number of radio leaflets and dropped them on the Allied troops in Italy and later Europe. They were sometimes prepared in two sizes, a large sheet for dropping from aircraft and a smaller sheet for delivery by artillery shell. Some are marked with an "AI" code which indicates that the leaflet was prepared by the Propaganda Abschnitts Offizer Italien organization. This unit's printed material was produced in both Berlin and Verona, Italy. Other radio leaflets are marked with a small star. That indicates that the leaflets were printed in Italy by the Sudstern (Southern Star) section of the Skorpion South propaganda organization of the German 10th Army.

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This leaflet for the British serves two purposes. First, it lets the soldier think about the benefits of capture ("alive and out of danger") and thus sets a pattern that might lead to lesser resistance against the Germans. Second, it tells the British Tommies that they will hear the name of their buddies on the radio and this might encourage the troops to listen to the Nazi propaganda messages.

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This leaflet was aimed at the American troops in Italy. It is interesting to note that the Germans talk of the Americans dying on foreign soil, when in fact, the Germans were also on the foreign soil of Italy. Logic was never their strongpoint.

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This German radio leaflet is aimed at both the British and American troops and mentions times and wave lengths. The front of the leaflet depicts a radio antenna at the left and the text at the right.

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This leaflet is interesting because it uses some humor and also tells the soldier very honestly that the stations are broadcasting enemy propaganda. That might cause the soldier to trust the station more for its honesty and listen in to hear just what the Germans are peddling. German records indicate that the leaflet artwork was done by Unteroffizier Ziegenhagen and the text was written by an individual named Goedel. An Unteroffizier is a non-commissioned officer, similar to an American Army sergeant. Notice that the leaflet makes fun of the famous British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Workers' Challenge was a clandestine radio station broadcasting to Britain throughout the Second World War. It purported to be run by a group of socialist British workers disaffected by the way the capitalist bosses and establishment were directing the war. The radio station called for a working class revolt through national strikes and disobedience in order to seek peace with Germany. British researcher Lee Richards mentions one of their broadcasts in part:

Workers' Challenge - Workers' Challenge calling all workers of Britain and Northern Ireland on a wave length of 213 meters every night at ten past eight and ten past nine. This is Workers' Challenge calling...

Workers' Challenge against hunger and war. Churchill means hunger and war.

Well, workers, we are doing nicely, aren't we? Seven hundred German aircraft were brought down by us in the last week, and our AA defenses are so strong now that no German bomber can reach our coast! What brought you down to your air raid shelters today, yesterday and the day before, was just a blinking thunderstorm, I suppose? And what they dropped on our factories and aerodromes was just a lot of fire crackers. Gloriously and successfully we retreated from British Somaliland and to put the tin hat on it and to make us feel quite at home, Jerry has announced a total blockade closing the last door that was left open for us to receive raw materials from our American cousins. Now, we are in the soup. Grub is becoming shorter and so is tobacco - for us workers, of course. The bleeding bosses won't be put out over it.

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The Germans prepared a small series of radio leaflets that featured a black trombonist. Although they considered themselves a super race far above all others and certainly thought of the American black troops as inferior, here they imply that those soldiers would do better with the Germans than with their own American comrades.

Lee Richards also mentions Radio Caledonia, a clandestine Nazi radio station broadcasting to Britain. The only speaker and main writer was Scottish-Fascist Donald Alexander Fraser Grant. The station attacked the British establishment and fomented Scottish Nationalism. After the war Grant was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for aiding the enemy. Of all the convicted British renegades this was the shortest prison sentence imposed. Here is part of a summary of the 26 August 1940 broadcast:

It is reported that the British Government has asked American newspapers not to publish news of the very desperate situation in which we are now. The general opinion in America is that the position is hopeless and that it's too late for America to come to our aid. The papers and the BBC only publish what Churchill wants to be known. If people knew the truth about our defenses, they would realize what a fool's paradise we are living in to hope to win the war. If the truth were known the war would not last another day. During the last few weeks and the last few days terrible damage has been done - Ramsgate: wrecking of gas works and aerodromes. We are only told a faction of what goes on. Some areas are receiving continuous air attacks. A.A. Defenses are suffering from too much work. Our efforts must be increased to acquaint people with the facts, to save our country from utter destruction. This war is the result of capitalism - we have known nothing but unemployment, hardship and poverty from capitalism. The English will not allow their country to be destroyed. We can and will save our native land by getting a separate peace for Scotland.

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The Germans also prepared leaflets for the Free Polish troops fighting alongside the British in Italy. The title of this leaflet is “Colleagues!”

Some of the text on the front is:


Have you heard Wanda? “Wanda” broadcasts daily.
You must listen to “Wanda!”
Find a suitable opportunity and discuss the details. You shouldn’t believe the stories you are hearing about the way the German soldiers are treating you. The Germans are decent soldiers and are guaranteeing you a return home. In Poland you’ll have complete freedom in your choice of work. Just give yourself up at the German battle front.
So Listen to “Wanda!”
You’ll get to know what you want to know.

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Leaflet *339/11 44

It was not only the Poles that the Germans talked to over the radio. Both the Germans and the Japanese had dealt with an Indian nationalist named Subhash Chandra Bose who wanted independence from Great Britain and was more than willing to lead those troops against British forces. In both cases prisoners or war had been recruited, trained and armed to fight for Indian Independence. This leaflet depicts two Indians listening to the German propaganda broadcasts. The leaflet says:

Whoever listens to the radio always remains connected and up to date.

The back is all text and gives the wavelengths of various propaganda stations in various languages. The text is:

You can listen daily in the evening.

Between 5:30 PM to 6:00 PM: MW 449.1 and SW 47.6
Between 8:30 PM to 9:00 PM: SW 47.6

The Voice of Bhai [Brother] Band Radio.

Broadcasts correct news from all over the world, plays Indian music and news for the betterment of Indian soldiers.

Anthony Rhodes talks about the Japanese plans for India in Propaganda, Wellfleet Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1987.

India was regarded as potentially part of Japan’s Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. A “Free India” radio station was installed in Saigon, which encouraged the natives of the subcontinent to rise against their aggressors while the British were weak and fully occupied elsewhere. Indian Independence transmitters were also set up in Bangkok and Singapore, as was an Indian Muslim Station.

Roger E. Tidy tells us more about the various Indian propaganda radio stations:

“Free India Radio” (Azad Hind Radio) was the main propaganda station for India set up by the exiled Subhas Chandra Bose with German assistance. Bose’s Provisional Indian Government in Berlin also had two other radio stations, namely “National Congress Radio” and “Free Moslem Radio.” (“National Congress Radio,” by the way, had nothing to do with the short-lived “Congress Radio,” which was a clandestine station operated by Gandhi supports on British soil). Moreover, there was an Italian-sponsored Indian station known as “Radio Himalaya,” run by the exiled Indian Moslem Iqbal Shedai. In addition to these stations, there was a German station manned by Indians called “The Brothers.”

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The “German Small Receiver” Deutscher Kleinempfanger

We should stop for a moment to mention the importance of radio in wartime Germany. The Nazi Party and Propaganda Minster Joseph Goebbels wanted every loyal German to listen to Party broadcasts. They reinforced loyalty to the Führer and the nation. At the opening of the 10th German Radio Exhibition on 18 August 1933 he gave a speech entitled “Radio as the Eighth Great Power” Goebbels talked about the direction German radio would take in the future and the introduction of a cheap “people’s radio receiver,” the Volksempfänger, that made the radio affordable for the average citizen.

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The “Volksempfanger” or “Gobbels Schnauze”

A second version of the “Volksempfanger” or “Gobbels Schnauze” had a square rather than a round opening for the speaker. This variant was built in 1938 by C. Lorenz AG, and was made to run on 110, 130 and 220 Volts.

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Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels

In 1933, Goebbels became Propaganda Minister and immediately took charge of the large building known as “The House of Broadcasting.” Only 25% of Germans had a radio so Goebbels demanded that a cheap radio be designed and produced immediately. Nine months later the People’s Receiver was placed on sale to the German public at a discounted price. The radios were fixed so no foreign stations could be heard on them. The radios were everywhere and even at work when Hitler gave a speech all work was to stop and everyone listen intently. Goebbels also had a special switch in his office that he could use to break into any broadcast should he wish to make an announcement. The Nazis ruled the German airwaves.

A German Propaganda Radio Campaign

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Wolfsangle Rune – Symbol of the Werewolves

There are numerous cases of the Germans using the radio for propaganda purposes. One of the most interesting is the Werewolf campaign. WWII was coming to an end and the Germans could clearly see defeat in the near future. On 23 March 1945, Propaganda Minister Goebbels started broadcasting about a guerrilla movement called the Werewolves that would go into the mountains and the deep woods and fight on after the eventual German surrender. The Werewolves would be trained SS troops selected by Heinrich Himmler and be well-trained and well-armed. Goebbels inaugurated a Werewolves radio program on 1 April 1945. The program opened with the sound of a wolf’s call and told the German people that they must fight to the death. Some 200 Werewolves at a time were trained at castle Schloss Hulchrath.

The total number of Werewolves, SS members and older Hitler Youth probably never exceeded 5,000. They were ineffective and quickly rounded up. They did assassinate some German officials they thought were cooperating with the allies and even did some minor sabotage. When people were killed during military actions, Goebbels claimed credit. The funny part is that although this was mostly just a propaganda campaign, the Allies took it seriously and are believed to have killed between 3,000 and 5,000 Germans, believing them to be Werewolves. The Russians might have killed as many as 10,000. The result of this campaign was to bring severe repercussions down on any German that resisted the Allies orders since they were thought to be a member of the Werewolves. As resistance against the Allies the program was a complete failure, as far as killing thousands of Germans that need not have died it worked wonderfully.

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American Soldiers listen to a radio broadcast

Allied Radio Propaganda

The amount of information on Allied radio propaganda is tremendous. In my library I have Publicity and Psychological Warfare which tells about radio propaganda in Europe by the 12th US Army Group. I also have Daugherty and Janowitz’s A Psychological Casebook, which has no less than 50 references to radio. I am going to cover this area very briefly mostly showing the propaganda leaflets produced by the United States and Great Britain.

Since I mention the 12th Army Group first, let me quote them first:

Among the various instruments of propaganda, radio is. without doubt, the most powerful. Among the various means of black propaganda, radio has therefore been used most frequently and with greatest success. The Germans used it to prepare their "blitz" campaigns, the Russians and the British used it, the latter with considerable brilliance and success (Soldatensender Calais) and finally in December 1944, the United States Army began to employ black radio as a weapon in its war of nerves against the Wehrmacht and the German people. The Americans, however, used their black radio in a new way never attempted by any other similar project - as an aid to tactical military operations.

Like all forms of black propaganda, black radio, by purporting to originate from within the enemy's camp, tries to sow dissent, mistrust, and confusion among his ranks, thus hoping to destroy him from within. A black radio operation, however, differs from any other black operation in that it is beset by many more pitfalls, any one of which can undo the efforts of many weeks and months. It is extremely delicate. Since radio knows no Army or Army Group boundaries, inherently it is political.

"Operation Annie" became somewhat of a legend in Psychological Warfare carried on against Germany.

The first breakthrough of the West Wall had been halted, and American troops, lined up along the Belgium-Luxembourg frontier, were waiting for the necessary supplies to carry the war into the heart of the Reich. First Army had just captured Radio Luxembourg undamaged, a transmitter so powerful that its voice could reach half the Reich. Here was the instrument to bring "Annie" to life. The plan for "Operation Annie" was put to the Chief of Staff, 12th Army Group in November. From there it was submitted to Psychological Warfare Detachment SHAEF.

Station "Annie" purported to come from within the Rhineland, to be run by a group of Rhinelanders and to address first and foremost the Rhineland region, the most immediate object of Allied military operations. It used a Rhenish theme song, with deep emotional appeal to Rhinelanders; it played exclusively German and often Rhenish music and employed several Rhenish voices. Besides military news of interest to the soldiers on the Western Front as well as civilians behind the front, "Operation Annie" featured Rhenish news of special interest to the civilian population. To begin with, it was not outspokenly anti-Nazi. It was simple Rhenish. The station operated between two o’clock in the morning and six-thirty, thus having an almost exclusive field of operation. Its chief bait was news, hot and accurate news from the battlefields of the West. In painstaking detail, the military story of the day was retold by "Annie", with much local color, gained from eye-witness accounts as well as an intimate knowledge of the battle areas on the part of the Editorial Staff. The frontline was drawn in such a fashion that a battalion commander could keep his situation map by listening to "Annie." Occasionally, there was a political item, reported straight, but casting, by its choice of words or in some other subtle way, a certain doubt upon the infallibility of the powers that be… Many Wehrmacht officers and soldiers followed the station night after night, keeping score by its front news, which was always several jumps ahead of the Ober Kommando Wehrmacht reports. "Annie" was building up her audience.

Goldstein and Findley mention WWII propaganda radio in Psychological Operations, Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, 1996:

The basic American Army field operating unit for Psywar was the Mobile Radio Broadcasting (MRB) Company. The equipment for this company was unlike anything conventional soldiers had seen in the field: public address systems, radios, monitoring sets, loudspeakers, typewriters, mobile printing presses, and leaflet bombs. MRB units were usually divided by the separate Army groups and field armies into small teams, often to work in direct support of frontline conventional combat units. Five such units eventually served under PWD/SHAEF.

Colonel Alfred H. Paddock Jr. says in his 1982 book, U.S. Army Special Warfare – it’s origins about the Mobile Radio Broadcasting (MRB)

Early MRB units had served with the Military Intelligence Service in December 1942 and, after being transferred for a brief period to OSS, went back to the Army in March 1943. The equipment for these units was unlike anything conventional soldiers had seen in the field-public address systems, radios, monitoring sets, loudspeakers, typewriters, mobile printing presses, and leaflet bombs. MRB units were usually divided by the separate Army groups and field armies into small teams, often to work in direct support of frontline conventional combat units. One MRB company commander, Major Edward A. Caskey, described his responsibilities as primarily tactical, or combat, propaganda efforts. His company used short-range radio broadcasts as well as tactical leaflets printed on the spot, then delivered to enemy lines using modified artillery smoke shells. He also maintained prisoner-of-war interrogation teams that worked with G-2. Caskey explained: "Both Germans and Italians (prisoners) stated that the content of the leaflets had greatly influenced their decision [to surrender]. They all insisted that they were mostly impressed with the veracity of our leaflets.

Five such companies eventually served under PWD/SHAEF. Although these units were the result of improvisation in 1943 and 1944. The doctrinal and organizational concepts they embodied reappeared in the psychological warfare units formed during the Korean conflict.

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General Dwight D. Eisenhower presents the Distinguished Service Medal to Brig. Gen. McClure in 1944. The award recognized McClure's accomplishments as chief of psychological warfare, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force

Colonel Alfred H. Paddock Jr. mentioned the Army’s use of radio in WWII in an article on General Robert Alexis McClure in the January-March 2019 issue of Special Warfare:

Eisenhower had put McClure in charge of the Information and Censorship Section, or INC, of the Allied Forces headquarters. It was McClure’s job to consolidate several functions for which most Army officers had little preparation: public relations, censorship and psychological warfare.

"We operate 12 high powered radio stations — 6 of them are stronger than WLW in Cincinnati. My Psychological Warfare staff — radio, leaflet, signals, front line, occupation, domestic propaganda personnel, exceed 700. In censorship — troop, mail, and cables, civilian mail, radio, press, cables, telephone for all of North & West Africa, Sicily, etc., over 400 personnel & supervising 700 French. Public relations — press and correspondents — 150 correspondents — 250 personnel — a total “command” of 1500 in an organization never contemplated in the Army."

In early 1944, General Eisenhower authorized the establishment of the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, or PWD/SHAEF, to support the European campaign against Nazi Germany. McClure, as its director, controlled and coordinated psychological warfare in continental Europe. In Europe, PWD made radio broadcasts from OWI transmitters and over the British Broadcasting Corporation; conducted loudspeaker broadcasts on the front lines; and conducted large-scale leaflet operations using specially designated aircraft squadrons.

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 implies 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 company got heavily involved with propaganda radio as we mention below (edited for brevity):

On 3 June a group of 25 officers and men, which included Lieutenant Rugg’s radio unit, left camp for shipment to France. Going ashore on D-Day + 4, the radio men immediately set up camp at Colombieres and proceeded to report frontline fighting reports to London. Some of the invasion reports were relayed to America over national hookups.


Miscellaneous Operations

On 4 July, Lieutenant Overton went on the air at Cherbourg with his 400-watt mobile transmitter under the callsign of RADIO CHERBOURG. Meanwhile, a radio reconnaissance team proceeded into Brittany to the site of the old Radio Rennes transmitter. Soon afterwards, the fixed radio section of the company went on the air as RADIO BRETAGNE on 19 August, sending out news from England to the French people. A mobile transmitter was soon operating in Paris as part of the PSYWAR communications net between London and the various command headquarters. Company members had been sent forward to capture Radio Luxembourg. The stations transmitters were taken intact on 12 September. With the capture of Radio Luxembourg, the American forces had in their possession the second most powerful radio transmitter in Europe and one that was to become the field voice of PSYWAR through its broadcasts to the Germans. The unit soon started working with the Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB) and one notable achievement was the secret radio station 1212 known as OPERATION ANNIE. Some of the radio personnel were working with the ARMED FORCES NETWORK, Ninth Army, and many other special propaganda and radio missions.

A 400-watt mobile transmitter established at Plouay broadcast daily programs under the name DER AMERIKANISCHE FELDFUNK VOR LORIENT. A leaflet was prepared and fired by artillery into Lorient giving the programs, times, and frequencies of the station. Perhaps the oddest broadcast by this station was when a German doctor was captured and the station as a good will gesture announced the names of all the girls on Lorient known to have VD. Another time the station announced that any German who surrendered and did not like the treatment he received from the Americans would be free to return to his lines. One German sergeant asked to return and was allowed to do so which immediately made surrender far more tempting for the remain German troops. RADIO LORIENT suspended service on 14 October because the staff was needed at RADIO LUXEMBOURG.

As the war ended the company was awarded 15 Bronze Star Medals, 6 Croix de Guerre, 5 Purple Hearts, and many letters of recommendation. 6 men would stay in Germany after the unit left to help with information control duties in the occupied nation.


In 2022, about 15 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, Texas, that discussed the history of Psychological Operations in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. The book mentions American WWII radio operations in both the Mediterranean and Western European theaters, mostly the mobile radio broadcasting companies. Two chapters cover 71 pages, so I will just add a few comments of interest.

The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th mobile radio broadcasting companies were established and trained to provide tactical mobile support (loudspeakers, leaflets, and short-range radio) to field armies and below. Their personnel broke off and formed into ad hoc, task organized teams, such as PWB Advance, VIII Corps (also called MONARCH), and the First, Third, Ninth, and Seventh Army PSYWAR Combat Teams. The three officers and nineteen soldiers of the 2nd MRBC upon activation received “no hint of the nature of their organization” and had no inkling that the MRBCs would later be credited as “the backbone of propaganda in the European Theater of Operations.” The 2nd represented and effort to standardize the organizations, training, and functions of these stand-alone tactical PSYWAR units. It had a headquarters and four platoons, Service and Administration, Propaganda, Radio, and Mobile Radio and Loudspeakers. Two weeks after the Invasion of Europe, the 2nd MRBC travelled to South Hampton…On June 25th, it disembarked at Omaha Beach, Normandy.

The Hallicrafters Sx28 receiver

The WWII Confidential booklet Psychological Warfare Branch Combat Team prepared by the 5th Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company mentions monitoring enemy radio broadcasts. They illustrate the Hallicrafters Sx28 receiver which was used to listen to the German radio. The duties of the Chief Monitor are mentioned:

He assigns the monitors to their specific stations and broadcasts, he arranges their reports, compiles an index for them, writes a page of “personalities in the News,” and a page of “Highlights in the News,” and then assembles all to form the Chief Monitor’s report. The Chief Monitor’s report is mimeographed and is published once each day.

Even when the war was over the military was still involved with radio broadcasts to the new Germany trying to foster a democratic sentiment:

The shooting war is over, here! Signed yesterday. Paris is wild with excitement. … With one phase over I am now up to my neck on the control phase. We will rigidly control all newspapers, films, theater, radio, music, etc., in Germany! "We now control 37 newspapers, six radio stations, 314 theaters, 642 movies, 101 magazines, 237 book publishers, 7,384 book dealers and printers, and conduct about 15 public opinion surveys a month, as well as publish one newspaper with 1,500,000 circulation, three magazines, run the Associated Press of Germany, and operate 20 library centers. … The job is tremendous."

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MD 214

American leaflet number 214 is entitled “Written Off.” The words are printed at the top of the leaflet over the name of the town “Lorient.” Below the title there is a depiction of the present battle lines and the German position in Lorient at a distance of just 900 kilometers from Germany. Text on the front is:


The American Field Radio before Lorient broadcasts daily at 1400 and 2130 O’clock on 432 meters:

News from all around the world.
News about your comrades from Lorient.
Serial: “Letters from home.
Music and entertainment.

The back is all text and entitled “War News.” It tells the Germans of the war situation on the Western Front, Germany, Italy, and the Eastern Front and in the Balkans. The text is too long to translate in total, but the section entitled “Germany” says:

Since the crossing of the German frontier, the Siegfried Line has been pierced in several places. A new secret weapon was used in these breakthrough operations. After occupying Rotken and other German towns, American armored units are now fighting behind Aachen and are advancing in the direction of Stolberg.

It is interesting to note the American use of the term “Secret Weapon” in their message. The Germans were regularly being told that their secret weapons would turn the tide of war so perhaps the Allies thought this would be an especially powerful phrase to attack the German morale.

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Leaflet 490

B. B. C.

(The British Broadcasting Corporation)

Has considerably extended its transmissions in the German language.


Will find overleaf the complete list of times of transmission, wavelengths, and all details of the various news, talks and entertainment programs.

The text on the back is in part:


Transmissions in the German language.

German daylight saving time 6:00 – 6:30, 6:30 – 7:30.

Wave lengths: 49, 261, 285, and 373 meters.

Contents: News from the night service and topical commentaries of special interest to German workers. Music.

The entire back of the leaflet is filled with similar station information and other comments such as:

We know that in Germany, unlike in Great Britain and the U. S. A. and other free countries, it is forbidden to listen to foreign stations But


Window closed! Put your set on a cushion! Don’t place it against the wall! Tune in softly! There is no secret method of detecting listeners to foreign stations. It often happens that our transmissions are deliberately jammed. Don’t forget that we always transmit on several wave lengths, which can never be jammed all at once. If you find that you can’t hear us clearly on your usual wavelength, you’ll get us in the one that is being used by the German monitoring service.

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Leaflet 522

British leaflet 522 was dropped over Germany from 6 September to 22 October 1941. We have seen documentation on at least 12 leaflet raids and some of the cities targeted were Braunschweig, Leipzig, Magdenburg, Kiel, Dortmund, and Hannover. The English title in A Complete Index of Allied Airborne Leaflets and Magazines is listed as, "The Ban on Foreign Stations."

The leaflet is all German text:


Goebbels, in the magazine "Das Reich" and on the wireless, has again threatened with the severest penalties all who listen to London. If Goebbels wanted to carry out his threat, he would have to empty the factories and offices and decimate the ranks of the military, and Hitler’s war machine would come to a stand-still. For the people he is threatening are too numerous.

Four paragraphs follow, three starting with "Goebbels said." An example is:

Goebbels says: "The German nation is informed concerning the actual situation to quite another extent than any other nation." Yes, to quite another extent. No other nation learns so little of what is happening, or is kept so much in the dark by its own government. This is the reason, and the only reason why the German people listen to foreign radio stations. It is hungry for the truth. It cannot believe a government that tells it nothing about either casualties in the East or bomb damage in the West.

Lee Richards mentions British propaganda radio in an article entitled:The Types of Research Units and What is Black, Grey & White Propaganda on The article is long but some of the more interesting comments are:

Secret radio stations operated by the Political Warfare Executive were given the generic code name of “Research Units.” They could be either Freedom stations exhorting the populations of occupied countries to organize and resist or they pretended to be of enemy origin with the goal of subverting the enemy regime. The Political Warfare Executive further classified its output into white, grey, and black propaganda depending on the level, or otherwise, of its camouflaged origin. White openly spoke in the name of His Majesty’s Government, grey and black propaganda pretended to be anything but the voice of the British Government.

OPPOSITION STATIONS: Under the guise of operating in the country which it addresses and in the circumstances of danger and difficulty which such a situation would entail, an opposition station represents the voice and sentiment of a movement which is in opposition to the enemy.

COUNTERFEIT STATIONS: There are two main types. Official counterfeit stations are counterfeits of official enemy or enemy-controlled stations. Unofficial counterfeit Stations are counterfeits of real or imaginary enemy-controlled opposition stations.

Black stations depend as much upon cover as upon content and technique to achieve their object. Their disguise, both as to location and control, must be sufficiently plausible to deceive their audience. Grey stations’ disguise need only consist of a plausible cover that they are not under British control. They depend entirely on content and technique to achieve their object.

THE ESSENTIALS OF DISGUISE provide: A good plausible source and cover for the type of material being put out. The cover to break down in the listener any resistance he would have if the material put out came from an official British or Allied station. A disguise sufficiently realistic for His Majesty’s Government or an Allied Government to be able to disavow any station convincingly.

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Leaflet 473

We mention Sefton Delmer above. I corresponded with him for many years prior to his death. One of his ploys involved the German invasion of Great Britain. Delmer wanted to convince the Germans that the invasion would cause the death of thousands of Wehrmacht troops. He produced a leaflet and a radio broadcast. This leaflet is not a radio leaflet, but radio propaganda was used with it so I think we can add it here.

WIE FAHREN GEGEN ENGELLAND (We Journey against England) is the title of the famous German military tune that tells of their coming attack on England:

Our flag waves as we march along,
it is an emblem of the power of our Reich,
and we can no longer endure
that the Englishman should laugh at it.
So give me thy hand, thy fair white hand,
Ere we sail away to conquer Eng-el-land.

At the bottom of the leaflet there is a parade of goose-stepping German soldiers in bathing suits and life jackets boarding an invasion barge. The center consists of three vertical columns in German, French and Dutch. The title at the head of all the columns is "The Little Invasion Interpreter." There are 15 phrases listed under "Before the Invasion." Another 15 are listed "During the Invasion," and a final 13 "After the invasion." The columns continue on the back of the leaflet where two further images are depicted. At the top the invasion fleet is seen being destroyed, while at the bottom the white cliffs of Dover are shown pristine and secure beneath a Union Jack. Some of the phrases of the leaflet are:

The sea is vast - cold - surging.
This is a bomb - a torpedo - a shell - a mine
Our boat capsizes - sinks - burns – explodes.
The sea stinks of fuel oil.
The water burns here
Look how well the Captain burns.

Sefton Delmer, Director of Britain's "Black" Radio during WWII, talked about the British deception plan in Black Boomerang, The Viking Press, New York, 1962. He talks about his English lesson to the Germans:

We English, as you know, are notoriously bad at languages, and so it will be best, meine Herren Engellandfahrer, if you learn a few useful English phrases before visiting us.

For your first lesson we will take: Die Kanaluberfahrt. The Channel crossing, the Channel crossing.

Now just repeat after me: Das Boot sinkt. The boat is sinking; the boat is sinking.

Das Wasser ist kalt. The water is cold. Sehr kalt, very cold.

Now, I will give you a verb that should come in useful. Again please repeat after me, Ich brenne, I burn. Du brennst, you burn. Er brennt, he burns. Wir brennen, we burn. Ihr brennt, you are burning.

Yes, meine Herren, in English, a rather practical language, we use the same word "you" for both the singular and the plural. Ihr brennt, you are burning. Sie brennen, they burn.

And if I may be allowed to suggest a phrase: Der SS Sturmfiihrer brennt auch ganz schon, The SS Captain is also burning quite nicely, the SS Captain is also burning quite nicely!

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The British prepared a small gummed sticker that could be stuck on walls and mirrors in France by partisans to advertise the station. There is a broom at the left and the following text in French at the right:

Listen to the Known Voices of the Unknown Radio

Every day (With the permission of the Gestapo and Police) on
30.77 meters at 8:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 8:00 p.m.

The Knights are there!

The American OSS in Europe was also busy using the radio for black propaganda. The Office of Strategic Service Morale Operations branch in the European theater of operations worked closely with the British Political Warfare Executive in the development of "black" propaganda. It contributed all the entertainment programming on the Soldatensender West clandestine medium-wave radio station. The Morale Operations branch later also operated its own black radio stations and produced its own subversive propaganda literature for infiltration into Occupied Europe.

There were a number of black radio stations in the European theater of Operation. Some were:

Soldatensender Calais / Soldatensender West as mentioned above. This British station was first called Soldatensender Calais but after Calais fell to the Allies its name was changed to Soldatensender West, distributed news and music to the German Army. It wrote its news in a way to harm the German morale but never took part in tactical military deception. The OSS Morale Operations Branch was invited to join the British in preparing features for this station under “Operation Pancake” and the recordings sent from the United States and sketches and continuity items produced by the MO Branch eventually accounted for practically all the entertainment features on Soldatensender West.

Operation Annie also known as 1220 Sender. It gave detailed news of the battlefront. It used classified intelligence in tactical deception and what we now call “fake news.”

Kurzwellensender Atlantic was a British station that was very popular for its news and music. It had a large German following, many of whom knew it was an Allied station.

Operation Volksender Drei operated from a captured Paris radio station and purported to come from within Germany and was on the air commencing 21 September 1944 carried on a signal which would cover the entire western front and through Germany as far as Berlin. The operation continued through 25th October under agreement with the French that the full time of the station would be passed back to them on 1 November 1944.

Operation Joker was an OSS plan to use the alleged voice of German General Ludwig Beck, who had disappeared after the 20 July putsch and was variously reported as shot, in a neutral country, or in hiding in Germany. The Beck speaker would address Germany on behalf of anti-Nazi elements of the old general staff. The prisoner-of-war cages in England were searched until a major was found who had once worked on General Beck's staff and who could remember and imitate his voice and intonation. The broadcast was made on 31 October 1944.

Operation Capricorn began in early 1945 when the OSS made arrangements with the British to set up their own shortwave transmitters near Area “R” in the country around Woburn Abbey. A speaker called Hagedorn commenced his daily addresses to the people of Germany in the latter part of February. These programs, geared to the highest SHAEF directive, were carried on for 61 consecutive days, the last broadcast being made on 27 April 1945.

The booklet Psychological Warfare Branch Combat Team prepared by the 5th Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company mentions all the Clandestine radio stations broadcasting at the time of publication:

There were 13 stations broadcasting in French, 15 in German, 4 in Italian, 2 in Slovak, 8 in English. 5 in Rumanian, 4 in Serbian, 2 in Polish, 4 in Czech, and 1 in Norwegian.

The enemy was also broadcasting propaganda messages over the radio. This list is clearly incomplete because there is no mention of English and French-language stations. Perhaps there were just too many to list:

There were 4 stations broadcasting in Bulgarian, 1 in Spanish, 3 in Russian, 4 in Danish, 4 in Hungarian, 1 in Greek, 3 in Arabic, and 5 in Indian languages.

American Radio Leaflets Against Japan

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Radio towers for Saipan OWI station KSAI broadcasting directly to Japan
This American propaganda station broadcast 5076 hours to Japan

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OWI Leaflet 2077

The United States Office of War Information (OWI) produced radio leaflets for Japanese troops during WWII.

This leaflet is coded 2077 and depicts a radio antenna on the front and a microphone on the back. The purpose is to create a desire among the Japanese people to listen to the American OWI radio station on Saipan. The concept is to discuss the fact that war news has been withheld from the people for long periods of time because the military leaders do not want the people to know the truth about their "clumsy" campaigns. The leaflet lists the schedule for the "Voice of America from Saipan." The text is extensive. Some selected portions are:

The fact that Saipan and Leyte had fallen to the Americans was withheld from the Japanese people for a long time. If you are interested in the latest news, listen to the Voice of America from Saipan (850 meter band, 1100 kilocycle).

Your military leaders who are carrying on a clumsy military campaign, do not want you to listen to the truth. If you want to listen to the news without interference, dial your radios to 850 meters, 1100 kilocycles, every evening at 6:00 p.m. In order that we may be able to give you the news, this station will change its frequency from time to time. By this method, you will be able to learn the true situation concerning your sons and husbands who are fighting on various fronts. Also, you will hear the true situation of soldiers who are being cared for by America.

Some of the programs broadcast from 6:00 to 11:30 p.m. are:

6:55 Interesting peoples and places.
7:00 Music.
7:05 News of the world from America.
7:20 News of the world from England.
7:35 News commentary from Washington.
7:50 Special commentary on the news.
8:00 Music.
8:05 News.
8:25 The way of reason.
8:45 Short commentary (highlights).
8:50 Science news, postwar matters.
9:00 Music.


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OWI technicians adjust the Saipan radio station
KSAI radio transmitters to new frequencies to avoid Japanese jamming.

Richard S. Hubert, Chief of the OWI station on Saipan wrote a paper called The O.W.I Saipan Operation. He mentions radio and I edit for brevity:

The O.W.I. transmitter site is about one quarter mile square and adjoins the beach. The construction of this powerful broadcast station was begun on 3 October 1944, and completion coincided with the completion of the 100 K.W. transmitter (KRHO) on Oahu. The network was inaugurated on 25 December 1994, O.W.I.’s Christmas gift to Tojo. Several frequencies were set up for optional use with a view to dodging the anticipated Japanese jamming, which, incidentally, they started 30 minutes after the station went on the air. Because of the loss of time involved with changing frequencies, we decided to adhere to 1010, and this is still being used.

One of the features, “Democracy in Action,” explains how a democratic government works at all levels. A second feature, “What America is Reading,” gave a first-hand picture of America to bring about a fuller understanding of American life and ideals. “The Voice of Freedom,” a third feature, was devoted to materials taken from former Japanese liberal leaders, recalling that Japan too, had something of a liberal tradition.

he voices used in the Japanese programs origination at San Francisco and Honolulu, were those of men and women of Japanese origin, many of them born in the U.S.A. For radio notices which required to be voiced on Saipan, Japanese Warrant Officer Saito was usually used.

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OWI Leaflet 2001

This American OWI leaflet was produced on Saipan and depicts a radio broadcaster who is muffled so that the Japanese people cannot hear true reports of the war news. Some of the text is:

Sanji Muto, who was assassinated on March 9, 1934, says in his book “The Story of Applied Economics,” page 140, as follows:

“When I first came to this paper, The Jiji Shimpo, I was shocked to find that, contrary to expectations, there was actually no freedom of speech…”

If this was true in 1934, how much more is it true now?

Why do you not have freedom of speech?

It is because your militarists do not want you to know the truth. If the people of Japan heard the truth now, they would know that Japan is losing on every front….

We know that this is an Office of War Information leaflet designed in Honolulu by American artist Frances Blakemore. This information is found in An American Artist in Tokyo, Michiyo Morioka, the Blakemore Foundation, Seattle, WA. Morioka describes the artistic aspects of the leaflet and says:

Frances’s illustration condenses the complex topic of media control into a single powerful image. A gagged radio announcer is flanked by the hands of a naval officer and an army officer, each holding a book and newspaper with torn out pages. The masses in front reach out their hands in vain for the truth.

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Nisei studies script to assure accuracy in Japanese translation
OWI Station KRHO was on the air 20 hours a day broadcasting to the Japanese
The station broadcast 5074 total hours to Japan

Hubert continues:

The facilities were used to support and augment the leaflet campaign. Beginning in April 1945, a morning program was broadcast to Japan from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. while regular broadcasts were from 5 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. daily. B-29 bomber crew reported that the radio signal was strong over Japan. When the bombs were falling Japan, radio went off the air which gave the O.W.I. radio ownership of the air.

Member of the 20th Air Force stationed in the Marianas soon became aware that they could “ride the beam” of the transmitter on Saipan. This was an excellent homing beacon. On 2 March 1945, The Air Force requested that the radio transmit for eight hours longer. Later, a round-the-clock operation was requested. The bomber crew enjoyed the radio programs on the long flights and one crew wrote to the station to say in part:

We want to tell you how swell your programs are, and how much we appreciate the good music while we are flying on these long missions…Every other crew we have talked to has been unanimous in their acclaim. Your programs have been the subject of many comments…

The Saigon transmitter justified its existence many time over in the number of lives and planes it saved. During one week, four bombers were able to return safely using the beam. By the end of April the number was 20 bombers saved. The planes cost about one half million dollars each, so saving just one plane was far in excess of the cost of the entire radio operation.

