SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
Note: Images from this report were used in the article Information Potential in the monograph Defense potential in Poland as an example of effective information operations.
The 3rd PSYOP Battalion Distinctive Unit Insignia
A silver color metal and enamel device, 1 and 1/8 inches in height consisting of a vertical shield with a stylized sword between two arced lightning flashes. Around the bottom of the shield a silver metal scroll inscribed in red:
POWER TO INFLUENCE
The jungle green and silver gray are the colors traditionally used by Psychological Operations units. The sword represents military preparedness and has three combined cutting edges to denote teamwork and under-score the battalions numerical designation. The flashes are arced, simulating a circle, highlighting the importance of each army elements role in total combat readiness. The sword and flashes together reflect the three sources and types of propaganda and refer to the truth, the half-truth and the untruthful. The distinctive unit insignia was authorized on 16 November 1995.
The 3rd PSYOP Battalion Coat of Arms
Shield: A stylized sword between two arced lightning flashes.
Crest: A double-headed chess knight with a palm tree in the center.
The double-headed chess knight symbolizes strategy as well as the dual nature of propaganda and psychological operations. It is banded in red to commemorate the units Meritorious Unit Commendation and is superimposed by a palm tree for war service in Southwest Asia. The coat of arms was authorized on 16 November 1995.
3rd PSYOP Battalion Challenge Coin
Lieutenant Colonel A.G. Starunskiy mentioned the 3rd PSYOP Battalion in a 2003 article entitled Psychological operations of U.S. military services at the present stage. He said in part:
The 3rd Psychological Operations Battalion (POB) serves as the PSYOP dissemination battalion for printed, audio and video PSYOP material and maintains and supports communications system of PSYOP units. It is made up of a headquarters and support company (with an electronic equipment maintenance platoon and a motor transport maintenance section), a print company (management section, a fixed-site print facility platoon and three mobile print facility platoons, a radio and television broadcasting company (a management section, production and dissemination platoon, a radio engineering section and a signals company (a management section, a tactical echelon communications support platoon, a communications and control center and a theater communications support platoon). The battalions print company can print at the rate of one million one-color leaflets in 24 hours after getting the assignment. The battalion is equipped with practically all types of mobile radio stations, television broadcasting and studio complexes, communications and printing facilities of the U.S. military services PSYOP bodies.
Field Manual No. 33-1-1, dated 5 May 1994, Psychological Operations, Techniques and Procedures has a 21-page Appendix K on the Dissemination battalion. I will quote some pertinent comments, but the reader should read the information if more depth is required:
The PDB provides television and radio production and broadcast support to the 4th PSYOP Group. It also provides audio support, specifically, making prepacked loudspeaker products for the tactical and regional battalions. It installs and operates organic AM/FM/SW and television broadcast systems. It operates foreign production and broadcast facilities in support of conventional and special operations. It also acquires, records, and disseminates U.S. and friendly nations broadcasts transmitted into target area.
The PAMDIS System
This system combines AM and FM radio and television transmitter systems and comes with organic transportation. It includes two separate low-power (a 100-watt FM and a 200-watt TV) transmitter that can broadcast FM radio 97.5 MHz with a range of 15 to 20 km and television on channels 7 through 13 (NTSC) or channel 5 (PAL/SECAM) with a range of 10 to 15 km. The AM transmitter uses a 1-kw transmitter on 530 to 1620 KHz to broadcast 50 km.
The print company provides print, leaflet rolling, and leaflet dissemination support to the 4th PSYOP Group. It operates organic and foreign printing systems in support of GP and Special Operations forces. The print company consists of a headquarters section and five platoons that are equipped to print a variety of products. Four platoons have a combination of light print systems, medium print systems, and modular print systems. These platoons are deployable. The fifth platoon, the heavy print platoon, consists of stationary Heidelberg presses and supporting equipment. This platoon is located at Fort Bragg, NC, and is not deployable.
The Modular Print System (MPS)
One 15-kilowatt generator and two 60-kilowatt generators are organic to the MPS (modules A, B, C). It can, however, be powered by one 60-kilowatt generator. All shelters are climate controlled. A minimum of three C-5B aircraft are required for air movement of one complete MPS. Using organic software, a trained operator can scan in images drawn by illustrators or illustrations from any printed source for use in preparation of camera-ready art. The scanned image can be used as is or as a template to make a computer graphics drawing. Either image can be used in a page layout program to develop a product, combining graphics with text. Graphic images may also be drawn directly on the computer, and clip art files can be used as is or modified. Once the product is completed on the computer, it can be printed as a color proof or color separations by the printer. The software can make automatic color separations, either in spot version or four-color version. The black on white separations are then ready for the camera stage of the press operation.
Operation Desert Storm
Lieutenant Colonel James P. Kelliher
Lieutenant Colonel James P. Kelliher entered the United States Military Academy in 1968 and received an Infantry Commission upon graduation in 1972. In 1987, Kelliher began his service to the Psychological Operations Regiment serving until 1995 when he retired from active duty.
U.S. Central Command Patch
While serving as a Psychological Operations Officer, LTC Kelliher served in a variety of positions. He was the 4th PSYOP Group S-2 (Intelligence), S-3 (Operations) and XO (Executive Officer). He established the Psychological Operations Dissemination Battalion, now known as the 3rd PSYOP Battalion (Airborne), and served as its first commander. He deployed forward to support the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was headquartered at the King Fahd International Airport in June of 1990. His Dissemination Battalion produced a great number of the Coalition propaganda leaflets and posters printed during Operation Desert Storm.
During his service, LTC Kelliher was awarded the Expert Infantryman Badge and is Master Parachutist rated. His awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak-leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
Some brief comments about Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The original 4th Group PSYOP plan was called Burning Hawk and was complete by September 1990. It was not approved until December. General Schwarzkopf sent a letter complaining about the delay and then the plan was acted on. The European Command developed its own plan for PSYOP in Turkey called Proven Force. The cost for all the PSYOP during the war was estimated at $16,100,000. The result was that 86,743 Iraqis surrendered. Nobody knows how many Iraqis really quit the war because many simply took off their uniforms and started walking back home.
I asked LTC Kelliher to tell me about his Desert Shield/Storm deployment and he answered in some depth. His comments are in italics, mine are not. In several places I have added leaflets from my files and remarked about them. In each case I have stated Authors Note, and it should be understood that these comments are mine and they in no way represent LTC Kellihers thoughts or beliefs.
The 3rd PSYOP Battalion, also known as the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion (PDB) was activated in June of 1990 as part of the provisional reorganization of the 4th PSYOP Group proposed by Col Normand and authorized by Lieutenant General Luck. The Group reorganization was not necessarily greeted warmly by the 1st, 6th, and 8th Battalions which lost sizable portions of their units to the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion and the 9th PSYOP Battalion which assumed responsibility for loudspeaker and tactical operations. But it made sense based on the experience gained in the run-up to and operations during JUST CAUSE in Panama.
Originally designated the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion, it was formed from the 90th Strategic Dissemination Company (SDC), the print sections from the line battalions and the communication sections from the battalions and the group.Initially the Battalion Headquarters was minimally staffed so we decided that we would have an S1/S2 (Personnel and Intelligence) and an S3/S4 (Operations and Intelligence) section based on the experience and strengths of the S2 and S3.Departure from the norm, yes, but necessary and it worked. Staff work was accomplished on computers borrowed from a Joint Special Operations unit based at Ft Bragg. The Battalion Headquarters was initially in the old SDC storage room, jammed in a large room with shelves crammed full of print material--ink, paper, plates--and photographic supplies. The SDC was located in a large building which housed the Heavy Print Section with its massive Heidelberg presses, the Electronic Maintenance Section (EMS) which maintained all the Group electronics--radios, cameras, etc., and the Radio and TV studios. The SDC became the Broadcast Company giving up its Heavy Print Section while retaining its Radio and TV production and broadcast capability as well as the EMS. Print Company assumed responsibility for all Light, Medium and Heavy Print Operations. Signal Company assumed responsibility for the Group's long hauls communications.
Note: The Broadcast Company (Bravo Company) had responsibility for Radio/TV Broadcast (Radio Platoon), Media Production (Media Platoon), and the Electronic Maintenance Shop (EMS).EMS supported the Army common communications equipment and all loudspeaker systems in all the Battalions of the Group.
The Signal Company (Charlie Company) was responsible for standard types of Army communications, mostly long haul, for the Group.Starting with Desert Storm, they also became responsible for moving the product information (at first analog and then digitized) between product development to production to points of dissemination.Standard Army communications could not provide the bandwidth necessary to send quality pictures, audio, or video quickly.That is when PSYOP started looking at its capabilities becoming more CNN-like.
The battalion began sorting out roles and responsibilities, especially in terms of providing support to the battalions that would develop the products. It was decided that the support would come as a package not augmentations so that it was less ad hoc. That would be the norm--the regional battalion would get a Task Force from the PDB that would come with everything needed to support the commander.
One of the first events was a Family Day to get folks acquainted with each other--begin to build some camaraderie. One of the fundraising events was to get the funds to have a local seamstress make a set of colors for the unit.
Joint Readiness Training Center
Most of the Battalion leadership and company commanders were at Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) observing or supporting a previously scheduled rotation with the 82nd Airborne Division when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. We got a call from the Group Commander telling us to return to Ft Bragg as soon as possible. Of course the airport was full of others who had been at JRTC and were heading back as well.
Once back, the battalion began preparing for deployment. One of the discussions with the supported Task Force Commander and his Operations Officer centered around the type of printing press to be deployed and a concept for support. The Battalion's position was that production support should be centralized so as to maximize production capability and ease resupply problems.
The Psychological Operations Task Force Operations Officer and Commander envisioned light print presses (LPS) at each Division with approval of products residing with the Division Commander.We wanted the biggest presses we could get into the theater.The light print presses could only do one color at a time and each subsequent run tended to blur the images.Ultimately, one Medium system was flown in on a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, maxing out the payload.It augmented an in-country print plant. After several starts, the Battalion joined the dozens of units convoying vehicles and material to the ports. The main body prepared to deploy, actually loaded the aircraft and then got a call from the 4th Groups Operation Officer who informed us there was no room in the inn, literally nowhere to put the Battalion in KSA at the time. So the plane was unloaded and we went home to families who had prepped for us to deploy and be gone. Couple more false start and we deployed. Several were told by their spouses to sleep in the office if the deployment didn't happen. We arrived in September, scorching hot. The first billeting was Hajj Tents on loan from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Latrines were old fashioned out-houses. Potable water was obtained from a fire hydrant, inspected by the Veterinarians and approved.
We waited in Limbo for the equipment to arrive. We did have a bit of a dust up with the neighboring Grumman OV-1 Mohawk unit. The Executive Officer apparently told the Battalion non-commissioned officers that his guards would shoot anyone straying over near the unit area. Common sense didn't prevail no matter who talked to him. One hot afternoon, the Battalion non-commissioned office was on his cot when the Mohawk Executive Officer burst into the tent, screaming about some real or imagined slight or trespass. I told him to calm down and he asked me who I thought I was. Putting on my uniform blouse I pointed at the black oak leaf and told him I knew I was a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army and for him to depart until he calmed down. I made the decision to end this feud and told the Supply Officer to keep the wrench for the fire hydrant, limiting all the water. Within a couple of hours a delegation of Warrant Officers approached and said they would keep the Executive Officer under control and away from us if they could get access to the wrench. It was a done deal, handshakes all around and all concerned went back to worrying about the real enemy.
