Why So Many Western Covert Operations Have Failed Since World War II

Shots in the Dark – Why So Many Western Covert Operations Have Failed Since WW2

 

A Great read both from a historical point of view and practical, Civilian Operator POV on the RELEVANCE of Guerilla Warfare in the 21st Century.

You have to Understand the Lessons of History in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past….this is why every Warrior needs to be a Scholar and Historian FIRST!

Read this article twice and look up the links and read about them…this is a study worthy of your time I promise you.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

 

World War Two Movies and Books Worth a Damn: The 12th Man

One of the most fascinating subjects about WW2 for me has always been the stories of the resistance fighters that the OSS and SOE supported throughout the war.

The 12th Man: A WW2 Epic of Escape and Endurance  is the true story of Jan Baalsrud, whose struggle to escape the Gestapo and survive in Nazi-occupied Norway has inspired the international film of the same name. In late March 1943, in the midst of WWII, four Norwegian saboteurs arrived in northern Norway on a fishing cutter and set anchor in Toftefjord to establish a base for their operations. However, they were betrayed, and a German boat attacked the cutter, creating a battlefield and spiraling Jan Baalsrud into the adventure of his life. The only survivor and wounded, Baalsrud begins a perilous journey to freedom, swimming icy fjords, climbing snow-covered peaks, enduring snowstorms, and getting caught in a monstrous avalanche. Suffering from snowblindness and frostbite, more than sixty people of the Troms District risk their lives to help Baalsrud to freedom. Meticulously researched for more than five years, Karlsen Scott and Haug bring forth the truth behind this captivating, edge-of-your-seat, real-life survival story.

As a general rule, Foreign WW2 movies are always of higher quality than anything that comes out of Hollyweird. Yes, they have subtitles, but take my word on this, always choose reading subtitles than having the voices dubbed with out of sync ridiculous sounding voices!

12th Man (Den 12. mann) resembles other Nordic WW2 offerings like Max Manus: Man of War and Flame and Citron but differs in that the theme of the film revolves around SURVIVAL. In that regard it resembles movies like As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me and The Way Back.

The study of WW2 partisans is not just important from a historical perspective, but also from a Preparation standpoint as well.

History makes it plain that the ARMED citizens will always be the last bastion against Tyranny. And while an individual alone may be easy pickings, 5 individuals with a common goal joined together become a fist.

 

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

Military History: Six of the Most “Super Secret Ninja” Units in Military History

Secrecy is one of the best currencies in war, so it’s sometimes best for commanders to keep their best assets hidden from the enemy and the public. While the military has admitted that most of the units on this list existed at some point, a lot of their missions were classified for decades before being disclosed to the public.

For the units that are still operating, America still only gets glimpses into their activities.

1. Task Force 88/Task Force Black

1. Task Force 88/Task Force Black

They may or may not be the same group and they may or may not still be in operation. Task Force Black and Task Force 88 are names floating around the media for the unit that conducted raids against terror organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of the wars.

The unit was commonly described as being a joint US-U.K. force made up of the best that SEAL Team 6, Delta Force, and the British SAS had to offer. Controversy erupted when they wereblamed for a cross-border raid into Syria.

There is speculation that Task Force Black may be back in operation to destroy ISIS, if it ever stopped.

2. 6493rd Test Squadron/6594th Test Group

2. 6493rd Test Squadron/6594th Test Group

These Air Force units existed from 1958 to 1986 and were tasked with catching “falling stars.”They would fly out of Hawaii and catch film canisters falling from America’s first spy satellites. The satellites, part of the Corona program, orbited the Earth and took photos of Soviet Russia. Then, the satellites would drop their film canisters over the Pacific Ocean where these Airmen would try to snatch the canisters out of the air.

The recovery process was surprisingly low-tech. A plane with a large hook beneath its tail would try to catch the canister’s parachute as it fell. When the planes failed to make the grab or the weather was too bad to attempt it, Coast Guard rescue swimmers in the unit would fish the film out of the water.

The unit boasted a perfect record with more than 40,000 recoveries in 27 years. When its airmen weren’t snatching film from the air, the unit supported rescue missions near Hawaii. It was credited with 60 saves.

3. Delta Force/Combat Applications Group/Army Compartmented Elements

3. Delta Force/Combat Applications Group/Army Compartmented Elements

Like many of the units on the list, Delta has gone through a few name changes over the years. Formation of an elite counter-terrorism unit had been proposed multiple times in the 1970s and Delta Force is widely believed to have been formed in late 1977.

