No-Fly Zone Warning Leaflets to Iraq


by: Herbert A. Friedman

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The first new leaflet is coded IZD017b. The front depicts the surrender of a number of Iraqi soldiers while Coalition aircraft attack and destroy their missile launcher in the background. Rifles and helmets lay scattered on the ground. Text is, "Surface to surface missiles have been targeted for destruction." The back is all text, "FOR YOUR SAFETY. Abandon your weapons system. Whether manned or unmanned, these weapon systems will be destroyed." This leaflet is very similar to a number that were disseminated during the Gulf War when Iraqi soldiers were shown walking away from tanks or personal weapons with surrender leaflets held over their heads. This is the first current leaflet that brings up the specter of a mass surrender of troops.

This is also the first leaflet that specifically targets ground-to-ground missile systems. The meaning was made clear just one day later when Coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons to target a mobile surface-to-surface missile system near Al Basrah. The strike occurred after Iraqi forces moved the mobile missile system within range of Coalition forces in Kuwait. The warplanes attacked an Astros-2 ground rocket launcher, which has a range of up to 56 miles. Such systems can fire volleys of rockets, a deadly threat to ground forces and armor. Over a dozen of the Coalition leaflets were also printed at sea by the U.S. Aircraft Carrier Constellation (CV-64) and dropped over southern Iraq by Naval aircraft. This is one of those leaflets. I will mention no more but the reader should understand that there are many more leaflets printed at sea.

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Leaflet IZD019 shows a group of Iraqi soldiers standing in line wearing gasmasks and full protective gear. A mushroom shaped fireball is in the background. The symbol for biological hazard is at the lower left. Text is, "Do not use weapons of mass destruction." The back is all text; "Any unit that chooses to use weapons of mass destruction will face swift and severe retribution by Coalition forces. Unit commanders will be held accountable if weapons of mass destruction are used."

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General Tommy Franks mentions this leaflet in his autobiography American Soldier, Harper-Collins Books, NY, 2004:

One of our main concerns was that the Iraqis might try to preempt our attack by launching weapons of mass destruction (WMD) strikes against our massing troops, and I wanted our PSYOP effort to dissuade the Iraqis from exercising the WMD options I believed they had. Renuart [Gene Renuart, J3 - Operations, U. S. Army Central Command] and his team had taken on the task of creating these leaflets, which combined sophisticated images with clear and concise Arabic text. And, for the past 24 hours,Coalition plane flying Operation Southern Watch tracks in the no-fly zone had been dumping hundreds of thousands of them on Iraqi positions.

The message of the leaflets was powerful and direct. One showed a battlefield montage, in which heavily armed Coalition troops protected by gas masks and MOPP suits attacked unprotected Iraqi soldiers, choking and falling through a haze of poison gas that had been dispensed by their own military. The leaflet also featured an actual photograph of a dead Kurdish mother clutching her dead infant - victims of the nerve gas Saddam had used against his own citizens in 1988. The Arabic text on the front read: "Nobody benefits from the use of weapons of mass destruction." The back of the leaflet carried a warning: "Any unit that chooses to use weapons of mass destruction will face swift and severe retribution by Coalition forces. Unit commanders will be held accountable if weapons of mass destruction are used."

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The final new leaflet is IZD038. It shows a satellite over Iraq spotting drums of hazardous chemicals and a scud missile on a mobile launcher. Text is, "We can see everything. Do not use nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons." The back is all text, "Do not attempt to use nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The Coalition has superior satellite technology which allows Coalition forces to see the preparation and transportation on nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Unit commanders will be held accountable for non compliance."

Aircraft also dropped the information radio leaflets (IZD001, IZD002, and IZD003) and the "Coalition forces do not wish..." leaflet (IZD027) during the 24 February mission. The aircraft dropped 360,000 leaflets.

In addition to leaflets and radio, American cyber-warfare specialists waged an e-mail campaign directed at Iraq's political, military, and economic leadership. The recipients were urged to break with Saddam Hussein's government. The Pentagon also announced that calls were made to the cell-phones of specially selected officials inside Iraq.

