Iraq began offensive PSYOP program developing leaflets and a radio program which started broadcasting through it's National Radio and other relays in early August 1990 shortly after the arrival of the 82nd Airborne Division. The broadcast schedules were fairly consistent starting daily between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM and continuing to as late as 3:00 AM or 5:00 AM. The radio shows were taped and about two hours in length. The shows were replayed multiple times during the day in the hopes of getting their message to the largest possible target audience. Before each show signed off the announcer would inform the listeners specifically 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.
Probably the most famous purveyors of Iraqi propaganda were a youthful sounding woman dubbed "Baghdad Betty" and a male voice which was quickly nicknamed "Iraqi Jack".
'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. Iraq
In keeping with the traditions of Tokyo Rose, Axis Sally, and Hanoi Hanna, Iraq started its blend of music, news and propaganda when the U.S. military buildup began shortly after Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2nd, 1990. Baghdad Betty began broadcasting morale busting messages in English to allied troops in Saudi Arabia in early September 1990, Baghdad Betty's broadcasts were more frequent than those by Iraqi Jack.
The shows were reportedly broadcast from downtown
, which was about 500 miles from the Coalition forces, with transmitters in Southern Iraq and Kuwait. Baghdad Betty first broadcast in English to Coalition troops in Baghdad (which is most likely how the origin of the nickname "Baghdad Betty" came about) in early September 1990. Saudi Arabia
Even before the fighting began, U.S. soldiers were subjected to radio reports from Baghdad Betty's Voice of Peace and other radio announcers such as Iraqi Jack trying to convince them that their cause was unjust, that their wives and girlfriends had abandoned them, and that their own comrades were drunks, drug addicts and rapists. These daily broadcast on AM frequency 1190 opened with:
This is the Voice of Peace...from Baghdad
The 3-hour radio show included a mix of popular top 40 hits, oldies from the 60's and 70'and some Blues music by contemporary artists. The choice of music was excellent and was better than what was locally available initially for Coalition forces encamped along points both west and south of Kuwait. Unfortunately the broadcasts also contained warnings to American soldiers such as that they risked coming down with "craziness" from long spells in the desert. The messages also raised doubts of the U.S. role in the region and further warned that:
Your Arab allies will turn their weapons against U.S. soldiers instead of Iraqis.
Tom Selleck and Bart Simpson
, 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 Iraq's propaganda developers had a predetermined opinion of life in the 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 United States 's military efforts, a failure. Her alleged comments that the American soldier's wives were in bed with Tom Cruise, Tom Selleck and Bart Simpson made Iraqi radio a constant source of jokes on late-night American television. Iraq
The British newspaper The Guardian wrote in 1991:
BAGHDAD BETTY, Iraq's English-language radio service, has taken a credibility nosedive. Over the weekend Betty indulged in some mischievous bitchery by telling US soldiers that their wives back home were committing adultery by sleeping with movie stars. Big-screen heartthrobs like Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bart Simpson. The first two might have presented some cause for anxiety, but who initiated the deviant practice of molesting under-age, primary coloured cartoon characters?
However, according to Snopes.com, the entire story is just an urban legend. Snopes says:
On February 1 host Johnny Carson opened the show with what he called a retraction. He recalled that some time previously his writers had manufactured a gag about an Iraqi announcer called "Baghdad Betty" telling soldiers their womenfolk were being romanced at home by "Tom Selleck, Tom Cruise and Homer Simpson."
The story spread, Carson said, and soon it was being retold, even on wire services, as fact, with one change Homer Simpson, the father in the Simpsons animated cartoon series, was replaced by Bart Simpson, his 9-year-old son. Said Carson: "It was a joke. We made it up."
The problem is, there are soldiers today who swear that they heard the broadcasts.
So, did they or didnt they? President Bush believed the story and used it in one of his speeches. The Iraqi leaflet propaganda was so bad that it is easy to believe that they could have made the broadcasts.
Don North was the media advisor to Saudi General Khalid Bin Sultan, the Commander of Saudi forces. He monitored Iraqi propaganda broadcasts and later wrote an article entitled As Propagandists go, Gulf Wars Baghdad Betty was a Bomb for Stars and Stripes. He said about Baghdad Betty in part:
In September 1990 soon after the arrival in Saudi Arabia of the U.S. 82nd Airborne, Iraqs Voice of Peace began broadcasting with an English-speaking Iraqi woman. Americans named her Baghdad Betty. She played pop music more popular than the religious music on Saudi stations, but to bolster their own forces and influence Arab allies, she bad-mouthed American troops saying they drank liquor and defiled the holy places of Islam. Her propaganda writers had a jaundiced view of American culture.
Her efforts to broadcast morale-busting messages to troops in the Gulf war were, like most of Iraqs military efforts, a failure. Baghdad Betty started broadcasting in English to Allied troops in Saudi Arabia in September 1990. Her broadcasts were believed to originate in Baghdad with transmitters in Southern Iraq and Kuwait.
Some of the laughable taunts that Baghdad Betty and Iraqi Jack made were:
Dear American soldier....are you prepared to die for a barrel of oil?