Its operational history got off to a horrible start with the failed Operation Eagle Claw in 1980. Since then, Delta has distinguished itself in combat from the invasion of Panama to the Gulf War to hunting Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora Mountains.

Since the unit is still operational, many of their missions remain classified.

Read about the Other Three at Business Insider 

World War Two History: 10 Mind Blowing Secret Operations from WW2

During World War II, tons of secret operations were conducted by both sides. While many were daring, some of them stand out as incredible, with mind-blowing operations that seem straight out of a historical thriller novel.

Olterra

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10. The Olterra

The plan sounds like something from a spy movie—to use a secret underwater base as a jumping-off point for launching and recovering midget submarines that would destroy British shipping. That’s exactly what the Italians planned and eventually executed. An Italian cargo ship, the Olterra, was stuck in Spain after World War II broke out and just happened to be anchored across the harbor from the British fortress at Gibraltar. Italy managed to secretly smuggle several tiny midget submarines through Spain and onto the Olterra as well as equipment to maintain the submarines. A hole was cut in the ship below the waterline to allow midget submarines and combat divers to secretly exit.

The first operation in December 1942 ended in disaster, with three deathsand two combat divers taken captive. However, a second operation in 1943was successful in sinking three cargo ships, and another operation later that year sunk three more. The British had their suspicions, given that the Olterrawas anchored right across the harbor from them, but never found out the truth until Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943.

Operation-Frankton

9. Operation Frankston

n December 1942, 10 British special forces soldiers were secretly sent to a French port to destroy things and otherwise cause mayhem. Their mode of transport? Canoes. Having realized that valuable war materials were flowing from Asia to Germany through the port of Bordeaux, the British decided that this choke point had to be stemmed. As more destructive ways of destroying the ships in the port could have caused civilian casualties, the British decided on a commando surgical strike. A royal marine came up with the insane plan of commandos paddling canoes into the port and sticking explosives onto the ships.

A British submarine surfaced off the French coast and launched five canoes, each carrying two commandos, for the strike. The port was hundreds of miles inland up a river, and the commandos had to paddle the whole way, taking several days to make the journey and hiding on the shore during the day. Only two of the boats managed to reach the safety of inland waters; two others capsized, and one disappeared. After reaching the harbor, the four remaining commandos blew up six ships.

Two of the commandos were captured and executed, but the other two were smuggled out of France and into Spain by French resistance members. The strike was a huge propaganda boost for the struggling Allies, and the Germans were forced to guard their ships more closely from then on, an increased expenditure of resources.

Stalin

8. Operation Zeppelin

By 1944, the tide had turned against Nazi Germany, and Soviet troops were knocking at Germany’s door. In 1942, the Nazis had begun a series of operations designed to hinder the Red Army by starting anti-Soviet uprisings and otherwise messing with the Soviets. The Nazis were never very successful with these endeavors, but kept at them. Operation Zeppelin, the plot to assassinate Joseph Stalin in 1944, was part of this.

As part of the plot, two Soviet defectors were trained for the mission, equipped with special assassination tools, and given a myriad of false documentation to allow them to slip through Soviet lines, get into Moscow and close to Stalin, and kill him. Before the mission, the agents, a man and a woman, had gotten married to each other. The agents were inserted into the Soviet Union via a cargo plane, which crashed. However, the crew and the two agents were unharmed, and the agents set off on a motorcycle.

They would have reached Moscow, except that it was raining, and a guard at the first checkpoint they reached became suspicious because the two motorcycle riders headed toward Moscow were relatively dry despite the rain.

Read About The Remaining 7 Operations at ListVerse

World War II History: Planting Dragon’s Teeth in the Enemy’s Garden, The Jedburghs

The SOE and OSS Operations during World War II have been a fascination of mine since I was a boy. In fact I am currently working on a trilogy of fictional short stories based on their amazing operations. The Jedburghs are an integral part of this history.-SF                                                                                                                                       

jed-jump-300x163

 

The low rumble of engines and the smell of hydraulic oil deadened the senses; or maybe it was the whisky. Just before take-off, each man had been given a “Hot Toddy” with a much greater measure of whisky than was needed.

The Dutch jump officer got word on the intercom that they would be over the target in five minutes. He patted the lead man on the head then showed him five fingers to let him know the drop was imminent.

One long ring of the bell and the red light illuminated – the jump officer held up two fingers and mouthed the words “Twoooo Minnnnutes!”

There was no point in trying to communicate verbally. Between the sound of the four huge engines and the air rushing in around the Lancaster’s hastily installed, poorly sealed, jump door, it would have been lost in the cacophony of 1940’s flight.

