Iraq Crisis: Media wizards battle for hearts and minds

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The Independent Online
The US is sending special equipment to the Gulf that will enable it to jam Iraqi television broadcasts and beam its own programmes.

The equipment is part of the elite US Army 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), which has been sent to Kuwait to support the Brigade Task Force, 3rd Infantry Division. The 4th Psychological Operations Group received their deployment orders on 16 February and are on their way. Composed of elite airborne-qualified soldiers, the 4th Group is permanently based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is also home to the John F Kennedy Special Warfare Centre and the US Army Special Forces.

Trained over a number of years, the Psychological Operations, or Psyops, are expert media specialists. Among the various methods used, such as production and distribution of leaflets, and material for broadcast, they also employ the controversial Mobile Broadcast Unit, which was used in Bosnia.

"The MBU, code named Commander Solo, is a C-130 transport plane equipped to send television and radio signals into the homes of people," said John Thompson, Public Affairs Liaison for US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command. "The group will also print newspapers in the local language to provide a clear message to the people why the US forces are there."

Psyops established itself during the Gulf war, saving countless of coalition force lives by convincing Iraqi soldiers to surrender.