To the American soldier in the Saudi Arabia desert. Would you like to be one of the cripples who are only lamented in the charity ceremonies.
One of your pals even killed himself a week ago, feeling terribly lonely. And two G!s quarreled with each other, and one of them shot his colleague after they used to be good friends.
Demand to go home. Put down your cannons and your bombs. You know you cannot win against our fearsome troops and the invincible best friend of Allah.
This is only normal for one who is not accustomed to live in the desert and is forced to do so for so long a time could easily be driven to craziness. Then suicide is the only way out.
So American soldiers, how do you like our Arab lands where you cannot get a Kentucky fry Big Mac to eat and you are always missing your half-naked immoral sweetheart back home.
You are weary of sand and sun and sweat on your body from senseless aggression. You are secretly admiring the great leader Saddam Hussein and asking yourself: 'Why am I here?'
George Bush is like the stupid rat that enters into the house of the clever fox -- our brave Saddam Hussein. He cannot think with his brains like our leader and he is a coward with no intestines. Your American president is losing allies and will be soon loosing the was. So soldier, why be dead in his dumb mistake?
Another example was at one point, they went from Led Zeppelin's song Stairway to Heaven into a dissertation on why any alliance between the United States and Israel against Iraq was doomed to fail.
Chris Hedenskog holds a high-explosive anti-tank, or HEAT,
round bearing the words: "Baghdad Betty, this Bud's for you!"
Staff Sergeant Joseph Herald, a member of a field artillery unit from Fort Lewis, WA had this to say about Baghdad Betty.
As long as she plays good music, who cares what she has to say.
1st Sergeant Rick Mathes serving in one of the U.S. Army's M-1 tank battalions in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War had this to say about her:
Baghdad Betty said that U.S. Military were concealing the fact that the bodies of 120 soldiers were down in the morgue and they were afraid to send them home. She is hilarious.
Unfortunately for Iraq, although the music selections attracted the target audience to listen, the broadcasts content was not only considered humorous but absurd. The Iraqi propaganda machine forgot the number one lesson in preparing a PSYOP campaign:
Know and understand your target audience thoroughly.
One officer noted that the broadcasts had little effect. He noted that:
The only things that cheer the guys up better that Baghdad betty are letters from home
One soldier pretty much summed up her broadcast when he said:
Her broadcasts are so lame. Everyone tunes in just to laugh at her.
Iraq's propaganda developers had a jaundice opinion of life in the United States and it clearly came across in their perception of American culture. Their unbelievable misguided presentations clearly destroyed any credibility that they could have hoped for. Her efforts to broadcast morale-busting messages to troops in the Gulf were, like most of Iraqs military efforts, a failure.
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.
Curiously, Baghdad Betty turned out to be an efficient broadcaster when not reading badly written Iraqi propaganda. Don North reported:
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.
Colonel Jeffrey Jones
Commander, 8th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne)
The few American troops who heard her broadcasts say she was no Hanoi Hannah. Colonel Jeffrey Jones, Commanding Officer of the Armys 8th Psychological Task Force at Fort Bragg, NC., who directed U.S. PSYOP in the Gulf, says Bettys broadcasts were laughable. Jones said:
Her broadcasts proved the Iraqis didnt understand us at all, Her ignorance was pervasive. She was never sure of her sources, and broadcast old information based on dated news.
Saddam Hussein also wasnt impressed with Bettys efforts. In mid-December 1990 she was sacked after only three months of broadcasting, and replaced by a collection of announcers who called themselves "Mother of Battles Radio" on the same frequency that Betty had used.
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. The 4th Psychological Operations Group then used the same frequency, and in partnership with Saudi, Kuwait and Egyptian forces, made their own broadcasts 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.
Colonel Jones said:
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. They were ill-supported and vulnerable to everything we broadcast, which was basically just the truth.
Allied coalition psywarriors captured the Iraqi soldiers attention using dramatic methods.
Daisy Cutter - BLU-82 bomb
We would tell them that tomorrow we would drop on them the biggest bomb we had,"Then, exactly as promised, we dropped a Daisy Cutter (BLU-82) that looks like a small atom bomb detonating. The next time we said we were going to drop another big one like that, the defections increased dramatically.
One Iraqi soldier came across clutching 343 safe conduct passes he had been collecting. We found over 52 percent of defectors had been listening to our broadcasts.
At the same time, American Forces Networks radio broadcasts had the respect and credibility it lacked in Vietnam. Instead of doctoring the news by re-editing, the Gulf War AFN gave the troops exactly the same news civilians heard back home rebroadcasts of AP, ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN news on the hour.
In mid-October 1990, AFN was broadcasting from Dharan, Jubail, Riyadh, King Khalid Military City and, later, from Kuwait City. It represented a major concession by the Saudis, but one that U.S. military commanders in the Gulf believed was well worth demanding of their often-prickly Saudi hosts.
It was virtually a 24-hour invasion of the airwaves in the most traditional and sensitive of all Islamic states by what the locals considered risqué and permissive American music and uncensored news. But for American troops in the desert, it was a friendly and credible voice from home.