Three rings of the bell; the Green Light illuminated and the three men simply scooched off the edge into the darkness. With any luck the Lanc’s airspeed was slow enough and each jumper was heavy enough that he dropped straight down right through the slipstream.

Both flight officers waited for the telltale thump-thump-thump of a jumper who didn’t. It never came and the excited call of “Three Canopies” crackled in the pilots’ headsets as the jump officer verified his charge had open parachutes and a ride to the ground.

He whispered a prayer under his breath and shouted “GODSPEED!” out the hatch.  The satisfaction of a successful drop gave way to a feeling of despair as the Dutchman accepted the probability he had just sent three brave men to die for their countries.

When I was about eight, I found a Croix de Guerre in my father’s office in Rome. I had no clue what it was. Back in the 50’s and 60’s foreign governments were in the habit of giving participation awards to U.S. Officials, mostly just expensive trinkets to gain favor.

I got caught digging around his desk drawers and even though I fessed up and took the beating I deserved for it, he refused to tell me what it was, or where he got it.

He just said “it’s from the War.” The “War” was never an acceptable topic of conversation with my dad.  It was like he blanked it out of his mind.  I understand now, and I wish I could apologize for pushing it – I was a bit of an idiot-child.

Since he wouldn’t talk, I developed a bad habit of cornering my father’s visitors and basically demanding they tell me war stories. If an older man in uniform walked in, I was on him like a community organizer on a liberal voter.

It was here that an old friend of my dad’s told me tales of “FLY” teams who jumped in just hours before the D-Day Airborne drops.  They paved the way – organized the resistance and set the stage for the allied invasion.

He was one of my regulars and always had a piece of history to share with me. – I ate it up.

He described his drop into France the night before D-day and how they had to hide day and night from the “fat man” – NAZI radio triangulation techs who wore equipment under an overcoats making them look very fat. They would walk around in teams of three triangulating, hunting for resistance radio transmitters.

When I was about fifteen I found that Croix de Guerre again, only this time, I just took it to a jewelry store and asked what it was.  After the owner tried to buy it, for a damn good price and I refused, I was told it was a medal given to Soldiers – mostly covert agents, who fought with the resistance in France in WW2. He said whoever earned it was a War Hero.

Speechless and gape-mouthed, I put the medal back exactly where I found it and hoped the Old Man never learned of the disrespect I had shown by treating it like a cheap trinket. Still had no clue why he had it. In fact I never knew until my father’s wake, when an older than dirt SAS guy filled me in – but that’s another story and the subject of my next book so we won’t go there today.

The internet didn’t exist in the ancient times when I was a teenager so I spent hours in the 2 university libraries within hitchhiking distance, going through micro-fiche after micro-fiche looking for anything of my dad’s history that might explain why he would have been awarded a Croix de Guerre.

My efforts were a complete waste.  I found nothing of use, but I did come across a name I knew – John Singlaub.  The very man who told me so many war stories when I was just a pup.

Completely disappointed that I couldn’t connect my father to the anything heroic, I decided to chase Gen. Singlaub’s trail, I even called his office but I think his aid thought it was a prank, he hung up on me.

Eventually; I landed at Operation Jedburgh.

It turns out “FLY Teams” was just group jargon. Frog – Limey – Yank: FLY. Each team would include a Frenchman, a Brit and an American. The proper term is Jedburghs, so named for the last operation the OSS/SOE ran in preparation for D-DAY – These guys were the real deal.

Wild Bill Donovan fielded the first of his European theater OSS teams early in the war.  Tasked with creating a covert network to operate independently behind enemy lines Donovan recruited, trained and organized the men and women who would be predecessors to most U.S. clandestine and covert operations.

SOE/OSS teams were dropped into France, Belgium and Holland to facilitate communications and organize the resistance into a fighting force that could be controlled and directed by the allied command structure. The term “Special Forces” originates with the Jedburgh agents.

Active duty members wore a patch consisting of Wings with the letters SF in a red circle.  They would be saboteurs, teachers, medical officers, Pathfinders, lightning-slingers, engineers, weapons specialist or assassins depending what day of the war it might be.

Lightning Slingers – OSS code officers, used a lateral key rather than a tap-key and could transmit Morse code at an unnatural speed. I can’t find any information on why they chose the term “Special Forces.” I can only assume “baddest-sumbitch-in-the-valley” was just too long to use as a military job title.

