Friday, June 23, 2017

Candidate Designs for the Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal

Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal

On December 14, 2016, President Barak H. Obama signed into law (Public Law No: 114-269) Senate Bill S.2234 to award the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in recognition of their superior service and major contributions during World War II. See this press release from the OSS Society for details.

The United States Mint recently revealed design candidates for the OSS Congressional Gold Medal, shown below. Themes for the OSS medal include the covert side of its operations, its founder William “Wild Bill” Donovan, and its activity in World War 2 in general.

The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the independent agency that reviews the designs of buildings, public spaces, and art to be placed within the boundaries of the District of Columbia, is also authorized to review candidate coin designs and make recommendations. The CFA's choices  (Obverse OSS-O-15 and Reverse OSS-O-19) are noted below.

Obverse (Front)
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Obverse 15 is the CFA pick.
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
.
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint

Reverse

Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
.
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint
Reverse 19 is the CFA's recommendation.
Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal design candidates. Image courtesy U.S. Mint

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Donovan's Devils Review in Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 60, No. 2


A review published in the Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf  section of Studies in Intelligence (Vol. 60, No. 2, June 2016) calls Donovan's Devils "a well-documented, superbly written account of how OSS established the model for today's Special Forces."

The review is at this link and is excerpted below.

Intelligence in Public Literature

Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

Compiled and reviewed by Hayden Peake

Donovan’s Devils: OSS Commandos Behind Enemy Lines—Europe, World War II, by Albert Lulushi (Arcade Publishing, 2016) 367, endnotes bibliography, photos, index.
The exploits of the OSS have been the subject of numerous histories, memoirs, and movies. The best-known tell stories of espionage behind enemy lines, Jedburgh teams in France, and counterintelligence operations in Europe. Less frequently mentioned are the OSS special operations groups commonly called OGs. Donovan’s Devils gives them long overdue attention.
The concept of a special operations capability was part of Donovan’s vision for US intelligence even before the creation of OSS in 1942. But it was not as readily accepted by his military masters as were the analysis and espionage functions of the OSS mission. Initial opposition to OGs came from military traditionalists who had no experience with elite units staffed with uniformed personnel and part of a civilian organization operating behind enemy lines, even when subject to the approval of theater commanders.
After reviewing the historical precedents for special operation-type units, intelligence historian Albert Lulushi recounts how Donovan overcame significant bureaucratic obstacles from senior war department generals, during wartime, to create the OGs. Donovan’s main argument was that the ad hoc OG he had created—on his own authority—to support Operation TORCH—the invasion of Northern Africa—proved valuable, and General Marshall said so in writing. (34)
In December 1942, the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued directive 155/4/D that, among other things, authorized the OGs. A typical OG unit contained four officers and 30 enlisted men. In addition to basic military skills, OG members needed language abilities for the target area, commando training (parachute, hand-to-hand combat), and signal communications proficiency. They were trained at the Congressional Country Club outside Washington, DC, and at various military facilities. The first group was ready for deployment in mid-1943 to support Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily. Results were modest but encouraging.
Lulushi describes OG operations, problems, and successes, in Italy, Corsica, France, and the Balkan states. In each country this included rescuing POWs from behind enemy lines. He devotes particularly detailed attention to Operation GINNY, an ill-fated mission involving an OG unit assigned to blow up a railway tunnel on the Genoa-La Spezia line. After several failed attempts, they tried again in March 1944, which was another failure, but on this attempt 15 members were captured. When the German commander in the area invoked Hitler’s directive to execute all captured saboteurs without trial, they were shot and buried in common graves. After the war, the Germans involved were tried and convicted—the commander was hanged—in the first war crimes trial, setting an important precedent for the subsequent Nuremberg Trials.
Donovan’s Devils is a well-documented, superbly written account of how OSS established the model for today’s Special Forces. As Jack Devine notes in his back-cover comments, it is a “must-read book for any student of OSS and the general public.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

BBC Radio 4 Documentary: The Albanian Operation

As part of BBC's Cold War series, security correspondent Gordon Corera hosts a 30-minute broadcast on the CIA attempts to subvert communist Albania in the late 1940s - early 1950s.

I was interviewed for this broadcast and my book, Operation Valuable Fiend, was used as background information for the radio-documentary.

The full broadcast is on the BBC Radio 4 website.
http://bbc.in/29kVKFW




Sunday, June 12, 2016

TJHSST Book Fair and B-Fest Teen Book Festival

I volunteered today at the book fair benefiting the Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology PTSA.

