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The article is not a history of the Balkan conflict as confined to the old Yugoslavia. It is a look at the PSYOP campaigns fought there in the past decade. By definition, the historical content of this report is just a brief review and meant only to give the reader an idea of what was happening at the time that a specific leaflet, poster, or radio broadcast was disseminated in that war-torn country.
The United States found itself involved in the nation once called Yugoslavia several times in the past decade. There was a violent disintegration of that country after the death of Joseph Broz (Tito) in 1980. In order to rule as dictator, Tito had divided the Serbian people, the largest ethnic group of Yugoslavia, into four "Socialist Federative Republics" and two Autonomous Regions. Some 42% of the Serbs were located outside Serbia Proper. This system worked only as long as Tito was able to rule with an iron hand.
In 1989, a new nationalist leader by the name of Slobodan Milosevic took power in the Serbian Republic. He had previously served as the leader of Belgrade Communist Party and the Serbian Communist Party. He wanted to dominate all of the old Yugoslavia, but when it became clear that he could not, he decided upon the ethnic cleansing of his country and the creation of a Greater Serbia. He abolished Kosovo's autonomy. Croats and Slovenes feared that they were next in line. There were daily news reports of murders, rapes, mass killings and other atrocities carried out by the Serbs as Milosevic drove the minorities from their lands and homes, "purifying" Serbia.
Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from the Yugoslav Federated Republic. In Croatia, ethnic Serbs and Croats begin a long, bloody conflict. Serb snipers fired on peaceful demonstrators in Sarajevo, marking the beginning of the war. The West recognized Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state. Serbs killed 16 people waiting in line for bread in Sarajevo. The UN imposed sanctions on Yugoslavia. There were new reports of "ethnic cleansing," a policy of slaughtering Muslim inhabitants of towns or driving them away in order to create an ethnically pure region. There were reports of concentration camps and mass rapes.
Milosevic's actions forced the United Nations to deploy peacekeeping forces and begin humanitarian relief operations. Operation Provide Promise began on 2 July 1992. Twenty-one nations formed a coalition to resupply war-torn Sarajevo with food and medicine. The U.N. established "no-fly" zones over Bosnia. The United States mediated an agreement between the Bosnians, the Bosnian Croats, and the Government of Croatia to form a federation of Bosnians and Croats. This ended the fighting between these factions. The Bosnian Serbs remained belligerent and fired on coalition aircraft. They shot down an Italian transport killing the crew. When it became too dangerous to land at Sarajevo Airport, the cargo planes airdropped supplies.
Two leaflets were prepared and dropped over Bosnia. They both depict a Hercules C-130 USAF cargo plane in front of a faint United States flag. Both leaflets picture crates falling by parachute marked with a bright red cross, and both are written in Serbo-Croat text, in Latin script on one side and Cyrillic on the other side.
On the first leaflet, the C-130 drops four containers. The leaflet tells the Serbs not to fire on the aircraft. They drop food for all the people. The text is:
American aircraft will be dropping humanitarian aid for all people. Do not fire on American aircraft. Food and medical supplies are intended for all people.
On the second leaflet, the C-130 drops three containers labeled "500 KG." This leaflet was prepared because of accidents that occurred in Somalia. Starving people rushed mindlessly into the drop zone only to be crushed by falling food crates. The leaflet text is:
Danger! For everyone's safety, let humanitarian aid land before approaching.
Before this first leaflet drop the U.S. Army's 6th PSYOP Battalion had many alerts, false starts and partial deployments while the great powers decided if the action would be solely by the United States, under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or the United Nations. As a result, these first leaflets were designed in three different formats in Germany. Eventually it was decided that this would be a NATO operation, but the decision was already made that the first leaflets would display the American flag. The images were faxed via a secure link back to Ft. Bragg for printing by the Product Dissemination Battalion. When the leaflets were delivered shortly before the first drop they were found to be poorly printed with a "grainy" appearance. The PSYOP troops were very disappointed with the quality but it was too late to make any changes or reprint the entire stock of leaflets.
There were numerous published reports of the aerial leafleting. On 25 February 1993, U.S. aircraft dropped about 600,000 leaflets over Srebrenica, Cerska, Gorazde, and Zera. On 27 February, two C-130s dropped another million leaflets. Five C-130s dropped 80 1-ton food containers on 28 February. Aircraft dropped another one million leaflets on 1 March.
Two other leaflets were not disseminated. They bear the United Nations seal in the background. The UN leaflets are actually a better product with a clearer sharper appearance. The text is identical, except that in the first leaflet the word "American" is deleted concerning the origin of the aircraft.
Three U.S. C-130s conducted the first night airdrops over Bosnia, releasing 16 tons of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) on 28 Feb 93. By the end of the operation, aircraft from 21 countries had flown 12,886 sorties into Sarajevo, delivering 159,622 tons of food, medicine, and supplies and evacuating over 1,300 wounded people.
Operation Allied Harbor was NATO's first humanitarian operation. In the case of the Kosovo crisis, by the end of March 1999 the normal civilian non-governmental agencies were unable to cope with the massive influx of refugees into Albania. By 15 June 1999 there were 479,223 refugees in the country.
The round sticker above was used to identify non-military NATO and humanitarian relief vehicles so they would get less interference from the local populace while carrying out day-to-day tasks. It was also a quick means of vehicle ID for gate guards at Tirana airfield. The Product Development Detachment of B Company of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion printed about 7 million leaflets on four Risograph presses in the early days of the operation.
The bumper sticker above was attached to all U.S. relief supply cartons and cases. Although SHINING HOPE was a NATO venture, the U.S. senior officers wanted to ensure that relief supplies from the U.S. were clearly identified.
Joint Task Force (JTF) Shining Hope was the United States contribution to Operation Allied Harbor. The mission was to conduct foreign humanitarian assistance operations in support of US government and non-governmental agencies and international organizations engaged in providing humanitarian relief to Kosovo refugees in Albania and the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Humanitarian Service Medal was authorized for U.S. military personnel who took part in the operation from 3 April 1999 to 5 June 1999.
Master Sergeant (retired) Rod Schmidt of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion adds:
I wish I had a copy of a television commercial my guys (Rick Eller and Rob Hart) designed. It was a non-interference commercial which asked the Albanian populace for their assistance in helping the Kosovar refugees by clearing roads for relief vehicles, etc. It was very high quality and was broadcast on three separate Albanian television networks on a rotating and reducing cycle. The first day it was broadcast, we had reports from the military police and relief organizations that Albanians were actually pulling off of the road to let them pass.
The Serbs continued to act aggressively toward their neighbors. This forced NATO to undertake an intensive, month-long bombing campaign in August 1995. These air strikes produced the desired effect. A cease-fire went into effect in October, and peace talks began on 1 November 1995. These negotiations produced the framework for peace known as the Dayton Peace Accords. Operation Provide Promise continued until 9 January 1996. On that date, the last USAF C-130 brought relief supplies into Sarajevo Airport and ended the longest humanitarian airlift in history.
US Servicemen came to Bosnia in December 1995 as part of the Implementation Force (IFOR), the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia created under the Dayton accords. Their mission was to enforce the agreement ending the Bosnian war. The mission in Bosnia represented the alliance's first major involvement in operational peacekeeping. IFOR had a one-year mandate to oversee implementation of the military aspects of the peace agreement. They achieved those goals by June 1996.
The PSYOP Campaign is mentioned in the report, Target Bosnia: Integrating Information Activities in Peace Support Operations - NATO-led Operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Following the signing of the Bosnian Peace Agreement on 14 December 1995, which put an end to a four-year long war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the UN mandated NATO to oversee and enforce a durable cease-fire between the former belligerents. On 20 December 1995, a NATO-led multinational force, called the Implementation Force (IFOR) started OPERATION JOINT ENDEAVOUR. On 20 December 1996, a smaller NATO coalition called the Stabilization Force (SFOR) replaced IFOR. In operation JOINT GUARD, SFOR received an eighteen month mandate to oversee and enforce the cease-fire.
In Bosnia, IFOR and then SFOR ran an information campaign designed to "seize and maintain the initiative by imparting timely and effective information within the commander's intent." The term information campaign refers to the coordinated and synchronized use of different information activities within the command. The campaign had three components.
A public information (PI) campaign designed to establish NATO's credibility with the international media to gain support from the contributing nations for the mission. Public Information Officers executed this mission.
A psychological operations (PSYOP) campaign designed to influence the local population and its leaders in favor of IFOR troops and operations. PSYOP units (mainly American) undertook this aspect of the campaign.
A Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) information campaign designed to inform audiences about civil-military cooperation and to release information to aid the local populations. CIMIC elements (mainly U.S. Army) undertook this mission.
A number of leaflets were prepared and distributed during this phase of the forced peace. IFOR had a radio station in Tuzla that played music, news and sports for the people. The Allies produced a standard radio leaflet that showed a radio antenna at the left and identified the station as:
Radio IFOR - Tuzla - Rock of the Balkans - 1017 kHz.
The number and location of the IFOR/SFOR radio stations varied throughout the operations. Originally, IFOR set up five radio stations located in the five most populated cities across the country: Sarajevo, Tuzla, Banja-Luka, Mrkonjic Grad, and Mostar (struck down by a lightning on 14 September 1996). During the first six months of SFOR operations, the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force operated three radio stations in Sarajevo (Radio Mir), Brcko, and Coralici. In the fall 1997, the French agreed to man and operate a new station in Mostar. These radio stations operated at least 18 hours a day with music, news bulletins and messages.
Programming on Radio Mir consisted of: Current news five times a day; "Classic" rock and roll, "Top 40' hits, Rhythm and Blues, "Eurohits," and local area music; Interviews with SFOR commanders and the Office of the High Representative; and Broadcast talk shows with guest radio station personalities from local stations.
Major John Mills discusses "PSYOP: Radio Operations in Bosnia," in Special Warfare, fall 2001. He notes that from January 1997 to August 1997, elements of the United States Army Reserve's 11th Psychological Operations Battalion and personnel attached from other USAR PSYOP battalions deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina. He says in part:
After brainstorming numerous concepts, we hit on the solution - radio. Our radio-production capability was limited. Radio Mir in Sarajevo was producing various types of music tapes that contained intermittent soft-sell, radio-announcer voice-overs. We decided to use radio to broadcast translations of open-source information from existing international news media (Reuters, the Associated Press and United Press International) to supplement the information products produced by the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force.
