An Analysis Of Gulf War Psyops And Their Applicability To Future Operations CSC 1993 SUBJECT AREA - Operations EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TITLE: AN ANALYSIS OF GULF WAR PSYOPS AND THEIR APPLI- CABILITY TO FUTURE OPERATIONS AUTHOR: Major Peter A. Whitenack, United States Marine Corps THESIS: The many-faceted PSYOP contribution to victory in the Persian Gulf War should be examined in more detail to determine how its lessons may be better integrated into preparations for dealing with conflicts in the lean times ahead. BACKGROUND: U.S. military planners were pivotal in developing and executing a coordinated, multi-national combined arms theater campaign that succeeded in defeating Iraq. Time for planning and coordination was a decisive determinant of this success, and this type of opportunity may not be afforded us to prepare similarly for future opera- tions. PSYOPS in the Persian Gulf War actively spanned the conflict and supported all elements of the theater campaign. While integration of PSYOPS into operational planning was not conducted according to doctrine, it was nevertheless effective in all mediums, significantly contributing to mass capitulation of Iraqi forces and an overwhelming victory for the Coalition. While PSYOPS efforts successfully comple- mented operations in the field, planning was initiated from the bottom up for approval. RECOMMENDATION: That psychological warfare operations in the Persian Gulf War be thoroughly studied for establishment of future doctrinal concepts in order to realize the full potential of this effective force multiplier. AN ANALYSIS OF GULF WAR PSYOPS AND THEIR APPLICABILITY TO FUTURE OPERATIONS OUTLINE THESIS: The many-faceted PSYOP contribution to victory in the Persian Gulf War should be examined in more detail to determine how its lessons may be better integrated into preparations for dealing with conflicts in the lean times ahead. I. Foundation for Analysis A. Time as a determinant for success B. Concern with force reduction 1. PSYOPS to facilitate objectives 2. Offset degradation of force potential C. Basis of Gulf War PSYOP analysis II. Historical Overview of Gulf War PSYOPS A. Genesis of command B. Operational establishment III. PSYOPS Planning A. Campaign description B. Tying operations to the mission C. Regional sensitivities, the Coalition IV. Propaganda Development A. Traditional forms B. New campaign initiatives V. Product Application A. Pre-air war dissemination B. Pre-ground assault dissemination C. Delivery systems discussion VI. Impact and Potential A. Results and interpretations B. Views to the future AN ANALYSIS OF GULF WAR PSYOPS AND THEIR APPLICABILITY TO FUTURE OPERATIONS U.S. military planners were pivotal in developing and executing a coordinated, multi-national combined arms theater campaign that succeeded in defeating Iraq. The U.S.-led Coalition built a multi-national armed force capable of offen- sive operations, and executed massive logistics preparations in order to support and sustain it. Inasmuch as the Coalition had sufficient time to plan and prepare for the offensive, forces exploited the time available to reach the highest possible levels of unit proficiency. Time, in this case, as a decisive determinant of success, was a significant advantage that may not be available in future crises. This, coupled with the new politics of the defense budget and ongoing force restructuring, is forcing us to think about ways to fight more efficiently. In searching for ways to maintain future mission effectiveness in the face of force drawdown, it would be wise to examine the impact that psychological operations (PSYOPS) had in facilitating U.S. objectives in the Gulf War. Accord- ing to the final report to Congress by the Department of Defense, CONDUCT OF THE PERSIAN GULF WAR, (3:87) the PYSOP effort was focused on breaking the Iraqi will to resist, and on increasing the fears of Iraqi soldiers. On G-Day, 24 February 1991, the Commander-in-Chief, Central Command remarked that ".... .we were succeeding beyond our expecta- tions...I was overwhelmed," (10:456) regarding his campaign in which the first day of the ground offensive saw a shift from deliberate attack to exploitation. The unexpected degree of success enjoyed by the Coalition can be directly attributed to the manner in which PSYOPS complemented the overall conduct of operations against the enemy in the Kuwait Theater of Operations. As traditional "users of propaganda against the enemy," PSYOP units generated initiatives during the Persian Gulf War which employed standard, dedicated communications assets (principally broadcasting and printing equipment) in support of combat operations. (8:25) Across the theater, these activities complemented Coalition operations and directly con- tributed to the unexpectedly rapid demise of Saddam's war machine. Psychological warfare operations took on both subtle and overt forms during the Gulf War. In combination, they constituted a significant force multiplier in enabling the Coalition to inflict a crushing defeat upon Iraqi forces, and in decisively concluding operations with minimal loss of life. The many-faceted PSYOP contribution to victory in the Gulf War is worth examining in more detail to determine how its lessons may be better integrated into preparations for dealing with conflicts in the lean times ahead. Before