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Features of the information war during the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia
Material posted: -Publication date: 29-09-2001

In preparing the aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, NATO has attached great importance to the organization and maintaining of information war. Military-political leadership of the block was based on the fact that skillful and effective implementation of information and psychological influence will greatly determine the level of international support for NATO's use of force and significantly affect the moral and psychological stability of the armed forces and the leadership of the FRY.

In the planning of aggression, the main effort of the information structures of the block was aimed at solving the following tasks:

  • the formation of negative perceptions about the military-political leadership of the FRY as the source of the crisis and the root cause of the humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and Metohija, destruction of moral and ethical values of the Serbian people and exacerbate adverse psychological climate in the relations of various political forces of the FRY;
  • establishing and maintaining military-political leadership of the FRY to the deterrent fear of acts of force of NATO, including by enhancing the feasibility of the declared threats publicized high performance armaments and potential armed forces of the United unit;
  • reputation formation of foreign policy of the US leadership and NATO as very rigid in his decisions and consistent in action;
  • sighting information processing of the key figures in the leadership of the FRY on the basis of their psychological characteristics, political or other orientation, promotion and implementation of forms of social conduct, reduces the moral potential of the nation.

Simultaneously with the above objectives it was planned a number of activities to impact on the information infrastructure of the FRY.

The events in Yugoslavia in this area has been developing rapidly and often tragic. Yugoslav media tried in every way to emphasize the unity of the Union. However, world public opinion was formed under the influence of Western media, tend to support separatist tendencies and moods in the Yugoslav republics. Because of this background of civil, and then-and inter-state political and military conflicts on the territory of the former Yugoslavia had not been adequately explained, moreover, that the negative image of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was created and maintained in international public opinion ever since the military conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Based on the decision of the President of the United States were identified objects of influence: on the political level is the General population of NATO countries and the world community, at the strategic — government, people and armed forces of Yugoslavia. All activities were planned in two stages.

In the first stage (prior to the aggression) was provided for informational influence at the political level. Its main objects were: the General public of NATO countries, other European countries, including Russia, the population of the Middle East, Asia. The main objectives at this stage, was to ensure international support of course the U.S. and its NATO allies against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, convincing the world community that Yugoslavia violated the rights of Albanians, and justify the need for the use of military force.

In the second phase (beginning of aggression), the focus was on the conduct of information warfare at the strategic level. The main objects of the impact on the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had set the government, the armed forces and the population. The ultimate goal of all activities on information impact at this stage — unconditional surrender of the FRY on the USA and NATO.

The information warfare plan was agreed with all member countries of NATO, which were highlighted troops. In its implementation was attended by top political leaders of NATO countries, foreign Ministry, intelligence Agency, national media, structures of conducting psychological operations. The participation of these forces in information aggression against Yugoslavia was confirmed by numerous television and radio statements of the US President, the Prime Minister of great Britain, the Secretary General of NATO, heads of the ministries of foreign Affairs and defence of member countries of the Alliance.

In the USA the main tasks in the information war at the strategic level, fulfill the state Department, Information Agency of the USA (USIA) with their units (international satellite television networks, radio stations "Voice of America", "Freedom", "Free Europe"), Central intelligence Agency, and professional psychologists from the Pentagon.

Structural units of USIA free was dispatched to address the thousands of radio stations from many countries in its transfer record, and published various newsletters. Great importance in the work of USIA was attached to the implementation of the us content in foreign media. It should be noted that the distribution of USIA within the United States was strictly forbidden.

Thus, against the FRY was carried out a series of information-psychological operations. It included a powerful impact on the information system of Yugoslavia with the intention of destroying sources of information, undermining or weakening of the system of command and control, isolation not only of the troops (forces) and of the population.

Part information aggression was the deployment of directed and intensive broadcasting on the territory of Yugoslavia, the radio station "Voice of America", the destruction of TV and radio centers with the goal of ensuring control over the public opinion of the population. So, after the destruction of telecentres in Pristina and Belgrade, the locals had turned out in the information field of the media only NATO countries. For the immediate "occupation information space of Yugoslavia" NATO used previously tested in Iraq, Grenada and Panama ways, including flying television and radio station "CommandoSolo" which broadcast its transmission on the frequencies used by Serbian TV.