We needed a dedicated broadcast booth and professional-quality equipment. The answer was an MSQ-85B shelter. The MSQ-85B mobile audiovisual shelter was at the time one of the primary systems of the PSYOP community. This HMMWV-mounted shelter was fielded during the 1980s. The shelter provided a complete capability for recording, editing and reproducing audio and video products. Had it been equipped with an FM transmitter, it would have been a complete broadcast studio.
Our major objective was to put out a message that would forcefully explain the SFOR's right, under international law and under the DPA, to seize indicted war criminals. We translated press releases from the Coalition Press Information Center, or CPIC, in an attempt to counter the tirade of messages being broadcast in Serbian controlled areas. Each week, at Radio Tuzla, we produced and broadcast a 30-minute show that came to be titled "The Week in SFOR."
From January to August 1997, the information campaign in Bosnia used local radio to communicate the SFOR message to the formerly warring factions. While it was difficult to precisely measure the program's effectiveness, the success of the combined efforts of the SFOR was reflected by a lack of active hostilities. The radio program laid the groundwork for establishing long-lasting relationships with the local radio-station managers and personnel - some of the people who controlled what was being communicated in Bosnia.
U.S. Army Reserve Major Thomas Bergman is a member of the 18th PSYOP Company, 10th PSYOP Battalion, 7th PSYOP Group. He was activated in December of 1995 for a tour in Bosnia. He had three Tactical PSYOP Teams, two in support of the two Military Police battalions supporting Tuzla and Lukavac and one attached to the NORDPOL Brigade (the Nordic countries, the Baltics, Poland and the United States) in Doboj. His unit provided the first U.S. Army Reserve PSYOP soldiers in Bosnia reporting to the 4th POG. In regard to the radio comments above he says:
Concerning IFOR radio broadcasts, the information attributed to Major John Mills first utilizing civilian radio and conducting a weekly show is incorrect. I realized that the canned IFOR taped music and messages were inadequate from the start. By the time the tapes reached the remote transmitters from Sarajevo, the news was outdated. I requested funding to buy air time on local radio stations but was denied. I approached several Tuzla radio stations and pitched the idea of a weekly hourly call-in talk show where we could give out current news and answer questions from the populace. Radio Tuzla agreed and in early spring 1996 I began conducting a weekly show with the aid of my interpreter.
In regard to how PSYOP performed in 1995 he says:
All in all, as far as product design, dissemination and propaganda support of our supported units, PSYOP failed miserably. We were ill-prepared for a mission which involved more than kicking radios and surrender leaflets out of airplanes especially when we were competing with superior forms of existing local media.
On the positive side he adds:
One of my teams was temporarily attached to the Russian Brigade in the Republika of Serpska to provide loudspeaker support during some tense attempted border crossings by displaced civilians wishing to return to visit their homes, cemeteries, etc. My team was housed and fed by the Russians for almost a week and that may have been the first time that a U.S. PSYOP element directly supported a Russian unit.
As of March 1997, IFOR/SFOR had produced 51 television spots to be given to local stations throughout theater.
More than 3 million posters and handbills were disseminated throughout theater between December 1995 and November 1997.
The Task Force Eagle Information Operations Newsletter of January 1999 mentions some specific leaflet operations during 1997. Some of them are:
Leaflets were distributed from helicopters over key cities and towns in the American-led peace enforcement zone in northeastern Bosnia and adjoining areas. About 43,000 leaflets were distributed from the air and by soldiers on the ground. The leaflets presented information about democracy and responsible government, quoting democratic thinkers including such icons as Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, Plato and others.
On 16 October 1997, Task Force Eagle delivered by air, over the city of Brcko, leaflets which urged the inhabitants not to vote for Karadzic and his supporters. Later that month, U.S. helicopters dropped leaflets on the city of Bijeljina in preparation for the November municipal elections. These leaflets supported the Plavsic regime in Banja Luka.
The IFOR Coalition Joint Information Campaign Task Force (CJICTF), supporting the peace operation in Bosnia, arguably produced more diverse printed products than any other mission to date. They produced newspapers, newspaper articles, handbills, posters, magazines, comic-books, and flyers for both the military and civilian implementers of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
The primary mission of IFOR and SFOR Psychological Operations was to deter armed resistance and hostile behavior against IFOR/SFOR troops and operations
The Allies also produced mine-warning leaflets. One depicts seven different explosive devices and has a bright red triangle with the word "Danger." Another shows a child’s foot about to step on a mine or a child about to touch a half-buried mine.
This 1996 IFOR Bosnia mine awareness leaflet depicts various types of landmines and says:
Mines kill! Don't touch them.
As in almost every war the United States fights, mine awareness cards are prepared to protect the troops. They are usually given away as training aides to any member who requests them from Supply. These cards are restricted to U.S. military personnel to protect technical or operational information and are to be destroyed when no longer needed so that the enemy cannot see them. There are 52 cards in this deck: 1 glossary, 1 mine awareness brief, 1 fuse characteristics, 1 fuse types, 19 antipersonnel mines, 10 antitank mines, 8 booby traps, 10 fuses and 1 mine system. The anti-personnel card above shows a mine of the type the United States calls a “Claymore.”
There were many other propaganda publications used in Bosnia. Perhaps the most interesting is the mine-warning 12-page Superman comic book entitled "Deadly Legacy" that was produced pro-bono with DC Comics. The cover shows the man of steel swooping down to save a two young boys who are about to pick up an explosive device on the ground. The back of the book shows Superman flying the children to safety and the text:
Superman has come to help the children of Bosnia-Herzegovina! But even when he can't be here, you can keep yourself safe from land mines! Mines kill kids! For more information on how you can prevent these accidents, call the mine action center.
IFOR distributed over 1 million of the magazines in their first year in Bosnia.
Lieutenant Colonel Nick Swayne was the liaison with DC Comics in New York City tasked with the mine-awareness project that had the blessing and backing of then First Lady Hilary Clinton. The military paid for the materials, ink and transportation, but not the art or concept work. It supplied the photographs of Bosnians, local homes, landscape and backgrounds and the comic book artists did the rest.
The French were not enamored with the comic book, apparently disturbed that Superman represented "Truth, Justice and the American Way." Superman was very popular among the youth of Bosnia, but was the subject of consternation among certain allies.
Philip M. Taylor criticized the Superman Comic book in Munitions of the Mind: A History of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Day, Manchester University Press, UK, 2003. I find it hard to accept his premise but he claims:
A classic example of how such well-intentioned propaganda can backfire, this comic had to be withdrawn when it was discovered that some young children were deliberately walking into minefields in the hope that Superman would come and save them.
This comment is rejected by Major Jeffrey White who told me that it was never withdrawn from circulation, and definitely not as Phil Taylor suggests, based on the rationale that he cited. Major White never saw any comic books returned to Sarajevo. He did feel that there was a significant undercurrent of anti-American sentiment among the NATO Forces, but the criticisms did not bear out in any of the post-testing in Bosnia. There was never even one incident where it was reported that a child went into a known minefield hoping to be rescued by Superman, nor were there any other incidents provoked by the comic book.
LTC Swayne states that he recalls two minor negative reactions to the comic book. The first occurred when he coordinated with the United Nations Mine Action Center in Sarajevo prior to putting their phone number on the back cover of the comic book and matching poster. They were not prepared for the number of calls that flooded their office. Overnight their office went from a "Sleepy Hollow" to a place where the phone never stopped ringing.
The second was something that did not come out in pre or post-testing among the 10 to 15-year-old target audience. It was brought up by the International Press Corps at the unveiling of the comic book in the Sarajevo Holiday Inn. They posed questions about the sexist nature of the comic in that the girl was always the subordinate character. The comic was made for an audience and culture where that is the case whether we like it or not. As a result, although it was an overwhelming success among the target audience, it was scrutinized by the international press because it did not depict an unrealistic dominant role for the female characters.
Sergeant Mark Jenkins of the 6th PSYOP Battalion was not very enthused about the comics. He was a stickler for details, planning and Intelligence studies and the comics just appeared one day with the order to disseminate them. He told me:
I disagreed with them on principle, i.e., that they were pushed on us from outside and had not gone through our campaign planning process, nor were they coordinated with any of our existing mine-awareness efforts. So my reaction, as I recall, was, "Whatever," and I hoped they might do some good. But I was definitely worried it was further evidence of our pre-packaged "ready-fire-aim" approach to it all.
Another leaflet is in the form of a Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Narodna Banka Jugoslavije 20 Novih Dinara banknote of 1994. The front left of the leaflet looks like the banknote, the front right is all text:
In Business... More customers equal more sales and suppliers and more competition equals lower cost for consumers. How can you influence this market? Encourage FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT. It makes economic sense.
The back of the note depicts a small vehicle and a map. The text is:
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT. Everyone wins.
The leaflet encourages all of the various ethnic mixes of the area to open the borders for free trade with each other.
By December 1996 with the transition from IFOR to SFOR, the PSYOP task force organization somewhat changed. The headquarters and Product Development Cell (PDC) became multinational instead of all-U.S. with French and British liaison officers assigned to the Combined Joint Information Task Force headquarters. The British-led division acquired some printing equipment in spring 1996 to develop products specific to its area of responsibility.
Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon discusses the British and French effort in a Joint Services Command and Staff College Defense Research Paper:
The British deployed up to 14 members of their 15th PSYOP Group to support the US led NATO PSYOP or IFOR Information Campaign. The IFOR Information Campaign was conducted by the Combined Joint IFOR Information Campaign Task Force headed by a US full colonel. The British were represented at divisional level, at theatre level, and at the Multinational Coordination Cell which dealt with strategic issues and was involved with the "Herald of Peace," the theatre-level Information Campaign newspaper.
In mid-March 1996, the British troops achieved the capability to produce their own printed products. By late March 1996, the British Divisional PSYOP element had print, reproduction, audio/radio, video and other imagery capabilities and three Land Rovers and trailers. By spring 1996, IFOR had established a strong link with the independent radio station in Banja Luka, ("Radio Big"). Personnel from IFOR appeared on a weekly show that combined music, conversation and questions from a live audience to deny any rumors and misconceptions and to promote a greater understanding of IFOR's role.
