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Old 31 January 2015, 16:48
Devildoc Devildoc is offline
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First SEALs

The title may be a tad misleading, this book is about the OSS and the standing up of a maritime special operations capability. I love books that show what happens in war when rules are bent to facilitate innovation, how units are stood up, etc. Fast read, good book.
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Old 31 January 2015, 18:38
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The book was excellent and there many surprises found in its pages. Who know that Sterling Hayden - yes, him of Dr. Strangelove and the Godfather - was a member of the Maritime Unit of the OSS?

And that leads me to a question, Frogmen. Are members of this unit officially recognized on the verification list?
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Old 31 January 2015, 21:13
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Originally Posted by Justaclerk View Post
And that leads me to a question, Frogmen. Are members of this unit officially recognized on the verification list?
No. I suspect their absence from the Database that we few work from is caused by the OSS Frogs (if that was their title) were assigned to some Unit that did not keep a Daily Diary, from which the current Database was taken from.

Being a mix of many services that made up the OSS it is not known who or how a Database for those in those days was created.
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Old 31 January 2015, 21:33
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Would seem to me, as it is actually, that any members of a Maritime OSS unit would have their lineage with Army Special Forces. As any who served with the OSS operational units are authorized to wear the Special Forces tab. US Army Special Forces traces it's lineage from WWII's OSS teams and the First Special Service Force. Operations though, were more closely aligned with that of the work OSS teams did, even today.

So a OSS maritime unit, would be more in line, and have the lineage, of a Special Forces dive or scout swimmer/water infiltration team (like use to have). More in line with, and throughout Special Forces history, there have been Special Forces water operations and underwater combat operations training. Such as now with the Special Forces Underwater Combat Operations School, which if I understand it is a combination of the older SF combat dive course, combined with the short lived Water Infil Course, which use to be a separate course. I was perviously on a SF water infil/scout swim team. In the companies, at least in 1st Group back in the 1990s, each company had one ODA that was a Dive team, and one ODA that was a Water Infil team (Kayaks, Zodiacs, and swimming - but no diving) - and many times the water infil team, if doing just swim ops or water infil with zodiacs or kayaks would train together.

Anyway, so any OSS maritime operations personnel, should correctly be on the SF data base, not the SEAL data base.
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Last edited by leopardprey; 31 January 2015 at 21:43.
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Old 31 January 2015, 21:53
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If you take a look at the TTPs of OSS teams in Europe and Asia, you will see they are very similar in many aspects to todays TTPs of SF's UW role.

And the make up/set up of OSS teams, including missions, in the CBI theatre of WWII, were very similar to later how SF SOG teams were operating in Vietnam - as well as places all around the world for the last 40 years, up to including present day.
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Old 1 February 2015, 00:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leopardprey;

[B
Anyway, so any OSS maritime operations personnel, should correctly be on the SF data base, not the SEAL data base[/B].
Without lifting the skirt so high you see all the goodies, I assure you there is a clandestine function within the CIA, and in its early days the OSS, that administered Military personnel assigned to the OSS, and presently the CIA.

If permanently assigned to the CIA, PCS, these personnel are administered by and within the CIA. Those whom are TDY remain being administered by their original parent Unit.

The current Database of Frogs/SEALs was created by a group of Frogs/SEALs that descended upon St. Louis and finger to eyeball checked the assignments of each member reflected on the Database. A very difficult task taking a long spread of time.

There is nothing to discuss here. In WWII your were either in the OSS or you were not. What your Specialty was did not determine who handled your career/service administration.

The title SEALs was not created until 1961, with commissioning personnel thereto taken from UDT Teams.
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Old 1 February 2015, 01:27
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Cass,

What I was meaning was that back in WWII, those that were OSS, would now be considered as part of the SF lineage, and thus on that database. As service in the OSS, qualified one to receive the Special Forces Tab, when the tab became authorized for all SF qualified personnel in the 1984 (IIRC).

