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Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 15:22 GMT
US planes target Iraq with broadcasts
Plane/Iraq graphic
Hearing the message from on high

The US has stepped up psychological operations against President Saddam Hussein with the start of radio broadcasts targeted at military commanders as well as civilians.

The broadcasts are being transmitted by US planes flying over Iraq. They urge Iraqis to reject their president, accusing him of diverting revenue from oil sales to purchase arms instead of food.

Do not let Saddam tarnish the reputation of soldiers any longer

US and British aircraft have also dropped 500,000 leaflets warning Iraqi forces not to repair damaged communications facilities hit in air strikes on Saturday, in the seventh leaflet blitz over southern Iraq in the past three months.

Troops targeted

"Saddam lives like a king, while his soldiers are underpaid and underequipped... Saddam does not wish the soldiers of Iraq to have the honour and dignity that their profession warrants," the American radio broadcasts proclaim.

"Do not let Saddam tarnish the reputation of soldiers any longer."

The broadcasts, which feature Arabic music as well as anti-Saddam messages, aim to "dissuade the Iraqi military from supporting Saddam", said Pentagon spokesman Lt Daniel D Hetlage.

How much longer will this corrupt rule be allowed to exploit and oppress the Iraqi people?

Other broadcasts are directed at Iraqi civilians and point to the numerous monuments and portraits of Saddam which "litter" the country.

Accusing Saddam of being on a huge ego trip, they say such resources would be better spent on the peoples' welfare.

"How much longer will this corrupt rule be allowed to exploit and oppress the Iraqi people?" the broadcasts ask.

Specialist unit

Leaflets in Arabic and English dropped on the country promote the broadcasts, saying "Information Radio" is on the air from 1500-2000GMT on five separate frequencies in the FM, medium-wave and short-wave bands.

US leaflets advising Afghans how to receive psyops broadcasts
US leaflets targeted the Afghans in 2001

The broadcasts come from Commando Solo aircraft operated by a specialist US psy-ops unit.

The EC-130E Commando Solo is a modified four-engine Hercules transport aircraft that can broadcast simultaneous high-power medium-wave, short-wave, FM and TV signals.

The planes can also jam or override local transmissions, in an effort to persuade listeners to tune to the propaganda frequencies.

Over the years, the unit has carried out missions in Vietnam, South Korea, Panama, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Persian Gulf and Serbia. Most recently, it was in action over Afghanistan, broadcasting propaganda messages to the local population and Taleban fighters.

Bombs are going to do the talking

Military analyst William Arkin

As well as the airborne broadcasts, the US uses ground transmitters in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Gulf to beam anti-Saddam programmes to the Iraqi people.

Doubts

The aim of the propaganda broadcasts is "to isolate the Iraqi leadership who are hiding in bunkers," John Pike of the US think tank Globalsecurity.org told the Washington Post newspaper earlier this year.

But not all American military analysts are convinced that psychological warfare will succeed.

William Arkin, a military analyst and former army intelligence officer, said in remarks published in the Baltimore Sun in November that if the United States invades Iraq, it would not be psychological warfare which would win the battle.

"Bombs are going to do the talking."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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