King Fahd International Airport
The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment had just departed King Fahd International Airport (KFIA) for King Khalid Military City (KKMC). We were lucky enough to be able to work out a deal and occupy the living and work spaces vacated by the aviators.
SOCSOUTH Patch and Insignia
After time in the tents, the prefabs were like luxury hotels. The Battalion began settling in and doing what they came to do.It looked like it would be an interesting time as the Battalion had little supply or support chain to reach back to.The staff began coordinating with various units. Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH) agreed to provide landline communications and access to medical support.The Personnel and Intelligence sections coordinated for Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) support again from SOCSOUTH. Just when it appeared that three Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) a day would be the norm, we worked out an arrangement with the Air Force unit with a contract Mess Hall. The Battalion printed meal cards for the Air Force and we got two hot meals a day. Two or three officers and senior NCOs were assigned as Contracting Officers which went a long ways towards solving print and other supplies requirements. Port-a-lets (portable toilets) and cleaning support came by contract. The dust played havoc with the printing presses until a contract for paving was obtained. The presses ran much better after that. The Warrant Officer and his electricians in the Electronics Maintenance Section (EMS) not having equipment to repair put their skills to use and built large heaters (a giant variation on the old electric coil you put in your coffee cup to heat it) for the showers.
Part of the Battalion deployed north to support some classified leaflet balloon efforts. No more to say on that.
Safe Conduct Card
[Author's Note]: 330,000 leaflets in all were delivered by balloon. I depict a balloon leaflet from my personal collection above. These leaflets were coated with a plastic compound to make them sturdier and better able to resist desert sunlight. This leaflet was one of the items allegedly disseminated by German PSYOP balloon specialists during the war. The mission name for the distribution of this leaflet was German S. Because the leaflets were plastic coated they would not auto-rotate properly and thus were not accurate from high altitude. Since the leaflet would be dropped by balloon that did not matter. The same problem occurred with the Saudi cardboard leaflets. They would not auto-rotate properly due to their weight, but they were all dropped from low altitude helicopters so that did not matter either.
In the United States when an artist wants to show what a person is thinking in a caricature or cartoon, he draws a series of bubbles over the persons head to imply thought. This is understood by most Americans, and one need not use any descriptive phrases like He thinks During Desert Storm the Coalition produced a number of leaflets using such thought bubbles to show Iraqi soldiers thinking about home, their families, or the overwhelming might of Coalition forces. The only problem with the concept is that apparently there is no history of little bubbles meaning thought in the Arab world. If true, the Iraqi finder of this leaflet must have studied it in complete puzzlement for some time wondering, Why is the family floating over his head?
General Schwarzkopf CinC of Central Command
In the meantime, we set about providing support. Operation Desert Shield was basically a Sitz Krieg (In WWII they called it a Phony War when the Germans and the Allies sat and looked at each other before the shooting started in earnest. Central Command waited for authority to conduct PSYOP. The Group Commander had established a relationship with the Commander in Chief (CINC) by sitting outside his office at MacDill Air Force Base for a couple days until the CINC asked him what he was doing and was told that he was his PSYOP officer. He led the creation of a PSYOP campaign plan which was completed in October and sat in the Pentagon until the "bumbling bureaucrats" gave permission to move forward to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
[Authors note] Colonel Kelliher mentions an early unapproved leaflet showing much Iraqi blood. The Colonel did not have an example but I have dozens of such illustrations so I show a similar leaflet from my own collection. This proposed leaflet depicts a Coalition F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter-bomber strafing and bombing an Iraqi soldier. There is no text, but a comment at the bottom of the page states that the drawing is a draft color illustration for proposed product developed by Master Sergeant Lester M. Steenberg, U.S. Army on 14 December 1990 at Al Jubayl Saudi Arabia. The artist did a similar draft the following day that depicted the Iraqi soldier in close-up while overhead three aircraft dropped bombs headed directly at his head.
Somewhere in this time frame the first leaflet proposed by a Division arrived.Sent up to the Headquarters in Riyadh it went to the CINC. The leaflet depicted an M-1 Abrams tank grinding an Iraqi soldier into the sand with appropriate spurts of blood. Needless to say, the CINC was not pleased, disapproved it and directed that approval authority remain at the Headquarters.
Draw a Line in the Sand.
The Video Production capability moved to the PSYOP Task Force headquarters to support efforts there. Most notable was the writing, development and production of the video The Nations of the World Draw a Line in the Sand. Its purpose was to show the Iraqi military (notably Saddam Hussein and his senior leaders) the overwhelming force and united coalition deploying to ensure a free Kuwait. Secretary of State Madeline Albright gave a copy personally to the Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations. Numerous copies were smuggled into occupied Kuwait and Iraq by clandestine means.
Loading leaflet rolls into a Leaflet Bomb
It turned out that the art of flying leaflets was perishable to say the least.Nobody in recent memory had done any work in that area. So it was start over time. One civilian Strategic Studies Detachment analyst has some experience from Korean ROK operations. The Print Warrant Officer retained a wealth of knowledge from Viet Nam. A contractor had developed a leaflet rolling machine which the printers were not impressed with but which was deployed anyway. Close relations with an Air Force maintenance squadron resulted in the printers being able to describe the dimensions for the forms for hand rolling the leaflets to the AF aircraft repairmen and the built them out of sheet metal. They worked great and with practice the printers out-performed the machine. Having been years since there had been a leaflet bomb loaded never mind deployed, it was decided that some practice was needed.
[Note] the official history of Desert Storm agrees. It says that an experimental machine to roll leaflets for packing into bombs was deployed, but proved to be temperamental and slow.
The UH-1H Iroquois Helicopter (also known as Huey)
The Operations Officer coordinated with the PSYOP Task Force and other units and we got a Royal Saudi Air Force fighter piloted by one of the many princes and a couple of US UH-1H helicopters.We loaded leaflet bombs with different color leaflets--each color had been rolled by hand or machine or stuffed in to the bomb--so that we could attempt to determine the best distribution pattern based on which color flew the best.We also used a Huey to test drops from a helicopter. We were able to video the test drops from another helicopter to capture the results. The hand rolled leaflets worked best. Then it was time to figure out how to fly leaflets. The Maintenance Warrant had a large Maintenance Tent that could be closed off so we had folks climb the supports up some 30 or so feet in the air and drop leaflets of different paper weight and sizes to determine the best dimensions.
Early on we deployed a small radio transmitter to Wadi al Batin up near the Iraqi border. Intent was to counter Iraqi propaganda directed against Arabic Coalition partners. The Saudis sent one of their top Disk jockey to host the program; unfortunately he was killed on a car wreck on the way there. Nevertheless, another Arabic Disk jockey was dispatched and the broadcasts went on. Our radio techs from Sacramento Army Depot did great work in getting increased range on the broadcasts using ground plane transmission which involved lots of copper wire and salt at the antenna base. In early December, the Iraqis made a push south and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) was moved up to Wadi al Batin to counter any threat.
I got a call from the company commander who was up there visiting his folks. The Brigade Commander from the 101st had come over and told the PSYOP folks they had 12 hours to vacate the building they were using as a studio. I called the Group Commander in Riyadh and about an hour later the company commander called back and said that he had had a second visit from the Colonel who had received a call from his Division Commander who had gotten a call from the XVIII Airborne Corp Commander who had gotten a call from the Commanding General of the 3rd Army who had been called personally by the Commander in Chief, US Central Command and was told in no uncertain terms to leave the PSYOP troops alone.
The Colonel graciously offered any assistance he could give. About this time, we got orders to move the big radio system up the coast to an island where we figured it could reach into Kuwait and southern Iraq. The best laid plans of mice and men. Having asked the company commander dozens of times if he was ready to go and getting the affirmative every time, we believed we were ready only to find out that the radio folks had forgotten the gin pole--the one item essential for putting up the antenna. The gin pole is used to raise succeeding sections of antenna up to the final height of 250. No getting around it. As luck would have it one of the Reserve PSYOP groups was detailed to the United States Information Agency and was broadcasting with the same radio system from Bahrain so we were able to borrow their gin pole, get the antenna up, the system ready and start broadcasting.
The TRT-22 50 KW AM Transmitter under Installation at Abu Ali
Photo courtesy of Doug Elwell, Broadcast Engineer, Sacramento Army Depot
The Site still under Construction; the transmitter under the Cammo Net in the Distance
Photo courtesy of Doug Elwell, Broadcast Engineer, Sacramento Army Depot
[Note] The transmitter was the AN/TRT-22 and it was installed on Abu Ali, near the Aramco Oil Co site, in the Persian Gulf. Abu Ali is not far above Al Jubail in Saudi. There were six radio platforms in all, two on EC-130s, two in Saudi Arabia and two in Turkey. The Desert Storm PSYOP report states that it took eight days to raise the antenna.
I asked Doug Elwell, the greatest expert on PSYOP radio that I know why there were no photographs of the radio station when finished. He explained:
Because Broadcast Company did not have the gin pole for erecting the tower, the Army tower riggers could not erect the antenna until they finished another tower installation that had similar equipment. We got to Abu Ali on 15 October and I left to return stateside the day prior to the shooting phase of Operation Desert Storm (16 January). We left because our work was basically done, not due to the onset of hostilities. To leave because of combat operations would have tipped off the Iraqis very bad operational security. The antenna was not erected for at least a few more weeks after I left.I know of no one that took pictures of the site when it was completed.I really wanted to see a photograph of the completed site.
The TRT-22 Transmitter
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 Saudis 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.
We said on Psywarrior.com at the time:
The 4th PSYOP Group began broadcasting the "VOICE OF THE GULF" radio network on 19 January 1991. It operated continuously through 1 April 1991 with more than 210 hours of live broadcasting and 330 hours of prerecorded programs. A total of 2072 news items were aired along with 189 PSYOP messages. The VOICE OF THE GULF network consisted of a 50 KW AM transmitter located at Abu Ali, Saudi Arabia broadcasting on AM 1134; a 10KW AM transmitter located at Qaisumah, Saudi Arabia broadcasting on AM 1179; a 1KW FM transmitter located at Qaisumah, Saudi Arabia broadcasting on FM 87.5 and two Volant Solo EC-130 aircraft of the 193rd Special Operations Wing broadcasting on AM 690 and FM 88.5 and 87.9.
An example of the gummed labels used to build morale among the Kuwaitis
The battalion was also providing support to Radio Free Kuwait--sponsored by the US and UK and manned by refugee Kuwaitis. Peel and stick symbols of the Kuwaiti resistance were also printed and handed over to SOCCENT and other organizations which got them into Kuwait City where they were placed to remind the Kuwaitis of coming liberation and give the Iraqis something to think about.
Our life was pretty routine by this time. The food was pretty good, two hot meals a day. The Morale, Welfare, and Recreation tent had a large screen TV. Morale calls once or twice a week made life more bearable. The Personal and Intelligence staff did a super job with this and also in arranging MWR trips to Riyadh as well as Half Moon Bay; a kind of resort.Since we were hung out at the far end kind of on our own, we played the orphan unit like a pro and we were able to get support from various larger formations.The PSYOP Dissemination Battalion had become known as the Pretty Deep Bunker Battalion because we bunkered in pretty well.We were down 6 to 8 feet with sandbag and timber overhead cover.Bunkers were dug near the living quarters and the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) was also dug in so that operations could continue without interruption.Chemical attacks were still a potentiality and with practice the Battalion could be in Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) IV and in the bunkers from a dead sleep in the middle of the night in less than a minute.The Operations folks practiced moving communications form the TOC to the bunker until it became a fine art.
