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CIA: SAD and SOG operations from WWII through Viet Nam
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations from WWII through Viet Nam
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations from 1975-2002
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations in Afghanistan since 2001
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations in Iraq since 2003
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations in Pakistan
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations worldwide since 2001
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division of the United States Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) responsible for covert operations, black operations and other "special activities". These programs are the more notorious of the CIA's operations, with a few exceptions such as the MKULTRA program, run by the CIA's Directorate of Science & Technology. These include covert political action and paramilitary special operations. Within SAD there are two separate groups, one for paramilitary operations and another for political action.
The Political Action Group within SAD is responsible for covert activities related to political influence, Psychological warfare and economic warfare. The rapid development of technology has added cyberwarfare to their mission. A large covert operation usually has components that involve many, or all, of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations.
- 1 World War II: creation as the OSS
- 2 Tibet 1950
- 3 Korea 1950
- 4 Ukraine 1950s
- 5 Iran 1953
- 6 Guatemala 1954
- 7 Vietnam and Laos
- 8 Cuba 1959
- 9 Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960
- 10 Cuba 1961
- 11 Iraq 1963
- 12 Brazil 1964
- 13 Republic of Ghana 1966
- 14 Bolivia 1967
- 15 Iraq 1968
- 16 Chile 1973
- 17 USSR territorial waters 1973
- 18 Afghanistan 1973-74
- 19 See Also
- 20 Citations
World War II: creation as the OSS
While the World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was technically a military agency under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in practice it was fairly autonomous of military control and enjoyed direct access to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Major General William Joseph Donovan was the head of the OSS. Donovan was a soldier and Medal of Honor recipient from World War One. He was also a lawyer and former classmate of FDR at Columbia Law School. Like the subsequent CIA, OSS included both human intelligence functions and special operations paramilitary functions. Its Secret Intelligence division was responsible for espionage, while its Jedburgh teams, a joint U.S.-UK-French unit, were an ancestor of groups that create guerrilla units, such as the U.S. Army Special Forces and the CIA. OSS' Operational Groups were larger U.S. units that carried out direct action behind enemy lines. Even during WWII, the idea of intelligence and special operations units not under strict military control was controversial. OSS operated primarily in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) and to some extent in the China-Burma-India Theater, while General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was extremely reluctant to have any OSS personnel within his area of operations.
From 1943â€“1945, the OSS also played a major role in training Kuomintang troops in China and Burma, and recruited other indigenous irregular forces for sabotage as well as guides for Allied forces in Burma fighting the Japanese army. OSS also helped arm, train and supply resistance movements, including Mao Zedong's People's Liberation Army in China and the Viet Minh in French Indochina, in areas occupied by the Axis powers. Other functions of the OSS included the use of propaganda, espionage, subversion, and post-war planning.
One of the greatest accomplishments of the OSS during World War II was its penetration of Nazi Germany by OSS operatives. The OSS was responsible for training German and Austrian commandos for missions inside Nazi Germany. Some of these agents included exiled communists and socialist party members, labor activists, anti-Nazi POWs, and German and Jewish refugees. At the height of its influence during World War II, the OSS employed almost 24,000 people.
OSS Paramilitary Officers parachuted into many countries that were behind enemy lines, including France, Norway and Greece. In Crete, OSS paramilitary officers linked up with, equipped and fought alongside Greek resistance forces against the Axis occupation.
OSS was disbanded shortly after World War II, with its intelligence analysis functions moving temporarily into the U.S. Department of State. Espionage and counterintelligence went into military units. The paramilitary and related functions went into an assortment of ad hoc groups such as the Office of Policy Coordination. Between the original creation of the CIA by the National Security Act of 1947 and various mergers and reorganizations through 1952, the wartime OSS functions generally went into CIA. The mission of training and leading of guerrillas generally stayed in the United States Army Special Forces, but the missions that were required to remain covert went to the paramilitary arm of the CIA. The direct descendant of the OSS' special operations is the CIA's Special Activities Division.
