While well-paid grownups are playing 'professionals'
at Fort Bragg, human
tragedy unfolds in places far-away from their comfortable life. For how
long, though? September 11, 2001 attacks on US were a warning sign. DU
genocide could by itself be a sufficient reason to respond with terrorism. No
amount of safety and security will protect the West from the consequences of
their indiscriminate policies and actions.
DU in Afghanistan
Children in Iraq
US drops tons of leaflets to communicate with locals, but fails to inform
them about the dangers of DU. This was the case in Iraq, the Balkans, and
now in Afghanistan.
"The analysts nixed an idea to drop [leaflets] showing the World
Trade Center being struck; Afghans wouldn't relate to skyscrapers"
The sentence is presumptious and patronizing. I would rephrase it: US
know there is no proof that "Osama did it" and showing the image to
Afghanistan people would only anger them more. No worry, many of them know
what a skyscraper is, and surely news travelled far and wide in Afghanistan
about the September 11, 2001, tragedy in the US.
Fort Bragg yuppies are so removed from the culture they would like to
influence, that they don't see the blunders they routinely commit. A common
dilemma of the PsyOp warriors is unfamiliarity with symbols, beliefs, and
mentality of the other cultures. Yugoslav 3rd Army soldiers in Kosovo
laughed at, and were making fires with US leaflets dropped over their heads.
Using Psywar Against the Taliban
There's another war going on in Afghanistan, one you don't
need missiles or bullets to win
Monday, Dec. 10, 2001
Welcome to the other war.
In a dingy brick building at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, a
printing press last week churned out what amounts to 2 million holiday
greeting cards: reams of flimsy leaflets that'll soon flutter over
Afghanistan, wishing villagers below a happy end to Ramadan "from the people
of America." Near the print plant, a giant satellite dish beams a radio program with anti-Taliban
messages to an air base in Oman, where crewmen rush a compact disk of the program
to Commando Solo, a converted Air Force EC-130 plane packed with
broadcasting gear. Commando Solo flies over Afghanistan, blanketing the
country with the radio show for ten hours a day.
While B-52s rain terror from the skies, an
elaborate psychological operation is fighting for
the hearts and minds of Afghans, trying to turn
them against Osama bin Laden. Command
central for this war is the 4th Psychological
Operation Group at Ft. Bragg, an eclectic
organization like no other in the U.S. Army,
made up of 1,200 special ops soldiers,
academics, linguists and marketing experts,
whose weapons are words and images. Since
the U.S. bombing began Oct. 7, Air Force
planes have dumped 18 million of the
psywarriors' leaflets on Afghanistan, and
Commando Solo has broadcast more than 800
hours of their radio shows.
American armies have used psyops since the
Revolutionary War (leaflets were passed out to
British soldiers at the battle of Bunker Hill
promising free land if they defected). It has a
reputation as a black art, the stuff of Tokyo
Rose and Nazi propaganda, but today's
psywarriors act more like Madison Avenue ad
executives - except! they wear combat
fatigues and jump out of planes. Four psyops
specialists, for example, parachuted in with
Army Rangers who raided a Taliban compound
and air base Oct. 19; they heralded the arrival
of U.S. forces by spreading leaflets with the picture of a New
York firefighter raising an American flag.
Psywarriors have found that "the truth is the best
propaganda," says Col. James Treadwell, the 4th Group's commander.
Otherwise, "you lose credibility," he explains, and the audience tunes out.
Leaflets have explained how to use relief food packets and warned civilians to stay
away from combat zones. Commando Solo's broadcasts mix world news stories with
sales pitches. A recent show, for example, reported on United
Nations efforts to organize Taliban opposition groups and ended with the plea:
"this must happen for there to finally be peace in Afghanistan."
But the truth can be used selectively. To get Iraqi soldiers to listen to its
program during the 1991 Desert Storm War, Commando Solo broadcast the
targets U.S. warplanes would strike each day. To win its market share in
Afghanistan, bombers knocked out Radio Sharia, the Taliban
station, and Commando Solo began broadcasting on a frequency near Sharia's.
The CIA sent in radios for villages and Commando Solo played popular
Afghan music! the Taliban had banned from the airwaves.
A team of 35 civilian analysts, two-thirds of which are
Ph.D.'s, spends weeks crafting the 4th Psyop's messages. "It's vastly more difficult
to influence a hostile foreign audience than it is to introduce a soft drink
into the market," says Robert Jenks, who heads the group's research arm.
Leaflets have to be kept simple and visual because of Afghanistan's high
The analysts nixed an idea to drop ones showing the World
Trade Center being struck; Afghans wouldn't relate to skyscrapers they'd
Instead, many of the leaflets play on Afghan xenophobia,
portraying Bin Laden's terrorists as foreign invaders like the Soviets. On
the front of one, for example, there's a drawing of Taliban chief Mohammed Omar's
face on an Afghan Kuchi dog being held on a leash by bin Laden. Printed
on it in Dari &! nbsp; and Pashto, the country's two languages: "Who really
runs the Taliban?" On the back, with the inscription "Expel the foreign rulers and
live in peace," Bin Laden moves pawns with Taliban faces on a chessboard. (Chess,
which the Taliban also banned, was once enormously popular in Afghanistan).
Not all psywar schemes have worked. During the 1993 intervention in
Somalia, a leaflet urging support for peacekeepers mistranslated "United
Nations" so Somalis thought it said "Slave Nations." A Pentagon study
concluded that Commando Solo's broadcasts during NATO's 1999
air war over Kosovo were largely ineffective. In Desert Storm, psyops
soldiers held focus groups among Iraqi POWs to determine what messages
resonated. &n! bsp; Afghanistan is still too unsettled for the 4th Group to
survey prisoners or civilians on whether they've been swayed by the pitch. "I
think we're making a difference," says Treadwell. The proof will be the war's end -
and in an enduring peace.
DU in Afghanistan