Deception is often considered part of the “black arts” of personality traits (check back for my series on these Black Art Personality Traits soon), however, just like nuclear weapons, it often plays a more neutralising role. Although deception can be used as a dangerous tool used to manipulate and mislead people, it can equally be used as a defensive instrument, as it was in 1944.
Among the thousands of allied troops deployed across Europe were the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. Their mission and very existence was top secret until 1995, and parts still remain classified today. But here is what we do know. They fought not with guns and tanks, but with.. blow-up toys and loud speakers.
They were a unit of roughly 1,100 troops who travelled from one front line to another pretending to be a much larger force, some German reports indicate perceived forces of a staggering 30,000! This accomplished two key goals. Primarily, it drew attention away from the real army and secondly, it stalled the enemies attack until they gathered a larger force, by which time the “Ghost Army” had moved off.
The attention to detail was incredible. The specific sounds each model of tank or vehicle made was recorded and replayed accordingly. Convoys of jeeps would drive back and forth through local towns and villages all day to increase their presence with local German informers.
Psychological warfare at it’s finest.
This post was more a primer for the Dark Arts series, to show that deception and manipulation are often more likely to be used defensively. Sometimes the best way to fight fire is with fire.
Bunch of guys used inflatable tanks, loud speakers and Oscar-worthy acting to deceive the enemy into over estimating the numbers and prevent them attacking.