Coalition forces fired the first shots in the Persian Gulf War, a different type of force had already been assembled for months, and was engaged in a pitched battle for dominance over Iraqi forces. Far away from headlines and newscasts, PSYOPS initiatives were bombarding Saddam's empire in the form of wave upon wave of leaflet and radio assaults. Planing for psychological operations began immediately after the invasion of Kuwait. In early August 1990, a PSYOP planning group consisting of military and civilian personnel from CENTCOM, SOCOM, and the 4th Psychological Operations Group (POG) from Fort Bragg was formed at HQ, CENTCOM, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. This group became the nucleus of the PSYOP command and control element that deployed to Saudi Arabia in late August. The 4th POG command element was followed shortly thereafter in September by its subordinate 8th PSYOP Battalion, task-organized with elements of the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion (PDB), to form the 8th Psychological Operations Task Force. The POTF's deployment began what was to become a highly successful use of PSYOPS in support of combat operations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq. Persian Gulf War strategic and tactical field level psychological operations supported the goals and conditions set forth by President Bush and other Coalition leaders upon an international scale. The field level implementation of those international goals and conditions were, as a matter of course, effected through theater level military operations. Integral to those campaign executions were a series of well established, time-tested precepts, judiciously applied by CENTCOM psychological warfare operators. The Persian Gulf War PSYOP campaign basically mirrored the missions of CINC, US CENTCOM, and alternately the Saudi Armed Forces Commander, Lieutenant General Kahlid Bin Sultan. Upon deployment, the 4th PSYOP began a comprehensive analysis of both of these commanders' missions, as well as the combined missions of units subordinate to their command, and developed a guideline of probable PSYOP-based mission objectives. During the initial stages of Operation DESERT SHIELD, CENTCOM's principal goal was the defense of Saudi Arabia. The rapid deployment of tens of thousands of U.S. and non- Arab foreign forces to what had for almost 600 years been a "closed kingdom", set the stage for complicating an already extremely tense situation. In support of easing these tensions, the 4th PSYOP augmented the commander's mission by demonstrating to the regional Arab population that the United States was only one member of a broader coalition force. Further, through a portrayal of encompassed unity which included Arab forces, the goal of the United States govern- ment was not to conquer or dominate the Arab world as an imperialist venture. This task was principally accomplished during the initial months of DESERT SHIELD through the distri- bution of a videocassette message to Saudi Arabian and other regional television stations. The regional broadcast of this multinational-power videotape was "designed to demonstrate U.S. resolve and encourage support for Coalition efforts in the region." (12:7) The format of the videocassette was grafted from international news cuts which featured prominent Arab and other international speakers at United Nations councils and various Arab regional summits. First, it demonstrated the political and military strength of the combined forces which were arrayed against Iraq. Moreover, the tape not only strengthened America's argument as to Coalition partnership, but also assured in no uncertain terms that the U.S. was there to do good things and, more importantly, that the Iraqis were not. As Coalition force levels in Saudi Arabia increased and missions changed with respect to the changing political and military situation, these videocassette supporting efforts similarly changed, by phase, to reflect offensive, consolidation, and enemy prisoner operations throughout Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. With closure of forces, the anticipation of hostilities dictated the development of other, more traditional forms of propaganda. Several specific campaigns were orchestrated, including operations dealing with the individual Iraqi soldier, elements within the Iraqi command and control structure, and operations which exclusively addressed the Iraqi civilian population. The campaign organized against the individual Iraqi soldier was divided into specific time- phased campaigns including pre-air war and several post-air war segments. These distinct campaigns began development simultaneously during early September, and were executed variously as opportunities became available, or as required. The Persian Gulf War PSYOPS campaign began with the utilization of standard, doctrinal psychological warfare processes. (4:54) The initial process of target analysis allowed for development of PSYOPS campaign objectives in line with military objectives, as determined and delineated by CENTCOM. Probable psychological vulnerabilities of the target audience were analyzed and projected over time to determine a systematic methodology for delivery. An order of relevant priorities was then established, which 4th PSYOPS eventually utilized as a flexible baseline in the conduct of its