The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan
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Dirty Little Secrets
PsyWar Versus Shock and Awe
by James Dunnigan
March 22, 2003
The U.S. finally admitted what had long been suspected, that negotiations were under way with senior Iraqi military leaders to obtain the surrender of Iraqi army units, including Republican Guard divisions. This may include army units inside Basra, that could be used to maintain order in the city while American and British units moved on towards Iraq.
There are two military campaigns going on in Iraq. One is the more obvious "Shock and Awe" campaign to defeat Iraq. But there is a parallel psychological warfare campaign that is trying to defeat the Iraqi armed forces with little or no fighting. The two campaigns work together towards a common goal, but use different weapons and tactics.
The rumor set loose on the 20th, that Iraqi official Tariq Aziz had defected was a classic psywar tactic. This forced Aziz to get on Iraqi television quickly to insist that he had not defected. This made the Iraqi leadership look bad, and weak. Same with the 40 cruise missiles that were fired at Baghdad on the 19th. This was billed as a "decapitation attack" (trying to kill senior leaders.) Maybe it did, but it scared Saddam enough to make a prompt TV appearance (looking haggard and distracted) to insist that he was alive. Another bad showing for the Iraqi leadership. Leaflets and radio broadcasts hammer Iraqi troops about the futility of resisting, and with instructions of how to surrender.
Over the last year, more rumors and debilitating actions have worked on Iraqi morale. Many of these psywar actions were hardly noticed. Like the one last Summer where the U.S. quietly asked for bids, from international aid organizations, for relief work in central Iraq in 2003.
The PsyWar campaign is also said to have arranged defections and surrenders of senior Iraqi military and political leaders. Already, many of the Iraqi tribes are renouncing Saddam, and some generals may soon follow. The way these things work, you let psywar get in the first shot. Even if that doesn't do it by itself, when the "Shock and Awe" phase begins, the psywar offers, for many Iraqi generals, become offers you really can't refuse.