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Encyclopedia > Office of Strategic Services

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency and was the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Special Forces, and Navy SEALs. Image File history File links The seal/logo/shield of the Office of Stratgtic Services. ... Image File history File links The seal/logo/shield of the Office of Stratgtic Services. ... An intelligence agency is a governmental organization devoted to gathering of information by means of espionage (spying), communication interception, cryptoanalysis, cooperation with other institutions, and evaluation of public sources. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... The Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) is an intelligence agency of the United States government. ... Special Forces (SF) or Special Operations Forces (SOF) are highly-trained military units that conduct specialized operations such as reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, and counter-terrorism actions. ... SEALs in from the water. ...


Beginning of the OSS

Prior to the formation of the OSS, American intelligence had been conducted on an ad-hoc basis by the various departments of the executive branch, including State, Treasury, Navy and War. They had no overall direction, coordination, or control. The Army and the Navy had separate code-breaking departments (Signals Intelligence Service and OP-20-G) that not only competed, but refused to share break-throughs. Also, the original code-breaking operation of the State Department, MI-8, run by Herbert Yardley, had been shut down in 1929 by Secretary of State Henry Stimson because "gentlemen don't read each other's mail".[1] President Franklin D. Roosevelt was concerned about American intelligence deficiencies. On the suggestion of Canadian spymaster William Stephenson, the senior representative of British intelligence in the western hemisphere, Roosevelt directed Stephenson's friend William J. Donovan, a World War I veteran, Medal of Honor recipient and New York lawyer, to draft a plan for an intelligence service. Line drawing of the Department of Wars seal. ... The United States Army is the largest branch of the armed forces of the United States. ... USN redirects here. ... The Signals Intelligence Service (SIS) was the United States Army codebreaking division, headquartered at Arlington Hall. ... Headline text OP-20-G The Navys codebreaking system was better than the Armys S.I.S. It began with a secret slush fund of $100,000 in 1918. ... The United States Department of State, often referred to as the State Department, is the Cabinet-level foreign affairs agency of the United States government, equivalent to foreign ministries in other countries. ... Russian Mi-8 Hip The Mil Mi-8 (NATO reporting name Hip) is a large transport helicopter that can also act as a gunship. ... Herbert O. Yardley Herbert Osborne Yardley (13 April 1889-7 August 1958) was an American cryptologist most known for his book The American Black Chamber (1931). ... Seal of the United States Department of State. ... Henry L. Stimson Henry Lewis Stimson (September 21, 1867 - October 20, 1950) was an American politician. ... FDR redirects here. ... Sir William Samuel Stephenson, CC , MC , DFC (January 23, 1897 – January 31, 1989) was a Canadian soldier, airman, businessman, inventor, spymaster, and the senior representative of British intelligence for the entire western hemisphere during World War II. Stephenson is best-known by his wartime intelligence codename of Intrepid. ... William Donovan William Joseph Donovan (January 1, 1883 – February 8, 1959) was born in Buffalo, New York on New Years Day, 1883, and is best remembered today as wartime head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). ... “The Great War ” redirects here. ... The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States. ... NY redirects here. ...

The Office of Strategic Services was established in June 1942 to collect and analyze strategic information required by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to conduct special operations not assigned to other agencies. During the War, the OSS supplied policy makers with facts and estimates, but the OSS never had jurisdiction over all foreign intelligence activities—the FBI was responsible for intelligence work in Latin America, and the military jealously guarded their areas of responsibility. Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States of America symbol The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is a grouping comprising the Chiefs of service of each major branch of the armed services in the United States armed forces. ... The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal criminal investigative, intelligence agency, and the primary investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). ... Latin America consists of the countries of South America and some of North America (including Central America and some the islands of the Caribbean) whose inhabitants mostly speak Romance languages, although Native American languages are also spoken. ...

The OSS helped arm, train and supply resistance movements in areas occupied by the Axis powers during the Second World War, including Mao Zedong's Red Army in China, and the Viet Minh in French Indochina. The OSS also recruited and ran one of the war's most important spies, the German diplomat Fritz Kolbe. A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to fighting an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign nation through either the use of physical force, or nonviolence. ... Belligerent military occupation occurs when the control and authority over a territory belonging to a state passes to a hostile army. ... Area under Axis control over the course of the war shown in black The Axis powers, also interpreted as Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries or sometimes just the Axis were those countries opposed to the Allies during the Second World War. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... “Mao” redirects here. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Viet Minh (abbreviated from Việt Nam ộc Lập ồng Minh Hội, League for the Independence of Vietnam) was formed by Ho Ngoc Lam and Nguyen Hai Than in 1941 to seek independence for Vietnam from France. ... Flag Capital Hanoi Language(s) French Political structure Federation Historical era New Imperialism  - Established 1887  - Addition of Laos 1893  - Vietnam Declaration of Independence September 2, 1945  - Independence of Laos July 19, 1949  - Independence of Cambodia November 9, 1953  - Disestablished 1954 Area  - 1945 750,000 km2 289,577 sq mi Currency... Fritz Kolbe (operational alias George Wood) (born 1900 to 1971) was a German diplomat who served as a spy against the Nazi regime for the United States during World War II. He refused to accept any payment for his activities because of his dislike for the Nazi regime. ...