Coalition aircraft dropped 240,000 leaflets over Al Hafayan, An Nasiriyah, Ar Rumaylah and Al Basrah at 0445 on 27 February. The aircraft dropped the information radio leaflet (IZD-001) and the "Coalition forces do not wish" leaflet (IZD-027).

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A new leaflet was dropped that encouraged Iraqi military forces to desert their weapons, go "absent without leave," and return to their families. This leaflet appears to be premature at this time since there has been no invasion of Iraq, no "fog of war" with displaced persons roaming the countryside, one would expect that such actions would lead to an immediate courts martial and possible death penalty. The front of the full-color leaflet shows an Iraqi solder at the left and a group of soldiers at the right. In the center we can just make out what appears to be a dead Iraqi Soldier. Text is, "Do not risk your life - and the lives of your comrades." The back of the leaflet shows a young boy in school at the left, and a family at the right. Text is "Leave now and go home - Watch your children learn, grow and prosper."

On 28 February Coalition aircraft dropped 120,000 leaflets over Az Zubayr and Al Basrah. Three leaflets were dropped during the 0445 raid. They were the information radio (IZD-002), "For your safety..." (IZD-017b), and the "We can see everything..." (IZD-038) leaflets.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on 1 March that the CIA was supporting the use of clandestine radio broadcasts against Saddam Hussein. "Radio Tikrit" has been linked to the Iraqi National Accord (INA), a London-based opposition group. The INA operates two other stations allegedly funded by the CIA, Radio of the Land of the Two Rivers and Al-Mustaqbal (The Future).

Al-Mustaqbal broadcasts from the same location in Kuwait used by the Voice of America. Radio Tikrit (named after President Saddam Hussein's birthplace) started off in early February as a black clandestine station. It complemented "the wise leadership of President Saddam Hussein". By late February the message changed to a vehemently anti-Saddam Hussein line. "Black" radio normally attacks the leader or the political party in power, but strives to complement and be friendly toward the civilian population of an enemy country.

The Coalition dropped 360,000 leaflets over An Nasiriyah, Rumaylah, and Al Basrah between 0815 and 0930 on 1 March. The Coalition dropped six types of leaflets. The aircraft disseminated the "Do not risk your life…" (IZD-057), "We can see everything…" (IZD-038), and "The Coalition forces do not wish…" (IZD-027).

In addition, there were three information radio leaflets dropped. The first is familiar, (IZD-001). The second and third radio leaflets are new. These full color leaflets are the first radio leaflets to have different vignettes on the front and back.

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The front of IZD-061 shows four radio antenna and the text, "! ATTENTION ! In times of crisis, tune in to "Information Radio" for important news and information. 756 KHZ AM, 690 KHZ AM, 100.4 MHZ FM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW." The reverse shows two hands clasping in front of a desert-style camouflage background. Text is, "Coalition forces support the people of Iraq in their desire to remove Saddam and his regime. The Coalition wishes no harm to the innocent Iraqi civilians".

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The front of IZD-071 is almost identical to IZD-003. It shows an antenna at left and a map of Iraq at the right. The text is, "Information Radio. 756 KHZ AM, 693 KHZ AM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW, 100.4 MHZ FM." The reverse shows antenna at left and right and the text, "The Coalition stands with the Iraqi people against Saddam. For your safety stay in your homes and away from military targets. The Coalition does not target civilians. Listen to information."

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At the same time on 1 March, the United States European Command headquartered in Germany reported dropping 240,000 leaflets over northern Iraq near the city of Mosul at about 0845. The aircraft flew from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. This was the first use of leaflets in the north of Iraq. The Operation Northern Watch aircraft dropped a leaflet, code number IZD-007, which is similar to the "Iraqi ADA Beware…" (IZD-006). However, this leaflet was in full color and now showed bright red flames at the site of the missile tracking system.