campaign. This target analysis effort culminated in a PSYOP campaign which emphasized continual themes of "the futility of resistance; inevitability of defeat; surrender; desertion and defection; abandonment of equipment; and blaming the war on Saddam Hussein." (1:16) The considera- tion of national policy guidelines was also indoctrinated within that process; a process which, in essence, is not at all unlike a civilian advertising campaign, which attempts to ascertain audience acceptance and appeal to any given topic through analytical research. Throughout the buildup period from September to December 1990, the majority of effort concentrated on target analysis and campaign control efforts, with initial planning directed toward easily coordinated and obtainable PSYOP dissemination methods. In addition to the videocassette operation already discussed, PSYOP materials were disseminated upon their distinctive audiences through three basic methodologies. The first method, and most effective, was aerial leaflet dissemi- nation. Scripted field level radio transmissions, and a combination of both ground and air loudspeaker broadcasts provided the two additional techniques used throughout the conflict. Kuwait Theater of Operations-generated PSYOPS materials were required to pass through several approval levels prior to achieving final acceptance for target audience dissemina- tion. These various acceptance levels included, but were not limited to, the Commander, 4th PSYOPS, CENTCOM's J-3 staff coordinator, as well as Headquarters for Saudi Arabian General Khalid and General Schwarzkopf. Although General Schwartzkopf did not personally approve or disapprove every product type, there were specific instances where he personally did become involved in the process. Streamlining measures in the approval process were delegated to subordi- nate echelons. Fail-safe approval mechanisms were estab- lished to avoid the possible devastating, negative impact which an improper message or appeal might incur upon an already hostile Iraqi audience. If leaflets, tapes, radio scripts or any other PSYOP materials did not meet specific cultural, contextual or tactical criteria as defined by the various levels of approval authority, they were returned for modification, resubmission or destruction, as deemed appropriate. Leaflet development proved to be a very tedious process, due in principle to the many layers of consideration and acceptance as discussed, as well as the physical distance between staffing and printing facilities. Actual leaflet development occurred at Riyadh, with digitized imagery transmission to PDB printing facilities at Dhahran. Although leaflet themes were being continually generated since September, the first officially acknowledged instance of dissemination did not occur until the 12th of January, when Kuwait City was targeted with two distinct leaflet variants. (6:45) Development of the 29.1 million propaganda leaflets which were eventually printed for dissemination in the Kuwait Theater of Operations took place within a jointly- coordinated, combined propaganda cell in Riyadh. (12.7) The combined cell established functional control over the genera- tion of all leaflet, radio, script, deceptive, and other PSYOP materials. Available within the combined cell were experienced Saudi and Kuwaiti military PSYOP personnel, who worked both in the development of new propaganda concepts and in modifying many of the concepts which had already been developed. Leaflet development was designed to foster and expound upon key action points or "verbs" determined in target analysis as enemy vulnerabilities. (6:42) These key "verbs" were considered essential to successful execution of the PSYOP campaign as it related to the operational scheme. For example, during the pre-ground war campaign, key action leaflet verbs were developed for exploitation such as: Saddam--Death--Hunger--Bombing--Family--Cease Resistance--Be Safe, etc. Key verbiage, multi- national expertise, PSYOP themes integrated with operational planning, and high quality printing control resulted in a viable PSYOP medium which was extensively used throughout the Kuwait Theater of Operations. While efforts for popular support of Saddam's overthrow were being made by President Bush and other Coalition and world leaders, PSYOP leaflet and radio broadcasting campaigns disseminated parallel messages upon the Iraqi military and civilian populations. The principal method for leaflet dissemination was through aerial delivery. Prior to combat operations, leaflets were disseminated by C-130 aircraft; they were dropped from high altitudes along the southern Kuwaiti border and followed wind patterns to cover the majority of front-line Iraqi units in Kuwait. Specially configured M-129E1 leaflet bombs were later utilized effectively by B-52, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft throughout the theater. Leaflet delivery supported both combat and deception operations across the entire theater and had a significant impact in contributing to degradation of enemy morale and will to fight. The coordination of leaflet operations with bombing of enemy front-line positions was particularly effective. Leaflet deliveries warning of impending bombing missions on specific units and sites were actually followed by the promised bombings, making the PSYOP campaign credible among