This device -- notice, it is not a weapon
since it's not
meant to kill or injure -- is a tool of the Psychological Operations
branch of the US Special Forces
. Formally known as the M-129 Leaflet Container
, it's shaped like a bomb, has explosive properties, and is filled with propaganda
, so we all know what it really
is. Each bomb
can hold 54,000 leaflets, each about 8 by 5 inches in size, machine rolled into bundles for compact transport. During extended campaigns these leaflets may become so valuable as news and surrender instructions that they have in some situations (or so the story goes) been used as currency, as may have happened in North Africa
Each bomb is seven and a half feet long sixteen inches in diameter, and when fully loaded with propaganda each weighs around 250 pounds. Its body is made of two sections, and it has stabilizer fins on the back to keep it oriented in the air. There's a fuse in the nose which, after a certain time or at a certain altitude, ignites a booster charge also in the nose. That charge, in turn, lights primacord between the two halves of the bomb's body, separating them and blowing off the tailfins. When the bomb has separated, the bundles of leaflets are in freefall, where they are blown apart to disperse over the countryside. By virtue of having so little explosive power, it's impossible for the bomb to do much damage, so it can be used in operations that haven't fully escalated to war, as was the case in Kosovo.
As for the leaflets themselves, they are surprisingly varied and well thought out for having been made by the (notoriously stodgy) military. I'll use a few examples from the Gulf War to illustrate the creativity behind them:
- A surrender pass printed on one side with a very convincing replica of a 25 dinar bank note. The idea here was to get the soldier to pick up the leaflet in the first place, then once he figured it out he had a perfectly useful surrender pass to hide in his wallet.
- An outline of an aerial bomb with the message "This is a demonstration. It could have been a real bomb ..." and so forth.
- Five or six different messages that basically told the soldier to get the hell out of whatever area the leaflets were dropped in, since there would be real bombing soon. These were dropped about twelve hours before many airstrikes, and after a soldier had survived a few strikes he knew to heed their warning.
- Pictures of mosques and schools surrounded by parked tanks and missiles, with the message that Saddam Hussein was abusing Islam and the Iraqi people to further his military goals.