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JAMS, vol. 12, no. 1

Fake News for the Resistance

The OSS and the Nexus of Psychological Warfare and Resistance Operations in World War II

Daniel de Wit



Abstract: The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), America’s intelligence and special operations organization in World War II, is best known for its efforts to collect intelligence on the Axis powers and to arm and train resistance groups behind enemy lines. However, the OSS also served as America’s primary psychological warfare agency. This article will show how organizational relationships imposed by theater commanders, who often had little understanding of psychological warfare or special operations, could serve to enable or hinder the sort of coordinated subversive campaign that OSS founder General William J. Donovan envisioned. This history offers important lessons for contemporary campaign planners in an environment where psychological warfare is playing an ever-larger role in the conduct of military operations.

Keywords: psychological warfare, unconventional warfare, information operations, influence, the human domain


The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), America’s World War II-era intelligence and special operations organization, enjoys justifiable acclaim for its exploits behind enemy lines. Initiatives such as Operation Jedburgh, the multinational operation to leverage French resistance units to disrupt the German response to the D-Day landings, continue to be explored in both popular histories and military studies seeking to develop lessons for the current operating environment.1 In contrast, the OSS’s psychological warfare section, the Morale Operations Branch, has received far less attention from both popular and scholarly historians.2 This is unfortunate, as Major General William J. Donovan, the Wall Street lawyer and war hero of World War I who founded the OSS and led it through the course of the war, saw psychological warfare and support to resistance groups (now known as “unconventional warfare” in American doctrine) as two sides of the same coin. These were meant to be employed in a cohesive manner to undermine enemy forces prior to the start of conventional military operations—or what practitioners at the time referred to as “subversive warfare.”3 And yet, despite the fact that Donovan designed the OSS to be able to conduct these functions together, with both the Special Operations (SO) and Morale Operations (MO) Branches falling under a deputy director for psychological warfare, the OSS’s record of conducting combined operations by these two branches was wildly uneven.4 In some theaters, particularly in Burma and China, the MO and SO Branches were able to operate in integrated teams that leveraged the skills of both. In the European theater, in contrast, the Morale Operations Branch played almost no role in support of resistance operations and was relegated to a minor role alongside other propaganda and public affairs elements on the staff of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). As the following sections will show, this variance was due entirely to the command relationships between OSS regional offices and the military theater commanders in those regions, and the resulting organizational constructs that either encouraged and facilitated cohesion between OSS branches or divorced them from each other and forced the Morale Operations Branch to the sidelines under leaders who did not know how to employ it. Indeed, the MO and SO Branches enjoyed a close working relationship in the Mediterranean and China-Burma-India (CBI) theaters, while they were severed in the European theater. In Burma and the Mediterranean, British commanders well-versed in irregular warfare gave OSS a relatively free hand to fight the war on its terms, while American general Joseph W. Stilwell, the U.S. commander in Burma, was fighting an economy-of-force effort and relied on OSS so heavily that he had little ability to interfere in its methods.

The OSS case is instructive for the current era of competition between adversarial great powers as it shows how commanders who lack an understanding of psychological and unconventional warfare and are determined to force them to fit a command structure designed for traditional combat arms can improperly use such an organization. Numerous studies have already shown that Russia and China seek to use military operations to achieve psychological objectives, inverting the traditional American perspective, which sees psychological warfare as an enabler to combined arms maneuver.5 The increasing cost and lethality of conventional warfare is driving up the utility of psychological operations and other special operations functions, which can achieve strategic aims without crossing thresholds that might trigger a major war.6 Despite this realization, much of the discussion within the Department of Defense (DOD) about how to respond to the threat posed by both of these adversaries focuses on the weapons systems and operating concepts required to win a conventional war, rather than on countering hostile actions and advancing our own objectives without resorting to combat operations.7 Of course, conventional military capabilities remain a critical necessity, without which there would be nothing to deter adversaries from simply pursuing their objectives through direct military action rather than through measures short of war. However, in this threat environment populated by psychological operations used by our adversaries, conventional military commanders must have a thorough appreciation of how psychological warfare tools can supplement both special and conventional military operations. The experience of OSS’s Morale Operations Branch will be eminently useful in this regard.


Organizing for Subversive Warfare 

General Donovan’s concept of subversive warfare originated in the years immediately prior to World War II, when Donovan was a respected Wall Street lawyer with numerous international clients and an important player in the Republican Party. Beginning in the mid-1930s, Donovan began traveling the world, ostensibly to meet with clients but really to develop his own observations of the looming breakdown in the world order and march to war—observations that he relayed directly to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his return.8 It was these activities that eventually resulted in his being assigned to liaise with the British intelligence services and then create a similar organization for the United States. Donovan was particularly disturbed by what he saw as the ability of fascist propaganda to undermine national cohesion and will to fight. He published his findings in a 1941 pamphlet entitled Fifth Column Lessons for America.9 He argued that Nazi propaganda had played an integral role in the fall of France by convincing leftist labor elements to undermine arms production in the years prior to the war, while simultaneously undermining the officer class’s will to fight and damaging morale cohesion to the point that they routinely deserted their troops rather than resist the German onslaught when it finally came in 1940. 

Some historians have contested his conclusions about the efficacy of German propaganda, but it is clear that Donovan saw psychological warfare as a key precursor to successful military operations.10 He was of the opinion that the United States could only succeed in the coming war if it had its own agency to conduct psychological and unconventional warfare as both the Germans and the British had. President Roosevelt finally agreed and directed Donovan to establish a service to house these capabilities in June 1941. The Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI), as it was initially known, was intended to consolidate the full panoply of intelligence and subversive warfare tools in a single agency. It included departments for human intelligence collection and analysis, a special operations element to conduct sabotage and guerrilla warfare, and the Foreign Information Service (FIS), which Donovan intended to be the comprehensive propaganda and psychological warfare arm of the U.S. government.11 

The ink on the COI charter was barely dry before a major dispute arose within its ranks over the role of propaganda in a democratic government. Many of the journalists and advertising agents that Donovan hired to staff the FIS, including its director Robert Sherwood, shared President Franklin Roosevelt’s center-left political philosophies, which placed great weight on the role of the United States as a beacon for enlightened democracy (in contrast to Europe, where monarchy and aristocracy enjoyed considerable power until the outbreak of the war) and saw the use of deceptive and manipulative propaganda as the morally repugnant tool of fascist regimes. They were of the opinion that the only acceptable form of propaganda in a democracy was truthful information that sought to convince audiences of the righteousness of the American example—so called white propaganda.12 They were also opposed to close coordination with the Armed Services—a position obviously at odds with Donovan’s own.13 This dispute was so intractable that within months, FIS effectively became a department in revolt against its parent agency and the issue required direct intervention from President Roosevelt. A year after the COI was founded, Roosevelt issued an executive order splitting it into two new organizations: the FIS became the independent Office of War Information (OWI), which dealt exclusively in white propaganda. The remaining elements became the OSS, which was then directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in December 1942 to establish its own black propaganda arm to support military operations.14 The Morale Operations Branch was officially created in early 1943, though problems of recruitment, training, and supply meant that its officers would not start making an impact in the field until mid-1944. 

