Tag Archives: PSYOPS

U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle jet supports PSYOPS in Syria, drops leaflets over Islamic State insurgents

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle has delivered leaflets over ISIS insurgents in Syria.

On Mar. 16, a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet deployed in the Gulf region has conducted an unusual mission: it has dropped some 60,000 leaflets over Raqqa region, the ISIS stronghold in Syria.

The leaflet depicts a gruesome drawing, showing 7 men being lined up for a meat grinder (labelled “Daesh”) by a “Daesh Recruiting Office” (Daesh is the Arabic acronym for ISIS).

The leaflets were released by means of a PDU-5B leaflet canister.

The purpose of the leaflet is to support PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) in Syria. The message of the leaflet is clear: those recruited by ISIS will find themselves in a meat grinder.

Leaflet Daesh

Image credit: U.S. DoD

During 2011 Air War in Libya, U.S. Air Force EC-130s broadcast radio messages to the Libyan military, to persuade them to return to their families before it was too late, whereas Italian C-130J aircraft dropped leaflets over Tripoli to counter Gaddafi’s regime propaganda in Libya’s capital city.

Air drop of leaflets in support of Information Operations have been conducted by the U.S. Army above Helmand province, Afghanistan, using U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to deliver information to areas of Helmand province unreachable by conventional communication.

Leaflets have been also air dropped by Syrian Arab Air Force Mil Mi-8 helicopters over Aleppo in August 2012 to urge rebels to surrender to the Syrian Army.

Israeli A-4 dropped leaflets over Gaza in the past as well.

 

Syrian helicopters’ PSYOPS missions: leaflet drop

Each conflict has its own Psychological Operations (PSYOPS).

During 2011 Air War in Libya, U.S. Air Force EC-130s broadcast radio messages to the Libyan military, to persuade them to return to their families before it was too late, whereas Italian C-130J aircraft dropped leaflets over Tripoli to counter Gaddafi’s regime propaganda in Libya’s capital city.

Air drop of leaflets in support of Information Operations have been conducted by the U.S. Army above Helmand province, Afghanistan, using U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to deliver information to areas of Helmand province unreachable by conventional communication.

Leaflets have been also air dropped by Syrian Arab Air Force Mil Mi-8 helicopters over Aleppo (reportedly on Aug. 18 and 28) to urge rebels to surrender to the Syrian Army.

Whilst some of these leaflets urged the locals not to shelter rebels and warning the Free Syrian Army it had one last chance to surrender, others were printed to look like pass, that would allow holder to cross security checkpoints.

Image credit BULENT KILIC/AFP/GettyImages

One of the basic leafleats read “Honourable citizens, don’t turn your homes into places for armed terrorist gangs and don’t assist them in killing the people of your country.”

While a double-sided one read on the front side:

“The holder of this pass is allowed to cross security forces checkpoints to surrender. The holder of this pass will be well treated and reunited with his family after verifications are conducted,” the leaflet read.

Back side:

“Your last chance to stay alive is to give up your weapons because there is nothing you can do against the Syrian army. Don’t miss that opportunity, go back to your family and stop fueling hatred around you”.

Image credit: BULENT KILIC/AFP/GettyImages

Computer viruses, mysterious bomb blasts, assassinations and PSYOPS: Israel's stealth war on Iran already begun?

When writing about Iran’s nuclear weapons program, many analysts and journalists seem to forget that, although not of the type one might expect, the attack against Tehran nuke sites has already kicked off. Many still believe that a conventional military action against Iran is a future possibility forgetting that a long lasting hi-tech war in the region is (most probably) already in progress.

Last October, about 20 military personnel were killed in a blast at a Revolutionary Guards annunition depot. On Nov. 12, an explosion at Bid Ganeh, a military base located in the outskirs of Tehran killed General Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam, head of Iran’s missile defense program along with 30 other people. Few days ago, another blast in Isfahan, Iran’s third-largest city, could have hit a uranium conversion site.

Israel is also widely held as responsible for using the Stuxnet virus to target Iran’s nuclear plants.

There also have been many other mysterious episodes: home and abroad assassinations and plane accidents as the one involving the Tupolev 134 that crashed near Petrozavodsk on June 21 while carrying five Russian scientists who assisted in the design of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant.

