- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2003

The U.S. soldiers of the mind who have deployed over Iraq an arsenal of psychological weapons yesterday saw dividends from their efforts as the "shock and awe" bomb and missile attack described in leaflets, broadcasts and e-mails was launched.
Iraqi soldiers surrendering to advancing ground forces waved some of the 17 million leaflets rained onto Iraq in 42 separate drops, most recently Tuesday morning when 360,000 pieces fell on two southeast Iraqi cities.
"Some of those leaflets have been reported to have shown up in Baghdad, and we didn't drop them there, so they're being hand-carried," said retired Rear Adm. Stephen H. Baker, an analyst at the Center for Defense Information. "I suspect that some people think that if they wave this, it's better than waving a white flag."
One set of leaflets at the official U.S. Central Command Web site portrays a well-dressed Iraq President Saddam Hussein beside a poverty-stricken mother and child, with the headline: "He lives in splendor as your family struggles to survive."
Iraq Information Minister Mohammed Sa'eed al-Sahhaf rejected those reports and accused U.S. officials the "criminal George Bush and his gang" of faking television images of surrenders.
"Those are not Iraqi soldiers at all," he said at a Baghdad news conference. "Where did they bring them from?"
The leaflets borrow Genghis Khan's millennium-old tactic of sending men ahead of his invading force to exaggerate its size and brutality, and invite quick surrender.
This time the bragging included the public testing an unprecedented 21,000-pound monster bomb and predictions of the massive air raid that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday called more precise and powerful than anything perviously seen in any war.
"It's much more than pamphlets, it's e-mails and phone calls," said Adm. Baker, who stressed the role of "Commando Solo II," the airborne broadcast station aboard a C-130 flying near Iraq airspace that interrupts commercial and military radio and television. The psychological-operations team includes those in uniformed services and the CIA.
Officially, the war of words that preceded the shooting was aimed at persuading Iraqi officers to save themselves and their families. Direct appeals to Iraqi leaders by President Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld often spoke directly to the Iraqi hierarchy and used the word "you" to make the message clear, said Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.
Other messages included U.S. statements about its intentions to rescue Iraq's oil treasure to benefit that nation's citizens. Senior U.S. officials also identified by name Iraqi division commanders in messages broadcast on radio frequencies Iraqis can hear. Defectors and former Iraqi military men voiced similar messages.
The military calls its flying broadcasters "Weapons of Mass Persuasion." They commandeer all broadcast bands and replace Iraqi content with music and information, and disable or manipulate Iraqi military computers.
An American University professor who opposes Bush administration war policies called the leaflets prepared at Fort Bragg, N.C., by the Army's 1,200-member 4th Psychological Operations Group a message to homeland audiences as much as for Iraqis.
"This type of operation has multiple audiences," said professor Christopher Simpson, who calls the invasion immoral and illegal. "The Central Command Web site has English-language versions and Arabic-language versions. Well, they're not dropping the English-language versions in Iraq. They're for reporters or the U.S. public.
"I'm not saying that's intrinsically evil; that's what institutions do," said Mr. Simpson, author of "Science of Coercion."
He said the campaign's impact is overstated.
"The motivation for surrender does not come from those leaflets. It depends on exploiting their existing state of mind," Mr. Simpson said. "Psychological operations are as old as time but their effectiveness is only built on the use of violence. It's not the leaflets that convince them to desert. They're ready to desert. The leaflets just tell them how."
Before and during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, coalition forces dropped 29 million leaflets, encouraging an estimated 100,000 Iraqi soldiers to surrender.
Adm. Baker predicted that messages to Iraqis will be supported by TV images showing people in southern cities occupied by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and British Royal Marine commandos.
"The Shi'ite population there hates Saddam and TV will show it quick so the rest of Iraq can see how well they are being treated. Maybe that's when General Tommy Franks would say, 'How do you like us so far, Iraq? These folks are embracing freedom,'" Adm. Baker said.

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