Bush Address Underscores Importance of Radio PSYOP
By Nick Grace
March 17, 2003
Underscoring the importance of ongoing psychological operations (PSYOP) against the regime of Saddam Hussein, President Bush tonight addressed the Iraqi public, Republican Guard officers, regular enlisted troops, and civilian Ba'ath Party bureaucrats from the White House during his national policy address on Iraq.
The President's speech, which was translated live over the U.S. Government's Arabic-language program Radio Sawa, consistently mirrors the PSYOP messages broadcast to Iraq over the airwaves via the Pentagon's Information Radio broadcasts and transmissions covertly funded by the Central Intelligence Agency and reveals the sophistication and high-level of coordination of current PSYOP strategies being pursued by Washington to prepare Iraq for liberation.
Preliminary monitoring by Clandestine Radio Watch on known PSYOP frequencies for Information Radio, which is packaged by the U.S. military and broadcast from Commando Solo aircraft in the Persian Gulf, and CIA-backed stations al-Mustaqbal, Radio Tikrit, Radio of the Two Rivers and Voice of Iraqi Liberation was unsuccessful. The clandestine radio stations were not scheduled to broadcast during the address, however, which began at 3 AM in Baghdad.
Radio Free Iraq, which began its morning broadcast at 0200 GMT did not immediately carry a translation of Bush's message. His speech was also missing from the 0300 GMT program.
Do Not Fight for a Dying Regime
"Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast," he said during the speech, "and I have a message for them. If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you."
President Bush warned the Iraqi military to defy orders from Baghdad and to be prepared to work in concert with coalition forces.
Mirroring PSYOP messages broadcast over Information Radio - and possibly hinting at announcements aired over the Voice of Iraqi Liberation - the President said "Our forces will give Iraqi military units clear instructions on actions they can take to avoid being attacked and destroyed. I urge every member of the Iraqi military and intelligence services, if war comes, do not fight for a dying regime that is not worth your own life."
The Voice of Iraqi Liberation, Egyptian monitor Tarek Zeidan noted on DXing.info, began encouraging the Iraqi military to support the U.S.-led coalition force on March 8. "Join the collation forces to get rid of the dictator," the station announced. "Your main mission now is to free Iraq and build a new democratic nation to return Iraq to its natural position in the international arena."
A December 2002 PSYOP announcement broadcast over Information Radio asked more generally: "How much longer will this incompetent leader be allowed to rule? How many more soldiers is he willing to sacrifice? Will your unit be the next one to be sacrificed? When will the Iraqi Army become a legitimate army of the people and not serve as bodyguards for Saddam's Regime?"
Likewise, CIA-backed Radio Tikrit urged Iraqi enlisted soldiers to abandon the regime on February 15, according to BBC Monitoring (BBCM). "Those who used you are planning to flee," the announcer warned, "leaving you to face the consequences of your crimes with bloodstained hands. You would be fools not to realize the extent of the popular wrath that awaits you if you do not leave this gang and flee. Each will be witness to reveal the crimes of the others. You are aware of the size of the crimes that Saddam and his gang committed against innocent people. Leave this gang, leave the guards before it is too late."
War Criminals Will Be Punished
Bush tonight continued with a stark warning to Iraqi soldiers and civilian Ba'ath Party bureaucrats that resembled recent calls over the Voice of Iraqi Liberation, which broadcasts from a ground-based transmitter in Iraqi Kurdistan and is believed to be funded covertly by Washington.
"(A)ll Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning," he said. "In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished. And it will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders.'"
The Voice of Iraqi Liberation, according to BBCM, announced on March 7 a call to "all the workers at Iraqi oil fields and installations, and all persons assigned to mining and blowing up these sites. Brothers: We have already warned in a previous call all administrators, officials and participants in planting explosives in oil fields, wells and installations, and urged them not to implement orders to blow up these sites that may be issued to them by the Iraqi authorities as soon as the war breaks out against the dictatorial regime in Iraq. We stress again that the oil wells and government installations belong only to the Iraqi people, and any deliberate damage to these sites will be considered as a capital crime against the whole of the Iraqi people and the coming generations. The next regime and government in Iraq will put on trial all those who participate in the execution of those orders as war criminals, and they will be severely punished."
Radio Tikrit broadcast a similar message on February 19, which was translated by BBCM. "There are many things that can be done by public security officers. Such as refusing orders of the tyrant and the torture of Iraqis who will express support for the forces of change. The public security officer should be brave before it is too late."
The Day of Your Liberation is Near
The President during tonight's address also sent a message of hope and compassion to Iraqi civilians, promising American commitment in providing humanitarian aid and support for the reconstruction to the Iraqi nation.
He said, "As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near."
Information Radio, which initially targeted Iraqi soldiers based in southern Iraq, shifted its broadcasts in early March to include civilians. Recent messages, according to leaflets released by U.S. Central Command, have called on the public to avoid military and communications facilities. "For your safety," said one leaflet, "stay in your homes away from military targets. The Coalition does not target civilians."
It is expected that Information Radio will increase its calls for enlisted Iraqi soldiers to defy orders and will begin urging them to surrender. Its programming will also serve a humanitarian role by alerting civilians to upcoming food drops and the location of medical centers. The CIA-backed radio stations, on the other hand, are expected to continue the psychological and tactical encirclement of Saddam Hussein, his two sons, and top advisers.
The impact of PSYOP radio transmissions is well documented. Voice of the Gulf broadcasts during the Gulf War in 1991, according to Pentagon studies, resulted in over 90,000 defections. More recently, MSNBC has reported, Information Radio transmissions that blanketed Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002 led to the majority of Taliban and al-Qaeda defections witnessed by coalition troops. It has also been credited for protecting the lives of American and coalition troops as well as civilians during previous interventions in Kosovo, Haiti, Panama and Grenada.