Donovan’s vision for the Morale Operations Branch was that it should operate in close coordination with the Special Operations Branch. Together, these branches would conduct a phased campaign of subversive operations to undermine Axis forces prior to major offensives by Allied forces. Donovan summed up this concept as follows: 

propaganda is the arrow of initial penetration in conditioning and preparing the people and territory in which invasion is contemplated. It is the first step—then Fifth Column work [meaning sabotage and guerrilla warfare behind enemy lines], then militarized raiders (or ‘Commandos’), and then the invading divisions.15


This concept was codified in the Morale Office Branch manual, which directed its officers to operate “in close liaison” with the Special Operations Branch and to use Special Operations Branch agents and underground networks to “assist in the promotion of resistance and revolt among people of enemy-occupied and controlled territory.”16 

However, as the following sections will show, their ability collaborate effectively varied from theater to theater depending on the organizational restrictions imposed by the theater commanders. This is despite the fact that both guerrilla and psychological warfare organizations were housed within the same agency and the branches assigned these roles received clear guidance to collaborate in their subversive campaigns.


Conventional Perspectives on Special Operations

Due to a combination of factors arising out of the military culture and the professional military education of American military officers during the interwar period, the American general officers who oversaw the U.S. contribution to the war effort at the corps level and above had no concept of, let alone training in, special operations and psychological warfare. This left them poorly positioned to oversee OSS operations in their respective theaters. The U.S. Army’s official history of special operations in World War II makes clear how unfamiliar the Army was with special operations and notes that the officer corps of the period was preoccupied with questions of mass mobilization and the maneuver of large conventional formations on the battlefield.17 The universally agreed-on theory of victory was for the Army to mass sufficient combat power to destroy the enemy’s forces in the field. The history goes on to note: 

Unconventional operations, with their elements of stealth, secrecy, and political complications, seemed foreign, even devious, to officers accustomed to straightforward conventional tactics and the interwar Army’s ordered, gentlemanly world of polo and bridge.18


The culture of the American officer corps during the period was conservative to the point of being hidebound, likely a protective instinct in response to post–World War I force reductions and budget cuts.19 This attitude prevailed well into World War II. Historian Alfred H. Paddock quotes an unsigned letter in the records of the Western Task Force in 1942 in which an officer stated their firm opinion that 

The only propaganda which can achieve results is the propaganda of deeds not words. One medium tank has proved far more effective than all the bag of trick gadgets [sic], which merely offend good taste and give nothing concrete where want is great.20


This mindset was reinforced by the professional military education of the period, which was focused on ways to mass sufficient combat power at the decisive point on the battlefield while maintaining operational mobility and avoiding the trench warfare of the western front. For example, a lecture on the principles of war given annually from 1923 to 1927 at the Army’s Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth and was attended by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, all 6 of his army commanders, and 25 of 34 corps commanders noted that “the first consideration under the principle of the objective is to determine the centers of gravity of the enemy’s power. Then against this center of gravity the concentrated blow of all the forces must be directed.”21 This lecture went on to note that “the will of the people to carry on a war may be the real center of gravity of a nation, but in this situation the quickest way to reach that will is by a defeat of the hostile main forces.”22 

Given that they came up through the ranks with this background of training and military culture, it is little wonder that American general officers lacked the vocabulary necessary to even think about special operations and psychological warfare in a proactive manner. Indeed, in early 1942, General Joseph Stilwell, commander of American and Chinese forces in Burma (and, ironically, the commander of the theater in which some of the most successful combined psychological and unconventional warfare operations were to take place), stated that he had no interest in employing an OSS special operations team in support of his conventional operations.23 He also professed to a fellow officer to have no idea what psychological warfare was, no desire to learn, and no intention of even allowing a psychological warfare element to enter his theater of operations.24 In a similar vein, General Douglas MacArthur, commanding troops in the Southwest Pacific Theater, was unwilling to allow the presence of any intelligence or special operations unit that he did not control directly through the conventional planning framework in his general staff.25 As a result, he barred OSS from having a presence of any kind in the Southwest Pacific Theater for the entirety of the war. 

This conservative mentality stands in stark contrast to that evinced by British commanders during the same period. Britain had a lengthy history with irregular warfare techniques. While British commanders had been exceedingly suspicious of such techniques in decades past, by 1940 they showed a willingness to employ these methods to their full effect in order to hinder Nazi Germany’s advance and then to undermine its cohesion. The most famous British exponent of irregular warfare was Major T. E. Lawrence, who helped lead the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule in 1916–18. In addition to Lawrence, British officers such as Lieutenant Colonel Gerard E. Leachman and Captain William Henry Shakespear conducted operations against Ottoman rule by leveraging local militias from across Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsula.26 These officers built on a foundation of nearly two centuries of colonial rule from India to South Africa that was exercised through local levies and armies of native troops. Their experiences would eventually feed directly into British special operations doctrine when, in early 1939, Lieutenant Colonel Colin M. Gubbins, a British officer with experience in irregular conflicts in Ireland and against the Bolsheviks in Russia, conducted an extensive study of these operations, which he used to draft a series of manuals for the conduct of irregular warfare and special operations.27 

With the outbreak of World War II and the British Army’s evacuation from Europe at Dunkirk in May 1940, British leaders saw a need for a special unit that could continue to prosecute the war in Europe via sabotage and guerrilla warfare. The British Ministry of Economic Warfare took on this task and established the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in July 1940 with a mandate to conduct sabotage and guerrilla warfare across occupied Europe.28 Gubbins was swiftly brought on board and placed in charge of training the organization’s new recruits before eventually taking command of SOE.29 The SOE never had a mandate to conduct psychological warfare, but it established a close working relationship with an agency that did: the Political Warfare Executive (PWE), which was established approximately a year after SOE to oversee the full array of British propaganda operations.30 To enable the dissemination of black propaganda materials (including leaflets and other documents designed to appear as though they originated in German or Italian presses), SOE and PWE agreed to jointly select and train a cadre of officers in techniques both of guerrilla warfare and black propaganda dissemination so that they could integrate with SOE teams being inserted by parachute into Axis-occupied territory.31 

