U.S. intensifies psy-op campaign as forces press toward Baghdad

Broadcasts tell Saddam: Come out,
come out wherever you are

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

With coalition forces approaching Baghdad from three directions, the United States has accelerated psychological warfare operations against the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Officials said coalition radio broadcasts as well as other messages are calling on Saddam to emerge from his hideout. The broadcasts beamed to Iraqi troops and civilians throughout the country also assert that Saddam and his family have fled the country and reject any U.S. compromise with the regime.

At the same time, U.S. warplanes have been bombing Iraqi television and radio facilities so that the regime cannot rally the Iraqi people. Iraqi television has been disrupted but the satellite channel continues to broadcast, Middle East Newsline reported.

The U.S. campaign has been aided by the failure of Saddam to directly address the Iraqi people. Since a March 20 U.S. air attack on his hideout, Iraqi television has shown what officials described as videotapes of Saddam recorded before the war in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Saddam was not shown on Iraqi television despite what U.S. officials said was a pledge by authorities in Baghdad that he would emerge from isolation. Instead, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Sahaf read a statement from Saddam in which he called on Iraqis to sacrifice themselves for the regime.

"The night before the ground war began, coalition forces launched a strike on a meeting of Iraq's senior command and control and they have not been heard from since," U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday. "The fact that Saddam Hussein did not show up for his televised speech today is interesting."

Saddam also did not appear in a televised message attributed to him on Wednesday. This, despite what U.S. officials assert have been appeals to Saddam to show Iraqis that he is alive and functioning.

"So where is he?" Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked. "He's either dead, or he's injured, or he's afraid to come out because his own soldiers will kill him. Or he's afraid to come out because his people will kill him."

So far, U.S. Central Command has been broadcasting to the Iraqis on five different radio frequencies 24 hours a day. The military has also launched a television station while British armed forces are broadcasting on a radio station from southern Iraq. The U.S. broadcasts include the daily briefing by the Pentagon.

"The most important message, though, is that the regime will continue to put them at risk on a daily basis, and they should do what they can to protect themselves from the regime and those risks that come on a daily basis," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, director of operations at Central Command, said. "And we'll do what we can to protect them also."

Officials are hoping that the psychological warfare campaign will erode morale within the five Republican Guard divisions in and around Baghdad.

They said U.S. aircraft and artillery have been pounding Republican Guard positions south and west of Baghdad in an attempt to soften up targets for a ground attack on the capital.

"The Medina, Hammurabi, Baghdad, and the Al Nida Republican Guard divisions are continuously being struck by both our ground and air forces, significantly degrading their combat capability," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

The communications network of the Republican Guard also appears to have been heavily damaged, officials said. They said the divisions around Baghdad are resorting increasingly to cellular phone communications, which can be easily intercepted by U.S. military intelligence.

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