OSS counter-espionage branch: X-2

The OSS had a dismal security reputation. Established agencies like the FBI and G-2 believed that Donovan's oddball outfit, built as it was from scratch with not a few corners cut in the hiring of its staff, had to be riddled with subversives and spies. This rap was not wholly fair; OSS headquarters was not in fact penetrated by Axis agents, and its field security (at least in Europe) was adequate.[citation needed] Nevertheless, X-2 hunted the agents of Axis—not Allied—services. Soviet sympathizers and even spies worked in OSS offices in Washington and the field. Some were hired precisely because they were Communists; Donovan wanted their help in dealing with partisan groups in Nazi-occupied Europe. Others who were not Communists, such as Donovan's aide Duncan Lee, Research and Analysis (R&A) labor economist Donald Wheeler, Morale Operations Indonesia expert Jane Foster Zlatowski, and R&A Latin America specialist Maurice Halperin, nevertheless passed information to Moscow. OSS operations in China, moreover, were badly penetrated by Communist agents working as clerical and housekeeping staff, or training in OSS camps for operational missions.[1] The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal criminal investigative, intelligence agency, and the primary investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). ... Military intelligence (abbreviated MI, int. ... Subversion is an overturning or uprooting. ... This article is about communism as a form of society, as an ideology advocating that form of society, and as a popular movement. ... Lt. ... Donald Nivan Wheeler was employed by the Office of Strategic Services from 1941 to 1946. ... Jane Foster Zlatovski, also Jane Foster Zlatkowski, was married to George Zlatovski,and was a member of the Communist Party who worked for the Board of Economic Warfare in 1942. ... Maurice Halperin secretly became a member of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) sometime in the 1930s. ...

The OSS purchased Soviet code and cipher material (or Finnish information on them) from émigré Finnish army officers in late 1944. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, Jr. protested that this violated an agreement President Roosevelt made with the Soviet Union not to interfere with Soviet cipher traffic from the U.S. Donovan might have copied the papers before returning them the following January but there is no record of Arlington Hall receiving them, and CIA and NSA archives have no surviving copies. Portrait of U.S. Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. ... Arlington Hall Arlington Hall was the headquarters of the US Armys Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) cryptography effort during World War II. It was named for its location in Arlington Hall Station, Arlington, Virginia—a private girls school which was commandeered during the War. ...

How the OSS became the CIA

A month and a half after the war was won, the OSS was disbanded by President Truman, on September 20, 1945. In the following month the functions of the OSS were split between the Departments of State and War. State received the Research and Analysis Branch of OSS which was renamed the Interim Research and Intelligence Service (IRIS) and headed by Alfred McCormack. The War Department took over the Secret Intelligence (SI) and Counter-espionage (X-2) Branches that were housed in a new office created for just this purpose - The Strategic Services Unit (SSU). The Secretary of War appointed Brigadier General John Magruder (formerly Donovan's Deputy Director for Intelligence in OSS) as director to oversee the liquidation, and more importantly the preservation of the OSS' clandestine intelligence capability. For the victim of Mt. ...

Yet in January of 1946, President Truman created the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) which was the direct precursor to the CIA. The assets of the SSU, which now constituted a streamlined "nucleus" of clandestine intelligence was transferred to the CIG in mid-1946 and reconstituted as the Office of Special Operations (OSO). In 1947 the National Security Act established America's first permanent peacetime intelligence agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, which took up the functions of the OSS. President Truman signs the National Security Act Amendment of 1949 with guests in the Oval Office. ... The Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) is an intelligence agency of the United States government. ...

OSS Branches

  • Secret Intelligence
  • Research and Analysis
  • Special Operations
  • X-2 (counterespionage)
  • Research & Development
  • Morale Operations
  • Maritime Units
  • Operational Groups
  • Communications
  • Medical Services

Espionage operations intended to identify enemy spies. ...

OSS Facilities

Prince William Forest Park was the site of an OSS training camp that operated from 1942 to 1945. Area "C", consisting of approximately 6,000 acres (24 km²) was used extensively for communications training, whereas Area "A" was use for training some of the OG's Quantico Creek The North Fork of Quantico Creek, from the North Valley trail Map of Prince William Forest Park Prince William Forest Park was established as Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area in 1936 and is located in eastern Prince William County, Virginia. ...