Even if some of these incidents have been denied by the ayatollahs’ regime, their frequency and effectiveness is causing frustration among Iranians, appearantly unable to react to an invisible, unknown and sophisticated multi-directional and multi-dimensional attack. Hence, the new kind of war is also having the same psychological effects of a complex PSYOPS mission.

Israel has never confirmed its direct involvement in it but it is quite likely that the hi-tech stealth war is the only way to sabotage Ahmadinejad’s program preventing Iran’s “fierce, protracted and multi-pronged” retaliation.

Still, what tech was used to attack the nuclear plants remains an unanswered question. An intriguing theory (no more than that, please!) that was inspired by a talk with Giuliano Ranieri is that some killer Micro Air Vehicles, or MAVs, known to be under development by Israel for counter-terrorism activities could have been developed and used against the Iranian sites, even if such drones are not be capable to perform long range missions and could not be used for this kind of covert ops unless they are launched from the vicinity of the target or from a sort of “mothership” (another larger drone). By the way, did you know that Israeli UAVs can be remotely controlled by flying F-15s or AH-64 Apaches?

It is also possible that the recent attacks involved one or more Dolphin Class submarines in the Red Sea (or Persian Gulf) capable of launching Popeye Turbo cruise missiles at 1,500 km from underwater.

Anyway the use of Israeli combat planes, “normal” drones and so on,  is probably a “last resort” option, not only because it would cause an almost certain retaliatory attack using medium-range ballistic missiles, possibly armed with chemical, biological or radiological warheads, but also because it would be an extremely complex operation to plan and execute, even for a combat proven air force, with past experience on long range raids.

Too many combat aircraft, too many air-to-air refueling planes and support planes to go unnoticed.

And what about the route? Even if the US withdrawal from Iraq would give clearance to a raid on that direction, it’s hard to believe that a strike package would pass undetected by an air defense on a heightned readiness status during ingress and egress from their targets. Unless the Israeli have improved their already effective EW capabilities, the same that during Operation Orchard, on Sept. 6, 2007, let the 10 F-15Is attack a nuclear facility being built in Syria completely undetected.

An attack that Israel has never publicly confirmed.

New NATO's PSYOPS message in Libya calls for cooperation and recalls martyrs among rebels

On Sept. 4, 2011, beginning around 14.05 UTC, a new PSYOPS message addressed to the Libyan people has been recorded by European radio hams. The message is addressed to “Libyan fishing vessels”, proving that although far from being completely under rebel control, the taking of Tripoli has stabilized the country, to such an extent that fishing boats have been increasingly operating from the Libyan ports.

Consequently, the last message is sensibly different from the previous ones addressed to the naval officers and sailors on board Libyan Navy warships as it recalls the Libyan martyrs and it contains words for those who lost their lives during the war.

The message recorded on Sept. 4 was most probably aired by a US EC-130J Commando Solo even if there are also chances that it was a broadcast by a Canadian CP-140 Aurora, that has been employed in PSYOPS from (at least) July 2011 (note that the Associated Press article that on Jul. 29 disclosed that the Canadian plane was performing such missions, mentioned only activities on FM/AM “frequencies”).

Below you can read a transcript of the part of the last message. At the bottom of the page you can find the link to listen to it.

[Arabic]

Libyan fishing vessels operating in the area, NATO warships supporting a UN resolution to enforce a maritime embargo in order to protect the Libyan people. Your cooperation and communication with NATO mariners on maritime VHF is welcome. Please let us know your position, movement and activity and if you can see activity which can harm civilians or civilian population, please report it to any NATO ship. In any case, you don’t have to hesitate to contact any NATO warships operating in the area. NATO warships are here to assist and protect Libyan people.

[Arabic]

Help supporters to free Libya. Your statesmen fought bravely to give freedom of speech and equality in your country. Many have given their lives without thought for themselves. There are children without fathers and women without husbands so that all that is good and just, can be kept upon your heads and those of your children. The entire world knows you, Lybia, by your deeds. Show the world that the martyrs have not died in vain. Apply their desire for justice for the misguided soldiers of Gaddafi who are also your brothers and reach out your hand in forgiveness.