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Psychological Warfare

The WWII Confidential OWI Booklet Psychological Warfare, Part One, December 1944, mentions American radio stations.

The Office of War Information is the official voice of the U.S. Government in overseas radio. In the Central Pacific Area, the OWI has established a powerful short-wave transmitter on the island of Oahu. This transmitter carries programs in several oriental languages which originate in San Francisco. Other programs originate in Honolulu and are broadcast in Japanese and in English. A long-wave station has been established on Saipan which will broadcast programs for the Japanese homeland…A certain amount of Western and Japanese music will be included in order to gain listeners. Both stations will use frequencies which are very close to the main Japanese frequencies.

Before we leave the OWI radio station I thought I would mention some of the comments from the Office of War Information Leaflet News Letter dated 1 September 1945. It mentions radio is some depth:

OWI directed its work against two main targets – Japanese troops in battle areas, and the Japanese home front. Our main psychological warfare weapons were radio and leaflets. The year 1944 through April, 1945 saw many changes in OWI Pacific operations. Radio facilities and reaching power multiplied by the thousands through the addition of 6 new transmitters in California and the erection of a 100 KW transmitter on Hawaii and a 50 KW transmitter on Saipan. The Saipan transmitter is medium wave, and through it we were enabled to throw into Japan a signal as powerful as Japan's own domestic stations.

It was estimated that six or seven million Japanese have radio sets capable of picking up the Saipan broadcasts under normal conditions, even in the event of bad atmospherics or intentional interference by Japanese transmitters, the Saipan broadcasts were still audible a significant portion of the time. The important point was that within this group of potential listeners there, were Japanese of all economic and social strata. Although radio receivers are concentrated in urban centers, principally among business and commercial people, rural dwellers possess more powerful sets since they are remote from Japanese transmitting centers. Thus, both urban and rural elements comprised the potential audience for the Saipan broadcasts.

The new Saipan and Honolulu transmitters began operating on 26 December 1944. The first evidence Tokyo gave of knowledge of them was given on a Tokyo Home Service broadcast on 1 January 1945. This was the announcement:

Please turn off your radio as soon as this broadcast is over. Please do this to save some electric power and to, keep radio, sets in service longer. With “Let’s turn off the radio as soon as the broadcast is over,” as a watchword please carry out the request from tonight without fail. Please remember this.

The aim seems to have been, quite apart from the announced one of avoiding wear and tear on radio sets, to get all of them turned off at the time the OWI transmitters were at their highest peak of efficiency. Apparently, though, Tokyo didn't trust listeners to turn off their radios after the last broadcast, for on April first, in spite of the wear and tear motive, it was announced that thereafter there would be a full evening of news, entertainment and music.

To be sure, they were doing everything they could. The Japanese tried jamming the station, but they were reckoning without the B-29s. When B-29s appeared over Japan, the Japanese stations immediately went off the air, leaving it clear for undisturbed reception of American programs. Then, to complete the failure, the strong beam of the transmitters guided the B-29s back to base.

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U.S. Army PWB Leaflet 9-J-1

I add this American WWII leaflet to the Japanese only because of the image, which depicts a microphone in front on a bright red field. The leaflet was produced by the US Army Psychological Warfare Branch in the Philippines and is coded 9-J-1. This leaflet does not ask the Japanese to listen to Allied radio, but instead attacks Japanese radio for lying to the troops on a regular basis. The leaflet depicts a microphone making false claims to the Japanese people about the Imperial Navy destruction of British and American ships. The theme is "Truth of Leaders." The text on the front is:

Excerpts from Radio Tokyo broadcasts:

The Americans apparently have no fleet left in the Pacific. – 25 Feb. 42.

The Japanese fleet has virtually destroyed the enemy forces. – 9 May 42.

All American British and Dutch fleets have been wiped out. The Japanese Navy dominates the Pacific. – 20 Sep. 42.

Japanese forces have wiped out the cream of the American fleet. – 20 Nov. 43

The text on the back is:

Does hearing a thing 100 times equal thinking about it once?

That is a variation on an old Japanese proverb.

When you are hearing or reading the war news, don't you sometimes have questions like the following:

If the American fleet was destroyed in 1942 and 1943, why was the Japanese fleet unable to prevent the retaking and holding of the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and Saipan?

If the main bulk of the American fleet was annihilated, could the American fleet have brought material and troops 9000 kilometers and landed them on the Philippine Islands?

If the Allied fleet suffered critical damage in the battle off the Philippines, how is it possible for the American forces to continue to land troops in the Philippines and keep spreading out over the islands? Why does the Japanese Navy allow the American fleet to dominate the seas around the Philippines?

When you think over these points, do the war reports of the military leaders always seem entirely reasonable to you?

Back to Bataan

Whenever I see PSYOP used in a war film I like to add it to the article I have written about that part of the war. For instance. leaflets were dropped in the films Battleground and Dunkirk, and I depicted both in the stories of those battles. In the 1945 film Back to Bataan, a Filipino woman is depicted as a collaborator, but we later find out she is working with the Americans to drive the Japanese out of her homeland. The actress, Fely Franquelli plays the radio announcer Dalisay Delgado, the former love of a Filipino patriot. In the picture above, she has pretended to be a supporter of a Japanese plan to give the Philippines a “freedom” with strings attached. At the crucial moment, the guerrillas attack the ceremony and Dalisay grabs a microphone and tells the people the truth about the Japanese. Deception and radio propaganda all rolled into one.

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Engineer John Signer supervises the installation of
Broadcasting and recording equipment at the OWI transmitter at
Lualualei, Hawaiian Islands

The Saigon radio station KSIA saved so many American aircraft that the Commander of the 20th Air Force sent a letter to the station on 12 August 1945. It says in part:

This headquarters wishes to extend its appreciation for the splendid cooperation of your radio station. Your efforts to provide additional facilities have resulted in inestimable assistance to B-29 operations.

Your staying on the air throughout the entire day has served a two-fold purpose: The long-range radio homing facility has greatly facilitated navigation on our combat missions, and, the programs have been a great help to the morale of combat crews participating in these operations.

N. F. Twining
Lieutenant General, USA

Let’s finish up this portion with a look back at wartime propaganda as written by Dr. Edward P. Lilly who wrote a top secret 95-page report dated 19 December 1951 on the history of U.S. PSYOP from the end of WWII to the start of the Korean War titled: The Development of American Psychological Operations 1945-1951. In regard to American radio he said:

Although coordinated planning was lacking, extensive psychological warfare operations developed. Shortwave radio broadcasts covered the world on a 24-hour a day basis employing some 40 languages. Transmitter coverage was increased from an original 11 to 36 powerful transmitters which were available in 1945. News photos, pictures, brochures and other publications, as well as specially spliced news reels, film documentaries and even full length feature movies were distributed to influence world opinion. Psychological warfare Divisions or Branches were gradually established in all the major combined and American theaters of operation to develop these activities in unison with military operations.

Military units employed every technique developed by the civilian agencies and supplemented them with psychological Warfare aimed directly at the enemy soldier. They initiated their own radio broadcasting facilities and programs.

A Brief word about Japanese Radio

Robert J. Bunker wrote about Japanese Psychological Warfare in World War II in the Pacific: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 2001. Some of his comments on Japanese are:

Japanese psychological warfare operations were modeled on campaigns conducted by the British in World War I and the Germans in World War II. The Germans established a branch of their propaganda ministry in Japan, which resulted in close psychological warfare collaboration between these two Axis powers. As a result, their propaganda themes, such as both nations having divine or semidivine rulers and being populated by super races whose destiny was to rule the world, were strikingly parallel.

Operational and tactical Japanese psychological warfare included the broadcasts made by Radio Tokyo, especially those of Tokyo Rose, and the dropping of propaganda leaflets. Allied naval personnel were amused by Tokyo Rose’s crocodile tears shed for “the poor boys on the ship sunk last night by our brave submariners.” The “poor boys,” as likely as not, were enjoying the broadcast aboard the warship supposedly resting on the bottom. On the other hand, Radio Tokyo broadcasters, possibly borrowing a leaf from the Germans, did have the wit to broadcast the latest American popular music. Jazz, big band, bebop, jitterbug, the latest Tommy Dorsey or Glen Miller or Bing Crosby recordings, could be heard on Axis radio well before Allied broadcasts disseminated them. But U.S. sailors were so immune to the political blandishments of the likes of Tokyo Rose that such enemy broadcasts were piped through the public address systems of Pacific Fleet ships, both for the humor and for the sailors to catch up on the latest stateside hits. Japanese tactical psywar against Allied troops must be judged a complete failure. Nowhere has there been such great listenership with so little result.


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Following Japan’s surrender in World War II, Korea was arbitrarily divided into zones of Soviet and American occupation, north and south of the 38th north parallel. By 1948, it was clear that reunification of the two countries was hopeless, in May 1948, the Republic of Korea (ROK) was created in the south, with Dr. Syngman Rhee as president, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was formed in the north.

On Sunday morning, June 25, 1950, 93,000 North Korean troops with approximately 100 Russian-made tanks attacked southward early in an attempt to force reunification. The forces of South Korea were almost pushed into the sea, and communist forces occupied the capital Seoul and much of South Korea.

U.N. troops, largely from the U.S. and Japan and commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, landed at Inchon on 15 September and launched a counterattack. The operation involved some 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels, and led to the recapture of the South Korean capital Seoul two weeks later. Initial success brought the U.N. troops to the Chinese border by late November 1950, but on 29 November, China entered the conflict and pushed the U.N. forces southward. Seoul fell again on 4 January 1951.

Another U.N. counteroffensive in February and March drove the North Korean and Chinese troops back to the 38th parallel. Despite much bloody fighting, the battle lines remained stable for another two years. As the fighting moved up and down the peninsula, ravaging the land, there were an estimated three million casualties. Armistice talks began in July 1951 but repeatedly failed to reach agreement. A truce was signed on 27 July 1953 establishing a demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel and creating a framework for a permanent settlement of the war. Talks have continued fruitlessly ever since.

The United States had broken up all the psychological warfare units at the end of WWII and was unprepared to act in Korea. Yet, they were able to mount a force within days of the attack and quickly rebuilt PSYWAR units to take part in the war. The first leaflets disseminated by U.S. forces during the Korean War came less than twenty-four hours after President Truman authorized military intervention against the north, and the first broadcasts from Radio Japan began less than twenty-four hours after that. Both of these efforts, however, were conducted by the small staff in the Far East Theater and were in no way indicative of an actual capability to sustain a PSYWAR campaign.

In 1947, General MacArthur had activated a small Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB) in the G-2 (Intelligence) division of General Headquarters, Far East Command (GHQ FECOM) in Tokyo. Major General Charles Willoughby, MacArthur’s G-2 (intelligence), appointed a civilian and retired army colonel, J. Woodall Greene, to head the PWB.

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Leaflet 1004

Leaflet 1004 depicted a heroic image of General MacArthur and promises good treatment to any captured or surrendering North Korean troops. The text under the photograph is:

Listen each day at 2100 Korean time over 950 kilocycles to truthful news broadcasts from General MacArthur’s headquarters.

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The 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet (RB&L) Group

The recruitment of staff for the first PSYOP Group to be deployed to Korea is mentioned in a reunion book entitled Psychological Warfare in Korea - 1952 Life and Times of the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group - 50 years Later, Klein, Herguth and McConaughey, RHP Books, 2002:

The Army, to find enlisted men for jobs that required a university degree, set up a special classification and assignment unit at Ft. Myer, in Arlington, Virginia. Towards the end of 1950, orders went out to send all draftees with college degrees to Ft. Myer after they finished basic training to be interviewed for possible special assignments. It was through this process that draftees with experience in journalism, radio, advertising and graphic arts found themselves in the 1st RB&L Group.

The Group arrived in Tokyo, Japan, on 6 August 1951. The group consisted of three companies. Paul Linebarger discusses them in Psychological Warfare, Combat Forces Press, Washington DC, 1954. He says:

The Headquarters and Headquarters Company contained the command, administrative, supervisory and creative personnel necessary for propaganda operations. The 3rd Reproduction Company contained intricate equipment and skilled personnel capable of producing leaflets and newspapers of varying sizes and multiple colors. The 4th Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company was designed to replace or augment other means of broadcasting radio propaganda.

The Fourth Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company was based in Tokyo, Pusan and Seoul. It consisted of 16 officers and 99 enlisted personnel. It was authorized various mobile radio broadcasting systems to transmit Psywar messages in the field in a variety of languages and dialects. The Radio Company had three platoons, each with a complete mobile transmitter that could be attached to more powerful theater elements. In 1953, a Consolidation Company was added to the group when it became clear that there was a need to prepare propaganda specifically aimed at civilians in the rear or in occupied areas under Allied control.

Radio Operations

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South Korean soldier reads script while recording a broadcast

An Operations research Office report entitled Technical Memorandum Strategic Radio Psywar in FEC by Murray Dyer discusses the Allied propaganda radio in the early stages of the war up until January 1951.

Dyer tells of Major Tom O. Mathews being ordered to produce 30 minutes of radio propaganda against North Korea on 29 June 1950. The Major had no staff, no transmitters, no translators and no news facilities. He was a “can do” officer and at 2100 that evening he broadcast his first program to Korea from a small studio in Radio Tokyo. He was soon broadcasting around the clock from Tokyo. He hired Koreans living in Tokyo as writers and translators. He then found a number of Korean radio technicians who had come under the control of Allied forces on the peninsula. His staff rose to eleven native-borne Koreans. Within a few days of North Korean invasion Mathews had 19 medium and shortwave transmitters of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation sending programs to Korea. It was later learned that many North Koreans found ways of listening to the forbidden broadcasts.

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

As had been the case during the Second World War the U.S. military disseminated propaganda via leaflets, loudspeakers, and radio broadcasts. Radio broadcasts were almost exclusively used for strategic purposes or as a consolidation Psywar tool in areas occupied by the United Nations forces and under military government. Operating with the assistance of the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and the Japan Broadcast System (JBS), the “Voice of the United Nations Command” broadcast throughout the war to South Korean, North Korean, and eventually Chinese audiences...Throughout the war FEC broadcast as “The Voice of the United Nations Command” (VUNC) from the Radio Tokyo studios of the Japan Broadcast Corporation. Far Eastern Command programs included newscasts and commentary for the Republic of Korea and North Korean audiences and dictation speed newscasts for the ROK press. When possible, FEC also broadcast and retransmitted VUNC programs from Radio Seoul, Radio Pyongyang, and other civilian transmitters on the peninsula.

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Certificate of Appreciation

Notice that the unit responsible for the radio station is never mentioned by Jacobson. In 1967, long after the radio first started in the Korean War, the United Nations gave the 7th PSYOP Group a Certificate of Appreciation for their work over 16 years on the radio station.

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Translators working on leaflets and scripts at the Seoul radio station

Once Seoul was retaken by U.N. Forces, Mathews put augmented the station in the capitol city with a 50-kilowatt medium transmitter and a 10-kilowatt short wave transmitter under the command of the General Headquarters. His translators worked on both leaflet and radio texts and were on the air about six hours a day. The Psychological Warfare Branch installed a 500-kilowatt short wave station to serve Pyongyang.

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A U.S. Army PSYOP Mobile Radio Station during the Korean War

Daniel A. Castro adds:

Throughout the war, many of the millions of PSYOP leaflets that were being dropped on the enemy soon began to be augmented with limited radio broadcasts that utilized Koreans in the PSYOP effort. The first radio station was set up in the destroyed American embassy in Seoul on October 4, 1950. This station began its broadcasts with General Douglas MacArthur's demand that Kim Il-Sung, the chief of the North Korean troops, surrender. As battle lines changed and the Korean War progressed, the station broadcast from mobile trucks and had many names such as: Radio Kilroy, Radio Vagabond, Radio Comet and Radio Mercury. Such radio stations, albeit possessing a small daily broadcast cycle compared to the Soviets and the Chinese, along with the hundreds of millions of leaflets dropped began to have moderate success with getting North Koreans and Chinese to surrender.

At the same time, the Chinese were broadcasting to the Korean people one hour a day and the Russians three and one-half hours a day on as many as 13 frequencies.

In regard to Communist broadcasts Jacobson adds:

Chinese and Russian radio broadcasts and pamphlets put forth “atrocity stories” attempting to discredit the UN intervention in the eyes of the world. In particular, the Chinese made great use of arranged or extorted “confessions” by U.S. prisoners of war to a variety of war crimes and atrocities...Chinese and North Korean forces developed radio programs broadcast in English and Korean.

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U.S. Soldiers in Korea gather around a radio

Paul M. A. Linebarger says in Psychological Warfare, Infantry Journal Press, Washington D.C., 1948:

Radio in the Korean conflict was used jointly as a strategic and a consolidation medium. From the beginning of the war, radio was the voice of our military policy. An ambitious network, supervised in 1950-51 directly by PWS and thereafter by the 1st RB&L Group, became known and recognized as the Voice of the United Nations Command. The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and the Japan Broadcasting System (JBS) transmitted on a cooperative basis, with the U.S. Government buying air time. The 1st RB&L Group's radio unit furnished programming assistance through key stations in Seoul (KBS), Taegu (KBS), Pusan (KBS) and Tokyo (JBS). In addition, the Group furnished technical assistance to KBS in order to keep as many as twelve network stations on the air.

Veritas, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2012, adds a chart of the Radio Pusan programs: 

UN Command Calling 1 (30 min.) Daily
  (Shortwave radio relay)  
Voice of America 1 (30 min.) Daily
(Broadcast relay)
Tokyo Calling 1 (30 min.) Daily
World News Roundup  4 (15 min.) & 1 (5 min.) Daily
(AP, UP, INS, Reuters, Pan Asia & Central News Morse Code transmissions)
Dictate Speed News 2 (30 min.) Daily
  (USIS slow speed news broadcast for copy “word for word” by radio set owners)  
World News Commentary 3 (15 min.) Daily
  (Mimeographed copies of broadcast mailed on request - 750 subscribers)  
United Nations News 1 (15 min.) Daily
Children’s Hour 1 (15 min.) Daily
Story Grandmother 1 (15 min.) Daily
  (Fairy tales & kindred stories for children between five & twelve years)  
People Who Shape Our World 1 (15 min.) 3 days/week
  (Life stories of important role players for teenagers thirteen to twenty years)  
Your Farm Hour 1 (15 min.) Weekly
  Latest information of agricultural developments, future plans, and UNCACK efforts)  

From the very beginning of the campaign, PSYOP had been based on a weekly plan specifying themes to be used in radio, leaflets and other media. The themes changed frequently according to the tactical situation. The one essential ingredient that never changed was truthfulness.

Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, Jr. believed Korea offered an ‘especial opportunity for highly profitable exploitation’ of psychological warfare, and the secretary advocated ‘quality rather than quantity’ in producing radio broadcasts. In spring 1951, strategic plans were under way to augment thirteen hours of daily radio broadcasts in Korean by adding short-wave broadcasts in Chinese to Chinese troops in Korea and Manchuria. Aircraft by then were flying leaflet missions nearly every day of the week.

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Free World Weekly Digest No. 223 – 22 July 1956

The 8339th Army Unit, Far East Psychological Warfare Detachment, published the Free World Weekly Digest for the citizens of the Republic of Korea. Early issues featured short news stories and cartoon strips For instance; Number 219 dated 22 June 1955 mentioned Adenauer of Germany, Chou En-lai, Confucius, Life behind the Iron Curtain and the Voice of the United Nations radio schedule. Number 223, dated 22 July 1955 depicted above mentions Eisenhower, Vishinski, Life behind the Iron Curtain, satellite farm workers miserable, and the Mayor of Seoul granting citizenship to North Korean pilot defectors.

The North Koreans also used the radio as a media of propaganda. Stephen E. Pease says PSYWAR - Psychological Warfare in Korea 1950-1953, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA, 1992, that the North Koreans disguised their war plans by calling for open elections in Korea a week before they invaded the South. During the war, they constantly called for peace talks in an attempt to confuse the United Nations Command. They broadcast reports of imaginary victories on the land and in the air. In February 1952, the North Koreans started a radio and newspaper campaign claiming that the United Nations Forces were using germ warfare. The claims were obvious fabrications, but some third-world countries gave them limited credence.

At the Fall of 1952, in the 5th Marines heard the persistent voice of the Dragon Lady, who taunted Marines with such lackluster gambits as “Surrender now! What is your girl doing back home?” in the stepped-up pace of its midnight propaganda broadcasts.

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Seoul City Sue

Like Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally, the North Koreans had their own female radio propagandist, the infamous Seoul City Sue. She first went on the air about 10 August 1950. She would read the names of dead American troops while jingling their dog tags as soothing music played in the background. She was later identified as Mrs. Anna Wallace Suhr, wife of a Korean newsman, a former missionary schoolteacher in Korea from 1930-1938 who married a Korean national and later became politically active in what became North Korea. She was never as popular as the WWII broadcasters, probably because her Communist bosses did not allow her to play popular American music. There was also “Peking Polly,” who spoke a very formal and well-educated English and chastised American pilots for the “promiscuous bombing of schools and strafing of farmers.” Peking Polly went on to have a long career and there are reports of her haranguing American Army and Navy forces well into the 1960s. For more information on Seoul City Sue click here.

Many Communist leaflets had a message at the bottom of both sides on their leaflets that reminded the troops that they could listen to the Communist radio:

Pyongyang radio arranges an English program for you at 22:15 every Tuesday evening.

POW’s Calling

The Chinese Communists also used their propaganda radio to broadcast to the UN forces. This is an extremely attractive leaflet that contains a letter written by PFC Thomas A. Barnes to his girlfriend back in the United States. It was also broadcast over the Chinese propaganda radio. According to the letter the Chinese are treating him very well and he is quite happy. They even made him a Thanksgiving Day feast with all the trimmings.

The Communist Radio

30 copies of the 12 September 1960 classified confidential Staff Memorandum titled Report on Communist Radio Propaganda on the Korean War - August 8 - 31, 1950, was written by Peter Ogloblin for the Operations Research Office (ORO) The Johns Hopkins University. Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington D.C. Some of the comments were (edited for brevity):

The overall purpose of radio propaganda for the Communists in the Korean War depends on the groups to which the propaganda is addressed.

(1) For Communists., Propaganda to Communists aims to confirm their theoretical views about the nature of things and history, and to exhort them to continue their good work, which is "speeding up" the historical process. The secondary purpose is to put U.S. propaganda into the dialectical framework. The tertiary purpose is to give them a well-formulated line to use in talking to non-Communists, a very important matter in a country such as Korea.

(2) For Non-Communists. For the rest of its listeners (and this is the great majority) propaganda is agitation. To the civilian Koreans, it tries to show that the U.S. is the incarnation of evil and bestiality, representing oppression and a lower form of human life. In contrast, the Communist forces represent good in its struggle against sin. Good is not only material, but spiritual as well. The Korean people are told that (a) the Communist Party is in the right; (b) it is to their benefit that the Communist Party win; (c) the Communist Party is indigenous, the U.S. is alien; (d) history and mankind are on the Communist side, for history is always on the side of the just.

To the peoples of Asia, there is this addition: (i) All the evil in the past 70 years has come from capitalism, (ii) Capitalism comes from the White Man, (iii) The White Man regards the Yellow Man as inferior, and (iv) All the good in their lives is a result of Communism. Communism embodies all good and can give its benefits directly after it has seized power. Capitalism brings evil and shows this by promising good in the future while acknowledging misery in the meantime.

To the Korean soldiers, the themes illustrated arc U.S. brutality and moral decadence as well as inevitable defeat. Promises of better things to come are vaguely presented, not specifying what the better things are.

The purposes of agitation are to consolidate loyalty for the home side and to destroy it on the enemy side. The purpose of propaganda is to afford a tool to be used by already loyal Communists. Agitation is needed to keep the masses "thinking with their blood." Emotional, nationalist, racist and non-rational appeals are generally used. Occasionally a theme of economic self-interest creeps in, but this is not the rule.


Communist radio has a coherent overall story on Korea. Parts of it are emphasized at the proper psychological moment. The story goes as follows (terms used must be given dual meanings):

(1) The U.S. has a long-standing history of aggression in Asia.
(2) The U.S. wants to enslave all Asia and make it colonial.
(3) The U.S. considers Asians inferior.
(4) Korea is the first step to fulfilling this plan.
(5) The Korean adventure was planned long in advance.
(6) MacArthur was to carry out these plans.
(7) Conquest of Korea necessary for the imperialist and fascist stage of capitalist development of U.S.
(8) House of Morgan has many investments in Korea.
(9) Wall Street bought Syngman Rhee and told him to incite the Civil War so it could enlarge its profits.
(10) U.S. profits huge; South Korea stripped of resources and made dumping-ground of second-rate American goods.
(11) Dulles came to Korea to tell Rhee to strike. This was on orders from Truman, Johnson, and Acheson.
(12) On June 25, "Northern Expedition" started after provocations failed.
(13) North Korea not caught napping, repelled invaders.
(14) U.S. came to aid of Rhee puppet troops.
(15) MacArthur made commander; U.S. illegally put UN flag on the battlefield.
(16) Therefore U.S. is an imperialist, fascist aggressor.
(17) U.S, wanted to enslave Koreans, it failed.
(18) U.S. intervened in a purely Civil War.
(19) North Koreans don’t want war but were attacked.
(20) Meeting defeat, the U.S. resorted to indiscriminate bombings and strafing’s of civilians and non-military objectives to break Korean will to resist.
(21) But this action has strengthened the will to resist.
(22) Peoples of Korea and the world furious at those atrocities.
(23) U.S. committing other war crimes: murder, rape.
(24) U.S. is worse than Hitler and the Japanese, since it is a more advanced form of the same social system.
(25) U.S. losing because: (a) soldiers lack morale (b) MacArthur is incompetent and corrupt.
(26) U.S. leaders arc immoral butchers.
(27) U.S. leaders urge their troops to commit atrocities.
(28) U.S. will be driven from Korea.
(29) U.S. trying to use Korea as a pretext to start another world war. This will fail because the USSR is too strong.
(30) U.S. trying to turn UN into a tool for war.
(31) U.S. now having trouble holding satellites.
(32) U.S, will pay in full for aggression and atrocities.
(33) Only end to war is for U.S. to withdraw.


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Free Europe Press and Radio Free Europe Headquarters - Munich

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Crusade for Europe Advertisement
The money raised was use for both radio broadcasts and Propaganda leaflets

Early in the Cold War, Radio Free Europe was transmitting shortwave broadcasts from locations in Germany and Portugal. However, powerful jamming stations in Soviet Russia were able to interrupt many of the broadcasts. A new way to reach those behind the Iron Curtain was needed. The answer was balloons. An RFE Receiving and Monitoring Station located in Schleissheim, a small village about 12 miles north of Munich on a former Luftwaffe fighter strip was used to track the balloons. A small radio with a trailing antenna was placed in the balloon that could broadcast altitude. Direction finding equipment could tell where the balloon was. A number of systems were invented to allow the leaflet drop to be triggered by radio from Germany. The system was now ready. The balloons could be launched and tracked and when they were over their target the Balloon Plotting Center transmitted a coded release signal and the leaflets were dropped.

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Put Your Truth Dollars in this Envelope

In the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, propaganda specialists became aware of numerous psychological warfare leaflets that were prepared by the Free Europe Press (FEP) of the Committee for a Free Europe. Although the patriotic umbrella organization Crusade for Freedom appeared to be their banker, it never raised enough money to fund more than a small part of the Free Europe Press and Radio Free Europe budget. The Crusade for Freedom actually was used to quietly funnel money from the Central Intelligence Agency to the propaganda organizations.

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Radio Free Europe Control Room in Munich

Although there were numerous operations, the most popular were four major campaigns that took place against Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland. They are by name, PROSPERO and VETO to Czechoslovakia, FOCUS to Hungary and SPOTLIGHT to Poland. There were massive radio campaigns that went along with these operations.

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To the People of Czechoslovakia

The schedule and frequencies of Radio Free Europe’s broadcasts to Czechoslovakia were on the reverse side of the leaflets.

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The Free Europe Press One Koruna Banknote Leaflet

PROSPERO was the code name for the Free Europe Press balloon program in the summer 1953, when in a time span of only four days, 6,500 balloons with over 12,000,000 Free Europe Press leaflets were launched into Czechoslovakia. RFE broadcast news of the launching during the first news programs at 6:00 a.m. This was the first time balloons were launched in conjunction with specific radio programs. This project was explained in a small booklet entitled A New Weapon, published by the Free Europe Press. It would involve the sending of 6,512 balloons and saturation broadcasts at the rate of twenty hours a day from the RFE transmitters located at Holz-kirchen, West Germany.

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The “Ten Demands” Leaflet

In April 1954, the FEC and the FEP started Operation VETO as an integrated balloon and broadcast campaign over the Voice of Free Czechoslovakia aimed at achieving eventual liberation from Communism in Czechoslovakia. This operation continued until September 1954. Radio Free Europe, calling itself the “voice of the opposition,” urged regime leaders to give Czech and Slovak citizens a way to veto that year’s election. Operation Veto developed a platform and 10 limited demands, all possible within the constraints of a communist state. A special VETO song was introduced by Radio Free Europe.

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Miroslav Sasek

One of the artists was Miroslav Sasek. He joined RFE in 1951 as a producer and quickly became an actor, speaker and singer on radio broadcasts. He spoke Czech, German, French and English.

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Hungarian Freedom Fighters on a “Liberated” Tank

The U.S. propaganda campaign (mostly the Radio Free Europe broadcasts) have often been accused of encouraging the people to revolt against their Communist masters, and worse, leading them to believe that U.S. military aid was on the way. This became such a sensitive point that there were numerous official inquires dedicated to determining exactly what was said to the Hungarians and when it was said. A number of politicians that were against the whole program used the Hungarian Revolution and its brutal defeat by the Russian armed forces as a reason to try to stop all propaganda sent behind the Iron Curtain.

A Black Radio Free Europe Operation?

The British asked the Americans if they had in fact been inciting Hungarians to revolt. A classified British War Office document mentions the American answer:

They add, however, in strict confidence that a “black” radio station, purporting to be from R.F.E. had been making the wildest and most irresponsible broadcasts to the Hungarians. The Americans assume that the “black” radio station is operated by the Russians for the express purpose of discrediting R.F.E. and American policy generally.

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The Inside Story of the Security Apparatus and the Party

In December 1953, Jozef Swiatlo, a colonel in the Polish secret police, defected in Berlin. He was the most highly ranked defector from Poland. After this defection, he was sent to a CIA Defector Reception Center in Frankfurt, Germany, and then to Radio Free Europe. Broadcasts of his revelations, over RFE’s Voice of Free Poland, started on 28 September 1954 and continued through 31 December 1954. Swiatlo was a constant figure on RFE's Voice of Free Poland broadcasts, with over one hundred taped programs and 150 news items. Swiatlo's broadcast over Radio Free Europe reportedly caused a major chain reaction in Poland with the dismissal, transfer, and worse, of thousands of Communist Party members and government officials. Perhaps as many as 150,000 party members, according to one estimate, were affected by RFE's programming.

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Czech Republic "Be Free!" Exhibition

As the Cold War diminishes in our memory, some of the old Communist-bloc nations such as the Czech Republic remember the days when balloons and radio were their only sources of news from the West. In late 2009, their new National Museum exhibited audio and video material from the Communist era. The exhibit was entitled Za Svobodu! ("Be Free!").

The 301st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group

About the time the Korean War was getting started, the Reserve 301st RB&L Group was called to active duty and deployed to Germany.

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The 301st RB&L Group issued a monthly journal called Psyche. Here is the February 1953 issue. The Group had three missions…Conducting strategic Psywar with leaflets and radio broadcasts, assisting U.S. 7th Army’s 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company, and supporting the U.S. global propaganda campaign.

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SSG Bob Rudick sits on a tank as his riggers lift the antenna.

The unit was made up of three companies; Headquarters, Mobile Radio Company, and the Leaflet Company. Some of the staff was sent on temporary duty assignment to Quincy, Illinois to be trained by the Gates Radio Company. They were assigned professional riggers and taught how to install a 180-foot radio tower in a chicken farm outside of town.

Private First Class Martin told me:

I spent most of my duty hours monitoring various radio frequencies to be tape recorded and teletype print outs for interpretation by the intelligence section utilizing the equipment in the radio intercept shelter: a BC-610 multi-band tube-type transmitter, an antenna multiplexer (used to minimize signal fade were tuned to the same frequency using two widely-separated antennas) which was connected to a multi-band shortwave receiver. We could also record voice broadcasts on magnetic tape as well as teletype messages printed directly by the teletype printer.

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Training on the Radio Equipment

The broadcast crew train on the radio equipment. This program was made at an Army base in Germany to demonstrate what a propaganda broadcast would sound like.

On 23 May, the unit broadcast their first radio program from Sullivan Barracks. By this time the unit had grown to about 125 enlisted men and 37 officers. The unit commander was Colonel Gruber. In his civilian life he was a printer for the New York Daily News.

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The Announcer's Booth

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Propaganda Review

In 1953 the unit began publishing a Propaganda Review which offered a daily summary of broadcasts by Radios Moscow, Warsaw (Poland), Prague (Czechoslovakia, (East) Berlin, Brasav (Romania), and Bucharest (Romania). Monitors tuned in 24 hours a day to broadcasts from behind the Iron Curtain. The issue above (10 March 1953) quotes broadcasts on Stalin’s death from Russia, Romania, Poland, East Berlin and Hungary.


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Map of Cyprus

The Mediterranean Island of Cyprus was ruled by the Ottomans for over three hundred years although it was always claimed by Greece due to its majority Greek population. In 1878, the Ottoman Empire granted control of the Island to Great Britain in exchange for their support in the Russian-Turkish war. It was annexed by Britain in 1914 at the start of WWI. In 1915, Britain offered to cede Cyprus to Greece in return for their entry into the war against the Central Powers. Greece turned the offer down since it was still recovering from the bloody Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. By 1925 Cyprus was a British crown colony. Like the British experience in Ireland, the people rose up on numerous occasions to demand freedom.

Greek Cypriots made up an overwhelming majority of 82% of the island’s population of just over 500,000 in 1950. A plebiscite sponsored by the Cypriot Church that year resulted in a vote of 95.7 percent of the Greek Cypriots in favor of becoming part of the Nation of Greece.

The radio story of this “small war” is interesting. Usually both sides use the radio, in this case the British used their radio but the actual guerrillas on Cyprus did not have a radio. Their radio propaganda came from Greece, an allegedly neutral country having no part in the war, but supporting the rebellion on the Island of Cyprus that wanted to be part of the Greek nation.

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Archbishop Makarios III

The Greek Orthodox Church led the movement for “enosis,” or union with Greece. After the Second World War, Archbishop Makarios secretly invited Cypriot-born retired Greek Army Colonel Georgios Grivas (code name Digenes), to form the Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Aghoniston, (EOKA) or National Organization of Cypriot Struggle, a military arm of the Enosis movement. The British troops’ derogatory nick-name for Archbishop Makarios was “Black Mak”

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Archbishop Makarios and Colonel Grivas

In October 1952, Archbishop Makarios traveled to the U.S. He organized a three-month information campaign on the Cyprus question. He met with politicians and representatives of Greek community organizations, he talked to radio and TV stations and, finally, he formed a liaison committee called “Justice in Cyprus”, with the support of wealthy Greeks and Americans. This is what we call “Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield.” He was setting up the world public to recognize the legitimacy of the insurrection that he knew was coming.

David French wrote an article entitled British Intelligence and the EOKA Insurgency. He says about Grivas who was carefully watched by British intelligence:

He visited Cyprus in July 1951, and again between October 1952 and February 1953. The result was that on his return to Athens he was able to put before the Liberation Committee a comprehensive plan for an armed insurrection on the island. On 8 July 1952, General George Theodorou Grivas, a leader of the Hites (an extremist Right-Wing organization in Greece) arrived?

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Colonel Georgios Grivas

Nico Carpentier mentions Grivas and EOKA in the book The Social Construction of Death, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. He says in part:

EOKA officially announced the start of what they called the “liberation struggle” on 1 April 1955 with a series of bomb attacks. With a small group of between 250 and 300 guerrilleros, EOKA’s leader Grivas had no intention to tackle the British head-on, but relied on sabotage and small-scale killings, combined with propaganda and strengthened by the passive resistance of the Greek Cypriot population.

