The 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, Separate (Provisional), is or was:

Here’s a question for all y’all (or in our native New England turkey-herdish, for youse guys). Answer after the jump:

The 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, Separate (Provisional), is or was:

 
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The 2671st Reconnaissance was a cover used by the OSS Operational Groups, the principal forerunner of today’s Special Forces ODA.

The OGs were an effort of OSS Special Operations division (OSS-SO), along with the perhaps better known Jedburghs, which were three-man multinational teams.  The OGs were larger, with  about thirty-two men, able to split into two 15-man teams and a HQ element. The individual teams had two officers and 13 NCOs in a balance of specialties — weapons, engineering, communications, medical and logistics — and provided a prototype for the Operational Detachment Alpha that would be created when SF stood up in 1952.

The OGs operated in several denied areas in World War II, including France, Italy, Greece, and Yugoslavia in the European Theater of Operations, and China, Burma, and Malaya in the China, Burma, India Theater of Operations. (Macarthur was able to exclude OSS operations, including the OGs, from the Pacific Theater). Some of these operations were quite large, with a total of 356 men being landed behind German lines in France as part of the French OG effort.

The OGs always operated in uniform, hoping to claim the protection of the laws of land warfare if captured. As it happens, the Germans flouted the law under Hitler’s notorious Kommandobefehl, and customarily murdered captured OG members. The Japanese also generally mistreated prisoners, but in their case an argument could be made that the cause was incompetence, not organized barbarism; it wasn’t centrally-established and generally-followed policy to murder captives.

In addition to these SO Branch operational elements, the OSS SI — Secret Intelligence — Branch operated successfully in some of the same countries as the Jeds and OGs, and also right into Germany, deploying singleton espionage agents and small networks, generally known by their SOE term “circuits” or the French reseaux. These agents were spies, and if captured, they got the spy’s treatment (and the officers and men that executed them were not pursued for war crimes).

For more information on the OGs, try:

1. The OG manual, 25 April 1944, main Internet Archive page

…and .pdf version

Sample of the common sense within:

Since OG personnel operate in uniform they must rely on concealment and secrecy to safeguard their operations. Concealment,is of particular important to OG’s because- they are small in number and can be severely weakened by the loss of even a few men. Prior to their entry, OG’s should be issued camouflage clothing appropriate to the season and terrain. OG’s will be obliged in most cases to avoid cities and towns where the enemy or his agents may be encountered. Semi­ permanent concealment in mountainous or forested areas may be available, and native sympathizers will be induced to provide hiding-places in their homes and barns when this is feasible. In some areas enemy con­ trols may be so rigid as to compel OG’s to keep on the move, changing bivouac sites frequently.

2. CGSC paper by MAJ John W, Shaver III, USA, 1993: Office of the Strategic Services: Operational Groups in France During World War II, July-October 1944.
3. Greek/American OG Memoirs of WWII:
http://www.pahh.com/oss/

This last one is really interesting! The Greeks were Company C of the 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, which brings the discussion full circle.

 

17 thoughts on “The 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, Separate (Provisional), is or was:

  1. Gray

    “Macarthur was able to exclude OSS operations, including the OGs, from the Pacific Theater.”

    Why did he desire that?

    1. Hognose Post author

      1. Macarthur, a lifelong politician in uniform, was a Republican and loathed FDR. Although he was (grudgingly) subordinate to him.
      2. Donovan was a lifelong Republican, but also a friend of FDR from law school. This made Mac hate Donovan even more.
      3. Mac did not want any power base in the PTO and SWPA that was not his. He grudgingly accepted the Navy. But an intel organization that had the ear of the President and that didn’t report through him?
      4. Mac had an unreasonable faith in this intel officer, the fool Willoughby.

      Of all these, #3 was probably the most important.

      One more factor: J. Edgar Hoover, who also loathed the OSS, backed Macarthur (and counted Macarthur’s backing to keep OSS out of the Caribbean and Central and South America). Hoover had designs on making the FBI the sole national espionage agency, also. It may be FDR’s single greatest service to America that he never permitted this, except in the Western Hemisphere.