The front of the leaflet pictured a drawing of a warplane firing missiles at a radar site and an anti-aircraft battery on the ground. Arabic text is, "Iraqi ADA Beware! Do not track or fire on Coalition aircraft!" The back of the leaflet is all text: "Attention Iraqi Air Defense. Any hostile action by Iraqi air defenses toward coalition aircraft will be answered by immediate retaliation. Iraqi air defense positions which fire on coalition aircraft or activate air defense radar will be attacked and destroyed."

Coalition aircraft dropped 420,000 leaflets over Al Amarah, Az Zubayr, Abu Hayyah, Al Uthaylat, Qalat Salih and Al Kut between 0500 and 0845 on 4 March. The leaflet mix consisted of "Information radio... (IZD-002), "Do not risk your life..." (IZD-057, and "For your safety... (IZD-017b).

The largest single Coalition PSYOP operation of the current campaign occurred on 5-6 March when 660,000 leaflets were disseminated over 11 different locations located about 220-250 miles southeast of Baghdad. The raid began at 2300 and ended at 0100. Allied aircraft have dropped more than 10 million leaflets over Iraq since October 2002.

The Coalition dropped six of the leaflets previously. They are the information radio leaflets (IZD-001, IZD-002, and IZD-003), Coalition forces do not wish..." (IZD-027), "Do not risk your life..." (IZD-057) and "Do not use weapons of mass destruction..." (IZD-019).

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The first new full-color leaflet is coded IZD-045a. The front of the leaflet shows what appears to be an Iraqi warship laying mines on the ocean floor. The text is, "Any vessels suspected of mining the Khor Abd Allah or Umm Qasr waterways will be destroyed." The back of the leaflet shows a small commercial vessel on fire, having struck one of the hidden mines. The text is, "Mining the Khor Abd Allah or Umm Qasr waterways will not affect Coalition Vessels. The will only harm the Iraqi people." Mines were a constant menace during the first Persian Gulf War. On 19 February 1991, two U.S. warships struck mines within several hours of each other. The U.S.S. Tripoli, a helicopter assault ship, and the U.S.S. Princeton, an AEGIS cruiser, both suffered minimal damage.

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The second new full-color leaflet shows a handsome Iraqi family at the left and a dirty oil-covered waterway at the right. Text on the front is "Dumping oil poisons Iraqi waterways, as well as your family's future." The back is all text, "DO NOT RELEASE OIL INTO WATERWAYS! Dumping oil in the waterways will ruin the chance for economic recovery. It will kill or taint the sea life which feeds your family. Saddam has poisoned your waterways before. You must not aid him in doing it again." The leaflet is coded IZD-046.

In January 1991, Iraqi forces in Kuwait in a fit of mindless vandalism opened valves at oil terminals and spilled more than 6 million barrels into the Persian Gulf. The Coalition wants the terminals and the oil supply protected since the sale of oil will finance the rebuilding of Iraq after the projected Coalition attack.

On 8 March Coalition aircraft released 720,000 leaflets over military sites, barracks, and headquarters located near Az Zubayr, Al Basrah, Al Amarah, and on the Al Faw peninsula. The aircraft dropped the information radio leaflets (IZD-001, IZD-002 and IZD-003). CENTCOM reported that they also dropped leaflets encouraging Iraqi troops not to risk their lives against Coalition forces, and not to use weapons of mass destruction. These leaflets were not identified but were likely IZD-057 and IZD-017b.

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Coalition aircraft disseminated 180,000 leaflets on several locations south of Baghdad on 9 March. Two of the leaflets are known, "Do not use weapons of mass destruction..." (IZD-019, and "The Coalition does not wish..." (IZD-027). One new leaflet was dropped. The front of this full-color leaflet shows a tank with its cannon lowered as two Coalition aircraft fly by. The text is, "Do not take an offensive posture and you will not be destroyed." On the back of the leaflet the tank has raised it's main gun. The Coalition aircraft immediately turn and destroy the tank with rockets. The text is, "Take an offensive posture and you will be destroyed." The number of this leaflet is IZD-005. CENTCOM reported that information radio leaflets were also dropped but they were not identified.