The Jedburgh program included French Bureau Central de Renseignements et d’Action (BCRA), Wild Bill’s American OSS and British SOE.  OSS agents were sent to Scotland where they were trained by the likes of Fairbairn and Sykes – Yes, I’m talking about that Sykes and that Fairbairn – the ones who enjoy legendary status as “The two meanest bastards in the British Realm.”

Fairbairn taught what he called “Gutter Fighting.” He liked to introduce himself by telling his trainees:

“I’m going to teach you how to fight from the gutter; there is no fair play, there are no rules except one: Kill or be killed. Speed… Violence… Decisiveness…  Like two Shanghai gutter rats fighting over a dead baby for breakfast… That’s how WE fight!”

OSS and SOE agents were some of the best trained operatives in history.  All were multilingual, usually conversational in 3 or 4 languages and fluent in at least 2.  They ran mock operations around northern England and became experts in demolitions, light weapons, Morse code and Pathfinder operations.

Each member was issued a Sykes knife and many were taught how to use it by Sykes himself. The Sykes combat knife isn’t a survival knife and is relatively useless for anything but killing; but it is exceptionally well designed for that purpose.

The blade design will punch through thick military overcoats and easily puncture the rib cage. Its diamond shape cross section leaves a wound that tends to bleed inward making it very hard to stop the bleeding and save the victim.

In an effort to guarantee security wasn’t breached, anyone who washed out or chose to be dropped from the program was confined until D-Day. Even the washouts were of very high quality.

A total of 101 teams of two to five, including 83 Americans, jumped into France, Belgium and the Netherlands in the 48 hours prior to the D-Day drop. Other teams of Special Agents were dropped in as early as 2 years before D-Day to lay the foundation for the Jedburgh program.

1940’s kit was a bit different than todays – the “shiny-ist” thing they had was a bulky, tube powered wireless transceiver that had to be warmed up for 5 to 6 minutes before it would transmit and couldn’t be moved until the tubes cooled or the cathodes would warp.

Other standard weapons were the Colt 1911, the Grease gun, the Thompson, the M-1 Garand and the Welrod, a suppressed pistol used to quietly dispatch enemy soldiers to meet their god.

 

There were no GPSs, no SAT-phones, no body armor, no Night Stalkers with QRF to come to the rescue if things turned to crap. They had what they jumped in with. The mission, each other… and the acceptance of their fate was all they needed.

All OSS wore civilian clothes in the U.S. and most wore civies in combat zones. Technically, they were spies and eligible for summary execution if caught.  Things were usually not that pleasant if one of them got caught though – Summary execution would have been too merciful and un-entertaining for the Gestapo.

Jedburgh’s missions supported and bolstered existing operations. They would bring new intelligence, provide liaison between the advancing Allies and the Resistance. They participated in sabotage and other operations needed to cripple the German response to the invasion. Consequently the Nazis were forced to deplete resources to deal with the resistance leaving less than adequate assets to repel the allied invasion.

Without Operation Jedburgh the D-day invasion would have never succeeded. These mostly unknown warriors were what Wild Bill called the “Dragon’s Teeth” and he sewed them freely.

The man, code-named “Intrepid”, Gen. William Donovan, was tasked with creating a clandestine force to operate behind enemy borders.  The U.S. has actively maintained and operated the force Donovan created ever since.

Wild Bill referred to the OSS as his “League of Gentlemen” and OSS operations as “Sewing Dragon’s teeth in the enemy’s garden.”   Jedburghs went on to win Pulitzers, Nobel prizes and become leaders in western society.

Some old Jedburghs and OSS you might recognize include:

 

  • William E. Colby, Director, Central Intelligence Agency 1973-1975.
  • Col. Aaron Bank, Commander 10th Special Forces Group, the first Operational Special forces group in the U.S. Army.
  • Moe Berg – Major League baseball player for Boston after the war.
  • Julia Child (McWilliams)  Special Operations Clerk. Now you know why her souse chefs were so jumpy when she barked orders.
  • Ronald Dahl – Author of the book Charlie and the Chocolate factory movie is based on.
  • Josephine Baker – a black woman and cabaret dancer.
  • Marlene Dietrich  Actress– Morale Operations Branch
  • Arthur Goldberg, Supreme Court Justice – Secret Intelligence Branch
  • Ted Morde, Maritime Unit (SEAL predecessor) –Indiana Jones is based on Morde’s exploits
  • John Wayne, Yup… The Duke – Internal security, Wayne did Snoop n Poops for Donavan inside the Pacific command.
  • John K. Singlaub, MG – Commander, SOG, 1966-1968, a true Jedburgh.

