Field Tests

Wooded area blanketed in fog
The forest on a foggy morning

Volunteer John Zuke

 
Agents training infiltration techniques
Agents training infiltration techniques

National Archives

Not all of the training at Area B involved weapons or physical conditioning. The recruits learned basic survival techniques, compass use, map reading, photography, and cryptography (the coding and decoding of messages). Recruits learned various languages, document forgery, stealth, disguise, and uniform identification.

A large part of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) training involved mentally or psychologically challenging tests. Some agents practiced undercover assignments or "schemes" in nearby cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Richmond. These schemes were performed in small operational groups with students carrying forged documents. The exercises tested the ingenuity and creativity of the trainees. Not all trainees were successful. Many were arrested and jailed by authorities. If agents were caught, they were on their own; the OSS would deny any knowledge of their existence.

Graduating agents usually faced final tests. They were usually required to perform some type of scheme involving sabotage or collection of information. Many recruits were given a final assessment known as a "graduation party." The trainees were not aware that the party was actually a test. The atmosphere was informal, and to further relax them they were offered alcoholic beverages. The purpose of this test was to collect psychological data and tempt the recruits to divulge any secrets.

 

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Transcript

In the final stages of training, the students are given night problems which are designed to correlate all they've learned of close combat, reconnaissance, pistol and knife technique and demolition. In every detail, the same care is taken to simulate combat conditions and each student is required to familiarize himself with the uniforms, signs and languages he will encounter in actual guerrilla raids overseas. Sound of snapping of twigs and person howling like a dog. People speaking German. Sound of frogs croaking. Sound of person howling like a dog. Sound of train whistle. Sound of rock rattling in can. Sound of person howling like a dog. People speaking German. Sound of person howling like a dog. Sound of breaking glass in a window. Sound of demolition. Sound of rapid gun fire. Sound of demolition. Sound of rapid gun fire. Sound of demolition.

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Duration:
2 minutes, 37 seconds

Actual footage from OSS training videos produced by John Ford.

 

Last updated: May 7, 2020

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