Psychological weapons added to NATO arsenal
April 28, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Air Force is flying a special new weapon over Yugoslavia that doesn't drop bombs, but instead beams radio waves directly to the Yugoslav public.
The aircraft known as "Commando Solo" broadcasts news and propaganda directly to the Serbian people. The propaganda programs are produced by the Army Psychological Operations Groups. The aircraft also relays or re-broadcasts programming from Radio Free Europe and Voice of America.
It's an effort to get around Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's tight control over his country's media.
The EC-130E aircraft is a heavily modified version of a C-130 Hercules transport plane. It has the ability to broadcast television signals as well, but currently is sending only radio signals, military sources said.
"Commando Solo" is operated by the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Air National Guard, based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is flying out of an unidentified base in Italy.
War of words on leaflets
The U.S. Army's "PsyOps" units are also letting Serb troops know about the arrival of new NATO military weapons.
Allied aircraft are dropping leaflets in a sort of war of words. The latest leaflets show an A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack plane with the caption, "Don't wait for me!"
The leaflets also state in Serbo-Croat: "Over 13,000 Yugoslavian service members have already left the armed forces because they can no longer follow the illegal orders in Milosevic's war against civilians in Kosovo."
There is also this threat: "NATO will relentlessly attack you from every direction."
Other leaflets bear a photograph of an Apache attack helicopter and declares in bold print, "Don't wait for me!"
Pentagon: Signs of changing opinions
Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said there were signs that the tide of public opinion may be changing against Milosevic.
Bacon cited the firing of Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic for suggesting the government stop lying about the NATO campaign. And Bacon said retired Serb Army Gen. Vuk Obradovic predicted on radio in Hungary that Milosevic would soon be gone.
"A week ago we weren't hearing comments like this out of Yugoslavia, out of Belgrade, out of leaders, either political leaders or former military leaders," Bacon pointed out. "Now we are hearing them."
The Pentagon also voiced regret for the bomb that veered away from its military target and hit civilians in a village in southern Serbia.
"For over 4,000 weapons dropped, we've had three incidents, and very unfortunate, but three incidents where the bombs have caused some damage that we really didn't want to cause," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Wald. "I think three out of 4,000 is admirable."
An American F-15 dropped the 2,000 pound GBU-10 laser-guided bomb.
"It could have a bad fin. It could have some disruption of the laser. But generally speaking, it's usually some weather kind of cause that would make that happen," Wald said.
And despite the number of sorties NATO has flown, Wald said he didn't know of any shortages among the allied forces.
"As a matter of fact, just the contrary. I mean, we're moving more equipment in, we have the weapons we need, we have the fuel we need, we have the crews we need, and now Milosevic is going just the opposite direction," Wald said. "So he needs to start paying attention."
CNN's Chris Plante and Correspondent Gene Randall contributed to this report.
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