SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
Flag of Macedonia
When one thinks of
the image of Philip of Macedonia and the phalanxes of Alexander the Great come to mind. I should point out here that the nation of Macedonia Greecedislikes the term Macedonia used in the context of Yugoslaviaand pointed out regularly that this was not the Macedoniaof ancient , but a pretender state. Some Greeks believed that the name Greece Republicof Macedonia implied a territorial threat against and created a great risk of renewed ethnic conflict in the Balkans. Others stated that Yugoslav General Josip Broz Tito selected the name hoping to create conflicts in the region and to obtain Greek and Bulgarian territories. Before WWII the area was known as Vardarska. As the result of the dispute with Greece Greece, the so-called Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the provisional name of the (FYROM). A Greek general went so far as to tell me: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
In an article about the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(FYROM), you refer to it as . Alexander the Great and Phillip, were of Greek and not of Slavic origin. Because PSYOP mean truth, I ask for the restoration of historical accuracy. Macedonia
I explained to the general that I was forced to use the name that was on the maps and in the news but promised to make a point of telling readers that they were not to confuse this territory with the ancient home of Greek heroes.
Curiously, years after I wrote this article, in February 2019 Macedonia made a minor name change to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization:
The country formerly known as the Republic of Macedonia officially changed its name to the Republic of North Macedonia ending a decades-long dispute that should pave the way for NATO membership. The country can be called "North Macedonia" for short and the national language should continue to be referred to as "Macedonian," state spokesman Mile Boshnjakovski told CNN. He added that its citizens should continue to be called "Macedonians," not "North Macedonians."
After declaring independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the country chose the name Macedonia. But that title severely strained relations with neighbor Greece, which also has a region called Macedonia. The Greek region of Macedonia lies in the northern, mountainous part of the country and includes its second-largest city, Thessaloniki, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Philippi. Greece, a member of both NATO and the European Union, had been blocking North Macedonia’s membership to the military alliance and the beginning of accession talks with the EU until the name dispute was resolved. But under a name deal reached between Athens and Skopje last month, Greece will lift its objections, paving the way for its neighbor’s integration.
In recent years
Macedonia, bordered on the west by Albaniaand the south by Greece, was a part of . When Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic started on his campaign of ethnic cleaning in 1992, Yugoslavia was his first victim. The United Nations put a halt to that aggression. In 1999 Milosevic was on the march again, now attempting to cleanse parts of Kosovo and Bosnia . This time the Croatia North Atlantictreaty Organization (NATO) stepped in and once again the Serbian aggression was rebuffed. This was the beginning of the end for the old Yugoslavian experiment. Milosevic was named a war criminal by the NATO powers, as were his lieutenants Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Allied PSYOP forces stayed in the area trying to influence the peace movement and bring back economic opportunity and free trade and movement in the old areas of . Bosnia and Herzegovina Macedoniabecame a free nation in September 1991, although objected to the name and in fact boycotted the country until 1995. Greece
was spared the fighting and the killing. They somehow managed to avoid the bloodshed by seeming to support the (or at least ignore) Serbian actions during the war years. Nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom sent small detachments of troops in an attempt to protect Macedonia and to influence Yugoslavia (now virtually just Serbia) to make no aggressive moves on the area. That was a risky endeavor, because besides Macedonia Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Albaniaall coveted parts of . Macedonia was provocative in regard to these NATO forces and in 1999 took three American soldiers prisoner along the border. NATO stated at the time that: Serbia
NATO forces in the
are there in the context of a peacekeeping mission. They pose absolutely no threat to Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia . Yugoslavia
In 2001, The Albanian partisans who fought the Serbs in Kosovo escalated terrorist actions in
Macedoniaand . The Yugoslavia United Statessent a 150-man force of peacekeeping troops to the area along Kosovo's border with . Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral Craig Quigley said: Macedonia
We think that the recent activities by Albanian extremists along the border between Kosovo and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are exactly opposite what everyone is trying to accomplish in that region.
By moving additional forces closer to the border, we hope that by increasing the numbers, increasing the visibility, increasing the surveillance and patrol activity, we would have some effect in trying to tamp down extremist action that has been taking place in that region.