[Note]: I hated MOPP gear. It was hot and uncomfortable and made every phase of life difficult. I used to be a scuba diver so I was very comfortable with wearing a mask. However, I found that after 10-12 hours in a gas-mask without having any peripheral vision one could become a bit paranoid. I remember that going to the bathroom was a major project of about a dozen steps, trying to keep your skin free of chemical agents. If you knew it was just a test you went ahead and secretly ignored all the safety rules, although you did know them by heart. Some soldiers told me that in a real wartime chemical agent emergency they would just urinate in the suit; it would be quicker and safer than going through all the steps.
Waiting for the All Clear Signal
One soldier mentioned a story about a time the alarms went off. In a way it is a terrible story, but in another way it kind of shows the military sense of humor:
One night, after a SCUD Missile was launched and Air Defense Sirens went off, we all jumped into MOPP Level-2 gear and were listening to Armed Forces Radio. We had our chemical detector unit turned on per NBC policy.
After about five minutes the chemical detector alarms started whaling and we donned gas masks, gloves and the whole nine yards. It was MOPP Level 4. Quickly, the nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) non-commissioner officer realized that the caps were not removed from the sampling tube on the detector, causing it to alarm. The problem came in when we tried to verify it was a false alarm and did not have chemical detection paper to sample for chemical agents.
When the ranking Chief Warrant Officer called out the lowest ranking soldier and told him he needed to crack his mask and take a breath, the Private burst into tears, refusing a direct order, crying his eyes out and about ready to crap his pants. The whole time we could hear his muffled voice from inside the mask saying, No. No. I dont want to die. No. No. I dont want to.
Great memory! I still chuckle to myself thinking about it.
Iraqi missile shot down in the desert by Patriot tactical air defense missile during Operation Desert Storm on 26 May 1992
We got alerted to SCUD attacks three or four times but never took a hit. On one occasion, the Executive Officer was enjoying a shower when the sirens sounded. The incredible the sight of all 6 feet, 6 inches of him blowing out of the shower clutching what seemed to be a washcloth around his middle was a sight burned into the memory of most of the unit.
The EC-130 COMMANDO SOLO
VOLANT SOLO (now COMMANDO SOLO) the EC-130 unit was in theater and providing broadcast support. In the days before computer communications, getting the tapes to the flying unit was a challenge. One method was hooking up two recorders to a phone line and playing the messages from the product developers at PSYOP headquarters in Riyadh over a telephone line and recording it in King Fahd International Airport. The only accessible landline belonged to ARAMOCO, the Saudi US Oil consortium.They agreed to let us use the line but many times someone would pick up a phone and break the connection or begin dialing ruining the tape.Tapes were also driven from Riyadh to King Fahd International Airport.
Christmas Menu Operation Desert Shield
[Authors note]: The U.S, military knows how important holidays are for the morale of the troops. As a result, the cooks will move Heaven and Earth to prepare a big holiday meal and somehow get it to where the troops are, even on occasion to the front lines. Because they have printing facilities, PSYOP units are often asked to prepare the menus for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. During Desert Shield menus for both holidays were prepared.
Christmas Card - Operation Desert Shield
Christmas came and went. We printed dinner menus and Christmas cards for the Joint Psychological Operations Task Group since Christmas cards were hard to get; every soldier got a few.
LTC Kelliher as Santa Claus at the Battalion Christmas Party
When did Santa start wearing Combat boots?
Photo by Specialist Robert Passini
The Battalion Commander dressed up as Santa Claus and distributed gifts of various sorts to the assembled soldiers.Bob Hope did his final USO tour and lots of the soldiers took a break to attend it. Then it was back to the grind. Leaflet rolling and bomb packing was down to a fine art. After some instruction by AF weapon technicians the PDB soldiers rolled the leaflets, prepped the bombs (inserting the detonation cord for separating the halves when the fuse fired at altitude and remembering to slit the tape that held the rolls together). The Battalion was responsible for getting the leaflet bombs to the right airfield at the right time. That mission devolved to the AIR Non-commissioned officer who got plenty of frequent flier miles as well as hours in military vehicles. Due to weather and operational tempo, and weather, he spent many a night sleeping in culverts on various air bases or waiting out alerts in them.
A Heavy Saudi cardboard Leaflet Later dropped from Helicopters
To Stay Here Means Death
The Saudis printed leaflets but the card stock they used was so heavy that they wouldn't fly and were never really used. The Battalion was concerned about getting a good product out for dissemination. The developers back in Riyadh were doing yeoman's work coming up with leaflets that conveyed the Commander-in Chiefs intent. Needless to say, everyone had opinions on what should be on a leaflet. Prototypes went back to Washington DC and apparently seniors in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff had opinions on messages, colors etc. The best advice came from the Saudis--in particular one leaflet that showed Arab soldiers sitting down with Iraqis (implied was after the war) for a meal.
The Saudis ask that Bananas be Added to the Leaflet
The Saudis recommended adding bananas to the fruit tray--the embargoes had ended the Iraqi ability to get bananas (which apparently were a favorite) and this was a reminder of what would come later.
[Authors Note]: There was an unproven rumor that the Kuwaitis or Saudis played a trick on the Americans and had them add the bananas to the leaflet because they wanted to insult the Iraqi monkeys. If true, that would make this almost a black operation. It is a great rumor, but I never believed a word of it.
The Leaflet Considered One of the Most successful of the War - Arab Solidarity
In Peace we Will Always Remain United
They also proposed the "Two soldiers holding hands walking into the sunset" leaflet which proved one of the most effective.
[Author's Note]: About 18,000 copies of this leaflet were printed. It is rumored that many were disseminated by balloon. The Arabs loved them as they showed the solidarity of the soldiers, hand in hand. Most Americans hated them and the concept of two men walking off into the desert together. The code name for this leaflet 1-W is Sunset. The image was very powerful and seemed to work well on the Muslim mentality.
With the noose tightening, the Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130s began leaflet drops. Experience gained from earlier operations helped the planners determine how to fly leaflets from near the Kuwaiti border into Kuwait City and its environs. Innovation and ingenuity on the part of the printers, operations staff and contracting representatives paid off. Some experimentation provided the ideal method of taping and the correct length of static line to get the leaflet boxes out of the aircraft. Years later, we learned of an urban myth about the boxes. I was told by an erstwhile young PSYOP officer about the exact dimensions required for a leaflet box. Asked where that information came from, we learned that it was from the first Gulf War. Hated to tell him that the boxes used were the only ones our purchasing agent on that mission could find.
Frustrated with getting answers on how long it took to produce a product, the companies were directed to create a capabilities handbook so that the customer knew, in black and white, what it took to get his product to him. One color leaflet equaled X hours.Two color leaflets equaled X+Y hours. A Radio broadcast took X hours to prepare. A Video product Took X hours per minute of video. We saved a lot of He said, she said conversations.
One of the Leaflets Actually Fired at the Enemy by Artillery
Follow these instructions if you want to survive
Leaflet rounds for the artillery entered the mix somewhere in this time, not a problem compared to the learning curve on bombs. Obviously based on the smaller size they contained far fewer leaflets and were easier to roll and load. Fusing was left up to the artillery units. 105mm rounds were the norm as we recall but there may have been some 155mm rounds. They were much easier to transport.
[Authors note]: Two hundred 155mm leaflet artillery shells were taken to the Gulf. Nine were actually fired at the enemy. The advance of the Coalition was so fast that there was very little need for a combat unit to fire leaflets at the Iraqis. 60 such shells with 150,000 leaflets were at Logistics base Charlie. Another 25 shells with 100,000 leaflets were at Logistics Base Alpha. The U.S. Marines were issued 43 leaflet artillery shells and 431,000 leaflets.
So by mid-January, the Battalion was in full production mode with augmentation out of the Heavy print plant in the European Command.Leaflets were being printed on a 24-hour basis.The radio transmitters were in the same mode and tapes were getting to VOLANT SOLO on a daily basis.
Reports poured in daily of Iraqi soldiers surrendering--many if not most clutching leaflets which promised safe passage and good treatment. It was gratifying to the printers to know that their work had a positive effect as the Iraqi army's capability dwindled.
The Battalion received a heads-up late the night before that Central Command would transition from Desert Shield to combat operations early the next morning. Desert Storm was really Operations Normal for the Battalion which had been operating full speed for some time.
The Wave Leaflet Designed to Make the Iraqis expect an Invasion from the Sea
The leaflet inside a Water Bottle as delivered to the Kuwait Beaches
To support CENTCOM operations the Battalion printed the "Wave" leaflet which depicted a U.S. Marine storming ashore, on the reverse were surrender instructions.To get it to the target audience, we collected water bottles and stuffed leaflets into them and then provided them to Naval Special Operations which got them ashore.
The Marine Division Commander was so impressed with the Loudspeaker capability that he gave up his UH-1N Twin Huey helicopter and had it turned into a broadcast platform. The Electronic Maintenance Section figured out the physics required to get the loudspeakers mounted and hooked up to the electronics in the aircraft. By all accounts, it performed superbly.
Marine Aviation technicians complete the installation of loudspeakers on General Boomers Helicopter.
PSYOP Staff Sergeants Bernard (left), and Wright (center)
Loudspeaker Helicopter Returning from 1st Scarface Mission
[Authors note]: Staff Sergeant Larry Wright, Non-commissioned Officer in Charge PSYOP Liaison to the Marine Task Forces 1st Marine Division Detachment, had this to say about the mission. I edited his comments for brevity:
The 2700 watt speaker system was the accountable property of LTC Kelliher, Commander of the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion.The separate speaker banks were assembled as one unit by Marine Flight Crews. Effective range based on ground tests was up to 5.5 miles depending on wind direction. The two UH-1N helicopters were Marine Commanding General Boomers personal birds, one equipped with classified electronics that were always concealed from my vision. When airborne, the loud speaker effectively broadcast just over 3 miles. The Marine code-name for our missions was Scarface. During the test phase I flew with 4 missions across the berm. Specialist 4 Jason Wells was appointed team chief who, along with his Saudi interpreter, rotated helicopters/crews to fly airborne PSYOP missions almost non-stop for the entire 4 days of Desert Storm with very little rest. By the time Scarface flew over Failaka Island they had already seen more action in the war than any other soldier that I've heard of and they were both exhausted.
The allied coalition effectively isolated, both physically and psychologically, a large element of Iraqi forces on Failaka Island. Rather than reduce the island by direct assault, a tactical PSYOP team from MARFOR, aboard a UH-1N helicopter, flew aerial loudspeaker missions around the island with cobra gunships providing escort. The message told the Iraqis below that should anyone wish to do so, they had until the next day to demonstrate their intention to surrender by relocating away from their defensive positions to the large radio tower on the island. The next day, to everyone's surprise, 1,405 Iraqis, including a general officer, waited in formation at the radio tower to surrender to the Marine forces without a single shot having been fired.
We return to Lieutenant Colonel Kellihers comments:
With the New Year, the intensity of operations and the requirements for products continued unabated with print operations going 24 hours a day. The radio stations continued operations as well. Somewhere in this time period, the Company Commander of the Broadcast Company was visiting his far flung units; his vehicle broke down on the TAP line (Trans Araba Pipeline) road. He made the decision to leave it and he and his driver hitched back to the radio station at Abu Ali. When the recovery team got there the next morning it was gone, never to be seen again. The assumption was that it had been liberated by the Marines who were up near the border.
[Authors note]: The Iraqis were not warned against using chemical or atomic weapons during Desert Storm. Years later when the Coalition entered Iraq under Operations Iraqi Freedom there were leaflets prepared that expressly warned against chemical or atomic weapons use by the Iraqis.