In the framework of the informational-psychological operations planned maintenance radio broadcasting to Yugoslavia with territories of neighboring countries, as well as the spreading of propaganda leaflets. It was assumed active use of the regular forces psychological operations and related media at the disposal of the army command of the USA. To breach the Yugoslav computer networks of the new York University commissioned by the Pentagon have developed software packages for virus introduction into a computer database.

Information support of U.S. military operations and NATO was aimed primarily against the system of management of the armed forces of the FRY. For these purposes, in addition to the use of guided missiles was planned using electromagnetic bombs, the destructive effect of which is comparable with the damage effect of the electromagnetic pulse created by nuclear explosion. This pulse can disable all electronic equipment within a radius of tens of kilometers.

The successful implementation of the tasks of information provision, according to military experts, suggested three main objectives:

  • ability to decipher and understand the operation of information systems of the enemy;
  • the availability of varied and effective means of defeat;
  • readiness assessment of the quality of destruction information purposes only.

During the military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia the U.S. and NATO have achieved not only full enforcement of a particular promotion. Considerable attention was paid to the development of promising methods of information warfare.

The views of the leadership of NATO, armed forces, skilled in information technology represent a new category of troops with special tactics of warfare, organisational structure, level of personnel training and weapons, and fully meet the requirements of modern war. Troops and forces involved in the information war, actively used technology of digital connection, integrated system of command and control and intelligence, precision weapons and communications with all operating systems. The most important condition of effective action of these forces is equipped with the most modern types of arms: the second generation radar, identification systems of type "friend or foe", the global navigation satellite systems and equipment with embedded digital devices.

Especially in information warfare during operations

Informational influence in the NATO operation "Allied force" was implemented using the established mechanism, which was successfully tested during the preparation and conduct of military operations of U.S. forces in the 90-ies ("desert Storm" in Iraq, "Support for democracy" in Haiti, a peacekeeping operation IFOR — SFOR, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc.), the Main efforts in the struggle for information between NATO and FR Yugoslavia were concentrated in the information-psychological and information-technical realms.

The main component of information warfare of the armed forces of NATO during the aggression against Yugoslavia was a massive ideological and psychological impact of the major media of Western countries forces and psychological warfare of the U.S. armed forces on the population and personnel of the armed forces of Yugoslavia, the NATO States and the world community. To ensure a positive world public opinion about the actions of NATO in operation "Allied force" the unit of the country and waged a powerful propaganda campaign aimed at shaping the image of the enemy, against whom not only possible but also need to use weapons. In this widely used traditional methods of influence on public consciousness:

  • reports on events;
  • description of acts of genocide of the Albanian population of Kosovo and Metohija;
  • a show of force and demonstration of the capabilities of modern weapons of the U.S. armed forces and other countries of the Alliance, the results of air strikes on Yugoslavia;
  • comments polls related to the events in the Balkans.

The role of chief agitator and propagandist, designed to protect the position of the US and NATO during the aggression, was given to the Minister of defence W. Cohen. According to observers, only the first day of the bombing he made eight TV shows, five morning newscasts of the major TV channels and the three most popular evening information and analytical programs. William Cohen also helped the assistant to the President for national security S. Berger and Secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

To U.S. citizens with anti-Serb appeal addressed by bill Clinton. Their fellow citizens who are thousands of miles away from Yugoslavia, it is popularly in the form of Americans explained the rationale for the use of military force against a sovereign state.

In the same period, the registered character on the television channel si-EN-EN, during which military experts and analysts literally filled most of the time news and analytical issues active propaganda in favor of the NATO action. A leading correspondent si-EN-EN, cleverly gambles on the feelings of the Americans, was Amanor K. — wife of the official representative of state Department John Kerry. Ruby. It should be noted that the use of correspondent women to illuminate stories about the atrocities of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, the suffering of Kosovar women and children had a strong psychological impact on the American audience.

Only during the first two weeks of the operation in Kosovo and Metohija si-EN-EN has prepared more than 30 articles that have been posted online. On average each article contained about ten mentions of T. Blair, with links to official NATO representatives. About the same time every article used the word "refugees," ethnic cleansing, "mass murder". At the same time, the mention of casualties among the civilian population of Yugoslavia met on average 0.3 times. Analysis of the content of text messages allows to conclude that the ongoing psychological operations were well prepared and practiced.

