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[] Broadcast Pro-American Messages, Drop Leaflets Into Afghanistan,
Information Warriors

Broadcast Pro-American Messages, Drop Leaflets Into Afghanistan 

Associated Press 
October 09, 2001 

WASHINGTON (AP) - America is
battling terrorism with messages
as well as might - dropping leaflets
and filling radio airwaves with words
urging Afghans to shun the ruling
Taliban and back the war on terrorism. 

The Pentagon is saying little about how U.S. forces are trying to fill the
eyes and ears of the Afghans with pro-American words, but the goal is
clear: sway the minds of the people to help weaken the Taliban's hold on
the nation. 

"For the people supporting the Taliban or the terrorists, it will be a real
clear message: `You're on the wrong side and you'd better get on the right
side or there's the devil to pay,''' said Chad Spawr, a former psychological
operations soldier in Vietnam. 

The effort involves information soldiers from the 4th Psychological
Operations Group at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 193rd Special Operations
Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, a division of the U.S. Air
Force's Special Operations Command. 

The psy-ops soldiers have planes to scatter leaflets, mobile print shops
that can be dropped by parachute and loudspeaker systems to blare
messages. The soldiers use local languages to reach people on the
ground. Their motto: "Persuade, Change and Influence.'' 

"You pour the leaflets out a chute so what you have is a trail of paper
coming out of the back end of an aircraft,'' Spawr said. "Generally, they're
a little bigger than a dollar bill. Usually they're black-and-white with varying

The Defense Department has not yet released any copies of the leaflets
being dispersed but has confirmed the drops. 

Spawr said they will likely explain the U.S.-led bombing and urge people
to support the allied forces or the northern alliance of fighters trying to
wrest control of Afghanistan from the Taliban. They might also direct
citizens to food or shelter or try to undermine Osama bin Laden, the
Saudi exile U.S. leaders say is the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Monday that the United
States would use all forms of communication, including the Voice of
America radio network, to reach citizens in the region. 

"We do have broadcasting capabilities to get messages to the people,'' he
said, adding that those people need information from a source other than
a "repressive Taliban regime.'' 

VOA has expanded broadcasts in five languages that are spoken in
Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iran and 21 countries in the Middle East and
north Africa. The agency says it provides unbiased news, but takes its
editorial cues from a board of governors, on which the State Department
has a seat. 

Last week, Taliban Information Minister Qatradullah Jamal accused
Western broadcasters, including the VOA, and the British Broadcasting
Corp. of waging a propaganda war against the Afghan leadership. "Every
night in their Pashtu and Dari service broadcasts they are talking about
different options to the Taliban,'' he said. 

Voice of America was recently criticized by the U.S. government, too.
Ignoring State Department objections, VOA aired a news report that
included part of an interview with the leader of Afghanistan's Taliban
militia. The voice of the Taliban should not be broadcast over facilities
backed by U.S. taxpayers, State Department spokesman Richard
Boucher said. 

The psychological war also is being waged with more than 37,000 pounds
of food in packets designed to flutter to the ground to avoid injuries. 

The yellow plastic pouches, about the size and weight of hardcover
books, are filled with peanut butter, strawberry jam, crackers and beans
with tomato sauce. 

They have a picture of a person eating from the pouch, a stencil of Old
Glory and the greeting: "This food is a gift from the United States of
America.'' The greeting is in English since the Defense Department
stockpiles the pouches for humanitarian relief anywhere in the world. 

Also in the air are members of the 193rd Special Operations Wing, who
are flying EC-130 Commando Solo aircraft and cargo planes, filling the
airwaves with pro-American messages. 

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Harris of Palmyra, Pa., who has two sons
currently on a mission to the region, recalls the unit's work during the Gulf
War. The broadcasts urged the Iraqis to lay down their arms and
surrender, he said. 

"Sometimes the broadcast would say things like, `Look, the B-52s are
scheduled here in an hour and 15 minutes. Why don't you give up,
surrender, come out from wherever you are and we'll take care of you?'''
Harris said.

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