This divergence between British and American approaches to special operations is the primary factor that accounts for the varied experiences of OSS Morale Operations teams during the course of the war. As the following sections will show, the Morale Operations Branch was able to integrate closely with its Special Operations Branch colleagues in those theaters under British command (including the Mediterranean theater and Southeast Asia Command). In contrast, the Morale Operations Branch played a very limited role in the European theater under General Eisenhower, as the branch was forced into a conventional command structure alongside white propaganda organizations that did not know how to use its capabilities, preventing effective coordination with the Special Operations Branch. Finally, the experience of both branches in the China-Burma-India theater is the exception that proves the rule: as noted above, General Stilwell was loath to employ unconventional and psychological warfare. Both branches were forced on him by leaders in Washington, however, and he had so little in the way of functioning conventional formations at his disposal that he had no choice but to rely on their services to wage an effective campaign against the Japanese occupation of Burma.


The European Theater of Operations

The Morale Operations Branch’s experience in the European theater was, by all accounts, an exercise in frustration. The command relationships that were to hamper operations in this theater were first imposed during the American campaign in Morocco and Tunisia in 1942–43. As with other American leaders, General Eisenhower, in command of the American expeditionary force in North Africa, had no training in psychological warfare and only a basic understanding of its function. Unlike many of his fellow officers, however, he was determined to keep an open mind and allowed the Office of War Information to conduct white propaganda operations alongside the Army’s own tactical psychological warfare teams. The Army broadcast white propaganda messages in the immediate vicinity of regular maneuver units already under Eisenhower’s command. The OSS’s Morale Operations Branch was still in its infancy during this period and played barely any role in the North African campaign. To manage these functions efficiently, Eisenhower consolidated them with his public affairs officers into a Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB) on his staff, under Brigadier General Robert A. McClure.32 The consolidation of white propaganda functions with public affairs was logical: both functions deal in the production and dissemination of messages that can be clearly attributed to the agency creating it. This organizational construct would, however, significantly hamper Morale Operations Branch’s black propaganda operations once Eisenhower moved his headquarters to London in early 1944 to take command of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force and prepare for the invasion of occupied Europe.

Once SHAEF was activated, the Psychological Warfare Branch was expanded into a Psychological Warfare Division (PWD), which included OWI and the Army’s psychological warfare teams as well as their British counterparts from the Political Warfare Executive.33 The PWD retained the white propaganda focus that it had employed as PWB in North Africa. The PWD official history, prepared by its officers at the end of the war, goes so far as to say that its mission was only to 

utilize all . . . available media for the simple purpose of telling the various audiences what the Supreme Commander wished them to do, why they should do it, and what they could expect if they carried out the Supreme Commander’s wishes.34 


Such a mission statement is indistinguishable from the standard role of a public affairs officer and leaves no room for the use of black propaganda to undermine enemy cohesion and morale. This same history goes on to state that “truth is the most important ingredient in psychological warfare.”35

This attitude encouraged a direct, attrition-based approach to the conduct of psychological warfare at the tactical level. Rather than attempting to sow confusion within enemy ranks about the plans and intentions of their own superiors, as Morale Operations doctrine emphasized, PWD focused on using simple, direct messaging to encourage enemy troops to surrender by convincing them of the hopelessness of their situation. Its tools were viewed as simply another weapon system designed to attrite enemy forces, the only difference being that it did so in a nonlethal manner. This is evident from the emphasis in PWD training manuals on the use of leaflets, delivered by bomber or modified artillery shell, carrying the simple message that Germany’s cause was lost and that the leaflet would serve as a “safe conduct pass” across Allied lines for those seeking to surrender.36 In effect, leaflets were viewed as a nonlethal form of indirect fire, to be employed to accomplish the same goal as conventional artillery (demoralizing the adversary) but without the attendant destruction. This approach meshed well with normal Army planning processes but was altogether different from the way that Morale Operations Branch conceived of the role of black propaganda.

By the time of PWD’s activation in early 1944, the Morale Operations Branch had developed a trained cadre of black propaganda specialists and established a section within OSS’s London office. To ensure that this section was able to integrate into the SHAEF command structure, OSS/London was reluctantly forced to place its Morale Operations section under PWD’s chain of command, separating it from the rest of its operational sections, which fell under a separate Special Forces Headquarters (SFHQ).37 This move placed Morale Operations/London under the command of white propaganda specialists who did not know how to employ black propaganda and significantly hampered coordination with OSS’s Special Operations Branch in London, which was then preparing to send officers into occupied France as part of Operation Jedburgh. Morale Operations/London was not able to begin planning to deploy officers to France to disseminate black propaganda materials on the ground until mid-July 1944, more than a month after the Operation Jedburgh teams parachuted into France to link up with French resistance groups.38 The Morale Operations team did not actually arrive in France until just before the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944.39 The result was that the Morale Operations Branch was, in the words of one historian, “irrelevant to the Normandy landings.”40 Rae H. Smith, chief of Morale Operations/London, went so far as to say that his team “lost its identity” when it was placed under PWD control.41 Unable to conduct effective psychological warfare with the Special Operations Branch behind German lines, Morale Operations/London focused the majority of its effort on finding ways to deploy black propaganda directly into Germany via radio and by dropping materials from bombers. These included a radio broadcast purporting to come from General Ludwig Beck, a highly respected German officer who was executed for his role in the July 1944 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler but who, according to the Morale Operations broadcast, was in fact in hiding and leading the German resistance to the Nazi regime. The Morale Operations Branch also produced German-language newspapers that were printed to appear German in origin and contained large amounts of subversive material mixed in with factual information to counter the rosy picture of the war that Nazi propagandists provided to their own troops. These were dropped across Germany during bombing missions.42 These sorts of operations are less reliable than black propaganda deployed on the ground since material heard on the radio or found in a newspaper is not as easily internalized by the target audience as that which comes from a trusted human source and relayed face-to-face. The OSS officers also had to rely on the reports of prisoner interrogations to try to assess the impact of these operations.43 This contrasted with the experience of Morale Operations officers deployed behind enemy lines as they could observe the impact of their actions much more immediately and make any necessary corrections to their methods in the field. It is for this reason that Morale Operations sections in other theaters sought to deploy teams as far forward as possible, where they could use locally recruited agents to disseminate black propaganda materials.