On a trip up to Wadi al Batin, where the smaller radio station was operating, the TAP line was crowded with convoys of armored vehicles headed up to the northwest--hundreds of tank transporters. The desert to the south of the road was dust cloud after dust cloud as armored vehicles churned up the sand. On the way back, my driver and I were chatting when off to the south of the road, a soldier in MOPP IV (full protective gear) popped up out of the hatch of an M88 Tank Retriever frantically giving the signal for gas attack. Both vehicles in our little convoy slewed off the road and in a matter of seconds, all four of us were MOPPed up and masked. As we waited before getting back on the road, we pondered the fact that this might be it and kind of shrugged--that stoic response one develops.
[Authors note]: During the war Coalition chemical alarms went off about 2,000 times. Many of the alarms were on former Communist bloc countries and their equipment was known to be quite good in this area. The U.S. has claimed that American troops were never attacked with chemical weapons but I am not sure that is totally true. I had a Warrant Officer from an OD unit who told me that he had been ordered to blow up Iraqi munitions in place quickly because the Saudi Arabians wanted the Americans out of the country by Ramadan. He told me that he believed he had blown up Iraqi shells containing chemicals. If so, perhaps the Iraqis did not use chemical weapons, but the Americans gassed themselves by accident.
About that time, several of the TCN (Third Country National) drivers came running up, holding their breath, carrying masks not unlike the ones worn when running a sander and asking with sign language if they should put them on. "Sure," we told them, knowing they were of no use but as I told my very young driver, It'll give them something to do. Pretty soon the all clear were given, it had been a false alarm based on chemical alarm being triggered by some unknown event. Lots of stories to tell when the convoy arrived back at KFIA.
Iraqi Troops Surrendering Holding Coalition Leaflets
The number of Iraqi soldiers surrendering reached the tens of thousands, virtually all carrying surrender leaflets which constituted safe conduct passes. Some had literally plastered themselves with the paper--if one leaflet was good one hundred was even better. Surveys conducted by the 13th Battalion (EPW) showed the effectiveness of these pre-DESERT STORM leaflets as well as radio and loudspeaker broadcasts.
By mid-January, the three civilian radio techs departed the Area of Operation, their jobs being done. Just prior to the onset of DESERT STORM, the Battalion received a heads up and we prepared to produce products, in MOPP gear if necessary, as well as defend the various compounds if necessary. Neither was required. As the air campaign continued, production hit a fever pitch. The Psychological Operations Task Group had developed a great working relationship with the CENTCOM Intelligence Section and the Combined Forces Air Component Command, (CFACC) that allowed the product developers to take advantage of current intelligence as well as tactical air planning to "personalize" leaflets for various units.
B-52 Bomber Leaflet
This is your first and last warning! The 7th Infantry Division will be bombed tomorrow! Flee this location now! The bombing will be heavy. If you want to save yourself, leave your location and do not allow anyone to stop you. Save yourself and head toward the Saudi border, where you will be welcomed as a brother.
[Authors note]: Six Iraqi Divisions were targeted with B-52 leaflets. They are the 7th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 28th, and 48th Infantry Divisions. General Schwarzkopf remembered the Rolling Thunder bombing campaign in Vietnam and wanted something similar.
Telling the commander of "X" Iraqi Division that the unit to his right or left flank had been decimated by B52 strikes and that unless he followed the surrender instructions on the leaflets his unit would suffer the same fate.
XVIII Airborne Corps Leaflet Back
Sometimes the message received was not always the one intended. It turns out that the Iraqis saw the Dragon on the 18th Airborne Corps patch and wondered why the horse was eating an arrow.
VII Corps Leaflet Back
Farther, east the leaflets with the Seven Corps patch had an unintended effect. The Iraqis determined that this would be the main effort and reinforced that area with several divisions causing the Special Forces teams embedded with the Egyptian and Syrian units to request that no more leaflet be dropped as they feared that those forces would be unable to fight their way through additional Iraqi forces.
Concurrently, we learned that the "Wave" leaflet and operations by Navy SEALS had again caused the Iraqis to misinterpret the Coalitions intent and react incorrectly. Iraqi intelligence analysts decided that the leaflet and beach reconnaissance were preparation for an amphibious assault by the U.S. Marine Corps currently afloat in the Gulf. Accordingly, the Iraqis moved two or three divisions to defend against this impending, in their view, assault. This was exactly why the leaflet was designed and disseminated.
Another benefit of cooperation with the Intelligence system was that the Joint Psychological Operations Task Group was provided the frequencies and other pertinent data for various Iraqi units. The aircraft VOLANT SOLO, with an Egyptian Brigadier General onboard, was conducting live broadcasts into command nets with personalized messages in Arabic. He pretended to be an Iraqi solider pleading with his Commanders to spare their troops. The fact that these broadcasts intruded on command frequencies was not lost on those Iraqi generals.
MC-130's from the Air Force Special Operations Command continued to leaflet Kuwait City by dropping the leaflets in from relatively high altitudes. Mission planning transferred from primarily Army lead to Air Force as they gained experience. B-52 strikes decimated Iraqi unit after unit. Again close coordination between the product developers, the Intelligence community, the Product Development Battalion and the Joint PSYOP Task Force liaison non-commissioned officer to the Combined Forces Air Component Commander paid great dividends. Leaflet after leaflet detailing what had happened to the unit to the left or right of the targeted unit and giving the Commander a choice--surrender or die. Many Iraqi soldiers chose to come south, again clutching leaflets--many with the belief that the more leaflets they had, the safer they were.
King Fahd International Airport and the Product Development Battalion served as a way-station and ad hoc school both during DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. During SHIELD, the battalion hosted the "Lost Boys," a group of active duty officers selected for a crash course in Psychological Operations. They were introduced to the technical part of PSYOP--production of the product. Somewhere in that time frame, a class of Saudi officers came through as part of their PSYOP course. The battalion also hosted a Kuwaiti intelligence officer for a few days prior to the reentry into Kuwait City. A graduate of University of California Berkeley with a Master's degree in Computer Science, he was tasked with going back in to see what could be salvaged from the Kuwaiti Information Technology infrastructure. One night, he came up to me, clearly agitated. "Colonel, you must stop the movie." I'm thinking, "Oh, great, somebody's showing a movie they shouldn't be." "What's the movie and what's the problem?" "Born on the 4th of July, they won't fight after this movie." Thanked him and reassured him that the soldiers would do their jobs, movie or not. He went away satisfied and later on went with the first convoy back into Kuwait City never to be seen again by the Product Development Battalion.
Kuwaitis and Americans entering Kuwait City
DESERT STORM was over almost before it started. The battalion put together a small task group of technicians to go back into Kuwait City with the liberating forces to see if any of the Broadcast capability could be restored.The convoy heading in assembled at King Fahd International Airport, looking like something out of Mad Max. There was a mish-mash of Hummers, Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicles, large tactical vehicles, pickup trucks, 5th Special Forces Group desert mobility vehicles, flags of various nations fluttering very much like something from Lawrence of Arabia.
That was the last major support effort. It was then time to get ready to redeploy. The old "who do we belong to devil raised its head again. Not Central Command, not Army Command Central, not Special Operations Command Central and not XVIII Airborne Corps. So no command took responsibility for Time Phased Force and Deployment Data to get the battalion back to the Continental United States. It became very apparent, very quickly that if the battalion was not to become a permanent fixture in the Kingdom, it would need to redeploy itself and so it began.
The Battalion was a bit late getting into the redeployment game. The assumption was that the unit would be managed by the Group or another higher headquarters.Assume was the operative word and it was proven wrong. Most of the places that needed to be scheduled (wash racks, Customs, etc.) were solidly booked.
[Authors Note]: A unit returning to the United States must have all of its equipment clean so that no parasites, diseases or chemicals are brought back along with the units vehicles, weapons and other supplies].
Customs checks for contraband souvenirs, weapons, explosives, art objects and of course cash. The weapons were particularly bad after Desert Storm. One of the prime souvenirs was Saddam Husseins gold plated AK-47 rifles. He had a stock of them in is palaces and many were brought back. Some officers were allowed to bring weapons back to be placed in the Museum at Ft. Bragg.
Desert Storms Most Prized Souvenirs
Saddam Husseins Gold-Plated Weapons
Explosives like cluster bomblets and hand grenades also seem to have been a desirable souvenir. I was at Ft. Bliss and in the mess hall there were about 30 young soldiers under guard, all awaiting trial for bringing back contraband. So many explosives were mailed home that the Army placed an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) unit at the post office to defuse anything that might explode].
The C-5A Galaxy
So with a combination of personal contacts and ingenuity, the process began. A next-door neighbor in Fayetteville was commanding one of the CH-47 Battalions and we were able to coordinate use of their wash racks late at night after they were done. The Provost Marshal for the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) was an old friend from the MP School so we were able to coordinate Customs inspections when the Inspectors had a little free time. The staff worked with XVIII Airborne Corps to schedule redeployment flights. It turned out that giving the service providers bags of our propaganda leaflets went a long way in getting help. Most of the soldiers had heard about leaflets but had never seen them so it gave them some souvenirs to take home. By mid-April, most of the Battalion redeployed on a C-5A Galaxy with a stop-over in Moron Air Base, Spain. We all agreed that the beer we had in their little canteen was the best one we'd had in 8 months, In accordance with General Order #1 it was the first we'd had. Our families met us at Green Ramp at Pope Air Force Base. We turned in weapons and equipment and went home.
There are a couple of things that turned up later that were important side notes. For months after redeployment, the PSYOP community briefed on the effectiveness of products in persuading Iraqi soldier to surrender. The data was based on 13th PSYOP (Enemy Prisoner of War) Battalion interviews and indicated that over 90% of the Iraqis were influenced by leaflets, radio or loudspeaker broadcasts. Unfortunately the fact that all of these interviews were pre-DESERT STORM didn't get transmitted effectively.
This leaflet depicts an Iraqi father and mother thinking of their dead son
Oh my dear son, when will you return?
The back shows the 26 flags of the Coalition Partners
The Joint PSYOP Task Force commander, giving a brief at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization conference, was called to task by a Spanish Officer who wanted to know why Spain's flag wasn't depicted along with other members of the coalition on the leaflet he was showing. Almost caught short, he paused and then explained that there were too many members to show all flags on one leaflet.
The Lessons learned is, make sure your data is correct and understand that the filler (back side of a leaflet) can be as important as the PSYOP message.
That is it Finis.
[Authors note]: The Colonel is rather modest about his achievements. These days people say, Oh well, it was only Iraq. They forget how formidable Saddams Army was. They dont remember the doubts about the power of the U.S. Army, the worry that our weapons would bog down or be incapacitated by the sand, the memories of Vietnam and the 20,000 body bags and thousands of plastic coffins on pallets awaiting shipment to Saudi Arabia to bring back the dead. Instead, An American Army with new untested weapons like the M1 Abrams Tank and Apache Helicopter went up against the eighth largest army in the world, experienced from fighting Iran for almost a decade, and decimated them in 72 hours.
It is fairly common knowledge that the U.S, used balloons in Desert Storm. Richard Johnson mentions it several times in his book Seeds of Victory. In the case of the leaflet showing two Arabs holding hands he says:
Certain 4th PSYOP materials state that only 18,000 of either of the Sunset leaflets in combined total were produced. That same source also credits this leaflet with having been disseminated through balloon operations.
According to a 5th Special Forces Group Reconnaissance Team on the ground, one Coalition 12-foot balloon with an aluminum deployment canister that came down near them was packed with the Coalition leaflets called Invitation card and Tidal wave.
