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Current Affairs

Ghost army

Date: 08 February 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

US President Joe Biden has signed a bill into a law to provide recognition to the ‘Ghost Army’.

 

Background

The “Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act” will essentially honor the contributions of this tactical deception unit.

 

Details

  • The unit was deployed by the US Army during the World War II. Their aim was to put on an act in front of the German forces to deceive and manipulate their decision making.

  • Their tactics included use of inflatable dummy tanks, personnel, trucks and sound effects. They even had a 0.50 caliber machine gun.

  • Since the completion of seventy seven years of their mission, there are just nine surviving veterans of the Ghost Army scattered across the US.

 

The army

  • The army was first formed in January 1944. For the next 50 years, its existence was unknown. Its main role was to keep enemies in dark about the number and location of American troops.

  • The members were part of 23rd Headquarters Special Troops and the 3133rd Signal Company Special. Their existence was declassified in 1996.

  • The members were artists from New York and Philadelphia, while others were combat engineers and some members were especially trained for deception.

 

Operations undertaken

  • During Operation Brest, the Ghost Army had to inflate the size of American troops so that the Germans would surrender. They used inflatable tanks, sounds and illusions to fool the Germans.

  • During another operation, it had to pretend to be the Sixth Armored Division along the Moselle River in Germany. 

 

Success

  • The success of the unit remains divided. Some say that the army failed to achieve the potential. It wasted several opportunities.

  • Some historians noted that the unit had a great influence on the outcome of the major military campaign.

 

The Congressional Gold Medal

  • It is the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions provided by US Congress.

  • Earlier, the recipients were mainly war veterans but since then it has broadened its scope to include actors, politicians, entertainers, sportsperson, musicians etc.