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Historical Perspective

WW II Intelligence Culture Shock
From Europe to China: An OSS Veteran’s Reflections

Robert R. Kehoe

In January 1945, the Allied armies in northern Europe were recovering from the setback in the Ardennes campaign and were poised for the advance into Germany. The power and resistance of German forces, demonstrated repeatedly, made it clear that this was to be a harsh and difficult advance. In the Pacific, Allied forces were moving steadily against the Japanese. The wide dispersal of Allied forces and circumscribed Japanese naval and transport capabilities were liabilities for Japan in its efforts to exert control and to prepare invasion. The tenacity of the Japanese forces, despite shortages of all kinds, had been demonstrated repeatedly and would soon be reasserted in the Okinawa campaign.

One area, however, where the Japanese maintained a continual presence—and from which they exerted offensive action on several occasions during 1944—was China. Though scattered throughout China, Japanese forces were rarely vulnerable.

As Allied naval and air power made the seas increasingly difficult, Japan concentrated efforts on exploiting China for its existing and potential communication routes, attempting to establish an area of operations there.

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), CIA’s predecessor organization, made the decision to reassign some of the resources used in Europe to the China theatre, among them a number of Americans who had been members of Jedburgh teams. The Jedburgh teams, generally comprised three men (often on American, plus one French and one British national) were parachuted behind enemy lines to work with the resistance forces in France, Belgium, and Holland. The majority of these teams had completed their missions by 1945 and most of the American members had returned to the United States.

It was believed that these men—combat-experienced and knowledgeable in the peculiarities of partisan warfare—could apply their skills in China.

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Posted: Oct 02, 2017 02:42 PM
Last Updated: Oct 02, 2017 05:31 PM