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Radio Vlaanderen International:

Radio World

Click to listen (3.1 Mb MP3)  Audio: Radio World April 13, 2003  Sunday, 13 April 2003

(published here with permission from RVI Radio World)

Television, radio, newspapers, websites: it seemed that there was only one story this week: the war in Iraq. Reporters and cameramen were all over the region. A typical newscast would switch from correspondents in Baghdad, to Basra or Kirkuk, but also from Amman in Jordan, Kuwait City and Doha, the capital of Qatar. Mika Mäkeläinen just returned to his home outside Helsinki after two weeks at Doha. He was sending television reports to YLE, the Finnish public broadcaster. Also, as a fervent DXer he took the opportunity to collect information on Information Radio, the US Psychological Operations (PSYOP) broadcasts over Commando Solo and other outlets. Mika has discovered a lot of exclusive information and put in on his excellent website dxing.info, for all of you to read, if you have access to the worldwide web.

More about that later in the programme, but first I'd like to go back to that interview with Wolf Harranth of Radio Austria International. You might have heard it last week, but not all of it, because there was no time for the last bit, which is very important for DXers and collectors of QSLs. Let's listen to the last minute or so of the interview:

SOUND Interview Wolf Harranth

So, make a note of this in your diary. Listen to the special broadcast if you can and get a unique QSL card.

Back to Mika Mäkeläinen now and the US military station Information Radio:

SOUND Information Radio (listen to this programme via audio link on this page)

Information Radio, Radiyo al-Ma'ulumat in Arabic.
The US military station broadcasting anti-Saddam Hussein messages is on the air 24 hours a day from several transmitter sites in the air above Iraq, on the ground in Iraq and on naval vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Mika says the most important field player in the PSYOP warfare is Commando Solo, the 193d Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

In November 2002 an EC-130E plane was sent from Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania to Qatar, to launch a radio propaganda operation against the Iraqi regime.
Mika says Commando Solo is operating from a relatively small US base, called Camp Snoopy, which is located at Doha International Airport southeast of the city.

Mika says not much effort has been made to conceal the aircraft from the eyes of the 5,000 daily passengers at the airport. Commando Solo, other US special operations aircraft and others are not hidden, but sitting on the tarmac close to the airport terminal, which is mostly used by Qatar Airways. Mika not only saw the planes, he even took pictures of them. From a distance, of course, one doesn't want to get arrested for spying on the US army, does one? You can see the picture on dxing.info, Mika's website.

These planes had another important mission, besides broadcasting, and that was, and maybe still is, the dropping of leaflets and wind-up radios. A key function of the leaflets has been to inform Iraqis of the frequencies of Radio al-Ma'ulumat and its broadcasts from 1400-1900 UTC since April 1st.
The frequencies are 693 and 756 mediumwave, 9715 and 11292 kHz shortwave and 100.4 MHz FM.

Mika says DXers and professional monitoring organisations were quick to spot broadcasts on 9715 kHz. Also 756 and 11292 kHz have been monitored, but that other frequencies have not been confirmed by independent monitoring. I wonder whether the broadcasts are going to be continued, and for how long.

Mika reports that airborne broadcasts were doubled a few days after the war began. Around March 25, a second Commando Solo unit began support missions from Doha airport. This aircraft transmits on 693 kHz mediumwave, 4500 shortwave and on 101.4 MHz FM.

In Europe, 4500 kHz is free from interference. The other frequencies have not been heard by anyone outside the US military. Leaflets including the new frequencies have not yet been published, but they exist and have already been dropped in the northern and western parts of Iraq, which is where the new Commando Solo operates.

Mika says that, officially, 683 kHz has been given as the mediumwave frequency for the second unit, and 690 kHz for the first, but as these split frequencies have never been reported heard by any DXer or professional monitoring organisation, both are likely typos. Only the crew members of Commando Solo would know the truth, but, Mika says, they were unavailable for comment.

Well, that's all that we've time for in this edition of Radio World. If you have access to the worldwide web, you can have much more information. Mika has put it all on his website dxing.info. Until now the host country of this operation, and certainly not the location of the base were known to the public. Mika also tied specific frequencies to specific locations, and made interesting comparisons on what has publicly been announced of the operation in the press briefings and what the facts have been, as told to Mika, on the record, by coalition officers.

FRANS VOSSEN

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