5th April 2003



Psychology and imagination are the new military watchwords


Operation Iraqi Freedom has been fought almost as much in the minds of Saddam's regime and senior military commanders as on the battlefield. Strategic surprise, unexpected tactics and innovative new procedures are paramount in this new warfighting doctrine. While attention has been focused on map positions, advanced new weaponry and force numbers, the information warfare techniques of the Pentagon, CENTCOM and even the field commanders have proved highly successful.

Today's extraordinary armoured incursion into the south western suburbs of the city by combat teams from the 3rd Infantry Division can be equated to a variation of the sort of Union cavalry raids made famous during the US Civil War when their special blend of reconnaissance, destruction and psychological intimidation played a major role in undermining the rebel confederacy.


The use of embedded journalists who are given what is really a front seat view of war has indeed turned virtually all of them into potential weapons of information warfare. They are shown what the military wish them to see, say what the military will allow them to say and wittingly or unwittingly end up by spreading the message the US military want the worlds media and in particular the Iraqi regime to believe. Independently operating journalists have been obviously unwelcome and indeed there have been a number of deaths in at least one so-called friendly fire incident. Aged former military officers and spokespersons put forward by politically acceptable research organizations have ensured that little other than the officially endorsed version of events is likely to be broadcast or published in the West.


The mind-numbing US domination of space-based, airborne and ground based electronic warfare systems has virtually eliminated the ability of an enemy to control its defence, communicate with its forces in the field or mount any form of aggressive surveillance of opposing forces. The blanket intelligence surveillance and monitoring of every conceivable means of electronic communication by the NSA and its partners in a world wide network of interception stations provides an immense advantage in this computer based, information heavy modern warfare.


Mind games, rather than war games, will increasingly play a more significant role in the new doctrines developed by the Pentagon and given their first major test in this Iraq campaign. Against more highly developed and infinitely tougher military opposition in Iran and North Korea the propaganda war will undoubtedly be fought in the airwaves and the psychological campaign against the brainwaves of the opposition for months before the first bomb drops. Surprise, speed and ultimately the 'shock and awe' of modern weapons systems linked with ever more sophisticated use of the Special Forces are without doubt the most important elements of the fearsomely powerful  21st Century American War Machine.      


Richard M. Bennett




Richard Bennett Media.


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