Another record was set of 10 March when Southern Watch aircraft dropped approximately 900,000 leaflets in three raids over several locations south of Baghdad near Al Basrah. The aircraft dropped eight different leaflets, three of which were new.

CENTCOM announced that one of the raids dropped 480,000 leaflets over Al Hilla at 0300. The specific targets of the two additional raids are unknown.

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The first new full-color leaflet depicts an Iraqi mother with child at the right and a smiling Saddam Hussein at the left. The text is “As your family struggles to survive – He lives in splendor.” The back of the leaflet shows happy Iraqi citizens at the right and a stern-faced Iraqi military officer at the left. The text is “Who needs you more? Your family or the regime? Return to your home and family.” The leaflet is coded IZD-050. This type of propaganda is a common theme of American PSYOP. During W.W.II, allied propagandists regularly attacked Nazi Party officials for the way they lived in luxury and were unaffected by rationing and deprivation. During the recent Kosovo campaign, the allies regularly attacked the family of Slobodan Milosevic for owning luxurious villas and yachts while the Serbian people starved. Good propaganda never attacks the enemy population, only their leaders.

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The second new full-color leaflet is coded IZD-070. The front pictures an oil refinery with a father and child at the upper left. The text is “ The oil industry is your livelihood! Your family depends on your livelihood.” The back of the leaflet depicts and Iraqi family looking at a burning oil refinery. The text is “If the oil industry is destroyed, your livelihood will be RUINED! Help to prevent the sabotage of the Iraqi oil industry! Your family depends on it!”

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The final full-color leaflet shows an Iraqi soldier guarding an oil refinery at the right, and a civilian oil worker at the left. The text is, “Attention Iraqi military. Do not destroy Iraqi oil wells or production facilities.” The back shows an Iraqi family watching burning oil fields and facilities. The text is “Destroying Iraqi oil fields and production facilities will not hinder Coalition operations. Those who commit or assist in such acts will be held accountable.” The leaflet is coded IZD-072.

In February 1991, while in full retreat from allied forces that evicted Iraq from Kuwait, the Iraqis blew up 732 Kuwaiti wells, setting 650 of them aflame. Although the destruction of the Kuwaiti oil fields was certainly simple vindictiveness on the part of Saddam Hussein, there was talk at the time that the Iraqis believed that allied tanks could not see through the smoke from the burning oil wells. The Coalition is reminding the Iraqis that the smoke will not hinder operations.

The European Command (EUCOM) announced on the same day that Northern Watch aircraft dropped leaflets near anti-aircraft batteries at 0925. The aircraft dropped 240,000 leaflets on locations south of Tall Afar and southwest of Saddam Lake. This is the second PSYOP mission flown from Incirlik AFB in Turkey during the current emergency. The leaflet is the same "Do not track or fire on coalition aircraft..." (IZD-007) dropped on 1 March.

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On 11 March, the United States increased the psychological pressure on Iraq by testing the 21,000-pound massive ordnance airburst bomb (MOAB) at Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida. Defense officials suggested the test was a message to Iraq about the might of the U.S. military. A C-131 Samaritan aircraft dropped the MOAB, privately known in military circles as "The mother of all bombs,” from the back of its cargo bay. The bomb is guided by global positioning satellites. It spreads a flammable mist over the target then ignites it, producing a highly destructive blast.

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MOAB - Igniting the flammable mist

The MOAB is a precision-guided modernization improvement to the 15,000 pound "BLU-82," or Daisy Cutter. American aircraft dropped leaflets picturing the BLU-82 during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq and during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan (AFD62b). This new bomb will surely appear on future Coalition PSYOP. An even larger bomb, weighing 30,000 pounds, is currently on the drawing board.

The same day Coalition aircraft dropped 120,000 leaflets over several locations between Baghdad and Al Basrah at 0700. The leaflet mix consisted of "Information radio" (IZD-002), "He lives in splendor..." (IZD-050), "Do not risk your life..." (IZD-057), and a new leaflet coded IZD-002a. This leaflet is an information radio leaflet identical to IZD-002.