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. The leaflets were delivered by everything from balloons to B-52s
The 4th PSYOP Group briefing on their actions during Desert Shield/Storm states that 29 million leaflets (29 tons) were dropped on the Kuwait Theater of Operations by balloon, MC-130, F-16, F/A-18 and B-52.
Another official report states that 330,000 leaflets were disseminated by balloon, 18,900,000 by MC-130, 7,800,000 by F-16, and 2,000,000 by B-52.
Another confusing 4th PSYOP Group document says that 342,000 leaflets were distributed by balloon, waterborne and man pack operations. If we subtract those last two methods we might be right back at 330,000.
The funny thing is that balloons are commonly used to carry propaganda. The Allies and Germans used them in WWI and WWII. The Red Chinese and Taiwan Nationalists have been using propaganda balloons against each other for years, as did the East and West Germans all through the Cold War. The North and South Koreans did it in the past and return to it every time they have a disagreement. The United States did it during the cold war through Radio Free Europe. The Americans have not done so in many recent wars because they usually control the air and have no need for balloons; they can fly their aircraft and drop leaflets wherever they wish. They are a good option when the bullets have not quite started firing and you dont want to escalate tensions; and of course no pilots are killed in a balloon operation.
After 29 years, a former soldier recently wrote to me and told me about his balloon operations. Here is his story.
Private First Class Bob Dale
Private First Class Bob Dale told me about his time in the 3rd PSYOP Battalion:
I had a background in radio broadcasting and was assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion in 1990. I volunteered to work with the 3rd PSYOP Battalion during Operation Desert Storm. I was the S-3 (Operations) Clerk during Desert Storm and spent most of my time in the tactical operations center with the battalion leadership. I briefed the Commander daily on unit positions in the theater.
On 31 December 1990, about 2300 I was told to get a bag ready to depart for a mission at 0600 the next morning. I would need to check out and fuel up a 5 ton truck prior to departure, sterilize my BDUs, bring MOPP gear and my weapon.
U.S. Army 5 Ton Truck
We departed King Fahd early the next morning and drove to King Khalid Military City. It was only then that we were briefed as to what the mission was. We were housed in an aircraft hangar. This hangar had offices and hot showers. My detachment bunked in a large conference room overlooking the hangar. My 5 ton truck was loaded with 32 tanks of helium. Our mission was to go out each night to predetermined coordinates and launch helium balloons carrying leaflets. We were given a crash course in how it all would work, from packing the leaflets into the boxes, what weight each type of balloon could carry, how to set the timers that would detonate and cut the string holding the flaps of the boxes closed, how to anchor the balloons while inflating and how to inflate the balloons. We used two types of balloons, simply referred to as large and small.
Unfavorable weather conditions in early January made many missions impossible. We would spend our days packing boxes, planning missions and sleeping. Sometime in the afternoon we would get a Go or No go from the Officer in charge. During the two weeks we were in King Khalid Military City that we completed 5 or 6 missions. There were one or two times that we got on site and could not launch. Once the wind came up during inflation and the damn thing dragged four of us around the desert trying to hold on. It was a particularly poor stretch of weather in early January with rain, freezing rain, and unfavorable winds. Prior to our arrival a very small group had run a couple of missions before realizing they needed more manpower and supplies.
Targeting was a bit complex. As with all aerial leaflet dissemination, a target area was chosen, a dispersal rate decided and then, using weather balloons (called Pie Balls) and weather forecasts on winds at elevation you work backwards to your point of release. Figuring for the rate of rise for each type of balloon with a full payload and the winds you pinpoint a release point on the ground. That point needed to be within a few hours drive of King Khalid Military City so we could get there, fill and launch balloons and get back before sunrise.
Mother thinking of her dead son leaflet
Oh my dear son, when will you return?
Typically, we would drive up through Hafir al Battin up Highway 50 to somewhere in the desert around the 50/628 intersection. Our missions were all directed into Kuwait. I cannot say which units were targeted, but, the leaflets we dropped were the early PSYOP leaflets of with the theme of the Coalition, brotherhood with Arabs holding hands, an old mother thinking of her son dying, etc. These were the very early leaflets. Past Hafir al Battin - we drove in blackout condition to our release point. I can tell you that 68 mph in a 5 ton truck in blackout trying to keep the vehicle in front of you in sight and then determine whether you just saw the brake lights or not is quite harrowing. (Hafir al Battin had also been evacuated and driving through an empty town is also a little unnerving)
In my time there we only launched one of the "big" balloons and four or five of the small ones.The big ones actually looked like balloons; the small ones looked like giant trash bags. We did multiple smalls on a couple of nights.The big balloon I remember so well, because we released it on a beautiful clear still full moon night. About an hour after launching I looked up and our balloon was high in the sky and perfectly silhouetted against the moon. For all of the blackout driving and secrecy - if you were within 5 miles of our location I guarantee you could hear 32 helium tanks clanking together in the back of the truck bouncing across the desert. It always made me feel a little like a bullet magnet lumbering through the desert. I should also mention that there is a night-vision video of us doing the balloon operations. The Broadcast Company sent a videographer on this mission as well. So somewhere in the PSYOP archive is video.
One of the Coalition F-111 Leaflets
This position is about to be attacked. Get out quickly and save yourself
One interesting note - we heard from some forward observation Special Forces guys (they were billeted with us at KKMC) that they witnessed leaflets falling to the ground on enemy troops at night and the Iraqis would all begin firing in the air assuming there was some aircraft overhead. Supposedly, the Iraqi soldiers believed that we had an invisible airplane. They thought the F-111 was not just invisible to radar, but completely invisible to the human eye. That is why it is featured in many of our leaflets. They were really afraid of the F-111. And, according to some prisoner-of-war interrogations, many Iraqi soldiers said that leaflets had been dropped by the F-111 because they neither saw nor heard any aircraft. Of course, most were dropped by C-130's well out of Iraqi or Kuwaiti airspace and we used to joke that that crew was back on the ground drinking coffee before those leaflets landed.
The Cunard Princess Rest and Relaxation Cruise Ship
I was scheduled for Rest and Relaxation on the Cunard cruise ship anchored at Bahrain. We halted offensive operations two days before my scheduled R&R. I took (with permission) several samples of leaflets for trading. I ran into 3 Marines on board and we began talking. They had taken hundreds of POWs and he said, They were all holding your leaflets over their head when they surrendered. I said I sure would like to have one of those. He had some with him for trading. I traded him a handful of the Marine Wave leaflets for one POW leaflet. It was pretty cool to have a leaflet that had gone full circle. For all I know it might have been one of the leaflets I dropped.
I asked Bob about the sterilized uniforms. As far as I knew, Saudi Arabia invited the United States to enter the country as a protector, so why take the names and patches off the uniform? This was not like Laos where our forces were undercover in a country we were not supposed to be in. He was not sure but talked a bit more about that aspect of the story:
I can tell you that our printers who were operating at a fixed (in country) print facility wore sterilized uniforms. Many of the leaflets were classified Top Secret. A CNN news crew was at the checkpoint just a hundred yards from our compound and we were ordered not to interact with them. We were not allowed to discuss what we did with anyone at the chow hall. There was a lot of secrecy around our entire mission, not just the balloon mission.
Sometimes we had a funny reaction to our uniforms. I was waiting in line at a PX truck to get some supplies and a young female Specialist in line behind me struck up a conversation. She said, Hey, how come you guys don't have anything on your uniform? I said we had to sterilize our uniforms. What are you doing? I can't tell you that. She then went on to tell me about her military intelligence unit, where they were stationed and what they were doing. I finally said, You realize you just gave all that information to a guy in a sterilized uniform and you don't even know who I am or what country I might be working for. That finally shut her up.
During Operation Desert Storm from 1990 to 1991 the 3rd PSYOP Battalion was known as the Dissemination Battalion. They are mentioned in a 4th PSYOP Group folded card featuring the PSYOP Groups and Battalions that took part in that operation.
The front of the folded card
The back of the folded card
Notice the comments at the far right on the back of the card:
Over 29 million leaflets were printed and disseminated by the 4th Psychological Operations Dissemination Battalion (Airborne)s Print Company throughout Operation Desert Storm,, illustrator and printers worked around the clock to draw, print, cut and roll leaflet for dissemination by leaflet bombs and boxes out of Air Force aircraft. One Iraqi soldier surrendered with over 300 leaflets, believing the more he carried, the better hed be treated by Coalition Forces.
Psychological Operations Dissemination Battalion (Airborne)
Print Company Leaflet Magazine
At the end of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm the Print Company printed a book depicting many of their propaganda products during the Persian Gulf War. The booklet notes that the Print Company of the Dissemination Battalion actually printed over 40 million leaflets within a 75-day period, and 29 million were actually distributed. Their mission was to print, package, and deliver leaflets to a specified location on time and on target by means of balloons, leaflet bombs, leaflet artillery rounds and leaflet boxes. When I sent Colonel Kelliher some images from this booklet and asked him about it, he was not familiar with it. He said:
I think this was a Print Company internal project, not a PSYOP Dissemination Battalion or PSYOP Group effort. I am guessing that in the young Company Commander's enthusiasm, they included a leaflet that should not have been in there. I see the word Thugs in one caption and I don't believe we would have used a word like thugs in our verbiage. I may have seen it while delivering or receiving an ass chewing but I can't recall. I don't have contact with any print company folks any more
A Typical Illustration from the Print Company Leaflet Magazine
For those that want to know more about the PSYOP of Operation Desert Storm we recommend you look at out article here
Kurdish Freedom Fighters
After the defeat of Saddam Husseins forces in Kuwait, the Kurds in Iraqs north revolted in March 1991. They occupied the towns of Ranya, Sulemaniye, Arbil, Dahuk, Aqra, and Kirkuk and put the province of Mosul under siege. Saddam Hussein counter-attacked with a vengeance and his revamped Republic Guard drove the Kurds into the mountains.
In reality, Saddams Kurds had been mistreated and attacked long before America came on the scene. Kurds are the second largest ethnic group in Iraq and Turkey and the third largest group in Iran. Like the Armenians and Jews, the Kurds are a close-knit nationalistic people who want a nation of their own. This land, called Kurdistan, would be made up of parts of Turkey, Iran and Iraq. As a result, the Kurds are unwelcome in all three nations and there were numerous purges and pogroms against them over the centuries. For instance, The Kurds supported Iran in the Iran-Iraq War and as a result in 1988, hundreds of Kurdish villages in northern Iraq were destroyed, and as many as 200,000 Kurds were killed. The Iraqi government used chemical weapons against Kurdish soldiers and civilians alike, causing an international uproar. A March 1988 poison gas attack in Halabja, Iraq, killed an estimated 5,000 Kurds.
The U.S. and its allies saved countless Kurds by establishing safe havens and
providing humanitarian assistance. Special Operations Forces spearheaded this effort.
After the failed rebellion, well over one million Kurds attempted to flee northward into Turkey and Iran. The Iranians accepted some of the fleeing people. The Turks, no friends of the Kurds, refused entry. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Kurdish men, women and children were left stranded in the mountains, starving, ill-prepared for the winter, and at the mercy of Iraqi forces. The temperatures were below freezing each night and the Kurds were dying by the hundreds due to lack of food, water, medicines, shelter, and blankets.
On 6 April 1991, President George Bush ordered that a Joint Task Force (JTF) be assigned the mission of protecting the Kurds of northern Iraq. Bush stated the political objectives of Operation Provide Comfort:
This is an interim measure designed to meet an immediate, penetrating humanitarian need. Our long-term objective remains the same for Iraqi Kurds, and indeed, for all Iraqi refugees, wherever they are, to return home and to live in peace, free from oppression, free to live their lives.
