Leaflets and loudspeakers go together like “hearts and minds”. Are they as universally successful as some PSYOP/MISO experts would like us to believe or is their use over rated?
The MISO world is famous for, as I call them, “Surrender Now and Beat The Rush” campaigns. The classic campaigns in Iraq were touted as resounding successes and we have probably littered the landscape in almost every conflict we’ve been in. (see: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1915&dat=20030201&id=bp5GAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3PgMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2995,18570&hl=en)
The US is not the only country engaged in leaflet operations. The Koreas have traded leaflets over their borders for decades and even Israel has gotten into the act (see: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2006/07/im_covered_in_leaflets.html)
Are we caught confusing Measures of Performance (MOP) with Measures of Effectiveness (MOE)? MOP would be the number of leaflets dropped and MOE is what happened afterwards. How many enemy (or friendly) behaved in the manner prescribed by the leaflets.
In some conflicts such as Afghanistan the illiteracy rate is very high. Consequently leaflets cannot contain words. Given the culture abyss that exists between East and West – can effective leaflets be conceived that work on illiterate populations?
Sometimes leaflets without words are like jokes you don’t get. While the reference website for this week’s picture is not necessarily in the best of taste, the meme captures my feelings pretty well.
I’ve been involved in a number of exercises while serving and thereafter. Generally the faithful leaflet is called into service in just about all of them.
Are they useful in some situations – of course, are they the PSYOP silver bullet?
I think not.
(Photo source: http://www.quickmeme.com/Psyops-Leaflet-Drop)