Iraqi soldiers, and producing large numbers of desertions and defections. (11:9) Leaflets warning of impending amphibious invasion by U.S. forces were given credence and likewise supported that deception and, even by conservative estimates, helped to divert at least two enemy divisions to the coast. (1:18) Leaflets overprinted with VII and XVIII Airborne Corps' unit insignia were intention- ally disseminated along avenues of approach into Iraqi positions where CENTCOM wanted the Iraqis to believe the main U.S. effort would be concentrated. Iraqi troop movements were subsequently monitored, confirming the credibility which the leaflets had in eliciting such a response. Radio and loudspeaker operations similarly complemented combat and deception operations. Throughout the Persian Gulf War, many hundreds of hours of intrusive radio broadcasts were made through both open and clandestine radio trans- missions. "Voice of the Gulf" and the "Radio Free Kuwait" campaigns are examples of such 4th PSYOP initiatives. "Radio Free Kuwait," for example, communicated exclusively to the Kuwaiti resistance movement with instructions to that organization's operations in support of the Coalition's invasion timetable. Other PSYOP radio intrusions into Iraqi airspace were physically accomplished by two methods. The first method to be initiated entailed ground based Special Forces teams dis- persed along the Saudi/Kuwaiti border in early October and November. Utilizing vehicular mounted low power (AM) transmitters, these early broadcasts targeted Iraqi military personnel within occupied Kuwait. The second 4th PSYOP broadcast initiative consisted of Voice of the Gulf (VOG) transmissions, which typically broadcast 18 hours per day on multiple AM and FM frequencies. Radio scripts were developed within a distinct 4th PSYOP combined cell in Riyadh, with emphasis that VOG not be identified as a PSYOPS station. In that regard, the station's format consisted primarily of regional Arabic music. The abundance of music was designed to hold Iraqi and Kuwaiti target audiences' attention, with only periodic interruption with selected script read by a native Kuwaiti broadcaster. A deficiency in U.S. Army active duty field-level loud- speaker assets early in Operation DESERT SHIELD necessitated the activation of reserve loudspeaker teams. Drawn primarily from six locations in the U.S., they comprised a total of sixty-six three-man, vehicular-mounted teams with 4th PSYOPS, and were attached to virtually every brigade-level ground maneuver unit within the Kuwait Theater of Operations. Once assigned, loudspeaker teams were tasked with broadcasting specific, audience taped messages upon the Iraqi military. In addition to deceptive noises and sound effects, tapes were used in issuing vocal appeals and instructions to the Iraqis, to coerce them into surrendering. Limited PSYOP loudspeaker support missions were also conducted by helicopter, but were not acknowledged as efficient due to conflicting rotor noise. A loudspeaker team from 9th POB, attached to the 1st Marine Division's 300-man Task Force "TROY," contributed significantly to that unit's deception mission. Deployed to mask the movement of 2d Marine Division to its new assembly area prior to the ground assault, the contribution of PSYOPS loudspeakers to the Task Force's success was evidenced in captured Iraqi intelligence documents. Three separate Iraqi brigades in the Wafrah area listed Task Force TROY as a division-sized unit, mechanized, preparing to attack. (7:77) Operational and tactical considerations for theater-level PSYOPS objective were, for the most part, collected and staffed by planners and liaison officers affiliated with major commands within the Kuwait Theater of Operations. One prominent staff officer and participant within the Riyadh coordination cell indicated that planning for PSYOP support to operations was, more often than not, conducted from the bottom up in formulating objectives. (1:20) Procedurally, this deviates from established doctrine which states that PSYOPS must be coordinated from theater to division level, and that the G-3 is responsible for integrating psychological and combat operations. (5:7-22, 23) During Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM approval actually did occur through the J-3. More aggressive, doctrinally correct coordination may have produced even more successful results. J-3 generation of PSYOP requirements to enhance the opera- tional scheme would have not only streamlined propaganda production, but could have ensured that maximum support would be given during preassault, assault and consolidation phases. The impact of the basic doctrinal forms of psychological operations exercised against the Iraqi military in Kuwait was complemented, and actually made possible, by forces, opera- tions, and events. PSYOPS exploited the full potential of these factors and acted as a force multiplier in regard to establishing Coalition advantages which undoubtedly affected the decision of many Iraqis to surrender. PSYOPS magnified the presence of the Coalition in the eyes of the enemy and amplified its potential and advantages to the maximum extent, particularly in the following areas: Sea Power Amphibious Capability Air Superiority Weapons and Equipment Terminology Night Operations Capability Force Presence Training State Sense of Purpose, Just