Speaking of March 1996, the last suburb of Sarajevo, a neighborhood called Grbavica, was officially turned over to the Muslim-Croat Federation effectively ending any possibility that the city would be surrounded and attacked by the Serbs in the future. Grbavica was the fifth and final suburb to be transferred to the federation under the terms of the Dayton peace agreement. Bosnian officials replaced Serb street signs, spoke of the final unification of the city, or trotted about in processions with Bosnian flags. Over a thousand Serbs remained in the city, and the above leaflet reassures them and others who left earlier that is they have committed no crimes, they are welcome. The text is:
The Supreme Command of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Grbavica is liberated.
Honest Serbs, who do not have blood on their hands, can return to the liberated territory.
Steven Collins goes into greater detail in "Army PSYOP in Bosnia: Capabilities and Constraints" in Parameters, summer 1999.
By contrast, in the Multinational Division Southwest area, controlled by the United Kingdom, the importance of PSYOP was recognized early. The UK military, drawing upon its extensive experience in Northern Ireland as well as its intimate familiarity with the region as part of the UN Protection Force, knew the critical importance of the battle for Bosnian "hearts and minds." Thus they requested deployment of US tactical PSYOP soldiers and radio broadcast equipment. However, as with the French-led division, dissatisfaction with slow product support and a desire to control its own product development processes led the UK to field its own PSYOP element at its headquarters in Banja Luka. This element continued to disseminate some products made by the PSYOP Task Force headquarters in Sarajevo, but the emphasis in the region was centered on its own PSYOP magazine, handbills, and other materials produced in Banja Luka. Once again, oversight from Sarajevo was limited.
British Corporal Rob Walker was an Adjutant General Corps clerk in the Banja Luka "Metal Factory." This had been an actual factory but was taken over by the Multinational Task Force Northwest as a base for the Bosnia and Herzegovina stabilization force EUFOR (formerly SFOR). Rob worked in Information Operations (Info Ops) as their clerk and soon helped with printing leaflets in the Info Ops rooms. The team was made up of various British Officers, both Active and Reserve, illustrators and some officers and senior noncommissioned officers from the U.S. Army. Later, Walker was assigned the task of writing horoscopes for the free Mostovi (Bridge) newspaper. The Mostovi staff was made up of Brits and Americans and the layout was done by a Royal Marine Illustrator. 35,000 copies of this 12-page publication were regularly distributed.
In 1994, French forces were unable to conduct PSYOP. There were no PSYOP specialists to advise the commanders in the field, and no printing facilities to communicate with the local population or factions. PSYOP campaigns were limited to what can be called Civil Affairs. In 1995 an attempt was made to define "Operational Communications" within a frame of Civil-Military Affairs. Later, a service paper refined this concept by stating that Operational Communications aim at legitimate military intervention by explaining the objectives and roles of the forces to the local population and warring factions, and countering hostile propaganda activities directed towards friendly troops and the civil population.
Steven Collins adds:
Multinational Division Southeast, under the control of the French, originally kept PSYOP at arm's length. The French reluctance to incorporate PSYOP into their plans was largely a legacy of their remembrance of French PSYOP's dubious role in the war in Algeria in the late 1950s and early 1960s and participation in the attempted coup against Charles de Gaulle in 1961. The French also seemed to mistrust the motives of the US PSYOP personnel, who dominated the early effort in Bosnia. Over time, the French began to accept increased US PSYOP support, including a PSYOP radio station in Mostar and a small group of US tactical PSYOP soldiers who disseminated materials. The French frustration with the Byzantine nature of the US/NATO PSYOP product approval process contributed to their desire to develop their own capability in order to influence the PSYOP context more directly. This led to the establishment of a French-run PSYOP radio station and creation of a French/Spanish/German PSYOP print product development capability in Mostar, all with virtually no oversight from the PSYOP Task Force headquarters in Sarajevo.
Apparently the French did trust the Belgians. Belgium has a small PSYOP Support Element (PSE) unit called the Information Operations Group (Info Ops Grp) consisting of about 30 regular military personnel and selected reservists as needed. After the loss of ten Belgian paratroopers in Rwanda in 1994, apparently stirred up by the racist propaganda radio station Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines ("Land of a Thousand Hills Free Radio and Television"), the Belgians realized the need for a PSYOP unit of their own. Their first operation was in late 1999 in Kosovo where they installed a PSYOP radio station called "Radio Horizon" in the Belgian camp called "Center City" in the French-occupied section of Kosovo in Leposavic.
Even the name used for the campaign became an issue. Target Bosnia states that some members of the North Atlantic Council did not want to be associated with a "psychological operations campaign." Changing the name to "IFOR Information Campaign" seemed to ease these fears. However, there is little doubt that the "information campaign" was a psychological operations campaign. It was conducted by PSYOP forces and according to NATO's draft peace support psychological activities doctrine. The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe PSYOP staff officer stated that "I could not use the term 'psychological operations' when I first briefed at North Atlantic Treaty Office Headquarters because that would have upset some nations."
An unnamed author discussed the United Kingdom PSYOP operation in Kosovo in an untitled British Joint Services Command and Staff College abstract:
Approximately 104.5 million leaflets were dropped by the coalition, primarily by the US, but despite the 78-day bombing campaign the Serbian Army withdrew largely intact. One commentator lamented that NATO's PSYOP efforts were belated and perceived as threatening as well as being effectively countered by the Serbs who were able to demonstrate that modern high-tech precision weapons could be deceived using simple camouflage and concealment techniques. Reflecting on this in a House of Commons Select Committee, Air Vice-Marshal Mike Heath stated:
"There was no U.K. information campaign during the Kosovo crisis. When we came out of it and we had firmly come second, we realized that this was something we needed to do pretty quickly."
The campaign in Kosovo marked the inception of the Directorate of Targeting and Information Operations (DTIO) and the beginning of PSYOP integration into the wider Information Operations (INFO OPS) strategy in Kosovo. However, Kosovo also highlighted a "weakness" in capability as the adversary demonstrated a clear awareness of the importance of Information Operations and were able to counter NATO PSYOP very effectively.
The French, German, Italian, and Spanish contingents all conducted PSYOP activities in support of their missions. The Italian contingent developed a comic strip featuring Bugs Bunny to raise children's awareness of mines. There was little coordination between these efforts. Additional themes were added to the list of PSYOP priorities. The CJICTF was tasked with promoting democratic action, adherence to the rule of law, acceptance of returnees, and the ability of SFOR to enforce a secure environment in an even-handed manner.
There were also a number of magazines and newspapers published by the Allied forces. U.S. forces in Sarajevo published a weekly news magazine called Herald of Peace. The paper, each edition of which numbered 150,000 copies, was initially published in Stuttgart, Germany, later in Zagreb, Croatia, and finally in Sarajevo.
My good friend retired Lieutenant Colonel Karl Zetmeir was the publisher of the Herald of Peace for a short time. He told me about his experience with the magazine:
One of the most professionally satisfying psychological operations products I ever worked on was the Herald of Peace. Though a relatively short-lived product, it represented the hard work and true dedication to our craft on the part of its PSYOP soldiers as no other. In a leaflet-dominated world often marked by simple illustrations and hip-shoot phraseology, the Herald of Peace stands in a class of its own.
We simply called it "the HoP." It was a magazine produced by the Combined Joint Information Task Force (CJICTF) in Sarajevo, Bosnia from 1996 through 1997. I myself reported to the CJICTF in June 1997, where I worked for the Product Development Chief, Major Roger Smith, as the Officer in Charge for all print product development, which included being Chief Editor of the HoP, as well as the Budget/Finance (BUDFIN) officer for our overall PSYOP campaign efforts. The officer I was replacing in both those functions was Captain Roger Lintz. Roger's drive and initiative had raised the bar from the HoP's initial format to that of a glossy, four-color, 36-page, TIME-quality magazine. He'd also negotiated a robust print contract with a Zagreb-based company that made this quality leap possible. Our transition from his team to mine was seamless and we eagerly accepted this challenging job.
The operational direction of the HoP came from our boss Roger Smith. Roger insisted the magazine hold true to stories that supported the Stabilization Force's country-wide objectives, and we focused on themes like freedom of movement, election participation, and other peace initiatives. The major stories covered subjects like the recently restored Sarajevo ambulance service or the purchase of new firefighting equipment. We deliberately steered clear of 'collage' photos of US or other nation's military forces conducting peacekeeping operations, unit rotations, changes of command, etc. One Stabilization Force logo was found on the inside cover, along with letters from the chief editor (Roger Lintz, followed by myself) and our Noncommissioned Officer editor (Bob Kellogg followed by Hans-Marc Hurd) in each issue. In retrospect, we were going for the same appeal as that of a "Readers Digest," that even older copies would be interesting and fresh to a war-devastated target audience, particularly in the hinterlands, that rarely saw any printed media at all.
In addition to its varied stories, the HoP had its own unique political satire cartoon. The Balkan-renown and award winning cartoon artist, Hasan Faslic was contracted to write for us and he created "Mujo, Grujo and Lujo," representing a Serb, Croatian and a Bosnian. These three characters reduced very controversial political issues into simple and humorous cartoon illustrations. Also hired were two other host-nation illustrators who created crossword puzzles and horoscopes for each issue. We published 250,000 copies of the Herald of Peace each month. Following lessons learned in disseminating the first few editions, we printed articles in both Latin and Cyrillic alphabets in a page-alternating style that prevented the magazine from being torn in two by the recipient just to keep the portion in "their" preferred alphabet. Horoscopes enjoyed wide popularity among all three entities and we deliberately placed this on the back cover, so serve as the 'hook' to generate interest.
Many times we'd disseminate copies to people on the street to watch them start reading the horoscope, then take out a pen and begin working the crosswords. As we'd return to our vehicle a half hour later, we'd see those same folks now thumbing through the rest of the articles. The arrival of a new printing was always met with great excitement and anticipation within both the Combined Joint Information Task Force and Stabilization Force headquarters. Bundles of the magazine would then be divided between our allies and disseminated across Bosnia-Herzegovina.
