OSS Simple Sabotage Mini-Manual

FOOM!We think we’ve covered this booklet before. If we have, it wasn’t recently, and it deserves to be plugged again.

This is the Simple Sabotage Field Manual of the OSS. (PDF hosted at CIA.gov). It is not a guidebook in blowing up castles or dynamiting the Hoover Dam (good luck with that). Instead, it’s hints towards executing the sort of resistance that exists in the uncertain grey spaces between active resistance and simple dumb insolence. It’s less FOOM actually, and more lapping compound in the oil filler. It doesn’t make you Rambo, but it can make you Good Soldier Schweik.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

Sabotage varies from highly technical coup de main acts that require detailed planning and the use of specially trained operatives, to innumerable simple acts which the ordinary individual citizen-saboteur can perform. This paper is primarily concerned with the latter type. Simple sabotage does not require specially prepared tools or equipment; it is executed by an ordinary citizen who may or may not act individually and without the necessity for active connection with an organized group; and it is carried out in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection, and reprisal.

Where destruction is involved, the weapons of the’ citizen-saboteur are salt, nails, candles, pebbles, thread, or any other materials he might normally be expected to possess as a householder or as a worker in his particular occupation. His arsenal is the kitchen shelf, the trashpile, his own usual kit of tools and supplies. The targets of his sabotage are usually objects to which he has normal and inconspicuous access in everyday life.

The unnamed author of the manual goes on to suggest something akin to Good Soldier Schweik’s legendary passive resistance. The Austrian officers bedeviled by Schweik (a fictional character) never quite could pin him down as a resister; instead, they took him for an idiot.

There are numerous good suggestions and concepts here, including, “Try to commit acts for which large numbers of people could be responsible,” and:

Do not be afraid to commit acts for which you might be blamed directly, so long as you do so rarely, and as long as you have a plausible excuse: you dropped your wrench across an electric circuit because an air raid had kept you up the night before and you were halt-dozing at work. Always be profuse in your apologies. Frequently you can “get away” with such acts under the cover of pretending stupidity, Ignorance, over-caution, fear of being suspected of sabotage, or weakness and dullness due to undernourishment.

Note that those last few suggestions carry a second sabotage, a propagandistic one, in the response to the accusation. In effect, the saboteur is playing chess a couple of moves ahead. This only works where there’s some restraint on the CI forces, of course, but note that it worked against Nazis and, in some places, against Communists, both noted for their ruthlessness.

We may be needing this information. Don’t rely on the CIA to keep it available forever; save a copy locally, or better yet, print one out.

16 thoughts on “OSS Simple Sabotage Mini-Manual

  1. Boat Guy

    Reading it, especially the later “office” stuff leads me to believe these “techniques” have been completely assimilated by most “Public-Sector Union” employees. Are you certain this isn’t an SEIU or AFSME manual?

    1. Tom Stone

      Sigh, I went by the city of Windsor to find out the zoning of two properties ( No, you can’t call and get the information…after going through voice mail hell you can leave a message…which won’t elicit a response) and used their internal computer system to request the needed information ( No, you can’t Email them from your office) and with any luck I’ll have a response in two or three business days. How responsive the response will be is another matter…They be real good at servicing the populace.

    2. OBob

      The last 5-6 pages of that manual have made the rounds of my office for years. My favorites are to be as surely and argumentative as possible without getting into trouble, act stupid and misunderstand instructions, and, most importantly, never make a decision when you can appoint a committee instead.

      1. Hognose Post author

        I do think there are a lot of saboteurs in DC. Thank God! Imagine if we were getting all the government we pay for.

        1. archy

          ***(12) General Devices for Lowering Morale and Creating
          Confusion
          (a) Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations
          when questioned.
          (b). Report imaginary spies or danger to the
          Gestapo…police. –
          (c) Act stupid.
          (d) Be as irritable and, quarrelsome as possible
          ***

          Now we know where the DOD diversity programs are coming from, and why.

  2. looserounds.com

    Wow thanks for posting this, I had it printing 10 seconds after following the link.
    many moons ago I had a Army field manual on =.what was it’s name.. Improvised incendiary devices? something along those lines. My older brother’s high school friend spent 20 some years in the Rangers and when he officially retired he came out and gave me a copy of the Army’s sniper TM they study during sniper school, which apparently Ernie flunked out of. It happens I guess. He also gave me the survival FM and some other one, Pretty neat stuff. None of it hard to get of course, but still pretty nifty and useful.

    I came “this close” to buying an ancient army training manual on . using machine guns as indirect fire. But then something more pressing took my money. I do regret not getting it though. I have never seen another one and it was very old and a antique militaria store. I ended up buy a Vietnam war era dated ERDL bonnie hat that was mint instead if anyone wonders why I passed on it

    1. archy

      ***I came “this close” to buying an ancient army training manual on . using machine guns as indirect fire. But then something more pressing took my money. I do regret not getting it though.***

      Perhaps you would find the 1979 essay by a Major of Canada’s Patricias on the *Old One* and his friends the *Emma Gees* to be a suitable substitute. Do not miss the link to the second part, which very nicely covers the rebirth, and brings the material kicking and screaming into the latter half of the XX Century…and maybe even into the XXIst.

      The Rise, Fall, & Rebirth of The ‘Emma Gees’
      by Major K.A. Nette, PPCLI

      The Rise, Fall, & Rebirth of The ‘Emma Gees’
      http://regimentalrogue.com/emmagees/emmagees1.htm.

      The Rise, Fall, & Rebirth of The ‘Emma Gees’ (Part 2)http://regimentalrogue.com/emmagees/emmagees2.htm

    1. archy

      “… and more lapping compound in the oil filler.”

      Eeeeevil!

      Don’t forget the red Loctite on the metal valve stem caps after you’ve let a bit of the air out.

  3. DSM

    “…Always be profuse in your apologies. Frequently you can “get away” with such acts under the cover of pretending stupidity, Ignorance,…”

    Interestingly enough, the same advice is also written in the How to Survive a Marriage.

    1. Miles

      A close friend, and a pastor at the time, once advised that a husband better realize that he was always responsible, even, and especially, when he wasn’t ‘at fault’.

  4. Aesop

    For the saboteur, complexity = opportunity. A few minutes’ careful thought, and the right items, can wreak more havoc than a truckload of AMFO, with both a lower signature, body count, or likelihood of detection or apprehension. The OSS and SOE had this concept well in mind when national survival was at stake.

    Thanks for the link.

    Most military manuals in current (and many past) forms can be found in pdf format on the ‘netz, with a modicum of diligent search. You can put a few thousand pounds’ weight and dollars’ worth of worthwhile USGOV printed matter on an 8GB thumb drive for nothing but internet access and the cost of the thumb drive.

    A person would have to be crazy not to take advantage of that boon.

  5. DaveP

    It’s been years since I’ve seen my copy but the OSS FM reads like the Anarchist’s Cookbook.

    DaveP

  6. Simon

    They used to say to throw a bicycle frame into the transformer park at 9:00 am on a Wednesday. For some reason that was the point of peak electricity usage and one good short circuit was enough to take down a large piece of the grid.

  7. archy

    ***It is not a guidebook in blowing up castles or dynamiting the Hoover Dam (good luck with that). ***

    Hold my beer, and watch this! Hey, get your phone out, and get a video of it….

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