One of the reliable techniques to influence the audience is the use of so-called objective numbers and documentary data. So, one analyst si-EN-EN has declared allegedly occurred the fact of the use of 700 Albanian children to create a blood Bank intended for Serbian soldiers. Such misinformation, of course, made a strong impression on public opinion of the West.

The activities of si-EN-EN in collaboration with other media, as well as with the group of psychological operations of U.S. forces was designed for maximum coverage of the audience, the active conduct of disinformation and included various forms of presenting the materials and the receptivity of the audience.

As auxiliary methods for the provision of psychological pressure on "recalcitrant" Yugoslavs American specialists have chosen:

  • introduction against Yugoslavia total economic blockade;
  • the dramatization of (inciting) civil disobedience, mass rallies and demonstrations;
  • illegal subversive and terrorist acts.

In the course of information warfare in the preparation stage, the aggression of NATO managed to create the necessary international conditions for their violent actions and support them in international organizations. Other tasks associated with the destruction of unity of the peoples of the FRY in defending their national interests, was not so successful.

Despite the strong information and psychological impact of the USA and NATO and unfavorable information background, the leadership of the FRY in General is rather cleverly worked in the field of information management, successfully resisted the information-psychological pressure. During the conflict there were no cases of partial or total loss of control over the situation from the Yugoslav institutions for breach of the information infrastructure.

Information support of actions of troops (forces) of NATO during the military conflict was planned by the leadership of the unit in the following areas:

  • the use of intelligence to ensure that the troops (forces) with necessary information;
  • the adoption of measures for the introduction of the enemy in confusion;
  • ensuring operational stealth;
  • conducting psychological operations;
  • the use of military electronic means to ensure the defeat of the whole information system and personnel;
  • the gap of information flow;
  • the weakening and destruction of the system of command and control and communications of the enemy, taking the necessary measures to ensure the protection of its similar system.

Most attention in the plans has been given to the implementation of the following main methods of information warfare:

  • the use of heavy weapons for the complete destruction of the headquarters, command posts and centres of command and control of troops (forces) of the Yugoslav army;
  • the use of appropriate electronic and electromagnetic weapons for the suppression and neutralization of the centres of gathering information FR Yugoslavia, for disabling its communications and radar stations;
  • the misrepresentation of the Yugoslav authorities responsible for the collection, processing and analysis of intelligence information about the enemy by simulating the preparation and conduct of offensive operations;
  • to ensure operational secrecy through the strict observance of secrecy and prevent the enemy's access to their information;
  • conducting psychological operations, especially the use of television, radio, print to undermine the morale of the troops and the population of the FRY.

When implementing these methods of information warfare of the most important forms of informational influence were advocacy actions, electronic warfare, misinformation. We also used specially developed techniques and new technologies of destruction databases, disruption of the Yugoslav computer networks.

At the same time everywhere was underestimated in combat unit, were concealed information about the failures of the NATO leadership, the loss of civilian life, speeches of world public opinion against the continuation and escalation of hostilities.

Thus, the main purpose of informational-psychological influence of the USA and the NATO leadership on the population and the armed forces of the participating countries armed conflict was the formation of such public opinion, which largely justifies the aggression of the allied Alliance against a sovereign state.

However tendentious, aggressive nature of informational influence, carried out by NATO as part of the beginning of the operation, for the first time, aroused opposition from Belgrade. Analysis of events shows that the U.S. and NATO at the first stage of the operation was not fully prepared for such response actions of the FRY. Proof of this are not only negative for NATO the results of sociological polls, but also concrete actions of the Alliance, taken during the second phase of the operation in order to regain the initiative in the information confrontation.

Using all possible mass media, the military-political leadership of Yugoslavia was able to temporarily seize the initiative in information-psychological confrontation. Yugoslav media involved in the propaganda campaign that successfully used the facts of civilian casualties among the Serb and Albanian population of Kosovo and Metohija, breaches of the allied main provisions of the Geneva conventions and their additional protocols, as well as support of political, religious and public figures of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other States.

The countermeasures taken have caused a surge of Patriotic feelings among the population of Yugoslavia and the rise of the moral psychological state of servicemen of the armed forces of the FRY. By restricting the movement of foreign journalists, bans the dissemination of certain information to the leadership of the FRY had reduced the number of negative media reports on his policy.

