to listen (3.1 Mb MP3)
Sunday, 13 April 2003
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
SOUND Information Radio
(listen to this programme via audio link on
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
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
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.