Sunday, July 1, 2007

PSYOPS (pic)

2 Jul 07
The British Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) guys from MND-SE recently came to see us about a commercial campaign (or "advert" as the Brits call it) they have been running on the Iraqi Armed Forces called the "Sons of Iraq" series. They started with a 30 second commercial filmed in an Arabic style showcasing the Army then the Navy and Border Patrol. Scifi was on leave so I met with them about an IqAF commercial.

The Iraqis are very reluctant to be seen in uniform or to have their faces shown in pictures for western newspapers, etc. They are concerned about being associated with the Coalition and killed. The earlier commercials showed the faces of many soldiers/sailors and the intent was to do the same for the IqAF. I thought the commercial was a great idea but told the Brits I thought Col Sami and the sqdn leadership would very weary of it so they would need their best salesman to pitch the campaign. They assured me they got the same reception from all three previous commercials. I took them to see Col Sami and he echoed what I already told them but we convinced him to ask the pilots if any of them would do it.

Two weeks later the Brits came back and we met with Col Sami again. To everyone's surprise, one of the guys stepped forward and said he would do it. The Brits spent the next two days filming our guy in various scenes around the sqdn. Other guys crowded around as the shot each scene. Several other guys also got into the scenes though only showed their backs or their side. Only one other guy also showed his face.

Scifi coordinated a formation flight and the cameraman flew with him to get footage of our Iraqi pilots flying over an Iraqi Army convoy, oil fields, power lines, etc. The dialogue was to the effect of "Iraqi pilots working together with the Iraqi Army, protecting Iraq's oil wealth, and securing our infrastructure."

When they were done with the commercial the PSYOPS guys came back and showed the finished product to a room full of our officers. They all loved the commercial and clamored to get a copy. We asked the second guy if he was ok with showing his face. He was very certain in his response, "yes, I want to show my face. I am not afraid. I am proud to serve the Iraqi Air Force."

They also took still photos for use on billboards and posters. Our guy's face will be pasted all around the south of Iraq.

Scifi took a copy of the commercial and several posters with us to the Baghdad conference we attended. Our leadership loved the campaign and they all wanted copies of both the commercial and posters. They are working to get the commercial shown nation-wide.

The second guy only appears in the TV commercial. He is a maintainer so I had regular contact with him. I didn't have much contact with the central character prior to the commercial but I was genuinely proud of both guys. They are literally risking their lives by appearing in this commercial so my hat is off to them. The commercial started airing while we were in Baghdad. Scifi and I were relieved to see both guys still alive when we got back.

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