Cause and Coalition NBC Defense PSYOPS further contributed to the enemy's rapid demise by exploiting the following perceived weaknesses common to many Iraqi ground units in Kuwait: Interrupted Command and Control Isolation Hunger Morality of Invasion ("19th Province", Unjust Cause) War Weariness National Pride Vulnerability of Tanks, Artillery, Equipment to Targeting Lack of Confidence in Command Structure Sleeplessness (Bombings and Repetitive Leafleting) Susceptibility to Promises of Fair Treatment Economic Homefront/Family Fear of Death Prior to military offensive operations, PSYOP efforts prompted the individual Iraqi soldier to question the validity of why he was physically stationed in Kuwait. In so doing, soldiers were automatically and implicitly questioning the judgment of their superiors in placing them there. Later widespread lack of confidence in leaders, dwindling supplies and a feeling of helplessness in the face of a perceived superior foe, attrition and imminent threat of invasion all contributed to incapacitate many units' combat effectiveness with bad morale and lack of cohesion. PSYOPS supported the operational scheme by enhancing the overriding atmosphere of despair which had been made more acute through devastating air attacks prior to commencement of the ground war. Psychological operations not only channelled a common emotional commitment from Iraqi combatants and provided sound reasonings for ceasing the struggle, but demonstrated proper surrender techniques so as to avoid needless death. Explicit PSYOP verbal and visual direction was given to units of all types with specific direction as to method of surrender for dismounted or mechanized personnel when approaching Coalition forces. In only one instance did this instruction result in treachery, when elements of the Iraqi 5th Mechanized Brigade used PSYOP surrender procedures as a ruse in order to approach Al Khafji unmolested. (13:270) By demonstrating that Iraqi military hardware, and not the combatants themselves, were the object of Coalition targetings, Iraqi soldiers quickly garnered a sincere respect for Coalition motives and thereby found it easier to show commitment and eventually engage in wholesale surrender. As a proven force multiplier, the impact of PSYOPS on the Persian Gulf War was perhaps best alluded to by Lieutenant General W. Boomer, USMC, COM FOR MARCENT, on the day of the cease fire: "...Their morale being extremely low in this case, the clean-up didn't turn out to be the huge fight we had anticipated." (2) The effective manipulation of the enemy's tactical perception of the battlefield helped create the degree of security and cover needed to execute CENTCOM's flanking maneuver. The result was the destruction of much of the regular Army, significant damage to the Republican Guard, overall mission accomplishment and minimal loss of life through a supportive and complementary PSYOP campaign. The Persian Gulf War has shown that psychological operations are more than just a "minor appendage to military operations." (9:9) Clausewitz saw war as "an act of force to compel our adversary to do our will; .. .to impose our will upon the enemy is the object." (14.3) In a world where the potential for simultaneous involvement of U.S. forces in more than one conflict is not unlikely, and at a time when we are experiencing a seemingly irreversible reduction in force, perhaps more attention to PSYOPS and its proper application is warranted. Regardless of the environment and level of conflict intensity, it would seem prudent to explore this possibility further, and expand the lessons of the Persian Gulf War PSYOP campaign to facilitate future operations, integrated with this proven force multiplier. Bibliography 1. Adolph, Maj. R. B., Jr., "PSYOP: Gulf War Force Multiplier." Army Magazine, December 1992. 2. Boomer, LtGen. W. M. "DESERT STORM: The Ground Assault," War in the Gulf Video Series, Video Ordnance, Inc., 1991. 3. Final Report to Congress. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, Title V, U.S. Government Printing Office, Wash., D.C., April 1992. 4. FM 33-5, Psychological Operations Techniques and Procedures, Headquarters, Department of the Army, 1974. 5. FM 100-5, Operations, Headquarters, Department of the Army, Wash., D.C., 1986. 6. Johnson, R. D. PSYOP: The Gulf Paper War, Titusville, FL., 1992 (Pre-Publication, Permission of the Author). 7. Liberators of Kuwait City. First Marine Division. Public Affairs Office, 1st MarDiv, May 1992. 8. Linebarger, Paul M. Psychological Warfare. 2d Edition. Combat Forces Press, Wash., D.C., 1954. 9. McLauren, R. D. Military Propaganda. Psychological Warfare and Operations. Praeger Publishers, N.Y., 1982. 10. Schwartzkopf, LtGen. H. Norman. It Doesn't Take A Hero. The Autiobiography. Bantam, October 1992. 11. Stankiewicz, LtCol. P. R., "PSYOP: Winning Wars by Saving Lives." Asia-Pacific Defense Forum, Winter 1992-93. 12. Summe, Maj. J. N. "PSYOP Support to Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM." Special Warfare Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2, HQDA, October 1992. 13. U.S. News and World Report. Triumph Without Victory, The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War. Random House, 1992. 14. Von Clausewitz, Karl. On War. Combat Forces Press, Wash., D.C., 1953.
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