The CIA was formed on this day in 1947

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Office of Strategic Services
Common clues: WWII agcy.; Old spy org.; CIA precursor; 1940s spy grp.; Clandestine WWII gp.
Crossword puzzle frequency: 6 times a year
Frequency in English language: 47426 / 86800
OSS: Training the Glorious Amateurs

The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime (but not direct) precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Crew members of a B-24 bomber flown by OSS on special missions over Central Europe pose beside their plane at Area T.

Prior to the formation of the OSS, American intelligence had been conducted on an ad-hoc basis by the various departments of the executive branch, including State, Treasury, Navy and War. They had no overall direction, coordination, or control. The Army and the Navy had separate code-breaking departments (Signal Intelligence Service and OP-20-G) that not only competed, but refused to share break-throughs. Also, the original code-breaking operation of the State Department, MI8, run by Herbert Yardley, had been shut down in 1929 by Secretary of State Henry Stimson because "gentlemen don't read each other's mail". President Franklin D. Roosevelt was concerned about American intelligence deficiencies. He directed William J. Donovan, a World War I veteran and New York lawyer, to draft a plan for an intelligence service.

The Office of Strategic Services was established in June 1942 to collect and analyze strategic information required by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to conduct special operations not assigned to other agencies. During the War, the OSS supplied policy makers with facts and estimates, but the OSS never had jurisdiction over all foreign intelligence activities—the FBI was responsible for intelligence work in Latin America, and the military jealously guarded their areas of responsibility.

The OSS helped arm, train and supply anti-Japanese and anti-German groups in the Second World War, including Mao Tse Tung's Communist Forces in China, and Ho Chi Minh (Nguyen Ai Quoc)'s Viet Minh in French Indochina. The OSS also recruited and ran one of the war's most important spies, the German diplomat Fritz Kolbe.

In October 1945 the OSS was dissolved and its functions were transferred to the Departments of State and War, its personnel being assigned to the SSU (Strategic Services Unit). In 1947 the National Security Act established America's first permanent peacetime intelligence agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, which took up the functions of the OSS.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Office of Strategic Services".