Only two small Morale Operations elements played any sort of active role on the ground in the European theater, although they did not do so behind the lines with the Special Operations Branch but rather operating from friendly or neutral territory. The first of these was a two-man team composed of OSS officers of Swedish descent who were sent under diplomatic cover to work out of the U.S. embassy in neutral Sweden.44 These officers were able disseminate an array of rumors and subversive material to German garrisons in Norway, Denmark, and Germany using both British SOE teams (which by an early agreement with OSS had primacy in this area) and networks of their own locally developed contacts. The second was a team of several dozen officers and enlisted personnel attached to the headquarters of the 12th Army Group in August and September 1944 during the liberation of Paris and the march toward the German border.45 The principal mission of this force was to recruit local agents on a short-term basis and use them to disseminate deceptive rumors about the direction of the 12th Army Group’s advance. This team was attached to the 12th Army Group headquarters because only OSS had a mandate to conduct black propaganda operations, while the Army’s tactical psychological warfare teams (which routinely operated in direct support of conventional formations like the 12th Army Group) lacked the mandate to do so.46 This team also used its locally recruited agents to disseminate a forged German order directing officers to abandon their troops and save themselves to preserve a core officer class in postwar Germany (a course of action that General Erich Ludendorff had actually advocated in the waning stages of World War I). Such forged orders could reasonably be expected to sow dissension and distrust among German enlisted ranks, but these and other leaflets disseminated by Morale Operations/London “were never heard from again,” so it is impossible to assess their impact.47


The Mediterranean Theater

OSS Morale Operations flourished in the Mediterranean theater, which included operations in southern France, Italy, and the Balkans. This was in no small part due to the fact that the theater commanders did not replicate the command structures that severed the Morale Operations Branch from the rest of the OSS elements operating in theater. Once Eisenhower assumed command of SHAEF in January 1944, the Mediterranean theater passed to British field marshal Henry Maitland Wilson. Wilson had no direct experience with special operations, but he had spent the previous year as commander in chief, Middle East theater in Cairo, where he oversaw combat operations in Egypt, the Levant, and the Greek Islands. This would have included command of multiple British special operations units, such as the Special Air Service, Special Boat Squadron, and Long Range Desert Group.48 As a result, he would have been more familiar than Eisenhower with the role that special operations units could play in support of conventional campaigns, and he did not seek to force them into command relationships that hindered their operations. Instead, under Wilson’s command, Allied Forces Headquarters in Algiers (AFHQ), the Mediterranean counterpart to SHAEF, established the Special Projects Operations Center, which brought all subversive warfare elements of both the British and American militaries into a single planning section on the theater command’s staff.49 This removed the physical and institutional barriers to coordination that existed in the European theater, allowing the Morale Operations section in this theater to conduct numerous operations in close coordination with both OSS/Special Operations and British SOE teams. 

OSS psychological warfare efforts in this theater began in earnest in June 1944, after Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was forced to resign and Italy formally defected to the Allies. The SPOC relocated from Algiers to Rome, from where it was able to oversee operations into German-occupied northern Italy, Yugoslavia, and Crete. As in the European theater, the objective in these operations was to convince the German rank and file that they were being abandoned by both their officers and the society that they were defending. For example, in early 1944, SOE contrived with resistance forces on occupied Crete to capture General Heinrich Kreipe, the commander of the German airborne division occupying the island. 

A Morale Operations team worked with the SOE officers conducting the kidnapping to spread rumors across the island, suggesting that Kreipe had willingly defected to the British. A six-person Morale Operations team later deployed to Crete alongside SOE to assess the effectiveness of this campaign; they found that only 20 percent of the 15,000-troop occupation force could be relied on to defend the island from an Allied assault.50 When German general Franz Krech was killed by resistance forces in mainland Greece, Morale Operations/Rome played a variation on this theme by distributing forged German newspapers claiming that Krech was executed by the Gestapo before he could defect to the Allies. The Morale Operations also distributed throughout Greece and Yugoslavia a forged letter in which Krech supposedly claimed that the German cause was lost and that continued sacrifices would be in vain.51

The Morale Operations Branch was handed a golden opportunity to capitalize on these themes when Allied intelligence received word of the failed attempt by German Army officers to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944. The Morale Operations officers recognized that if they moved quickly—while the loyalties of the German officer corps were still uncertain—it could sow widespread confusion and distrust among German units far removed from the locus of the actual conspiracy in Berlin. The Morale Operations officer Barbara Lauwers, a Czech refugee and journalist recruited into the OSS shortly after Pearl Harbor for her language and writing abilities, initiated Operation Sauerkraut within a matter of hours of the failed assassination attempt. The operation sought to sow confusion and dissension in German ranks by claiming, through an array of forged orders and seemingly official announcements, that Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch was taking command of the German Army and instigating a full-scale revolt against the Schutzstaffel (SS) and other elements of the Nazi regime.52 To make this narrative as convincing as possible, Lauwers recruited 16 German prisoners of war (POWs) from nearby POW camps, issued them cover stories and corresponding uniforms and equipment, and arranged for Special Operations Branch officers to escort them north to German lines where they were able to reinfiltrate German forces and distribute thousands of pages of forged documents.53 One of these agents was able to return to Allied lines. After distributing his propaganda material, he reported that the message was being read and generating confusion and heated debate even among the Nazi regime’s most loyal troops in the SS.

As part of Operation Sauerkraut, Lauwers also designed a messaging campaign aimed at convincing German troops that their wives and girlfriends back home were routinely being promiscuous and unfaithful. This message was deployed through a series of leaflets and letters advertising an “Association of Lonely War Women” who would be willing to do their patriotic duty by engaging in short-term dalliances with German troops on leave from the front.54 The advertisement closed by saying, 

We, of course, are selfish too—we have been separated from our men for many years. With all those foreigners around us, we would like once more to press a real German youth to our bosom. No inhibitions now: Your wife, sister, or lover is one of us as well.55


A statement like this was, of course, all but guaranteed to undermine the trust of the German soldier reading it in the fidelity of loved ones back home and perhaps cause him to question what he was fighting for or what he had to come home to when the war was done. 

