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
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.
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.