I was Chief Editor for two monthly editions of the Herald of Peace before production was abruptly stopped in August of 1997. That month the Combined Joint Information Task Force was inspected by a PSYOP Assessment Team (POAT) headed by the then 4th Psychological Operations Group Commander and a small staff. Suffice it to say our vision of a PSYOP publication didn't match theirs. Among other things, they wanted a portion of the issues printed in English for the Stabilization Force HQs staff, coverage of SFOR units included, broadened from what they thought was a Sarajevo-centric focus, and most importantly, they wanted the HoP printed every two weeks so the articles would be more current. As the Budget/Finance officer who paid the bills for all the PSYOP products we made in each media, I knew these conditions far exceeded our contracted print agreement. Production of the Herald of Peace thus came to a sudden and disappointing end. We continued to publish "Mujo, Grujo and Lujo" as independent cartoons in various Bosnian newspapers. However, in a particularly satisfying victory that Fall, the same Combined Joint Information Task Force print contract that had once produced 250,000 copies of the Herald of Peace across BiH was used to mass-print voter registration cards in the nick of time to ensure that the first nation-wide democratic elections in Bosnia could take place. Ours was the only unit capable of accomplishing this feat.
Under SFOR this became the Herald of Progress with a circulation of about 100,000 by 1997. The Herald of Progress was a dramatic departure from former, traditional PSYOP print journalistic endeavors. It was a "Madison Avenue-quality" monthly journal with pertinent articles, color photos, and political cartoons and commentaries. It was published in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabet.
Sergeant Mark Jenkens of the 6th PSYOP Battalion tells us more about the Herald of Peace, some of these facts from his After Action Report prepared 11 June 1996.
Production work for the Herald of Peace in Zagreb began the week of 25 December 1995.The first Zagreb issue was laid out on 28 December 1995 and printed at Radin Press over the weekend. Dissemination began in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 4 January 1996. Approved articles were received early in the week (usually Tuesday), translations were completed by Wednesday evening, Disk files were prepared and forwarded to EuropaPress on Thursday, printing over the weekend, quality control check on Monday, delivered and placed on pallets on Tuesday, shipped to Bosnia on Wednesday.
After production in Zagreb ceased with issue 21, remaining personnel in Zagreb deployed forward to Sarajevo on 22 May 1996.
The approval process proved to be slow and unwieldy; placing extreme time pressure on the translation section to meet weekly deadlines.
Jenkens also mentions problems that were not in his AAR. For instance:
There were meaningless bureaucratic change requests. One time we were told to change the word "happy" to "glad," even though it translates to the same word in the foreign language. Naples was annoyed that some of the broadsides we printed said "We will react to enemy actions against our convoys." They wanted "unfriendly" instead of "enemy," but once again it's the same word in Serbo-Croatian, "neprijatelj," literally "un-friend." These kinds of problems caused added time and work to people on a very tight schedule.
British forces in Banja Luka printed a regionally attuned newspaper insert and later a magazine entitled Mostovi. The German forces in Sarajevo published a bright and lively monthly magazine for teenagers entitled Mirko. Publication began in June 1996 and production increased to a hundred thousand copies per edition by fall 1997.
Germany deployed more than 1,350 soldiers in the crisis area. They included soldiers of the PSYOPS forces who have been part of an international Press and Information Office (PIO) since May 2001.
It was their task to convey the mission and goals of SFOR by means of targeted information campaigns. Added to which, they were to influence the attitudes and behavior of the target audiences so that the spiral of violence was broken and the Dayton Peace Accord respected.
The SFOR Informer mentions Canadian patrols in Suica and says:
Approximately once a week, members of the Canadian Company of paratroopers based in Tomislavgrad carry out patrols in the nearby villages. These patrols are carried out with a low profile with only a few soldiers walking the streets, visiting restaurants and cafes, and talking to people they meet. In the small community of Suica, 15 minutes north of Tomislavgrad, this day's patrol has two purposes. First of all the patrol is looking for kids to distribute the "Mostovi" magazine. This magazine is produced by MND-SW and aimed at children and teenagers, presenting SFOR and topics of interest for kids. The children are offered an opportunity to distribute the magazine in the village for monthly pay.
After talking to people in the local café, the patrol moved back on to the street. When the school day ended the paratroopers got in touch with some children. While talking to the first young boy, the other children realized the patrol was offering them a job so they swarmed around the busy Canadians. "No problem finding eager kids in this town," Pvt. Paddy Walsh said, while the last magazines were handed out. Finally, another social patrol is over, while young new SFOR "employees" start earning their pay distributing the "Mostovi" magazine.
The various nations involved in the PSYOP effort retained review or approval authority of their products. For example, German PSYOP forces had to send each issue of Mirko back to Germany for a final review before dissemination. This review was established as Germany wanted to avoid any problem with its World War II legacy in the area of operations.
American products had to be approved both by IFOR/SFOR (NATO chain of command) and by U.S. EUCOM (U.S. chain of command). This dual procedure created conflicting requirements, as two staffs (at IFOR/SFOR and at U.S.EUCOM) had to see the final products before dissemination when the task force was under pressure to get products to target audiences as quickly as possible.
There are always humorous stories that come from these PSYOP campaigns. One operator told me of his problems in disseminating the newspapers:
While in Bosnia working on the newspaper the pressure was on to distribute as many newspapers as possible to make the numbers look good. Typically we would have 10,000 or so to distribute, and a town might have just a few hundred people. Many shop owners and local citizens were not real enthusiastic about receiving our "propaganda." However, one store owner was more than happy to take them, and in fact asked for more. Upon our second visit to the town we realized how they were getting distributed. The gentleman was a butcher and was using the papers to wrap meat! Oh well we thought, at least the people are getting the newspapers.
Major Thomas Bergman also mentions Herald of Peace distribution problems:
There was an ENORMOUS disconnect between Headquarters Sarajevo and the rest of the PSYOP units in other parts of the country. The Herald of Peace, while a good idea, contained information that was usually outdated by the time it arrived to the Tactical PSYOP Teams for dissemination due to an inadequate distribution network.
I remember traveling to Sarajevo for a PSYOP "Meeting of the Minds," I believe sometime in February or March of 1996. It was revealed that initially foreign nationals were contracted to distribute the Herald of Peace to various towns for dissemination in shops, etc. similar to the free papers here in the U.S. but there was no plan of action to verify that they were actually delivering them. The belief was that they were getting paid and just dumping the product. That was the reason for the creation of the "Red Ball Express" which was run by other members of the 18th Psychological Operations Company who were attached to PSYOP command in Sarajevo answerable to Col. Altschuler.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization Stabilization Force (SFOR) succeeded IFOR on December 20, 1996. The mission's aims became more ambitious. In addition to deterring a resumption of hostilities and promoting a climate in which the peace process could continue to move forward, they included providing an increased level of selective support to civilian organizations.
NATO-led Operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina concludes with the following statement about psychological operations:
PSYOP was entrusted with a vital mission in a difficult environment: provide an honest alternate viewpoint in a sea of local propaganda and disinformation to facilitate the Dayton Peace Accords implementation. However, three sets of factors limited the effectiveness of the PSYOP campaign. First, political sensitivities surrounding the use of PSYOP forces made it more difficult to run an effective, multinational PSYOP campaign. Second, the weak and conciliatory nature of the PSYOP message limited its potential impact on the local populations. The task forces' difficulties in adapting to the local culture and media habits further impaired the campaign. Finally, these shortcomings were all the more difficult to correct as PSYOP's assessment of its effort was at best limited.
Mine Warning leaflets
This leaflet is designed to educate people on how to recognize the danger of mines and avoid them.
This 1999 SFOR handbill depicts various mines, grenades, mortars and Claymores on the front and the back and warns civilians against touching any of the dangerous explosives.
This 1998 SFOR poster depicts a child and asks how anyone can believe that mines are harmless.
Warning civilians about the danger of unexploded ordnance has always been a priority of the Allied military forces. Above is a selection of warning leaflets to the civilians residing in Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo and other parts of the old Yugoslavia.
Target Bosnia discusses problems with the PSYOP effort. For instance, there was a belief that the PSYOP forces in Bosnia used equipment and media adapted to Third World countries with relatively low-literacy levels. U.S. PSYOP had been mostly involved in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Haiti, and Rwanda among others, and leaflets and newspapers were important in those locations. However the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina was literate, relatively well-educated, and tended to look to television and computers for most of their current information and news.
In addition, U.S. PSYOP assets remained under U.S. control from December 1995 to October 1997. Other nations that were expected to support and supply these assets were often slow in doing so. There was a certain distrust of U.S. PSYOP policy. European nations felt the PSYOP effort was not fully NATO and were therefore reluctant to become full participants. They pressed the U.S. to transfer authority to NATO as a prerequisite for more participation. Finally, in October 1997, U.S. PSYOP forces in theater were transferred to Supreme Allied Command Europe's command and control.
There occasionally arose a lack of knowledge of habits and customs. For example, during 1996, a handbill depicting a "checklist" of what was done and what had to be achieved was prepared. After the product was disseminated, it was realized that Bosnians don't do checklists. In another example, they developed a poster with a chess game to encourage voting. Bosnians interpreted it as the international community playing with Bosnia's future. Other products did not take into account the local population's knowledge. For example, SFOR developed several products on the role of the military, the police, and the media in a democracy. These products used quotes from Western historic figures like Lincoln, Roosevelt, Clausewitz, or Clemenceau, which were not appropriate for Bosnia-Herzegovina. These products did not appeal to the Bosnians' culture or history.
Sergeant Mark F. Jenkins of the 6th PSYOP Battalion told me some of the problems that he encountered:
Many of my memories are of frustration. We in the 6th PSYOP Battalion had been alerted and then stood down so many times about Bosnia that I think some people had decided we were never really going to go. I was apparently one of the few Serbo-Croat linguists that had kept up language skills (and there were only three in the Battalion and one did not deploy), something that I found difficult to comprehend, (and I was only all too aware of my shortcomings as a translator). The potential for deployment to the former Yugoslavia had been apparent for several years. We went in with so many good ideas and were consistently defeated and ground down by bureaucracy and worse, such as the ridiculously long time it took for news items to get approval for publication. At one time, we had to submit everything back to Naples, and they tended to sit on it, no matter our deadlines.