I am particularly thankful to all those who participated in our activities on this sad day, June 12, 2016, on the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub terror attacks. They don't deter us from living our lives and cherishing our children.

The book fair continues online from 06/12/16 to 06/17/16. Visit bn.com/bookfairs and support us by entering Bookfair ID 11847191 at checkout.

Conducting the B-Creative Workshop with local teens.
The book fair coincided with Barnes & Noble's nationwide B-Fest Teen Book Festival. As part of the festival, I hosted a special event for teens called B-Creative.

Some very bright kids attended this story development workshop created by Adaptive Studios and learned how to write a log line, create a spark page for their story, and reimagine popular characters.

Speaking to readers of Donovan's Devils.
I also hosted a discussion and signing of my books, Donovan's Devils and Operation Valuable Fiend. It was nice to meet everyone who stopped by and I enjoyed the lively discussion, especially with family members of the Italian OGs. who play a prominent role in Donovan's Devils.



Monday, June 6, 2016

Book Discussion and Signing at Barnes & Noble Tyson's Corner Center

Sunday, June 12, 2016, 3:00-5:00 PM

Book Discussion and Signing at Barnes & Noble in Tyson's Corner Center.
I will be discussing and signing Donovan's Devils and Operation Valuable Fiend at:
Barnes & Noble Booksellers

Friday, May 20, 2016

Nice review of "Donovan's Devils" on Roanoke Times

Link to the original article.

Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 12:00 am

Dangerous to the nth degree, as war itself must be, it is hard to imagine a more perilous assignment than to be inserted by parachute or small boat into the amorphous area behind the lines of an enemy well-known for their merciless savagery.
For an agent on such a mission, to be captured alive meant torture and inevitable death, usually hideously brutal. Yet even before Pearl Harbor, when the United States was forced into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had taken steps to create an agency first called the Office of Coordinator of Information; named Col. William J. Donovan as its chief; and authorized him to recruit, train and employ hundreds, then thousands, of gifted intelligence analysts. One doubts that anyone but a proven war hero, brilliant lawyer and superb organizer such as Donovan could have been successful in this unprecedented task.

Soon the group changed its title to Office of Strategic Services and expanded its role to include battalions of spies and saboteurs, operating in Europe, the Far East and many points in between. Hence the rather quaint appellation of “Donovan’s Devils,” a term possibly offered by a Hollywood flack, but quickly adopted by the Operational Groups. Though the OSS reach encompassed every theater of war, this book — by an author whose personal experience treads very close to having been a Cold War intelligence agent — is generally concerned with Western Europe and the Mediterranean region. With eight pages of illustration and maps, 18 pages of chapter notes, an 11-page bibliography and eight pages of photos, it would seem to be suitably documented. Perhaps had the maps been a bit clearer, and a few typos and misspellings been edited out, it would have appeared still better.
Among its interesting features is a series on the execution of a former Nazi general tried and condemned for his willingness to carry out Hitler’s command to shoot OSS and other agents and who ordered the murder of 15 captured Americans. Neither their uniforms nor the Geneva Convention rules availed to save them as prisoners of war.
The author describes in detail the training, arming and transportation of teams into German- and Italian-held territories, their heartening successes and lamentable failures. Failure for certain teams often meant utter destruction and barbarous reprisals on local civilian populations. Yet the effort persisted and contributed greatly to the eventual success of the regular military forces. The French Resistance, feeble at first, was gradually strengthened and supported. Huge amounts of arms, ammunition, explosives and other vital supplies and equipment were delivered by boat or parachute, and were quite useful in cutting German transportation and communications at the time of the D-Day landings in Normandy.
So “Donovan’s Devils” did their work, and their experience was not to be lost, for veterans in many cases went on to fight the Cold War, and form the nucleus of present-day Special Forces. Stimulating reading, for those who relish tales of derring-do.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Newly-discovered Video by Kim Philby

BBC found a newly-discovered video of Kim Philby speaking to East German STASI agents in 1981. From the transcript on the BBC site, it seems that Philby is telling the same story he wrote in his autobiography about his role in the US-UK joint operations against the Albanian communist government.

In my book Operation Valuable Fiend, I show that while Philby knew of the CIA-MI6 Albanian plans at the policy level, at the operational level he was kept at arm's length by the Americans. The failure of the American-sent teams in 1950 and 1951 (the only ones that Philly could have compromised) most likely was not as a result of Philby revealing the plans to the Russians.

It seems that the truth ultimately resides in the KGB archives, i.e. any records showing that KGB received information from Philby and passed it along to their mission in Albania for coordination/sharing with Sigurimi.

We won't know for sure until the Russians decide to open up.