Private First Class James LaSpino, 6th PSYOP Battalion, talks with
children in a Kurdish refugee Camp during Operation Provide Comfort.
The operation was called "Provide Comfort." Fighter aircraft would patrol the skies above the 36th parallel, and humanitarian supplies would be delivered. The United States Special Operations Forces Posture Statement 1993 discusses a little about what the PSYOP element did in Operation Provide Comfort:
PSYOP units supported efforts to end the chaotic conditions in the mountain camps. Units from the 4th PSYOP Group were redeployed to Turkey to provide mass communications support. They produced more than 3.3 million leaflets, developed numerous loudspeaker preparations, and produced a videotape to prepare the refugees for follow-on relief efforts. PSYOP efforts helped convince the Kurds to return home.
The leaflet themes are; Introduction of Coalition forces, safety, aid distribution, health and sanitation, medical care, mine awareness, safe passage home, safe conduct passes, and command information.
As far as we know, the 3rd PSYOP Battalion did not deploy during this operation. However as the dissemination battalion they were ready at Ft. Bragg to support the front-line battalions and prepare leaflets or other products and ship them to Iraq. We will show some samples of the leaflets prepared for Operation Provide Comfort below.
This black and white leaflet depicts a family of Kurds arriving at a tent marked with a red cross and a green crescent. The man of the family shakes hands with soldiers guarding the tent. There are baskets and bags of food on the ground. There is no text on the front. Text on the back in English, Kurdish and Arabic is:
The time for violence is over. We must all find peace and harmony again. Guns will not be allowed inside the camp. If the international security forces at the checkpoints find a gun, you will not be allowed into the camp. In the name of Allah, seek peace in your heart; pray that Allah will give us compassion and forgiveness.
Another example of this theme is the black and white leaflet that depicts a peaceful tent-city with aid trucks and numerous Kurd refugees streaming in to live in their new protected sanctuary. There is no text on the front. The back is all text in English, Kurdish and Arabic:
Dear Friends, the multi-national forces are here to help you. Please follow these rules to receive assistance. Say off military convoy routes. Stay away from military installations. Seek medical aid, food and water only at way stations, temporary communities, and food distribution points. By following these rules we can help you better.
Insects and Animals Spread Disease
Living in a tent city calls for very strict rules of sanitation. The Kurds were presented with several leaflets telling them how to keep their area clean and healthy. This black and white leaflet depicts an adult male digging a waste sump to bury his familys feces. The text is:
Insects and animals spread disease!
These insects and animals live in garbage, animal remains and human feces.
Rain will wash feces downhill. Those who drink water mixed with these feces become ill.
Dispose of all waste by digging a hole and burying it.
Take your garbage to a garbage collection point.
Stop! Dont Touch these Things.
A standard mine warning leaflet was prepared for the Kurds that is almost identical to the type prepared just months earlier during Operation Desert Storm. The earlier leaflets had some bright red color to catch the eye of the finder. The provide Comfort leaflets are in black and white, depict nine different explosives, and have text in English, Kurdish and Arabic:
Stop! Dont touch these things. Call the authorities.
Children were starving
A host of local petty warlords and clans ruled Somalia. They fought bitterly to control their small parcels of barren land and starving citizens. This was especially true in the capitol city of Mogadishu. The situation was so bad in that city that it was estimated that 500,000 Somalis would die of starvation in 1992. President Bush found himself under tremendous pressure to send American troops to protect relief workers and the food shipped to the starving nation. He finally authorized the deployment of American troops in an operation called Restore Hope.
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. United States President George Bush responded to Security Council resolution 794 with a decision on 4 December to initiate Operation Restore Hope, under which the United States would assume the unified command.
Somali warlord clans roamed the streets in technicals armed vehicles
The Army Times of 14 December 1992 lists the major warlords and their organizations:
Somali National Movement Abdul Rahman Tur.
Somali Salvation Democratic Front Colonel Tusuf.
United Somali Congress (Aideed faction) General Mohammed Farah Aideed.
United Somali Congress (Ali Mahdi faction) Ali Mahdi Muhammed.
Somali National Front General Mohamed Said Hersi Morgan.
Somali Patriotic Movement Colonel Omar Jess.
The first elements of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) came ashore on the beaches of Mogadishu without opposition on 9 December 1992. The first PSYOP soldiers deployed from Fort Bragg to Mombasa, Kenya, where they joined the U.S. 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Tripoli. They accompanied the initial Marine landing at Mogadishu. 1,300 marines flew by helicopter directly to Mogadishu airport. Over the next several weeks, eight tactical PSYOP teams from the 9th PSYOP Battalion accompanied UNITAF ground forces as they deployed throughout central and southern Somalia to secure relief convoys and to promote stability.
A Mixed Group of Allied Leaflets to Somalia
The 3rd PSYOP battalion is mentioned in the booklet Psychological Operations in Support of Operation Restore Hope, 9 December 1992 to 4 May 1993:
The Joint Psychological Operations Task Force was comprised of approximately 125 members of the U.S. Armys 4th PSYOP Group, and several of its subordinate battalions The 8th, a regionally oriented battalion, which served as the command and control element and ran the PSYOP Product Development Center (PDC), the 9th, a tactical loudspeaker battalion, and the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion (3rd PSYOP Battalion), which provided the expertise and equipment to operate the print presses and the radio station.
The JPOTF designed, produced and disseminated thirty-seven different leaflets; large numbers of more than a dozen different handbills and posters; issued 116 editions of a Somali language UNITAF newspaper RAJO (Hope) with as many as 25,000 copies printed and distributed daily to every town and village where UNITAF forces were deployed; transmitted radio broadcasts twice daily; produced and disseminated more than seven million leaflets over central and southern Somalia; deployed tactical PSYOP teams with the coalition forces; and provided advice to the U.S. special envoy, Ambassador Robert Oakley and his staff.
The task force accomplished its information dissemination mission through a variety of products. Leaflets were easily produced and widely distributed. These small sheets usually had a colorful picture on one side and a related message in Somali on the other. Themes ranged from an explanation of the purposes of the coalition forces to information about the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance. These were distributed to target areas by aircraft. Throughout the operation several types of aircraft were used: Marine Corps CFI-53 helicopters; USAF and Canadian C-130 Hercules airplanes; Army IJH-60 and UH-1 helicopters; Navy 5-3 Viking airplanes; and New Zealand C-748 Andover airplanes.
The very first leaflet clearly shows the intent of the United Nations resolution. It depicts a military food convoy protected by armed high mobility multipurpose-wheeled vehicles (Humvees) and helicopters. Happy Somalis wave at the convoy. There are numerous ways to interpret and translate the Somali language. I will use that translation that seems to best fit the intent of the leaflet. Text on the front is:
We are here to protect relief convoys! Do not block the roads.
The back depicts a UN symbol, an American flag, and the text:
Our forces are here to defend the people helping you Do not get involved in any manner. Do not block the roads! Force will be used to protect the convoys.
At the same time, loudspeaker messages warned the people:
United Nations forces are here to assist in the international relief effort for the Somali people. We are prepared to use force to protect the relief operation and our Soldiers. We will not allow interference with food distribution or with our activities. We are here to help you.
The second dropped leaflet received a lot of print and newspaper coverage when some linguists claimed that the text was an insult to the Somalis. The front has no text and is a handsome full-color depiction of an American soldier and a Somali citizen shaking hands. These leaflets were regularly dropped two to three days before UNITAF forces arrived in a Somali town. Once again, armed Humvees and helicopters are in the background. The back depicts the flag of the United Nations and the United States. The official translation of the text is:
The forces of the world (United Nations) are here to assist in the international relief effort for the Somali people. We are prepared to use force to protect the relief operation and our soldiers. We will not allow interference with food distribution or with our activities. We are here to help you.
A young Somali boy holding the handshake leaflet.
The San Francisco Chronicle of 12 December 1992 said about this leaflet:
The Marines are here, and they may need a few good men who can translate. A leaflet the U.S. forces are using to win over the Somali people bears an almost incomprehensible message, muddled by at least three misspelled words, one word that does not exist and poor syntax the first word is the most noticeable error. It was supposed to read aduunka or world in the phrase world forces. The word appears as adoonka, which means slave.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Borchini, Commander, 8th PSYOP Battalion, remarked:
This error was a result of poor communications and a failure to double check the final product before we printed it. We sent a facsimile of the English message to Norfolk where the sailor (a native-borne Somali who left home at age of twelve) was based; after he translated it into Somali and sent a facsimile of the translation, we then typed the leaflet into our computer. After the Central Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff changed some of the words, we passed the changes verbally over the telephone to the sailor, and received the changes to his translation back over the telephone. We then produced the leaflets. We should have sent him a facsimile of the final product before we printed it.
We depict several more leaflets just to give the reader an idea of what was done in Somalia.
Somali's asked for United Nations help against looters
Leaflet S13 features and anti-looting theme and depicts Somalis trying to steal grain bags from an armed UNITAF convoy. Text on the back is:
Looting, stealing and throwing stones is not Somali. It is criminal. Pointing guns, (even playing or the play one) threatens everybody. The forces of UNITAF have the right to use deadly force if they feel they are threatened or if they feel they are in danger. Help us stop this behavior before someone else is wounded.
There were numerous mine warning leaflets. S15 shows a Somali about to touch a mine. There are 23 coalition flags above and below him. Drawings of different kinds of explosives are all around the boy. Text on the front is:
Do not touch mines or explosive things. Tell someone about them.
The back depicts the boy telling two soldiers about the mines with the text:
Meaningless death. Parents please tell your children to keep away from mines and other explosive things. Tell the peace-keeping force about mines and other explosive things.
Leaflet CH3 depicts a white dove of peace being crushed by a fist labeled "USC/SNA" ("United Somali Congress / Somali National Alliance"). Text on the back is:
The people of Somalia are striving for peace, but USC/SNA is bringing armed conflict back to serve their own greedy purposes. Only the Somali people can break the grasp and return peace to the country. Embrace peace and bring Somalia back to prosperity and security.
Leaflet CH34 asks the people of Somalia to come together to oust Aideed. It depicts his thugs about to murder three respected elders. The text is:
Once again the criminal Aideed has demonstrated that he has no concern for anything except power. He has now proven that even elders of the Habar Gidir clan who want peace for their people are not safe from his murderous tendencies. The time has come for the people of Somalia to take action and rid themselves of the scourge Aideed.
Mine Warning Poster
Besides the 37 leaflets airdropped leaflets, there were also a number of other leaflets that are larger than the standard 3 x 6 inches. Some of these were handed to the Somali people; others were in poster form and attached to poles or buildings. One poster that needs no translation is bright red, shows a skull and crossed bones, and pictures various mines and explosive all around the border.
A Mixed Group of Mine Warning Posters
This has been just a short look at what the 3rd PSYOP Battalion printed in Somalia. Readers wanting to see more examples should read my article on the United States PSYOP in Somalia
Army Illustrator Tony M. Sims
Army Illustrator Tony M. Sims started drawing when he was about 7 years old. He took every art class in middle and high school. He knew he wanted to be an artist, but was not sure on how to go about it. The military seemed to be the answer. Tony served in the U.S. Army from February 1986 to November 1998. He started his military life with basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1986. He took his advanced training at Lowry Air Force Base. He was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the Military Occupational Specialty of 81E, with the duties of illustrating drafts and laying out illustrations for posters, graphs, charts, tests, and training aids. He served as an illustrator and propaganda specialist from 1986 to 1990 in the 6th PSYOP Battalion; Company A.