I took pains whenever I was briefing any officers to stress that this was a European country we were dealing with, one with modern media, and if we weren't speedy, we had to at least be credible, or we could kiss our influence goodbye. I'd watched some of Milosevic's speeches on Serbian TV during my stint at the US embassy in Belgrade a year or two earlier, and I was struck by how media-savvy he was (so unlike his portrayal in many Western sources).
My position was that the Americans and NATO coming in should be like a wave of fresh air, and we needed to rapidly establish ourselves. One thing that definitely drove me up a wall was the way we threw our doctrine out the window as soon as it was "game time." I was drawing up targeting forms, audience assessments, and all that stuff, and then I was told from the rear in Stuttgart to "stand down." That is preposterous. If doctrine doesn't work, you don't ignore it, you amend the doctrine, or else the lessons learned never get institutionalized.
In early 1999, the Serbs again seemed intent on purifying their lands of all foreign ethnic groups. Television reports told of thousands of ethnic Albanians persecuted, raped, or murdered. This time the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took action. NATO demanded full compliance with UN Resolution 1199 of 23 September 1998. The resolution called for all parties to cease hostilities.
At a meeting held 15 March 1999, the Kosovar separatists agreed to a cease-fire, but the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic refused. NATO warned that refusal to cease hostilities against the Kosovar civilians would lead directly to military force. After a week of Serbian refusals, the 19-member organization unanimously agreed to initiate air strikes. The first occurred at 1400 on 24 March 1999. NATO aircraft pounded military and political targets within Serbia as part of "Operation Allied Force." Fighter aircraft later attacked Serb military forces in Kosovo.
NATO dropped no leaflets during the first week of bombing. This was surprising. Since the Serbs tightly controlled their news, the citizenry had no idea of why they were being bombed. It was crucial for NATO to explain to the masses that the bombing was a direct result of Milosevic's stubbornness, and that the bombing would cease the moment that Milosevic withdrew Serbian troops from Kosovo.
The Yugoslav Central government dropped aerial propaganda leaflets on the Kosovars on several occasions. In August of 1998, a Serbian Internal Affairs Ministry aircraft dropped leaflets over Kosmet and the southern province of Kosovo-Metohija calling on all ethnic Albanians to return to their homes. The leaflet guaranteed their safety. The leaflet printed in Serbian and Albanian stated:
The Government of Serbia knows the difference between our Albanian citizens and terrorists. Every citizen wants peace in Kosmet. It continued: Terrorists can bring nothing good. They only bring evil...take your villages, put guns in your hands, dishonor your women and girls, take your money for the so-call Kos Liberation Army, and block roads.
The Serbs dropped leaflets again in April of 1999. The Serbs dropped the leaflets over the displaced person's camp outside of Kisna Reka in Kosovo. As before, the leaflets told the ethnic Albanians that it was safe to return home and promised safe passage.
NATO finally responded in early April 1999. American Hercules EC-130 Commando Solo aircraft from the 193rd Special Operations Wing broadcast propaganda programs to the Serbs that filled the airwaves with news and films of the thousands of refugees caused by Milosevic's ethnic cleaning in Kosovo. The aircraft, flying from Ramstein Air Base in Germany is able to broadcast AM, FM and TV images over any frequency.
A brief word of introduction about the production of PSYOP in Kosovo and Serbia. According to documents released by the United States Army, 104.5 million aerial leaflets were dropped over Kosovo during the 78-day air campaign of Operation Allied Force. There were 34 distinct types prepared and disseminated. The leaflets contain 4-part codes. The code relates to target audience, theme, action desired, and number of a leaflet in a series.
There are minor differences in the size, paper and ink. Half the leaflets were produced at Ft. Bragg on digital Heidelberg printers; half were prepared in Germany on the 3750 series Risograph or the Mobile Print System (MPS). The sizes vary according to printing machine, local paper availability, and in some cases the artistic layout of the leaflet designers. In addition, there are minor variations of type size, font and color.
Most of the leaflets are in black and white, though many have words or paragraphs highlighted in color. We know the total number of leaflets dropped and even the individual numbers. The problem is that the latter were published using code names like "Think again" and "Questionnaire." In those cases that we can identify the leaflet I have listed the number dropped. In other cases it is impossible to determine what the code name of a specific piece is.
NATO aircraft dropped 2.3 million leaflets in the Serbo-Croatian language over Yugoslavia on the weekend of April 3 and 4. These leaflets told the people why they were being bombed, and how to stop it. The majority of the drops were over the northern area of Yugoslavia where there was little knowledge of the atrocities occurring in Kosovo.
NATO reported a second leaflet drop of 2.5 million leaflets overnight on 10 and 11 April. Aircraft made the drop during the Orthodox Easter weekend. The leaflets explained that NATO would stop bombing if Yugoslavia withdrew its forces from Kosovo, allowed refugees to return home, and accepted an international peace force in the province of Kosovo.
The first three NATO leaflets are the standard 6 x 3" size, considered the optimum for pinpoint dropping on selected targets. The first has black text on white paper. The text is in Serbo-Croatian and Cyrillic. The left side of the leaflet is blue. There is a NATO symbol at the right and the word "HATO." When turned over, the paper is all white, the NATO symbol is at the upper left and lower right, and two words are highlighted in red. There is no code number on this leaflet, but the official code number is 04-Q-07-L0001-d. The title of this leaflet is "NATO Strikes."
The text on this leaflet says:
In March 1998, the United Nations called for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Kosovo. Since then, the international community has made every effort to find a peaceful compromise. On 18 March 1999 the Kosovar Albanians agreed to a plan that would disarm the KLA and keep an autonomous Kosovo as a legal part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However, your political leadership not only spurned this opportunity, but also stepped up its military campaign of repression and violence against the entire Kosovar Albanian population. The Interim Political Agreement - the road to peace.
Text on the other side of the leaflet states:
As a direct result of your government's actions, NATO has conducted air-strikes against military targets. NATO has no quarrel with the Serb people, or their right to national Sovereignty. NATO and the international community still desire a peaceful solution for Kosovo.
The leaflets were first dropped on the far-northern town of Subotica. NATO aircraft dropped 3.6 million of this leaflet.
The second leaflet is somewhat similar. It has the same NATO symbol and word "HATO" at the lower right. They are in blue. The rest of the text is in black and the paper is white. When turned over, the paper is all white, the NATO symbol is at the upper left and lower right in blue, and several words are in blue. The title once again is "NATO Strikes."
Some of the text reads:
For the last week Serb armies and police, under direct orders of Slobodan Milosevic, have emptied the villages and towns of Kosovo and burned or destroyed thousands of houses. Heads of families have been pulled from the arms of their wives and children and shot. Thousands of innocent and unarmed people are feared dead. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing Milosevic's pogrom. Do not allow misguided patriotism to blind you to his atrocities. NATO defends the defenseless.
The code number on this leaflet 04-B-02-L001.
The third leaflet bears two photographs. One side shows a gruff looking Slobodan Milosevic. The text and photo are in black on white paper. The text beneath the photo of Milosevic reads:
For years, Slobodan Milosevic has gambled with the future of the Serb people. His policies have lost Krajina, Western Slavonia, Baranja, and Sarajevo. Now he gambles again with his pogrom in Kosovo. He is wagering Serbia's sacred places, her place in the world, and the lives of his own people. Are these truly his to lose?
The other side of the leaflet shows a burning building. Text next to the burning building is:
Is it really his to gamble?
This leaflet is coded 04-B-02-L002. This same general format was used on about seven leaflets other leaflets, with the Milosevic portrait sometimes in red, sometimes in blue. NATO aircraft dropped 7.6 million of these leaflets.
Another leaflet picturing Milosevic is found in two formats, the difference being that one version is in a darker blue with some blue text in the message while the other is in a lighter blue and the text is all black. 5.9 million of these leaflets were printed with the codename "Nepotism." The text to the right of Milosevic's picture is:
War and sacrifice for you
Good money for him, his family and his friends.
The back is all text:
Serbia's economy is crippled; her war machine under attack. But through it all, Milosevic, his family, and his inner circle have managed to make millions. Tight control of state-run monopolies has given Milosevic an illicit financial empire at the expense of those he claims to defend.
His son Marko waits out the war in comfort. He does not serve as ordinary Serbs must. While your sons and husbands fight, Marko Milosevic parties in Belgrade or works on his sun-tan at the family villa in the Mediterranean.
Milosevic's nepotism, cronyism, and genocide in Kosovo have drained Serbia's economic resources and dragged the country into war with the world. Is he the kind of leader you really want?
In mid-April 1999, the NATO attack plan added tactical strikes against the Serb military forces in Kosovo to the strategic bombing of Serbia. Aircraft searched out troops, vehicles and armor taking part in the Kosovar persecution.
A new series of leaflets threatening the Serb military forces was prepared. Each of these took the NATO four-pointed star and turned it into crosshairs as might be seen through a target scope.
The first (fourth overall in the new series) leaflet pictured an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter in the foreground, and a small Serb tank silhouette in target crosshairs in the background. The Apache helicopter has a M230 30mm multi-barrel chain gun and 16 laser-guided Hellfire missiles. The Hellfire has a range of 4.4 miles and a speed of Mach 1.7. It is a deadly tank killer.
The Coalition dropped this leaflet about 15 April. The leaflet says in Serbo-Croat, "Don't wait for me" on the front beneath the helicopter. Text on the back reads:
Attention VJ (Yugoslav Army) Forces! You can hide, but NATO forces still see you. Remain in Kosovo and face certain death; or leave your unit and equipment, and get out of Kosovo now. If you choose to stay, NATO forces will relentlessly attack you, with many different weapon systems, from many different nations, from the land, from the sea, from the sky. Stop following Milosevic's orders to commit genocide and other atrocities against civilians in Kosovo. You are responsible for your own actions, and ultimately will be held accountable. The choice is yours.
The text is in black except for the first and last lines which are in blue. The code number is 03-Q-09-L004. The same message appeared on both this leaflet and the following A-10 leaflet. NATO aircraft dropped 4.5 million of the leaflets with this text message.