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Digenes and his guerilla fighters in the mountains of Cyprus

The British moved their Middle East Headquarters to Cyprus in December 1954, making it clear that they intended to stay on the island for the immediate future. The main MI6 station for Middle East was based in Nicosia, and the Middle East High Command in Episcope. Permanent radio signal monitoring stations were placed on Aghios Nicolaos and Mount Troodos, Olympus and Pergamos.

On one occasion Grivas attacked a British radio station and then distributed a leaflet claiming responsibility, signed Digenes and bearing a Byzantine double-headed eagle.

By December 1956, British strength on Cyprus was 20,000 troops. At the height of the war, the British had about 40,000 troops and perhaps 400 Turkish police “auxiliaries” on Cyprus. At its height, EOKA probably had about 300 members. There was a general strike on the island in April 1958 that brought the island to a standstill. In August of that year, EOKA declared a truce. Colonel Grivas returned to Greece in March 1959 and was promoted to Lieutenant General, the highest rank in the Greek Army. He was also awarded the Grand Cross of George I and made a Commander of the Order of Bravery. In December 1959, Archbishop Makarios was elected President of Cyprus and just 11 days later EOKA declared a cease-fire.

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Sir John Harding

Field Marshall Sir John Harding, formerly Chief of the Imperial General Staff, was appointed Governor General of Cyprus. He was well versed in putting down insurgencies, having already fought them in Malaya and Kenya. The British acted quickly. The British Prime Minister criticized Athens Radio, saying that Athens “nurtures terrorism.” The British blocked the signal of the station, and broadcast messages saying that EOKA is made of “incompetent agents of political terrorism and cowardly killers.”

Grivas apparently planned at least three attacks on Harding’s life, all unsuccessful. At the same time he was trying to kill Harding he used every available medium to attack him. Greeks were encouraged to send hate letters to the Governor which likened him to Genghis Khan, Tamerlane and Hitler. He was described as a bloodstained ogre whose hands drip with the blood of his victims. At the same time, Radio Athens attacked the Governor, accusing him of tyranny, vandalism, and cowardice.

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Grivas “Wanted” Image

The British next put posters on the walls all over Cyprus with four different photographs Grivas, one with a Greek Army officer uniform. 10,000 pounds sterling were offered as a reward for information that would lead to his arrest. Other EOKA fighters were soon identified, the amounts offered for their arrest up to 5,000 pounds sterling.

Sir Anthony Eden, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1955-1957 blamed all the Cyprus problems on Greece in Full Circle, The Memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden, London, 1960:

EOKA received direct support from Greece in money, arms, organization and propaganda. Greek-speaking Cypriots were awed by EOKA terrorists and subject to bombardment by Athens radio.

An example of the British concept of Radio Athens is mentioned by Stanley Mayes in Cyprus and Makarios, Putnam and Company, 1960. The author says in part;

To the Athens broadcasters, all Cyprus had become a vast concentration camp, rivaling Buchenwald and Dachau. British troops indulged in “Hitlerite orgies”. “Patriots” were subjected to “mediaeval tortures” by “sadists” and “cannibals”. “The British set their dogs to bite their victims to death; they bind and strike the genital organs; they kick their victims in the belly to leave no mark; they inflict burns with red-hot irons; they place metal binders on the heads of patriots and screw them tight to force a confession; they use narcotics and injections to wring confessions; they pierce the breasts of women with needles; they stretch their naked victims on ice and when the patriots die they claim that they were shot while trying to escape.

Byford Jones adds:

Radio Athens made the most savage attacks Sir John Harding Likened him to Genghis Khan, Tamerlane and Hitler. Others called him “Anthropoid Harding.” He was also described as the “bloodstained ogre whose hands drip with the blood of his victims.” Another radio speaker said “Field Marshal Harding commits tyranny, vandalism, cowardice and incites treachery.”

The British regularly replied to the claims of torture. An example is the Picture Post of 22 September 1956. The article says in part:


Next week Lord Radcliffe returns to Cyprus with a draft constitution for the island. The fate of suspected terrorists held in British detention - Athens Radio calls them “British Belsens” - camps will depend upon his mission.

In its broadcasts beamed towards Cyprus, Athens Radio does not simplify either the facts or the name. It rolls out each syllable of Camp Kokkinotrimithia to symbolize charges of inhumanity on a scale unknown since Hitler. With sinister satisfaction approaching masochism, Athens broadcasts invoke the shadow of the swastika and unfold this tale of terror in its own inflammatory words.

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EOKA Heroes Victory Parade

The British never ceased using PSYOP, especially through radio broadcasts that called for EOKA warriors to surrender their arms. On 22 August, the radio transmitted the British proposal, with detailed instructions on how EOKA guerillas can surrender:

You will be allowed to choose: either to depart for Greece, or to stay in Cyprus and face the consequences of your actions as members of a terrorist group. If you depart for Greece, you will be declared persona non grata, and you will never be allowed to return to Cyprus... Present yourselves at the nearest police station or military camp. If you carry a gun, hold it in such a way that it cannot be used. When the guard calls you, hold your hands up and yell “I surrender.”

Grivas talks about psychological warfare in Guerrilla Warfare:

We were very much at a disadvantage. The Cyprus Government had on its side organized British propaganda, which, in Cyprus, was carried on through the Press, radio and certain persons from England who visited Cyprus pretending to be our friends but, in effect, were agents of the British Government. They had the Cyprus Government Broadcasting Station and the BBC.

The strategic goal of EOKA was never to beat the British. The goal of EOKA was the systematic exhaustion of the opponent, through merciless and continuous guerilla attacks, in order to create a political environment that would facilitate the achievement of Union

On Christmas Day, 1958, the UN Assembly unanimously approved the proposal which called for “a peaceful, democratic, and just solution in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter.” On the morning of 11 February 1959, the radio station of Cyprus announced that Athens and Ankara reached to an agreement regarding the Cyprus question on the basis of independence.

The British side never did recognize EOKA as anything but terrorists. The 1956 official guidance booklet issued to all service members: Why we are in Cyprus states:

Since March 1955, the political agitation of the Church, the active sponsorship of the Greek Government, and the violent outpouring on Athens Radio in support of the cause of ENOSIS have been supported by an underground terrorist organization known as EOKA. This organization, which copies Stern Gang methods, is an extremist right-wing organization, led by a Greek national, Colonel Grivas, who led a similar strong-arm Fascist organization in the Greek troubles after the war. The organization represents only a small minority of the people of Cyprus. Their immediate aims are far more extreme than is demanded by Greek Cypriot public opinion.

VIETNAM - 1965

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This is one of the more difficult wars in regard to propaganda radio. There were dozens of radio stations, both “white” and clandestine used by both sides. Some of the black ones deserve a section all of their own. I will try to be as concise as I can but this is a long and involved story. I selected 1965 as the start of the Vietnam War, though there are several other years that are just as accurate.

Vietnam was always a battleground. It had fought China and been occupied by France and Japan. From 1940, the Viet Minh, communist guerrillas headed by Ho Chi Minh, fought the Japanese occupiers, and in August 1945, the Viet Minh gained control over a Japanese-sponsored government. France, seeking to re-establish its colonial power in the area, fought nationalist and communist forces from 1946 to 1954, when, on 8 May 1954, France was defeated at Dien Bien Phu. Vietnam was divided at the 17th Parallel into North and South by a Geneva accord on 21 July 1954. Ho Chi Minh's communists took over the north and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; in the south, Ngo Dinh Diem established the Republic of Vietnam. From 1954 on, the North attempted to conquer the South. In 1956 the Viet Cong, aided by North Vietnam, pressed war in the south, and South Vietnam began receiving U .S. aid. Large-scale North Vietnamese troop infiltrations of the south began in 1964, with the support of China and the Soviet Union. Masses of troops were stationed in border areas of Laos and Cambodia.

In 1964, following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the United States began air strikes against the North. Increased activity followed in 1965, including the use of U.S. ground troops. Failure of U.S. and South Vietnamese efforts and disputes in the U.S. over war aims led Richard Nixon in July 1969 to cease bombings of the North and to begin a series of U.S. troop withdrawals referred to as "Vietnamization." U.S. bombing of the North resumed in 1972-73. A cease-fire was negotiated in Paris in January 1973, but it was never implemented. U.S. aid was curbed by Congress in 1974. Increasing attacks from the North overwhelmed the remaining government outposts in the Central Highlands, and the Saigon government surrendered on 30 April 1975. A Socialist Republic of Vietnam, with capital in Hanoi, was established throughout Vietnam.

The PSYOP Guide

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 Vietnam radio operations:

Vietnam Radio. The importance of radio in Vietnam has been revealed in several surveys of attitudes completed by JUSPAO. For example, post-election studies indicated that most voters received the bulk of information before and after the election via radio. With thousands of inexpensive transistor receivers in Vietnam, the propagandizing potential of radio is obvious. The well-equipped national radio network in Vietnam makes it possible to beam an excellent signal to all the major cities and practically all the rural areas as well.

The network is comprised of two channels, Channel A and Channel B. Channel A is controlled by Ministry of Information and utilizes nine stations to broadcast to approximately 70 percent of the civilian population of South Vietnam. Channel Bis used by RVNAF Radio, the propaganda and indoctrination voice of the Government of Vietnam, to broadcast its programming. The primary audience of RVNAF Radio is the soldier and his family, with the secondary audience being the civilians, Viet Cong and NVA troops in the South. Channel B broadcasts at 610 KHZ from its main transmitter near Saigon and has additional time allotted on the Channel A stations throughout the country.

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Leaflet 2766

There were a whole series of Joint United States Public Affairs Office radio leaflets dropped on the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army by Allied forces during the war. Leaflet 2766, 2767, 2825, and 2830 all list American and Republic of Vietnam radio stations and times of broadcast on both the front and back. The text on the front is:


To the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army Cadre and Soldiers:

What is happening to the talks in Paris between Hanoi and the United States? What is the truth about it?

Text on the back is:

Why have you been forbidden to listen to the Free World radio broadcasts? You need to know the truth about the Paris talks, because the outcome determines your own fate.

In order to let you know the truth about the Paris talks, we offer you the schedule of radio news broadcasts from the Free World. You can tear this schedule off and keep it for your own use.

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Studio and Audio Control Room

The TRT-22, 50KW AM broadcast transmitter system was first deployed in December 1967 to support operations in the Republic of Viet Nam. The system was installed near Pleiku by US soldiers with a support team of Army Civilian Technical Advisors from Sacramento Army Depot. The audio production for the broadcasts was done in a compound in Pleiku. The shelter on the left was designed as a studio and the shelter on the right was the audio control room. The transmitter was a GATES BC50C medium wave commercial transmitter that had been modified into sections to fit into four military shelters for easier transport. Once in place, it would be interconnected with power and signal cables to make it functional again. The system required 200 KW of power from generators to operate. In its day, it was a state-of-the-art system. The transmitter could be tuned to any frequency within the AM commercial broadcast band. The antenna was a 250-foot tall folded monopole that could be dismantled and stowed on its base so as not to be any larger than one of the transmitter shelters. Estimated planning range was about 100 miles radius for the system. In March of 1968, during the North Viet Nam’s TET Offensive, the station was attacked and damaged. There was one American killed in action, the station Officer in Command, First Lieutenant Michal Merkel of the 8th PSYOP Battalion

Major Marcus S. Welch mentions radio propaganda by the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office in Irregular Pen and Limited Sword: Psywar, PSYOP, and MISO in Counterinsurgency, Pennyhill Press:

JUSPAO was sizable; at its peak it possessed a staff of over six hundred American and Vietnamese employees, rivaling its military counterparts. Apart from JUSPAO’s executive responsibilities, the organization conducted PSYOP in direct and advisory roles, primarily using mass media outlets such as the Republic of Vietnam’s Voice of Freedom and the overt US Voice of America radio stations.

In Volume I of the Department of Defense contracted the Final Report Psychological Operations Studies - Vietnam, Human Sciences Research Inc, 11971, Drs. Ernest F. and Edith M. Bairdain mention the value of leaflets:

In regard to the best means for disseminating the Allied message among the Viet Cong, members who rallied to the government stated that 99% saw propaganda leaflets, 100% heard airborne loudspeakers, 98% saw radio sets?Of the enemy who heard the airborne loudspeakerss, 89% of the VC and 98% of the NVA actually listened to the message. The authors point out that this demonstrates that leaflets, airborne loudspeakers, and radio are the best methods to reach Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army personnel.

The Vietnamese had their own PSYWAR battalions consisting of a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, a Technical Company, and three PSYWAR Companies. The Technical Company was comprised of a Special Operations Platoon, a Cultural Platoon, a Radio Augmentation Platoon and a Press Platoon.

The government of South Vietnam established the General Political Warfare Directorate. Their compound contained a TV studio and 16mm movie processing lab, editing and dubbing rooms and a radio studio.

In a Vietnamese-language article entitled “Coastal Raiders” translated by Donald C. Brewster, Tran Do Cam talks about Vietnamese psychological operations:

Sometimes the fast patrol boats also distributed radios wrapped in waterproof plastic in the villages along the coast so that the population could listen to South Vietnamese radio stations such as the Voice of Freedom and Mother of Vietnam.

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Leaflet 4141

Leaflet 4141 depicts a radio antenna on one side and a map of Vietnam featuring Saigon on the other. Text on the front is:


(The Truthful Voice of Vietnam)

Our objective is to provide our listeners with truthful information and enjoyable hours of entertainment.

The back has the heading:


Five radio frequencies are listed below along with the language of the broadcasts (Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin) and the times of the broadcasts.

The Special Operations Research Office of the American University (SORO) published the classified A Short Guide to Psychological Operations in the Republic of Vietnam in 1965. Authors Jeanne Mintz, Herbert Silverberg and James Trinnaman say about radio operations:

In 1965 there were 11 radio stations in Vietnam broadcasting 120 hours a day. (This does not include the “Voice of Freedom” PSYOP broadcasts). The stations were located in Saigon, Hue, Quang Nhai, Qui Nhon, Banmethuot, Nha Trang, Dalat, Ba Xuyen, Hoi An, Tuy Hoa and Tan An. The Hue station was used by the ARVN for propaganda broadcasts. Of course, the Voice of American also broadcast on a great number of frequencies to Vietnam.

The Voice of Freedom (VOF) was a major player in radio operation. Declassified documents show that it produced 76 different programs weekly with commentaries in Vietnamese, English and French. Some of the program titles are: Vietnamese Traditional Music, Sounds of Poetry, Returnees Songs, the Roman Catholic program, the Buddhist program, Activities Abroad and at Home, the Daily Battle Scene, News Analysis, Propaganda and Truth, the Open Arms program and Liberation Deeds.

Leaflet 57

This all-text leaflet lists the names of North Vietnamese soldiers that have been killed in South Vietnam. It was dropped over North Vietnam. The text on the front is: 


Thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers have already been killed in the south. Here are a few of them:

Below the heading is a list of about 30 dead North Vietnamese soldiers. 

I added this leaflet because the back a the finders to listen to the South Vietnamese radio stations for more information. The text on the back is: 


Every day the Voice of Freedom broadcasts news of Northern soldiers who have been killed, wounded, captured, or listed as missing. 

Listen every day at 5:25 a.m., 5:35 p.m., and 8:35 p.m. Hanoi time to the “Family News Announcements” on 461 M (656 kilocycles) and 31 M (9670 kilocycles). 

During WWII, the Allies broadcast similar messages to the Germans, along with scores of the various German sport teams and list of cities that had been bombed. The German people were not told many of these facts so by broadcasting them the Allies were assured that many Germans would listen to their broadcasts.

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Leaflet 132

The Voice of Freedom was mentioned again during the North Vietnam bombing campaign. Leaflets were dropped over North Vietnam telling them the true news of the status of the war. Robert W. Chandler mentions this in War of ideas: The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam, Westview, Boulder, CO, 1981:


The bombing of your area continues because the Lao Dong (Communist) Party leaders are using your land as a road to send North Vietnamese troops to attack the people of the South. Will the Peace Talks in Paris bring an end to the bombing? Do Lao Dong leaders care what happens to you? You can keep yourself informed about the progress of the peace talks by listening to radio broadcasts in the Vietnamese language. News schedules are listed above.

The schedules for Radio Saigon, Voice of Freedom, Voice of America, and the British Broadcasting Corporation are all listed.

Leaflet 4507

This is one of the later leaflets in the war. It is 1972 and the U.S. wanted to be sure that the enemy was aware of the peace talks. The front and back have the same text, and I will just translate part of the message:


The Voice of America is now broadcasting every day on two medium wave bands which you can pick up on any ordinary radio. Set your radio to 394 meters, 760 KHz, or 263 meters, 1140 KHz during the hours 0500 to 0900 and 1600 to 2400.

The Voice of America broadcasts contain news and information you want to know and need to know. VOA tells the truth about what is happening in North and South Vietnam. It tells what is happening, elsewhere in the world…

Black Allied radio stations included the SOG fake Radio Hanoi clone broadcast from Number 7 Hong Tap Street in Saigon; Radio Red Flag, the voice of an alleged breakaway North Vietnamese Communist Party faction; and the CIA station Red Star Radio, allegedly a dissident Communist group in South Vietnam. The small fixed-station radios disseminated to the North Vietnamese by the Allies were codenamed “peanuts.”

Philip Tran uploaded a 1977 report titled PACIFICATION written by Vietnamese Brigadier General Tran Dình Tho  for the U.S. Army Center for Military History . He mentions the radio:

Radio stations were built in major cities and, to expand radio broadcasts into rural areas, a total of 100,000 Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office-supplied transistorized radios were distributed free to peasant families living in villages and hamlets. In addition, the Government of Vietnam also imported great quantities of inexpensive radio receivers so that the population could afford to buy them. The voice of the Government of Vietnam could thus reach most of the population across the country.

Even in the central highlands, a radio transmitting station was built to broadcast programs in several Montagnard languages. Twelve radio stations eventually operated across the nation. In outlying areas not covered by the Government of Vietnam information service, aircraft were used, again with US support, to drop leaflets or to broadcast messages. These psychological operations were designed both to inform the population and to call upon enemy cadre to surrender or rally.

South Vietnam did not have a TV broadcasting station until 1966. At first, JUSPAO made TV broadcasts through an airborne transmitting station. A TV studio and broadcast station were subsequently built in Saigon and Government of Vietnam information personnel were trained by JUSPAO in the operation of the station and the production of TV programs. The TV network was later expanded through additional transmitting and relay stations at Hue, Can Tho, and Nha Trang.

Radio Programming against North Vietnam

In 1972 as the war neared its end, North Vietnam continued to act aggressively toward South Vietnam. President Nixon wanted action and asked Henry Kissinger what was being done in the way of propaganda radio. On 18 May 1972 Kissinger sent a secret memorandum to Nixon explaining what was happening in Vietnam. The five-page memo said in part:

A letter from Henry Kissinger to the President dated 1 June 1972 is full of reports on Vietnam War radio operations. I quote a few of Kissinger’s comments:

Radio broadcasting aimed at North Vietnam has more than doubled. Both covert and overt radios are broadcasting the names of North Vietnamese POWs and killed in action and are playing on NVA reverses, ARVN victories, and our air attacks.

The Voice of America has increased its broadcast time to North Vietnam from 5 to 13 hours a day. Four black radio stations are in operation. All are describing in detail NVA losses in the south and the great damage being suffered in North Vietnam. Two of the radio stations mimic North Vietnam and tell the people to prepare for greater suffering. The other two mimic anti-regime organizations and claim the leaders are mad for continuing a war they cannot win.

A grey radio targets North Vietnam on a frequency close to the BBC to take advantage of their audience. A black radio station is sending one-way messages into North Vietnam to give the impression that agents have been inserted. This impression will be reinforced by dummy parachute drops and rafts on beaches. We are playing on North Vietnamese superstitions by claiming that the wandering souls of their unburied dead in the South are guiding our bombs.

Phil Taylor has an Internet website on psychological operations and he mentions a 1998 investigative report titled Radio and U.S. Military PSYOP by Nick Grace. The author does a nice job of concentrating many aspects of the American campaign Vietnam in a concise report.

The 1960's and the Vietnam War are when radio and PSYOP truly converged. President Kennedy was a believer in "unconventional war," that is guerilla war, and as such he increased CIA funding to target Vietnam and Cuba as well as founded the Green Berets. According to historians, the U.S. spent US$ 1.5 million to start a seven-station radio network in South Vietnam. When these transmitters were not being used to broadcast overt messages to the North, they were used to broadcast "black" clandestine stations that claimed to be from the Communists.

A declassified interdepartmental task-force memo in 1961 argued for an increase in these broadcasts to "harass the Communists and to maintain (the anti-Communist) morale of the North Vietnamese population" During the American military buildup, an elite arm of the Army that was so secret even its existence was denied by the U.S. government came into existence. The U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam "Studies and Observation Group" (SOG) supported the South Vietnamese with "full funding, training, and 'political guidance'". With an estimated 1967 budget of US$3.7 million and over 150 employees (including Vietnamese and CIA officers), SOG broadcast a black clandestine called Radio Hanoi to deceive its listeners into believing that they were listening to the North Vietnamese Radio Hanoi. Radio Hanoi came from a Navy EC-121 aircraft flying off the coast of Vietnam, which not only made it impossible for the communists to track down the station's location but also allowed its signal to be so strong that it overwhelmed local stations.

Another arm of SOG built and disseminated special radios that would receive static on every frequency but that of the black clandestine. In 1967, C-130 Blackbirds had airdropped nearly 8,000 of these special radios. SOG also broadcast a gray clandestine radio station that claimed to operate from inside North Vietnam as part of "Project Jenny." This station used drama to keep its listeners tuned to its programs. For instance, one day the announcers would frantically yell that communist troops were about to capture the station, and then after a few days of silence the station would return with stories of how close the capture had been.

Another target of SOG was the Communists' Radio Liberation. The SOG-run imposter not only used the real station's sign-on music but also utilized actual Radio Liberation programming but substituted its own news and commentary to emphasize PSYOP themes such as the cruelty and lack of integrity of the Communists, and the inevitability of a South Vietnamese and U.S. victory."

Leaflet X.3

The “X” leaflets are very strange. They fit no pattern and come with a comment such as “To be disseminated without regard to dissemination characteristics with normal leaflet requirements.” In other words, even though mathematical formulas were used for most leaflets according to their size and paper weight to assure that they would drop on their targets, these “X” leaflets were just added to the pile and were allowed to fall wherever they landed. It would appear the cost of leaflet paper sheets was expensive and there was no desire to waste any space. So, when eight or ten leaflets were printed on a sheet and there was a small space in some corner where the paper was blank, they would print a leaflet on some general subject, just to utilize the paper more efficiently. As a result, this leaflet is very small, just 4 x 2-inches, and printed in the corner of a regular sheet. The text on leaflet X.3 front is:


For so long, our compatriots in North Vietnam hear only through the Party’s ears and see only through the Party’s eyes. Thus, how can they know what they want to know?

If you want to know the real truth and all the news, whether good or bad, concerning the war in Vietnam and the situation of world affairs:


The text on the back is:


Broadcasting every day on Hanoi time:

In Vietnamese on 650 kc from 0000 to 0700, on 650 kc and 9679 kc from 1300 to 2400.

In Cantonese on 9580 from 1000 to 1300 and from 1800 to 2100.

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Soldiers in Vietnam take a break to listen to the radio

The December 1973 Survey of Psychological Operations in Vietnam says about the radio output:

There are five CAS-operated radio stations, three broadcasting in Vietnamese and two in Khmer. Mother Vietnam Station, with a Tokyo Rose approach, broadcasts a daily basic three hour program on five transmitters. The Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League radio station, a black operation pointed toward Hanoi, broadcasts five hours a day. The Voice of Nam-Bo Liberation, a black operation directed at communists within South Vietnam broadcasts to the Mekong delta and Central Vietnam. The Voice of Khmer programs are much the same as Mother Vietnam, and a black station, the Voice of the Popular Front of Indochina appears to come from Hanoi but injects divisiveness between Vietnamese communists and their Khmer allies.

The Voice of America reaches Hanoi from two medium wave transmitters. Big Squirt at Hue and a million-watt transmitter in the Philippines.

Radio broadcasting by the Government of Vietnam consists of the Voice of Freedom and two VTVN national radio stations. Channel A broadcasts 18 hours a day and can be heard by North Vietnamese troops in the Vietnam-Cambodia border area. Channel B is the Political Warfare station and broadcasts 18 hours a day to the Vietnamese armed forces and their dependents.

The comment about “five CAS-operated radio stations” means that they were “controlled American source” stations and the term was used in government documents as a euphemism for CIA.

What did the Viet Cong think of these radio stations? A 23 May 1967 classified confidential report translates a captured Viet Cong document. In it, the Party complains that many leaders, cadre and soldiers are listening to enemy broadcasts and reading enemy leaflets. They blame this political error on lack of ideological consciousness and lax discipline. It lists those who are allowed to listen to the broadcasts, such as members of their own propaganda teams who need to know what the enemy is thinking and other political cadre, and then goes on to say in part:

Aside from the above mentioned comrades, no cadre is authorized to listen to enemy broadcasts and to read or keep enemy documents.

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Mother Vietnam Radio’s seductive voice, identified over the air as “Mai Lan.” A sophisticated beauty who had studied broadcasting in the USA, and who became an instant hit

Mother Vietnam Radio was run by South Vietnamese Army psychological warfare staff with American aid during the War. The station had broadcast from 7 Hong Thap Tu Street and was code-designated “House No. 7.” The station was born in 1972 after the 1972 Easter Offensive began when Henry Kissinger called for a Psywar radio offensive by the CIA to pressure the Northern communists and Viet Cong into complying with the terms of the ceasefire agreement recently signed in Paris. The station effectively featured a seductive female voice, nostalgic music, and plenty of soft news meant to bury its political message deep in the sentimental appeal that the common Motherland of all Vietnamese at last deserved peace and the end of bloodshed. In Vietnam the regional accents heard in North and South sound further apart than the difference between Maine and Mississippi. Mai Lan had a soft, almost liquid Southern voice devoid of the prickly sour sharpness of Radio Hanoi's acid-tongued announcers.

On young Vietnamese man recalled Mai Lan safely getting out of Vietnam. He said:

Sometimes she was known as Da Lan. I hung around with her younger brother when we were in the 20s. She was a few years older than me, probably born in the early 1950s. I was evacuated from Saigon on April 20th and I met her in Guam around April 24th. After we settled in Camp Pendleton, California for about a week, I moved to Kentucky to attend University of Kentucky, while her family settled in Washington, DC. In 1978, I moved to Virginia and reconnected with her brother. There, Mai Lan opened a Pho restaurant on 18th Street, NW in the Capital.

I also talked to Navy Senior Chief Journalist Gary Gunderson who recalled that at Armed Force Radio she was called Denise. Greg said that Mai Lan Pham and he were close friends from December 1972 until about March 1973. He lost track of her when she left for Guam. She had a younger sister name Tiuk Mai that also worked for the Armed Forces station.

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A Second Mai Lan

There was so much air-time work for Mai Lan we had to clone her voice. This was the "second Mai Lan" who sounded enough like the first to shoulder a large part of the workload. We also show a control room for one of the several small voice studios. Mother's really big productions were recorded next door at the large "Voice of Freedom" studio.

Mother Vietnam was a “grey” radio station and moderate in comparison to other propaganda efforts. The station encouraged North Vietnamese soldiers to defect to the South and sought to break their morale.

A former member of the CIA told me:

I had nothing to do with them, but a couple of my friends worked on the "Mother Vietnam" radio station at House 7. To tell the truth, they had a higher opinion of the station's effectiveness than I did. I think it was affiliated with the South Vietnamese Army Psywar unit and advised and funded by the Agency. I do know that "Mother Vietnam" generated some opposition from the South Vietnamese Government, which felt that they were losing part of their government-run radio audience to the more attractive "Mother Vietnam" programs.

On 29 July 1972, significant expansion in the "Mother Vietnam” station was requested. This includes enhanced technical abilities, more time on the air, and improved programming. Technical improvements include the acquisition of a third short wave transmitter, which will permit "Mother Vietnam" to be broadcast to North Vietnam for a total of 49 hours per day on three signals. The addition of six hours per day during prime listening time on a medium wave signal which can reach a large portion of North Vietnam and is particularly strong in the coastal areas. Programming, besides music and straight news reporting, includes: rebuttal of Radio Hanoi, astrological predictions, chatty segment addressing the attitudes of the common people and of troops toward the war, advice to North Vietnamese civilians and soldiers, interviews with refugees, relatives and wounded soldiers, listing of POW names, unit organizations, and places of origin, compassionate KIA report addressed to North Vietnamese families against a background of funeral music, satirical commentary, anti-war poems sung by male and female voices, and parodies of hard-liner North Vietnamese' war songs.

Mother's home had previously been the home of many MAC-V SOG (Special Operations Group) PSYOP activities, including radio broadcasters, but as SOG and other US military activities phased out its fine purpose-built compound was transferred to Vietnamese Army PSYOP.

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Viet Cong Colonel Tam Ha

Another member of the radio station staff was a former Viet Cong political commissar, a colonel whom was still addressed by his old Viet Cong name, Tam Ha. Just before the Viet Cong launched the May 1968 second phase of their Tet Offensive, Tam Ha came over to the Government side bearing the complete tactical plan for the second VC attempt to “liberate” Saigon. Thanks to him, the U.S. and Vietnamese troops deployed to meet the Viet Cong and successfully beat off their attacks.

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Bui Thien

Here in rehearsal is another former enemy, the Russian-trained tenor Bui Thien. He could sing in the "heroic communist" style heard on all Red Bloc transmitters during the Cold War. Not a full-time Mother employee, he frequently recorded for us songs already familiar to the VC and Northern troops, communist music, but with new lyrics from Mother Vietnam. Parody songs are a classic PSYOP radio gimmick, and they worked for us. One such song provoked Radio Hanoi to do the unthinkable by broadcasting a direct verbal attack against Mother it admitted Mother's impact. Thomas Polgar, the CIA chief in Saigon, was also quite proud that Radio Hanoi blamed him, by name, as responsible.

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Lu Lien

Under the stage name Lu Lien, he had starred in a famous singing comedy trio with traditional Vietnamese costumes and musical instruments. For Mother he became the absolutely irreplaceable genius who adapted all our parodies of Vietnamese communist songs, and also sang and acted in comedy skits. In real life he fathered a whole family of singers who -- thanks to Mother's evacuation from Saigon in April 1975 -- grew up to remain to this day top vocalists familiar to all the Vietnamese overseas communities in the US, Canada, France, and even Australia.

Saigon fell in April 1975, a few CIA officers closely connected with that PSYOP operation managed to evacuate its Vietnamese civilian staff and their families, a grand total of 1,300 souls.

In February 1976, an article was printed in the Vietnamese newspaper Hanoi Moi titled "Reader’s fear impact of 'yellow' music on culture." The article complained about the music that kids were listening to these days. We have heard that same argument in the United States over rock and roll and later rap music. The article said in part:

A movement of playing tape recorders and listening to music has developed in Hanoi recently. The use of tape recorders in work and family relaxation is normal. But several people have taken advantage of this to secretly spread the poison of decadent culture or unhealthy living, or to personally trade in this virtueless culture. Many youths have long been in this bad, degenerate category and are now openly selling tapes of yellow music, organizing recordings, or getting together to listen to them. Many families are playing yellow tapes, and hot, stimulating tapes very loud, causing noise, and disrupting the rest and relaxation of surrounding people.

To maintain the healthy cultural life in the city, we recommend that responsible agencies take steps to stop and keep the various types of psychological warfare, decadent, titillating etc., culture under the US-Puppet period from living again.

The American translator from an unnamed organization takes some pride in this comment and adds that this residue of the war is probably from music first played on Mother Vietnam and its effect on northern youth. He further adds:

Certain segments of Mother Vietnam contained so-called "Yellow music" which according to our rallier sources, Radio Hanoi, and other North Vietnamese media was gaining popularity and influence among North Vietnamese youth and this phenomenon began to present a problem to the authorities. If these problems were caused by Mother Vietnam, it is a unique post-mortem testimonial to the effectiveness of that project.

Curiously, on 15 June 1974, James Welch had written to his sister on the same subject.

Work is going along very well here and my activity seems to be one of the few things that is expanding during much economizing and cutting of activities, especially here in Vietnam. The "other side" has not given up its intentions to take us over and Congress is dragging its feet on the arms thing so the right kind of propaganda becomes critical. Many of their soldiers are disenchanted and some come across, having listened over a period of time to our special peacenik appeal. The Commies have used it very well in the states and now they are getting a taste of it among their youth. We are wearing them away but will it be soon enough? I don't know. I do know it has got them worried because they are attacking us in their press. And that is always a sign you are hurting them. Oddly, it is our selections of music that seem to bother them most. The teens up there like rock and jazz as much as kids anywhere and have taken to growing their hair long. That sends the Communist leaders right up the wall! Well, history will tell.

Another odd document is a letter from a Ham radio operator in Canada who reported hearing the station on 25 December 1974. Ham operators will sometimes send a card to the station and ask for a card in return to prove that they have listened to a program from the other side of the world. This Ham asked for a QSL verification card, a station schedule and if possible, a flag or pennant from the station. One wonders if he even understood Vietnamese. I am sure the CIA was happy to hear that their broadcast was heard in Canada 8,174 miles away.

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Hanoi Hannah - Trinh Thi Ngo

And of course, Hanoi had its own radio celebrity. Her name was Trinh Thi Ngo. Daughter of a North Vietnamese glassware mogul, she started taking English lessons because she wanted to understand the original dialog of her favorite American movie Gone With The Wind. Her English was very good despite the fact that she had never had a native teacher. Americans called her HANOI HANNAH. Americans love alliteration. She called herself Thu Houng, “the Fragrance of Autumn.” Her job was to chill and frighten, not to charm and seduce. Her voice was as smooth as silk, her English impeccable, and as North Vietnam's premier propagandist, she tried to convince American troops that the war was immoral, that they should lay down their arms and go home. Trinh Thi Ngo’s fame was associated with this program, which was broadcast at night after a long day of fighting. The opening sentence was: “This is Thu Huong, talking with American soldiers in southern Vietnam…” Initially, each program had been 5-6 minutes long and broadcast twice a week before it was extended to 30 minutes and broadcast three times a day. So each day, Ngo spent 90 minutes to have her voice broadcast to hundreds of thousands of American servicemen.

I heard from a lot of Vietnam War veterans on the subject of Hanoi Hannah. About half of them never heard Hannah while in-country. Another few heard her but just considered her a lying propagandist. I most enjoyed hearing from those vets who had heard her and were really excited about having their unit named by her. It was like those units got a “shout out” from a celebrity. How strange. That was supposed to scare them but it seems to have excited them. Some examples:

I heard her in 1967 and 1968 when she mentioned first Force Recon; we heard her in the A Shau Valley in 1969. Played great music, but it was uncanny how she knew what units were on what fire base; we could hear her on the transistor radios some of the guys had. We got excited when she mentioned our unit (2/35 Infantry) one night; some of our Marines had small transistor radios in our base camps and tuned into to her. She would routinely call out various outfits, including mine, and tell us where we were and, that we were going to die tonight! Her propaganda was always funny, and she played good music! We could not always hear Armed Forces Radio but, Hanoi Hannah was always loud and clear at the Demilitarized Zone; I especially recall that she often called out her “Black aces of spades,” hoping to create racial disunity in our ranks.

Another veteran said:

We also had a few portable radios that we could listen to and hear two radio stations, the US Broadcast or Radio Hanoi. On Radio Hanoi, Hanoi Hannah did three broadcasts a day. She would broadcast US casualties, the location of US soldiers in the field, all the news of the anti-war sentiment in the US, the US hatred of its own soldiers, play anti-war music from the US and Christmas music. She always had a message to desert, throw down your weapons, why die for a country that hated you, and that most of us would be dead by Christmas. When you are in a small platoon, on a 17-day patrol and in the middle of nowhere, propaganda like this was meant to demoralize us. Instead of fear and trepidation, it sharpened our senses, gave us more resolve and a fierce determination to keep each other alive.

For more information on Hanoi Hannah click here.

To Thi Nau, a 23 year old suspected VC prisoner captured by Australian troops 25 October 1966 in the Nui Dinh Hills with a radio was later proven to be a National Liberation Front cadre member active in its propaganda, indoctrination and intelligence gathering.

I think there is a lesson to be learned by Propagandists here. You never know what the result of a campaign will be. There are so many similar cases. In WWII, the Japanese and Germans dropped pornographic leaflets on what they considered to be weak and immoral American troops thinking the picture would depress them, take the fight out of them, and make them think of home. Instead, it excited the Americans who began to collect and trade the pictures trying to get complete sets. The enemy gave the Americans something to do and filled their days with some excitement.