After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in October 1950, the CIA inserted SAD paramilitary teams into Tibet to train and lead Tibetan resistance fighters against the People's Liberation Army of China. These teams selected and then trained Tibetan soldiers in the Rocky Mountains of the United States. The SAD teams then advised and led these commandos against the Chinese, both from Nepal and India. In addition, SAD Paramilitary Officers were responsible for the Dalai Lama's clandestine escape to India, narrowly escaping capture and certain execution by the Chinese government.
According to a book by retired CIA officer John Kenneth Knaus, entitled "Orphans Of The Cold War: America And The Tibetan Struggle For Survival", Gyalo Thondup, the older brother of the 14th (and current) Dalai Lama, sent the CIA five Tibetan recruits. These recruits were then trained in paramilitary tactics on the island of Saipan in the Northern Marianas. Shortly thereafter, the five men were covertly returned to Tibet â€œto assess and organize the resistanceâ€ and selected another 300 Tibetans for training. U.S. assistance to the Tibetan resistance ceased after the 1972 Nixon visit to China, after which the U.S. and Communist China normalized relations.
Korea 1950Korean War. These activities included maritime operations behind North Korean lines. Yong Do Island, connected by a rugged isthmus to Pusan, served as the base for those operations. These operations were carried out by well-trained Korean guerrillas. The four principal U.S. advisers responsible for the training and operational planning of those special missions were Dutch Kramer, Tom Curtis, George Atcheson and Joe Pagnella. All of these Paramilitary Operations Officer operated through a CIA front organization called the Joint Advisory Commission, Korea (JACK), headquartered at Tongnae, a village near Pusan, on the peninsulaâ€™s southeast coast. These paramilitary teams were responsible for numerous maritime raids and ambushes behind North Korean lines, as well as prisoner of war rescue operations. These were the first maritime unconventional warfare units that trained indigenous forces as surrogates. They also provided a model, along with the other CIA-sponsored ground based paramilitary Korean operations, for the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) activities conducted by the U.S. military and the CIA/SAD in Vietnam. In addition, CIA paramilitary ground-based teams worked directly for U.S. military commanders, specifically with the 8th Army, on the "White Tiger" initiative. This initiative included inserting South Korean commandos and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the two major amphibious assaults on North Korea, including the landing at Inchon.
The CIA funded anti-communist movements in the Ukraine after WWII, but since the Ukraine was fully part of the USSR they dared not do more. Those they funded fought to attract others to their cause and in the belief that the US would, upon seeing their successes, join the fight, making the rebellions a practical effort. It was not until after the significant rebellions in Hungary and East Berlin came and went with no US participation that the anti-communists realized that the US was not coming to help.
In the early 1950s, the CIA and Britain's MI6 were ordered to overthrow the government of Iran, Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq; they installed the Nazi General Fazlollah Zahedi as Prime Minister. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, son of the Nazi collaborator Reza Pahlavi, under whose regime Iran was the leading exporter of materiel to Nazi Germany, later lead in the semi-dictatorial position of Shah. The CIA's plan was named Operation Ajax. The senior CIA officer was Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grandson of American president Theodore Roosevelt. The operation utilized all of SAD's components to include political action, covert influence and paramilitary operations. The paramilitary component included training anti-Communist guerrillas to fight the Tudeh Party if they seized power in the chaos of Operation Ajax.
Vietnam and LaosVietnam under Major Archimedes Patti was to work with Ho Chi Minh in order to prepare his forces to assist the United States and their Allies in fighting the Japanese. After the end of World War II, the United States ignored the attempts of Ho Chi Minh to maintain a friendly relationship. The lack of engagement between the U.S. and Vietnamese independence groups that were resisting the return of French colonial control after the end of WWII, angered Vietnamese groups.
CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers trained and led Hmong tribesmen in Laos and Vietnam. This effort was considered a significant success, and the actions of these officers were not known for several years. Air America was the air component of the CIA's paramilitary mission in Southeast Asia and was responsible for all combat, logistics and search and rescue operations in Laos and certain sections of Vietnam. The ethnic minority forces numbered in the tens of thousands and they conducted direct actions mission, led by Paramilitary Operations Officers, against the communist Pathet Lao forces and their North Vietnamese allies.
Elements of SAD were seen in the CIA's Phoenix Program. One component of the Phoenix Program was involved in the capture and killing of suspected Viet Cong (National Liberation Front â€“ NLF) members. Between 1968 and 1972, the Phoenix Program captured 81,740 National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong) members, of whom 26,369 were killed. This was a large proportion of U.S. killings between 1969 and 1971. The program was also successful in destroying their infrastructure. By 1970, communist plans repeatedly emphasized attacking the government's "pacification" program and specifically targeted Phoenix agents. The NLF also imposed quotas. In 1970, for example, communist officials near Da Nang in northern South Vietnam instructed their agents to "kill 400 persons" deemed to be government "tyrant[s]" and to â€œannihilateâ€ anyone involved with the "pacification" program. Several North Vietnamese officials have made statements about the effectiveness of Phoenix.
MAC-V SOG (Studies and Observations Group) (which was originally named the Special Operations Group, but was changed for cover purposes), was created and active during the Vietnam War. While CIA was just one part of MAC-V SOG, it did have operational control of some of the programs. Many of the military members of MAC-V SOG joined the CIA after their military service. The legacy of MAC-V SOG continues within SAD's Special Operations Group.
- See also: The Cuban Project, Operation Mongoose, Operation Northwoods, and Cuba-United States relations
Under initiatives by the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations, CIA trained Cuban anti-communist exiles and refugees to land in Cuba and attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. Plans for the invasion of Cuba were originally formed under Eisenhower, and later scaled back under Kennedy.
Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960
Patrice Ã‰mery Lumumba, an African anti-colonial leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after he helped to win its independence from Belgium in June 1960, was deposed in a US CIA-sponsored coup during the Congo Crisis. He was subsequently imprisoned and assassinated under controversial circumstances.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion (known as "La Batalla de GirÃ³n", or "Playa GirÃ³n" in Cuba), was an unsuccessful attempt by a U.S.-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba with support from U.S. government armed forces, to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The plan was launched in April 1961, less than three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency in the United States. The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, defeated the exile combatants in three days.
The sea-borne invasion force landed on April 17, and fighting lasted until April 19, 1961. CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers led the first assault on the beaches, and supervised the amphibious landings. Four American aircrew instructors from Alabama Air National Guard were killed while flying attack sorties. Various sources estimate Cuban Army casualties (killed or injured) to be in the thousands (between 2,000 and 5,000). This invasion was a failure both militarily and politically. Deteriorating Cuban-American relations were made worse by the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
- See also: CIA activities in Iraq
In 1963, the United States is claimed to have backed a coup against the government of Iraq headed by General Abdel Karim Kassem, who five years earlier had deposed the Western-allied Iraqi monarchy. The CIA helped the new Baath Party government in ridding the country of suspected leftists and Communists.
To pave the way for the new regime, the CIA is claimed to have provided to the Baathists lists of suspected Communists and other leftists. The new regime is claimed to have used these lists to orchestrate a bloodbath, systematically murdering untold numbers of Iraq's educated eliteâ€”killings in which Saddam Hussein himself is said to have participated. The victims included hundreds of doctors, teachers, technicians, lawyers and other professionals as well as military and political figures. According to an article in the New York Times, the U.S. sent arms to the new regime, weapons later used against the same Kurdish insurgents the U.S. supported against Kassem and then abandoned. American and U.K. oil and other interests, including Mobil, British Petroleum and Bechtel, were once again conducting business in Iraq.