Philip M. Taylor criticized this leaflet in Munitions of the Mind: A history of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Day, Manchester University Press, UK, 2003:
Given that the Apache was never deployed during the air campaign because of orders to fight the war from above 15,000 feet, the failure to deliver what was promised in the messages was symptomatic of a defective PSYOP campaign that failed to break either the Serb military or civilian morale.
We should point out that the threatening portrait of an Apache attack helicopter was used again by the SFOR PSYOP team about 1999. The text is:
Bringing about cooperation and providing peace for all.
One wonders how good this leaflet was as PSYOP since it is difficult to motivate people to accept cooperation and peace while threatening them with annihilation.
The fifth leaflet is similar. It pictures an A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft (commonly known as "the warthog") in the foreground. The Thunderbolt is firing a missile. Once again, a small Serb tank silhouette in target crosshairs is shown in the background. The A-10 is armed with a GAU-8/A 30mm seven-barrel Avenger cannon which fires approximately 4,000 armor-piercing rounds per minute, and six Maverick missiles. The Maverick has a range of 25 miles at subsonic speed.
Text on the front of this leaflet beneath the aircraft is:
Don't wait for me!
Text on the back is:
Over 13,000 Yugoslavian service members have already left the armed forces because they can no longer follow the illegal orders in Milosevic's war against the civilians in Kosovo. Remain in Kosovo and face certain death, or leave your unit and equipment, and get out of Kosovo now. If you choose to stay, NATO forces will relentlessly attack you from every direction. The choice is yours.
The text is in black except for the first and last lines which are in blue. The code number is 03-Q-09-L004. The same message appeared on both this leaflet and the previous Apache leaflet. NATO aircraft dropped 4.5 million of the leaflets with this text message.
A sixth leaflet shows target crosshairs on a Serb tank. Text on the back reads:
Attention Serbian Armed Forces. You are a NATO target. Halt your current operations and return to your garrisons immediately. If you fail to follow these instructions, NATO will continue to attack your unit. Save your lives. Flee while you can.
This leaflet is coded 03-Q-02-L003. NATO aircraft may have dropped 800,000 of this leaflet.
A second tactical version of the same leaflet has the text:
Attention 78th Motorized Brigade, 211 Armor brigade, 52nd and 78th Mixed Artillery, and attached units. You are a NATO bombing target. You will continue to be bombed until you return to your garrisons. Return while you still can.
The code number of this variation is 03-Q-02-L008. NATO aircraft may have dropped 300,000 of this leaflet.
Master Sergeant (retired) Rod Schmidt of B Company of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion told me:
The sniper-scope green target leaflet dropped on Yugoslavia was based on a design I provided to 6th POB, although they modified it. Originally, I had designed it to resemble the light green, grainy tinge of low-light scopes without the NATO symbol. They were forced to darken the green color because the presses they had at that time just couldn't print the light green design at a high enough resolution to render the image clearly.
A seventh leaflet gives the frequencies of five radio and a television channel that the people could tune in to receive NATO radio and television broadcasts. The leaflet has the title "We want to talk to you." The radio stations listed are FM 92.5, FM 102.2, FM106.4 and AM 1003. Television channel 21 is listed, but I understand that only fuzzy pictures and weak audio could be heard over this channel. The text on the front of the leaflet is:
Mornings in Belgrade. Interviews with world leaders. News: international and regional. Messages to the Serb people. NATO policy statement. NATO allied voice. Radio and television station.
The back of the leaflet is all tex:
FM 92.5, FM 106.4, FM 102.2, AM 1003, TV Channel 21. We want to talk to you.
The code number of this leaflet is 04-E-03-L001. NATO aircraft dropped 1.2 million of this leaflet.
This captured still from a TV screen was broadcast from an EC-130 orbiting over Serbia. It clearly shows the logo of UHF Channel 21. The picture depicts a crying child at the right and what appears to be hand with a "V" for victory in a window at the right. The hand is being pulled from the window, apparently to safeguard the person giving the sign.
A ninth leaflet shows a photograph of Slobodan Milosevic with an arrow pointing backwards. The text above the president's name read
No gasoline, no electricity, no trade, no freedom, no future.
This leaflet was dropped in late April as a warning of the coming bombing of crucial services like electricity and water. On 3 May, NATO attacked the hydroelectric power station west of Belgrade and darkened much of Serbia. The weapon used was a bomb containing thin graphite wires and particles that short-circuit the power lines, but do not destroy the generators. There were continued attacks on oil and gasoline stocks, and talk of a NATO boycott.
How long will you suffer for Milosevic? As long as Milosevic is going to continue his program of destruction, rape, and murder in Kosovo, Serbia will drift deeper into international isolation. Don't let Milosevic hold you hostage to his atrocities.
The code number of this leaflet is 04-B-02-L004. This leaflet was printed in two varieties with minor color difference.
By 29 April, over 19 million leaflets had been dropped over Yugoslavia. Many of these leaflets were dropped along the Kosovo border where Serbs troops were operating. Belgrade radio reported that NATO had dropped propaganda leaflets on 27 April near the Macedonian border and over Novi Sad on 29 April. This number grew to 33 million leaflets by 9 May, with 14 leaflet drops over 12 cities in Yugoslavia.
There was no mention of leaflet drops for several weeks, than another flurry at the end of May. The first mentioned the alleged dropping of thousands of NATO leaflets over Serbian troops in Kosovo on 26-27 May. This leaflet was meant to remind the Serb military leadership that they were being watched and their crimes would be prosecuted. The officers were told that their names had been collected and evidence of genocide, killings, ethnic cleansing, rapes, forced deportations, mass graves, looting, destruction of homes, destruction of religious and cultural objects, and crimes again humanity were being recorded.
This information was being collected and forwarded to a tribunal in The Hague. The leaflet reminded the troops that every commander and other Army officers are responsible for the behavior and acts of his subordinates. It reminds soldiers that they do not have to obey illegal orders because everything will be documented and they will pay the consequences. These leaflets list the names of the commanders of the units operating in Kosovo.
Text on the front of the leaflet is:
Attention VJ forces! Right now the world is recording evidence of widespread war crimes by Serb military and paramilitary forces in Kosovo. The emerging picture of atrocities against innocent civilians is clear and compelling. Detailed intelligence reports are going to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at the Hague. Remember the Nuremberg Trials. Commanders: every leader is responsible for the actions of his subordinates. Soldiers: Illegal orders must not be obeyed. The world is watching you! You will be held accountable. The back of the leaflet names the commander, "Units and Commander...under scrutiny in Kosovo. MG Vladmir Lavarevic - Prishtina Corps, COL Milos Mandic - 252nd Armored Brigade, COL Mladen Cirkovic - 15th Armored Brigade, COL Dragan Zivanovic - 125th Motorized brigade, COL Kirsman Jelic - 243rd Mechanized Brigade, COL Bozhidar Delic - 549th Motorized Brigade, COL Milos Djosan - 52nd Light Air Defense, and MAJ Zeljko Pekovic - 52nd Military Police Battalion. Reported atrocities. Genocide, murder, human shields, ethnic cleansing, rape, forced evacuations, mass graves, robbery, deportation, destruction of protected property, and crimes against humanity. The world is watching you. Every leader is held accountable for the actions of his subordinates.
The code number of this leaflet is 03-X-04-L002. NATO aircraft dropped 8.7 million of this leaflet.
The Allies did something similar during WWII when they showed photographs and dossiers of certain Nazi leaders on leaflets and mentioned that the hangman's rope was awaiting them.
The Coalition was serious about war crimes. As soon as the "shooting war" was over they began to search for and arrest individuals they considered war criminals. This poster is interesting because it is an early use of the "wanted" poster, later used by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan after the 2001 terrorist attacks. This 1998 poster shows both wanted war criminals and those who have already been captured.
On 29 May, two additional leaflets were mentioned in the press. Pentagon officials announced that NATO was trying to exploit friction between Yugoslav Army troops and the Interior Ministry Police by exacerbating the situation. NATO is dropping leaflets that read:
Attention VJ Troops! While you endure NATO bombing in the field, low of fuel and supplies, unpaid and past your service obligation, the MUP return home to count the profits from their confiscated "booty." They draw regular pay, use your equipment at your expense, and investigate you for not following their orders. Meanwhile, you have been drafted and forced from your families to wage a war which you know is dishonorable and wrong. The only thing you share is blame for the MUPs atrocities.
The red text on the back of the leaflet is:
Your blood, their rewards.
The code number is 03-K-06-L001. NATO aircraft dropped 2.7 million of this leaflet.
Like Hitler's "SS" and Hussein's "Republican Guard," The police are considered loyal to President Slobodan Milosevic. They are better equipped and often receive better treatment than their army counterparts. The inequality of treatment has created a long-standing animosity between the two services. Once again, this technique was used in WWII to cause friction between the German Wehrmacht and the SS, and again in the Persian Gulf to point out inequalities between the Iraqi conscripts and the Republican Guard.
A United States Air Force officer told me that this leaflet was very effective and there was at least one case where a Serbian Reserve military unit mutinied and elected to return to Serbia to protect their families from the alleged abuses of the MUP. He said that it made him a believer in PSYOP.
The second leaflet reported on 29 May depicts the USAF B-52 Stratofortress. It was reported that two such aircraft were seen over Pristina at 1400 GMT dropping leaflets that warned Yugoslav troops to leave Kosovo. The text is:
Attention VJ Forces, Leave Kosovo, NATO is now using B-52 bombers to drop MK-82 225-kilogram heavy bombs on the Yugoslav Army units in Kosovo. Every B-52 bomber can carry more than 50 of these bombs. These planes will keep coming back for you until they expel your unit from Kosovo and prevent you from committing atrocities. If you want to survive and see your family again, abandon your unit and weapon and leave Kosovo immediately! Thousands of bombs...and the will, and the power, and the support of the entire world to relentlessly drop them on your unit.
The back of the leaflet shows a B-52 dropping bombs. The code number of this leaflet is 03-NN-17-L002. NATO aircraft dropped 1.6 million of this leaflet.
The expressed reason for these leaflets from the very first day was to educate the common Serb of the reason for the bombing. For instance, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said on 11 April:
We have dropped leaflets on Yugoslavia...to allow any willing Yugoslav to be able to read the position of the international community....
