Army Special Operations Soldiers,
It is important to understand how the past has influenced Army Special Operations Forces. One of America’s legendary paramilitary organizations during WWII was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) whose field ranks were largely filled by detailed military personnel. As a wartime organization, it became a USASOC legacy unit because a number of their Army personnel played important roles during the formative years of Special Warfare after the war.
The OSS was a complex intelligence organization with paramilitary capabilities that was given highest priority to recruit within the military services. Major General William J. Donovan, a WWI veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, reported to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the chief of an independent agency under the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The OSS functions most relevant to today’s ARSOF are: Operational Groups (OGs); Maritime Unit (MU); Special Operations (SO); Morale Operations (MO); and Secret Intelligence (SI) Branches.
This website features a primer on OSS wartime activities and functions and republished copies of the declassified manuals for each of the above elements. Although disbanded shortly after WWII, Army veterans assigned to the Psywar Center used their OSS manuals to create Special Forces units and to teach special operations tactics, techniques, and procedures. Individual training, group classes, and field exercises were conducted on Smoke Bomb Hill, Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall, NC, and in Pisgah National Forest, SC. Knowledge about the connection of OSS to Army SOF is important to your professional development.
CHARLES T. CLEVELAND
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army