I sat in a Japanese movie house just a few years after the end of WWII. They were showing The Sands of Iwo Jima. The audience watched quietly until there was that propaganda scene where an evil snarling Japanese pilot machine-gunned a young naval pilot as he parachuted from his stricken aircraft. The entire audience stood up and cheered. It was the only bright spot for them in the entire movie.

In another actual case in Vietnam an entire unit was called to attention before the commander and berated:

Men, I want to talk to you about a very serious situation involving this battalion…Men, this battalion has the highest venereal disease rate in the entire 1st Infantry Division…It was dead quiet for a moment, and then the company broke out in loud cheers and laughter…Men were giving each other five, the brothers were dapping and the platoon leaders were looking horrified…The Colonel exploded in anger and began cursing….

And finally a last case where I found myself kind of shocked. This was a New York City Firehouse in a bad area where the men worked day and night to keep the citizens safe with no thanks. On the dining room wall was a gigantic full-color mural of a steaming pot of shit at the end of the rainbow. It was just awful, but extremely accurate in every detail. I asked one of the firemen what it all meant. He told me:

The Chief of Department came down here, walked around and told us, “This place is a shit house.” We immediately took that as a compliment and had that mural painted and when asked where we work, we tell them “The shit house” or "La Casa Caca."

The moral of all this is be careful what you say. You never really know how the target audience will react.


Combat Intelligence Lessons

The Confidential report Combat Intelligence Lessons was printed from about 1968 to 1971 and mentions problems caused by the Viet Cong:

CHARLIE IS LISTENING: A recent rallier has disclosed that the 9th VC Division, through monitoring both U.S. and RVN radio channels, was able to ascertain nearly every troop movement and activity within Tay Ninh Province. Radios employed by the 9th VC Division monitors were largely captured US. AN /PRC 25s. It was further revealed that ARVN crypto systems could be broken easily, however US systems could not be broken at all. The monitoring unit was established approximately four months prior to the southward deployment of the 9th VC Division, thus enabling divisional elements to avoid contact by maneuvering its units away from friendly troop movement.

Imitative deception is being attempted on a large scale by the Viet Cong and is being developed to a high art. Their technique, in the past many months, has been to fasten chiefly on our voice communications, both radio and wire. Their operators have revealed exceptional fluency in English and an excellent grip on American slang and shortcuts. They speak generally in what can only be called an American accent occasionally touched with a slight Spanish flavor. There appears to be no limit to the nerve and daring of their operations or their sense of enterprise.

Case 1. From a caller who identified himself as the operator at Station LIMELIGHT, Radio Station LITTLE JOE ALFA received a call requesting a communications check and asking what time the helicopters were departing in the morning. The answer was: "0730." But then the LITTLE JOE ALFA operator found he had made a mistake in the original message and called LIMELIGHT to correct the error. The LIMELIGHT operator indicated he had not been on the air all night and had made no such request.

Case 2. When a Viet Cong platoon was caught in a crossfire during combat, two calls came in: “it! We're friendly,” and “Don't shoot.” As a Vietcong battalion came under artillery fire during the same operation, the mortar platoon's radio telephone operator received a bellowed call: “Cease fire! You're hitting friendly troops.”

Hoi Chanh (Nguyen Van Tam) gave information concerning radio intercept capabilities of the 274 VC Regiment. Tam stated that the regiment had 4 PRC-25 radios transceivers, purchased in Saigon for 100,000 piasters, or about 850.00 (US). The radios were used by the regiment's radio intercept team for monitoring radio communications of Vietnamese, Thai, and US units operating in Long Khanh Province.

On 20 December 196, US forces captured an entire enemy communications intelligence team, together with their intercept equipment, voluminous transcripts of intercepted voice messages, and operating instructions. Included in the captured equipment were three US radios (one PRC-77) and two PRC-25s), a homemade receiver and transmitter, a CHICOM R-139 receiver, several commercial transistor radios, sufficient spare parts, and components to allow for field repair of the equipment, and several bags of antenna parts. The captured documents included booklets containing samples of US and ARVN frequency and callsign allocations with unit identifications, training instructions on methods of intercept, information on exploitable weaknesses in US and ARVN communications procedures, and over 2100 verbatim English transcripts of intercepted voice transmissions. Interrogation of the captured platoon leader, Do Thanh Dong, revealed that a normal day would yield about ten significant intercepts, and that his unit was able to determine the locations of US/ARVN ambush sites as much as 24 hours in advance.

United States Navy PSYOP

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Blue Eagle

Although seldom mentioned, the United States Navy was also involved with psychological radio operations in Vietnam. The first "Blue Eagle" aircraft was constructed in January 1965 using a NC-121J Lockheed Super-Constellation shell. Blue Eagle I was the first project aircraft and configured to do AM, FM, and SW radio broadcast missions. A crew of naval officers and enlisted personnel was selected. Operational and flight training began in July 1965. The aircraft was sent to Vietnam shortly afterwards where in October it broadcast the World Series to American troops and became the world’s first operational airborne broadcast station. United States Navy RMC Steve Robbins told me:

I spent three of my four flight tours in Vietnam flying this bird. Blue Eagle I (aircraft 131627) was one of four Navy Project Jenny broadcast birds that we built and operated. This bird was a radio-only bird (unlike the other three which were radio/TV broadcast birds. Blue Eagle I, after doing a test flight in Vietnam which rebroadcast the World Series from the United States, was assigned to PSYOP operations.

Two Blue Eagle aircraft were based at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon to broadcast Channel 11 of Armed Forces Vietnam Television (the American Forces Vietnam Network), and Channel 9 of THVN (the official station of the Government of Vietnam) in South Vietnam until 1970.

A third aircraft was based at Da Nang Air Base to provide airborne PSYOP broadcast missions for MACVSOG off the coast of North Vietnam from 1966 to 1970. It took part in psychological operations from 1965-1967 and earned the nickname “Da Nang Dirty Bird.” John Plaster mentions the Project Jenny missions in his book about SOG and it was Blue Eagle I that flew those missions.

In Project Jenny, a U.S. Navy EC-121 aircraft broadcast SOG radio programs while flying off the North Vietnam coast, a technique that confused enemy radio direction finders and, because the radio wasn’t far away, tended to overwhelm local station signals.

Miniature Propaganda Radios

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Two Types of Portable Radio Dropped on Vietnam

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Another Radio Similar to the green one at the left above but with a label
New contracts were issued from time to time and that is why the radios differ.

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Third Type of Portable Radio Dropped on Vietnam
Note: This is the same type of radio shown in leaflet HQ-8-68 shown below

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A Fourth American Radio given to the Vietnamese
Notice that the label on the radio shows it was issued by CORDS
Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support

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A Gift Radio

The gift of the radios is mentioned in Stars and Stripes of 18 July 1967 in an article entitled “Drop Radios on North - Psywar Experts.” The article says in part:

American psychological warfare experts have proposed the dropping of small transistor radios into Communist North Vietnam in order to get allied views across to the population. Informed sources said the idea was presented to Leonard Marks, Director of the United States Information Service when he visited Saigon recently. The said Marks reacted “enthusiastically” and asked for cost estimates on the radios in lots of up to one million, an indication that serious consideration is being given to the idea.

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Excerpts from instruction book which accompanied the free radios

The radios would be packed in plastic cases with a spare battery, giving them 20 hours playing time. They would be dropped by tiny parachutes and fixed at a pre-set frequency which would pick up the Voice of America or the Vietnamese government’s Voice of Freedom station in South Vietnam.

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My Personal Airdropped Radio for the Cambodian People

Notice that they were dropped within a waterproof plastic bag with a set of instructions. When opened this 7th PSYOP Group portable radio told finder was told how to use the radio, change batteries and other needed information.

My files from the 7th PSYOP Group on Okinawa mention the number of miniature propaganda radios disseminated by the United States over certain time periods. For instance, during Operation Field Goal from July 1972 to the cease-fire in January 1973, 12,921 radios were floated into North Vietnam on rafts, 3,192 radios were sent North by balloon, and 14,419 were dropped by B-52 bombers.

During Operation Prairie Lightning (formerly Field Goal), C-130 aircraft dropped 8,280 radios while B-52 bombers dropped 2,016. During the Ho Chi Minh Trail campaign against soldiers coming the trail from North Vietnam and civilians maintaining the trail in late 1972 and early 1973, 6,432 radios were dropped along the Trail by C-130 Hercules. During the Rice River Campaign (directed against North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia), C-130s dropped another 5,496 radios. And during Operation Fountain Pen (directed against North Vietnamese troops in Laos) in December 1972, 6032 radios were dropped by C-130s.

The PSYOP/POLWAR Newsletter, Volume III, No. 10, 25 October 1968 adds:

The first of three shipments of mini-radio receivers arrived in Pleiku. The radios are to be distributed throughout the western portion of II Corps to areas known to harbor VC/NVA troops, their dependents and sympathizers by US Special Forces, Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols, CIDG forces, and sector and sub sector advisory teams. Although the receivers can receive any standard band frequency broadcast, they are designed for peak reception performance on the frequencies to be used by Pleiku PSYOP radio. PW and Hoi Chanh interrogation reports have indicated that the VC/NVA troops prefer to listen to ARYN and FWMAF radio broadcasts rather than to Hanoi Radio. The reasons stated for this preference is that Hanoi Radio broadcasts so little music and Hanoi battle statistics are always inflated. The mini radios will provide one more method of reaching enemy soldiers and sympathizers with PSYOP messages. The PSYOP Directorate is presently studying a distribution. plan, prepared by MACY Advisory Team 21, for dissemination of the new receivers.

And speaking of the Pleiku radio station:

Installation of a PSYOP radio transmitter is nearing completion at Pleiku. The radio will broadcast news, music, and PSYOP messages to VC/NVA troops, their dependents, and sympathizers throughout the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. The operation of the transmitter will be a joint US – Army of Vietnam effort with ARVN PSYWAR personnel responsible for all programming. 4th PSYOP Group personnel will supervise the technical operation of the station. Broadcast emissions are expected to cover an area of approximately 200 miles radius.

The Communist North Vietnamese reported the finding of Allied propaganda radios on many occasions. Some of the MACVSOG reports of the discoveries are as follows:

On 2 May 1965, fisherman found large and small boxes floating in the water. The small boxes contained children’s clothing and handkerchiefs. The large boxes were sealed with green tape and wrapped in a nylon bag. When opening the eight large boxes they found radios, about 25cm long and 10cm high. The listeners noted that the radios played Vietnamese music and talk stations. Within every box was a piece of paper that said, “This radio set is donated to the people of North Vietnam. Do not allow anyone to take it from you. Keep it to follow the situation.”

During the night of 9 July 1965, rangers using rubber boats landed on the coast. They advanced 3 kilometers into the mainland near Yen Diem and laid 25 radio sets there, one of which was turned on.

The U.S. Navy discusses the radios in their Vietnam After-action Monthly Reports:

The Navy received 288 small battery powered radios for PSYOP purposes in January 1970. The radios were distributed to Vietnamese civilians in areas where radios are few in number. Radios are felt to be an excellent PSYOP medium permitting the people in remote areas to keep in touch with the happenings in the Republic.

During medical visits, USN personnel distributed radios to Vietnamese villagers. Their feelings were that of disbelief that the radios were a gift. Most recipients tuned into Radio Saigon.

During May 1970, refugees began arriving in Vietnam from Cambodia. Navy Task Force 211 has assumed responsibility for the care of approximately 300 Cambodian refugees. The refugees have been housed in barracks with adequate lighting, water, and sanitation facilities. The refugees have been provided with medical care, food, clothing, blankets, PSYOP radios, baby formula, candy, dolls, vitamins, plastic bowls, and spoons. The morale of the refugees appears high.

The reports mention dozens of such operations numbering in the thousands of individual gifts sent to the people by water.

The PSYOP/POLWAR Newsletter of February 1970 mentions the miniature radios:

On 1 January 1970, the 6th PSYOP Battalion disseminated 900 mini-radios through field teams supporting the II Field Force. The radios were distributed as part of a Medical Combined Action Program (MEDCAP), a Vietnamese Cultural Drama Team, and a Vietnamese Army band. It was a “Country Fair” atmosphere. Some radios were given as prizes, others as part of a raffle. The hamlet chief personally demonstrated installation procedures and placed the batteries in the radios. Radios were also given to people who came forward and informed on Viet Cong activities. The mini-radios are being distributed by the 4th PSYOP Group, all PSYOP Battalions, and the Navy Force, Vietnam.

The formerly top-secret report, MACSOG documentation study – psychological operations, 10 July 1970, mentions some Vietnamese fishermen finding the radios:

On the morning of 5 February 1965, while fishing, a fisherman saw several large and small boxes. The small boxes contained children’s clothing and handkerchiefs. The large boxes were sealed with a green tape and carefully wrapped in a nylon bag. Inhabitants in the source’s hamlet found eight large boxes.

Upon opening the nylon bag, they found the box inside very light and soft. If dropped in the water, it would float. When the Source peeled off the green tape and opened the box, he saw a radio-set, about 25 cm long and 10 cm high. The Source turned the knobs on but heard nothing. He saw something resembling a button with a long wire connected to one side of the radio-set. Putting the object into his ear, he heard soft music. When the button was removed from the radio-set, the voice came on loud. Full of joy, he hastily ran back home, and called his neighbors to listen to it.

Source turned a knob on the right side of radio set, and he heard many Vietnamese-spoken stations with good music, however, he did not know whether they were Southern or Northern stations. Opening a small lid underneath the radio-set, he found three batteries inside of it. Three additional ones were contained in a white box.

In every box, there was a piece of paper. The contents of which they vaguely remembered as saying “This radio-set is donated to the people of North Vietnam. Do not allow anyone to take it from you. Keep it to follow the situation.”

Like the other people, he listened to the radio-set all day long, but two days later Village Security Agents and those from the Ngu Thuy Post went to every house and said, “let the authorities make an investigation to see if there is explosive material in the radio-set. If there is no explosive material it will be returned to you!” The people waited a week and they still had not given radio-sets back to the people. 23 radio-sets were confiscated within the Tuong Lai Commune.

The PSYOP/POLWAR Newsletter of February 1970 mentions the miniature radios:

On 1 January 1970, the 6th PSYOP Battalion disseminated 900 mini-radios through field teams supporting the II Field Force. The radios were distributed as part of a Medical Combined Action Program (MEDCAP), a Vietnamese Cultural Drama Team, and a Vietnamese Army band. It was a “Country Fair” atmosphere. Some radios were given as prizes, others as part of a raffle. The hamlet chief personally demonstrated installation procedures and placed the batteries in the radios. Radios were also given to people who came forward and informed on Viet Cong activities. The mini radios are being distributed by the 4th PSYOP Group, all PSYOP Battalions, and the Navy Force, Vietnam.

The Secret Project CHECO Southeast Asia report titled “Psychological Operations against North Vietnam July 1972 - January 1973” discusses the official doctrine on U.S. miniature radios:

The general concept and rationale behind the use of mini-radios was to apply pressure on the North Vietnam leadership by threatening their monopoly on information for domestic consumption. By dropping mini-radios, it was hoped that the radio audience for U.S. and SVN government broadcasts would be enlarged, and that the party and government would become concerned that an increase in illegal listener-ship represented a growing divergence from strict loyalty and obedience to government decree. Further, the radios burdened the security apparatus by causing it to search for and retrieve them, and created resentment when an individual either voluntarily or involuntarily gave up the small but valuable item to authorities. Finally, their presence required the government to remind the populace repeatedly that their exposure to information must be restricted.

The delivery of miniature radios offered some unique problems. Saturation delivery was ineffective because the radios could easily be gathered and confiscated. Consequently, the radios had to be delivered a few at a time. Some new methods of delivery were tried including the flotation of radios to North Vietnam from offshore and balloon delivery. B-52s also successfully delivered mini-radios to North Vietnam, as did C-130s to other parts of Southeast Asia.

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

Psychological Warfare Operations was the most successful program against North Vietnam. One of the primary means of delivery of propaganda, including the delivery of leaflets, gift kits, and portable radios, was accomplished through air assets.

On 20 November 1972, part of the USAF 1st Special Operations Squadron was alerted for deployment to Nakom Phanom Royal Thailand AFB in preparation for an expanded PSYOPS campaign designed to coincide with the peace talks taking place in Paris. The operation was designated TEMPO SURGE. One special mission tasked to the 1st SOS during Tempo Surge was the dropping of packages containing small transistor radios with batteries. The radios were tuned to stations that broadcast information and music prepared by the Asian version of Radio Free Europe. The mission was effective in reaching North Vietnamese farmers, soldiers, and peasants who could not read.

The funniest thing I have read about the miniature propaganda radio is a secret memorandum written by Henry Kissinger to the President on 15 July 1972. Remember, the radios had been disseminated since the start of the Vietnam War and Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s Secretary of State who was supposed to know everything and regularly brief the President has discovered a brand-new idea. A brief handwritten note at the end of the memorandum says:

David Sarnoff [Chief Radio Corporation of America] once strongly urged we air drop very inexpensive transistor radios in Eastern Europe. Which would pick up Radio Free Europe broadcasts. Could Helms [Richard Helms – Chief of the CIA] explore the possibility of doing this in area of Hanoi?

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The 8th PSYOP Battalion

In II Corps, an 8th PSYOP Battalion advisory team assists Vietnamese radio broadcasters in programming PSYOP messages to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians, NVA soldiers and Viet Cong. 8th PSYOP Battalion radio technicians man the Group's 50-thousand watt transmitter from its hilltop site outside Pleiku City. In connection with the operation, PSYOP aircraft have dropped thousands of small transistor radios to Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops. All are pretuned to the station's frequency.

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50,000 watt AM radio station in Pleiku

In addition to other duties, the battalion was charged with operation of the Group’s 50,000 watt AM radio station in Pleiku. The mission of the station was to broadcast to audiences in a large area in the northern provinces of South Vietnam. The Americans had bought tens of thousands of radio receivers and placed them all over the country so people could listen to the broadcasts. Initially these had fixed frequency reception, but they were easily jammed. They later provided tunable radios, so that listeners could change stations as the Americans attempted to avoid the Communist jamming.

CREDIBLIS report of the sapper attack on the Pleiku Radio Station

The Viet Cong sent about 20 sappers against the radio station on 24 March 1968. They threw satchel charges into several of the sandbagged modules and destroyed the radio tower. Radio Hanoi bragged about the attack the morning afterwards. A new tower was shipped to Vietnam from the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa, all modules replaced, and the radio station was back on the air and the system fully functional in exactly ten days.

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Pleiku Radio Listening Range

Radio Pleiku

The Army Concept Team in Vietnam conducted an evaluation of US Army PSYOP units from 1 December 1968 to 21 March 1969. A booklet was prepared titled EMPLOYMENT OF US ARMY PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS UNITS IN VIETNAM. The booklet mentioned Radio Pleiku:

In December 1967, the 7th PSYOP Group Radio Detachment (Provisional) deployed from Okinawa to Pleiku, with a 50-kilowatt radio transmitter, to begin operations as part of a combined US/ARVN PSYOP radio station. The ARVN personnel were responsible for all radio programming, while the US provided the equipment and supervised the technical operation of the station. The station began daily broadcasting on 20 January 1968 under Operation Yellowbird with six hours of news, music, and PSYOP messages to Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops, their dependents, and sympathizers throughout the Central Highlands. As a result of an enemy attack on 24 March 1968, the station equipment was destroyed.

Despite a heavy Montagnard population, there have been no programs broadcast in the Montagnard language. The Chief, Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces General Political Warfare Department, has recognized the desirability of motivating and indoctrinating the Montagnards to support the Government of Vietnam and decided to use Radic Pleiku as one of the principal means of accomplishing this task. Plans were underway to procure the added personnel and funds to increase broadcasting from 6 to 11 hours daily. The increased time will include programs directed primarily toward the Montagnard audience. Programs in the Montagnard dialect are scheduled to begin 1 September 1969.

Pending final installation of the AN/TRT-22 50-KW radio transmitter, radio programs were broadcast over AN/GRC-26 radio station facilities as an interim measure.

The PSYOP Radio Station. The 4th PSYOP Group Radio Section teamed up with its Vietnamese Army counterparts in broadcasting 11 hours of daily PSYOP radio programs from its radio site in Pleiku. The radio station broadcast news, music, and PSYOP programs to Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, their dependents, and sympathizers throughout the Central Highlands.

The radio was clearly rebuilt because we find the following report dated December 1969:

The Pleiku Radio team broadcasts daily from 0500 to 0800 and 1825 to 2400 in Vietnamese and one Montagnard dialect.

A report dated 25 January 1970 mentions the range of the Pleiku radio:

A letter received from listeners gives some indication of the listening range of the radio. In early 1969 when the radio broadcast at low power (15,000 watts) 78 letters were received that suggest the range of the radio at low power extends to a radius of 260 miles. In late 1969 Radio Pleiku broadcast at high power (50,000 watts). Letters suggest the range was beyond 260 miles. It is safe to assume that at both low and high power, most of Vietnam is within listening range.

The unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for their support of military operations. Besides the units mentioned earlier, the 7th PSYOP Group added a Radio Detachment (Provisional) Vietnam. The unit now had 41 linguists who were proficient in 11 different languages. During 1967 they printed 7 billion propaganda leaflets for Vietnam and Korea. Their printing capability was enhanced by using the U. S. Army Printing and Production Center in Tokyo, and the Regional Service Center of the United States Information agency in Manila.

The 4th PSYOP Group Monthly Operations Report of February 1970 mentions the Pleiku Radio operating:

The Radio Pleiku team began broadcasting daily with a new schedule in Vietnamese and Montagnard dialects. The station broadcast at low power throughout most of February but completion of the new antenna erection enabled the site to resume high power broadcasting on the 21st of the month. The new schedule is composed such than now all programming is unique and there is no repeat programming.

0530 – 0630 - Chieu Hoi.
0630 – 0730 - Armed forces Morning Program.
0730 – 0800 - Montagnard.
1825 – 1855 - Montagnard.
1900 – 1955 - II Corps.
2000 – 2100 - Armed Forces Night Program.
2100 – 2200 - VAPVN I
2200 – 2300 - VAPVN II
2300 – 2400 - VAPVN III

As the American part of the war wound down under Vietnamization, the 4th PSYOP Group Monthly Operations Report of July 1971 mentions the Pleiku Radio station shutting down:

Broadcasting terminated from the radio station on 31 July 1971. Transmitter operation for the month totaled 2 hours 25 minutes at low power, and 245 hours 25 minutes at high power.

One of the last reports I have on Radio Pleiku is from the 4th PSYOP Group Monthly Operations Report of August 1971. It mentions the station packing up to leave.

Shutdown of the radio station was the main concern for the personnel at Pleiku. With assistance from the 35th Engineer Group and the 62nd Maintenance, the generator and transmitter were removed from the site and readied for shipment to Sacramento Army Depot. The station’s antenna was also disassembled. Installation turnover to the Soth Vietnamese Army forces was slated for early September.

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Experimental Radio – The Long-Line Loiter

During the Vietnam War there was a lot of experimental work on how to make broadcasting radio messages from aircraft clearer for the listeners, while allowing the aircraft to fly high enough to be safe from ground fire. That was not an easy task. Clearly, the higher and safer the aircraft, the worse the ability to hear the radio would be. The task was given to the Aerospace Medical research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio in March 1969.

They developed a Long-Line Loiter psychological warfare package. This allowed an aircraft to circle 3,000 feet above the target with the transmitter just 500 feet from the ground. The broadcast message originates at the aircraft and is sent to a set of speakers located at the end of a long trailing line in a circling configuration. Leaflets could also be dropped at the end of the line if so desired.

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Don Rochlen - October 1965

Donald H. Rochlen is an interesting character. He started off in 1955 in Thailand as a U.S. Embassy Press Officer and later an attaché and the liaison between the embassy and the United States Information Agency with the USIA title of “Educational Exchange Officer.” After some language training he became a Cultural Exchange Officer in Bangkok for three years (until 1961). He was then assigned to the Voice of America broadcasting in Thai and Lao until about 1965. He next went to Saigon where he served from 1965 to 1971. At first, he was on temporary duty (TDY) to supervise the production of Vietnamese-language radio programs. He advanced to the position of Chief of Special Projects for the Field Development Division of JUSPAO. His assignment was to generate PSYWAR ideas and to develop loudspeaker programs, posters and leaflets.

He was important enough for the Hanoi newspaper Quan Doi Nhan Dan (The People’s Army Newspaper) to attack him in print. The newspaper claimed that when the Republic of Vietnam was in full retreat in 1975, he developed a rumor campaign to terrify the southerners and motivate their army to fight on. Some of his alleged rumors were that with a Communist victory there would be a blood bath. Well-coiffured heads would be shaved and spread with lime. Fingernails and toenails that wore decadent polish would be torn out by pliers. Collective graves would be dug for hundreds of thousands of people. Long six-inch iron nails would be hammered into the heads of people who had collaborated with the Americans. Buddhists would be immolated. Catholics would be forced into churches and dynamited. Other religious people would be thrown into the rivers to drown. He concluded that the Communists would kill 10 regular troops for every one they spared and the police would all be killed and their skin used to make shoes.

Rochlen later debunked the article in depth. He was not in Vietnam and in no position to pass rumors in 1975.

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National Front for Liberation Leaflet

The North Vietnamese produced their own radio leaflets. This one, produced by the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation give information on all their broadcasts to American troops.

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The Voice of Vietnam Leaflet

This is a fancy full-color leaflet that gives all of the Voice of Vietnam programs for 1971. Nine different languages are mentioned so it is clear that the Communists intended to make full use of their radio stations.

I could add a hundred Allied radio broadcasts to this article but I wonder if the readers would like to read the text of a long-winded Viet Cong radio broadcast after the American massacre of the Vietnamese people of My Lai. They really lay into the Americans. This was part of the investigation into the My Lai incident and is hardly ever seen. The Viet Cong intended to publicize this greatly so there is a mention to coordinate with propaganda leaflets. I have edited this a bit just to make it read easier. Vietnamese does not always translate well into English.

The American Evil Appears

(Coordinate this broadcast with 1eaflets: “Let American Enemy Pay This Bloody Debt.”)

American imperialists make aggressive war on Vietnam, but they say that he came here to "help" our people and call themself our friends. When they arrive in South Vietnam they try to hide their bad aggressive ambition. They told their troopers to respect the Vietnamese people and make good relationships with them. Their PSYOP also gave troops "commandments" whose contents are "You must respect women and Vietnamese traditions and customs." When American troops had just arrived in Vietnam, they tried to show themselves as "Honorable gentlemen" selling or buying fair and square, even, paying higher than market prices. When they destroyed something, they paid for it with money.

Then some bases allowed people to visit, and doctors were sent to some places to give people medical aid. American press showed some pictures of Americans and Vietnamese shaking hands, Americans kissing Vietnamese people and giving them candies, or Americans with Red Cross signs on their arms giving medical aid to Vietnamese people, and they boast that this is a familiar scene around American troops locations. This demagogy makes some ARVN troops believe Americans are good friends. How happy it is if we have such good and rich friends! But any play must end, although the actors are skillful, but they play only one act, they will soon become unskillful - and the play will become a bad one. So, the demagogy will become true and unmask, easier than other plays.

The role can be played more beautifully if U.S. troops collect more victories every year, but they are beaten more heavily by our people year after year. So, the demagogy is unmasked easier. Now, U.S. troops cannot hide anything, they have shown all the bad ambition which belongs to any aggressive troops. In sweep operations, they loot people's properties, destroy everything, and rape women. They have shown their animal ambition, their civilization. In Saigon, one American had put his penis outside his pants, and one dollar was placed on it, which he paid to a girl. U.S. troops use the girls in every public area: beaches, roadsides, they do not care about people passing by. In U.S. troop locations, they search people to get banknotes, gold rings, watches, earrings, and they are so cunning that they do not pick up false gold.

Due to their great defeats in the recent Spring, they are like wild wounded animals, The more they wriggle, the more evil is done, definitely inhuman doings. They dropped bombs at random onto populous areas and cities such HUE, SAIGON, and BEN TRE. They confirmed that 90% of houses were destroyed in HUE City. Thousands of our people were killed or homeless. Western newspapers and radio stations also confirmed that all the damage of homes in South Vietnam cities came from American bombs and ammunition because the U.S. has more fire power than the National Liberation Front troops. British newspapers said Americans bombed cities, especially Saigon City, and it would be condemned by opinion if the Americans continued to do that. Japanese public opinion said: America would be isolated and lose respect when they bombed South Vietnamese cities. It would make an anti-American wave among the South Vietnamese, unless world public opinion protested, and there was not a unanimity of Allies.

Americans still close their eyes and shut their ears to perform their cruel acts. A sweep operation was conducted on 15 March 68 recently in SON TINH. The crazy American enemy used light machineguns and all kinds of weapons to kill our innocent civilian people in TINH KHE Village (SON MY) [My Lai to Americans]. Most of them were women and kids, there were some just born babies and pregnant women. They shot everything they saw, they killed all domestic animals, they burned all people's houses. There were 26 families killed completely - no survivors. The fierce devil Americans dropped down their holy covers to become barbarous, and cruel. The American wolf forgot their “good sheep” appearance. They opened their mouths to eat and drink our people’s blood with all their animal barbarity.

Our people have only one answer, it is to kill them so they cannot bite anymore. Vietnam officers and soldier brothers, it is about time to know the true face of Americans. There were so many times they forgot you when you were bitten by the NLF's troops and they never fired any mortar rounds to support you, even when they were right beside you. And they also dropped bombs on puppet ARVN dead bodies for suppression and sometimes they mortared right on your formation. The position of puppet troops as their targets is so clear. Does anyone still doubt it, just look at the 39th ARVN Ranger Battalion in Khe Sahn. They used the unit as a shield in the front for American Marines, you already know they offered this battalion as “ready to die” but it doesn't mean the same as to “Die for the Fatherland.” The NLF soldiers said that they died because the U.S. wanted to protect 6000 American troops there. So, it is American civilization, it is the good friend as you see them - a murderer who killed your blood people, made a Vietnamese blood stream running as blood in our own bodies. Are they allies or not? What are you waiting for! Use your American guns to shoot them in their heads to avenge our people, to wash out the insult to our nation and save your pride and your own life. This time: more than ever before, American guns are in your hands. Point to American heads and shoot!

The Sacred Sword of the Patriots League

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The "Sacred Sword" refers to a Vietnamese hero named Le Loi
who expelled China from Vietnam in the 15th Century with a magical sword

We mention the Sacred Sword of the Patriot League (SSPL) above, but we really don’t do it justice. The SSPL was a black operation by U.S. forces trying to convince the North Vietnamese that there was an anti-Communist underground movement within its borders. The Allied had tried the same thing in WWII telling the Germans that there were underground anti-Nazi movements within its borders.

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Sacred Sword Kills Communists

The North Vietnamese were not fooled. They kept close watch on their people and borders and knew there were no secret groups plotting against them. Worse, stupid policies by the U.S. Government forbid any actions within North Vietnam that might bring China into the war, and since there was no sabotage, there was no reason to fear an underground. In addition, Radio Free Europe allegedly encouraged the Hungarians to revolt in 1956, leading to the slaughter of thousands. The U.S. feared the slaughter of North Vietnamese thinking they might rise up expecting American aid.

There were some radio operations as well as the kidnapping of North Koran fisherman who were brought to a secret site they were told was within North Vietnam. The fishermen were not fooled. Many fished areas where they expected to be kidnapped, knowing that they would be fed well in their fake captivity and given presents to bring home. It was a total waste of money and resources, but an interesting operation to discuss.

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The Military Assistance Command Vietnam, the Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG) was charged with conducting unconventional warfare, including black propaganda. OP-33: PSYOP Studies Branch, Code-named “Humidor” was comprised of four sections: (a) Research and development; (b) Radio; (c) Special Projects; and (d) Printed media, forgeries and black mail. PSYOP operations conducted by (d) included the Sacred Sword of Patriots League. It was redesignated OP-39, “Psychological Studies Group,” in 1968.

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The Sacred Sword of Patriotism symbol

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Cu Lao Cham Island

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Paradise Island was actually Cu Lao Cham located south of the
17th Parallel, well inside the waters of the Republic of South Vietnam.

The MACSOG Documentation Study, Annex A, Psychological Operations, 10 July 1970, was originally classified “Top-Secret Sensitive,” later downgraded to “Secret.” It is now declassified. It says that the first facilities of the Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League were built in 1964 on Paradise Island (code-named DODO). A black SSPL radio was set up first in Hue, later in Thu Duc. The Navy also broadcast SSPL programs as part of Operation Jenny from EC-121 aircraft. In 1967 SOG’s mission emphasized the increasing the credibility of the SSPL as a resistance movement in North Vietnam. The Viet Cong knew that the black radio station Guom Thieng Ai Quoc (Sacred Sword and Patriotism) was an American station. The “Black” radio station claimed to broadcast from Ha Tinh Province but actually transmitted from American bases in South Vietnam. MACV also produced a marching song titled Let Us Rise up Ardently and Liberate our Nation.” The song was sung by the island choral group, “the singing fishermen” (detainees who recorded songs for SSPL radio).

Herb Weisshart was appointed Deputy Head of MACV-SOG, specializing in psychological operations from its inception in January 1964 to Mid-1965. He recalls some of his activities:

From 1961-1963 activities included leaflet and gift kit airdrops, gray and black radio broadcasts… When I went out there and started the SSPL, increased the leaflet drops, accelerated the radio programs, it was only for one reason. That was to see what we could do to force North Vietnam to take some of their assets and divert them to worrying about what we were doing in their backyard… Several of my staff had previous experience in leaflets, radios, and propaganda. We casually interviewed several Vietnamese and learned of the Sacred Sword legend. The sword was said to rest at the bottom of a NVN lake (known as Sword Lake). It was said to have been placed there to be used only by those individuals or groups that would rally the people against despotic rulers and outside invaders.

Mervyn Roberts mentions MACVSOG and radio in Propaganda and Influence: Russian and Chinese Targeting of America:

The Johnson administration transferred PSYWAR against the north from the CIA to a new organization, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group in early 1964.

The SSPL gave an overarching ideology for the notional programs. It had the added benefit of creating phantoms for a paranoid regime to chase. The campaigns consisted of several interlocking programs. Black radio stations, broadcasts with misleading attribution, supported the SSPL and the notional operations. Messages sent to ‘agents’ in the north by ‘families’ lent credibility to the fiction. Radio Red Flag was a notional northern rebel communist station, but represented a nationalistic, Marxist viewpoint and promoted the Sino-Soviet split. The real solution, according to Red Flag, was the return of Northern troops to let the South solve its own problems. While Radio Red Flag targeted North Vietnam, Red Star targeted the Vietcong by pretending to be the official NLF station. Meanwhile the Voice of the SSPL themes supported Ho Chi Minh and the North first group of national, rather than international socialists led by Le Duan.

The Studies and Observations Group procured transistor radios for airdrop in the DRV to increase potential radio audience. The SOG produced radios were not able to receive the real Radio Hanoi frequency, only the Group’s covert stations. These radios were tamper-proof, and the circuit board was encased in plastic to prevent reuse. In addition to dropping the radios, agents and commandoes left them after raids in the North, expecting people to find them.

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Major General John K. Singlaub

MG John K. Singlaub, Commander of the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force (MACV SOG) in Vietnam mentions the operation in Hazardous Duty, Summit Books, NY, 1991:

A "Black" radio transmitter near Hue broadcast a realistically clandestine program to northerners, which was often disrupted when the "resistance" operators had to shut down to evade Communist patrols. Besides broadcasting enemy casualty figures, the "Patriot" station pounded relentlessly at venal and immoral Communist cadre who not only diverted funds, but also seduced the young wives of NVA soldiers in the south.

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Mao Laughs

This SSPL leaflet depicts Chairman Mao smiling while United States Air Force B-52s bomb Vietnamese buildings, vehicles, bridges and troops. The same image is on the back of the leaflet. Notice the symbol at lower left. The text is:

Why does Chairman Mao laugh at the cruel situation of our people?

Carl Rowan, Director of the United States Information Agency sent a message to the President on 21 April 1964.

Black radio operations have now been expanded to a total of 14 hours per day on two frequencies; white radio activities are carried on for two hours daily while gray transmitters broadcast six hours per day in Cantonese and 20 hours in Vietnamese. In addition, airborne transmitters over the Gulf of Tonkin broadcast for 3 1/2 hours daily, usually repeating black radio broadcasts. Each of these broadcasts is carried on two different frequencies. The success of those broadcasts devoted to the national Sacred Sword Patriotic League is attested by a report that, early in July, 17 Catholic men and women put to sea from Nghe An Province in the hope that SSPL boats would capture them.

