Information Warfare: April 21, 2003

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The story of the psychological warfare campaign against the Iraqi army is slowly leaking out. Some of it coming from surviving Iraqi army officers, who are largely in shock at the speed and decisiveness of their defeat. Based on how quickly coalition forces rolled over them in 1991, few Iraqi officers had any hope of winning the 2003 war. But many thought they could make the Americans and British pay in blood, by inflicting a lot of casualties. Doubts, however, began to surface in early March. While Iraqi secret police and the Baath party "minders" assigned to military units insured that few soldiers saw the millions of surrender leaflets dropped on Iraqi army units, the contents of those leaflets began to circulate among the troops. Few of the troops had unsupervised access to radios, so few of the coalition psyops broadcasts got to the troops either. 

More frightening, and effective, was the email and fax campaign against Iraqi officers. These had to be reported to superior officers, otherwise the secret police might find out and arrest you for treason. When the emails and faxes were reported, officers often discovered that many other officers had been contacted like this. The fact that the Americans knew how to reach to many officers was unnerving. But more unnerving were the American tactics. The Iraqis had long since learned that the only way to survive American firepower was to dig, and dig deep. But there was no defense against the American "haul ass and bypass" tactics. Units that only got hit by a few bombs and had a brief encounter with some American ground troops, soon found that their food and water supplies were no longer arriving. The Americans had bypassed them, and scattered or scared away the Iraqi truck drivers who delivered the daily supplies. Troops began to desert soon after. Sometimes the Iraqis fought American troops and then the Americans went away. This made the Iraqis think they had repulsed the Americans, but later they discovered the enemy had merely been confirming where the Iraqi combat units were, and then moving on. And when that happened, it quickly became clear that anyone on the road in an Iraqi uniform or military vehicle would be attacked from the air, or by another passing American mechanized unit. Changing into civilian clothes and walking away was the only option. Even the secret police and Baath party members began to disappear. All the demoralization was made worse in some units by suspicions that some senior officers had been bribed to stay out of the fight. Rumors still fly about how much cash was promised, and paid, for cooperation. The scary air and ground tactics, coupled with a murky, and equally scary, psychological warfare campaign, only added to the shock and awe. 

 


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