[ISN] Firing Leaflets and Electrons, U.S. Wages Information War

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Feb 26 2003 - 00:10:59 PST

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    February 24, 2003  
    WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 - Even before President Bush orders American
    forces to loose bullets and bombs on Iraq, the military is starting an
    ambitious assault using a growing arsenal of electronic and
    psychological weapons on the information battlefield.
    American cyber-warfare experts recently waged an e-mail assault,
    directed at Iraq's political, military and economic leadership, urging
    them to break with Saddam Hussein's government. A wave of calls has
    gone to the private cellphone numbers of specially selected officials
    inside Iraq, according to leaders at the Pentagon and in the regional
    Central Command.
    As of last week, more than eight million leaflets had been dropped
    over Iraq - including towns 65 miles south of Baghdad - warning Iraqi
    antiaircraft missile operators that their bunkers will be destroyed if
    they track or fire at allied warplanes. In the same way, a blunt offer
    has gone to Iraqi ground troops: surrender, and live.
    But the leaflets are old-fashioned instruments compared with some of
    the others that are being applied already or are likely to be used
    Radio transmitters hauled aloft by Air Force Special Operations
    EC-130E planes are broadcasting directly to the Iraqi public in Arabic
    with programs that mimic the program styles of local radio stations
    and are more sophisticated than the clumsy preachings of previous
    wartime propaganda efforts.
    "Do not let Saddam tarnish the reputation of soldiers any longer," one
    recent broadcast said. "Saddam uses the military to persecute those
    who don't agree with his unjust agenda. Make the decision."
    Military planners at the United States Central Command expect to rely
    on many kinds of information warfare - including electronic attacks on
    power grids, communications systems and computer networks, as well as
    deception and psychological operations - to break the Iraqi military's
    will to fight and sway Iraqi public opinion.
    Commanders may use supersecret weapons that could flash millions of
    watts of electricity to cripple Iraqi computers and equipment, and
    literally turn off the lights in Baghdad if the campaign escalates to
    full-fledged combat.
    "The goal of information warfare is to win without ever firing a
    shot," said James R. Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Central Command in
    Tampa, Fla. "If action does begin, information warfare is used to make
    the conflict as short as possible."
    Senior military officials say, for example, that the American radio
    shows broadcast from the EC-130E "Commando Solo" planes follow the
    format of a popular Iraqi station, "Voice of the Youth," managed by
    President Hussein's older son, Uday.
    The American programs open with greetings in Arabic, followed by
    Euro-pop and 1980's American rock music - intended to appeal to
    younger Iraqi troops, perceived by officials as the ones most likely
    to lay down their arms. The broadcasts include traditional Iraqi folk
    music, so as not to alienate other listeners, and a news program in
    Arabic prepared by Army psychological operations experts at Fort
    Bragg, N.C.
    Then comes the official message: Any war is not against the Iraqi
    people, but is to disarm Mr. Hussein and end his government.
    American commanders say they believe that these psychological salvos
    have, to some degree, influenced Iraqi forces to move their defenses
    or curtail their antiaircraft fire.
    "It pays to drop the leaflets," Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, commander
    of allied air forces in the Persian Gulf, said by telephone from his
    headquarters in Saudi Arabia. "It sends a direct message to the
    operator on the gun. It sends a direct message to the chain of
    Deception and psychological operations have been a part of warfare for
    centuries, and American commanders carried out limited information
    attacks - both psychological operations, or "psyops," and more
    traditional electronic warfare like jamming or crippling the enemy's
    equipment - in the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and the air campaign over
    Kosovo in 1999, as well as in Afghanistan. But commanders looking back
    on those campaigns say their current planning is much broader and more
    tightly integrated into the main war plan than ever before.
    "What we're seeing now is the weaving of electronic warfare, psyops
    and other information warfare through every facet of the plan from our
    peacetime preparations through execution," said Maj. Gen. Paul J.  
    Lebras, chief of the Joint Information Operations Center, a secretive
    military agency based in Texas that has sent a team of experts to join
    the Central Command info-warfare team for the Iraq campaign.
    As modern combat relies increasingly on precision strikes at targets
    carried out over long distances, the military is likewise increasingly
    aware that there are many ways to disable the operations at those
    An adversary's antiaircraft radar site, for example, can be destroyed
    by a bomb or missile launched by a warplane; it can be captured or
    blown up by ground forces; or the enemy soldiers running the radar can
    be persuaded to shut down the system and just go home.
    "We are trying very hard to be empathetic with the Iraqi military,"  
    said a senior American information warfare official. "We understand
    their situation. The same for the Iraqi population. We wish them no
    harm. We will take great pains to make those people understand that
    they should stay away from military equipment."
    Even so, the military's most ardent advocates of information warfare
    acknowledge that American pilots ordered into enemy airspace would
    rather be told that antiaircraft sites were struck first by ordnance,
    rather than by leaflets.