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski met with Yugoslav Prime Minster Slobodan Krapovic and signed a military pact citing Albanian terrorist actions allegedly sponsored by Kosovo. Some of the problems in
concerned the official status of the Albanian language and the structure of the police forces. Macedonia
NATO conducted three short-term operations to help quell tensions between the countrys Albanian ethnic minority and national security forces. After an agreement was reached, NATO sent Task Force Harvest to
in August 2001 where it was hoped that the Albanian insurgents would turn over their weapons and become responsible peace-abiding citizens. Units were from the Macedonia Czech Republic, France, Greece, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, the United States, and . Operation Essential Harvest (22 August 26 September 2001) helped to disarm ethnic Albanian extremists on a voluntary basis. Because national contributions were larger than expected, the force ultimately grew to approximately 4,800 troops. The operational plan was drawn up in response to a request for NATO assistance made by President Trajkovski on 20 June. Iceland
One NATO report states that the Task Force harvested 3,875 weapons, including four tanks and armored personnel carriers. Operation Amber Fox (27 September 2001 15 December 2002) was mandated to ensure the protection of international monitors from the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe who oversaw the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement. The Ohrid Framework Agreement was the peace understanding signed by the government of the Republic of Macedonia and ethnic Albanian representatives on 13 August 2001. Operation Amber Fox also known as Task Force Fox was a NATO-led operation in the Republic of Macedonia, led by Germany and the Netherlands and initially under the command of German Brigadier General Heinz-Georg Keerl. It followed on from Operation Essential Harvest, another NATO operation.
The Battle of Tetovo occurred in the beginning of January 2001 which also involved NATO and the Macedonian Armies to disarm Albanian insurgents who had occupied several cities, towns, and villages in the Republic of Macedonia. This battle lasted until November 2001. The agreement ended the armed conflict between the National Liberation Army and the Macedonian security forces and set the groundwork for improving the rights of ethnic Albanians. NATO also agreed to leave a peace-keeping force in
to oversee implementation of the peace agreement. This force, Task Force Allied Harmony, was about 700 men in 2003. Operation Allied Harmony (16 December 2002 31 March 2003) provided continued support for the international monitors and assisted the government in taking ownership of security throughout the country. Macedonia
Displays of some of the collected weapons
Although the operation was considered a success, the collection of weapons did not always go smoothly. On the very first day as soldiers were setting up a collection point in Miljevina, a car drove by and four hand grenades were tossed out the window at the surprised troops. The men hit the ground but were surprised to hear no explosions. The hand grenades had not been armed. Apparently the driver was just turning in his weapons and didnt want to bother with any paperwork. I suspect the troops might have needed some paper afterwards.
One of the most successful units at finding weapons was A Company of the Royal Ghurkha Regiment, part of the British Battle Group that has been operating north of Prijedor. While conducting a patrol on 11 September they searched a barn and found two M55 triple-barreled, 20 mm anti-aircraft guns. They also discovered two 50-calibre mounted machine guns and a number of 82mm mortars. The found another three 82mm recoilless guns near the barn.
Maj. Gen. Gunnar Lange, Danish Army
Task Force Harvest Commander
Task Force Harvest Insignia
Note: I had first considered adding this Macedonia information to my article on the PSYOP of the Yugoslav Wars, PSYOP Against Milosevics Yugoslavia but this operation is really not part of the Milosevic wars and we have enough data and product to merit giving this story its on place on this website.
Task Force Harvest PSYOP
Task Force members distributing news to locals
Although information is spotty, it appears that the main proponent of PSYOP for Task Force Harvest was the 15th PSYOP Group (UK). I have seen several dozen propaganda leaflets, posters, and newspaper ads prepared by the British group, and if other nations had PSYOP troops in the area I am not aware of it. The role of the 15 (UK) PSYOPS Group is to influence attitudes in order to affect behavior in support of a military commander's mission. This is done with planned, culturally sensitive, truthful and attributable activities directed and disseminated by various means to an approved target audience. The tri-Service Group consists of regular and reserve officers and other ranks, providing operational support, planning, media production, logistic and technical support; with members of all three services ranging from photographers to intelligence analysts and is supported by a small civilian administration support team. The Group has deployed to support all recent military and peace-keeping operations and major exercises throughout
Europe. It is under constant development and a current forecast is to increase manning levels for 2006, to 40 Regular and 28 Reserve members.