So unless in WWII there were specific Navy UDT or other personnel dispatched to the OSS maritime services, then the regular OSS personnel would adhere to the SF lineage, and the OSS water type operations would further be developed by SF water operations.

Now, from what I understand, the OSS after WWII was dissolved and basically what was the OSS became the CIA, but many of the UW type operations of the OSS were transferred over to the creation of the US Army Special Forces, many of whose founders were prior OSS operatives themselves. So thus both the CIA and the US Army Special Forces can both trace their roots to the OSS.

I just think it was incorrect to refer to OSS maritime "operators" during WWII as being the "First SEALs", as would have been more accurate to refer to the OSS maritime "operators" as the "First Special Forces Combat Divers".
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Old 1 February 2015, 02:05
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A couple of points from the book may shed some light on the lineage aspects.

1. Up until February 1943 there was no Maritime Unit but a Maritime Authority that was tasked to train OSS's Special Operations unit in maritime sabotage and boat handling. On the 18th of the month Gen. Donovan approved the formation of the Underwater Swimmer Group (USG) whose members became the first underwater combat swimmers.

2. Lieutenants Robert J.H. Duncan (USNR) and Jack Taylor (USN) led the development of the organization of the unit and the training effort. The book describes Duncan as a, "tall, squared-jawed, determined man with a thick crop of black hair and very strong opinions." In addition, two of the other men tasked to develop the unit were both former Navy divers, Gunner's Mate Second class John P. Spence and Gunner's Mate Third Class Norman W. Wicker.

3. Training was initially conducted in Annapolis, but they had to vie with the midshipmen for pool time and it was difficult to keep the Lambertsen Amphibious Rebreather Unit (LARU) under wraps in such an open environment. Also, the men initially trained in the Potomac, but that was later deemed unsuitable as a training area because the unit would be conducting operations in salt water. This then set the stage for the training to be conducted elsewhere on eastern seaboard and the location that was selected was Fort Pierce.

In my naÔve opinion this kind of muddies the waters (no pun intended) as far as the lineage.
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Last edited by Justaclerk; 1 February 2015 at 02:21.
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Old 1 February 2015, 03:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justaclerk;


[B
In my naÔve opinion this kind of muddies the waters (no pun intended) as far as the lineage[/B].
Kinda funny to me. When my field investigation was complete I was directed to Wash DC for 3 and one-half days of eyeball further recruitment in 1960. I looked at the first Wash DC building and wondered who in the hell was so super secret as to work in a crummy building as these (The old WWII Tempos along Constitution Ave.) When I took my Lie Box I was directed to the back of a all brick building that also had no sign or title reflecting who was trying to recruit me.

I returned to my parent Unit in Colorado awaiting God's phone call that I was pure, sweet, and acceptable. The call finally came and an argument started when I was told I was on my way to Okinawa. Fuck that. I had enough Asia. Over a series of several phone calls with one higher rank phoning me next I finally was given my prize; and assignment in the sticks where there was no sticks. I still did not know who I was supposed to work for. When I arrived at my shacks in the sand I finally found out I was a CIA Green Bean. From there History took its course and I took a couple of transfers until my heart blew up and I had to take a Medical Retirement because I was getting too much pussy and free liquor to continue a stout show of being a really good spy. But.....The people I met whom are now on Histories rolls will never replace what I would have missed had I stayed in the normal service doing one of ten-million jobs that are out there for normal service personnel.

Last edited by Cass; 1 February 2015 at 03:21.
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Old 1 February 2015, 12:15
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One other short point from the book, Jesus Angleton - yes, him - was the OSS agent who vetted the former members of the Decima MAS in 1944 for inclusion into the Maritime Unit, which created a security headache but the operational value of these Italian frogmen were deemed an invaluable asset and outweighed the concerns.
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Old 1 February 2015, 14:41
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I am not a historian, but this is from the UDT-SEAL Association's homepage.

Quote:
The UDT-SEAL Association is a non-profit Veterans Support Organization whose members are made up of U.S. Navy personnel who have served, or are presently serving in the Naval Special Warfare community.