He did many things in his years as an artist, such as designing the logo for the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC. He worked on and supervised over a dozen leaflet missions.
From 1991 to 1995 he was assigned to the Print Dissemination Battalion which later became the 3rd PSYOP Battalion. He told me about some of his missions:
Tony Sims told me in 2018 that he had been part of the team that printed the
1993 4th PSYOP Group booklet on Operation Restore Hope depicted above.
Tony Sims also told me that he had been part of the team that printed the
1994 4th PSYOP Group booklet on Operation Provide Comfort.
World Trade Center Leaflet AFD-189
11 September 2001. The World Trade Center
The Coalition Forces came to arrest those responsible for the terrorism against America.They also come to arrest anyone that protects them.
<>More than 3,000 people in the United States of America were murdered in these attacks.
On 11 September, 2001, terrorists of the al-Qaida (the Base) Group; 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. Bin Laden was a long-time terrorist who was known under such alias as Osama bin Muhammad bin Laden, Usama bin Laden, the Prince, the Emir, Abu Abdallah, Mjhahid Shaykh, Hajj, the Director, the Contractor, and still more names. 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.
World Trade Center Leaflet AFD-22b
his leaflet depicts the burning World Trade Center at the left and Afghan ruins at the right. The text is:
Foreign Terrorists do not believe in any borders
New York U.S.A. Harat-Afghanstan
The back depicted Afghan and Coalition friends together and two hands shaking, similar to the Friendship leaflet the Coalition also printed. Notice that the Afghanistan flag incorrectly has the stripes in horizontal rather than vertical format, and this error likely caused this leaflet not to be disseminated.
We share food together. We regain our honor and dignity and maintain it.
The primary PSYOP objectives were to shift the debate from Islam to terrorism and to counter adversarial propaganda; to discourage interference with humanitarian affairs activities; to support objectives against state and non-state supporters and sponsors of terrorism and to disrupt support for and relationships of terrorist organizations. Leaflets and radio scripts were prepared.
The second propaganda leaflet dropped on Afghanistan depicts a radio tower and two radios. Text is identical on both sides in Pashto and Dari. The leaflet states:
0500-1000. 1700-2200 daily.
864, 1107, 8700 kilohertz.
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, Combat studies Institute Press, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 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 POB, 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, A PSYOP squad printed handbills that ground units could distribute to villages. The handbills depicted a radio tower and had various frequencies for music and news.
Ranger Calling Card Leaflet Freedom Endures
At 1845 (Zulu Time) on 19 October, 199 elite American Rangers and four PSYOP soldiers night-assaulted Objective Rhino on Vengeance Drop Zone. This was a remote Desert Landing Strip approximately 105 miles Southwest of Kandahar. The site had already been hit with 2,000-pound bombs by a B-2 Stealth bomber and strafed by AC-130 Spectre gunships. This was the first Ranger combat drop since Operation Just Cause in Panama. The mission was to gain intelligence about the objective's airstrip and environs to determine its value as a future base. A week later, U.S. Marines established Camp Rhino at that site. Kandahar was the home of the Taliban spiritual leader, Mullah Omar.
The raid was a warning that America could strike when and where it chose, even at the center of the Taliban spiritual strength. The American troops carried leaflets featuring a photograph of New York City firemen raising the American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center, with the text "Freedom Endures" in English on one side and Pashto on the other. During the successful raid the Rangers gathered intelligence and killed 25 enemy troops.
Weapon of Choice adds:
Army photographers with night-vision cameras videotaped the parachute assault and the extraction of the Ranger force by MC-130 aircraft. Within hours of the successful night combat operation a combat camera team had done the first edit of the raw footage of the raid and electronically delivered the reduced footage to the product development team of the 3rd Psychological Operations Battalion at Fort Bragg. This team edited and transmitted a finished video clip to the Pentagon in time for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to show it the following day during his noon press conference and in time for it to be integrated into the American news cycle.
Pro-Afghan Poster AFC1058
This is a full-sized poster measuring 11 x 17-inches with text in Dari and Pashto. It depicts President Karzai at the left and the Afghan flag at right. The text is:
The major success of Afghanistan is this; that Afghan people despite different political ideas, tribes and personalities consider their country secure and they have returned to rebuild their future.
In 2009, the 4th PSYOP Group showed off their unique talents and skills to the Fort Bragg community at their annual Regimental Week open house and technology demonstration. Michelle Butzgy discussed the various PSYOP Battalions in an 11 June Paraglide article entitled: Fort Bragg Soldiers work at winning hearts and minds around the world. She pointed out that PSYOP Soldiers need video, print and audio to complete their missions. The 3rd PSYOP Battalion provides the majority of media, whether it's broadcasting, posters, pamphlets or audio messages. The battalion can deploy with a non-linear editing system or a laptop system for more remote areas. One example of a product is pro-Afghan national army public service announcements.
Martin J. Cervantez
When possible, I like to depict some of the PSYOP artists and their work. Retired Master Sergeant Martin J. Cervantez enlisted in the Army Signal Corps in July 1986 as an 81E, Illustrator. During his first enlistment he was assigned to A Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion.Martin told me:
I returned later a First Sergeant for B Company, 3rd PSYOP Battalion, (Tactical Broadcast). This was just after 2001 when Afghanistan kicked off, and we also sent teams to Iraq.
I Got your Six
Members of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1/26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, perform a security halt during a mounted patrol on 9 November, 2008.
He later served as First Sergeant for B Company, 3rd PSYOP Battalion from September 2002 until March 2005. While serving in this position, he deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism to Iraq and Afghanistan.
A Huge Responsibility
Second Lieutenant Patrick Farrell of The American Provincial Police Mentor Team and his interpreter are meeting with the Afghan National Police Chief in the town of Khost in November, 2008, to review local situations and provide mentorship on several issues. The interpreter is covering his face so that he cant be identified by anyone that may have ties with the Taliban or Al-Qaida.
He is a former Artist in Residence at the U.S. Army Center of Military History where he was responsible for capturing the Army's history on paper and canvas. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from September to December 2008 and from February to April 2011.
Mural Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift
Now retired, he took part in the creation of a mural commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Berlin airlift along with Fabian Stenzel, a German graffiti artist, unveiled at Clay Kaserne, 22 June 2018.
Operation Inherent Resolve ISIS
A print team member packages leaflets for delivery to the munitions department. Dec. 1, 2016. Soldiers from Alpha Company, 3rd PSYOP Battalion, 4th PSYOP Group, deployed to the Psychological Operations Task Force - Central, in Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar, to provide their product development and print production skills in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was the name of the terrorist group when it captured Mosul in 2014 and suddenly appeared on the radar. ISIS considers itself the "Islamic Caliphate" (a theological empire) and controlled vast swathes of land in western Iraq and eastern Syria. They also have the loyalty of different radical Islamic groups around the world. In order to stop this movement the United States of American began to arm the Kurds in Iraq to fight ISIS. They also armed and trained anti-Assad guerrillas and defectors from the Syrian Army. Iran and Russia joined the battle on the side of Syrian President Assad.
Captain Stephen Von Jett of the 4th PSYOP Group (Airborne) wrote about the 3rd PSYOP Battalion fighting ISIS in a 2016 article entitled: Leaflet use finds renewed purpose in Operation Inherent Resolve. He said in part:
For those living under the thumb of militant Islamic terrorists, word from the outside world can be difficult to come by. Where improper beard length or smoking can lead to imprisonment, cell phone, radio or television use can lead to much worse. Imagine living under such harsh prescriptions and seeing a coalition aircraft cross the sky over your city. In its wake, rather than bombs raining forth is instead a downpour of knowledge -- leaflets that provide information on coalition plans, areas of safety, and where and when to expect help to arrive. For the members of these terrorist groups there is a warning to flee or face death, and a reminder that their leaders care little for their wellbeing.
Across Syria, Iraq and numerous other countries under siege by terrorists, these messages penetrate the thin veil of control. The clearly-drawn images and simple messages are passed hand to hand throughout the community. Even those who cant read understand the concise illustrations. They provide more than valuable information -- they provide hope.
Soldiers from Alpha Company, 3rd PSYOP Battalion, deployed to the Military Information Support Task Force - Central (MISTF-C) in Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar to provide their product development and print production skills in the fight against these extremists. While there, they processed over 200 print requests and produced over 23 million leaflets in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in both Iraq and Syria.
Since the advent of the internet the use of leaflets had dropped off. The leaflet had taken a backseat to other messaging mediums in recent years. Now the pendulum has swung back so heavily towards leaflet use. Sometimes, the best technique isnt the newest technique available.
The ability to continue messaging has been conducted with successful leaflet use, Creative ways to communicate must be found and used to ensure our message is received in denied territories.
In some areas, communication isnt as restricted but is still not as open as here in the States. Leaflets can play a viable role in broadcasting messages in those areas, while online feedback provides valuable confirmation. Recipients on the ground will sometimes take photos of the leaflets and post them on social media thus amplifying their message.
The designers on the production development team play to their strengths, leveraging artistic and technical abilities to produce comic-style illustrations, short films, or radio broadcasts as required. They serve customers throughout the U.S. Army Central Command area of operations. As each order is unique, the design team is constantly revising their work and creating new products that will speak to their target audiences. The artists work under tight deadlines making multiple revisions as necessary to get the products out. We know were resonating with the audience because we see certain products being requested again and again.
The benefit of having a print and production team forward in Qatar, rather than relying on the significant resources housed at 3rd PSYOP Battalions Operations Center in Fort Bragg is important because it can be more responsive and since its on the same time zone, its working when the customer is. That helps a lot.
The operations sergeant major for the MISTF-C offered high praise for the print and production teams as they wrap-up their deployment.
The team has done amazing work, he said. The professionalism of the team led to every job being timely delivered even if it meant working extra hours or during scheduled down time. It was a pleasure working with a dedicated, mission-focused team.
The team redeploys to Fort Bragg soon, and will be replaced by a fresh group of artists, photographers, broadcasters, printers and technicians who will have to hit the ground running. This current team has set the bar sky high. And while the enemy may still own the ground for a while longer, they cannot stop coalition messages from getting through. As part of the Special Operations team, the Soldiers of 3rd PSYOP Battalion are using the power to influence to liberate the oppressed.
On 10 July 2017, The PRI website (Public Radio International - a global non-profit media company focused on the intersection of journalism and engagement to effect positive change in peoples lives), published an article entitled How the US military uses behavioral economics to fight ISIS
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Stangle
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Stangle, the battalion commander of the 3rd Psychological Operations Battalion Airborne said in part:
We are the basically the private production house for the Psychological Operations Committee. We develop products for the regional battalions around the world wherever they're conducting operations and then we distribute those products to them and help them with dissemination whether that be recording a loudspeaker broadcast form if necessary or producing leaflets, handbills, posters, audio visual products like TV, or things that may go out on the Internet. We focus on foreign audiences and it doesn't matter whether not necessarily just military or enemy audiences it can be friendly audiences depending on what we're going on where we're at.
Waving a White Flag
It can be anything from surrender appeals if we're trying to get enemy formations to surrender or give in to almost like a duck and cover type of product for the local populations, giving them a way to avoid injury during large scale military operations, telling them to stay away from the windows, stay away from external walls. Those types of things that would keep them away from stray bullets, stray shrapnel, and other types of pieces. They were really graphic imagery work. There was writing on there but there were also pictures so young kids and others could understand that even if they were illiterate. Most of those were disseminated via leaflet bombs that were dropped from B-52s or other type of aircraft.