In terms of radio propaganda the PSYOP campaign in Macedonia was one of the first true multi-media campaigns planned and carried out by the 15th POG in support of the multinational operation to reduce and collect the amount of illegal weaponry in the country. A bi-lingual national newspaper campaign and a leaflet dissemination campaign were supported by a radio campaign, broadcast over Macedonian and Albanian language radio stations. Because the environment was relatively peaceful, the campaign did not need to utilize its own radio broadcasting facilities and agreements were put in place to purchase airtime and space in the various media to ensure the widest coverage and dissemination. An innovative addition to the radio-based part of the campaign, was the use of Radio Data System-based "info strips" designed to appear on in-car FM radios. The purpose of this was too underline key elements of the weapon collection campaign and it was likely the first time this method was used for PSYOP purposes.
A member of the 15POG was kind enough to talk a bit about the operation:
I was one of the team from 15POG and involved in the planning, design and execution of the leaflets and Press ads you show. The illustrations were produced by one of our people - a very talented illustrator/cartoonist, with many of the photos we used by one of the other team. At that time, we were a very small but professionally experienced team of (mainly) Reserves and very talented people. There was also a commercial radio expert who looked after the audio side.
The Macedonia campaign covered all media - including one of the first-ever RDS campaigns on the radio - and was one of our first true multi-media, multi-lingual campaigns and was extremely interesting to work on. Incidentally, in my opinion, it was a good campaign for several wrong reasons. We went in to talk about collecting the weapons of war but ended up trying to "reunite" the Albanians and the Macedonians (the cartoon ads are examples of this). This caused the previously friendly Macedonians to harden their attitude toward Task Force Harvest and we had a few hairy meetings with the media operators. Conversely, the Albanians loved what we were doing and made us welcome when we visited them.
In the case of the leaflets, this is one of those rare cases where we have too much product. As a result, I will just depict selected leaflets that use different PSYOP themes, or those that are particularly attractive, imaginative or noteworthy.
Headquarters Task Force Harvest
This information leaflet explains to the people of
exactly why the foreign troops are in the country and quotes local and NATO leaders to give credibility to the message. It stresses voluntary hand-over of weapons trying to defuse any misunderstandings in advance. The leaflet is all text, over the NATO insignia: Macedonia
Headquarters Task Force Harvest
With joint effort we shall create conditions for the return of peace and stability in the region.
, 11 Aug 2001 Skopje
NATO supports the pursuit of a peaceful solution to the situation in
Task Force Harvest is only in
to assist in collecting weapons and ammunition voluntarily handed in by the ethnic-Albanian armed groups. Macedonia
NATO remains impartial in aiding the pursuit of democratic ideals.
Task Force Harvest will redeploy out of
as soon as its mission to assist in the collection of voluntarily handed-in weapons and ammunition is complete. Macedonia
A first and critical step in taking the country away from civil war and returning the country to normality has been made. It opens the way for a peaceful solution.
Secretary General of NATO
, 13 Aug 2001 Skopje
Weapon Collection Begins
This leaflet, coded D28, explains the purpose of the weapons collection. It depicts the insignia of Task Force Harvest, the letter TFH within a triangle, and a non-threatening smiling soldier at the left. The message also explains that the troops have a limited mission and will be out of the country within a month. The text is:
Task Force Harvest
Weapons Collection Begins
Task Force Harvest is operating in
and the invitation of the Government and with the full cooperation of all main political parties. Macedonia
Task Force Harvest personnel will redeploy from
once its 30-day mission to collect weapons and ammunition is complete. Macedonia
New force. New
. New future. Mission
An Impressive Start
Leaflet S21 tells of the start of the weapons hand-in campaign. It features five photographs depicting NATO troops and collected weapons. The title is:
Task Force Harvest Weapons Collection and impressive start.