There were some negative comments about the leaflet campaign. A number of Serbs indicated that the language was stilted, incorrect, and not as good as the leaflets dropped by the Nazis during WWII. This could be an attempt to attack the technical quality of the leaflet while ignoring the message -- The old "shoot the messenger" ploy.
Philip Taylor didn't think this leaflet was very effective. He says that:
In Kosovo itself, VJ forces received warnings that they were about to be attacked unless they left the area. This technique was copied from Kuwait when leaflets warning of impending attacks by Daisy Cutter bombs and B-52s were successful in clearing the battlefield of enemy forces. In Kosovo, however, the Yugoslav army was a very different proposition to that of Iraq's largely conscripted forces. The Yugoslav army did not flee. Highly skilled in deception and camouflage techniques, it moved around with considerable skill to avoid the destructive power of the NATO air campaign.
In Vojvodina an elderly man was quoted as saying that the Nazi leaflets were good for cigarette rolling paper, but the NATO leaflets "aren't even good for that." Many academians believed that the threats and bullying tactics would harden the will of the Serbs.
Perhaps a stronger criticism was made by one of our ex-military officers who spent a lifetime in PSYOP. He said:
Where is the empathy with the masses? Where is the expression of sorrow for the disruption in the lives of the innocent? Where is the expression of regret for the damage to the infrastructure? It sounds as if our total PSYOP effort is about as subtle and psychological as a turd in a punch bowl.
A rather colorful way to express one's disdain of the campaign.
In addition, it seems that the Serbs are using bacteriological threats to frighten their own people and keep them from picking up the leaflets.
The Serbs have been masters of using the Internet for their own purposes. One letter in Soc.culture.Yugoslavia was entitled "NATO is using biological warfare." It went on to state that:
I have already wrote you that NATO airplanes are dropping propaganda papers from time to time on cities all over the country. In addition, those papers are found to be bacteriological positive. There's another thing... workers who were packing these papers in airplanes were wearing special anti-bio-chemical suits... strange?
This attempt to frighten the masses with germ or explosive scares is an old trick used on many occasions in warfare. The last thing a government in power desires is that you pick up and read enemy propaganda.
The Serbs also used posters and postcards to tell their side of the story. Some of their work was very well done. They used scenes of terrified and threatened women and children to strike an emotional chord in the viewer.
Perhaps the most interesting Serb retaliation was mentioned by Melissa Dittman in "Operation Hearts and Minds," Monitor on Psychology, June 2003:
The enemy can also try to counter PSYOP more directly. During the Kosovo contingency operations, Serb agents reportedly contacted Serbo-Croatian translators working with the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg and threatened harm to them and their families if they continued to support U.S. information efforts.
As we stated earlier, by the conclusion of the operation, 104.5-million leaflets were dropped by NATO, 34 different leaflets in 31 distinct varieties. There were numerous themes. Some of the more interesting ones are:
1. Divide and conquer. For example, the leaflet telling the Army that the police were better-equipped and committing crimes that the military would be blamed for.
Leaflet 03-NN-20-LOO2 uses this theme by telling the troops that while they are away at the front, Milosevic is attacking their families at home. This leaflet attempts to divide the military troops from the Serbian government. The front shows Serb troops carrying protective shields advancing against civilians. The text is:
While you are away fighting Milosevic's war in Kosovo
Families in villages and town across Serbia and Montenegro have begun to protest the war, calling for the return of their sons and husbands...
The back is all text and says in part:
Only unity will save the Serbs
In response, Milosevic has greeted them with water cannons, riot police, and charges of treason. It seems there is no difference to Milosevic between a Kosovar Albanian rebel and a Serb civilian trying to express their frustration with Government policy.
In response to the violent Serb crackdown, entire units from the Krusevac and Alexsandrovac area have left their positions in Kosovo-Metohija against orders and returned home to defend their families...from their own government. Return home where you are needed...before Milosevic treats Paracin...like Pristina.
I am told that at least two Serbian cities were taken off the bombing target list because allied leafleting had caused mothers and grandmothers to take to the streets in protest. The "riots" were photographed and helped to convince some military units to return home from Kosovo. This leaflet was extremely effective at destroying the Serbian military morale.
2. Overwhelming strength of NATO forces. The leaflets showing helicopters, fighter aircraft, rocket-launchers and B-52 bombers.
3. Overwhelming size of the force aligned against Serbia. A good example of this theme is the "flag" leaflet. During the Korean War, leaflet 2506 depicted 54 flags of the nations aligned against the Democratic Republic of (North) Korea. During the Vietnam war, the allies printed a leaflet showing the flags of the seven nations aligned against the Democratic Republic of (North) Vietnam. During Operation Desert Storm, the Coalition dropped leaflets bearing the flags of the 27 nations aligned to drive the forces of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. The theme of the great number of powers gathered against an enemy has always been a favorite of U.S. PSYOP. The allied forces that took part in the war to drive the forces of Slobodan Milosevic from Kosovo disseminated leaflets showing the flags of the 19 NATO members. Text on the front is, "We are fully committed...The arsenals of Democracy run deep. We can fight this campaign for months and months...if not years. General Henry Shelton, Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, 30 April 1999." The back is all text, "Slobodan Milosevic has been terribly successful in using his military and paramilitary forces to commit horrendous atrocities, including mass murders, systematic rapes and forced evacuation against unarmed civilians in Kosovo-Metohija, and hiding the fact from his own citizens. What he didn't expect was that he would be even more successful in isolating Serbia from the rest of the world and in unifying NATO and the world community of nations in its resolve to stop Serb atrocities and return the people of Kosovo-Metohija to their homes in safety. He would do well to listen to the words of his own military experts: 'Serbs have fought a war since 1991 while still not having a single ally anywhere. Not even the Russian Federation has declared itself our ally...' Col General Momcilo Perisic, Former VJ Chief of Staff, February 1999." The code number of this leaflet is 04-B-02-L009. NATO aircraft dropped 4.3 million of this leaflet.
4. Leave your equipment. The leaflets showing Serb tanks in crosshairs is a good example.
5. Criminal acts of the Serb military. Showing Serb atrocities was a major part of NATO PSYOP. One leaflet depicted five photographs of crying children, elderly women, and even a dead Kosovar. Text on the back of this leaflet is, "Guess what Milosevic isn't telling you. Milosevic uses lies to misdirect your patriotism in support of his own power. He censors your media and silences any and all criticism. Yet more Serbian leaders and citizens are starting to realize the truth and speak out. With every day he continues his pogrom of mass murder, systematic rapes, forced evacuations, and other atrocities in Kosovo. Milosevic gambles with the political and economic future of Serbia. His policies are ruining the country and isolating you from the world community." The code number of this leaflet is 04-B-03-L001. NATO aircraft dropped 4.9 million of this leaflet.
6. The threat of punishment. The leaflet naming Serb military commanders.
7. Crimes of the leader, not the people. The many leaflets showing Milosevic, and stating that NATO was fighting the political leadership and not the people of Yugoslavia.
8. Corruption of the leader. The many leaflets showing Milosevic's son as a playboy in Belgrade, or showing yachts and villas allegedly owned by the president. NATO prepared one leaflet that depicted Marko Milosevic. Beneath his photograph is the text:
If only Unity will save the Serbs, why does Marko Milosevic escape his federal service dancing at his Disco in Pazarevic or sun-tanning at the family villa in the Mediterranean?
The back is all text:
While you suffer every day in the mud and blood of Kosovo-Metohija? Slobodan Milosevic is willing to sacrifice you to constant and increasing NATO bombardment, and subject you to charges of war crimes in an illegal program against civilians. But he will not order his own son to serve. Do not become another victim in Milosevic's version of "Serb unity". Leave your equipment and your unit, and get out of Kosovo-Metohija now. You need your family more than you need a war in Kosovo.
The code number of this leaflet is 04-B-02-L010. NATO aircraft dropped 2.1 million of this leaflet.
9. Explanations. The leaflets explaining Serb crimes against the Kosovar people and the UN resolution.
10. Serbia is at a crossroads. NATO told the Serbian people that their actions were causing them to be outcasts in all of Europe. An example is this leaflet showing a destroyed bridge and two arrows going in opposite directions over the European Union flag, a blue flag with gold stars. The bridge at the left is one of the destroyed bridges over the Danube. Serbs view themselves as European, while Europeans view them as eastern Slavs. NATO tried to appeal to their desire to be part of western Europe. No official translation is available but one of the people that worked on this leaflet sent the text:
Which way do you choose? Urge your leaders to reach a peaceful settlement and stop the destruction. The conflict with NATO will not last forever, although when it ends is up to you. Each day that goes by brings Serbia further unwanted destruction and increased isolation because of Milosevic's pogrom of destruction in Kosovo-Metohija. Now is the time to start thinking about the future. How will Serbia rebuild? Will any other country even want to help, or will you have to rebuild all by yourself? Where do you envision yourself and your country in a year, or in five years? What kind of burden and future will this leave for your children? Call on your leadership to stop its atrocities in Kosovo-Metohija and take positive steps to resolve the crisis now. The choice is yours... Do something about it!
The code number of this leaflet is 04-B-06-L001. NATO aircraft dropped 1.4 million of this leaflet on 2-3 June.
In at least one case, the British apparently prepared and disseminated a propaganda leaflet in an attempt to get the local populace to turn in their hand grenades under threat of incarceration. The leaflet depicts a hand grenade at the left and a person behind bars at the right. The image is the same on both sides. The uncoded leaflets were distributed by British troops around the area of Gracanica, Kosovo. The former commander of a British patrol base in the village of Slivovo told me that after years of internal strife civilians walking the street with grenades were quite common. The leaflets were mainly distributed by 4th Armored Brigade Headquarters, Signal Squadron 204, and the 4th Regiment of the Royal Artillery. They were disseminated by hand to males of a potentially weapon bearing age (14 and over).