      1. W. Fleetwood

        To be fair, the OSS had the habit of promising the locals in one valley pretty much anything they wanted, while another OSS unit a couple of valleys over was promising their locals anything they wanted, while another OSS unit down in the flatlands was promising……….and so on. The OSS of course expected to fly out the day after VE or VJ day and let somebody else sort out the mess of conflicting promises. Macarthur, who expected to be the guy sorting out the Phillipines didn’t want to deal with a dozen or more IOUs signed “OSS / For the USA (Trust us boys!).

        1. Hognose Post author

          One of the lessons of the OGs and Jeds (and SOE’s SO Branch), that has been incorporated in doctrine, in Robin Sage, and I’d expect in the UW play of JADE HELM 15, is that it’s absolutely critical to demobilize and disarm your Gs.

          In Greece, SOE mostly armed royalists and republicans, but OSS also armed Communists as well as the other two factions, and thus contributed to the Greek Civil War. Some aspects of the ongoing Karen and Kachin insurgencies in Burma have their roots in OSS Det 101.

          So… lesson learned. There’s a formal demob ceremony where Mr Maquis turns in his Sten and gets a little medal and a pay packet and the thanks of a grateful nation. At least, in doctrine there is.

          In Afghanistan in 2001, SF and Agency guys worked with a wider range of warlords and factions than were able to work together afterward. We almost brought Jalaluddin Haqqani in on our side, almost. We did have Pacha Khan Zadran for a while. PKZ and Haqqani quickly became part of the problem, in part because they perceived too much Tajik influence in Karzai’s government. And frankly, in part because they thought they could get a better deal personally and for family/tribe/village-center-of-power from the other guys, and in part because some of the other guys with the government were guys they hated more than they loved anything.

      2. Pathfinder

        #3 was probably more important in WW II, but #4 bit us in the ass come the Korean War.

      3. Tom Kratman

        The short version was that MacArthur’s theology was unsound. You see, he was certain there was a fourth person in the Trinity.

        And he wasn’t even particularly competent and, often enough, he was disastrously incompetent.

  2. Aesop

    (G) It was the designation of the Illuminati Bilderburger freemasonry worldwide consortium secret attack squad that was planning to take over the country and fluoridate our drinking water. Just like now. It sez so on YouTube, and those people never lie, or it wouldn’t be allowed on the Intarnetz.

    1. Leslie Bates

      Uh huh. And the two guys dressed as women who forced their onto the grounds of the NSA Headquarters in Fort Meade were not terrorists! Do they really expect us to believe that?

  3. S

    Ok, I guessed 1966….wrong! At least I didn’t blow the OSS’s cover; the Kempetai are even now sneaking up a jungle river in Indochina, heeding the cook’s advice to stay on the boat no matter how many mangoes they see on the banks.

  4. Y.

    I guessed it, but only because I’ve read Cryptonomicon, the rather good and funny novel which featured the fictional* detachment 2702. I guess that number was chosen (also) because of background material…

    *tasked with manufacturing plausible reasons for allies to ‘know’ Axis movements and dispositions.

  5. Aesop

    Actually the number was chosen because the secret Illuminati Decoder Ring translates it to
    2 sixes and (7-1)=6, so it is, in fact, 666, the Mark Of The Beast. QED.

    There’s probably a way Penn & Teller could do that with any deck of cards too, but I don’t know the trick to it.

  6. S

    (Psssssst! Open a window in ICU, the nurses are getting weird. It might be that excess anaesthetic the postops are breathing out in there……)

    1. Hognose Post author

      It refers to removing government-owned military arms from disbanded military units, that’s all. If the government then sells them on the surplus market to the same civilians, that’s their call.

      1. McThag

        Why on earth would a nation with a second amendment support the creation or continuation of one without is what I am getting at.

        1. Hognose Post author

          The US “occupation” allowed Afghan and Iraqi private citizens to retain personal weapons.

          Bear in mind, too, that while the military may work for a representative republic, it isn’t one. Internally, it has elements of feudal monarchy and elements of socialist dictatorship. As a result, many people within the military are politically infantilized, much as subjects of absolutist and totalitarian states are.

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