Beneath the photograph of a military vehicle is:
TFH moves in to make the area safe
Two soldiers check weapons:
Each weapon is carefully registered
A group of soldiers and civilians looks at the collected weapons:
Parliamentarians view the weapons haul
A helicopter lifts a crate of weapons:
Helicopters collect the weapons and ammunition
Rockets, mortars and machine guns on the ground:
A collection of usable and capable weapons out of circulation forever!
New force. New
. New future. Mission
This leaflet coded V26 depicts seven photographs featuring the types of weapons that the Task Force has harvested in
. Among the weapons are rockets, heavy machine guns and assault rifles. It is self-congratulatory in tone and also points out that the mission is over which should offer relief to any Albanian that feared the continued presence of the foreign troops: Macedonia
Task Force Harvest has completed its task. The weapons and ammunition collected will no longer be used. The total number of weapons collected is 3875 and includes:
4 tanks/armored personnel carriers
17 air defense weapons
483 machine guns
3210 assault rifles
Plus 397,625 items of explosives/ammunition and mines.
This 28 August 2001 leaflet shows smiling Task Force Harvest soldiers. It is clear that the PSYOP guidance was that the UN forces should always look friendly and never threatening. Some of the text is:
Task Force Harvest Soldiers will soon be in your Area
These soldiers will be moving through or close to your village and we ask you not to interfere with their mission. For your own safety, stay clear of the weapon collection sites and allow the Task Force Harvest soldiers freedom of movement. Task Force Harvest is here at the invitation of the Macedonian Government and is operating with the full cooperation of all the main political parties.
This leaflet is reminiscent of President Bush when he said Mission Accomplished. It points out that Task Force Harvest ended on 26 September 2001 after collecting 3,875 weapons. It introduced Task Force Fox that will commence on 27 September 2001 and provide military backup for the international monitoring teams.
This 2 November 2001 leaflet explains Task Force Fox to the Macedonians. This task force replaced the earlier Task Force Harvest. The mission is for three months but could be extended if the government requests it. The main military force is comprised of Germans and French troops.
After the successful end of the operation the weapons were taken to the BH Steel works in Zenica where they were fed into a Siemens-Martin furnace to be melted down at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten steel was recycled into raw steel for construction use. Swords into plowshares in action!
I have been in Your Country
Leaflet P24 uses the personal touch. While the majority of the Task Force Harvest leaflets are just text, this one depicts Major General Lange, Commander of the task force. He looks out from the leaflet in a sincere manner and says:
I have been in your country for only five months, but within that short time I have seen the need for both collective confidence in the future and a willingness to work together.
Task Force Harvest has made excellent progress over the last couple of weeks; I and all my people have been delighted by the support that we have received and the trust in which we have been held.
There are many challenges, but I believe that with trust and joint effort your fine country can look forward to peace and prosperity.
Brigadier General Barney White-Spunner
Another Task Force Harvest leaflet featuring an individual depicts Brigadier General Barney White-Spunner, Commander of the British 16th Air Assault Brigade. Spooner led an advance party of about 400 troops into
in mid-August 2001. His job was to decide if the insurgents were sincere about handing over their weapons before deploying the rest of the 3500-man force. We do not have a translation for this leaflet but the general was widely quoted on several occasions pointing out that the operation was at the request of the Macedonian Government and required the support of all the people of that nation: Macedonia
We can only do our job with the full commitment and support of everybody in
. We are not here on a disarmament mission. We are not here on a peacekeeping mission. Macedonia
At the end of the mission on 21 September 2001, White Spooner spoke again:
When we arrived here, I saw many media statements saying that NATO was unpopular and not wanted. I never believed them, and I believe them even less now. We have received a very warm welcome from the vast majority of people and I would in particular like to thank the Army of the
and the regular Police Force for their co-operation. Republicof Macedonia
We have always been aware that we were here at the invitation of the Macedonian Government and I would like to thank all the people of
for their support. Macedonia
All weapons were handed in voluntarily by the so-called NLA as they disbanded, and we believe that they represent their true military capability. No organization would hand so many and such good quality weapons unless it was completely committed to the path of peace. Additionally, we have also collected a total of 397,625 items of mines, explosives and ammunition.