Operation Northern Watch aircraft flying from Incirlik AFB in Turkey dropped 240,000 leaflets south of Tall Afar and southwest of Saddam Lake at about 0841 on 13 March. Coalition aircraft raided the same locations on 10 March. Both have a history of anti-aircraft artillery firing on coalition jets. The leaflet was one previously dropped over southern Iraq, "Before you engage coalition aircraft…" (IZD1bd05).

Coalition aircraft flying from Incirlik AFB in Turkey dropped 120,000 leaflets on anti-aircraft batteries and troops stationed near the Ayn Zalah airfield at 0850 on 14 March. The leaflet "Before you engage coalition aircraft..."(IZD1bd05) was dropped for the second straight day.

Southern Watch aircraft dropped 960,000 leaflets over Al Iskandariyah, An Nasiriyah, Tallil and Qalat Salih on 15 March. The mix consisted of seven unidentified leaflets.

On 16 March, Coalition aircraft dropped 240,000 leaflets over military and civilian sites at four locations south of the 33rd Parallel. The aircraft dropped leaflets IZD-002, IZD-002a, IZD-003, IZD-019, IZD-019a, IZD-038, IZD-050 and IZD-057. At the same time, the United States escalated the conflict by using a B-1B bomber to attack two anti-aircraft radar sites in western Iraq. This is the first use of the strategic heavy bomber in the current operation.

President Bush spoke to the world on 17 March and gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face attack. He stated that the United States was ready to take unilateral action against Iraq even as the United Nations debated the subject, and France, Germany, and Russia threatened a veto. On the same day, Coalition aircraft set a new record when they dropped 1,440,000 leaflets over nearly 20 different locations in Southern Iraq. The aircraft dropped leaflets IZD-002a, IZD-003, IZD-016, IZD-025, IZD-038, IZD-050, IZD-057 and IZD-2502. Three of the leaflets are new. They are IZD-016, IZD-025 and IZD-2502.

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Leaflet IZD-2502 depicts three Coalition troopers and a vehicle “buttoned up” in preparation for a chemical or biological attack. The text is, “Coalition forces are prepared and well trained to defend themselves against chemical weapon attacks.” The back of the leaflet pictures dead children at the left and right, and a group of Iraqis carrying a casket in the center. The text is, “Your comrades and innocent Iraqi people will be victims if Saddam uses chemical weapons. Don’t be a part of this crime. Unit commanders will be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons.”

Meanwhile, U.S. forces started to psychologically prepare the people of Basrah for the projected invasion. PSYOP specialists took part in radio broadcasts and leaflet drops in and around Basrah to inform residents that the attacking forces will make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. Soldiers will have packets of food to pass out to children, and medics will provide care to Iraqis in need. In addition, the Pentagon dispatched a 60-member disaster response team that will enter Basrah with the American and British troops.

Earlier, a spokesman of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of several anti-Saddam Hussein groups, spoke of plans to use radio and television broadcasts and leaflets to offer Iraqi soldiers a general amnesty at war’s end. Among the anti-Saddam groups are the Shiite Muslim faction Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; the Iraqi National Congress, and the two main Kurdish groups: the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party. At the same time, Reuters reported that the United States is faxing messages to Baghdad residents urging them to help U.S. soldiers and pilots in the event of war. The faxes also instructed them to tune into Coalition Arabic-language radio stations.  

On 18 March, the Coalition dropped 1,980,000 leaflets over 29 locations across southeastern Iraq. The leaflet raid set another record and brought the total number of leaflets to more than 17 million this year. The mix consisted of 13 different leaflets. Those dropped previously are IZD-001, IZD-002a, IZD-017b, IZD-019, IZD-027, IZD-038, IZD-050, IZD-057, IZD-070, IZD-071, and IZD-072. The new leaflets are IZD-001c and IZD-036.

