OSS insignia pin from NSA employees' store

OSS insignia pin from NSA employees’ store

This pin I got from the NSA store. It is the insignia of The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. This image

OSS shoulder patch used in WWII

OSS shoulder patch used in WWII

was used as a shoulder patch for people in OSS (obviously those NOT undercover), and the patch is shown at the right. OSS was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The OSS was formed in order to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for the branches of the United States Armed Forces.

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 the State, Treasury, Navy, and War Departments. It had no overall direction, coordination, or control. The US Army and US Navy had separate code-breaking departments: Signals Intelligence Service and OP-20-G. (A previous code-breaking operation of the State Department, MI-8, run by Herbert Yardley, had been shut down in 1929 by Secretary of State Henry Stimson, deeming it an inappropriate function for the diplomatic arm, because “gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail”.)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was concerned about American intelligence deficiencies. On the suggestion of William Stephenson, the senior British intelligence officer in the western hemisphere Roosevelt requested that William J. Donovan draft a plan for an intelligence service based on the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Special Operations Executive (SOE). Colonel Donovan was employed to evaluate the global military position in order to offer suggestions concerning American intelligence requirements because the U.S. did not have a central intelligence agency. After submitting his work, “Memorandum of Establishment of Service of Strategic Information,” Colonel Donovan was appointed as the “Co-ordinator of Information” (COI) on 11 July 1941. Thereafter the organization was developed with the assistance of the British; Donovan had responsibilities but no actual powers and the existing US agencies were sceptical if not hostile. Until some months after Pearl Harbor, the bulk of OSS intelligence came from the UK. The first OSS agents were trained by British Security Coordination (BSC) in Canada, until training stations were set up in the US with guidance from BSC instructors, who also provided information on how the SOE was arranged and managed. The British immediately made available their short-wave broadcasting capabilities to Europe, Africa and the Far East and provided equipment for agents until American production was established.

Location: 1-C3

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