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[infowar.de] NYT 24.02.03 Firing Leaflets And Electrons, U.S. Wages Information War
New York Times
February 24, 2003
Firing Leaflets And Electrons, U.S. Wages Information War
By Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 ? Even before President Bush orders American forces
to loose bullets and bombs on Iraq, the military is starting an
ambitious assault using a
growing arsenal of electronic and psychological weapons on the
American cyber-warfare experts recently waged an e-mail assault,
directed at Iraq's political, military and economic leadership, urging
them to break with Saddam
Hussein's government. A wave of calls has gone to the private cellphone
numbers of specially selected officials inside Iraq, according to
leaders at the Pentagon and in
the regional Central Command.
As of last week, more than eight million leaflets had been dropped over
Iraq ? including towns 65 miles south of Baghdad ? warning Iraqi
antiaircraft missile operators
that their bunkers will be destroyed if they track or fire at allied
warplanes. In the same way, a blunt offer has gone to Iraqi ground
troops: surrender, and live.
But the leaflets are old-fashioned instruments compared with some of the
others that are being applied already or are likely to be used soon.
Radio transmitters hauled aloft by Air Force Special Operations EC-130E
planes are broadcasting directly to the Iraqi public in Arabic with
programs that mimic the
program styles of local radio stations and are more sophisticated than
the clumsy preachings of previous wartime propaganda efforts.
"Do not let Saddam tarnish the reputation of soldiers any longer," one
recent broadcast said. "Saddam uses the military to persecute those who
don't agree with his unjust
agenda. Make the decision."
Military planners at the United States Central Command expect to rely on
many kinds of information warfare ? including electronic attacks on
communications systems and computer networks, as well as deception and
psychological operations ? to break the Iraqi military's will to fight
and sway Iraqi public
Commanders may use supersecret weapons that could flash millions of
watts of electricity to cripple Iraqi computers and equipment, and
literally turn off the lights in
Baghdad if the campaign escalates to full-fledged combat.
"The goal of information warfare is to win without ever firing a shot,"
said James R. Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Central Command in Tampa,
Fla. "If action does
begin, information warfare is used to make the conflict as short as
Senior military officials say, for example, that the American radio
shows broadcast from the EC-130E "Commando Solo" planes follow the
format of a popular Iraqi
station, "Voice of the Youth," managed by President Hussein's older son,
The American programs open with greetings in Arabic, followed by
Euro-pop and 1980's American rock music ? intended to appeal to younger
Iraqi troops, perceived
by officials as the ones most likely to lay down their arms. The
broadcasts include traditional Iraqi folk music, so as not to alienate
other listeners, and a news program in
Arabic prepared by Army psychological operations experts at Fort Bragg,
Then comes the official message: Any war is not against the Iraqi
people, but is to disarm Mr. Hussein and end his government.
American commanders say they believe that these psychological salvos
have, to some degree, influenced Iraqi forces to move their defenses or
curtail their antiaircraft
"It pays to drop the leaflets," Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, commander
of allied air forces in the Persian Gulf, said by telephone from his
headquarters in Saudi Arabia.
"It sends a direct message to the operator on the gun. It sends a direct
message to the chain of command."
Deception and psychological operations have been a part of warfare for
centuries, and American commanders carried out limited information
attacks ? both
psychological operations, or "psyops," and more traditional electronic
warfare like jamming or crippling the enemy's equipment ? in the Persian
Gulf war in 1991 and the
air campaign over Kosovo in 1999, as well as in Afghanistan. But
commanders looking back on those campaigns say their current planning is
much broader and more
tightly integrated into the main war plan than ever before.
"What we're seeing now is the weaving of electronic warfare, psyops and
other information warfare through every facet of the plan from our
through execution," said Maj. Gen. Paul J. Lebras, chief of the Joint
Information Operations Center, a secretive military agency based in
Texas that has sent a team of
experts to join the Central Command info-warfare team for the Iraq
As modern combat relies increasingly on precision strikes at targets
carried out over long distances, the military is likewise increasingly
aware that there are many ways
to disable the operations at those targets.
An adversary's antiaircraft radar site, for example, can be destroyed by
a bomb or missile launched by a warplane; it can be captured or blown up
by ground forces; or
the enemy soldiers running the radar can be persuaded to shut down the
system and just go home.
"We are trying very hard to be empathetic with the Iraqi military," said
a senior American information warfare official. "We understand their
situation. The same for the
Iraqi population. We wish them no harm. We will take great pains to make
those people understand that they should stay away from military
Even so, the military's most ardent advocates of information warfare
acknowledge that American pilots ordered into enemy airspace would
rather be told that
antiaircraft sites were struck first by ordnance, rather than by
Aerial pictures help the military assess bomb damage to a target. The
softer kind of strike is harder to assess.