Over a thousand fixed frequency radios and several hundred rice bowls, the latter bearing the symbol of the SSPL, are given to fishermen on junks stopped and searched by the patrol torpedo fast boats. Prior to 1967 the SSPL radio was south of the demilitarized zone. After June 1967, the Voice of the SSPL was relayed to a U.S. Navy NC-121 over the Tonkin Gulf to confuse the North Vietnamese radio direction finding equipment.

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HQs Building, Camp Dodo, Paradise Island
(Photos courtesy of Master Sergeant Kenneth Mancil)

Black PSYOP production facilities were located at 7 Hong Thap Tu Street, Saigon. This included the studios, print shop, library and secure storage vault, and the Vietnamese counterpart organization. In October 1965, the authority was given to use Vietnamese A1G aircraft for leaflet and gift kit drops. The C-130 became available in 1966. A summary of leaflet, gift kit, and radios dropped over the three-year span follows: In 1965, 67 million leaflets, 24,000 gift boxes, 949 radios; in 1966, 142 million leaflets, 80,000 gift boxes, 5000 radios; and in 1967, 271 million leaflets, 21,000 gift boxes, 11,000 radios.

A former SOG and 6th Psychological Operations Battalion member that took part in the operation told me:

I worked black operations in early 1967. I remember the old Navy Constellation aircraft that broadcast propaganda messages to North Vietnam (piggybacking on Radio Hanoi). It was PACKED with electronic equipment. It was, I believe, previously an Electronics Counter-measures aircraft. It flew out of Japan, but was in Long Thanh for a couple of missions. Otherwise, I think it stayed in Saigon. I flew one mission that paralleled the coastline. They had a mixed American/Vietnamese crew (at least in the broadcasting section) including a pretty good looking French-Vietnamese Female. She also worked at the Vietnamese PSYOP Radio station in Saigon.

We dropped little radios on the north. They had a single frequency, no identification either outside or on any inside transistor or part. They were totally black. The frequency was about 1/10th of a megacycle off of Radio Hanoi so that they thought they were listening to official broadcasts. The little radios that were dropped by C-130 Blackbirds were also distributed by other SOG teams. I think we called the little radios "Peanuts," but can't remember why.

Hoc Tap, September 1967, titled Resolutely Defeat the Psychological Warfare of the American Imperialists.

In addition to increasing the Vietnamese language broadcasting of the Voice of America, and in addition to the open broadcasts of the puppet regime and puppet army, the American imperialists have also set up many radio stations engaged in psychological warfare activities against the North, such as "Sacred Sword Radio," the ‘Voice of Freedom," "Red Star Radio," "Neutrality Radio," and a "Liberation Radio." "Sacred Sword Radio" is the voice of the so called "Sacred Sword Patriotic Movement." Through this station the American imperialists and their lackeys attempt to cause the listeners to believe that that the "movement," which exists only in the minds of the American imperialists and their lackeys, has organized bases against the people’s regime in a number of provinces and regions in the North.

An Army Major who was assigned as deputy director of OP39 from March 1971 to spring 1972 talked about the end of the operation:

The radio insertions kept on going until we ran out of radios. The CIA made it fairly evident that we weren’t going to go back, find a suitable place, and make a large purchase of radios, batteries and the like. By that time it was fairly evident that we were withdrawing troops, the war was on the wane as opposed to on the increase. By 1969-1970 the Paradise Island operation was cranked down.

Thus ends the story of the Sacred Sword of the Patriots League and the secret base on Paradise Island. It cost millions of dollars and thousands of man hours, required fast boats to be bought, crews to be trained, aircraft to be sent over the north, radios to broadcast night and day, and yet fooled nobody and certainly never caused the North Vietnamese to consider halting their activities in the South. It was a glorious failure. It could have been so much more.

With the fall of South Vietnam all 144 staff members of the CIA and Vietnamese Strategic Technical Directorate "Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League" radio station Mat Tran Guom Thieng Ai Quoc were evacuated along with their families, about 1,000 people in all, to Phu Quoc island off the coast of South Vietnam. The refugees, along with some of their American supervisors, were transported by a leased merchant ship named American Challenger shortly thereafter to Guam, where they were eventually resettled in the United States.

Camp Seven

I wrote the above paragraph 30 years ago because that is what we were told at the time. In August 2022, the daughter of James E. Welch who ran the CIA radio station Mother Vietnam wrote to me because she was giving a lecture about her father. I approved her use this article as a reference. Some of the things Kat Fitzpatrick said at her presentation at The Castle, in Troy, N.Y. are listed here:

The radio station asked the Vietnamese who were in the hills and bush to come home to Mother Vietnam. In 1975 my father asked Mai Lan, the female radio host what would happen to her if the Communists took over. She said, “My father would shoot us and then kill himself.” Welch later fell in love with Mai Lan but never left his wife. As Vietnam started to fall, Welch decided to move them and the radio station to the Island of Phu Quoc from 21 April to 30 April 1975. He did this with the idea of rescuing his people, Americans, and Vietnamese, if the country was lost. He said at one point, "All the others seem to be willing to hold endless meetings with each other to write memos, etc., but not to do anything.” The new radio station was called Camp Seven, with 10 building and two administration buildings. As Saigon surrendered on 30 May 1975, he contacted a ship called the American Challenger. He got his staff to the beach on Army trucks, but the Vietnamese did not want to let him, and the radio station people leave without written permission. After a dangerous night with ARVN forces pointing weapons at the staff, permission was granted the next morning and about 1050 people made it to the ship which then took them to Guam. One Vietnamese station member wrote, “ Instead of flying out of Vietnam, your father chose to stick with his collaborators until all of them were safe in American rescue boats. Now hundreds of them and their families can breathe the air of Freedom in America and all of them keep in their hearts the image and memory of their late great boss named Jim Welch."

Notice the first paragraph says this was the radio station of the Sacred Sword, and the second says it was Mother Vietnam. Is this an error, or since James Welch was a radio expert, was he involved with both CIA stations and the daughter was unaware of his work on the second more secret black radio station.

For the Love of Vietnam
Kat Fitzpatrick told me she helped in the design of the cover.
She drew the Huey helicopters and the M16s.

The daughter Kat Fitzpatrick asked me to tell her all I knew about her father for an autobiography. I later received a copy of the book called For the Love of Vietnam. In a recent email she sent me more about him from his personal records (edited for brevity):

James Welch had become an agent of the CIA early in 1952 when he was recruited by :"The Company," shortly after graduating with his master's in history and international Affairs from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He was likely sought after because he had a proclivity for the German language during his college naval military training during World War II.

He entered military service in 1943 through the V-12 program, but becoming an officer was not in the cards for him. They perceived that he had a real affinity for language, so they put him in an accelerated German program. However, when he sat for his final exam, the one that would promote him to a naval ensign, he found himself at a great disadvantage. Because he had not taken the basic courses, he was lacking much information and missed passing by one tenth of a percentage point.

Instead, he became an enlisted sailor and was assigned to New Orleans. Had he passed his officer’s test, he would have likely remained in the Navy and never filled out the typewritten application to be a "Foreign Affairs Officer" at the CIA. As it was, when he was hired by the Intelligence Agency, he was sent to Munich in 1956, where he worked undercover in East Berlin. According to a CIA colleague, Leo Small, they were there to clandestinely assist with German intelligence gathering.

"We were in the same unit, working in liaison with the German service. We had regular offices, ostensibly - he stressed the word - working in the civilian field."

Welch was reassigned back to Washington in September 1962, where he became more and more well-versed in psychological warfare—more colloquially known as propaganda. This expertise garnered him another long-term overseas assignment. This time in Korea beginning in 1970, in operations overseen by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. He was to head up the intelligence agency's broadcasts into communist China. Welch’s pro-American programs were meant to sway citizens of the Middle Kingdom toward a greater affinity to their Cold War enemy in the West.

According to English author and teacher John D. Claire, China's relations with the U.S. were rock-bottom before the '70s. "For the Chinese Communists, America embodied capitalism and imperialism. After 1970, however, as China’s relations with the USSR continued to be strained, relations with the United States (to the surprise of the world) improved," he wrote.

This may have come as a surprise to the world, perhaps, but most likely not to Welch, who very well may have had a hand in the pro-American propaganda being sent out from Seoul toward Peking (as the Chinese capital was known until becoming more commonly known as Beijing in the late 1970s). His success was so great that reports and recommendations were sent high priority -"by packet" - to Washington, gaining a commendation from Kissinger himself.

Ironically, he worked himself right out of a job. Within two years of his efforts, relations with the old enemy had thawed so much that President Richard Nixon flew there, becoming the first U.S. president to visit the People’s Republic of China since its establishment in 1949. At the Shanghai Communique, on February 28, 1972, the Chinese and U.S. governments agreed to work toward the "normalization" of relations and so, Welch's broadcasts from Korea ceased.

Thus, Vietnam. It came as no surprise that he was reassigned to Saigon. It was a duty no overseas CIA officer could avoid in those days. At the time, Vietnam had the largest CIA presence in the world and was still a military hot spot despite the ongoing peace talks between the North and the South. Though it was an inevitable assignment, Welch took it up with some zeal, feeling that his talents were sorely needed.

At the end of the book, we see Welch putting his own job and career in jeopardy when he decides to rescue all his Vietnamese personnel and protect them from torture, death, or 10-15 years of "reeducation" in a Communist camp. In early April 1975 he discovers that the American plan is to allow only 10 of his Vietnamese personnel to go to America should the country fall. Welch had about 250 people in that category. The Company had already sent his family back to the United States, now Welch had to save his "business" family. He immediately began to plan a way to rescue them.

Welch came up with a plan to deceive his own bosses. He would tell him that to run a better and more efficient radio operation in support of the government he needed to get his people out of Saigon and to a place in the outskirts where they would be able to move around with ease and get to work and home quickly, without the crush of the crowds in panic mode. He wanted to "optimize" his Mother Vietnam operation and would like to move his people to Vung Tao. He had a transmitter there and could broadcast in peace and safety and keep up the good fight maintaining their support of the Thieu regime.

Two days later he was told that a better location had been found for his operation. The place was called Phu Quoc. It had an abandoned US military camp, an airfield where Air America C-47s could land and a Vietnamese naval base nearby. Welch flew there, was met by a Vietnamese military officer, and explained there might be as many as 1,000 people with the families now invited.

On 21 April 1975, south Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu resigned and fled the country. The rats were starting to desert the sinking ship. Welch was in contact with the US Embassy and talked to them regularly. Although it seems impossible to believe, the embassy believed that there were no problems, The Communist buildup was just a deception, the US and Vietnamese military would win the day, and they would still be in Vietnam next year. Welch was shocked. It was clear to him that they had no idea what was happening in the country. He continued to plan to get his people out.

On 23 April, the number of Vietnamese allowed to enter America was raised to 50,000. Welch was looking to hire a ship to take all his people out as the Communists grew close. He still had no official permission to leave the country or take anyone with him. In the United States President Ford admitted that "the war was finished."

On 28 April, a ship called the American Challenger arrived in Phu Quoc with many refugees being brought to an area considered safe. Welch Immediately contacted the ship’s Captain about moving his people out, but the captain declined without Saigon’s permission. On 29 April the American Embassy finally figured out what was happening and ordered all Americans out of Vietnam.

The American Challenger

On 30 April, after great difficulty with orders and permission to leave by the Vietnamese, Welch got his people on the ship. I don’t want to give too much away so just understand that he eventually managed to rescue every Vietnamese member of his radio station that chose to leave the country and eventually got them to the United States. The American radio staff might have been the last ones to leave Vietnam. About the same time, the American Ambassador, now awake to the danger, left in a Marine helicopter along with his security detail.

The ship sailed with 5,029 on board, apparently picking up stragglers at sea. I will add one little anecdote. The Vietnamese refugees left behind were so angry at the Americans leaving that they attacked their baggage, chopped it up with machetes and set it on fire. It was baggage or people, so Welch thought that was a good trade. He mentions it casually in his daily calendar:

We learned the fate of our baggage. All lost due to vandalism by the soldiers, prisoners, and refugees.

James Welch died on St. Valentine's Day 1982. He cared more about his staff and Vietnamese workers than he did about his career. I think we can just end with, "He did the right thing."

Declassified Documents

Long after the war was over, the United States began declassifying CIA documents from the Vietnam War. Although most were undated, I found a number that mentioned various radio campaigns. Here they are, selected at random:

Radio broadcasting aimed at North Vietnam has more than doubled, and a new transmitter will be operating by 9 June. Both covert and overt radio stations are broadcasting the names of North Vietnamese prisoners of war and killed in action and are playing heavily on North Vietnamese reverses, your [President Nixon] Moscow meetings, ARVN victories, and our air attacks.

The GVN Voice of Freedom (VOF) and the Voice of America (VOA) are repeating several times each day lists of recently captured North Vietnamese POWs. In addition, the radios are broadcasting names of prisoners held for longer periods, building to 100 names per day. VOA is announcing that it will continue to supply such information as a public service. VOA has also broadcast a story on 154 ralliers. VOA has increased its broadcast time to NVN from 5 to 13 hours a day. Your Moscow trip and the military situation in Vietnam have been accounting for 65 to 90 percent of VOA broadcast time to NVN.

Four black radios are in operation. All are describing in detail North Vietnamese losses in the South and the great damage being suffered in North Vietnam. They are also emphasizing the U.S. determination and massive response. Though beamed specifically at troops in the field, these radios reach throughout North Vietnam. Two of the four radio stations mimic NVN broadcasts and stress the need for the populace and troops to prepare for much greater suffering. The other two radio stations pretend to speak for anti-regime groups and play up the theme that the leadership is mad to continue a war they cannot win. The new grey radio targeted against North Vietnam is on the air on a frequency designed to take advantage of the audiences already built up by the BBC.

A black radio is sending one-way broadcasts into North Vietnam to give the impression that agents have been inserted. This impression will be reinforced by dummy parachute drops and rafts on beaches. Recordings of selected parts of Ho's speeches are being located so that we can doctor them to produce a speech by Ho criticizing current North Vietnamese leadership policies. The operation plan for knocking out and replacing Radio Hanoi will feature a special announcement that the Party has shifted to a peace policy and will project the resulting benefits to the population--more food, more clothes, return of their men.

A rumor campaign directed against Communist targets inside South Vietnam (by planting rumors through Vietnamese Army tactical radio operator chatter, which we know the North Vietnamese monitors) are being developed. Themes are designed to confuse the enemy about our military intentions, to increase doubts concerning Soviet and Chinese support, and to add to internal North Vietnamese mistrust.

We are getting actual ration cards and other documents to be used in forging bogus copies for insertion into North Vietnam. Commander in Chief Pacific (CINCPAC) is purchasing transistor radios for aerial and float delivery into North Vietnam. CINCPAC has completed five plans for amphibious deception operations off the coast of North Vietnam and the Demilitarized Zone. One is ready to go and will be undertaken as soon as ships and helicopters are free. In all our activities, leaflets, radios, rumors, and other special operations, we are giving the impression of iron U.S. determination and power.

Dominican Republic - 1965

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Juan Bosch, the head of the Dominican Revolutionary Party was elected and inaugurated as President in February 1963. His pro-Castro sentiments and left-leaning politics led to a military coup seven months later by an archconservative faction of the military led by Colonel Elias Wessin y Wessin.

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Colonel Elias Wessin y Wessin

Wessin controlled the Centro de Entrenamiento de las Fuerzas Armadas (Armed Forces Training Center), an elite group of about 2000 highly trained infantry that unlike the regular army units was supplied with tanks, recoilless rifles and artillery. It was an independent organization formed to protect the government and keep watch over the Army, Navy and Air Force. He declared, “The Communist doctrine, Marxist-Leninist, Castroite, or whatever it is called, is now outlawed.”

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Colonel Francisco Caamano Deno

On 24 April 1965, a group within the Army, led by Col. Francisco Caamano Deno rose up and attempted to restore Juan Bosch to the presidency. The pro-Bosch rebels known as Constitutionalists, took to the streets, seized the national palace and the Government radio and television stations in Santa Domingo, and demanded Bosch's return. Both sides were heavily armed and civilians were caught in the crossfire. Washington began immediate preparations for the evacuation of its citizens and other foreign nationals who might wish to leave the Dominican Republic

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U.S. troops were sent in to stabilize conditions on the island and prevent a takeover by Marxist rebels.

Fearing another Cuba on America's doorstep, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered U.S. forces to restore order and sent a fleet of 41 vessels to blockade the island. 400 Marines were ordered to the Dominican Republic on 27 April as part of Operation Power Pack. In addition to the United States military presence, the following troops were sent by each country; Brazil 1130, Honduras 250, Paraguay 184, Nicaragua 160, Costa Rica 21 military police, and El Salvador 3 staff officers. Eventually, a force of 23,000 U.S. troops was in-country. At the end of the operation 27 U.S. troops were killed in action, including thirteen from the 82nd Airborne Division.

Radio Operations

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1st PSYWAR Battalion troops in front of the Radio Broadcast Van – Santo Domingo

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

Operational elements of the 1st PSYWAR Company, reinforced with radio broadcast and light, mobile audiovisual teams, as well as language experts, were readied for a midnight departure. The 1st PSYWAR Battalion's (later to become the 1st PSYOP Battalion)van-mounted radio was prepared to follow shortly by heavy airlift. Almost before the roar of their aircraft had left their ears, the radio teams with Ray Aylor, Voice of America radio engineer, were rehabilitating a 1000-watt transmitter to begin relaying Voice of America transmission from Greenville, North Carolina.

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SP4 Dave Hagen

Specialist 4 Dave Hagen was assigned to the 1st PSYWAR Battalion as a broadcast specialist He told me:

was one of eight or nine GI's running a portable radio station called the "Voice of the Security Zone" that went on the air May 5th. We were up and running a few days before that but I was the only announcer (my MOS listed “broadcast specialist”) and I did not speak Spanish. We got a civilian in from the "Voice of America" (that is where he said he was from) and were up and running for the next few months.

Because the main government radio station was in rebel hands, Hagen and his team had to broadcast from a small station in the countryside:

We drove west from the San Isidro Air Base several miles and turned off the main road into a residential area before (I believe) we reached the Ozama River and the Duarte Bridge (a scene of heavy fighting). In this residential area we arrived at a one-acre field with a standing AM radio broadcast tower and a small cement building. The building was empty and there were no signs of any combat in the area. This building was about 10' x 10' which was the perfect size for an AM radio transmitter and its associated equipment. There were no studio facilities in the area. We set up our equipment and used the standing antenna. Overall we had a generator, studio truck, transmitter truck, communications truck, and the antenna tuning truck. As mentioned, we were in a residential area, and the rest of the city block we were located in was all single story houses and some duplexes.

Our unit had a complete radio station in our five trucks. We did not re-broadcast Voice of America, we broadcast our own programming. The 1st Psywar consisted of three groups...RB (radio broadcast), Loudspeaker, and Leaflets. Our RB group was commanded by Captain William Perry. We also had two lieutenants, Williams and Pojmanski. We had two Master Sergeants, Tokifuji and Fewles, and three specialists, including myself. We were in a war zone and even slept with our weapons. When things got quiet we tried to win the "hearts and minds" of the kids. We played baseball with them. Many had mitts and softballs.

Was the radio station successful? Hagen adds:

We were trying to let people know what was happening and that American troops had established a buffer zone between three warring factions. We also wanted to let them know that we were their friends. We saw both civilians and military listening to us on portable radios. Reports in the years following the American "intervention" contend that we were simply trying to stop the spread of Communism. That is true, but we also helped to end a civilwar.

In 2015, Dave Hagen spoke again, this time to my friend Lee Richards. To see his complete comments see He added:

Latin American specialists working for the United States Information Service (USIS) in Santo Domingo could have performed those tasks except that their printing and broadcast equipment were located in buildings now controlled by the rebels. On 4 May we were ready to start broadcasting to the Dominican Republic. Our “Voice of the Security Zone” hit the AM airwaves and was powerful enough to be picked up in the surrounding countryside. Our team was not involved with any "propaganda" planning and was simply tasked with keeping the radio station on the air. Our radio broadcast equipment consisted of three truck mounted modules and two semi-trailers. The modules contained a communications unit (teletype and voice), an antenna tuning unit, and a power generator. The semis pulled a studio trailer and a transmitter trailer.

Moulis adds:

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.

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The Destroyer USS Perry, DD844.

It was not only the U.S. Army fighting the various rebel radio stations. Radioman 3rd Class (RM3) Class Carl Black was a radioman aboard the Destroyer USS Perry, DD844. The ship was assigned to the naval battle group sent to the Dominican Republic. He told me:

Initially we were in the destroyer screen closest to shore off Santo Domingo. We were notified that an AM radio station had fallen into the hands of the rebels and we were given its frequency and instructed to jam it. Since we had an AM transceiver with over twice the output power of the radio station we came up on their frequency with a deliberately bad transmitter setup and keyed the transmitter. This “bad setup” caused the transmitter to create a variable frequency audio tone osculating in the audio range centered on their frequency. We maintained this until we were notified that the radio station was back in government hands.

Lawrence A, Yates mentions the radio campaign in Power Pack: U.S. Intervention in the Dominican Republic, 1965-1966, U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, 1988:

Some of the most important clandestine operations during the intervention attempted to silence Radio Santo Domingo (RSD). Although a poor people by U.S. standards, virtually every Dominican family owned a radio and, because of the country's high illiteracy rate, relied on it heavily for information. RSD, with numerous outlets, studios, and transmitter sites was the country's national station, capable of being heard throughout the island. In the hands of the rebels, the station became a powerful propaganda weapon-in fact, the biggest thorn in the side of the Americans. Langley received a telephone call from a CIA agent with a blunt message. "The difference in Santo Domingo," the agent shouted, "lies in that radio station. If the rebels continue their propaganda they will take over the entire country. The radio must be silenced!"

The problem was that nothing seemed to work. Naval vessels offshore and the Army Security Agency both tried to jam RSD broadcasts, but neither had powerful enough equipment to interfere more than temporarily with the broadcasting range of a commercial station. On 8 and 10 May, Special Forces teams mounted successful air assault operations against RSD transmitter sites at Alto Bandero and La Vega, respectively, thereby reducing the effectiveness of RSD broadcasts in those and surrounding areas. The day after the Special Forces seized the La Vega transmitter, a team of paratroopers and Green Berets slipped into the north and severed telecommunication lines. The operation failed to shut down the radio station, but it did disrupt the telephone system used by the rebels for tactical purposes. By 13 May, Palmer had had enough and requested permission from Washington to mount an overt military operation against RSD. Finally, during Operacion Limpieza, the Government of National Reconstruction captured Radio Santo Domingo.

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U.S. Navy Blue Eagle I

It was not just the Army that ran a psychological operations radio station. The Navy was also involved. In late 1964 Navy Capt. George Dixon became Manager of Project Jenny, the U. S. Navy operation to use aircraft to broadcast radio in support of psychological operations. He met with the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) concerning the feasibility of using an aircraft as a radio broadcasting platform. Although dubious, RCA agreed to provide equipment and technical expertise. The aircraft configuration and technical work was performed by Navy enlisted personnel.

The first "Blue Eagle" aircraft was constructed in January 1965 using a NC-121J Lockheed Super-Constellation shell. Blue Eagle I was the first project aircraft and configured to do AM, FM, and SW radio broadcast missions. A crew of naval officers and enlisted personnel was selected. Operational and flight training began in July 1965. In September 1965 Blue Eagle I was ordered to Naval Air Station Roosevelt Roads Puerto Rico to fly radio missions in support of U. S. PSYOP efforts in the Dominican Republic. Blue Eagle I was on station for approximately 2 weeks and then returned to Andrews AFB.

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The RCA TR-22 Video Tape Recorder

We learn more about the navy’s use of aircraft as propaganda platforms from Electronics Technician Second Class Chuck Hammond who was stationed at the Anacostia Naval air base from mid-1963 to November 1966. Chuck was assigned directly to Chief of Naval Operations for special assignments. He told me:

The equipment that we had in our possession at the time was two RCA TR-22 video tape recorders. I believe they were the first solid state recorders and used a 2” tape.

On about 12 May we were sent to Andrews Air Force base and deployed to Roosevelt Roads air base in Puerto Rico. On board the plane were the two video tape recorders and a diesel generator to provide power to them. We initially had RCA technicians come in and train us on-site. The diesel generator was 55 kilowatts which to me to be a case of overkill Our job was to maintain the recorders as the plane flew over the Dominican Republic and broadcast a TV signal. I don’t know what we broadcast since it was all in Spanish but it was surely a propaganda message.

Hewson A. Ryan, Associate Director USIA (Policy and Plans) was assigned the task of coordinating all PSYOP in the Dominican Republic. He had been involved in the Cuban missile crisis and as a result was aware of the need for air delivery of leaflets, radio and loudspeaker broadcasts. A temporary base of operations was set up in the home of the Public Affairs Officer near the American Embassy. The PSYWAR Battalion soon moved into a nearby school building. The Army supplied radio transmitters, mobile presses, multilith machines, loudspeaker trucks, and aircraft for leaflet and loudspeaker operations.

The Falkland Islands - 1982

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The Falkland Islands are approximately 8000 miles from Britain and the only major island group in the South Atlantic, about 300 miles east of Argentina and the continent of South America in the Strait of Magellan. The Buenos Aires government, which had declared its independence from Spain in 1816, claimed sovereignty over the Falklands. Britain began settling the islands and declared a colonial administration in 1842. Argentina never recognized the claim and historically has demanded that the islands be part of that nation.

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Argentine soldiers invade the Falkland Islands

Argentina decided to take the island by force. The campaign was originally named Operación Azul after the blue robe of the Virgin Mary, but later changed to Operación Rosario (Rosary) in what appears to be an attempt by the Argentine government to give the impression of a patriotic Catholic religious crusade. On 3 April 1982, the Argentineans attacked in force and after a furious battle with a small number of British defenders took the islands. The British established a naval task force under the code name Operation Corporate. They set sail for the Falklands at flank speed with a modern fleet consisting of a carrier battle group, destroyers, frigates, troop carriers, tankers and submarines. The British did eventually retake the islands but that is another story. Let’s talk about the British propaganda radio station.

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South Atlantic Radio - 1982

The Front of this British propaganda leaflet is all text:

Notice to the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands

I have the great pleasure of announcing to them a new radio station.

South Atlantic Radio will transmit news daily from

8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on a frequency of 9.71 MHz.

This broadcast will operate like an additional station

to the LRA National Radio of the Falklands.

The back of the leaflet bears the code “5” and the text:

From 8:00 to 11:00 p.m.

R. A. S. (inside a lightning bolt)

9.71 MHz frequency.

The 15th (UK) Psychological Operations Group says on its website:

A limited British PSYOP campaign was developed during the brief Argentine occupation and subsequent liberation of the Falkland Islands. A radio station was set up on the Ascension Island, known as “Radio Atlantico del Sur” and broadcast to Argentine troops and included music, news and sport.

A British government draft interim assessment for the radio station dating from about 12 May 1982 said in part:

The station must first build up credibility and “audience loyalty.” The advantages of radio’s immediacy will be wasted if either the programming is not ‘live’ or the necessary immediate material cannot be delivered to it. Broadcasts could at least persuade the Argentine conscripts to hesitate for even a fraction of a second before firing on British troops. At best they could, by keeping the hopelessness of their position in the minds of the garrison, persuade an earlier surrender than would otherwise be achieved.

The 2017 Report on the station adds:

Between 19 May and 15 June 1982 when the project ended, 47 broadcasts were made, three hours each evening between 2300-0200 hours and an hour in the morning between 0830-0930 hours. Argentinian attempts to jam were reported from the second broadcast but monitoring by the Task Force and by the American monitoring station in Paraguay confirmed that these efforts were largely ineffective at stopping broadcasts reaching the Falkland Islands, possibly because the jammers were in the Buenos Aires area.

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General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli

Leopoldo Galtieri was an Argentine general and President of Argentina from 22 December 1981 to 18 June 1982, during the last military dictatorship (known officially as the National Reorganization Process). He was removed from power soon after the British re-took the Falkland Islands, whose invasion and occupation he had ordered.

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Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli

Summary of British tape-recorded Spanish language broadcast


- News
- Current affairs
- Music (requests)
- “Sentimental break” with attractive girl presenter
- What the stars foretell

According to reliable reports tonight, efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Falklands conflict are on the verge of breaking down. In spite of continuing efforts by the UK at the United Nations to reach an acceptable settlement, the news is not hopeful. Opinion in the UK tonight is that an all-out attack on the Falklands is imminent. The UN Secretary-General has spoken of the negotiations being in their last hours. The UK has said that the Argentine reply to the latest UK proposals is not favorable.

Latest UK reports indicate that the British “tactical group” (task force) is in a state of readiness. Admiral Woodward has said that he is just waiting for the right moment. Softening-up of the defenses has started with bombing by Harriers from “Invincible.” The Ministry of Defense describes this as part of the plan to wear down the garrison. Later in the program there will be a review of the casualties to date and an assessment of the forces involved.

The attack on Pebble Island was carried out by the Special Air Service (SAS), using 12 teams of 4 men each; 11 aircraft were destroyed, as well as a munitions dump. The SAS is an elite force drawn from the British Army, specializing in clandestine military operations.

A British hospital ship has put in to Rio de Janeiro, with the permission of the Brazilian authorities, for treatment for a crew member suffering from concussion.

General Galtieri has appeared on Mexican TV. He said he felt the burden of responsibility for the loss of 400 men but would nevertheless be prepared to lose 4,000 or 40,000 more.

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Argentine Annie - Silvia Fernandez Barrios

Of course, Argentina retaliated with a very sexy sounding lady named Silvia Fernandez Barrios. Some of her radio comments after a rousing Hollywood orchestral version of the entrance of the chariots into the Roman Colosseum from Ben Hur were:

That was a good war tune, but it belongs of course to Roman Empire days. And empires today are not what they were, are they Mrs. Thatcher?

Grenada - 1983

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Maurice Bishop

The Grenada story began on 13 March 1979 when Maurice Bishop overthrew the legitimate government and established a communist society. The New Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation (New Jewel Movement) ousted Sir Eric Gairy, Grenada's first Prime Minister, and established a people's revolutionary government. Grenada began construction of a 10,000-foot international airport with the help of Cuba. There was speculation that this airfield could be used to land military fighters and transports, threatening South America and the southern United States.

The safety of these Americans became a factor when Maurice Bishop and several members of his cabinet were murdered by elements of the people's revolutionary army on 13 October 1983. The United States reacted to the bloody coup in Grenada within two weeks. On 25 October 1983, American troops landed on the beaches of Grenada.

Some aspects of the PSYOP campaign were carried out by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Reserve and National Guard. For instance, according to Retired Colonel Alfred H. Paddock writing in an article entitled “PSYOP: A Historical Perspective,” for Perspectives, Volume 22, Number 5 & 6, 2012:

Working with the 4th Group, the Navy’s Reserve Audiovisual Unit (NARU 186) produced a cassette tape of PSYOP messages and music which the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 193d Special Operations Group (then Coronet Solo) broadcast over radio to the Grenadian people concurrent with the landing of U.S. Marines and Army Rangers. The Navy deployed its mobile 10 kilowatt radio station (AN/ULT-3) which, together with Coronet Solo, provided coverage of the island until the Army’s 50 kilowatt set could be installed.

We learn more about the PSYOP broadcasts in Operation Urgent Fury - Grenada, Ronald H. Cole, Joint History Office, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1997:

Navy Admiral McDonald requested guidance on themes for PSYOPS broadcasts to the Grenadian populace. The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved McDonald’s concept the following day; radio broadcasts began on 28 October.

The Los Angeles Times of 15 November 1983 also mentioned the radio operations in an article entitled “U.S. Psychological Unit on Offensive in Grenada” written by staff writer Rone Tempest. The article says in part:

In the hours before the American invasion of this island on October 25th, a powerful new radio station began broadcasting from a Navy ship somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. In Spanish, it asked Cubans on the island to give themselves up. In English it asked Grenadians to open their home and help the friendly soldiers find opposing soldiers.

“Help protect your hard fought freedom” one such message boomed. “Help send the Cubans back to Havana where they belong.”

Stanley Sandler says in an article printed in Mindbenders, Vol. 9, No.3, 1995:

The 4th PSYOP Group distributed leaflets giving the Grenadian population guidance and information, and a newly-deployed 50-kilowatt transmitter, "Spice Island Radio,” broadcast news and entertainment throughout the island.

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The Grenada Radio Station antenna with wires cut by the U. S. Navy Seals

Radio Free Grenada was one of the first targets of American bombs. To replace Radio Free Grenada, the U.S. set up Spice Island Radio, under the overall control of the Psychological Operations Section of the Army. A twelve-man team of Navy journalists immediately flew in from Norfolk, recruited some local announcers, and Spice Island Radio was on the air. Their first broadcast called on Grenadians to lay down their arms. The head of the Navy team, Lt. Richard Ezzel, told Reuters, "We wanted to save lives.

An American radio PSYOP specialist added:

One of the first objectives was the island’s commercial AM transmitter. The Soviet Union had provided it. The control panel of the transmitter gave control functions in Russian. The locals had put labels in English below those controls. The US Navy sent in a Seal Team to quiet the transmitter just prior to the invasion. While the building exterior received a lot of light weapons damage, the transmitter was reasonably unscathed. The Navy cut the feed lines to the antenna to disable the transmitter. The US Navy’s PSYOP 10KW broadcast transmitter aboard ship off the coast of Grenada began broadcasting using a tethered balloon antenna.

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The TRT-22 transmitter

The 4th PSYOP Group brought in the TRT-22 and after several days of being bounced around from site to site, finally set up near the new airport at Port Salines. It was there several months.

Donald R Wooldridge told me about putting up the antenna. He was part of a 9-man team from Fort Huachuca, Arizona that installed the 250 foot TRT-22 antenna for the 4th PSYOP Group. He said:

Everything turned out well because of our leadership. We had a lot of problems with the supported unit and ended up sleeping outside of the building and got rained on every single day. We installed it in four days with a team that had seven members who just graduated from school.

FM 33-1-1, Psychological Operations Techniques and Procedures, mentions the antenna in Appendix K: “The PSYOP Dissemination Battalion Operational Procedures.” It says in part:

The AN/TRT-22 system is a radio production and broadcast system. The 50-kw AM transmitter can broadcast on any frequency from 535 KHz to 1620 KHz to a range of approximately 120 to 150 kilometers. The system is manned by one 8-man broadcast team from the radio platoon. The 256-foot antenna tower requires a special team to erect with an installation time of 5 to 7 days. This antenna erection team, which consists of one NCOIC and five enlisted personnel from the signal/communications support element at Fort Huachuca, AZ, must be deployed from other units; the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion does not have organic capability to erect this antenna.

The complete AN/TRT-22 system consists of nine S-280 shelters with dolly sets, two 200-kw generators, a large heliax cable spool, and a prime mover (M35A2). The system requires one C-5 for air transport. The AN/TRT-22 has limited mobility in that it is designed to be deployed to one location. The 50,000-watt transmitter requires two 200-kw generators working alternately for 24 hours of broadcast power consuming 568 to 605 liters of fuel per 24 hours.

The website of the 193d Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard adds:

The EC-130 was also used over Grenada, originally modified using the mission electronic equipment from the EC-121, known at the time as the Coronet Solo. Soon after the 193rd SOW received its EC-130s, the unit participated in the rescue of US citizens in Operation Urgent Fury, acting as an airborne radio station informing those people on Grenada of the US military action.

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Commando Solo

The Commando Solo's airborne radio station played an initial pre-invasion "warning" broadcast tape to the people of Grenada on 25 October, the first day of the American invasion. The tape was produced two days earlier on 23 October at the request of Army Lieutenant Colonel George Coburn, the PSYOP Plans officer of the Atlantic Command (LANTCOM) J58. A Naval Reserve PSYOP element, Naval Reserve Atlantic Fleet (LANTFLT) Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) Audiovisual Unit (AVU) 0286, drilling at Naval Air Reserve Norfolk assisted with the project.

The revised Radio Free Grenada began broadcasts within days of the invasion. Major General George Crist selected a group of local radio announcers to operate the station even before the new pro-American interim government was formed. Resistance was moderate and security was ensured on the island, opening the doors for a multilateral peacekeeping force with American and Caribbean troops to rebuild peace and stability on Grenada.