The effect of these operations on the already strained morale of German forces in Italy can be seen in the results of one of the few air-dropped leaflet operations of the Italian campaign. Morale Operations/Rome designed a leaflet purporting to be issued by the Yugoslav Partisans under the command of Josip Broz Tito, a resistance group operating in northern Italy near the lines of the fascist Monterosa Division, which had remained loyal to Mussolini and to Germany after Italy formally capitulated in 1944. These leaflets granted the bearer safe conduct through partisan lines to surrender. More than a thousand soldiers from the Monterosa Division surrendered within a week of the leaflets being dropped.56 Further desertions were limited only by the Yugoslav Partisans ability to house and feed surrendering troops. Lauwers was eventually awarded a Bronze Star for her efforts. 


The China-Burma-India Theater

The CBI theater would prove to be the venue for the most closely integrated operations between the Morale Operations and Special Operations Branches. As in the Mediterranean theater, this was due largely to the prevailing command relationships, which—both by accident and by design—gave OSS maximum flexibility to pursue its operations in accordance with Donovan’s vision for integrated operations. The CBI theater suffered from some of the most convoluted command relationships of the war, especially where intelligence and special operations functions were concerned. Burma and India were still considered British colonies and therefore fell under the British-led Southeast Asia Command (SEAC) of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. China, which had been under partial (but expanding) Japanese occupation since the early 1930s, was considered an area in which American operations were to play the leading role.57 To confuse matters further, American general Joseph Stilwell, who had been dispatched in early 1942 to assist the Nationalist Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek resist the occupation, was made deputy commander of SEAC under Mountbatten and chief of staff to Chiang.58 Stilwell had at his disposal only two divisions of poorly trained and unmotivated Chinese troops and a single regiment-size American long-range penetration force, the 5307th Composite Unit, known to history as Merrill’s Marauders (named for General Frank D. Merrill). 

OSS waded directly into this muddle in mid-1942 and managed to use the dearth of large conventional formations to its advantage by making itself indispensable to Stilwell. At this time, Stilwell had just been forced out of Burma and into India, giving the Japanese control of the Burma Road and limiting the supply line to China to a hazardous air route over the Himalayas. Stilwell was determined to retake Burma but was not remotely interested in employing any irregular methods to do so. He considered guerrilla warfare a form of “illegal action” and insisted on a traditional war of maneuver.59 Donovan only prevailed on Stilwell to accept a Special Operations Branch element because it was commanded by Major Carl F. Eifler, who Stilwell had known and respected since their service together years prior.60 Eifler’s team, codenamed Detachment 101, set up a base in Nazira, India, just across the border from Burma. After some months of trial and error, Detachment 101 established a highly effective program of infiltration and human-intelligence collection miles behind Japanese lines. By early 1944, when Stilwell was finally ready to initiate his offensive into northern Burma, a Special Operations Branch team that never numbered more than 50 men behind enemy lines had recruited, trained, and equipped some 2,000 anti-Japanese guerrillas from the local Kachin tribesmen.61 Given the paucity of effective conventional forces at his disposal, Stilwell required Detachment 101’s guerrillas to serve as a forward reconnaissance and flank security element.62 By this time, the detachment had established a strong working relationship with Stilwell, who had neither the time nor the ability to micromanage its operations, meaning that Detachment 101’s leaders could employ psychological warfare techniques as they saw fit. 

By the time Stilwell’s offensive into Burma got underway in early 1944, command relationships in the region had also been clarified—to OSS’s benefit. Lord Mountbatten, who took command of the Southeast Asia Command in 1943, was a major proponent of all forms of special operations.63 Mountbatten was determined to employ special operations units as efficiently as possible in his new command, so upon arrival he established P Division, a division of his staff to consolidate and oversee all special operations and psychological warfare units in the region.64 P Division was led by an SOE officer with an OSS deputy. The OSS officer chosen was Edmond Taylor, a Morale Operations officer and former journalist who, like Donovan, had directly observed the potency of Nazi propaganda in prewar Europe. He also shared Donovan’s views about the need for black propaganda capability to provide direct support to military operations. Taylor played a major role in developing the branch’s doctrine. He had served briefly on Eisenhower’s Psychological Warfare Board in North Africa, where he saw how the prevailing command relationships resulted in the “complete swallowing up” of Morale Operations Branch functions.65 His placement as the second in command of P Division proved instrumental in allowing the Morale Operations Branch to play a major role in support of operations in Burma and later in China.

The first Morale Operations officers began arriving in India in mid-1944, when the Burma offensive was well underway. Once in India, they established support offices, developed black propaganda operations, and produced black propaganda materials, including forged orders and letters home from Japanese troops.66 Though still removed from the front, these officers were able to make an impact in short order by working through intelligence networks that Detachment 101’s Kachin guerrillas had established through contacts with fellow tribesmen hired to perform menial tasks in Japanese headquarters facilities. The first such operation came within days of the opening of the Morale Operations office in Delhi. Kachin guerrillas had recovered several bags of mail from Japanese troops waiting to be sent back to Japan. Morale Operations officer Elizabeth P. MacDonald, a former journalist and Japanese linguist who helped establish the Delhi office and who would soon be placed in charge of all Morale Operations in the region, realized that because this mail had already been approved by Japanese military censors, they could change it and have the Kachin intelligence network place it back into the mail system for return to Japan. MacDonald’s linguists made subtle changes to hundreds of handwritten letters, reworking the letters so that they made clear the misery and desperation of the Japanese situation, thereby providing an alternative view to the rosy picture of the war that Japanese propagandists fed to their own citizens.67 

As the war in Burma ground on, MacDonald and her colleagues determined that they could make their greatest contribution by finding a way to counteract the resolve of Japanese troops to fight to the last man rather than surrender. This was a significant issue since Japanese troops were indoctrinated from the moment of enlistment that surrender was the worst possible form of shame, one which also carried stiff legal penalties for the offender and their family. To defeat this deeply ingrained mentality, Morale Operations officers in India drafted a fake order authorizing Japanese troops to surrender if they were hopelessly outnumbered, wounded, sick, or out of ammunition.68 This order was passed to the first Morale Operations field team specifically organized and equipped to conduct psychological warfare in an austere jungle environment. This four-person team, codenamed Gold Dust, deployed to Detachment 101’s forward headquarters in Burma in November 1944. The Gold Dust team brought with it a three-pound portable printing press and other purpose-built production equipment, which allowed it to reproduce the forged order and distribute it widely via the Kachin guerrillas’ intelligence network. In at least one case, this was accomplished when a Kachin agent ambushed and killed a Japanese courier on a jungle road, inserted the forged order into the courier’s message bag, and then walked to a nearby Japanese headquarters to report finding a dead soldier. This agent led the Japanese to their fallen comrade and stayed with them to observe their surprised reaction to the surrender order.69 Detachment 101 reported a significant increase in enemy surrenders during the remainder of the Burma campaign.70