Those personnel include those who have served in Amphibious Scouts and Raiders, (S&R), Office of Strategic Services-Maritime Unit, (OSS-MU), Naval Combat Demolition Units, (NCDU), Underwater Demolition Teams, (UDT), SEAL Teams, SEAL Delivery Vehicle, (SDV), Teams, Special Boat Teams (SBT) and Naval Special Warfare Combat Support/Combat Service Support Technicians.

https://www.udtseal.org/
They also have this document.

Quote:
OSS Operational Swimmers
Some of the earliest World War II predecessors of the SEALs were the Operational Swimmers of the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS. Many current SEAL missions were first assigned to them. OSS specialized in special operations, dropping operatives behind enemy lines to engage in organized guerrilla warfare as well as to gather information on such things as enemy resources and troop movements. British Combined Operations veteran LCDR Wooley, of the Royal Navy, was placed in charge of the OSS Maritime Unit in June 1943. Their training started in November 1943 at Camp Pendleton, California, moved to Santa Catalina Island, California in January 1944, and finally moved to the warmer waters of The Bahamas in March 1944. Within the U.S. military, they pioneered flexible swimfins and diving masks, closed-circuit diving equipment (under the direction of Dr. Christian J. Lambertsen), the use of Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (a type of submersible), and combat swimming and limpet mine attacks. In May 1944, General Donovan, the head of the OSS, divided the unit into groups. He loaned Group 1, under Lieutenant Choate, to Admiral Nimitz, as a way to introduce the OSS into the Pacific theater. They became part of UDT-10 in July 1944. Five OSS men participated in the very first UDT submarine operation with the USS Burrfish in the Caroline Islands in August 1944.

https://www.udtseal.org/Documents/OSSMU.pdf
I think the general consensus would be that the OSS influenced the development of all US special operations units, not just any specific one individually. Would that be correct, Cass?
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Old 1 February 2015, 15:20
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Originally Posted by Crusader View Post
I am not a historian, but this is from the UDT-SEAL Association's homepage. (Homepage omitted by Cass for brevity).


I think the general consensus would be that the OSS influenced the development of all US special operations units, not just any specific one individually. Would that be correct, Cass?
No. My great buddies from the 75's would hold disagreement with that premise. Every soldier carries a gun, but few know how to slit a guy's throat, and have done so.

The UDT-SEAL Association is the benevolent group or volunteer population of the overall Teams. The Association specializes in aid to KIA families, college funding, et. al. Whom ever wrote the Homepage I omitted herein took generalities and wrote their own evaluations.

I take nothing away from the OSS. But Gen. Donovan's rule was get the job done, never mind rules and etiquette. As a sample, had the "Lonesome Survivor" group whacked the goat herder and his kid, nothing would appear on paper in an OSS critique. As it was part of the voting of the 4 in "Survivor" was that they had to consider killing unarmed civilians, thus leading to a Court Marshal upon their hopeful return or rescue.

The OSS was formed to do acts and missions that the general service was not prepared to do at the time. Women were chute dropped with both coding and weapons. Enemy guys just seemed to disappear with no written report explaining where the bad guy went.

But as you know the White Shirts inside the Beltway has continually nibbled away at the CIA's clandestine lack of "limits", until now there are rules about saving one's ass and not completing missions due to sand crab civilians getting in the way.

Every time I looked at Gen. Donovan's painted portrait hanging in the hallway that zing went thru me, "Why can't it be like in the old days."
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Old 1 February 2015, 15:37
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Hooyah Cass
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Old 28 November 2015, 15:20
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This looks great! I have never found a good book on the OSS and the influence that it had on those first units. And I'm just a sucker for anything on the beginnings of NCDU and UDT. I just think those guys are the shit
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Old 28 November 2015, 19:07
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This is a killer thread. Thanks for the history guys.
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Old 9 December 2015, 18:21
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^x2... Awesome thread, thank you.
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