Cole says about Major General Crist:

On Grenada, Major General Crist immersed himself in PSYOP and politico-military affairs. After locating local radio announcers to broadcast on Radio Free Grenada, he worked with the Governor General to establish an interim government. By late 26 October, the ground force commanders on Grenada had provided Crist with many captured Cuban and Soviet documents. At Crist’s request the CIA sent several linguists to translate them. The captured documents included five military assistance agreements between the Bishop government, the Soviet Union, and Cuba which provided for the training of Grenadian soldiers in both countries. The documents indicated a Soviet promise of $30.5 million worth of uniforms, rifles, machine guns, antitank weapons, antiaircraft guns, and other military supplies to be delivered to Grenadian authorities over a five-year period. Crist recommended that Admiral McDonald display the weapons and copies of the documents to counter the mounting criticism of URGENT FURY in Canada and Western Europe.

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The Grenada Radio Fiasco

Perhaps the most famous fiasco was depicted in the Clint Eastwood movie Heartbreak Ridge. Enemy machine-guns pinned down navy SEALs assaulting the Governor-Generals mansion. Two American gunships flew overhead but the men on the ground were unable to communicate directly with them. There were major problems with the radios of the various services and communication was curtailed. As a result, one pinned-down American actually used his personal credit card to send a collect call from the mansion to Fort Bragg N.C to request a fire mission. The message was forwarded from North Carolina to the naval ships off shore and the fire order was carried out.


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A solar-powered FM radio station constructed in the Central African Republic.
Radio stations like this were established in remote villages to extend
the range of clear signals that could reach the Lord's Resistance Army.

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.

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Special Operations Command - Forward radio Station in Djemah, Central African Republic (CAR)

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 radio were:

The prominent Acholi radio personality John Baptist “Lacambel” Oryema reported that he prepared leaflets to advertise the Amnesty Statute and the subsequent Amnesty Act and carried them to rallies in northern Uganda. He also accompanied NRA military convoys into the bush to personally disseminate the leaflets. In 1996, Lacambel approached Ugandan People’s Defense Force spokesman Colonel Bantariza and asked him for access to the government radio station.

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Messaging by family members leads to mass defections from Kony

Bantariza gave Lacambel one hour of airtime per day. Lacambel used a cassette player to transmit pre-recorded messages designed for the LRA rebels and their family members. The UPDF also began leaving small radios in places for the LRA to find so that they could tune into the programming. Lacambel’s radio program, later called Dwog Paco (‘come home’), began broadcasting messages to individual LRA fighters by name. These messages made use of family members or former rebel comrades to increase credibility and arouse a sense of nostalgia. By the middle of 2004, more than 5,000 former LRA fighters had defected and applied for amnesty.

The Ugandan People’s Defense Force had conducted operations to promote defection as early as 1988 to reduce the strength of Kony’s forces and weaken the morale of those fighters who remained. These efforts were largely supported by regional FM radio stations which still broadcast testimonials by former abductees and fighters, as well as appeals by family members of those who were still assumed to be fighting for the LRA.

PANAMA – 1989

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General Manuel Noriega

General Manual Noriega led Panama from 1983 to 1989. He was a student and graduate of the U.S. Army Psychological Operations School. Noriega rose to power in 1983 and initially served as an important conduit for U.S. aid supporting the Nicaraguan Contras. He was simultaneously shipping arms to Marxist rebels in El Salvador, passing classified information to Cuba, Libya, and Warsaw Pact states, and dealing with terrorist organizations. The United States thought he was their man, but he belonged to the highest bidder. Secretary of State George Shultz observed: "You can’t buy Noriega, you can only rent him.” By the fall of 1989, the Noriega regime was barely clinging to power.

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Dignity Battalion members march in the street

Noriega's Dignity Battalions (irregular paramilitary units) also made a point of physically beating opposition leaders. Alone and trusting only his Dignity Battalions, Noriega started to harass Americans and made life unsafe for American troops, dependents and citizens. Newspapers in the United States wrote daily reports of Soldiers and their dependents being stopped, interrogated or beaten on the streets. On 15 December 1989, Noriega was given the title of Chief Executive Officer of the government by his legislature. The Noriega-led assembly then foolishly declared that a state of war existed between Panama and the United States of America. The next day Panamanian soldiers killed United States Marine First Lieutenant Robert Paz.

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President George Bush

On 20 December 1989, a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense was prepared on White House stationery and signed by George Bush. The memorandum stated in part:

In the course of carrying out the military operation in Panama which I have directed, I hereby direct and authorize the units and members of the Armed Forces of the United States to apprehend General Manuel Noriega and any other persons in Panama currently under indictment in the United States for drug related offenses.

The campaign to free Panama of Noriega and his dignity battalions was named Operation Just Cause. The invasion of Panama would take place on 20 December 1989 at 0100 local time.

U.S. military units stationed within Panama also attacked. The Americans struck with overwhelming force. It was the largest American combat operation since Vietnam. Twenty-seven sites were attacked simultaneously throughout Panama. The 75th Rangers and Navy SEALS also took part. The F-117 Stealth fighter saw action for the first time. The number of Panamanians killed in the operation was estimated at 200-300 combatants (soldiers and paramilitaries) and some 300 civilians. The U.S. lost 23 soldiers killed. Hundreds from both nations were wounded. The entire operation was over within a week and the withdrawal of U.S. forces began on 27 December.

Jaret M. Tracy wrote about PSYOP radio in Panama in an article titled “Spreading the Word Fast,” in VERITAS, volume 18, number 1, 2022.

With prefabricated products in hand, PSYOP soldiers quickly transitioned to “On the spot” broadcasts and original products. For example. The PSYOP Task Force was heavily involved in preparing scripts and acquiring news items and music adequate to keep the Panama City area receiving the VOLANT SOLO’S broadcasts and the nationwide audience receiving the AM radio station’s broadcasts 24 hours a day.

RADIO LIBERTY was located at Corozal. The TAMT-10 was a shelter mounted on a commercial flatbed trailer. The shelter contained a 10-watt tunable medium-wave AM transmitter, a 1000-watt shortwave transmitter, and basic audio production equipment for programming. A trailer contained the 125-foot quick-erect antenna and ancillary gear. VOLANT SOLO and RADIO LIBERTY comprised the bulk of the round-the-clock PSYOP effort until the PSYOP Task Force main body arrived on 24-25 December 1989.

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 radio operations:

Prerecorded TV, radio, and loudspeaker tapes; radio and loudspeaker scripts; were developed from 1987 to 1989. Upon activation of the 10,000-watt AM PSYOP radio station and initial assaults on 20 December, the new President of Panama, Guillermo Endara, communicated with the Panamanian masses principally through this station. Among his first announcements was that anyone turning in a weapon to U.S. forces would be paid $150 for it. The Panama population listened to, and complied with instructions from U.S. military PSYOP TV, AM radio, and loudspeaker broadcasts.

Radio Propaganda

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The “Little Bird” Shot Down during the Muse Rescue

An American citizen by the name of Kurt Muse living in Panama actively opposed President Noriega, secretly broadcasting anti-government radio broadcasts from his home. He broadcast on Voz de la Libertad and Radio Constitucionado (both 91.5 MHz). He was caught and arrested.

Delta operators were inserted onto the roof of the prison by MH-6 Little Bird helicopters under Operation Acid Gambit. After breaching the roof-top door, the Delta operators raced down the two flights of stairs towards Muse's cell. Muse's cell door was blown and Delta operators moved him to the roof, where they would be exfiltrated by MH-6 Little Birds back to the US base. During extraction from the prison, the Hughes MH-6 Little Bird helicopter transporting Muse crashed. Muse was uninjured. An armored personnel carrier from the 5th Infantry Division extracted Muse and the retrieval team.

Panama was besieged by American radio. The CIA was already broadcasting into Panama from Costa Rica, using their Radio Impacto. The U.S. Army broadcast on Radio Liberacion on medium wave from the U.S. Panama Canal base. The Southern Command Network increased its FM schedule at the start of the invasion. Elements of the 4th PSYOP broadcast The Voice of Liberty from a mobile transmitter from the opening of the campaign and remained on duty 24 hours a day. They claimed that 70% of the Panamanian people listened to the station for the latest unbiased news.

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Safe Conduct

There were numerous safe conduct passes prepared by American PSYOP troops during Operation Just Cause. Most of them are all in English on one side and Spanish on the other. One large 8 ½ x 5 ½ inch pass is all text:

Safe Conduct

This safe conduct pass is for use by the Dignity Battalions and Codepadi. The bearer of this pass, upon presenting it to any U.S. Military member or Public Panamanian force, will be guaranteed protection, medical attention, food, and shelter.

For more information tune into 1160 AM on your radio.

(Signed) Major General Marc A. Cisneros, Commanding General, U.S. Army South.

Safe Conduct

Author’s note: The Codepadi are “Institutional Committees to Defend the Country.”

This same pass also was printed in a smaller version, 4 ¼ x 2 ¾ inches. The message is identical.

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The TAMT-10 transmitter


The TAMT-10 transmitter system is a 10 KW Nautel medium wave AM transmitter with a pneumatically erected 125-foot folded monopole antenna. The estimated planning range radius is about 50 miles. It first saw action in Panama. The transmitter shelter was mounted on mobilizers for easy transport

In Psychological Operations, Air University Press, Maxwell AFB, AL, 1996, Colonel Frank L. Goldstein discusses the amount of PSYOP product used against Panama. He says:

By 8 January, The PSYOP task force had produced and disseminated over one million leaflets and handbills, 50,000 posters, 550,000 newspapers, and 125,000 units of miscellaneous other printed material. Volant Solo had conducted TV broadcasts for the first several days, the PSYOP AM radio station had been operating 24 hours a day, and countless messages had been aired on commercial radio and television stations and published in commercial newspapers. Loudspeaker teams continued to support tactical units by broadcasting advisories, interacting with the population, and providing timely PSYOP advice to US commanders.

We will end this article with a look at the radio operation used against Noriega as he hid in the Vatican embassy.

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PSYOP Loudspeaker Teams around the Vatican Embassy

President Bush offered a one million dollar reward for the capture of Noriega. On Christmas Eve, the general entered a Toyota sedan flying the papal flag in a Dairy Queen parking lot near San Miguelito and fled to the Vatican nunciature (embassy) where he requested refuge and sanctuary. The United States PSYOP troops surrounded the embassy and played loud music. The newspapers and magazines all believed that this was some kind of subtle sonic torture. They had a field day. The Associated Press said:

These guys are the fingernails on the blackboard…broadcast U.S. propaganda from bullhorns and blast rock music at the Vatican Embassy where Manuel Noriega was taking refuge, hoping to unnerve him.

The Washington Post News Service said:

With U.S. troops at the Vatican embassy continuing to wage psychological warfare against Noriega by blaring rock music over loudspeakers and greeting him with a hearty "Gooood Morning Panama," the general's small circle of supporters shrank further…

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PSYOP soldier speaks to the crowd outside the Embassy

There was no special selection of particularly awful mind-numbing music selected by the psywarriors to quickly drive Noriega into the open. In fact, just regular popular music of the times was played; whatever the troops had in their personal possession or whatever was requested or played by the local radio stations. A complete list of all the songs played was featured in the U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs After-Action Report Supplement, Operation Just Cause, Dec. 20, 1989 - Jan. 31, 1990.

The military radio station has stated that on 20 December 1989 they took no requests because they wanted the telephone lines kept open. The request lines were opened on 21 December. At first the requests were few, but gradually they picked up. The Marines asked for Guns and Roses' “Welcome to the Jungle,” the canine handlers requested Billy Idol’s “Flesh for Fantasy,” and the Special Forces wanted the Door’s “Strange Days,” "People are Strange," and "The End." Other calls were for patriotic songs like Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” and hard rock songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister.

On the 25th the station played Christmas music. On the 26th, they returned to taking requests. On the 27th and 28th the station played a lot of rock and roll. The requested play list is at least 95 songs long and contains such favorites as; “Born to run,” “Bring down the hammer,” “Dancing in the Streets,” “Hang ‘Em High,” “I Fought the Law and the Law Won,” “Judgment Day,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Run Like Hell,” “The Party’s Over,” “They’re Coming to Take Me Away,” “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Your Time is Gonna Come.”

By the 29th the station had ceased playing requests and returned to playing the “Top Forty” From Billboard’s “Top 100.” Requests kept coming in for music for Noriega but the station explained to each caller that they were no longer taking requests.

A report written at the time of the Noriega surrender stated:

SCN (Southern Command Network) Radio, which had been broadcasting for the Army Broadcasting Service since 1941, increased its FM schedule at the start of the invasion on December 20, 1989. It was primarily on the air to support troop morale by taking requests and playing Armed Forces Radio, CNN, and ABC programming, but on December 27 after Noriega took refuge in the Vatican Embassy, PSYOP began blaring it through mobile loudspeakers outside of the embassy compound.

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Noriega's "Mug" shot

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

In conclusion, the use of the radio got most of the publicity during this short war and as we have shown, it had nothing to do with wearing down or torturing the enemy. It was a way to keep conversations inside the building private. It worked. After this operation, radio was used in many police sieges or hostage negotiations and even interrogations. The door was opened for a new experimental way to try to weaken and exploit an enemy.


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The Official Department of Defense Poster showing the Strategy of the Ground War

Saddam Hussein fought Iran for eight years. The Unites States and his fellow Arab nations backed him believing that the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran were the greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East. At the end of the war Saddam found himself deep in debt to the Arab countries who had loaned money to Iraq. He owed 40 billion dollars to Kuwait alone. Worse, he felt that they had taken advantage of him. On 17 July 1990, he accused Kuwait of oil overproduction (which drove that price of Iraqi oil down on the world market) and theft of oil from the Rumailia Oil Fields. He claimed that Kuwaiti oil rigs were drilling diagonally into Iraqi oil reserves.

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Official Iraqi Saddam Hussein Patriotic Portrait Set

At about 0200 on 2 August 1990, seven divisions of Iraqi armor, mechanized infantry, helicopter forces, and the elite Republic Guard invaded Kuwait.Rumor has it that the Iraqis hoped to coordinate the invasion with a commando attack on the royal palace. Allegedly, the goal was to capture and execute the royal family. The invasion force of 120,000 troops and 2,000 tanks quickly overwhelmed Kuwait.

United Nations Security Council Resolutions 660 and 662 condemned Iraq's invasion and annexation and called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces.

There was also a brief war of words on the radio the day of the Iraqi invasion. Radio Kuwait broadcast at 2:05 p.m.:

O sons of Kuwait, O Arab nation. If the wolf lives as a recluse he will deceive, and if he shows goodness he is only pretending. The treacherous futile lie for which Kuwait is being invaded is a kind of base barbarism and high-handed superiority. God does not like the arrogant. O friends and brethren everywhere. In the same way Kuwait opened its doors to all honorable freemen with love and affection, now the entire population of Kuwait is appealing to you with one voice, whose echo is heard throughout the world: If you value Kuwait and its freedom, then Kuwait is calling you, so come to its rescue.

Baghdad (Voice of the Masses) answered 20 minutes later:

It seems that some mercenaries of the defunct regime abroad are trying to carry out desperate activities in favor of this regime and through exposed coordination with US and Zionist quarters. The Provisional Free Kuwait Government announces that those people do not represent Kuwait. Kuwait and its people are represented by their free government that has been formed to safeguard the interests and rights of the Kuwaiti people.

Radio Kuwait came back on the air at 6:30 P.M.:

Dear listeners everywhere. Do not be fooled by extraneous radio stations. Their news and bulletins are totally false. They are broadcasting poison through their propaganda, which should not be believed. Do not pay attention to what these radio stations are broadcasting. This is our radio station. It is the sole and official radio station, which is broadcasting its programs from Kuwait and in the name of Kuwait. This is Kuwait.

Bagdad (Voice of the Masses) issued Communiqué number 4 at 7:33 p.m.:

The sons of Kuwait know the facts regarding the continued acts of plunder of the people's money by Jabir Ahmad and his clique. Their wealth reached legendary figures, squandered in their pursuit of pleasure and deposited with their suspect partners. It is high time for returning these plundered funds to their rightful owners, the sons of the Kuwaiti people. Therefore the Provisional Free Kuwait Government has decided to confiscate all the money…whether this money is found in Kuwait or abroad. Our government warns foreign banks in which they deposited their money against any tampering with this money in a manner harming the Kuwaiti people.

On 3 August Kuwait Radio broadcast slogans, appeals and patriotic songs. The last thing they broadcast was the following appeal:

In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful. This is Kuwait. O Arabs, O brothers, O beloved brothers, O Muslims, your brothers in Kuwait are appealing to you. Hurry to their aid.

The station then immediately went off the air.

The TRT-22 Transmitter was convoyed to the East to Abu Ali on the Persian Gulf
Photo courtesy Veritas Magazine Roundup January 2023

By the end of 1990 most all of the PSYOP Dissemination battalion was in Saudi Arabia with the print presses and broadcast equipment.Production was in Riyadh and the transmitters were on hold until the Saudi’s would approve sites. The TAMT-10 was moved to north central Saudi Arabia, to the airport at al Qasuma (near Hafir al Batin). The TRT-22 was convoyed to the East to Abu Ali on the Persian Gulf. These systems were part of the Voice of the Gulf.

American Secretary of Defense Cheney met with King Fahd of Saudi Arabia on 7 August. As a result of that meeting, the 82nd Airborne Division and several U. S. A. F. fighter squadrons were permitted to deploy to Saudi Arabia for the protection of the Kingdom.

On 20 August 1990, President Bush signed National Security Directive 45, the “U.S. Policy in Response to the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait.” The U.S. objectives included the “immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait,” and the “restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government to replace the puppet regime installed by Iraq.” President George Bush authorized the first call-up of 40,000 Selected Reservists for 90 days active duty on 22 August 1990.

A U.N. ultimatum, Security Council Resolution 678, followed on November 29, 1990. It gave Saddam Hussein until 15 January 1991 to leave Kuwait. After that time, a coalition of American and allied troops was authorized to drive them out. Eventually, 30 nations joined the military coalition arrayed against Iraq, with a further 18 countries supplying economic, humanitarian, or other type of assistance.

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General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

On 17 January General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said in part:

Soldiers, sailors airmen and Marines of the United States central Command…You are a member of the most powerful force our country, in coalition with our allies, has ever assembled in a single theater to face such an aggressor. You have trained hard for this battle and you are ready. During my visits with you, I have seen in your eyes a fire of determination to get this job done quickly so that we may all return to the shores of our great nation. My confidence in you is total. Our cause is just! Now you must be the thunder and lightning of Desert Storm. May God be with you, your loved ones at home, and our country.

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4th PSYOP Group

Then-Major Jack N. Summe wrote an article titled “PSYOP Support to Operation Desert Storm” in Special Warfare, December 1992 He mentioned radio operations (edited for brevity):

Broadcast operations supported strategic, operational, and tactical efforts across the theater. Initial broadcast efforts consisted of developing a multinational-power video tape which described and projected the resolve, strength and technological superiority of the coalition forces arrayed against the Iraqis. The videotape [Major Summe is talking about the tape, “The Nations of the World Draw a Line in the Sand” that showed the Coalition’s military might] was intended to encourage support of coalition objectives in the region and to degrade the Iraqi will to fight by emphasizing the futility of standing against such a force. The videotape was produced and distributed throughout the Middle East, even in inaccessible areas such as Baghdad.

Other broadcast operations were limited primarily to radio broadcasts. Programs were broadcast from two sites in Saudi Arabia, Abu Ali and Qaysumah, and two EC-130 Volant Solo aircraft flew broadcast orbits over specific areas of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Broadcasts consisted of a two-hour radio program of Arabic music, selected news items, information and various PSYOP spot announcements. The emphasis here was to attract an enemy audience through the accuracy of the program’s news items concerning the Gulf conflict.

Indications of the operation’s success were the continual jamming efforts of Iraqi ground commanders and the ban on radios in Iraqi combat units. Post-test operations also indicated that 58 percent of all Iraqi soldiers questioned were exposed to broadcast operations, 46 percent believed the PSYOP message, and 34 percent were induced to surrender or defect.

Colonel Jeffrey B. Jones discusses the Psychological operations in an article entitled “Psychological Operations in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Urban Freedom, Special Warfare, July 1994

Before the Gulf War, during combat operations, and in the aftermath, approximately 650 soldiers from the 4th Psychological Operations Group and from reserve-component PSYOP units contributed to the coalition efforts. They provided radio and TV support, broadcast tactical loudspeaker messages and produced 29 million leaflets. PSYOP messages persuaded approximately 44 percent of the Iraqi army to desert, more than 17,000 to defect, and more than 87,000 to surrender. Integrating their efforts with those of the U.S. Central Command, 21 PSYOP soldiers, working with their Turkish counterparts in Joint Task Force Proven Force in southern Turkey and using radio broadcasts and leaflets, helped cause the defection, desertion and surrender of some 40,000 Iraqis — all without firing a shot.

The 8th PSYOP Taskforce provided support to Urban Freedom, the liberation of Kuwait City, and to Task Force Freedom, the consolidation operation in Kuwait, with the mission of re-establishing radio and print activities to support repatriation and settlement of the capital.

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 (edited for brevity):

After the Iraqi invasion, radio was identified as a key medium to reach target audiences. On 16 August 1990, the Commander-in-Chief, USCENTCOM, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., validated the requirement for multiple radio transmitters, although it took months for them to arrive in the theater and to be emplaced. The three radio systems deployed during Operation DESERT SHIELD and operational during DESERT STORM were the Transportable AM Transmitter – 10 kw (TAMT-10); the PSYOP Airmobile Dissemination System (PAMDIS); and the 50 kw AN/TRT-22.

There was an additional part of the story titled, “PSYOP Radio Systems in Operation Desert Shield.” Tracy said in part:

Owned by the Product Dissemination Battalion (PDB), the TAMT-10 was a radio production, transmission, and reception system, housed in an S-280 shelter and supported by a 125-foot antenna. Transporting the components required two M35 2½-ton trucks and a Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle or High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. Broadcast Company soldiers moved the TAMT-10 from King Fahd International Airport to Riyadh on 11 December 1990 and the next day to Al Qaisumah. The TAMT-10 was constructed, tuned, and operational within a week of arrival. 

The TV (left two), FM, and AM components of the PAMDIS.
Photo courtesy Veritas Magazine, Roundup January 2023

Joining the TAMT-10 in Al Qaisumah was a modular PAMDIS, also owned by the PDB. Transported and housed in rugged transportable cases and capable of being set up in five hours, the PAMDIS had two 40-foot antennas to facilitate broadcasting on television and FM radio. The TV system “was prepared to operate from [Al Qaisumah] but was never utilized due to the lack of a TV broadcast mission in that area.” Therefore, “only the FM system was put into operation, targeting Iraqi units in the tri-border area” utilizing programming feed from the TAMT-10 next door. The FM broadcast range was said to be as far as 60 miles.

AN/TRT-22 Configuration
Image courtesy Veritas Magazine, Roundup January 2023

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AN/TRT-22 transmitter components were housed in seven (only five shown) S-280 shelters
Photo courtesy Veritas Magazine, Roundup January 2023

AN/TRT-22 Audio Control Shelter and AN/TRT-18 Receiver Shelter
Photo courtesy Veritas Magazine, Roundup January 2023

Elsewhere, construction of a 50 kw AN/TRT-22 system just north of Al Jubayl on Abu Ali Island, Saudi Arabia, began on 8 January 1991. This site was selected “due to the conductivity of the surrounding soil and the amount of water between the transmitter and the target audience,” which gave the station a range of up to 250 miles, across the Persian Gulf and into Kuwait and southern Iraq.7 AN/TRT-22 transmitter components were housed in seven S-280 shelters, each with different contents and functions, with an AN/TRR-18 receiver in a separate S-280 shelter. PDB personnel would transport, assemble, operate, and maintain the AN/TRT-22 system. However, construction of the 250-foot antenna required outside expertise in the form of an eight-man team from the 1199th Signal Battalion at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, which arrived on 12 January 1991. Powering the station for round-the-clock operations were two 200-kw generators, each consuming 150-160 gallons of fuel daily. The transmitters at Abu Ali and Al Qaisumah, and the two EC-130 VOLANT SOLO aircraft from the 193rd SOG, would form the PSYOP-run radio network known as the Voice of the Gulf.

Major Peter A. Whitenack, USMC, discusses the PSYOP campaign in his 1993 thesis “An Analysis of Gulf War PSYOP and their applicability to Future Operations.”

Before Coalition forces fired the first shots in the Persian Gulf War, a different type of force had already been assembled for months, and was engaged in a pitched battle for dominance over Iraqi forces. Far away from headlines and newscasts, PSYOP initiatives were bombarding Saddam's empire in the form of wave upon wave of leaflet and radio assaults.

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4th PSYOP Group “Leaflets of the Persian Gulf War” Publication

The Central Command clandestine radio network, “Voice of the Gulf” broadcast from ground-based stations in Saudi Arabia and airborne transmitters on a pair of EC-130 Volant Solo aircraft on six frequencies 18 hours per day for 40 days reaching every Iraqi soldier in the KTO.

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A U.S. Army Reserve Loudspeaker Team Attached to the Marines

PSYOP Loudspeaker Team “Charlie” of the United States Army Reserve 245th Psychological Operations Company attached to 3/3 1st Marine Division - Task Force Taro. On the ground there is a stripped down LSS-40 loudspeaker system they disassembled and mounted on a PRC-77 Radio pack. They hold a surrender flag from the Iraqi infantry.

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B-52 Leaflet

General Schwarzkopf had served in Vietnam and remembered the effect of the “Rolling Thunder" B-52 raids on the enemy. He wanted those B-52s over the Iraqis, and he wanted to use PSYOP to frighten them and cause them to abandon their posts. Schwarzkopf came up with the idea of announcing to a designated Iraqi that they would be bombed on the following day. At first the Air Force was hesitant, but daily attacks on Iraqi radar and anti-aircraft sites and American electronic jamming aircraft had made the high-flying bombers reasonably safe from attack. Schwarzkopf wanted to announce a bombing attack on one day and hit the Iraqis the next. He figured they would have 24 hours of anticipation and worry. He would then drop a second leaflet that said something like "We told you we would bomb you and we did. We are going to bomb you again" As the leaflets were dropped, the Coalition's Voice of the Gulf radio station broadcast the same message. The Iraqi front-line divisions stayed glued to their radio hoping that their unit would not be designated as the next target.

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Gulf War radio broadcast

Newsweek magazine added in an article entitled “Secret Warriors” 16 June 1991:

The 4th PSYOP Group out of Bragg set up a special radio program to woo defectors. To compete with BBC and other international broadcasts, the PSYOP team had to offer something special. What the Voice of the Gulf began broadcasting, along with prayers from the Koran and testimonials from well-treated Iraqi prisoners, was precise information on the units to be bombed each day. Iraqi soldiers began tuning in. “It's a quick way to increase your market share," said PSYOP commander Col. Layton Dunbar, with a smile. Almost three quarters of the defectors coming over the border said the leaflets and broadcasts influenced their decision to go AWOL.


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 radio, it says in part: 

The Pamdis is an airmobile PSYOP dissemination system capable of broadcasting AM/FM radio and television signals in the commercial bands. The Pamdis systems consists of 2 subsystems: mobile and modular. The mobile system is contained inside an S-280 shelter mounted on the bed of a 2 ½-ton truck and had has AM, FM, and TV capability. The modular system is a repaid-deployment system that is housed in ruggedized transportable cases. It is capable of FM radio and television broadcast.

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The Blu-82 “Daisy Cutter” Bomb

The Giant Blu-82 “Daisy Cutter” leaflets were dropped by the 8th SOS on at least four occasions between 6 February and 16 February 1991. At the same time these bombs were dropped the Coalition radio warned the Iraqis

Brave Iraqi soldiers. Tonight some of you are going to die. Your families will miss you. May Allah rest your souls.

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Coalition Radio Leaflet

The front and back of this leaflet is identical. An Iraqi officer tunes to the Coalition radio as two of his soldiers listen, and the text:

Please turn your radio to medium wave 1134 KHZ daily.

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The Voice of Liberty Card

The folded card has The Voice of Liberty at the top and below:

Pulse cycle: Frequencies: 630 KHZ medium wave
1053 KHZ medium wave
1341 KHZ medium wave
Daily between 12 noon and midnight

The back was a calendar and there was an unsubstantiated rumor that the horizontal and vertical boxes of the calendar on the back of this "Voice of Liberty" radio card were used to send coded messages to the Underground. This is doubtful, but a lot of soldiers believed the story and one Special Forces Captain whispered it in my ear, so maybe it is true.

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Flag of Great Britain

A British Joint Services Command and Staff College abstract says:

The United Kingdom’s contribution to the coalition PSYOP effort in the Gulf consisted of only 3 officers, whose energies were largely focused on radio in the form of the “Voice of the Gulf.” It has been assessed that since the Voice of the Gulf gave accurate details of forthcoming coalition air strikes, there was an overriding imperative for the average Iraqi soldier to listen. Despite the strenuous efforts on the part of the Iraqi leadership to apply brutal censorship measures, approximately 50,500 (58%) of all Iraqi prisoners reported hearing the station, with the overwhelming majority (88%) acting upon the instructions it broadcast. The success of U.S. led PSYOP in the Gulf provided considerable impetus to review and develop the UK PSYOP capability.

Philip M. Taylor in Munitions of the Mind: A history of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Day, Manchester University Press, UK, 2003, says that there was CIA involvement in Desert Storm.

The latter consisted of black radio transmitters posing as Iraqi stations manned by internal enemies of Saddam Hussein. Because none could supposedly detect the genuine source of messages broadcast by these stations, they were able to deviate from the official coalition line that desert Storm was about the liberation of Kuwait and not about the overthrow of Saddam Hussein…Black radio stations therefore carried messages encouraging an internal revolt within Iraq , but when signs of success in doing this appeared towards the end of the war in the form of Kurdish and Shia uprisings, no actual military support was forthcoming from the West. This was another classic example of the dangers of policy and propaganda getting out of step.

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Kuwaiti Consolidation Radio Leaflet

This leaflet depicts a Radio station at left and the seal of Kuwait at the right. The text is:

Listen to Radio Kuwait on FM frequencies 92.5, 97.5, 87.9, and 98.8 MHZ

Listen to Radio Kuwait on AM frequencies 1341 KHZ, 1134 KHZ, and 540 KHZ

Iraqi Radio Propaganda

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Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf
Iraqi Minister of Information

The main purveyor of audio and Television propaganda during the Gulf war was the Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf. He became quite a favorite among Coalition troops and the American public. No matter how black things were, how beaten the Iraqi Army was, or how bleak things looked for the Iraqi Air Force, he regularly came on the air to state that the news was nothing but American lies and the Iraqis were victorious everywhere. He soon earned the name of “Baghdad Bob.”

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

Prior to the invasion, Iraqi broadcast capabilities included two prime-time television broadcasts, two domestic radio services – “Baghdad Domestic Service” and “Voice of the Masses” (VOM) – and shortwave radio broadcasts of VOM in Kurdish, Turkoman, and Assyrian. Shortly after the invasion, Iraq seized several Kuwaiti media centers and began operating the Provisional Free Kuwait Government Radio Program. They also implemented at least five additional shortwave radio programs destined to undermine the Saudi and Egyptian governments and the morale of Arab troops in the Gulf.

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Baghdad Betty

Probably the most famous purveyors of Iraqi propaganda were radio personalities Baghdad Betty and Iraqi Jack. Iraq's anti-Coalition radio programming started in early August 1990, shortly after the arrival of the 82nd Airborne Division. The radio shows were taped and about two hours in length. The tapes were replayed multiple times during the day in the hopes of getting their message to the largest possible audience. Before each show ended the announcer would inform the listeners what time the next broadcast would be aired. This notification became more important with the initiation of the air campaign as transmissions became more irregular.

The shows were reportedly broadcast from downtown Baghdad, which was about 500 miles from the Coalition forces. Baghdad Betty first broadcast in English to Coalition troops in Saudi Arabia in early September 1990. The format for the broadcasts typically included a mix of popular top 40 hits, "Oldies" and some "Blues" music by contemporary artists.

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A soldier takes a break to listen to the radio during the Gulf War

Unfortunately for Iraq, although the music selections were attractive to the target audience, the text was both silly and absurd. The Iraqi propaganda machine ignored the first rule of PSYOP, “Know and thoroughly understand your target audience.” Iraq's propaganda developers had a predetermined opinion of life in the United States and it clearly showed in their perception of American culture. Their misguided presentations clearly destroyed any credibility that they could have hoped for. Betty's efforts to broadcast morale-busting messages to troops in the Gulf were, like most of Iraq's military efforts, a failure. Her alleged comments that the American soldier's wives were in bed with Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis and Bart Simpson made Iraqi radio a constant source of jokes on late-night American television.

Saddam Hussein was similarly unimpressed. In mid-December 1990, he sacked Betty after three months of broadcasting and replaced her with a bevy of announcers who called themselves the "Mother of Battles Radio." Unfortunately for them, Mother of Battles Radio was near the top of the Allied target list and was bombed off the air in mid-January, when the mother of air wars began.

American PSYOP troops then used the same frequency, and in partnership with Saudi Kuwait and Egyptian forces, they broadcast in Arabic 18 hours per day for 40 days. They transmitted from two ground stations in Saudi Arabia, a platform in Gulf waters and a transmitter in Turkey. Jones continued:

“Thanks to Saddam we were pretty effective. The Iraqi soldier was betrayed by Saddam. Hey were ill-supported and vulnerable to everything we broadcast, which was basically just the truth.”

Curiously, Baghdad Betty turned out to be an efficient broadcaster when not reading badly written Iraqi propaganda. North told me:

In 2003 I was Senior Advisor and Journalist trainer at the Iraq Media Network in Baghdad, a radio and TV station organized by the Pentagon. The woman who had been "Baghdad Betty" was hired and under supervision became a valued announcer on Iraq Media Radio.

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An Iraqi Radio Leaflet I09

On this leaflet an Iraqi soldier listens to radio marked “USA.” Saddam wants his soldiers to ignore the Coalition radio. The text is:

It is part of psychological warfare

This might be the best PSYOP leaflet prepared by the Iraqis. It is a morale leaflet for their own soldiers and reminds them that the Coalition radio is filled with lies and they should ignore it. The problem was that the Coalition was broadcasting day and night on several frequencies and telling the Iraqis the truth about the war. It was their only real source of information. There was not much chance that they would stop listening.

Somalia – 1992

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The United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM I) was set up to facilitate humanitarian aid to people trapped by civil war and famine. The mission developed into a broad attempt to help stop the conflict and reconstitute the basic institutions of a viable State. From November 1991, there was heavy fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu between armed elements allied to various warlords. In resolution 767 of 27 July 1992, the Security Council approved the proposal to establish four operational zones - Berbera, Bossasso, Mogadishu and Kismaayo. The first group of U.N. security personnel arrived in Mogadishu on 14 September 1992. On 3 December 1992, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 794. The Council welcomed the United States offer to help create a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid in Somalia and authorized, under Chapter VII of the Charter, the use of "all necessary means" to do so.

Radio Psychological Operations

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Somalia Radio Leaflet

The U.S. did produce one radio leaflet to advertise its radio station. The leaflet is uncoded and depicts a family of five in silhouette, hand-in-hand, in front of a radio. Text on the back is:

Lieutenant General Bir, Commander of the UNOSOM Forces will make a speech to the people of Mogadishu.

Date: 7 October 1993
Time: All day repeatedly
Station: Radio Maanta –
Short Wave: 31 / 9.540 KHZ, daytime.
Medium Wave: 49 / 6.170 KHZ, nighttime.

The American Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) was comprised of approximately 125 members of the U.S. Army’s 4th PSYOP Group, and several of its subordinate battalions. Four days after the arrival of the main contingent of forces in Mogadishu, the JPOTF began publishing a daily newspaper and broadcasting a daily radio program — both called RAJO, which is Somali for “HOPE.”

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A soldier from the U.S. Joint PSYOP Task Force produces material for broadcast over Radio Rajo

Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Borchini told me:

I managed a radio station that broadcast daily programs, supervised and trained local employees; edited a daily newsletter, translated leaflets, handbills, posters, and handbooks; and produced mine awareness literature and recorded loudspeaker messages.