Morale Operations expanded further still in late 1944 and early 1945 when the Japanese were forced out of Burma and the war moved to China. While operations in China fell outside of SEAC’s jurisdiction and thus outside of P Division’s authority to coordinate, OSS benefited when General Albert Coady Wedemeyer replaced Stilwell as the commander of the China theater in November 1944. Perhaps uniquely among American theater commanders, Wedemeyer had a strong relationship with OSS for the entirety of the war. Wedemeyer had served on the Joint Psychological Warfare Board, a short-lived War Department effort to oversee psychological warfare operations from Washington before these were assigned to OSS/Morale Operations and OWI sections at each of the theater commands, and he had remained on friendly terms with OSS ever since.71 Wedemeyer made no effort to change the command relationships that had proven so beneficial to the Morale Operations Branch in Burma, and so the branch’s operations in China flourished under Wedemeyer’s tenure as theater commander. 

From November 1944 to the war’s conclusion 10 months later, the Morale Operations Branch deployed some 25 two-person teams into Japanese-occupied China.72 These teams, embedded among larger Special Operations Branch elements training Chinese guerrillas, deployed with their own mobile production equipment, including three-pound printing presses specially developed for covert propaganda production by highly mobile teams.73 These teams, and the networks of local agents that they established, were able to distribute material across hundreds of miles of occupied territory.74 Much of this material was aimed at convincing Chinese troops loyal to the Japanese-sponsored puppet government in Shanghai to defect to the Chinese Nationalists. These efforts were highly effective in inducing Chinese puppet troops to defect, to the point that the Chinese general commanding the Nationalist 34th Army considered the Morale Operations team in Shanxi Province to be more effective in degrading Japanese combat power than all of the Allied bombing campaigns undertaken in the same area.75 In other cases, their efforts took a more tangible and immediate effect, as when a Morale Operations-induced strike by the rickshaw drivers of Fuzhou paralyzed Japanese troop movements in and around the city just prior to its capture by Nationalist forces.76 These operations continued right up until the Japanese surrender following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945. By the end of the war, the teams had collectively distributed millions of pieces of propaganda reaching the entirety of occupied China, from Hong Kong in the south to Shenyang in the northeast, significantly weakening the Japanese hold on mainland China.77



Psychological and unconventional warfare are inherently complementary functions in that they aim to undermine enemy strength (both mental and physical) from within. Among the lessons learned from the Morale Operations Branch experience is that psychological messaging is most effective when distributed by human sources (such as those recruited by their Special Operations Branch counterparts) rather than by remote delivery such as radio and air-dropped leaflet or, in more modern contexts, social media. There is no denying that these technologies can reach vastly larger audiences far more quickly than messages disseminated by people, but the message’s credibility can be greatly enhanced if it is delivered by a human agent who appears to be a member of the target audience’s own side. Indeed, in the contemporary operating context, Russian disinformation agents seem to have learned this lesson and are laundering their deceptive messaging through legitimate media sources rather than simply disseminating it far and wide through fake online personas as they did in 2016.78

Another key lesson is the importance of hiring the right skill sets for psychological warfare (including versatility with languages, written and verbal communication, and an understanding of the target audiences’ culture and mindset) and allowing the people who possess these skills sufficient latitude to employ them creatively. Barbara Lauwers, Betty MacDonald, and Edmond Taylor, the Morale Operations officers mentioned above, all had previously worked as journalists—backgrounds that gave them experience not only in developing sources and communicating clearly to a target audience but also in operating independently in sometimes austere environments. They also had a certain degree of what one might, for lack of a better term, call guile or cunning: a creative and imaginative streak that allowed them to dream up devious techniques for deceiving the enemy about the plans and intentions of their own superiors. This differed significantly from the PWD approach, which consisted of trying to convince troops, many of whom had already demonstrated a willingness to fight to the end rather than surrender. OSS’s approach gave Lauwers and MacDonald wide latitude to employ these skills as they saw fit. As the preceding sections have shown, conventional leadership decisions could be decisive in enabling this approach or in fatally undermining it.

This, indeed, is the most important lesson from the Morale Operation Branch’s experience across the three theaters in which it operated. Conventional theater commanders can have a decisive impact on the scope and quality of psychological and unconventional warfare efforts taking place within their areas of operations. When these commanders employed organizational models that allowed for smooth coordination between the elements pursuing these functions, as was the case in the Mediterranean and CBI theaters, they made a significant contribution to the success of the entire campaign. However, traditional military thinking that prizes decisive victory through lethal action can result in organizational decisions that sever the psychological warfare function from its unconventional warfare counterpart, severely limiting its utility. This demonstrates the imperative of having theater commanders who are well trained in the utility of subversive warfare functions and understand that they work best when employed in a complementary manner, rather than viewing information as a nonlethal form of indirect fire that can be disassociated from unconventional warfare activities. 

Recent statements by senior U.S. Army officers from the conventional and special operations communities suggest that these lessons have been absorbed by some elements of the Service but not by others. Conversely, U.S. Army special operations units are producing forward-looking strategic documents that suggest they understand these issues and are prioritizing the role of psychological effects in future operations. For example, the Army’s 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), which oversees all of the Army’s special warfare functions (including the Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations, and Special Forces Groups) recently produced a future strategy document entitled A Vision for 2021 and Beyond. This document makes clear that psychological operations and other nonlethal techniques to influence target audiences in sensitive operating environments will enjoy conceptual parity with the lethal capabilities of the command’s Special Forces Groups.79 It goes on to say that these functions are to be employed in a cohesive fashion by cross-functional teams in a manner similar to Lord Mountbatten’s P Division described earlier. The document includes a fictional vignette to illustrate how the concepts it describes might be used to counter Chinese influence in Africa. In this short story, it is the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units that play a decisive role through their ability to influence local stakeholders, and the Special Forces Detachment supports them by providing nonviolent support to local protests.80 All objectives are accomplished by engaging with and leveraging key stakeholders and without resort to lethal action.