Helicopters are working in your Area
During operations over
in the early 1990s the Coalition dropped leaflets telling the Bosnians and the Serbians that they were dropping food and their aircraft should not be fired upon. Leaflet O7 serves the same purpose. It reassures the citizens that the strange aircraft overhead are on a humanitarian mission and are not a threat. The leaflet bears six photographs that depict American and European helicopters. They are the Bosnia 412, the UH-60 Blackhawk, the Gazelle, the CH-47 Chinook, the Puma, and the Lynx MK7. A second similar leaflet depicts just three of the helicopters. The text of leaflet O7 is: Bell
Task Force Harvest helicopters are working in your area.
Task Force Harvest is working in full co-operation with the Macedonian Government.
These helicopters will be operating in Macedonian airspace in support of TFH operations.
They are operating with the permission of the Macedonian Government and should not be threatened in any way.
. New Force. New future. Mission
Several of the leaflets are in the form of cartoons. They are similar to consolidation and nation-building leaflets because the message is very simple and can be understand easily by less literate people. They were placed in the local newspapers as ads in an attempt to motivate cooperation and friendship between the Macedonian and Albanians. Curiously, The Albanians seemed much moved by the leaflets and were quick to offer friendship. The Macedonians were less so and this caused some problems with the Task Force personnel. It seems almost like the mission creep that the American faced in Somalia where the humanitarian feeding of the people turned into an attempt to change the political power structure.
We can do this Together
Leaflet M4 is a perfect example of a leaflet that is easy to read and understand. It depicts two men rowing a boat away from a dangerous waterfall. The precipice represents civil war. The men represent
and the Albanian insurgents. They row together to escape bloodshed. The text is: Macedonia
We can do this together!
Yes we can!
Danger Bridge down
Leaflet K7 has the same message though the image is different. A train is depicted speeding down the tracks. It can go left to destruction over a bridge that has collapsed or right to a brighter day. Once again the Macedonian and Albanian men cooperate to turn the tracks toward the brighter day. The text is the same as leaflet M4:
We can do this together!
Yes we can!
Leaflet 021 also asks for cooperation. It pictures five children building a house of playing cards. It is clear that without them working together the house will fall. The text is:
With a steady hand you can build a firm foundation for the future
The playing cards are labeled with various titles, some of which are:
Tolerance, peace, stability, trust, co-operation, weapons collection, EU (European Union), NATO, Constitutional reform.
The Big Picture
Leaflet O2 uses many of the same works for pieces of a puzzle that the children are putting together. IOs, Constitutional Reform, Weapons Collection, NATO, UN Trust, EU, and Co-operation. The text to the right of the illustration is:
Completing the BIG picture.
Leaflet 022 dated 3 October 2001 depicts two children in a sweet shop. A big bag of candy costs 100, and each child has 50. To buy the big bag the children will have to work together, trust each other and share the load.
Leaflet W19 dated 19 September 2001 depicts two children in a balloon. The title is The mission proceeds The children need to lighten the load of the balloon so they are dropping ballast labeled Prejudice, Discrimination, Hate, Intolerance and ignorance. The children speak to each other:
Can we get over this? Yes we can!
Task Force Harvest is doing its Part.
This leaflet coded 121 that was also used as a newspaper ad shows two lads climbing up a mountain. Various comments on the mountain lead to peace. They are:
3rd Weapons Collection
2nd Weapons Collection
We can do this together! – Yes, we can!
1st weapons collection.
The leaflet coded P24 that was also used as a newspaper ad depicts two boys sitting on a cliff. The text is:
We have made good progress together over the past month.
Yes, we now have peace and stability, our leaders are talking, and things are moving forward.
And business is back to normal, but will it last?
Be optimistic, Task Force Harvest was a big success. A great many weapons have been handed in. There is now much more dialogue, and our children can look forward to better things.
We must continue to build trust and cooperation between us.
You are right, it is all for our future.
This ends our very brief look at the PSYOP of post-Yugoslavia
. We have many more images but I believe that we have shown enough to give a good representation of the leaflets and posters that were prepared during the Task Force Harvest weapons campaign. I would like to hear from anyone who took part in this operation. As always, the article is unfinished and more data will be added as it becomes available. Readers with comments or suggestions are encouraged to write to the author at email@example.com. Macedonia
© 18 October 2005