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IZD-001c is nearly identical to the information radio leaflet IZD-001. The difference is that the new leaflet increases the time that Coalition radio stations are on the air. The original leaflet depicted a map of Iraq and two radio transmitters. It listed five frequencies that the Iraqi people could listen to between the hours of 1800 and 2300 daily to hear Coalition broadcasts. The frequencies were 756 KHZ AM, 693 KHZ AM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW, and 100.4 MHZ FM. The new leaflet deletes the text “1800-2300 Daily” at the upper left and right. It now lists the times next to each individual frequency. The text is, “756 KHZ AM - 1800-1200, 690 KHZ AM - 1800-2300, 9715 KHZ SW - 24 hours a day, 11292 KHZ SW – 1800-1200, and 100.4 MHZ FM – 1800-2300. Notice also that the 693 KHZ is now 690 KHZ.

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IZD-036 depicts armed Coalition soldiers at the right and left and the text “Do not interfere with Coalition Forces. Coalition Special Operation Forces do not wish to harm or injure non-combatants.” The back of the leaflet pictures a helicopter unloading armed Coalition troops. The text is, “For your safety do not interfere with Coalition Forces. Coalition Special Operation Forces are here to end the oppressive rule of Saddam’s regime and liberate the people of Iraq.”

Coalition aircraft dropped leaflets over Iraqi troop locations on 19 March. This was the final day of the Bush 48-hour offer for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq to prevent a war. One leaflet coded IZD-069 was new. This is the first leaflet with a "capitulation" message and is an attempt by Coalition forces to minimize Iraqi casualties if military conflict occurs.

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The leaflet depicts a group of Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles with a white flag tied to their antennae at the right, and a group of unarmed Iraqi soldiers at the left. Between them is an arrow overprinted "1 Kilometer." Text above the vignette reads, "To avoid destruction, follow Coalition guidelines." The back of the leaflet is all in text. It tells the Iraqi military, “For your safety follow these Coalition Guidelines. Park vehicles in squares, no larger than battalion size. Stow artillery and Air Defense Systems in travel configuration. Display white flags on vehicles. No visible man portable air defense systems. Personnel must gather in groups, a minimum of one kilometer away from their vehicles. Officers may retain their sidearms; others must disarm. Do not approach Coalition forces. Wait for further instructions.”

At the same time, it became clear the US military hoped that the Iraqi armed forces would not fight to defend their country. Reuters reported that U.S. officials saw“scattered signs that some Iraqi army units in southern Iraq will lay down their arms rather than oppose a looming invasion by American and British troops.” As the George Bush deadline for Saddam’s exile approached, thousands of Coalition soldiers, armor and vehicles crowded the roads leading to the Iraqi border. It was a clear warning to Saddam Hussein that the war was just hours away.

CENTCOM released a dispatch early in the evening of 19 March that told the press that "Night operations video of F-117 Nighthawks and F-15E Strike Eagles from an air base in the Middle East will be available at midnight tonight." The implication of this dispatch was that there would be stealth aircraft attack film available that same night. A possible clue that an attack was in preparation.

At 2215, EST President George W. Bush went on national television and stated that the air war against Iraq had begun in earnest. Coalition intelligence had received information that indicated that the Iraqi high command, perhaps including Saddam Hussein, were meeting in Baghdad. The first attack of Operation Iraq Freedom consisted of two phases. The USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Montpelier (SSN 765), and USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) took part in launching about 40 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) at the alleged meeting site. At the same time, two F111 Nighthawk (Stealth) fighter-bombers dropped 2000-pound "bunker-buster" bombs.\

According to Lieutenant Colonel Steven Collins’ article “Mind Games,” in the NATO Review (Summer 2003), in advance of the first attack on 20 March over 40 million leaflets were dropped on Iraq, with another 40 million dropped during the major combat phase.

Since the No-Fly Zone warning phase is now officially over and the "shooting war" has begun, this article is concluded. We will continue to monitor the PSYOP during Operation Iraqi Freedom in a different article.

More On No Fly Leaflets