Abdi Hirad

It was not only the military performing PSYOP. One of the civilians working 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 second operation in Somalia (Operation United Shield), I was in Fort Bragg from November to December 1994, and then deployed off the coast of Mogadishu aboard the USS Belleau Wood to March 1995. My main duties included: Service as a civilian linguist with the Joint Psychological Operation Task Force; deployed with the PSYOP Group and monitored and translated daily radio broadcasting of local languages; and summarized local newspapers to gauge the sentiments of the population.

In late 1994, the United States, USOCOM, and foreign troops from numerous nations were ready to leave Somalia. There was fear that the warlords and their Somali fighters might interfere with the withdrawal. Leaflets were prepared to tell the Somalis where to listen to get the latest news.


Leaflet RET01I

The objective the next two leaflets were to inform the residents of Mogadishu of a new U.N. radio station. This leaflet depicts a portable radio at the center with its sound waves reaching Somalia flags implying that the Somalis should listen to the U.N. radio broadcasts. Four U.S. flags are at the corner which tells the Somalis that the Americans are behind the broadcasts. The Somalis did not fear the U.N. much, but they knew the Americans would shoot to kill. The text has the name of the radio and the frequency (to be added later), and:

Saturday through Thursday

1000-1200 and 1900-2100

News, Music, Stories, Poems


Leaflet RET02I

This leaflet depicts a portable radio and a microphone. The flags of Somalia and the United States represent cooperation in the radio programs. The text has the name of the radio and the frequency (to be added later), and:

News, Music, Stories, Poems

1000-1200 and 1900-2100.

In both cases the PSYOP specialists were watching the acceptance of the programs and hoping for an increased audience to show that the leaflets were making an impact.

For the second operation in Somalia (Operation United Shield), I was in Fort Bragg from November to December 1994, and then deployed off the coast of Mogadishu aboard the USS Belleau Wood to March 1995. My main duties included: Service as a civilian linguist with the Joint Psychological Operation Task Force; deployed with the PSYOP Group and monitored and translated daily radio broadcasting of local languages; and summarized local newspapers to gauge the sentiments of the population.

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The 4th PSYOP Group published a book entitled

Psychological Operations in Support of Operation Restore Hope in late 1993

The 4th PSYOP booklet mentions the use of radio as a PSYOP medium:

As a compliment to the RAJO newspaper, the JPOTF established a radio station on the US Embassy compound. Radio RAJO conducted a 45-minute Somali language broadcast twice daily on AM, FM, and short wave. The program included a reading from the Koran, a reading of the RAJO newspaper articles, selections of Somali poetry and short stories, news about Africa, significant events throughout the world, and Somali music. After extensive antenna adjustments, the radio programs broadcasted over short wave eventually reached every city and town in Somalia where UNITAF forces were deployed.

The quality of the PSYOP radio improved with the arrival of Abdullah Omar Mohammed. He was a naturalized citizen who was born in Mogadishu, and a contract interpreter for the State Department. He told the Americans not to broadcast a weather report. Weather comes from Allah, and it would be presumptuous for the Americans to attempt to guess what God might do next. He also insisted that the broadcasts start with a passage from the Koran. The station then played a Somali song and the local news. After that, the station played upbeat American music, which was a favorite of many Somalis.

Radio RAJO began broadcasting with 600 watts. It was first heard on 1480 kHz but in January 1993 was heard on the short-wave frequency 9540 kHz. The humanitarian mission was multinational so the station later identified itself as the "Voice of the United Task Force." When UNOSOM II took over the station it became Radio MANTA (“TODAY”) broadcasting on both the old frequency of 9540 kHz as well as 6170 kHz. Italian psychological operations troops also broadcast Radio Ibis on 89.7 MHZ FM.

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

Psychological operations were also used extensively to support operations in Somalia. UNITAF established a Joint PSYOP Task Force made up primarily of elements of the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to ensure that information operations were effectively integrated into all plans and operations in theater. PSYOP troops ran a local newspaper (called Rajo—the Truth) and set up a radio broadcasting system.

Eight Coalition missions were combat sorties flown over the streets of Mogadishu between 11 and 17 June. As part of the initial strike against Aideed, three gunships flew over Mogadishu on 11–12 June and used their 105-mm. and 40-mm. cannons to demolish two weapons storage facilities and cripple RADIO MOGADISHU, Aideed’s propaganda station, by destroying its transmission capability.

Although the UN operated a radio station and small newspaper in Mogadishu, they were used as information media as opposed to PSYOP. The aversion to the use of PSYOP within the UN civilian community may have contributed to this situation. In future operations, where PSYOP is necessary, we may need to find a new name for it. U.S. PSYOP, public affairs, and civil affairs forces should procure contingency radio stocks to enhance radio reception for future peace operations.

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The Italian PSYOP Contingent

The Italian military contingent in Somalia produced PSYOP leaflets, newspapers and radio broadcasts. The Italian psychological operations troops broadcast on Radio IBIS on 89.7 MHZ FM. The station only broadcast music and messages from Italy for the Italian armed forces. The few messages that they did send to the Somali people were concerning medical treatment and vaccinations. Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Borchini said more about the Italian PSYOP campaign in his personal monograph "Psychological Operations Support for Operation Restore Hope." He says:

The Italian forces came to Somalia confident in their ability to deal with the Somali people. Based on their historical relations, many Somalis spoke Italian, and the Italians believed that they would have a special relationship with the Somalis. This probably was true to some extent.

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The German PSYOP Contingent

This German operation is discussed in a 1999 British Joint Services Command and Staff College Defense Research Paper by Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon. He says in part:

The German PSYOP organization is Das Fernmeldebataillon 950 Operative Information. This battalion, based in Andernach, consisted of 709 regular personnel with a Headquarters Company and a Company Two, which produced radio and television programs (live or video). The produced a weekly 45 minute radio program called Radio ANDERNACH from Andernach, Germany. Its programs targeted the Somali population to support and explain the UNOSOM II mission.

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Warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed

The NY Times of 24 June 1993 mentions the United Nations military campaign against Mogadishu warlord and clan leader Mohammed Farah Aideed and mentions that the warlord had his own radio station:

American gunships bombed the clan leader’s weapon depots and Radio Mogadishu, the site used for General Aideed’s broadcasts.

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Lieutenant General Anthony Zinni

American Lieutenant General Anthony Zinni noted in Battle Ready that bombing Aideed's radio station wasn't necessarily a good idea:

The months to follow would show that the UN failed to learn this lesson. Instead of countering Aideed’s hostile media blasts in kind, they tried to close down his radio station. Freedom of the press has to work both ways; we don’t shut down the radio stations just because we don’t like what is broadcast. The resulting confrontation was the opening of the violent war between the UN and Aideed.

When UNOSOM II replaced UNITAF, it broadcast on the radio and published a newspaper with a new name. Instead of Radio RAJO, UNOSOM used the name Radio MANTA (Radio Today). The radio station was operated on shortwave by the United Nations staff in Mogadishu. Radio Manta began broadcasting on 4 May 1993 following the handover of the international operation in Somalia from the US-led Unified Task Force (UNITAF) to the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). It broadcast news, inquiries about missing persons, songs, plays and poems. The station transmitted in the Somali language from two 600-watt shortwave transmitters. Their schedule was as follows: 0415-0500, 1000-1045, 1100-1145 and 1300-1345 on 9540 kHz. The station also broadcast at 1600-1645, 1700-1745 and 1900-1945 on 6170 kHz. The radio signal was not strong enough to reach all over Somalia.

SERBIA – 1992

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I could have picked a few different start dates for this section on the Balkans. Serbia tried to cleanse Bosnia, Kosovo and Croatia from about 1992 to the end of the decade. I start with 1992 since that seems to be when the concept of a Greater Serbia began its rampage.

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Slobodan Milosevic

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

Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from the Yugoslav Federated Republic. In Croatia, ethnic Serbs and Croats begin a long, bloody conflict. Serb snipers fired on peaceful demonstrators in Sarajevo, marking the beginning of the war. The West recognized Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state. The UN imposed sanctions on Yugoslavia. There were new reports of "ethnic cleansing," a policy of slaughtering Muslim inhabitants of towns or driving them away in order to create an ethnically pure region. There were reports of concentration camps and mass rapes.

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Operation Shining Hope Bumper Sticker

The bumper sticker above was attached to all U.S. relief supply cartons and cases. Although SHINING HOPE was a NATO venture, the U.S. senior officers wanted to ensure that relief supplies from the U.S. were clearly identified.

Milosevic’s actions forced the United Nations to deploy peacekeeping forces and begin humanitarian relief operations. Operation Provide Promise began on 2 July 1992. Twenty-one nations formed a coalition to resupply war-torn Sarajevo with food and medicine. The U.N. established "no-fly" zones over Bosnia. The United States mediated an agreement between the Bosnians, the Bosnian Croats, and the Government of Croatia to form a federation of Bosnians and Croats. This ended the fighting between these factions.

The Serbs continued to act aggressively toward their neighbors. This forced NATO to undertake an intensive, month-long bombing campaign in August 1995. These air strikes produced the desired effect. A cease-fire went into effect in October, and peace talks began on 1 November 1995. These negotiations produced the framework for peace known as the Dayton Peace Accords. US Servicemen came to Bosnia in December 1995 as part of the Implementation Force (IFOR), the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia created under the Dayton accords.

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The “Rock of the Balkans” radio leaflet

A number of leaflets were prepared and distributed during this phase of the forced peace. IFOR had a radio station in Tuzla that played music, news and sports for the people. The Allies produced a standard radio leaflet that showed a radio antenna at the left and identified the station as:

Radio IFOR - Tuzla - Rock of the Balkans - 1017 kHz

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'Rock the Balkans" Radio Station in Tuzla

The number and location of the IFOR/SFOR radio stations varied throughout the operations. Originally, IFOR set up five radio stations located in the five most populated cities across the country: Sarajevo, Tuzla, Banja-Luka, Mrkonjic Grad, and Mostar (struck down by a lightning on 14 September 1996). During the first six months of SFOR operations, the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force operated three radio stations in Sarajevo (Radio Mir), Brcko, and Coralici. In the fall 1997, the French agreed to man and operate a new station in Mostar. These radio stations operated at least 18 hours a day with music, news bulletins and messages

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Radio Mir Sticker

Programming on Radio Mir consisted of: Current news five times a day; “Classic” rock and roll, “Top 40” hits, Rhythm and Blues, “Eurohits,” and local area music; Interviews with SFOR commanders and the Office of the High Representative; and Broadcast talk shows with guest radio station personalities from local stations.

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A PSYOP interpreter talks with residents of Brcko,
Bosnia, to get their opinions of the SFOR-sponsored "Radio Mir"
(Photo by Henry S. Block)

Major John Mills discusses “PSYOP: Radio Operations in Bosnia,” in Special Warfare, fall 2001. He notes that from January 1997 to August 1997, elements of the United States Army Reserve's 11th Psychological Operations Battalion and personnel attached from other USAR PSYOP battalions deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina. He says in part:

After brainstorming numerous concepts, we hit on the solution - radio. Our radio-production capability was limited. Radio Mir in Sarajevo was producing various types of music tapes that contained intermittent soft-sell, radio-announcer voice-overs. We decided to use radio to broadcast translations of open-source information from existing international news media (Reuters, the Associated Press and United Press International) to supplement the information products produced by the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force.

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A PSYOP specialist (left) and one of the local Bosnian
interpreters prepare to broadcast from inside an MSQ-85 shelter

We needed a dedicated broadcast booth and professional-quality equipment. The answer was an MSQ-85B shelter. The MSQ-85B mobile audiovisual shelter was at the time one of the primary systems of the PSYOP community. This HMMWV-mounted shelter was fielded during the 1980s. The shelter provided a complete capability for recording, editing and reproducing audio and video products. Had it been equipped with an FM transmitter, it would have been a complete broadcast studio.

Our major objective was to put out a message that would forcefully explain the Stabilization Force’s (SFOR) right, under international law and under the Dayton Peace Accords, to seize indicted war criminals. We translated press releases from the Coalition Press Information Center, or CPIC, in an attempt to counter the tirade of messages being broadcast in Serbian controlled areas. Each week, at Radio Tuzla, we produced and broadcast a 30-minute show that came to be titled "The Week in SFOR."

From January to August 1997, the information campaign in Bosnia used local radio to communicate the SFOR message to the formerly warring factions. While it was difficult to precisely measure the program's effectiveness, the success of the combined efforts of the SFOR was reflected by a lack of active hostilities. The radio program laid the groundwork for establishing long-lasting relationships with the local radio-station managers and personnel - some of the people who controlled what was being communicated in Bosnia.

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A member of the PSYOP TASK Force (POTF) displays a box of the
audio tapes prepared for the distribution to Bosnian radio stations.

U.S. Army Reserve Major Thomas Bergman was a member of the 18th PSYOP Company, 10th PSYOP Battalion, 7th PSYOP Group. He was activated in December of 1995 for a tour in Bosnia. His unit provided the first U.S. Army Reserve PSYOP soldiers in Bosnia reporting to the 4th POG. In regard to the radio comments above he says:

I approached several Tuzla radio stations and pitched the idea of a weekly hourly call-in talk show where we could give out current news and answer questions from the populace. Radio Tuzla agreed and in early spring 1996 I began conducting a weekly show with the aid of my interpreter.

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Flag of Great Britain

Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon discusses the British and French effort in a Joint Services Command and Staff College Defense Research Paper:

The British deployed up to 14 members of their 15th PSYOP Group to support the US led NATO PSYOP or IFOR Information Campaign. In mid-March 1996, the British troops achieved the capability to produce their own printed products. By late March 1996, the British Divisional PSYOP element had print, reproduction, audio/radio, video and other imagery capabilities and three Land Rovers and trailers. By spring 1996, IFOR had established a strong link with the independent radio station in Banja Luka, (“Radio Big”). Personnel from IFOR appeared on a weekly show that combined music, conversation and questions from a live audience to deny any rumors and misconceptions and to promote a greater understanding of IFOR’s role.

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

In the Multinational Division Southwest area, controlled by the United Kingdom, the importance of PSYOP was recognized early. The UK military, drawing upon its extensive experience in Northern Ireland as well as its intimate familiarity with the region as part of the UN Protection Force, knew the critical importance of the battle for Bosnian "hearts and minds." Thus they requested deployment of US tactical PSYOP soldiers and radio broadcast equipment.

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Flag of France

Multinational Division Southeast, under the control of the French, originally kept PSYOP at arm's length. The French also seemed to mistrust the motives of the US PSYOP personnel, who dominated the early effort in Bosnia. Over time, the French began to accept increased US PSYOP support, including a PSYOP radio station in Mostar and a small group of US tactical PSYOP soldiers who disseminated materials. The French frustration with the US/NATO PSYOP product approval process contributed to their desire to develop their own capability in order to influence the PSYOP context more directly. This led to the establishment of a French-run PSYOP radio station and creation of a French/Spanish/German PSYOP print product development capability in Mostar, all with virtually no oversight from the PSYOP Task Force headquarters in Sarajevo.

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Flag of Belgium

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Radio Horizon Flyer

Belgium has a small PSYOP Support Element (PSE) unit called the Information Operations Group (Info Ops Grp) consisting of about 30 regular military personnel and selected reservists as needed. After the loss of ten Belgian paratroopers in Rwanda in 1994, the Belgians realized the need for a PSYOP unit of their own. Their first operation was in late 1999 in Kosovo where they installed a PSYOP radio station called “Radio Horizon” in the Belgian camp called “ Center City ” in the French-occupied section of Kosovo in Leposavic.

In early 1999, the Serbs again seemed intent on purifying their lands of all foreign ethnic groups. Television reports told of thousands of ethnic Albanians persecuted, raped, or murdered. This time the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took action. NATO demanded full compliance with UN Resolution 1199 of 23 September 1998. The resolution called for all parties to cease hostilities. At a meeting held 15 March 1999, the Kosovar separatists agreed to a cease-fire, but the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic refused. NATO warned that refusal to cease hostilities against the Kosovar civilians would lead directly to military force. After a week of Serbian refusals, the 19-member organization unanimously agreed to initiate air strikes. The first occurred at 1400 on 24 March 1999. NATO aircraft pounded military and political targets within Serbia as part of "Operation Allied Force." Fighter aircraft later attacked Serb military forces in Kosovo.

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Allied Radio Leaflet

This leaflet gives the frequencies of five radio and a television channel that the people could tune in to receive NATO radio and television broadcasts. NATO aircraft dropped 1.2 million copies of this radio leaflet. The leaflet was called “Radio Ad” by NATO. The front depicts text and the NATO Symbol. The text is:

FM 87.9    AM 1003

FM 102.2    FM 106.4

TV 21

We want to talk to you.

The text on the front of the leaflet is:

Mornings in Belgrade.

Interviews with world leaders.

News: international and regional.

Messages to the Serb people. NATO policy statement.

NATO allied voice. Radio and television station.

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Destination the Hague
War Criminals will face Trial

Retired Major Robert J. Jablonski, United States Army Reserve, Co, B, 13th PSYOP Battalion served in the Stabilization Force (SFOR) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from 2002 to 2003 told me:

As the Media Director I was responsible for the creation and dissemination of print, radio and video product throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina (BIH). The PSYOPS main mission was to “Create a supportive atmosphere and willingness to cooperate among the parties in conflict and civilian population in the area of operations.”

“Destination the Hague” was a PSYOP product done by Stabilization Forces of NATO by the PSYOPS Support Branch (PSB) in Sarajevo Bosnia-Herzegovina as a companion product to a one-hour documentary on the Hague Tribunal.

The program’s name was “Viking” and its main focus was to drive a wedge between the Persons Indicted for War Crimes and the local populace. The majority of the war criminals were highly regarded military and civilian leaders in the former Yugoslavia and were held in high regard by their respective people. Our goal was to discredit them in general with an inevitability theme and we paired it with the promise of a fair trial at the International Criminal Tribunal (The Hague).

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

The entire Kosovo operation was studied in depth in Lessons from Kosovo: The KFOR Experience, Larry Wentz, The Command and Control Research Program, 2002. He said:

The KFOR information operations “weapons of choice” were public information, PSYOP, Civil-Military Cooperation, and the Joint Implementation Commission. Use of disinformation and deception were not allowed. Only “white” PSYOP was employed, and there was no KFOR-led counterpropaganda campaign in spite of extensive use of propaganda by the Serbs. The general rule of thumb was “do not react to disinformation. Instead, react to selective issues of importance and tell the truth.”

The 315th U.S. Army Reserve PSYOP company consisted of a tactical PSYOP detachment with three tactical PSYOP teams (TPT) and a product development detachment (PDD), located at Camp Bondsteel. The PSYOP team used print media, radio, television, and face-to-face dissemination. The PDD could generate print products in 12 hours or less once approved. Radio scripts could be done in less than 2 hours. However, getting product approval for dissemination could take up to 12 days.

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1998 Informational Radio Leaflet

In addition to producing and disseminating fliers, handbills, posters, and other print products, the PSYOP Company was capable of producing radio and television programming. There were two Serbian radio stations, Radio Max in Silovo and Radio Zupa in Brezovica. There were seven Albanian stations under contract: Radio Festina in Urosevac, Radio Victoria in Gnjilane, Radio Iliria in Vitina, Radio TEMA in Urosevac, Radio Energji in Gnjilane, Radio Pozaranje in Pozaranje, and Radio Kacanik in Kacanik. UNMIK ran a joint Albanian/ Serbian radio station in Kamenica. The number of contracted radio stations grew from six regional stations in April 2000 to fourteen by the end of July with coverage that extended to all seven municipalities across the brigade’s sector.

Haiti – 1994

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Jean-Bertrand Aristide

In December 1990, the people of Haiti elected former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President with 67% of the vote. He took office in February 1991, but the military overthrew him in September of the same year. The United Nations passed Resolution 970 which imposed an oil and arms embargo aimed at forcing the Haitian military to the negotiating table. As a direct result of the embargo, over 21,000 Haitians left the poverty-stricken country, many attempting to illegally enter the United States.

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Haitians at Sea being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard

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General Raoul Cedras

General Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian armed forces, signed an agreement on 3 July 1993, which approved the return of President Aristide by 30 October 1993. These were known as the Governors Island Accords.

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The air-dropped Radio for Haiti bought in bulk from Radio Shack

On 18 June 1994, the U.S. created a Military Information Support Team (MIST) in Washington, DC. The MIST consisted of soldiers from the 4th Psychological Operations Group and a number of Creole speaking civilian linguists. Two radio stations were created: Radio DEMOCRACY, an FM station focused on delivering Aristide's message and Radio AM 940, which carried messages designed to deter Haitian immigration. One of the problems facing the Washington MIST was the availability of radios in Haiti to make a campaign built on that medium viable. As an interim solution to the problems, SOG aircraft parachuted 10,000 small radios complete with batteries into various urban centers in Haiti.

This operation is discussed in a 1999 British Joint Services Command and Staff College Defense Research Paper by Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon. He says in part:

PSYOP staffs provided intelligence on regional, social and religious preferences of Haiti. Its aims were to assist President Aristide to broadcast towards his country and to fight the Junta’s propaganda. A series of 900 hours of broadcast were transmitted by the commando SOLO aircraft before any troops had landed on the island. These messages were carefully combined with popular programs of Haitian music and local news. To increase the impact of this campaign, 10,000 radio sets were sent to Haiti.

The United States military and the multi-national force eventually numbered over 23,000 troops from over a dozen nations. General Cedras and his military staff left Haiti and President Aristide returned on 15 October 1994.

The White House formed a PSYOP Working Group to decide on themes each week for radio messages. A Ft. Bragg team set up a makeshift studio near the Pentagon, which Aristide used to tape speeches for daily broadcasts. There were some that were very critical of President Aristide.

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193rd Special Operations Wing

A major part of American efforts was the use of EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft for radio broadcast operations by the 4th Psychological Operations Wing working through the Air Force 193d Special Operations Group (of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard). To facilitate the effectiveness of the broadcast campaign, transmitted on three FM bands, sought to discourage the flotillas of boat people by announcing that entry to the United States would henceforth be possible only through the INS office in Port-au-Prince. A dramatic drop in boat interceptions after July 7, 1994, suggests that the campaign had the intended effect. Later messages aimed at preventing local vigilantes from taking retribution against supporters of the Cedras regime.

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

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

One of the major PSYOP problems in Haiti was the lack of linguists who spoke Creole. The military did a quick search and found thirty-three linguists throughout the armed forces, many born in Haiti. PSYOP soldiers who had served in Haiti in the past were also tapped to serve during the intervention.

The original invasion plan called for US forces to take over intact radio stations. The peaceful landing left those facilities in Haitian hands. The Joint PSYOP Task Force had to request $750,000 to cover operating costs and material expenses over the next six months.

One of the songs that were played over the radio in the fall of 1994 by U.S. PSYOP as the American forces spread across Haiti was “Long live Peace.” The song promises democracy, work for all, education and good health.” There is no talk of vengeance, or people’s justice, since that would tear the country apart and discourage international aid. Reconciliation was the key to jobs and economic recovery.

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The Radio Leaflet for Haiti

This leaflet depicts a radio at the far right with the frequency of the American-sponsored government station, a map of Haiti and the flags of the United States and Haiti at the left. The text is:

Help us to help you. Listen to Radio 1080 AM 24 hours a day

The back is all text:

The American Army has arrived to re-establish democracy. For your own and your family's safety, follow the advice below: Remain calm. Stay indoors. Keep away from windows. Do not form in groups on the street. Leave the American Army alone to work. Do not block traffic. Listen to the radio on 1080 for information. For more information tune your radio to 1080 AM.

This leaflet was dropped along with portable radios on 15 September 1994. In the Special Operations History magazine Veritas, Volume 11, No. 1, 2015, Dr. Jared Tracy wrote about Haiti in an article entitled “A True Force Multiplier – Psychological Operations in Operation Uphold Democracy, 1994-1995.” Speaking of the portable radios, Tracy mentions the radios handed out to Haitians so that they could hear the American programing several times. Some of his comments are:

An earlier airdrop of 10,000 radios had broadened the listening audience; [On 12 October] 1,300 radios were distributed around Port au Prince; [Between 12 and 14 October] 2,100 radios were distributed.

Tracy mentions that the small portable radios that were given to the local people were bought in bulk at Radio Shack. Some of the PSYOP radio messages were:

Violence is not an answer to the road to peace and reconciliation; the New Year is a chance to reconcile, start anew, and give peace a chance; Make your community a safer place to live. Support and join your community watch program.

A Haitian who was on the ground during the drop makes an interesting observation. Admittedly he is Pro-Army and anti-Aristide but he says about the American PSYOP campaign:

The Americans were broadcasting to Haitians who knew the truth. There was no systematic violence or rape. I can remember the night when low flying 130s dumped radios all over the place. Many of these were turned in to the police, while Haitians claimed to have converted others so they could listen to Radio Superstar. Loads of leaflets could be seen cluttering the streets. I saved a few.

The New York Times agreed on 16 September:

Paramilitary forces seized many of the thousands of radios that were dropped from an American plane that flew over the capital after President Clinton's speech.

Douglas Waller mentions the military-PSYOP connection in an article entitled "How a Spec Ops Campaign Saved Lives," Armed Forces Journal International, June 1995. Some of his comments are:

The Army's 4th PSYOP Group at Fort Bragg, NC, divided Haiti's population into 20 target groups. Radio broadcasts began with the crow of a rooster, the mascot for Aristide's party…Two months before the September 19 intervention, the daily Commando Solo broadcasts began - from 4 to 8 a.m. and 6:30 to 10 p.m. Market surveys showed many Haitians slept during the day because of the stifling heat.


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This will be one of the largest radio sections but that is because as I write this, the Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan has gone on for 17 years.

On 11 September, 2001, terrorists of the al-Qaida (the Base), some trained and financed by Saudi Arabian exile-in-hiding Osama bin Laden, attacked the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC. In response to the terrorist attacks, the United States launched the Global War on Terrorism.

On 12 September, the day following the attack, Tactical PSYOP Detachment (TPD) 940 began target audience analysis of Afghanistan, including the Afghan populace, the Taliban, and al Qaida. On 4 October 2001 a 95-man Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and placed under the operational control of the Central Command (CENTCOM). The 3rd Psychological Operations battalion deployed to Kuwait that same month to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

Leaflets and radio scripts were prepared.

This is discussed in some depth in FM 3-05.301, Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, August 2007.

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8th PSYOP Battalion

During the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 8th PSYOP Battalion became the PSYOP Task Force in direct support of the Central Command commander. The POTF’s print assets were stationed initially at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This necessitated printing the leaflets and recording the radio messages at Fort Bragg, then distributing these messages to forward locations. Just two days before the start of combat operations on 5 October 2001, EC–130 Commando Solo aircraft began to transmit radio broadcasts to Afghanistan. The first B-52 leaflets from Diego Garcia were dropped on 14 October 2001, almost a week after combat operations began.

The United States also explained the reason for the bombings and the American invasion over their propaganda radio. One of the messages was:

Dear Afghanistan,

A grave crime has been committed against the United States. Four of our planes have been hijacked, several building in our economic centers destroyed and more than 6,000 innocent people, hundreds of which were Muslim were murdered by the hand of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaida, his supporters, and the Taliban. We see these actions as acts of war. We will not sit idly by and do nothing in these times. However, we do not wish to spill the blood of innocent people, as did the cowardly terrorists. We do not blame the Muslims or Afghans for these attacks. We do not hold those who follow true Islam responsible. We will hunt down and punish these terrorists. They will pay with their blood. America is not against the beliefs of Islam, nor is it against Muslims. More than 6 million Muslims live and worship Allah in peace in the United States, a number equal to almost half the population of Afghanistan. In the United States people of all religions live side by side in peace. Muslims living in America have the same rights to worship as any other citizen of any other religion.

Readers wanting to see more of the Coalition radio messages can find them here.

The first leaflet drop took place on October 15, coordinated with Coalition radio broadcasts. EC-130-E Command Solo aircraft from the 193rd Special Operations Wing flying out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, broadcast to the Afghan people. The modified C-130 can broadcast radio or TV signals - AM, FM and HF. It broadcasts across the band from 45 kilohertz to 1000 megahertz.

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This leaflet depicts a radio tower and two radios. Text is identical on both sides in Pashto and Dari. The leaflet states:

Information radio.
0500-1000. 1700-2200 daily.
864, 1107, 8700 kilohertz.

The leaflet tells the Afghan finder what radio stations to dial in order to hear the latest news from the coalition forces. Part of the PSYOP plan was to tell the Afghan people why their country was being bombed. The radio broadcasts stress that this is simply a war against terrorism and not against the people of Afghanistan. The Taliban's main Kabul radio station, Voice of Sharia, ("Islamic Law"), was taken off the air by an American cruise missile several days earlier. 7,931,000 copies of this leaflet were disseminated by M129 leaflet bombs in the first year of the war. These leaflets were also handed out by Tactical PSYOP teams on the ground.

P.W. Singer discusses the Taliban radio station in Analysis Paper No. 5, “American’s Response to Terrorism,” Winning the War of Words: Information Warfare in Afghanistan:

The Taliban broadcasts continually stressed that the one rallying point in Afghan history has been for the various tribes to join to throw out invaders, from the Persians and the British, to most recently the Soviets. The Taliban's broadcasts painted US demands on their country as falling in line with this long procession of outsiders attempting to interfere in their own local matters. The dominant message was that the US was yet another imperial power targeting Afghanistan.

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Afghans listening to the Coalition broadcasts

There is a lot of published information about the production of these radio leaflets. Weapon of Choice, ARSOF in Afghanistan, Charles H. Briscoe, Richard L. Kiper, James A. Schroeder, and Kalev I Sepp, authors, Combat studies Institute Press, Fort Leavenworth, KS 2003 says:

Whether it was a leaflet offering a monetary reward, providing a radio listening frequency, extolling the new government, or warning about land mines, the 30 million leaflets 2nd Platoon, A Company, 3rd PSYOP Battalion, printed were a significant contribution to the global war on terrorism. When radio broadcasts by the Air Force EC- 130 Commando Solo aircraft became possible, Donovan's [PSYOP squad leader] squad printed handbills that ground units could distribute to villages. The handbills depicted a radio tower and had various frequencies for music and news.

On 30 January 2002, the American Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, now located in Prague, Czech Republic, began broadcasting to Afghanistan in the Dari and Pashto languages. Radio Free Afghanistan (“Radio Azadi”) broadcast 12 hours a day on FM radio from Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Kandahar. The broadcasts can be heard on short wave, medium wave, and satellite radio and also on demand via the Internet.

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Kaito Radio

On 17 October 2001, it was reported that small battery-powered portable radios were dropped to those without radios or electricity. Initially, several thousand KAITO brand portable radios were distributed by hand. The KAITO was a 220-volt AC radio that was battery, solar and crank (dynamo) powered. It was usable for people who lived in central Afghanistan with no electric power. AM and FM radio was only available in cities. In rural areas the people relied on SW radio. Cost was low for quantity purchased and the power source was the prime requirement. The sensitivity and selectivity were poor, and required a very strong signal to work. It was not successful in the mountainous countryside of Afghanistan.

Under the Taliban, possession of a radio was a crime, and thus few were available. More than 7,500 small battery-powered transistor radios were distributed by airdrop and by tactical PSYOP teams operating with Special Forces detachments.

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A local Afghan elder is excited to receive his new radio from an 8th PSYOP Battalion member attached to the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division in Malajat, Afghanistan. The purpose of the mission is to gather information from the local population and to distribute Psychological Operations products.

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The Freeplay Plus Radio

A military report entitled PSYOP Radio in Afghanistan adds in part:

The US military is air-dropping Freeplay wind-up radios among the Afghan people. Unlike the Freeplay Plus Radio we offer, which has the AM, FM and most of the short wave spectrum, these specially designed Freeplay radios are locked on a frequency that automatically tunes in US military broadcasts. With these radios, Afghans will know about aid facilities in their area as well as food drops. They'll also hear messages like the one below, assuring them of the US intentions in Afghanistan, and that we're there to help them.

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The Grundig FR220 radio

There was a recommendation to use the Grundig FR220 radio. It worked well in the mountainous terrain and was battery and dynamo powered. The 10th Mountain Division psychological operations officer headed the purchase of 100,000 FR200 Grundig Emergency Radios for Coalition Joint Task Force (CJTF) 180 to be delivered to Bagram, Afghanistan, between November 2003 and February 2004. Over 30,000 Grundig radios had been distributed by the time he left Afghanistan in April 2004.

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Passing out radios

For a while the Americans dropped the WR-004 "World Receiver" AM, FM and short wave radio produced by the STL Group in the Netherlands under the brand name "Super Tech." They were dropped with the batteries already in the radio. The inability of the Afghans to replace the batteries was a liability. The British apparently dropped crank-powered radios at the same time. Broadcasts that same day told the people where to find the yellow cartons containing food dropped by American aircraft.

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A local Afghan citizen reads a flyer handed to him by soldiers assigned to the 10th Psychological Operations Battalion, during a mission to Kuchi village, Afghanistan, May 27, 2011. The purpose of the mission was to distribute radios and flyers to local villagers, and to evaluate the needs of the locals.

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Worldspace model WSSR-11 Digital receivers

During a spring of 2004 visit to Fort Bragg I was able to confirm that the US Army did indeed distribute radios to the people of Afghanistan so that they could hear the latest news from the Coalition powers. I also learned that the radios then being disseminated were Worldspace model WSSR-11 Digital receivers. They are battery-powered and allow the listener to access over 40 satellite radio services from around the world. Each radio comes with a directional line-of sight antenna. The service uses three satellites, AmeriStar, AfriStar, and Asia Star. These new radios were not without problems. They were given to Afghans selected as "key communicators." The problem was a lack of Pashto or Dari radio broadcasts on the satellites. The best broadcasts were still coming from the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Voice of America, or the local PSYOP radio stations. Many Afghans were happier with the cheaper Kaito radio because they could get all the local stations in their own language.

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U.S. Psychological Operations soldiers hand out radios to children in a village in southern Afghanistan. The new radio shows on Army-run stations are seeking to reach wider audiences.

NATO distributed more than 700,000 radios in the first half of 2006. The NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency announced that eligible firms were invited to provide bids on a Psychological Operations Radio Network for the International Security Assistance Force. The US military broadcasts on short wave, the U.S. Embassy uses 23 host nation stations, and of course there is the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America.

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The Special Operations System B (SOMS B) ground-based PSYOP radio in Afghanistan. The DRASH tents attached to the vehicles are the operational areas for the system set up in Bagram.

Elements of the 4th PSYOP Group set up radio stations in Afghanistan. One of the radio specialists from Ft. Bragg told me:

The Special Operations System B (SOMS B) was the first ground-based PSYOP asset in Afghanistan. There was a SOMS B in Bagram and one in Kandahar. Initially broadcasting was done on AM and FM. Eventually, all broadcasting was migrated to shortwave (SW). The three short wave radio frequencies are 9325, 9345 and 9365 kHz.The stations broadcast from 0030 to 1830 with the heading in Pashto “Da Sola Radyo day,” and in Dari “Inja Solh-e Radyoe”, (“You are listening to Peace Radio.”).

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Soldiers erect the antenna of the Special Operations Media System-Broadcast (SOMS-B) capable of providing local radio and television support including editing of radio and audiovisual products

The antenna field was very crowded in the beginning because all three (AM, FM, and SW) antennas had been set up in the same small area. The AM antenna was a discone antenna supported by four masts, which were only 50 feet off the ground at the highest point.

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The “Voice of Peace” Radio station building in Jabal os Saraj Afghanistan
The sign above the door reads “VOICE of PEACE.”

PSYOP soldiers had visited the Voice of Peace FM broadcast station in Jabal os Saraj a couple of times to try and improve the coverage of this station, which was supporting US efforts. The station was housed in a donated building up on the side of a tall hill. The transmitter was a 500 Watt Japanese made solid-state system that had some “repairs” done by the local welder. The civilian tech advisors working with the soldiers were able to improve the “repairs” and determine that the existing omni-directional antenna was only rated for 200 Watts, limiting the system. Replacement antennas were acquired which provided a directional coverage and increased effective radiated power to extend their coverage area.

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The Voice of Peace transmitter with the station logo in upper right corner.

The requirements of the operation are such that the SW broadcasting is now done from three locations in Afghanistan. Each location has its own SW transmitter as the SOMS B systems have all returned to FT Bragg. The audio products are edited using a Deployable Audio Production System (DAPS) designed for PSYOP use by the civilian technical support in the Media Production Center, FT Bragg. Video products are edited using the Deployable Non-Linear Editor (DNLE) which was developed by the same resource.