The message, broadcasted on frequency 10404 Khz USB, was recorded by Andrea Borgnino and available on his soundcloud page at this address: http://soundcloud.com/iw0hk/new-nato-psyop-message-to

Operation Unified Protector (was Odyssey Dawn) explained (Day 105 – 137)

Previous debriefings: Archive

Latest update: on Aug. 3, at 10.40LT, a missile exploded 2 km from the Italian frigate Bersagliere, that was patrolling the sea some 15 miles off Libya. According to the Italian MoD, it could be either a missile launched from the coast towards the ship or, more likely, a ballistic fired SAM missile that fell into the sea after missing any target. In both cases, the episode shows that Gaddafi forces still have weaponry to threaten NATO units.

More than one month has passed since my last Debrief on Unified Protector. I’ve already posted a couple of Libya-related articles since then, but here’s a quick recap of the most interesting things.

On Jul. 28, Abdel Fattah Younes, the rebel military chief who had defected from Gaddafi’s inner circle to the opposition, joining the “revolution” on Feb. 22, was shot dead in mysterious circumstances.

Rebel sources said that Younes had been recalled from the front line and placed under arrest to face questioning in Benghazi on suspicious that his family had contacts with the regime (even if there were also rumors that he was suspected of having held secret talks with Gaddafi’s government).  However, he never made it to the meeting and his body and those of two of his officers were found on the outskirts of Benghazi: they had been shot and their bodies burnt.

Younes, who had been a close associate of Gaddafi for more than 40 years after playing an active role in the 1969 coup that brought the raìs to the power, had clearly emerged as the rebel military chief, in spite of his close links to Gaddafi, in April, when he had also criticized NATO for being too slow against loyal forces and for attacking a rebel tank column near the eastern town of Brega where five people died and 14 were wounded.

Although, what really happened is still not clear, rebels have said that Gen. Younes was shot dead by militiamen allied in their war, raising questions about divisions and lawlessness within anti-Gaddafi ranks.

On the battlefield, fighting is still taking place close to the coastal town of Zlintan, in the Western Mountains, where rebels seized the town of Ghazaia . In the east, rebel forces fought loyalist in clashes against gunmen loyal to Gaddafi and agents who have infiltrated the rebel-held area.

Misratah is now enjoying relative security even if NATO has reported occasional shelling by pro-Gaddafi forces operating out of Tawurga, which is south of the town.

The shelling has focused on the port facilities and the airport, as well as the LISCO fuel storage facility.

The following Reuters map gives an idea of the fighting around Tripoli.

In the meanwhile, NATO air campaign continues with improving concerns of partner sides, some of which have already reduced, if not withdrawn, their contingents. For instance, the Charles De Gaulle and Garibaldi aircraft carriers returned home and, on Aug. 1, the RNoAF has in fact completed its mission. The problem is the sustainibility of an air campaign whose length is still unclear.

On Aug. 2 Press Briefing, Carmen Romero (NATO Deputy Spokesperson) said:

But we have always said that a military solution is not enough in Libya: there has to be a political solution to the crisis. Our military pressure is helping to set the conditions for a political solution. Meanwhile, the Qadhafi regime is increasingly isolated. The question is not if Qadhafi will have to step down, but when.

Since the beginning of the NATO operation (Mar. 31, 2011, 06.00GMT) a total of 17,443 sorties, including
6,590 strike sorties, have been conducted.

In the last few days, the air strike on three critical satellite dishes of the Libyan State TV made the news. According to NATO, the attack was aimed at reducing the regime’s ability to broadcast messages inciting attack on civilians. However, the Libyan State TV continued to broadcast and condemned the air strike saying that it caused three employees were killed and 15 were wounded.

Not only the Libyan TV has been attacked, but also the Tripoli airport’s radar that was used by Gaddafi forces to get early warning of allied air strikes.

We have entered the period of Ramadan and NATO has declared it will continue its air strike, as Colonel Roland Lavoie Operation, ‘’Unified Protector’’ military spokesperson, said.

NATO and partnering nations have a profound and sincere respect for Muslims and their faith. As we enter the holy month of Ramadan we are all reminded that we share a common respect for human life.

There’s never a wrong time to protect human life.

Other interesting information, things and thoughts:

1) As said, since Aug. 1, Norway has withdrawn its F-16s from Unified Protector. The decision has nothing to do with the Oslo and Utøya attacks, as it was taken on Jun. 10. RNoAF flew 596 missions with 6 F-16s deployed to Souda Bay.