    Aerial pictures help the military assess bomb damage to a target. The
    softer kind of strike is harder to assess.
    Information warfare experts look for what they call "the voilà
    "In Afghanistan, the biggest lesson we learned in our tactical
    information operations - the radio and TV broadcasts — was the
    importance in explaining, `Why are we here?' " a senior American
    military officer said. "The majority of Afghanis did not know that
    Sept. 11 occurred. They didn't even know of our great tragedy."
    During the war in Afghanistan, this officer said, "The voilà moment
    came when we saw that the population understood why coalition forces
    were fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda."
    In Iraq, he said, "it will be when we see a break with the
    Delivering radios to the people of Afghanistan presented a particular
    problem. About 500 were air-dropped over the country, and all of them
    were destroyed on impact. The military and aid groups passed out more
    than 6,500, and millions of leaflets were dropped telling the Afghan
    people of frequencies used for the American broadcasts.
    The American military also took over one important frequency, 8.7
    megahertz, used by the Taliban for its official radio broadcasts. That
    became possible once the towers used by the Taliban for relaying their
    military commands were blown up as part of the war effort. As in most
    totalitarian governments, the military and government used the same
    system for their radio broadcasts. The American military continues to
    broadcast to the Afghan people over that channel.
    Improvisation remains a hallmark of the emerging information war, said
    Brig. Gen. Thomas P. Maney, of the Army's Civil Affairs and
    Psychological Operations Command.
    In Afghanistan, General Maney said, the American military found it
    hard to get its radio and television messages out to many villages
    that had access to neither. So Special Forces troops made contact with
    local coffee-house managers, and offered them the same radio programs
    being broadcast from Commando Solo planes, but on compact discs to be
    played over a boom box for the patrons.
    The program gave birth to a new icon on the military's maps of
    Afghanistan: a tiny picture of a coffee mug to indicate the location
    of village businesses that agreed to play CD copies of the American
    radio programming.
    If Mr. Bush orders an attack against Iraq, the information offensive
    will expand to a fierce but invisible war of electrons. Air commanders
    will rely on a small but essential fleet of surveillance and
    reconnaissance aircraft, including the radar-jamming EC-130H Compass
    Call and electronic-eavesdropping RC-135 Rivet Joint. There are just
    over a dozen of each aircraft in the American arsenal.
    Flying from Prince Sultan Air Base, outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the
    Rivet Joint is already playing an important role in collecting Iraqi
    radio and radar emissions, which are jammed when American and British
    planes in the no-flight zones periodically attack targets on the
    ground. The RC-135, a military version of a Boeing 707 jet with a
    bulbous nose filled with sensors, is essentially a flying listening
    post, orbiting at the edge of the battlefield above 30,000 feet.
    In the rear of the planes, filled with high-powered computers and
    other sensors, intelligence specialists, many of whom speak Arabic or
    Farsi, monitor the airwaves, intercepting conversations from military
    communications links or other networks. Much of this information is
    passed to the National Security Agency for analysis.
    At the front of the plane, which has a 32-member crew, electronic
    warfare specialists sit at a separate bank of computers, gathering up
    radar signals of all kinds, including Iraqi air defenses. Rivet Joints
    have the ability to scan automatically across an array of
    communications frequencies, allowing an operator to home in on
    individual frequencies and pass that information on to the Awacs radar
    or J-Stars ground-surveillance planes, which have better ability to
    pinpoint the locations of the transmissions.
    The Compass Call is a modified C-130 cargo plane, also filled with
    high-powered computers and sensors. Usually flying at above 20,000
    feet and, ideally, about 80 to 100 miles from the target to be jammed,
    the Compass Calls are directed to their targets by the Rivet Joints,
    other aircraft or targets identified in their pre-mission planning.  
    The 13-member crews include linguists, cryptologists, other analysts
    and the flight personnel.
    Metal antenna cables hang down from the plane's tail in a distinctive
    pattern that looks like a metal trapeze or cheese-cutter. Electronic
    signals are collected from sensors in the blunt nose of the airplane;  
    antennae in the rear of the aircraft blast electrons that jam enemy
    radar and other communications.
    Flying perpendicular to the target to maximize the jamming, on-board
    specialists lock on to the frequencies to be disrupted. The plane can
    jam multiple targets at once. When it comes time to carry out a
    mission, a flight officer pushes a little red button on a computer
    keyboard, "JAM," and up to 800 watts of power is zapped at the target.  
    If the target switches frequency, the Compass Call operators are ready
    to jam that in a constant cat-and-mouse game.
    In a war against Iraq, military commanders say, new technology will
    probably allow those electronic combat planes to plant false targets
    in Iraqi radars and spoof the air defense systems.
    In an interview, Gen. John P. Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff,
    declined to discuss the highly classified technical advances, except
    to say, "We're approaching the point where we can tell the SA-10 radar
    it is a Maytag washer and not a radar, and put it in the rinse cycle
    instead of the firing cycle."
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