It is Time to Leave the City
All of our products go through a fairly rigorous process. Not only are we looking at the lines of persuasion but we also understand the culture in the region we're operating in. In one particular instance, we had ISIS down to about three or so acres of space. They were down to a very small area but they were still using females and children as human shields. We had to figure out a way to get a product into these populations, particularly the women and children, that would separate them from their husbands fighting on behalf of ISIS. We had to help them understand that there were safe routes and that once they came across the line, they would be well cared for and that they wouldn't be exploited. And so we were able to come up with a series of products that detailed how they should come across the line, what they should do, where they could come across safely. I think we had more than 11 women and roughly 20 or so children that came out because of the leaflet effort there.
It's largely a behavioral economic approach that we take. We have folks that are sociologists; we have folks that are psychologists, folks that had simple marketing background and degrees, so we really have a wide array in the community. But I think all of us are kind of amateur behavioral economists; we're interested in what makes people move and change.
To be honest we've done very little unconventional warfare in the truest sense of overthrowing governments and those types of things. We've spent more time preserving the existing status quo or preserving existing governments or working to modify behaviors that are particularly negative to the stability of a given region.
Bombs or books?
We spend a lot of time thinking about nothing but impacting behavior, while our lethal counterparts the infantry, the armor, the artillery they think very hard about how to drop steel on target. So while those guys are honing their skills on what happens if it absolutely goes bad and we end up in a shooting war, our goal is either to prevent a shooting war or set the conditions in the event of a shooting war that is most advantageous to those guys on the ground. How do we keep as many of our brothers and sisters in either the U.S. military or our coalition or a host nation or partner nation force alive and put them in the best positions to impact the enemy. How do we preserve as much life on both ends of the line as possible? So it's a delicate balance between lethal and non-lethal. We see where we fit in and what the situation requires.
The 3rd PSYOP Battalion has taken on the responsibility of producing many of the leaflets at Ft. Bragg for the PSYOP Group. Some of the modern printing equipment is featured below:
The Heavy Print Facility
The Heavy Print Facility (HPF) is a large nondeployable system consisting of four Heidelberg Quickmaster Direct Image Digital Presses. Each press is capable of print speeds up to 10,000 sheets per hour and the HPF can produce 800,000 four-color, two-sided leaflets in a 24-hour period. The quality of work that these presses produce is comparable to the newspaper and film image-setting industries. The Heidelberg presses are organic to the 4th POG, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Print personnel assigned to the HPF are trained in product layout and formatting, limited press repair, and are capable of producing multicolor products of various sizes, such as business-card-sized hotline tips cards, leaflets, posters, handbills, books, magazines, and tabloid newspapers.
Modular Print System
The Modular Print System contains three modules: A, B, and C. Module A contains printing equipment that is no longer used. Module B consists of two expandable shelters, each containing one Heidelberg GTOZP52 offset press that can print in two colors at one time or one color, front and back. The maximum paper dimensions for this system is 14 inches by 20 inches, with the largest product measuring 13 3/8 inches by 20 inches, allowing for marginal areas. Module C is also expandable and contains a large paper cutter, press plate marker, and a small light table. Modules B and C are capable of limited paper storage space when expanded.
The Risograph is a deployable digital duplicator that combines the basic output speed of a small press (120 copies per minute) with the simplicity of a copier. It can produce up to 93,000 single-color leaflets in a 24-hour period. Although Risographs do not require connection to a computer, a direct connection to a computer does provide a better image quality and the ability to develop print products at the Product Development Center or Tactical PSYOP Development Detachment, and produces print materials farther forward, thus reducing distribution and dissemination time. Risographs are organic to some PSYOP units and are pre-positioned in many theaters of operations.
The Deployable Print Production Center
The Deployable Print Production Center is an M1037 high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV)-mounted/transportable print system. The print system includes a Product Development Workstation (PDW)-Light, a high-speed digital duplicator (Risograph), an electric paper cutter, a generator, and an environmental conditioning unit, some of which is mounted on a trailer for transport. The PDW-Light is a system that provides forward-deployed units in the field limited PSYOP product development. It also provides users the capability to electronically transmit and receive PSYOP product files and related information via the product distribution system (PDS). The PDS is a commercial off-the-shelf satellite communications earth terminal, Moving Picture Experts Group-2 encoder workstation, and a Windows NT server used for secure and nonsecure product distribution.
The PDS transmits products via commercial/military satellite transmissions, single-channel ground and airborne radio system radios, or through phone lines. The system consists of a ruggedized laptop computer, removable hard drive, and printer. The PDW-Heavy is similar in concept to the PDW- Light, but uses a desktop computer and color laser printer for increased printing quality.
The leaflet is rather dark and realistic, almost photographic in nature. It depicts a line of innocent young volunteers who have flocked to join the Islamic State being fed into a meat grinder by two bloody and villainous-looking adults in a barren room identified as the DAISH Recruiting Office. The meat-grinder is also labeled DAISH; an Arab acronym for Al-Dawlah Al-Islamiyah fe Al-Iraq wa Al-Sham (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Another sign reads, Now serving 6001, and the next recruit in line drops a ticket that says 6001.
This concept of the enemy throwing fighters into a meat grinder is a common one and variations were used in Korea and Vietnam by U.S. PSYOP troops. Although unverified, it has been reported that this was the first use of PSYOP by American forces against ISIS. There have been some published comments by ISIS volunteers in social media of the way they were treated and the propagandists appear to be attempting to exploit those reported problems. Some of those militants have been reluctant to fight in the city of Kobani, on the border with Turkey, where U.S.-led airstrikes have killed hundreds of fighters.
On 17 May 2015, US-led coalition warplanes dropped Syrian-language leaflets on Raqqa that said in part:
Zero hour has become very near
We have killed many of your leaders and countless fighters. We can raid you wherever you are at any time at any place and you have no power to stop us. We will never quit, and you are destined to lose your war. The hour of your destruction has approached and the zero hour has become very near. Your area of control is dwindling and growing smaller daily. We have struck you in the heart of your claimed territory, and we have taken an Emir [Sayyaf] while you could do nothing about it.
The leaflet shows an ISIS soldier about to be cut in half by the moving minutes hand of a large clock labeled "Daesh". This is similar to leaflets dropped by both the Allies and Germans in WWII that depicted a clock and mentioned that it was five minutes to twelve. The concept being that the finder should not be killed in the last moments of a war.
The Emir mentioned above is Abu Sayyaf, who was killed by U.S. Delta Forces on 16 May in a raid into Syria. He helped direct ISIS's illicit oil, gas and financial operations, which are perhaps their main source of revenue. The leaflet was dropped the day after his death.
Deir ez-Zor warning
On 15 February 2016, the United States dropped leaflets warning ISIS of coming air strikes on Deir ez-Zor, the seventh largest city in Syria and the largest in the eastern part of Syria. On the front of the leaflet three Coalition aircraft fly over five walking armed ISIS fighters at the left and a small group of ISIS fighters with a piece of artillery at the right. Both images are covered with cross-hairs. On the back of the leaflet the planes fly overhead as explosions occur below at the left and right. The leaflets bear no code numbers but a very strange imprint USG Product. I have never seen anything like that before but if I had to justify it, perhaps it is meant to show that these are not Russian, but U.S. Government leaflets. It is very strange and makes one wonder about the leaflets. The text on the front is:
Attention Syrian People: Go away from Daesh! The Coalition will be dropping bombs over the ISIS fighters.
The text on the back is hard to read from the blurred image but seems to be:
Flee to a safe location. The coalition is coming to bomb Daesh. Civilians, leave the areas that Daesh occupies. The coalition is fighting for the safety and security of the Syrian people.
The 3rd Battalion Today
A Soldier from the 3rd PSYOP Battalion operates a printing press
The military magazine Special Warfare mentioned the 3rd Battalion in its January-June 2016 issue. It said in part:
The Soldiers of Fort Braggs 3rd PSYOP Battalion, are the audio-visual specialists who execute the media production and dissemination tasks that are critical to the success of the PSYOP mission. 3rd PSYOP Battalion Soldiers use their organic printing capabilities, radio and television broadcast facilities, and audio-visual production and communication capabilities to support special operations forces around the world. These Soldiers employ the latest media technology to include equipment, software, and media editing and production techniques to augment the efforts of their supported units. The expertise and creative ability of 3rd PSYOP Battalion Soldiers enable supported PSYOP units to effectively engage audiences across a wide variety of information platforms and deliver forward deployed commanders unprecedented access to specific audiences. 3rd PSYOP Battalion Soldiers also serve as a valuable tool in documenting operational events and providing material for use in strategic communication and public affairs initiatives.
Anti-Isis Publications from Qatar
A 3rd PSYOP Battalion print team member inputs job specifications into a binding machine what will attach covers to magazines for distribution throughout the U.S. Army Central Command area of operations, 1 December 2016. Soldiers from Alpha Company, 3rd PSYOP Battalion, deployed to the PSYOP Task Force - Central, in Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar, to provide their product development and print production skills in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
A 3rd PSYOP Battalion graphic illustrator uses a digital pen tablet to create illustrations for a leaflet product, which will be dispersed over isolated areas to convey messages and information to both civilians and enemy fighters on 1 December 2016.
Training and War Games
Soldiers assigned to the 3rd PSYOP Battalion check coordinates on a map during Operation Orion at Fort Bragg, N.C. on 14 November 2013. Teams navigated through a woodland environment while overcoming challenges such as putting together radios and field stripping weapons at checkpoints throughout the area. Operation Orion is an annual exercise the 3rd PSYOP Battalion conducts to strengthen team building skills for operations downrange. (Photo by Airman 1st Class John Nieves Camacho)
Sergeant Brandi Mejia, a Combat Document Production Specialist with the 3rd PSYOP Battalion, is preparing a Product Distribution System (Lite) for a field training exercise on Fort Bragg, N.C., 24 March 2015. The 3rd PSYOP field training exercise was conducted to cross train soldiers on different communication systems to better support the Psychological Operations mission while also improving basic soldier skills.
(Photo by Private First Class Onier Vargas)
A Tactical PSYOP Team from 9th PSYOP Battalion, broadcasts an emergency message from the notional governor 19 March 2016. The field training is based on a civil authority information support mission where 3rd PSYOP and attachments would support other federal entities, such as the federal emergency management agency, in producing and disseminating life-saving information in the event of an emergency.
Soldiers from the 3rd PSYOP Battalion participate in their annual Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) training and CS gas mask clearing drills during a Field Training Exercise (FTX), Camp Butner NC, 20 March 2016. The joint training FTX allowed Soldiers from 3rd (POB) and 9th POB, along with US Marines from Quantico, to train together to help disseminate lifesaving information during a natural disaster scenario. (Photo by Corporal Kevin Sterling Payne)
Soldiers from the 3rd PSYOP Battalion participate in sling load operations connecting a water buffalo to a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter for quick transport during a Field Training Exercise (FTX) at Camp Butner NC, 20 March 2016. The joint training FTX allowed Soldiers from the 3rd PSYOP and 9th PSYOP, along with US Marines from Quantico, to train together to help disseminate lifesaving information during a natural disaster scenario. (Photo by Corporal Kevin Sterling Payne)
Volunteers from D Co., 3rd PSYOP Battalion, gather at the trail head after spending the morning cutting a section of a new bicycle trail along the Cape Fear River Trail, Fayetteville, North Carolina, on 30 March 2016. The project was hosted by the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Parks & Recreation office.
3rd PSYOP Battalion Awards and Decorations
The Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for service in Southwest Asia in 1990-1991
Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait
This has been a short look at the 3rd PSYOP Battalion. Readers with comments or additional information are requested to write to the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.