A democratically-elected government headed by President JoÃ£o Goulart was successfully overthrown by a CIA-supported coup in March 1964. Declassified U.S. government documents show that members of the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson engaged in active preparations to aid Brazil's military coup plotter, and the U.S. was preparing support for a bloody coup, however in the event no blood appeared to have been shed. A military dictatorship which lasted for 21 years was successfully installed.
Republic of Ghana 1966
The leader of the new Baathist government, Salam Arif, died in 1966 and his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, not a Ba'athist, assumed the presidency. Said K. Abuirsh alleges that in 1967, the government of Iraq was very close to giving concessions for the development of huge new oil fields in the country to France and the USSR. PBS reported that Robert Anderson, former secretary of the treasury under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, secretly met with the Ba'ath Party and came to a negotiated agreement according to which both the oil field concessions and sulphur mined in the northern part of the country would go to United States companies if the Ba'ath again took over power. In 1968, with a claimed backing of the CIA, Rahman Arif was overthrown by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr of the Baath Party, bringing Saddam Hussein to the threshold of power.
Roger Morris in the Asia Times writes that the CIA deputy for the Middle East Archibald Roosevelt (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt and cousin of Kermit Roosevelt, Jr.) stated, referring to Iraqi Ba'ath Party officers on his payroll in the 1963 and 1968 coups, "They're our boys, bought and paid for, but you always gotta remember that these people can't be trusted." General Ahmed Bakr was installed as president. Saddam Hussein was appointed the number two man.
USSR territorial waters 1973
In 1973, SAD/SOG built and deployed the USNS Glomar Explorer (T-AG-193), a large deep-sea salvage ship, on a secret operation. This operation was called Project Azorian (erroneously called Project Jennifer by the press). Its mission was to recover a sunken Soviet submarine, Template:Ship, which had been lost in April 1968. Once the operation was exposed in the press, the official account was that a mechanical failure caused two-thirds of the submarine to break off during recovery. They did acknowledge that they recovered two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, cryptographic machines and the bodies of six Soviet submariners. However, "Red Star Rogue" claims that all of K-129 was recovered and that the official account was an "elaborate cover-up".
Also in the 1970s, the U.S. Navy, the National Security Agency (NSA) and SAD/SOG conducted Operation Ivy Bells and a series of other missions to place wire taps on Soviet underwater communications cables designed to fall off if they were raised for maintenance. These operations were covered in detail in the 1998 book Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage. The recording devices were placed and replaced each month by divers operating from a specially designed submarine.
Roger Morris, writing in the Asia Times, argues that as early as 1973-74, the CIA began offering covert backing to Islamic radical rebels in Afghanistan premised on the claim that the right-wing, authoritarian government headed by Mohammed Daoud Khan, might prove a likely instrument of Soviet military aggression in South Asia. Morris argues that this premise was without basis in fact; Daoud had always held the Russians, his main patron when it came to aid, at arm's length, and had savagely purged local communists who supported him when he overthrew the Afghan monarchy in 1973. The Soviets had also shown no inclination to use the notoriously unruly Afghans and their army for any expansionist aim. Morris claims that during this period U.S. foreign policy leaders saw the Soviets as always being "on the march." This apprehension resulted in a rash of U.S. secret wars, assassinations, terrorist acts and manifold corruptions. U.S. secret backing of radical Islamic rebels ceased following an abortive rebel uprising in 1975.
- Anautonomy and Disautonomy (regime change) Removal and corruption, respectively, of autonomous governments, democratic or otherwise, and the corruption, disruption, or purely anti-democratic practices in (most notably) Cuba, Grenada, Guatemala, Iran, Korea, Palestine, Panama, and Viet Nam
- Cold War covert overthrow of governments by the US
- Post-Cold War covert overthrow of governments by the US
- Guatemalan coup d'Ã©tat of 1954
- Invasion of Cuba: Operations Pluto and Zapata
- Iranian coup d'Ã©tat of 1953
- Guerrilla warfare
- Peace Corps including allegations of CIA infiltration into the otherwise benevolent institution
- Plausible deniability
- School of the Americas
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