“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” — Winston Churchill
Perhaps it was in that spirit that the western Allies named Operation Bodyguard in the months before the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the start of the liberation of France. You’ve probably heard of it, but you might not know just how extensive the deception was. The plan was to trick Hitler into believing that the main Allied invasion would make landings at Pas de Calais. Whether Allied planners knew it or not, that fit right in with Hitler’s preconceived notion that the most sensible place for the Allies to land was… Pas de Calais.
(Hitler, the amateur, was thinking strategy rather than logistics. Since the invading forces would have to come from Channel ports all across England’s southern shore, a central location like Normandy made much more sense than a landing beach on the farthest east part of the Channel. Had we invaded at Calais, troop ships leaving from the western tip of Great Britain would have had to travel the entire length of the Channel — a rough trip. It would also make it more difficult synchronize the landing with troopships leaving from the southeast of England, who would have to travel hardly any distance at all. Anyway.)
The Allies had inflatable tanks lined up to fool German spy planes. Fake units broadcast fake radio chatter — sometimes “accidentally” in the clear for German radio intercept to pick up. General George Patton, the man Hitler was certain would lead the invasion, was given command of the entirely fictional First US Army Group (“FUSAG”). Fake division patches were even made up, and every possible indication was given to the Germans that Pas de Calais was the main target.
Operation Bodyguard had the Germans believing the U.S. and Great Britain had many more divisions than would actually be available by the summer of ’44 — more even than we raised during the entire war. Those phantom divisions kept German High Command guessing as to our true intentions, with “planned” invasions from the Balkans, to southern France, to Scandinavia.
It worked so well that Hitler kept 400,000 — 400,000! — soldiers stationed in Norway, including 6,000 of his best SS troops. It worked so well that two weeks after D-Day, Hitler was still convinced that Normandy was just a diversion, and that the real blow would still land at Pas de Calais.
It is impossible to say for sure how many thousands of Allied lives were saved by the deception, but it’s safe to say that the numbers were certainly in the thousands.
The story of Operation Bodyguard is the first thing to come to mind this morning when I read the latest news to come out of CENTCOM:
US wants Mosul offensive on IS in April-May
Washington (AFP) – The US wants Iraq to launch its offensive to retake the strategic northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group in April or May, military officials said.
Mosul is believed to be held by 1,000-2,000 IS fighters and 20,000-25,000 Iraqi troops are needed to carry out the offensive, an official with US Central Command said on Thursday.
“The mark on the wall we are still shooting for is the April-May timeframe,” the official said, adding that because of Ramadan and the increasing heat of summer, “it becomes problematic if it goes much later (than May).”
Yep, the regional military headquarters under the Smartest President EVAH!™ just announced the timing, target, direction, and forces to be used against ISIS.
There was a Saturday Night Live sketch from the build-up phase before the first Gulf War, with Kevin Nealon playing a Pentagon spokesman at a Coalition press conference. Each reporter kept asking him to reveal classified information about our troop deployments, etc., and Nealon kept refusing to answer. The clueless reporters kept on going, asking for more and more sensitive information, increasingly frustrated by Nealon’s non-responses. The kicker was the “reporter” wearing dark sunglasses and an Arab headdress asking, “Where are your troops, and can I go there and count them?”
Today we have a Nealon-like Pentagon spokesweasel just giving out the information, free.
It took 25 years, but we’ve finally arrived at a place where we have an Administration even more absurd than SNL the last time it was funny.
Read more: Senators Fuming Over CENTCOM Revealing Mosul Offensive Strategy to Reporters