Author’s Note – Special thanks to the two modern day Jedburghs who allowed their photos to be used as comparison –  between you and I,  they’re not just real deal operators –they’re  also Havok Journal Writers.  This old spook is humbled to share the same literary space with them.

If any of you Tier 1 guys think you might have what it took to work for Wild Bill Donovan; here are a few Job descriptions recruiters used.

* Operational Group Commando: Background: Soldier, Officer.
Skills: Climb, Hide, Listen, Martial Arts, Machine Gun, Navigate (Land), Other Language, Parachute, Rifle, Sneak, Spot Hidden and three of the following: Demolitions, First Aid, Signals, Knife, Handgun, Submachine Gun, Throw

* Secret Intelligence Officer: Background: Journalist, Diplomat, Businessman, Dilettante, Military Intelligence officer.
Skills: Conceal, Fast Talk, Locksmith, Language, Signals, Spot Hidden, Disguise, Cryptography, Handgun, Hide, Forgery, Listen, Photography, Persuade, Sneak, and Tradecraft

* Special Operations Officer: Background: Soldier, Officer
Skills: Climb, Demolitions, Hide, Listen, Navigate (Land), Language, Parachute, Rifle, Signals, Sneak, Spot Hidden, Concealment, Cryptography, Fast Talk, Knife, Handgun, Martial Arts, Machine Gun, Submachine Gun, Throw, and Tradecraft

* Special Operations Clerk. Background: Soldier, Officer, typist, secretarial worker.
Skills: Clerical, Typing, Climb, Demolitions, Hide, Listen, Navigate (Land), Language, Parachute, Rifle, Signals, Sneak, Spot Hidden, Concealment, Cryptography, Fast Talk, Knife, Handgun, Martial Arts, Machine Gun, Submachine Gun, Throw, and Tradecraft

That is one damn scary “Clerk” if you ask me!

 

Read the Original at Havok Journal

Espionage Files: OSS Living Legend Hugh Montgomery

I am currently writing a series of short stories about the OSS during WW2. Here are some of my inspirations. -SF

HM

— Hugh Montgomery never wrote a memoir. That just wasn’t done among his generation of spies.

 But his exploits as a World War II combat veteran, CIA cold warrior and Washington power player could have filled a dozen books and made him a revered figure among the insiders who know his story.
 Montgomery jumped into Normandy on D-Day with the 82nd Airborne. He went behind enemy lines for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the CIA’s daring and nimble forerunner, where he was among the first Americans to enter the Buchenwald concentration camp. After returning to Harvard to earn his PhD and teach, he joined the newly formed CIA, where he led spying operations against the Soviets in Rome, Paris, Vienna, Athens and Moscow.
 “I’d call him one of the founding fathers of the CIA,” said Leon Panetta, who consulted Montgomery occasionally when he was director of the spy agency.
Panetta spoke in a video tribute played earlier this month at a black-tie dinner of the OSS Society, which is raising money to build a museum. Montgomery was the main event, standing to accept the William D. Donovan award, named after the OSS founder.
Read the Remainder at WRAL

 

HOW THE OSS SHAPED THE CIA AND AMERICAN SPECIAL OPS

wild bill

Six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Office of Strategic Services to collect and analyze intelligence and conduct special operations. Its formal existence lasted just three years. But more than 70 years on, the U.S. organizations charged with these missions today remain indelibly influenced by the OSS and its remarkable chief.

Wild Bill Donovan’s admirers and critics still argue over his legacy, but on one point they agree: His World War II Office of Strategic Service (OSS) became the Petri dish for the spies who later ran the CIA as well as the special operators who conduct some of the most daring raids the world has ever seen.

Four CIA directors — Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, William Colby and William Casey — learned the craft of clandestine warfare as operatives for Donovan’s OSS. Indeed, the daring, the risk-taking, the unconventional thinking, and the élan and esprit de corps of the OSS permeated the new agency.

So would the OSS’s failings: the delusions that covert operations, like magic bullets, could produce spectacular results, or that legal or ethical corners could be cut for a higher cause. Dulles launched the calamitous operation to land CIA-trained, anti-Castro guerrillas at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. Helms was convicted of lying to Congress about the CIA’s effort to oust President Salvador Allende in Chile. Colby would become a pariah among the agency’s old hands for releasing to Congress what became known as the “Family Jewels” report on CIA misdeeds during the 1950s, ‘60s, and early ‘70s. Casey would nearly bring down the CIA — and Ronald Reagan’s presidency — from the scheme to secretly supply Nicaragua’s Contras with money raked off from the sale of arms to Iran in exchange for American hostages in Beirut.

Read he Remainder at War on he Rocks