This stands in contrast with the efforts of U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER), which is currently seeking to rename itself U.S. Army Information Warfare Command and to take responsibility for not only cyber operations but also space operations, electronic warfare, psychological operations, and public affairs.81 The argument for this expanded mission is that because so much of the information that could impact an adversary’s decisions is carried over digital platforms susceptible to cyber or electromagnetic interference that a cyber command is best positioned to conduct information operations over those systems. In comments to the C4ISRNET, a technology-oriented defense news site, the ARCYBER commanding general, Lieutenant General Stephen G. Fogarty said that 

It’s more frequent that we will have task to conduct a cyberspace effects operation to generate an [information operations] IO effect. Or we’re going to deliver IO content. We’re bowing to the reality that offensively, this is what commanders in many cases want us to do for them.82


However, it does not follow that because information is carried to human recipients over technical systems, that the best organizations and doctrines for conducting information warfare are those originating in technical disciplines. As Dr. Herb Lin, a cyber warfare expert at Stanford University noted:

The strongly technical emphasis and history of the DoD cyber warfare community cause me to question whether DoD is well-positioned to embrace and integrate the psychological aspects of information operations. Various service cyber commands (including USCYBERCOM) have concentrated on acquiring the technical expertise that cyberspace operations require. This focus has been entirely proper given their missions to date, but the expertise needed to conduct psychological operations goes beyond the skill set of cyber operators.83


In a similar vein, retired Lieutenant General Charles T. Cleveland, who was from 2012 to 2015 the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, recently noted that the military conceptualizes and is organized around warfare in specific domains (air, land, sea, cyber), but that outside of the special operations community, it lacks an adequate appreciation of the human domain in which key audiences are influenced.84 Without such an appreciation, U.S. military operations will continue to push direct, technical, and often lethal solutions to intractable human problems, which will only serve to extend the frustrations faced by American forces during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the course of the past two decades.

Commanders must understand that information warfare is a fundamentally interpersonal rather than technical endeavor, regardless of whether the message is carried over technical means. It requires a deep understanding of the culture and psychology of the target audience, which can only be achieved when Psychological Operations troops leverage the persistent presence and trust-building engagement efforts employed by units operating in the human domain, such as Civil Affairs and Special Forces Groups, combat advisory units, and the military diplomats resident in the defense attaché offices and security cooperation organizations at nearly every U.S. embassy. Grouping information warfare with the more technical disciplines of cyber and electronic warfare risks repeating the experience of Morale Operations/London, in which the creative propaganda efforts seen in other theaters were paralyzed by their placement under a command accustomed to thinking in terms of immediate, direct effects against enemy units.