When the war ended, Milosevic was wanted for war crimes by the NATO powers. The United States Department of State printed a reward leaflet in the form of a U.S. $50 banknote. The left of the leaflet appeared to be a regular banknote, the right depicted photographs of Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. The text is, "Up to $5 million reward - WANTED..." Text above and below the photographs of Milosevic is, "For crimes against humanity - Slobodan Milosevic, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." The back of the leaflet is all text:
Milosevic, Karzdzic, and Mladic have been indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity, including murders and rapes of thousands of innocent civilians, torture, hostage-taking of peace keepers, wanton destruction of private property, and the destruction of sacred places. Mladic and Karadzic also have been indicted for genocide. To bring Milosevic, Karadzic, and Mladic to justice, the United States Government is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the transfer to, or conviction by, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of any of these individuals or any other person indicted by the international Tribunal. If you believe you have information, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate, or write the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service at: REWARDS FOR JUSTICE, Post Office Box 96781, Washington, D.C. 20090-6781, U.S.A. e-mail: email@example.com, www.dssrewards.net, telephone 1-800-437-6371 (U.S.A. Only).
A second United States currency reward leaflet depicts Radovan Karadzic. The leaflet is in the form of a parody of the Bosnia 50 Federal Convertible Maraka note of 1998. The text is printed on a black background in orange and white. The email address is in English. The back of the leaflet is a faithful reproduction of the back of the genuine Bosnian note. Karadzic was indicted for genocide during the siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The front of the note is replaced by the reward notice, which shows a photograph of Karadzic at left, along with Bosnian text:
Program Rewards for Justice Offers up to $5,000,000
Program Rewards for Justice Offers up to five million dollars for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons who have been accused by the International Tribunal for War Crimes in The Hague for violation of international law, including Radovan Karadzic. If you possess any information, we ask that you please call Rewards for Justice on the telephone numbers or on the email address shown below. All your connections will be treated as confidential... / CALL NOW! / 061 222 305/ firstname.lastname@example.org.
And what of Milosevic? After his military defeat he had used the Yugoslavian State Television in an attempt to convince the Serbs that they were victorious in Kosovo. On 12 June 1999 the television news depicted flag-laden Yugoslav tanks returning from Kosovo to the cheers of massive crowds gathered along the highway. The narration was:
Tonight our victors returned home to their joyful families. The crowds cheered the modern heroes of Kosovo.
Milosevic appeared and said:
We gave our word that we would not give up Kosovo. We have not given up Kosovo. The guarantee of our sovereignty and territorial integrity is backed by the United Nations.
At the same time that Milosevic was attempting to hold power by using the government's communications services, his opposition was preparing their own campaign. It started with the printing of stickers and posters depicting a fist. The fist represented the resistance and the motto, "wake up." Soon the walls of Belgrade were covered with the fist. Milosevic had never faced a united opposition, but the United States now poured 30 million dollars into the other Yugoslav political parties and sent advisors to teach them modern campaigning strategies and the use of radio and television. Just before the scheduled election the entire country was covered with signs and stickers that simply said "He's finished." Milosevic attempted to steal the election, but after 500,000 Yugoslavians marched on Belgrade in open opposition; and the Army and Police refused to fire on the demonstrators, he fled to his home, where he eventually surrendered to the new government.
After defending and protecting him for months, the Serbs finally arrested him on 1 April 2001 after a 24-hour standoff with police at his Belgrade home. He had claimed that he would fight to the death. He was immediately moved to Belgrade's central prison where he was questioned by a judge investigating allegations of corruption and abuse of power. His successor, Vojislav Kostunica, said a potential "bloodbath" had been avoided with Milosevic's peaceful surrender. The U.S. had given Yugoslavia a deadline of March 31 to demonstrate compliance with the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague or face a cut-off of U.S. funds, about $50 million in assistance. This is certainly the real reason that the Government gave up their ex-President. Meanwhile, other war criminals still are free in Yugoslavia although the United States Department of Justice has offered substantial rewards for their arrest.
German PSYOP troops have been deployed in Kosovo since May 2001. It is their task to convey the KFOR mission and goals by conducting targeted information campaigns. They print Dritarja, a 16-page glossy magazine, published fortnightly with a circulation of 35,000 copies. The magazine is distributed free of charge to the Albanian population. There is also a magazine called PROZOR that is published for the Serbian population.
Even though the "shooting war" is over, there is still a need for PSYOP to win the peace. This work is done in part by the Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A recent story in the SFOR Informer #145 dated 15 August 2002 says that the purpose behind (Consolidation) PSYOP is:
to help a theater commander guide the host nation he is working in toward a goal - a goal of the common good.
Three American Army psywarriors are among the team station in Butmir in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Campaigns promoted by PSYOP are geared toward helping the people of BiH recover from the war and are as varied as the local culture.
One of the campaigns attempts to get the local people to turn in the vast array of weapons they accumulated during the war with Serbia. A poster shows a pistol pointed at the viewer and says:
When you see this it's too late!! Turn in illegal weapons now!
Other campaigns involve mine awareness and the need for tolerance among people who are of different religions, races, and often speak different languages. A poster that promises equal prosecution under the law depicts four faces in different colors and the text:
Although their nationalities might be different - all war criminals are the same.
The entire Kosovo operation was studied in depth in Lessons from Kosovo: The KFOR Experience, Larry Wentz, The Command and Control Research Program (CCRP), 2002. He said:
The KFOR information operations "weapons of choice" were public information, PSYOP, Civil-Military Cooperation, and the Joint Implementation Commission. Use of disinformation and deception were not allowed. Only "white" PSYOP was employed, and there was no KFOR-led counterpropaganda campaign in spite of extensive use of propaganda by the Serbs. The general rule of thumb was "do not react to disinformation. Instead, react to selective issues of importance and tell the truth." The goal was to create conditions for the implementation of a political settlement. This resulted in themes such as: promote a safe and secure environment, deter violence and criminal activities, encourage a free and open society, promote a positive UNMIK and KFOR image, and mine and UXO awareness, to name a few. The target population was mainly 20 to 50 year olds and was a mix of Roma, Turkish, Albanian, and Serbs. Teenagers were not a major factor in the KFOR information campaign. In Bosnia, the German PSYOP product "MIRKO" was specifically targeted for teenagers, and was one of the more useful products produced by the IFOR/SFOR information campaign. A similar product was not funded for Kosovo and little effort was directed at addressing teenagers' needs.
Wentz says in part in regard to the 315th U.S. Army Reserve PSYOP Company and its interaction with the maneuver brigades:
The PSYOP company consisted of a tactical PSYOP detachment with three tactical PSYOP teams (TPT) and a product development detachment (PDD), located at Camp Bondsteel. In order to meet Multinational Brigade (East) force protection requirements, each TPT consisted of four military personnel plus an interpreter. Although the PDD developed and produced their own products, they did some local contracting for publishing as well. The PSYOP team used print media, radio, television, and face-to-face dissemination. The PDD could generate print products in 12 hours or less once approved. Radio scripts could be done in less than 2 hours. However, getting product approval for dissemination could take up to 12 days.
One of the other big challenges was timely and accurate translation into Albanian and Serbian. TPTs were also used to support special events, such as the 1-year anniversary of the liberation of Kosovo. They also supported cordon and search missions where weapons were confiscated. In these cases, the TPTs deployed with loudspeakers in order to help the maneuver battalion with crowd control should a disturbance occur. In addition, the PDD developed 5 to 7 print documents weekly and a newsletter, the K-FORUM a one page, front and back newsletter. Other publications were the Dialogue, the KFOR magazine produced in Pristina and the Multinational Brigade (East) PAO published Falcon Flier when it was available. Posters addressed a variety of issues, such as reporting crime, the KFOR and local veterinarian program to capture stray dogs, and mine awareness.
In addition to producing and disseminating fliers, handbills, posters, and other print products, the PSYOP Company was capable of producing radio and television programming. There were two Serbian radio stations, Radio Max in Silovo and Radio Zupa in Brezovica. There were seven Albanian stations under contract: Radio Festina in Urosevac, Radio Victoria in Gnjilane, Radio Iliria in Vitina, Radio TEMA in Urosevac, Radio Energji in Gnjilane, Radio Pozaranje in Pozaranje, and Radio Kacanik in Kacanik. UNMIK ran a joint Albanian/ Serbian radio station in Kamenica. The number of contracted radio stations grew from 6 regional stations in April 2000 to 14 by the end of July with coverage that extended to all 7 municipalities across the brigade's sector.
PSYOP team also launched a cross training exchange with the German, UK (referred to as Shadow Element) and French PSYOP elements. PSYOP fliers were distributed to the public as different needs or events arose. Fliers announced curfews, explained KFOR actions, and promoted community-building initiatives.
Although the shooting phase of the war is long over, Kosovo is still an open wound. On 17 February 2008, Kosovo formally declared itself an independent and democratic state backed by the United States and key European allies but contested by Serbia and Russia. In the capital, Pristina, revelers danced in the streets, fired guns into the air and waved red and black Albanian flags in jubilation at the birth of the world's newest country. Two years earlier in October 2006, a Serbian referendum had declared Kosovo an integral part of Serbia. In June 2007, U. S. President George Bush said that Kosovo needs to be independent "sooner rather than later." After the independence announcement Serbian President Boris Tadic urged international organizations to immediately reject the act, "which violates the basic principles of international law." Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a former rebel leader of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, said "Kosovo will never be ruled by Belgrade again."
Thirteen years after the manhunt for war criminal Radovan Karadzic began; he was finally tracked down and captured in Belgrade. He had been working as a doctor before his arrest. He had disguised himself as an intellectual with a white beard, a mane of hair and black robe. He used the false name Dragan Dabic and was a doctor of alternative medicine with a clinic in Serbia's capital Belgrade. He had also founded a Belgrade magazine called Healthy Life and wrote for it.
He had been free for over a decade, but with the appointment of a new, pro-European government in Belgrade that hopes to join the European Union, Serbia was under considerable pressure to hand over indicted war criminals to the UN tribunal in The Hague.
Karadzic was ordered to be extradited for trial at the UN war crimes court in The Hague, Holland. There was jubilation in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. During the war in the former Yugoslavia, the Serbs shelled the city for 43 months and carried out merciless ethnic cleansing against Bosnian Muslims and Croats. In the worst atrocity in Europe since World War Two, 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Karadzic's troops in Srebrenica. Karadzic was charged with several counts of genocide, persecutions and other crimes when forces under his command killed non-Serbs during and after attacks on towns throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The author encourages anyone with further information on this campaign to write him here