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Inside the video production and editing tent of the SOMS-B complex at
Kandahar, Afghanistan during a broadcast in support of Operation Enduring Freedom

The SOMS-B system is discussed in depth by Scott R. Gourley in a Special Operations Technology Online Archives article:

The SOMS-B system consists of two primary subsystems: the Mobile Radio Broadcast System (MRBS) and Mobile Television Broadcast System (MTBS). Each of these subsystems consists of a primary HMMWV, a cargo HMMWV, and a mission trailer carrying a 33 kW generator, environmental control unit, and Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH) tent system. The two subsystems can be deployed together or separately.

Interim Afghanistan President Karzai had told the Americans very early that their broadcasts were found wanting. ARSOF in Afghanistan notes:

The Pashtun leader knew that radio broadcasts in various dialects would have a greater effect than leaflets. He had listened to the programs broadcast by the Air Force EC- 130 Commando Solo aircraft and told MAJ Barstow that the music was very effective, but the BBC and VOA had better-quality programs. Karzai urged Barstow [Major, C Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion] to make the messages more forceful. The people needed to be told what they should do about the Taliban and al-Qaeda who were still in their midst.

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Inside a PSYOP mobile radio studio

Later, PSYOP soldiers in Bagram and Kandahar went on the air. They literally took over their mission on the same frequencies using the Special Operations Media System. The eight-man team now broadcasts round the clock. The Afghan programming, simultaneously broadcast on both AM and short wave is presented in the country’s predominant languages, Dari and Pashto. Using hour long formats like commercial stations, news and information is broken up by blocks of Afghan music. And of course, the news is all good. Two current messages include the reopening of Kabul University and story of two bicyclists in Kandahar training for the 2004 Olympics. They also air public service announcements about things such as the need for identification cards and polio vaccinations. What locals really like is the music, and they tell the team how the Taliban kept most music on the forbidden list. From Bagram, PSYOP radio extends about 30 miles, and begins breaking up at the outskirts of Kabul. The short wave broadcast can reach the entire country depending on weather conditions.

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A member of the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion,
shows some of the Afghan music CDs that
the battalion's radio station from Kandahar Airfield.

The Stars and Stripes issue of 31 July 2002 points out that the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion is broadcasting Afghan music from the battalion's radio station at Kandahar Airfield. They regularly broadcast the music of Naghma & Mangal, Khaliq Aziz and Ahmed Zahir, some of hottest pop artists and musicians in Afghanistan. Some of the article says:

When the Taliban ruled, radios were forbidden. However, some people hid them in their house and huddled around at night to listen to the BBC or Pakistan programming. Soldiers with the 8th Psychological Operation Battalion operate the mobile 5,000-watt radio station — which has a range of about 20 miles — from a small group of tents. Ninety-percent of the programming is pure Afghan music, including some dance, contemporary and folk music. None is American. Each hour, the Army broadcasts three informational spots. The messages tell listeners such things as what to do if they come across unexploded ordnance, news about the interim government and assurances that U.S. troops are not an occupying force.

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The Police give Radios to the People

A former PSYOP detachment sergeant in Kandahar and later team chief in Geresk mentioned the distribution of the radios. He said:

The radios were given to all returning Hajjis, people who went on the Hajj to Mecca. This was a good way to get the radios out since each district was allotted a certain number of people to go on the Hajj. When they returned to their remote areas with the radio, it gave the radios a status symbol quality, since going on the Hajj is such a big thing. Then we would give radios to schools, key communicators and random people in our travels. We used them as an inducement to work with us. It was a good benefit for the people and everyone wanted more than we could ever give out. People who gave us directions along the road would frequently be rewarded with a radio.

The U.S. Government released several radio broadcast texts to the public. One of the messages was:

Attention Taliban! You are condemned. Did you know that? The instant the terrorists you support took over our planes, you sentenced yourselves to death…our helicopters will rain death down upon your camps before you detect them on your radar. Our bombs are so accurate we can drop them through your windows…you have only one choice, surrender now and we will give you a second chance. We will let you live. 

In order to entice the Afghans to listen to the radio, about three-quarters of all broadcasts consist of music. The Taliban had condemned music.

The Taliban showed signs of collapse on 14 November 2001. They had threatened to fight to the death, but they surprised everyone by fleeing the Afghan capital of Kabul in the dark of the night. The war now entered a new phase as American Special Forces hunted bin Laden and his terrorist group in the mountains and caves of southeastern Afghanistan. They set up roadblocks along the refugee-filled roads. That same day the United States broadcast radio messages and dropped 1.5 million leaflets offering 25 million dollars to anyone willing to betray bin Laden.

On 7 September 2002, the Coalition Commanders discussed the PSYOP status of the war. 138 PSYOP radio programs were broadcast and 523 different scripts were written. Over 6,000 hours of radio was broadcast by PSYOP forces and close to 4,000 hours by the Voice of America. To insure that the broadcasts were heard, Coalition forces handed out 7,670 radios. In a second briefing on 2 October 2002 The PSYOP radio hours had reached 6,622 with 162 radio programs and 538 different scripts.

A survey showed that 51% of Afghans listened to the “Information Radio” on a regular basis. 57% of those approved of the broadcasts and 30% regularly complied with the instructions. Some examples of Coalition radio messages are:

Noble people of Afghanistan. Kabul University, once one of Asia’s finest institutions, has re-opened. Workers have cleared away the rubble and prepared for the new academic year...The partnership of Nations has donated window glass for several buildings. Machinery and vehicles have been repaired and donated to ensure the university’s physical plant is operational…Peace and prosperity in Afghanistan grows closer by the day. Many of Afghanistan’s regional commanders have vowed to put aside ethnic and tribal disputes. They have sworn allegiance to the Afghan national army….

Leaflet AFA04aaLF3183

This 2006 leaflet was featured in a 12th PSYOP Battalion product book where Allied Commanders could come and see it in English, so they knew what the text is. This leaflet depicts a radio and an antenna and tells the people how to dial in the Coalition station. If the commander asked that the leaflets be printed in bulk for his unit to use in a PSYOP campaign, they would be printed in Dari or Pashtun. The same image and message are on the front and back.

Some Problems with the Radios in Afghanistan

There were many problems with reception in Afghanistan. It seems little regard was given to the many mountain ranges. Retired Army Colonel Bill Gormley mentions some of these in an article titled “The failed promise: Reflections on America’s Afghanistan experience,” printed in the Small Wars Journal, 3 April 2022. Some of his comments are:

When I arrived in June 2003, there were two transmitter broadcasting PSYOP messages, news, and Afghan music and poetry. One broadcasted from Bagram in Dari while the other was based in Kandahar and broadcasted in Dari and Pashtun. Both transmitters broadcasted in AM, FM, and shortwave. The Psychological Operations Task Force (POTF) had planned to replace these systems with two new shortwave transmitters. These systems were supposed to be able to cover the entire country from Bagram.One transmitter would broadcast and the other would be kept as a spare. AM and FM broadcasts would be discontinued, which meant our broadcasts could not be heard on car radios. It became apparent to me that plan was not based on a good analysis.

Once the new shortwave system was up, my teams did a survey on where the signal could be heard and what the signal quality was. After a week, I determined that shortwave could only be heard around Bagram and sometimes in Kabul. I do not think the POTF accounted for Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain when computing the transmitter’s broadcast footprint. Bagram is in a valley surrounded by high mountains. It seems like they just took the transmitter’s advertised range and drew a circle on a map. The POTF commander became angry with me when I reported the system did not work as planned and when I requested help to fix it. He told me “Who cares, nobody listens to it anyways.” This begs the question if nobody was listening then why did we bother to do it?

The POTF commander, however, was wrong on this point. Local Afghanis did listen to our broadcasts. The governor of Kandahar asked one of my junior officers why our radio broadcast stopped. Average Afghans had also asked some of my teams where our radio broadcasts had gone as well. Many of these Afghans listened to our broadcasts on FM and AM and would not be able to listen to them even if the shortwave system worked as planned. After some agitation, a team of experts came out from Fort Bragg with some specialized equipment to conduct a survey of the signal strength around Afghanistan. They recommended the second transmitter be set up at Kandahar. They also determined the cheap Chinese made radios we gave to the locals were not good enough to get the signal. They recommend we start giving away a German made radio. These much more expensive German radios were better but did not have the small solar panel Chinese radios had. I thought this limited their utility, in a less developed country like Afghanistan. I made sure when we began to distribute the new radios, they were pre tuned to our station and had a sticker on the handle with our frequency and the station’s logo. We also started putting the station’s logo and frequency in our newspaper. These were measures I came up with and had not been done before in Afghanistan. Eventually, I got the second transmitter set up in Kandahar. Even with more expensive receivers, the broadcast footprint was less than what was required.

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Flag of Great Britain

In 2012, the British 15th Psychological Operations Group was presented with the Firmin Sword of Peace for their valuable contribution to humanitarian activities. A team from the 15th POG has been continuously deployed to Helmand for six years. The unit runs a network of seven radio stations employing local Afghans as disk jockeys, broadcasts music, poetry, debate programs and even a soap opera, as well as producing graphical posters and leaflets to communicate in an area where literacy rates are only around 20%.

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Flag of Canada

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported in 2006 that the Canadian military has contracted with the communications expert Ivana Previsic to teach soldiers how to become effective news broadcasters and get the military’s messages out to locals in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Another military contract won by Ottawa-based International Datacasting Corporation ensures that the first graduates will be broadcasting digital radio broadcasts from Kingston, Canada, into their Afghanistan area of operations by satellite.

In 2010, the Associated Press reported that the Canadians were broadcasting from five small local radio stations in Kandahar Province called the Voice of Panjwaii. The station has been on air since June, broadcasting news, government announcements, weather and other programs throughout the district southwest of Kandahar city where Canadians have been concentrating their efforts in Afghanistan. About 80 per cent of Panjwaii residents have radios. Canadian soldiers have handed out an estimated 30,000 units over the past two year in the province.

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Flag of Germany

PSYOPS forces were an integral part of the German contingent with approximately 15 soldiers on the ground. In addition to the soldiers' radio “Radio Andernach,” the PSYOP radio station Sada-e Azadi (Voice of Freedom) was established. Sada-e Azadi broadcasts in the two main languages spoken in the country, Dari and Pashtu.

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Flag of Italy

In April 2010, The Italian radio stations Sada and Azadi West, which translates to “The Voice of Freedom - West” began broadcasting. The radio station, as part of the NATO radios network, was developed with Italian funds by the staff of the Regional PSYOP Support Element (RPSE), composed of personnel of the 28th Pavia Regiment, a unit specializing in “Operating Communications." All of the programs will be broadcast exclusively in Pashto and Dari languages. The station will offer information of public interest for the Afghan people in an attempt to increase knowledge on the purpose of ISAF coalition forces present in Afghanistan. The program will include musical entertainment, local news and in-depth sections on important social issues and local culture. The radio is the main tool to disseminate information throughout Afghanistan and will reach people even in the most remote areas.

In spring 2009, the American military began attempting to prevent the Taliban from using radio stations and Web sites to intimidate civilians and plan attacks. American military and intelligence personnel worked to jam the unlicensed radio stations in Pakistan's lawless regions on the Afghanistan border that Taliban fighters use to broadcast threats and decrees. In Pakistan, Taliban leaders use unlicensed FM stations to recite the names of local Pakistani government officials, police officers and other figures that have been marked for death by the group. There are about 150 illegal FM radio stations in Pakistan's Swat Valley which allow militants to broadcast every night the names of people they're going to behead or they've beheaded.

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An Afghan disk jockey for Radio Unity in Logar Province, Afghanistan, delivers a broadcast via Radio in a Box (RIAB), a portable radio transmitting system. The RIAB system helps communicate with local residents and counter enemy propaganda campaigns, especially in remote regions. (Photo by Sgt. William Begley, U.S. Army)

Christopher Harland-Dunley describes the “Radio in a box” in an article titled “Outside the Wire” in The Verge. Americans and Afghan DJs turn it on for the first time:

At Wafa’s right hand in the studio, sitting on a plastic-looking American flag tablecloth, was a black box. It was three shoeboxes high, with nobs, buttons, and digital readings. The top half was a commercially available Denon DN-X500 pro DJ mixer; below was a cool-gray box with blue trim. The radio transmitter was inside. The first time they fired it up, they were unsure if it worked. They flipped it on, and Jan grabbed the mic and said, “This is Kerwan FM and we are broadcasting from Gardez, Paktia.” He announced a phone number listeners could call. “If anyone hears us, please call.” The phone lines were immediately slammed with more than 500 calls.

With an antenna and the watts cranked up, it could travel hundreds of miles. It turned Wafa’s glorified shed into a radio station and turned hundreds of Afghans working for the US military into DJ warriors. The program was unassumingly called “Radio in a Box.”

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In 2011, more than 20 radio Disk Jockeys in Paktika Province, and dozens more across the country, engaged in what the U.S. military considers a crucial operation, convincing residents in an area dominated by insurgents to embrace Afghan and NATO forces. They play hit Pashto ballads but never tell their listeners that they are broadcasting from studios on U.S. Army bases. Their job is to pause between Pakistani love songs and passages from the Koran to read about the heroism of Afghan and American forces, as well as the destruction wreaked by insurgents. In a region with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, where the vast majority of families are unable to afford a television, 92 percent of Paktika residents listen to the radio every day.


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

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

The start of the PSYOP campaign in Iraq started months prior to the March invasion and it consisted of a campaign of leaflet drops, cell phone text messages, emails and radio broadcasts that targeted the Iraqi leadership.

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An Iraqi civilian listens to a radio broadcast

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

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

Information Radio

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

The same message appears on both front and back.

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

The coalition mounted a major PSYOP campaign in Iraq both prior to and during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Thousands of hours of radio broadcasts were directed at Iraqi audiences from both land stations and Hercules C-130 Commando Solo aircraft. To cue the potential radio listeners, leaflets were dropped instructing the Iraqis about the frequencies over which the coalition’s “Information Radio” could be heard.

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

Information Radio
1800-2300 daily

756 KHZ AM
693 KHZ AM
9715 KHZ SW
11292 KHZ SW
100.4 MHZ FM.

The same message appears on both front and back.

Once combat operations began on 21 March 2003, the themes changed to convincing Iraqi forces to surrender or desert: asking Iraqi civilians to avoid combat areas and to listen to the coalition radio broadcasts.

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

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President Bush on Commando Solo TV Broadcast

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

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


In times of crisis, tune in to “Information Radio” for important news and information.

756 KHZ AM
690 KHZ AM
100.4 MHZ FM
9715 KHZ SW
11292 KHZ SW

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

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

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Inside the EC-130E

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Radio

756 KHZ AM
693 KHZ AM
9715 KHZ SW
11292 KHZ SW
100.4 MHZ FM

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

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

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

Another Rand Corporation 2015 Report: Operation Iraqi Freedom: Decisive War, Elusive Peace says about radio operations:

Leaflet drops and radio broadcasts continued once major combat began. The radio broadcasts covered more of Iraq as the environment became more permissive. In addition to radio broadcasts and leaflets, tactical PSYOP teams supported V Corps and I Marine Expeditionary Force along the entire route of march. Teams also supported the United Kingdom’s division and Australian forces. 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.

The U.S. Arabic speakers who broadcast PSYOP messages on the Iraqis’ own military communication nets, while detectable as non-Iraqis, nevertheless had a major effect on at least some Iraqi audiences. The brigadier general who commanded Baghdad’s missile air defenses, reports that the voices that cut into his military radio traffic signaled Iraq’s coming defeat.

I would talk to my missile crews and suddenly the Americans would come on the same frequency . . . They would talk in Arabic—with Egyptian and Lebanese accents—and they would say, "We have taken Nasiriyah, we have captured Najaf, we are at Baghdad airport." It was the psychological war that did the worst damage to us. The Americans knew all our frequencies. By then, we had no radio news broadcast of our own, just the Americans talking directly to us on our radio net. I could have replied directly to those voices, but we were ordered not to, and I obeyed my own security.

The USS Constellation – CV-64

The Navy also took part in the radio war during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The cruise book for the USS Constellation mentions the leaflet printing and dissemination done on the ship. It says in part:

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

The Propaganda radio system on the Constellation

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

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British Flag

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15th Psychological Operations Group Patch

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

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British Forces disseminating the new leaflet

The British "Desert Rats" distributed a handbill around Basra. The handbill depicted a British soldier shaking hands with an Iraqi. The text is:

This time we won't abandon you. Be patient - together we will win.

The back is all text:

People of Al Basra, we are here to liberate the people of Iraq. Our enemy is the regime and not the people. We need your help. To identify the enemy. To rebuild Iraq. English speakers please come forward. We will stay as long as it takes. Listen to Radio Nahrain 100-4 FM (94.6 in the evenings) for important news and information.

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IZD-8104 is all text. The front is:

Iraqi commanders and soldiers

Show that you will not resist Coalition forces. Make clear your intentions.

The back tells them how to make their intentions clear:

CONTACT US ON Thuraya Ascom
HF 5102.0 KHZ – Tel # 88 216 21 12 32 39
VHF 31.2250 MHZ – UHF 381.500 MHZ

TELL US: Unit size – name – location – combat vehicles

CONTINUE to attempt contacting the COALITION on the listed frequencies until we acknowledge you.

COMPLY with our instructions and you will not be DESTROYED

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British 15th PSYOP Group Radio Station in Iraq

British Radio Nahrain (Two Rivers Radio), programming is similar to Information Radio, with a mixture of Iraqi songs, job offers, western pop music, and messages to the local population. The handbill was designed by the 15th (UK) PSYOP Group. On 31 March a report on CNN said that the transmissions were being stepped up.

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Radio Nahrain Poster

After the end of the war, the station continued as Radio Nahrain 96FM. The British say about the station:

The group provided a state-of-the-art, radio station, RADIO NAHRAIN, which beamed across Basra, home to more than 1.5 million people, broadcasting music, news, and public information around the clock.

Station controller, Lt Col Colin Mason said, "The set up here in the desert is similar to what you would find at any commercial radio station in the UK . . . we have been able to provide the people of Basra with vital information - warning civilians to stay away from areas of military action and advising them of distribution areas."

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A British propaganda poster appeared in Basra. This poster is all text except for a British flag in full color at the top. The text is:

We are here to work with you cooperatively to make things better.
Try to get back to your normal routine.
Obey the rule of law.
Support the new interim administration.
Do not carry weapons on the street.
Follow the Instructions of Coalition forces.
Listen to Radio Nahrain 100.4 FM for important news and information.

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The second British poster shows a vertical strip of five cartoons of Iraqis in a car meeting a Coalition soldier. The car cartoon is actually very interesting and represents the stages of government from the beginning of the operation through to Iraqi self-government. The text is:

Coalition forces are steering towards a better future. We are here to work with you cooperatively to make things better. Try to get back to your normal routine. Obey the rule of law. Support the new interim administration. Do not carry weapons on the street. Follow the instructions of Coalition forces. Our stay will be temporary, when we have finished our work we will leave. Listen to Radio Nahrain 100.4 FM for important news and information.

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Missiles hit the Iraq Ministry of Information Building

The Ministry of Information in Baghdad was struck by cruise missiles on 29 March. The building was damaged, but not destroyed.

The Central Intelligence Agency set up a deceptive or Black PSYOP radio station called RADIO TIKRIT. Radio Tikrit was purported to have been managed by local Iraqis and at first ran news editorials that were loyal to Saddam Hussein. After a few weeks, the radio station grew more and more critical of the dictator. These efforts were designed to undermine the legitimacy of the Hussein regime and to discourage those loyal to it from fighting.

Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Collins adds:

The US Central Intelligence Agency reportedly set up Black PSYOP stations as early as February 2003. One such station, Radio Tikrit, tried to build up its credibility by claiming to be managed by loyal Iraqis in the Tikrit area and by maintaining an editorial line slavishly supportive of Saddam Hussein. Within a few weeks, however, the tone changed and the station became increasingly critical of Saddam. The hope of Black PSYOP is that the target audience does not see through the ruse and believes the information is coming from the wrongly attributed source, which it sees as more credible. The risk, of course, is that if the ruse is discovered, the trustworthiness of the entire PSYOP effort, both White and Black, is damaged.

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Although this article is about radio, the same aircraft and stations that broadcast radio often broadcast television. Leaflet IZD004b depicts a TV set and map of Iraq at the left, and text at the right. The front and back are identical. The text is:

Information Television

Families of Baghdad
Turn your television antennas to face SSW
To receive important information from the Coalition Forces
Daily from 6 am until 11 pm
On Channel 3


This leaflet depicting both a radio and a television set was obviously printed much later in the war but since it also shows a TV just as the last entry does, this seemed like the obvious place to add it. The text on the front is:


TV side:

Iraqi citizens receive important information from Coalition forces daily from
6 p.m. until 11 p.m. on channel 3.

Radio side:

Set radio devices to "information" radio
Medium wave 756 kHz from 6 p.m. until 12 Noon
Medium wave 690 kHz from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m.
Short wave 9715 kHz 24 hours a day
Short wave 11292 kHz from 6 p.m. until 12 Noon
FM wave 100.4 MHz from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.

According to the 30 April 2003 United States Central Command Air Force Assessment and Analysis Division, Operation Iraqi Freedom – by the Numbers, the Coalition dropped 31,800,000 PSYOP leaflets during 158 missions. There were 81 different leaflets messages dropped during 32 A-10 missions, 34 B-52 missions, 24 F-18C missions and 68 F-16CJ missions. There were 58 Commando Solo sorties with 306 broadcast hours consisting of 108 different messages and 204 TV broadcast hours. If you lined up the leaflets end to end, they would stretch from Ft. Worth, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska, or make 120,454 rolls of toilet paper.

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Leaflet IZ-05-5228 depicts a large radio antenna on both the front and back. The text is identical on both sides:

There is a new station in the city today,
transmitting its program to your area on
864-756 AM
864-756 KHz

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 307th Tactical PSYOP Company conducted a campaign to influence Baghdad citizens to “increase reporting of insurgent activities.” Using billboards, posters, wallet cards, and radio and TV spots, and using local news media to publicize the program’s successes, the Tips Hotline received enormous exposure throughout the Baghdad area. Within the first months of the PSYOP series, the call volume rose from its baseline of 1 or 2 a day to a range of 6 to 8 a day, a 688 percent increase in calls.

USMC Major Andy Dietz was interviewed about operations in Fallujah. He said in part:

We did things such as tell them how much money had been allocated for Fallujah for reconstruction and why that money wasn’t coming. “We would have already been spending X-million number of dollars to repair your city with these projects and now we can’t.” The next drop would up the ante on what projects weren’t getting done, the money, so we kept doing that. Other methods we used were radio messages, some of which were generic to the Al Anbar Province, but a lot of them were targeted to the people in Fallujah. There were rumors that nobody during the day would be caught listening to one of our radio stations in public. So we would usually run most of our public service announcements as well as our radio messages at night when people would be inside their houses and had the freedom to listen to the radio.

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This black and white leaflet was printed and disseminated during the consolidation campaign. Both sides of the leaflet are identical and depict a radio antenna at the center and radios at the right and left. Radio station information is found at the top and the center of the leaflet.

Medium Wave 756
Medium Wave 864
FM 91.5
Information Radio

Most of the information about current operations in your areas comes from the Coalition to the radio on one of the following every 24 hours:

756 KHz
864 KHz
91.5 MHz

If you have any information about terrorist activities or violent acts report them at the following number:427-232

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Flag of Poland

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Polish PSYOP Loudspeaker Team

The PSYOP Unit’s name is Centralna Grupa Dzialan Psychologicznych Dowodztwa Wojsk Ladowych – The Central Group of Psychological Actions of Land Forces Command. It was headquartered in Bydgoszcz and commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Witold Klinger, a 20-year veteran of electronic reconnaissance. Candidates are required to be fluent in at least one foreign language. Psychology and Sociology college graduates are preferred as are specialists in electronics, information sciences and telecommunications. The unit cooperates closely with PSYOP units from the US and Germany. Among the sections are one that deals with Polish-language information (radio and TV), a second that deals with English-language information, A third that studies the regions where the unit deploys and a fourth that gathers information on Eastern Europe.

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Leaflet IZD-9587 surfaced in late 2005. At least 109 insurgents and one American soldier were killed overnight in a major offensive launched by U.S. in October 2004 in the “Sunni Triangle.” An estimated 3,000 U.S. troops moved into Samarra in what the United States called “repeated and unprovoked attacks by anti-Iraqi forces.” Possibly in support of this operation, a radio leaflet for Iraq coded IZD-9587 was distributed, which depicts a radio antenna at the left and the text:

Radio Samarra on wave length 106.1 FM

Radio Samarra for all the information

LIBYA – 2011

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Libya Independence Protests in Benghazi

A civil war erupted in Libya on 15 February 2011. The situation began as a series of peaceful protests. On the evening of 15 February, between 500 and 600 demonstrators protested in front of the police headquarters in Benghazi after the arrest of human rights lawyer Fathi Terbil. Protest rallies were held in Al Bayda, Az Zintan, Benghazi, and Darnah. Libyan security responded with lethal force. A “Day of Rage” was planned for 17 February inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Within a week, this uprising had spread across the country and Gaddafi was struggling to retain control. Gaddafi responded with military force and other such measures as censorship and blocking of communications.

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Colonel Muammar Gaddafi

The rebels established a coalition named the Transitional National Council based in Benghazi. The International Criminal Court warned Gaddafi that he and members of his government may have committed crimes against humanity and the United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and ten members of his inner circle, and restricting their travel.

On 23 February President of France Nicolas Sarkozy pushed for the European Union (EU) to pass sanctions against Gaddafi and demand he stop attacks against civilians. On 28 February British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed the idea of a no-fly zone to prevent Gaddafi from “airlifting mercenaries” and using his military planes and armored helicopters against civilians. On 1 March, The United States Senate unanimously passed a non-binding Senate resolution urging the United Nations Security Council to impose a Libyan no-fly zone and encouraging Gaddafi to step down. On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the Libyan civil war.

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Tomahawk Cruise Missile

U.S. and British forces fired over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, the French Air Force and British Royal Air Force undertook sorties across Libya and a naval blockade was carried out by the Royal Navy. The official names for the interventions by the coalition members were Opération Harmattan by France; Operation Ellamy by the United Kingdom; Operation Mobile for the Canadian participation and Operation Odyssey Dawn for the United States. U.S. EC-130H Compass Call aircraft provided more than 4,500 hours of sustained radio broadcasts on multiple tactical and approved commercial frequencies to inform Libyan audiences of NATO’s mission and to persuade combatants to lay down their arms.

More than 50 messages were disseminated throughout the first 12 days of Operation Odyssey Dawn and an additional 200 were disseminated during the seven months of the later Operation Unified Protector. Commando Solo flew its first sortie, broadcasting 11 PSYOP messages in three languages, the same day the Join Task Force dropped its first bomb. These messages were developed, approved, translated, recorded, uploaded and disseminated within a 17-hour time period.

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The Canadian CP-140 Aurora

On 29 July, it was reported that Canadian surveillance planes had joined the radio propaganda war in Libya. Canadian CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes started broadcasting propaganda messages aimed at forces loyal to Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyans challenged the broadcasts, talking back on the radio and in one case calling the NATO broadcasters “Yankee pig-dogs.” The Libyans attempted to jam the transmissions.

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The Scud-B Missile on Transporter

The Libyan forces fired scud missiles at the rebels. It was believed they had as many as 240 Scud-B missiles, purchased from the Soviet Union in 1976.

The al-Ourouba (Arabism) station broadcast Gaddafi’s outburst in which the Libyan leader vowed to fight back and called on Libyans to rush to the defense of their capital. The message said in part:

Western intervention in an Arab Muslim country must be resisted. We would do the same for any Arab country in that situation. We have our own ways, and we are helped by noble, honest Libyans inside Tripoli.

On 27 August with the government in full retreat and the rebels searching for the elusive Colonel Gaddafi, NATO began dropping leaflets on African mercenaries he had hired to fight his war. The leaflets called for them to defect, and at the same time radio messages were broadcast saying they will be treated according to the laws of war. Gaddafi continued to broadcast defiance and reported that NATO had dropped leaflets on Sirte calling on it to surrender, but that the young men of the city had burned the leaflets. The Gaddafi government radio program Libya News said in part about these leaflets:

Mustafa Abd-al-Jalil, head of the council of NATO agents, has sent a threat to the sons of Sirte, who are resisting and entrenched in their city, perhaps thinking that they will worry, and lessen the resolve of the Libyan youth by dropping those desperate, threatening papers. NATO decided to shower the Libyans in Sirte with leaflets this morning demanding that the residents of the town surrender and threatening to kill them if they don't surrender. And they asked the leaders of the town to leave Sirte. So came the response of the young men in Sirte - gathering up, burning and tearing up was the fate of these leaflets, while the woman cried the pro-Qadhafi slogan: “Allah, and Muammar, and Libya, and that's all.”

On 20 October the transitional government claimed to have finally killed Colonel Gaddafi. It was reported that after rebels had taken the town of Sirte, and Gaddafi was in an 80-car convoy attempting to escape when he was attacked by a U.S. Predator drone and a French fighter jet. Gadhafi was wounded in both legs and his head.

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Combined PSYOP Support Element Insignia – Pesaro – Italy

In December 2017, Stefano Scalabroni said that he was the commanding officer of the PSYOP Support Element for Operation Unified Protector. The PSYOP Element developed 52 different types of leaflets and produced 13,816,000 leaflets in total. Furthermore CPSE developed 58 radio products.

British researcher Lee Richards received 47 transcripts of Allied propaganda radio broadcasts after a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The full file can be found on Psywar.Org. I will show two of the more interesting broadcasts here.

Product number: LY11J02eeTC0004:

For your safety, do not engage with coalition forces, lay down your arms and return home. By engaging with Coalition Forces you ore violating a UN resolution ordering the end of hostilities by the Government of Libya against its people. Any aggressive actions taken by you or those around you may be met with deadly force.

Product number: LY11J11jbTC0001:

Radar operators: In order for coalition forces to provide you the most effective protection using our military aircraft, we need you to turn off your early warning radar, and take your anti-aircraft missiles off the rails. We cannot operate effectively with these systems in full operation. If you do not turn off your early warning radars or take your missiles off the rails, they are in danger of being destroyed. For your safety and ours, turn off your warning radar and remove your missiles from the launcher.

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The Flag of Sweden

In March of 2017, I received information that the Swedish PSYOP unit played an important role in the war against Libya, managing a radio station and producing about 1,000,000 propaganda leaflets. In a 2007 Swedish Armed Forces report, their Ft. Bragg-trained PSYOP commander Anders Johansson said:

We can do almost everything, distribute flyers, print newspapers and posters, transmit radio broadcasts from our own radio station and make announcement via loudspeakers.

When I asked someone knowledgeable about the Swedish contingent he said:

The Swedish 10th PSYOPS unit did play an important role in the Libyan Campaign. A small unit comprising Dutch, British, Italian and Swedes fought a great little campaign ensuring leaflets and radio messaging found their target audiences and kept civilians away from NATO airstrikes.

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NATO Radio Leaflet

This leaflet asks the Libyans to listen to NATO radio. The front depicts a radio tower and radio beams. The text is:

Libya is one and its people are one, turn the dial to station 104.1 FM.

The back depicts a stylized satellite dish and the text:

The freedom of information is the basis of the freedom of the people. Claim your lawful rights by obtaining information freely (without paying). Turn the needle of the radio and listen to 104.1 FM. Libya is one and its people are one. Turn the needle of the radio to station 104.1 FM.

Richard de Silva mentions the Radio propaganda from the sea in “NATO PSYOP in Action, Defense IQ: May 2014. He says in part:

All maritime units have been used to broadcasting information messages within the framework of the Embargo. Some of them were also employed as PSYOP platforms, disseminating messages on maritime VHF channels or other military VHF channels. More than 8,000 PSYOP messages were broadcast, with 52 distinct messages, in order to prepare and influence the battle space. One ship was even fitted with a 300w commercial FM transmitter capable of transmitting within the international standard FM commercial base band (88MHz - 108MHz). This radio emitter proved to be able to reach in-land audiences (up to more than 20 km), enabling the maritime PSYOP to expand its direct audience to include these civilians.

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A Joint Committee of the Red Cross/Libyan Red Crescent leaflet warning
people not to touch any suspicious objects and to report them to the authorities.

After the new government was installed, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Libyan Red Crescent launched radio campaigns to raise awareness of the risks of explosive remnants of war among the population. Five radio stations broadcast the messages six times a day. The radio spots were part of a larger campaign to educate people about the risks of unexploded devices.


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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, ISID 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 in October 2016, 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 calling over the radio:

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” and a small number of specially configured PSYOP EC-130J aircraft assigned to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 193rd Special Operations Wing. The 193rd’s main aircraft are six EC-130J Commando Solos, which are unique platforms that can function as flying radio or television stations as required. Coalition forces have, on occasion, dropped leaflets with the frequencies of numerous “approved” radio stations, which could include Commando Solo broadcasts.


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:

Psychological Warfare units have technically trained personnel capable of operating captured enemy radio stations.

Training PSYOP is an interesting subject because by definition, it will be cruder and less finished than products produced by a psychological operations unit during a war. In wartime, the unit will have the best artists, translators, writers and radio equipment. The training exercise is generally a simple test given to students asking them to prepare a script and broadcast on some subject. It might just be one or two students and they are expected to do all the work with whatever data or instruction they have on hand. They are still in school and have not yet perfected their military occupational specialty. Because the training products are so crude, they would generally never be used against a real enemy where credibility is important.

War game PSYOP is similar, except the PSYOP troops will have graduated and joined a unit. However, since the war game is just for play and training by combat forces, to test their mettle and strategy, there will be just a few PSYOP people involved and they will make some simple and meaningless leaflets and broadcasts as part of the general “horse and pony show.” In other words, everyone knows it is a war game and the 82nd Airborne Division is not going to convince the 101st Airborne Division to surrender by implying their wives are lonely and seeing other men. So, it is an opportunity to produce propaganda in the field, to show what a PSYOP team can do, but it is understood that it serves no purpose except to train the troops.

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Meet “Combine Connie”

This COMBINE leaflet was prepared by the 5th L&L Company to get the enemy to listen to its radio broadcasts. The back lists five different propaganda stations where you can hear Connie’s seditious messages. Combine Connie was Dorothea Kovelas who broadcast on American Forces Network Europe. She asked the men to visit “Connie’s Inn,” because she hated maneuvers but loved soldiers.

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The United States always wants the enemy to listen to its broadcasts during wartime. That is one way to get them to hear the surrender messages and eventually defect. In this 2nd Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company training leaflet used in Exercise Southern Pine in August 1951, a Lovely woman is depicted at the left with a microphone. The girl was a local named Gladys Mathews. The text is:

Listen to Lorelei
The velvet voice of aggressor in her nightly broadcasts…
Just for you!

The back of the leaflet is in the form of a handwritten letter. It says in part:

Hello to all you fellows in the U.S. Army…I do so want to please you, to comfort you, maybe to recall a memory or two of time you used to know…I’ll try to help you fellas, help you to maybe get away from all this sweat and dirt and the bugs, if you’ll only let me. How about it? Will you listen for me each night….

An Informal history of the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Battalion adds:

In the summer of 1951, the 2nd Leaflet and Loudspeaker Company participated in the first maneuver in which a psychological warfare unit was deployed. This major maneuver, Operation Southern Pines, took place in the Ft. Bragg area. Local girls were recruited to record and type the L&L’s nostalgic appeal, “The Velvet voice of Lorelei,” the L&L’s answer to the Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose broadcasts of WWII.

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Exercise Flintlock

This training leaflet for Exercise Flintlock depicts a rather odd looking dragon and tells the enemy where to find the radio station WIZZ that broadcasts four times a day. Eurock (European Rock) was apparently a popular form of music for young men at the time.

Russian Training Propaganda Messages for Interoperability 2016

Many of the leaflets above mention radio broadcast and tell the enemy what stations to listen to. In 2016, the Russians held a war game where they broadcast anti-NATO messages. I thought it might be interesting to add their training broadcasts here. The training exercise was called “Interoperability 2016” and combined the forces of Russia and its old colonies; Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The message was transmitted in several languages, including Russian, German and English:

NATO soldiers! You are being deceived! You are not peacekeepers! Lay down your weapons! You are fighting on the foreign territory. With your treacherous invasion, you have interrupted the peaceful life of an innocent country. You will be brought down by a just revenge and an anger of the people that have never been defeated in war. Drop your weapons and stop being puppets in the hands of your leaders!

This has been a short look at the use of propaganda radio in wartime. Any reader wishing to comment is encouraged to write the author at