It was determined early on that the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) alone did not have sufficient loudspeaker assets to provide tactical support for all Coalition Forces. In response to this shortage, the below US Army Reserve Component PSYOP Units were called upon to provide tactical support elements for the Gulf War:
13th PSYOP Battalion, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota 18th PSYOP Company, St. Louis, Missouri 19th PSYOP Company, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota 244th PSYOP Company, Abilene, Texas 245th PSYOP Company (Airborne), Dallas, Texas 362nd PSYOP Company, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Loudspeaker teams, once deployed from the perspective stateside reserve units were detached through either the 6th or the 9th PSYOP Battalions to their respective supported ground maneuver units. This combined active duty and reserve PSYOP component effort fielded 71 tactical loudspeaker teams to support the Coalition Forces.
These teams provided support to US Army Central Command (USARCENT) - both XVIII Airborne Corps and VII Corps, US Marine central Command (USMARCENT) and US Special Operations Command Central (USSOCCENT). These loudspeaker teams were equipped with broadcasting taped surrender appeals as well as harassment and deception tapes some specially produced by Riyadh's "Propaganda Development Cell".
Although very small in size, these loudspeaker teams proved that once again PSYOP can be a major force as evidenced by the examples below:
The allied coalition effectively isolated, both physically and psychologically, a large element of Iraqi forces on Failaka Island. Rather then 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.
Marine Aviation techs installing speakers on General Boomers UH1N
Installation complete, PSYOP SSG Bernard (left), SSG Wright (center)
Loudspeaker UH1N returning from 1st Scarface mission
Staff Sergeant Larry Wright, NCOIC of the MARFOR Task Forces 1st Mar Div Detachment, had this to say about the mission:
The 2700 watt speaker system was the accountable property of LTC Kelliher, Commander, PSYOP Dissemination Bn (PDB). It was an original component of the PAMDIS system (out of service since Operation Urgent Fury in Granada) and had been partially cannibalized when PDB technicians (NCOIC SSG Bernard) reconfigured it for airborne deployment. 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 TS electronics that were always concealed from my vision. When airborne, the loud speaker effectively broadcasted just over 3 miles. The Marine codename for our missions was Scarface and we were the only game in town for the Huey pilots (GEN Boomer was holding them in reserve) so we had an abundance of enthused pilots although the Crew Chiefs had a real problem replacing their M2 with speakers. The pilots always wanted us to play Flight of the Valcyries as they buzzed the compound at lift off and the two Hueys Rockn on the deck at wide-open speed boosted the morale of every Marine in sight to the MAJ Gerblics (the MARFOR OIC) relief, we were never observed/reported by a member of the press.
During the test phase I flew with 4 missions across the berm and hoped that Scarface would be my ticket out of the 1st Mar Div HQ. Instead, SP4 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 Ive heard of and they were both exhausted.
TASK FORCE TROY
One of the most distinctive uses of loudspeakers and taped broadcasts during the Gulf War occurred during a little know deception operation that was carried by a military organization clandestinely known as Task Force Troy.
Now for those of you who are history buffs you will recognize Troy from the city of the same name that was the recipient of the Greek Trojan Horse. For this operation, a 460 man "ghost" unit was created made up of only 5 tanks, several wheeled vehicles and elements from the US Marines, British Army and the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne).
Task Force Troy was given cover responsibility for an area of the Kuwaiti front which would normally have been covered by a full division. In order to deceive the enemy to believe that Task Force Troy was a much larger unit, the unit relied on the use of deceptive decoys, such as armored vehicles, artillery pieces and helicopters, as well as a series of loudspeakers and dummy emplacements to complete the illusion.
The unit carried out its deception by playing several varieties of PSYOP broadcast tapes, ranging from the sounds of tanks, trucks to helicopters landing and taking off. Playing these deceptive tapes confused forward Iraqi listening posts as to the actual size and location of the force they faced. Those members of the Iraqi listening posts foolish enough to investigate were promptly engaged by awaiting Apache gunships or by A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft that were on standby to support the deception. It wasn't long before the Iraqis lost interest in investigating the sounds and just took for granted that they were faced with a military force of at least division strength.
This successful deception allowed a needed division to be relocated elsewhere in preparation of the Desert Storm Ground War assault.
THE BUNKER MISSION
Perhaps the best example of the effectiveness of PSYOP loudspeaker teams was carried out by the 101st Airborne Division's PSYOP Liaison team who formed an impromptu 3 man loudspeaker team. The team consisted of Captain Thomas Wright, Plans Officer for the 9th PSYOP Battalion, Staff Sergeant Steven Jensen, an Arabic linguist, and Staff Sergeant Edward Fivel, an experienced loudspeaker team member who had participated in Operation Just Cause in Panama.
In the eastern theater of operations, where the Iraqi defenses were concentrated, enemy troops had been bombed repeatedly for weeks. Interspersed with the bombings were leaflet drops and radio broadcasts that proved very effective in "persuading" the enemy to surrender.
In order not to reveal the Coalition plans, the western theater of operation, where the now famous "left hook" offensive was about to be launched, was spared the brunt of the air attacks. On February 20, 1991, just a few days before the ground assault was to begin, an Iraqi bunker complex was discovered at Thaqb Al Hajj which was right smack in the middle of the road that the 101st Airborne Division wanted to use for its main supply route. As the enemy's size and strength was unknown, this posed a real threat to the 101st Airborne Division's assault plans.
Now each maneuver brigade of the 101st had a loudspeaker team. When the division was asked by Captain Wright as to which brigade was responsible for that area he was told none and was asked if he could do the mission. Fortunately, there was a spare loudspeaker. The availability of the equipment and the Arabic expertise of SSG Jensen and the loudspeaker team experience of SSG Fivel convinced Captain Wright to accept the mission. The trio grabbed the loudspeaker equipment, some surrender leaflets and jumped aboard a Blackhawk helicopter. The pilot told the team that Apache helicopter gunships and A-10 aircraft had pounded the position for 4 hours but had inflicted little damage. The team decided they would give it a try.
When the team arrived at the site some 60 miles north of the division's position, they found not one but a network of thirteen bunkers within the enemy complex. The team first tried dropping leaflets but the enemy below showed no response to the leaflets. The team then attempted to use the man packed loudspeaker system by having Staff Sergeant Fivel hang out the helicopter holding the speaker in his hands while Staff Sergeant Jensen read from a script that was flapping in the wind. Add to this scenario the accompanying backwash of the helicopter rotor blades and the effort appeared fruitless.
Undaunted, Captain Wright conferred with the team and then asked the pilot to put them on the ground. It was decided that they would have the pilot place them about 800 meters (still within small arms fire) from the bunkers. Once on the ground they discovered that they had another obstacle in that there was a hill 300 meters to the front, between them and the Iraqis. So with Captain Wright holding the speaker, Staff Sergeant Fivel carrying the amplifier, and Staff Sergeant Jensen holding the microphone, the three ran to the crest of the hill where they again started broadcasting.
Their efforts paid off. Slowly, Iraqi soldiers began coming out of the bunker complex. The team counted about 20 enemy soldiers when they received a radio call from their Blackhawk pilot informing them that they had to go as he was running low on fuel. One Apache helicopter stayed behind to monitor the surrender as the loudspeaker team returned home.
When they arrived back at the base the team and the pilot started receiving congratulations from everyone on the ground. Imagine their surprise when they discovered that their decision to broadcast on the ground had resulted in the entire complex, some 435 enemy soldiers of the 45th Division, choosing to surrender.