IWS - The Information Warfare Site
News Watch Make a  donation to IWS - The Information Warfare Site Use it for navigation in case java scripts are disabled

Radio station brings truth to Afghanistan

By Pfc. Kelly Hunt

Spc. Janei Worley with the 308th Tactical Psychological Operations Company presents radios to the village leader in Haji Lalay Kalacha, Afghanistan Sept. 30. Spc. Janei Worley with the 308th Tactical Psychological Operations Company presents radios to the village leader in Haji Lalay Kalacha, Afghanistan Sept. 30.
Pfc. Hugo A. Baray-Vasquez

BAGRAM, Afghanistan (Army News Service, Oct. 1 ,2003) -- One group of soldiers in Afghanistan has started reaching out to the Afghan people via radio waves.

Troops from Company B, 3rd Battalion, 4th Psychological Operations Group, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Co. B., 17th Bn., 7th PSYOPS Group, Aurora, Ill., took over broadcasting of Peace radio when they arrived in country. The program hit the airwaves after the downfall of the Taliban throughout the country in early 2002.

"Our function is to broadcast information to the local people of this nation, letting them know exactly what's happening in their country," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Pina, non-commissioned officer in charge of the programming, Co. B., 3rd Bn., 4th PSYOPS.

The unit's Product Development Detachment gathers information from several different sources to include civil affairs teams, public affairs offices and governmental offices.

It is then filtered through the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force. Task Force 180 personnel sort through the information that is later translated into either the Dari or Pashtu language depending on where the information is used.

Though the team currently broadcasts out of Bagram, Pina said they're "looking to expand their reach. Our goal would be to get all of Afghanistan."

"The people themselves, I imagine, are hungry for information," he said. "They're hungry for a better way of life so we're trying to do that in our own way."

The programming is aired 18 hours a day, seven days a week. A tough task for the small crew, but one they say will greatly affect the progress of the nation.

"Our job is to win the minds and hearts of the Afghan population," said Pina who added that it's not always easy due to the remaining influence of the Taliban and al Qaeda. "Old habits are hard to break (and,) if you've been under a certain warlord or a certain forceful element, it's hard to break away from that just because there's these guys, knights in shining armor, that come along and say they're the saviors."

It's hard for the Afghan people to grasp the idea that with the wave of our magic wand, all of a sudden we can fix everything, he said.

"It's a long-term situation, a long-term goal," said Pina.

The impact "Peace" actually has on the people is hard to track, Pina said. Though troops know that people hear them, determining who and when is difficult.

"People are sometimes unwilling to come free with information," said Pina. "Even though they know we're the good guys, they're still trying to feel their way through 'what can I say to this person.'"

The broadcast team is related to the Peace newsletter whose goal is the same; to distribute the truth throughout the country.

"We're trying to mirror the two sides," said Pina. "Whatever we're speaking about on the radio side is what they're printing on the print side."

Joining forces helps double the chances the messages are heard, increasing the possibility for peace and prosperity in the country.

Though keeping the radio station up and running is hard work, Pina says it does have its advantages.

"Looking at it from an American standpoint and looking at these people living in this country, the gap between us and them is tremendously large," said Pina. "It's somewhat humbling (doing this job) because you're making an affect on people's lives."

(Editor's note: Spc. Kelly Hunt is a journalist with the 4th Public Affairs Detachment in Afghanistan.)