Field Tests

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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.

 

Last updated: November 25, 2015

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