The Facilities of Catalina Island Marine Institute at Toyon Bay on Santa Catalina Island are composed (in part) of a former OSS survival training camp. The Catalina Island Marine Institute is a program run by Guided Discoveries. ...

US Army units seconded to the OSS

The 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion was organized at Caserta, italy on August 1, 1944 under the sponsorship of U.S. 5th Army. ... This was a special Infantry Regiment that was seconded to the Office of Strategic Services as an operational armed force. ...

See also

The Special Operations Executive (SOE), sometimes referred to as the Baker Street Irregulars after Sherlock Holmess fictional group of spies, was a World War II organization initiated by Winston Churchill and Hugh Dalton in July 1940 as a mechanism for conducting warfare by means other than direct military engagement. ... THIS ALL SUCKS!!!!!! Detachment 101 of the Office of Strategic Services operated in the China Burma India Theater of World War II. On January 17, 1946, it was awarded a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation by Dwight Eisenhower, who wrote, The courage and fighting spirit displayed by its officers and men... China Burma India Theater (CBI) was the name used by the United States Army for its forces in China, Burma, India during World War II. Well-known US units in this theater included the Flying Tigers, transport and bomber units flying the Hump, the engineers who built Ledo Road, and... The United States Army Special Forces—or simply Special Forces (capitalized)—is an elite Special Operations Force of the United States Army trained for unconventional warfare and special operations. ... Paramarine in training at NAS Lakehurst in 1942 The Paramarines (also known as Marine paratroopers) was a short-lived specialized unit of the United States Marine Corps, trained to be dropped by parachute. ...


Stanley P. Lovell, Of Spies and Stratagems (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1963).


  • .1 The Office of Strategic Services: America's First Intelligence Agency, Michael Warner, CIA History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Published: United States Central Intelligence Agency, 2000.

OSS in Fiction

  • Robert De Niro's The Good Shepherd chronicles the Office's early history through the eyes of a fictional character, Edward Wilson, played by Matt Damon.
  • Aline Romanones (nee Aline Griffith, aka Aline, Countess of Romanones and Aline Countess Romanones) published a memoir of her OSS work called The Spy Wore Red: My Adventures as an Undercover Agent in World War II. The foreword states that the memoir is somewhat fictionalized. The Countess has also published a novel, The Well-Mannered Assassin, and two post-OSS memoirs, The Spy Wore Silk and The Spy Went Dancing.
  • Susan Isaacs' book Shining Through features a Jewish OSS operative who goes behind enemy lines in Berlin.
  • The musical Kilroy Was Here! follows several OSS operatives attempting to capture German spies.
  • In Nelson DeMille's The Talbot Odyssey, a group of former OSS operatives works on their own to prevent a Russian attack.
  • In the X-Files episode "Triangle", Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) finds his way onto a ship in 1939 located near the Bermuda Triangle. Here he encounters acquaintances of present time (1998) in different roles, one being Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) as an OSS agent protecting a scientist codenamed "Thor's Hammer".
  • In the Spy Kids trilogy, it is stated the Cortez family works for the OSS. The real initials are never revealed, however it is implied. They refer to the director of the OSS - in the second movie, "Donovan Giggles" is appointed to the position of Chairman of the organization.
  • In the Medal of Honor computer and video game series, the main characters often are recruited for the OSS.
  • In the Return to Castle Wolfenstein computer and video games, the player, B. J. Blaskowitz, is a spy working for the OSS.
  • In the Sniper Elite computer and video game, the player plays as Karl Fairburne, an OSS agent inserted into Berlin in 1945 in order to obtain German weapons technology before the Russians.
  • In W.E.B. Griffin's The Corps series, set during World War II, main characters are pulled from service in USMC and USN for service in the OSS. Also by W.E.B. Griffin, the series "Men At War" details the work of OSS-agents in Europe, the series "Honor Bound" details the work of OSS agents in Argentina
  • OSS 117 was the codename of Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, an American spy whose adventures were written down by the late Jean Bruce from 1949 until the year of his death, 1963, and later on by Mr Bruce's wife until her death in 1996. The serial, though never reaching a peak, were turned into movies in the fifties, sixties and early seventies. A french comedy, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies was released in 2006, featuring Jean Dujardin in the main role, although in this satire of the old spy film genre OSS 117 is a french spy.
  • In the alternative history dystopian Draka series of Science Fiction writer S.M. Stirling, the OSS is not disbanded in 1945 but remains the main US intelligence agency, under that name and with an organizational continuity, for decades afterwards.
  • In the 1970s, DC Comics published a series of stories based on the OSS. An anthology, the only continuing character was "Control" a bald spy master that sent OSS agents on their missions. The basic plot had to do with a Nazi official that had to be assassinated. The OSS agents would often risk their lives to plant bombs in unusual locations (riding boots, ventriliquist's dummy etc.) The main artist on the series was E.R. Cruz. The stories appeared in the magazine G.I. Combat.
  • Ron Randell as Capt. Frank Hawthorne recounts war-time adventures in the television series OSS which ran in 1957-58.
  • In the film Where Eagles Dare, Major Smith, as part of his ruse to extract information needed by the British to break the German's spy network in Britain claims Lt. Schaffer is an assassin working for the OSS.