Thus, timely action by the political and military leadership of the FRY in the first stage of the operation "Allied force" prevented the U.S. and NATO to convince the international community in the adequacy of the methods and ways of conducting military operations in Yugoslavia, the fairness of its goals and objectives. As a result, in the global public opinion had taken a new split regarding US policy and NATO in the Balkans.

Temporary failures of the United States and its allies in the Western Alliance in the information-psychological confrontation with Yugoslavia were also caused by numerous errors that were committed by NATO in the field of public relations. So, the real failure occurred with the interpretation of the heads of fact NATO aircraft strike on a convoy of refugees in Kosovo and Metohija on April 14, 1999. The press service of the Alliance it took five days to eventually provide its own more or less clear version of the incident.

The lack of coordination between heads of unit and his press service were also observed in the justification of the air strikes ows the building of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on may 8, vehicles (April 12, 1, 3, 5, may 30) and residential areas in the cities of Aleksinac (5 April), Pristina (April 9), Surdulica (27 April, 31 may), Sofia (28 April), Niches (may 7), Krusevac (may 30), Novi Pazar (31 may) and other objects.

Frequent failures and omissions in the work of the press service of NATO has led to the fact that during the second phase of operations in the headquarters of the bloc in Brussels has been a major reorganization of the information and propaganda apparatus of NATO. The device of the press service was reinforced by experienced professionals in the field of "public relations", including the organizers of election campaigns in the US and the UK.

For recovering lost information in a battle of superiority, NATO has taken a number of drastic measures.

First, a number of leading radio stations ("Voice of America", Deutsche Welle, Bi-Bi-si, etc.) significantly increased the intensity of radio broadcasting in the VHF range on the Balkan countries Albanian, Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian languages. The American radio stations used transmitters that were quickly established on the borders with Serbia. Transmission of information-psychological orientation from outside the airspace of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was carried out by the aviation group 193-wing special operations forces national guard U.S. air force the sides of the aircraft EC-130E/RR.

Secondly, to undermine advocacy capacity ows of Yugoslavia the NATO missile and bomb strikes on television and radio stations, studios and repeaters, to editorial staff, most of whom were destroyed, which actually meant the liquidation of the broadcasting system of the FRY.

Thirdly, at the end of the second month of the armed conflict under the pressure of NATO, the Council of Directors of European television company EUTELSAT" took the decision to ban the company "Radio and television of Serbia" to broadcast via satellite. As a result of Serbian state television did not have the opportunity to broadcast transmission in Europe, and a significant part of the territory of the Republic.

Fourthly, forces psychological operations of U.S. forces over the territory of Yugoslavia was scattered over 22 million leaflets calling for Serbs to speak out against President S. Milosevic and to facilitate the “early completion of the operation the combined forces of NATO.

Fifthly, for the first time a powerful information support of a major NATO military operation was launched on the Internet. It was posted more than 300 thousand sites devoted to or in varying degrees affecting the Kosovo problem, a military operation of the Alliance and Yugoslavia. The vast majority of these sites were created directly or with the assistance of American specialists in computer technology, which certainly increased the effectiveness of the propaganda campaign of the NATO.

In the end, despite some failures, the NATO leadership has managed to reverse the situation in the information-psychological confrontation with Yugoslavia and to win information superiority. The outreach unit of the Alliance had generally fulfilled its tasks, in a timely manner has made adjustments to its operations, developed and implemented new forms and methods of information-psychological impact on the enemy.

On the other hand, the outcome of the war has shown that good information management by the leadership of the FRY to some extent helped to resist the information-psychological influence on the part of NATO on the population and the country's armed forces.

Another component of information warfare in operations "Allied force" was the information-technical confrontation between NATO and FR Yugoslavia.

The struggle for information dominance unfolded primarily in the field of electronic reconnaissance, processing and dissemination of information is allied with the active use of modern means and systems of intelligence, communications, navigation and targeting. In this regard, the relevant departments of allied forces conducted a massive campaign to defeat the most important aspects of management of the armed forces of the FRY and other elements of government and military information infrastructure of Yugoslavia, as well as suppression in service with the Yugoslav army systems and means of radio communication and radar reconnaissance.