Information warfare experts look for what they call "the voilà moment."
"In Afghanistan, the biggest lesson we learned in our tactical
information operations ? the radio and TV broadcasts ? was the
importance in explaining, `Why are we
here?' " a senior American military officer said. "The majority of
Afghanis did not know that Sept. 11 occurred. They didn't even know of
our great tragedy."
During the war in Afghanistan, this officer said, "The voilà moment came
when we saw that the population understood why coalition forces were
fighting the Taliban
and Al Qaeda."
In Iraq, he said, "it will be when we see a break with the leadership."
Delivering radios to the people of Afghanistan presented a particular
problem. About 500 were air-dropped over the country, and all of them
were destroyed on impact.
The military and aid groups passed out more than 6,500, and millions of
leaflets were dropped telling the Afghan people of frequencies used for
The American military also took over one important frequency, 8.7
megahertz, used by the Taliban for its official radio broadcasts. That
became possible once the
towers used by the Taliban for relaying their military commands were
blown up as part of the war effort. As in most totalitarian governments,
the military and
government used the same system for their radio broadcasts. The American
military continues to broadcast to the Afghan people over that channel.
Improvisation remains a hallmark of the emerging information war, said
Brig. Gen. Thomas P. Maney, of the Army's Civil Affairs and
In Afghanistan, General Maney said, the American military found it hard
to get its radio and television messages out to many villages that had
access to neither. So
Special Forces troops made contact with local coffee-house managers, and
offered them the same radio programs being broadcast from Commando Solo
planes, but on
compact discs to be played over a boom box for the patrons.
The program gave birth to a new icon on the military's maps of
Afghanistan: a tiny picture of a coffee mug to indicate the location of
village businesses that agreed to
play CD copies of the American radio programming.
If Mr. Bush orders an attack against Iraq, the information offensive
will expand to a fierce but invisible war of electrons. Air commanders
will rely on a small but
essential fleet of surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, including
the radar-jamming EC-130H Compass Call and electronic-eavesdropping
RC-135 Rivet Joint. There
are just over a dozen of each aircraft in the American arsenal.
Flying from Prince Sultan Air Base, outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the
Rivet Joint is already playing an important role in collecting Iraqi
radio and radar emissions, which
are jammed when American and British planes in the no-flight zones
periodically attack targets on the ground. The RC-135, a military
version of a Boeing 707 jet with a
bulbous nose filled with sensors, is essentially a flying listening
post, orbiting at the edge of the battlefield above 30,000 feet.
In the rear of the planes, filled with high-powered computers and other
sensors, intelligence specialists, many of whom speak Arabic or Farsi,
monitor the airwaves,
intercepting conversations from military communications links or other
networks. Much of this information is passed to the National Security
Agency for analysis.
At the front of the plane, which has a 32-member crew, electronic
warfare specialists sit at a separate bank of computers, gathering up
radar signals of all kinds,
including Iraqi air defenses. Rivet Joints have the ability to scan
automatically across an array of communications frequencies, allowing an
operator to home in on
individual frequencies and pass that information on to the Awacs radar
or J-Stars ground-surveillance planes, which have better ability to
pinpoint the locations of the
The Compass Call is a modified C-130 cargo plane, also filled with
high-powered computers and sensors. Usually flying at above 20,000 feet
and, ideally, about 80 to 100
miles from the target to be jammed, the Compass Calls are directed to
their targets by the Rivet Joints, other aircraft or targets identified
in their pre-mission planning.
The 13-member crews include linguists, cryptologists, other analysts and
the flight personnel.
Metal antenna cables hang down from the plane's tail in a distinctive
pattern that looks like a metal trapeze or cheese-cutter. Electronic
signals are collected from
sensors in the blunt nose of the airplane; antennae in the rear of the
aircraft blast electrons that jam enemy radar and other communications.
Flying perpendicular to the target to maximize the jamming, on-board
specialists lock on to the frequencies to be disrupted. The plane can
jam multiple targets at once.
When it comes time to carry out a mission, a flight officer pushes a
little red button on a computer keyboard, "JAM," and up to 800 watts of
power is zapped at the
target. If the target switches frequency, the Compass Call operators are
ready to jam that in a constant cat-and-mouse game.
In a war against Iraq, military commanders say, new technology will
probably allow those electronic combat planes to plant false targets in
Iraqi radars and spoof the air
In an interview, Gen. John P. Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff,
declined to discuss the highly classified technical advances, except to
say, "We're approaching the
point where we can tell the SA-10 radar it is a Maytag washer and not a
radar, and put it in the rinse cycle instead of the firing cycle."
HSFK Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Leimenrode 29 60322 Frankfurt a/M Germany
Tel +49 (0)69 9591 0422 Fax +49 (0)69 5584 81
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