Robert Mario De Niro Jr. ... The Good Shepherd is an Academy Award-nominated 2006 film directed by Robert De Niro (his second directorial effort after A Bronx Tale) and starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, with an extensive supporting cast. ... There have been at least two notable people called Edward Wilson. ... Matthew Paige Matt Damon (born October 8, 1970) is an American screenwriter and actor. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... This article is about the capital of Germany. ... Nelson Richard DeMille (born August 23, 1943) is an American author. ... The X-Files is a Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning science fiction television series created by Chris Carter, which first aired on September 10, 1993, and ended on May 19, 2002. ... David William Duchovny (born August 7, 1960) is a Golden Globe Award-winning American television and film actor perhaps best known for his role as Fox Mulder on The X-Files. ... Gillian Leigh Anderson (born August 9, 1968) is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning American actress, best known for her roles as FBI Agent Dana Scully in the American TV series The X-Files and Lady Dedlock in the BBC TV series Bleak House. ... Spy Kids is the first film of the Spy Kids trilogy. ... The classic Medal of Honor logo used up to the release of Pacific Assault. ... Return to Castle Wolfenstein (PC) is a first person shooter computer game published by Activision and released on November 20, 2001. ... Sniper Elite is a first/third person shooter developed by UK based video game developer Rebellion Developments. ... W.E.B. Griffin (born William Edmund Butterworth III on November 10, 1929) is a writer of military and detective fiction with some thirty novels in five series published under that name. ... The Corps is a series of war novels written by W.E.B. Griffin about the United States Marine Corps before and during the years of the Second World War and the Korean Conflict. ... Jean Bruce born Jean Brochet on 22 March 1921 was a prolific French popular writer who died in 26 March 1963 in a car accident. ... Alternative history or alternate history can be: A history told from an alternative viewpoint, rather than from the view of imperialist, conqueror, or explorer. ... The Domination is a dystopian alternate history series of four novels written by S. M. Stirling. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... Stephen Michael Stirling is a Canadian-American science fiction and fantasy author. ... DC Comics is an American comic book and related media company. ... An anthology, literally a garland or collection of flowers, is a collection of literary works, originally of poems. ... Cover of issue #168 of G.I. Combat is a long-running comic book series published first by Quality Comics and later by National Periodical Publications or NCC, which was the primary company of those that evolved to become DC Comics. ... Ron Randell was an Australian-born American film character actor. ... OSS was a Buckeye Productions and Associated TeleVision co-produced wartime television drama series. ... Where Eagles Dare is a 1968 film directed by Brian G. Hutton and starring Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, and Mary Ure. ...

External links

  • "The Office of Strategic Services: America's First Intelligence Agency"—The CIA's OSS page
  • OSS psychological profile report on Hitler
  • OSS Psychological Warfare Study
  • OSS Society
  • Office of Strategic Services Operational Groups
  • OSS - The Psychology of War RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS BRANCH (R&A)
  • Secret Norwegian sites in Sweden 1944-1945 financially supported by the OSS
  • The Office of Strategic Services
  • Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs - The Stories of the Men and Women of the OSS
  • Office of Strategic Services (PSC/PMC)
  • OSS - Roll of honour, awards and images.

  Results from FactBites:
Office of Strategic Services Society (213 words)
The OSS Society is a nonprofit educational organization.
Membership in The OSS Society is available to OSS veterans, their direct and collateral descendants, current and former members of the U.S. Intelligence and U.S. Special Forces communities, and U.S. citizens who have a serious interest in OSS.
William J. Donovan Award, The OSS Society, and the OSS logos are trademarks of The OSS Society.
Office of Strategic Services (1921 words)
The OSS replaced the former American intelligence system, Office of the Coordinator of Information (OCI) that was considered to be ineffective.
The growth of the OSS brought conflict with John Edgar Hoover who saw it as a rival to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The OSS was disbanded in October 1945 and was eventually replaced by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
  More results at FactBites »



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