In the course of bombing raids on the information infrastructure of AWS Alliance has used the following types of new weapons:

  • guided JDAM bombs with guidance on signals of satellite radio navigation systems GPS (USA);
  • guided bombs JSOW and WCMD;
  • bombs for disabling radar AIDS ("And"bomb that has the ability to generate powerful electromagnetic pulses in the radio frequencies).

Complete disruption of the control system of the armed forces of Yugoslavia was avoided only through an integrated application of security measures, including operational camouflage, electronic security and countering enemy intelligence. Creatively using the experience of the Iraqi armed forces in combating RENAMO during the war in the Persian Gulf, the armed forces of the FRY managed to block most of the punches smart weapons, to save most of their weapons and military equipment, including radio communications, electronic and radar reconnaissance.

Great importance for the preservation of the combat capability of the army was:

  • timely translation of a control system of groupings of troops (forces) of the armed forces of Yugoslavia for the field control stations;
  • periodic redeployment units;
  • masking of weapons and military equipment;
  • the device of false positions, including with the use of inflatable models of heavy weapons;
  • the imposition of security restrictions on the work of radio-electronic means.

Another key component of the information-technical confrontation was the struggle for information in computing systems. Yugoslav hackers have repeatedly tried to penetrate through the Internet in a local area network used in the NATO headquarters. Mass server these networks at certain periods of time has hampered the functioning of the e-mail. And although the actions of the hackers had episodic in nature, the use of information weapons should be considered as perspective direction of information warfare.


Thus, we can conclude that NATO troops, equipped with information technologies that have military potential, three times greater than the efficiency of combat use of conventional parts. Analysis of hostilities the U.S. army has shown that information technologies can provide a reduction in the average time of approaching and preparing to attack attack helicopters from 26 to 18 minutes and an increase in the percentage of target by anti-tank guided missiles from 55 to 93 percent. Processing and transmission of reports to higher headquarters in the chain "company—battalion" is reduced from 9 to 5 minutes, the probability of duplication of telegrams decreased from 30 to 4%, transmission confirming information over telephone lines — 98 to 22%.

However, as the analysis of the events that led to the expected results in Panama and partly in Iraq, in Yugoslavia proved to be ineffective. So, in response to the bombing and massive information and psychological impact the people of Yugoslavia showed unity and harmony, including amongst the recent political opponents, and the considerable superiority of troops of the countries participating in the aggression against Yugoslavia in personnel and technical equipment has not given the expected results when conducting large-scale hostilities. Based on this, we can conclude that even the most modern information technology hardly ever can replace the awareness of personnel of the purposes and character of war in defense of the territorial integrity and independence of their country.

Of course, the U.S. and NATO, with more sophisticated methods and means of information confrontation have achieved during the military conflict of the overwhelming superiority in the information sphere. However, the active actions of the military-political leadership of Yugoslavia on the neutralization of information and psychological influence on the part of NATO helped to ease media pressure on members of the armed forces of the FRY and the population of the country, and at one stage even to seize the initiative in this confrontation.

The strategy of defensive military actions of the armed forces of Yugoslavia, the limited means of waging warfare, the lack of a methodology use of information weapons did not allow them to carry out a complex of measures on active information technology impacts on management systems, reconnaissance, navigation and targeting systems of the enemy. This led to the defeat of the forces of the FRY in the information confrontation with NATO.

It can be stated that information confrontation in the operation "Allied force" occupied a significant place in the actions of the opposing sides. The experience and prospects of technical development give grounds to distinguish this kind of confrontation in the framework of the armed struggle in an area of confrontation between States or unions of States. A feature of this confrontation is in stealth activities in the context of the overall policy of States pursuing their national interests. The US administration and the leadership of other countries participating in the NATO launched a massive propaganda campaign conducted a number of operations in the information war against Yugoslavia, which, however, did not break the will of the Yugoslav people, especially its armed forces, their determination in the fight against the aggressors. At the same time, thanks to the active use of new information technologies public opinion in the United States and in most countries of Western Europe was on the side of the initiators and perpetrators of the military conflict in the Balkans.

Given great opportunities and a high efficiency of NATO structures on information impact in military conflicts, it is expected that the management unit will be involved during the preparation and conduct of possible military actions. As a result, it is possible zakljuciti that the role and importance of information warfare in military conflicts of the XXI century will increase.


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