Special Operations (SO) involves the utilization of small units in military engagements which are aimed at strategic or operational objectives. These units are known for their success in missions involving indirect actions as well as direct offensive success. They require specially trained, highly skilled personnel, who are capable of operating equipment, and employing tactics that surpass the general capabilities of regular military forces. They often specialize in operations and intelligence along with one or more other areas. As training may last up to 100 weeks and a commitment of on average a year per mission, these soldiers must display perseverance, self-motivation, and self- discipline. Given they often work with forces in other countries they must also display adaptability, maturity and exceptional judgment. Soldier who are chosen for SO are characterized by certain other attributes including integrity, selflessness, and leadership qualities. Given the long-term commitment needed for individual missions and the stressful nature of the operations, these soldiers must have excellent coping strategies. Family strength also provide a foundation for these soldiers to build upon and rely on for support.
One particular mission of the Airforce Special Ops was code named Carpetbaggers which began in November of 1943 when the 492nd Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force was moved to a base in Harrington England. The aim of the mission was to drop secret agents behind enemy lines and resupply the resistance, including providing thousands of tons of weapons to help friendly underground groups. In addition, over 5,000 officers and enlisted ground troops were aided by the Carpetbaggers in their escape from behind enemy lines. Consistent with their clandestine mission the unit was not commanded by the military but instead by the Office of Strategic Services, a U.S. Intelligence Agency. The small number of pilots flying B-24 Liberators managed to fly 2,809 sorties and one plane was sent to Burma to investigate the potential of assisting in clandestine operations there. The low-altitude, night time mission was extremely stressful for pilots and operators but was extremely successful in their efforts due to their special training and unique abilities. This clandestine venture was considered to be one of the United States best kept secrets of World War II.
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