2) Since Jul. 10, French Rafales were moved from Solenzara to Sigonella. Official explaination is that they are nearer to Libya, hence they can reduce transit time to the operative area. According to speculation the move was made to operate the French fighters next to the UAE contingent (flying from Sigonella with the F-16 and Mirage 2000), since UAE could be interested in the Rafale. Mirage 2000s deployed to Souda Bay returned home since they are no longer needed to enforce the NFZ (due to the lack of air threats).

3) The RAF has deployed 4 more Tornado GR4s to Gioia del Colle, bringing the total to 22 aiplanes: 16 Tornado GR4s and 6 Typhoons. The four additional “Tonkas” are mainly used for reconnaissance purposes using the Goodrich Raptor pod.

According to Air Vice Marshal Greg Bagwell, who spoke at the RIAT at RAF Fairford in mid July, the RAF contingent has performed 15% of all allied air strikes. However, he underlined that the 90% of RAF strike missions have been conducted against targets of opportunity, often located in urban areas, while other partners, like Italy and UAE have flown 100% of their attack sorties against pre-planned/fixed targets. Dealing with Italy, the decision to attack only fixed targets away from populated areas was taken at political level to prevent collateral damages.

4) After reporting many fuel diversions to Malta International Airport by the French fighters of all types (Rafale, Mirage 2000, Super Etendard, Mirage F1), during the last month, Luqa airfield was visited twice by RAF Tornados (one of which had to perform an emergency landing for a hydraulic failure) and once by a Danish F-16 on Jul. 29.

5) On Jul. 29 the Associated Press that on Jun. 29 published an article that disclosed that the Canadian CP-140 Aurora, a multi-purpose plane mostly used as an anti-submarine warfare platform has been employed, in combat, to perform PSYOPS: Interactive PSYOPS in Libya: the Canadian live benign propaganda messages prompt the listener to reply to the broadcaster.

6) Picture of two Mig-21bis and one double seat Mig-21UM flying over Benina airbase clearly showed a violation of the No-Fly Zone (NFZ) over Libya. In fact, the UNSCR established a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, rebel ones comprised.

Many fighters are still enforcing the NFZ while E-3 AWACS are still patrolling the Libyan airspace so, unless common procedures are used and prior coordination is made to establish routes, control agencies, IFF squawks, etc, flying within the NFZ could be a risk for Free Libya Air Force fighters.

However, Reuters images taken on Jul.12 show an Air Libya BAe 146 used to link Benghazi with Rhebat, in the Nafusa region, a new airfield opened in the remote Western Mountain region.

Since it is impossible to operate those flights without NATO’s approval, these photos explain the reason why the Mig-21s were flying over Benina on Jun. 27: a limited rebel flight activity must have been granted to the rebels (probably in the form of a transit corridor between Benina and Rhebat).

7) Misratah airport opened again on Jul. 19 with a humanitarian flight flown by an AN-26 with registration 5A-DOG.

At this link, you can find a video of the Antonov 26 landing at Misratah airfield. The above screenshot was taken from that video.

8) Italy has initially withdrawn the Garibaldi, that returned to Taranto from where it managed the Italian ships involved in the Mediterranean Sea, then has deployed the AMX ACOL, a combat proven aircraft that has been operating in Afghanistan (although only for reconnaissance purposes) and has had its combat debut in 1999, in Serbia.

According to the official MoD press release, the AMXs belong to the 32° Stormo, based at Amendola. Since the same press release doesn’t mention the F-2000 Typhoons, most probably, these were replaced by the AMXs due to the total lack of air threats in the NFZ (as France did with its Mirages).

The Sole 24 ore financial newspaper published on Aug. 2 some previously unreleased figures about the Italian involvement in Unified Protector: with 1.700 sorties conducted to the date, Italy has flown the 10% of all the combat sorties in Libya, with an effort that is second only to UK and France.

9) With the AMX taking part to the air campaign, a new patch was designed by the air crews at Trapani, home of the Task Group Air, that includes all the ItAF assets assigned to Unified Protector. That’s actually a limited edition patch sold by the 18° Gruppo to raise funds for a Hospital in Africa. For more information, send an email to this address.

10) The Malta LiveATC.net feed was shut off towards the end of June. Officially, it was a computer problem, however, since the LMML airport was immediately removed from the list of airfields covered by the service, there are rumours that the local feeder was asked to cease “relaying” Malta ACC and TWR comms to the rest of the world using the web. OPSEC or INFOSEC concern?