Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Art of War

In the annals of deception there was the Trojan Horse and the Potemkin Village but none did it better than the Ghost Army.

From The Atlantic...
[T]heir job was to fool Hitler.

[Bill] Blass (yes, that Bill Blass) and his cohort were members of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, an elite force whose specialty was "tactical deception." They're now better known, though, as the "Ghost Army" -- a troop of soldiers that doubled, in Europe's theater, as a troupe of actors. The 23rd were, essentially, the Trojan Horse builders of World War II.

Except that their wooden horses took the form of inflatable tanks. And rubber airplanes. And elaborate costumes. And radio codes. And speakers that blared pre-recorded soundtracks into the forests of France. 
All of which went to serve the Allies' ultimate illusion: that their military force was bigger and more powerful than it actually was. (Part of the effectiveness of the Ghost Army came from the fact that it would employ real tanks and artillery pieces along with the fake ones, to make the dummies in the distance seem to blend in with the others.) The Ghost Army, today, is estimated to have saved tens of thousands of soldiers' lives with its deceptions, and to have been instrumental in several Allied victories in Europe. It accomplished all that by, among much else, taking "the art of war" wonderfully literally.
The Ghost Army is the subject of a documentary now playing on PBS...

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