  1. Operation Jedburgh is the most famous OSS operation of the war and is the subject of at least four historical works: Colin Beavan, Operation Jedburgh: D-Day and America’s First Shadow War (2006); Will Irwin, Abundance of Valor: Resistance, Survival, and Liberation: 1944–45 (2010); Will Irwin, The Jedburghs: The Secret History of the Allied Special Forces, France 1944 (2005); and Benjamin F. Jones, Eisenhower’s Guerrillas: The Jedburghs, the Maquis, and the Liberation of France (2016). It is also the subject of two separate chapters in a recent Army study on special operations in major war. See Robert M. Toguchi and Michael E. Krivdo, eds., The Competitive Advantage: Special Operations in Large-Scale Combat Operations (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Army University Press, 2019).
  2. As of this writing, only historian Clayton D. Laurie has written on the Morale Operations Branch, but his work focuses on its founding and bureaucratic battles with other elements of the U.S. government’s wartime propaganda apparatus; the branch’s activities form a very minor part of his account. There is not yet a comprehensive history of the Morale Operation Branch’s operations in the field. See Clayton D. Laurie, The Propaganda Warriors: America’s Crusade Against Nazi Germany (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996).
  3.  I. C. B. Dear and M. R. D. Foot, eds., The Oxford Companion to World War II (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1995), .001.0001. Terminology for these types of operations has changed significantly in the decades since World War II. In OSS documents, the term special operations referred narrowly to the provision of weapons and training to resistance groups behind enemy lines, or what is now known in U.S. doctrine as “unconventional warfare.”
  4. Laurie, The Propaganda Warriors, 134.
  5. Sean McFate, The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder (New York: William Morrow, 2019), 109–10.
  6. Ben Connable, Jason H. Campbell, and Dan Madden, Stretching and Exploiting Thresholds for High-Order War: How Russia, China, and Iran Are Eroding American Influence Using Time-Tested Measures Short of War (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2016),
  7. Eric Robinson, “The Missing, Irregular Half of Great Power Competition, Modern War Institute at West Point, 8 September 2020.
  8. Douglas Waller, Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage (New York: Free Press, 2011), 50–55.
  9. Col William Donovan and Edgar Mowrer, Fifth Column Lessons for America (Washington, DC: American Council on Public Affairs, 1941), 8.
  10. OSS historian Bradley F. Smith saw Donovan’s fears of fascist propaganda as wildly exaggerated. Bradley F. Smith, The Shadow Warriors: O.S.S. and the Origins of the C.I.A. (New York: Basic Books, 1983), 417.
  11. Kermit Roosevelt, War Report of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), vol. 1 (New York: Walker, 1976). Original classified edition published by the Strategic Services Unit of the U.S. War Department, 1946, 29–82.
  12. Edmond Taylor, Awakening from History (Boston, MA: Gambit, 1969), 309.
  13. Laurie, The Propaganda Warriors, 93.
  14. Alfred H. Paddock U.S. Army Special Warfare: Its Origins, rev. ed. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002).
  15. Roosevelt, War Report of the OSS, vol. 1, 21.
  16. Morale Operations Field Manual—Strategic Services (Provisional) (Washington, DC: Office of Strategic Services, 1943). Digital declassified copies of OSS field manuals have been produced by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and are available online.
  17. David W. Hogan Jr., U.S. Army Special Operations in World War II (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1992), locs. 436–48 of 6884, Kindle.
  18. Hogan, U.S. Army Special Operations in World War II, loc. 454 of 6884.
  19. David E. Johnson, Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers: Innovation in the U.S. Army, 1917–1945 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998), 68.
  20. Paddock, U.S. Army Special Warfare, 18.
  21. Quoted in Michael R. Matheny, Carrying the War to the Enemy: American Operational Art to 1945 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2011), 53.
  22. Matheny, Carrying the War to the Enemy, 53.
  23. Milton E. Miles, A Different Kind of War: The Little-known Story of the Combined Guerrilla Forces Created in China by the U.S. Navy and the Chinese During World War II (New York: Doubleday, 1967), 86.
  24. Miles, A Different Kind of War, 123.
  25. Clayton D. Laurie, “General MacArthur and the OSS, 1942–1945,” Studies in Intelligence (September 2014).
  26. Leachman’s exploits are detailed in N. N. E. Bray, A Paladin of Arabia: The Biography of Brevet Lieut.-Colonel G.E. Leachman, C.I.E., D.S.O., of the Royal Sussex Regiment (London: Unicorn Press, 1936); and Shakespear’s activities are related in H. V. F. Winstone, Captain Shakespear: A Portrait (London: Jonathan Cape, 1976).
  27. A. R. B. Linderman, Rediscovering Irregular Warfare: Colin Gubbins and the Origins of Britain’s Special Operations Executive (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016), 37.
  28. M. R. D. Foot, SOE: The Special Operations Executive 1940–46 (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1984), 20–21.
  29. Linderman, Rediscovering Irregular Warfare, 100.
  30. Charles Cruickshank, The Fourth Arm: Psychological Warfare, 1938–1945 (London: Davis-Poynter, 1977), 31.
  31. Cruickshank, The Fourth Arm, 43.
  32. Paddock, U.S. Army Special Warfare, 11.
  33. Paddock, U.S. Army Special Warfare, 12.
  34. The Psychological Warfare Division, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force: An Account of Its Operations in the Western European Campaign, 19441945 (Washington, DC: War Department, 1945), 8.
  35. The Psychological Warfare Division, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, 6.
  36. PWB, Psychological Warfare Branch, Combat Team (Camp Sharpe, PA: U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Training Center, 1943), 60–61. Digital copy in author’s possession.
  37. Nelson D. Lankford, ed., OSS against the Reich: The World War II Diaries of Colonel David K. E. Bruce (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1991), loc. 1335 of 5734, Kindle.
  38. Lankford, OSS against the Reich, loc. 1855 of 5734.
  39. Lankford, OSS against the Reich, loc. 2643 of 5734.
  40. Nelson MacPherson, American Intelligence in War-time London: The Story of the OSS (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2004), 205.
  41. MacPherson, American Intelligence in War-time London, 205.
  42. Report on OSS Morale Operations in the European Theater of Operations (London: Office of Strategic Services Mission to Great Britain, 1945). Reproduced by and posted in plain text without pagination directly to the website.
  43. Report on OSS Morale Operations in the European Theater of Operations.
  44. Report on OSS Morale Operations in the European Theater of Operations.
  45. Report on OSS Morale Operations in the European Theater of Operations.
  46. Report on OSS Morale Operations in the European Theater of Operations.
  47. Report on OSS Morale Operations in the European Theater of Operations.
  48. All three of these units were established in the British Middle East Command during 1941–43, when the situation in the campaign against the German Afrika Korps was particularly desperate. After the defeat of German forces in Africa, these units went on to serve throughout the Mediterranean theater, particularly in Yugoslavia and the Dodecanese Islands. See Gavin Mortimer, The SAS in World War II: An Illustrated History (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2015); Gavin Mortimer, The SBS in World War II (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2017); and Gavin Mortimer, The Long Range Desert Group in World War II (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2017).
  49. Erasmus H. Kloman, Assignment Algiers: With the OSS in the Mediterranean Theater (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2005), 28.
  50. Laurie, The Propaganda Warriors, 196–98.
  51. Laurie, The Propaganda Warriors, 198.
  52. Elizabeth P. McIntosh, Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the OSS (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1998), 61–62.
  53. McIntosh, Sisterhood of Spies, 62–65.
  54. McIntosh, Sisterhood of Spies, 65–66.
  55. Reproductions of the original leaflets as well as English translations are available at
  56. Laurie, The Propaganda Warriors, 194.
  57. Richard J. Aldrich, Intelligence and the War against Japan: Britain, America, and the Politics of Secret Service (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 142.
  58. Barbara Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–1945 (New York: Random House, 1970), loc. 216 of 13561, Kindle.
  59. Miles, A Different Kind of War, 76.
  60. Miles, A Different Kind of War, 86.
  61. William R. Peers and Dean Brelis, Behind the Burma Road: The Story of America’s Most Successful Guerrilla Force (Boston, MA: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1963), 139.
  62. Peers and Brelis, Behind the Burma Road, 162–65.
  63. Aldrich, Intelligence and the War against Japan, 183.
  64. Aldrich, Intelligence and the War against Japan, 179.
  65. Aldrich, Intelligence and the War against Japan, 181.
  66. Elizabeth P. MacDonald, Undercover Girl (New York: Macmillan, 1947), 73.
  67. MacDonald, Undercover Girl, 80–82.
  68. MacDonald, Undercover Girl, 89–90.
  69. MacDonald, Undercover Girl, 94–97.
  70. Peers and Brelis, Behind the Burma Road, 181.
  71. Maochun Yu, OSS in China: Prelude to Cold War (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1996), 171.
  72. John W. Brunner, “OSS Teams in China,” in OSS Special Operations in China, ed. Francis B. Mills, Robert Mills, and John W. Brunner (Williamstown, NJ: Phillips Publications, 2002), 511–13.
  73. MacDonald, Undercover Girl, 167.
  74. MacDonald, Undercover Girl, 171.
  75. MacDonald, Undercover Girl, 216.
  76. MacDonald, Undercover Girl, 174.
  77. For the volume of propaganda produced, see MacDonald, Undercover Girl, 201. For the geographic spread of the OSS teams and their agent networks, see “Map: OSS Field Teams and Agent Nets in China,” reproduced in Mills, Mills, and Brunner, Special Operations in China, 498.
  78. Sheera Frenkel and Julian E. Barnes, “Russia Again Targeting Americans with Disinformation, Facebook and Twitter Say,” New York Times, 1 September 2020.
  79. A Vision for 2021 and Beyond (Fort Bragg, NC: 1st Special Forces Command [Airborne], U.S. Army Special Operations Command, 2020).
  80. A Vision for 2021 and Beyond, 13.
  81. Mark Pomerleau, “A New Name—and Focus—for Army Cyber Command?,” C4ISRNET, 21 August 2019.
  82. Pomerleau, “A New Name—and Focus—for Army Cyber Command?”
  83. Herb Lin, “Doctrinal Confusion and Cultural Dysfunction in DoD,” Cyber Defense Review 5, no. 2 (Summer 2020): 101.
  84. Charles Cleveland et al., Military Strategy in the 21st Century: People, Connectivity, and Competition (Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2018), locs. 2982–3005 of 3984, Kindle.

About the Author

Daniel de Wit is an operations support officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, and a PhD candidate in War Studies at King’s College London. The views presented here are his alone and do not reflect the position of the Defense Intelligence Agency or the U.S. Marine Corps.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Marine Corps University, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy, or the U.S. government.

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