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Soviet Russia - REDBIRD / REDSOX

The REDBIRD / REDSOX operations involved the illegal return of defectors and emigres to USSR as agents. The REDSOX program against the Soviet Union adopted agent infiltration by parachute as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) had practiced it in Europe during World War II. CIA then modified - one might say diluted - it, in deference to the impossibility of arranging the ground reception parties used by the OSS, in order to apply it against the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea. In this way, the covert infiltration of intelligence and covert action teams, mostly by air although occasionally overland or by sea, became an endurinq facet of the Clandestine Service's approach to the problem of penetrating closed societies.

As applied by the OSS, the practice later known as "black entry" enjoyed its most notable success with the Jedburgh operation, which after D-Day inserted teams of American and indigenous nationality to mobilize local resistance movements against the Nazis. They armed French resistance fighters, including over 20,000 combatants in Brittany alone, and these cut rail lines, derailed trains, ambushed German road convoys, and cut telephone and electric power lines.

The respectable showing of the Jedburgh teams, coupled with the absence of promising alternatives, made it natural to apply the blind drop technique against the Soviet Union as cooperation against Hitler gave way to Cold War hostility. Both Nazi-occupied Europe and the Soviet Union suffered the abuses of a brutal dictatorship, and it seemed reasonable to expect the rise of a resistance movement against Stalin similar to those that Jedburgh had supported against the Germans. In any case, as Cold War tensions hardened, the Agency had to do something, and no better alternatives were at hand. Accordingly, between 1949 and 1959, CIA dispatched agents, mostly by air, into the Soviet Union under the aegis of the REDSOX program.

  • AEACRE (1952-64) established a mechanism for the planning and conduct of REDSOX operations via a Domestic Operations Base (DOB) used for the interrogation, assessment, training, briefing, and preparation for dispatch of agents for infiltration into the USSR.
  • AEASTER was a program in near east areas to spot, recruit, and train Circassians and other Russian emigres and send them back into the USSR.
  • AEBALCONY (1960-62) was designed to use U.S. citizens with Baltic language fluency in "mounted" and "piggy-back" legal traveler operations into Soviet-occupied Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  • AEFREEMAN (1953-64), which included AEBASIN/AEROOT (1953-60), AEFLAG (1955-62), and AEPOLE (formerly AECHAMP (1949-59)), was designed to strengthen resistance to communism and harrass the Soviet regime in the Baltic countries. AEBASIN/AEROOT supported Estonian emigres and émigré activities aganist the Estonian SSR. AEFLAG was aimed at people of the Latvian SSR. AEPOLE (formerly AECHAMP (formerly BGLAPIN)) targeted the Lithuanian SSR. These projects provided intelligence and operational data from Baltic countries through radio broadcasts, mailing operations, liaison with emigre organizations, political and psychological (PP) briefings for legal travelers and exploitation of other media such as demonstrations.
  • AECOB, approved in 1950, was a vehicle for foreign intelligence (FI) operations into and within Soviet Latvia and involved infiltration and exfiltration of black agents and the recruitment of legally resident agents in the USSR, especially Latvia. ZRLYNCH was approved in 1950 for use of the Latvian Resistance Movement, which had been formed in 1944, as a vehicle for clandestine activities within the USSR. ZRLYNCH was renewed in 1952 as a part of AECOB, which then provided both FI and political and psychological (PP) activities. AECOB / ZRLYNCH PP project was terminated in 1955. AECOB FI project was terminated in 1959.
  • AESAURUS / AENOBLE (initially AEROSOL, renamed AEGIDEON / AENOBLE in 1958) operation (1950-61) maintained communications with agents of the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists (Narodno Trudovoi Soyuz or NTS (CABOCHE-1, PDGIDEON, SHUBA-100)). NTS was founded in 1930s by Russian emigres with extreme rightest and anti-Semitic views and collaborated closely with the Nazis in Russia, providing local administrators, propagandists, and informants. NTS rebuilt itself in 1945 as an anti-Soviet émigré organization inside the USSR and with its own newspaper "Possev." This project sought the development and exploitation of NTS agents as long-term hot war assets and as sources of operational positive and psychological intelligence. The Project included Operation CARCASS, training/dispatch into USSR of agents to organize resistance groups and collect FI; Operation SPAIN to establish NTS groups in US zone/Germany and Austria against Soviet occupation forces through propaganda, defection, resistance, and collecting FI; Operation RADIO to establish a mobile covert radio operated by NTS for propaganda into East Zone.
  • AEPRIMER's (1957-59) objective was to establish long-term, durable assets illegally infiltrated into the Byelorussian SSR. Candidates for these assets were to be recommended by the Byelorussian National Council (BNR). However, AEQUOR/FI had similar objectives and was terminated in 1956 when information about AEQUOR Team 2 in Byelorussia surfaced in Pravda. In addition, AEQUOR's relationship with the BNR was terminated for security reasons. AEPRIMER's association with the BNR was limited to its President (Mikola Abramtchik) and his representative (Francis Kushel) in New York. AEPRIMER was terminated in 1959.

The effort enjoyed almost no success. Indeed, the chief of the Soviet Russia Division in the Directorate of Plans wrote in 1957 that it had been "strewn with disaster." More agents survived who were sent overland than those inserted by blind drop; of the latter, apparently only three ever managed to exfiltrate, and one of these was suspected of having been doubled. Meanwhile, the intelligence product of the program as a whole was "pitifully small, and the anticipated intelligence support apparatus, grafted on ... underground resistance organizations, died aborning." Not even the overland operations produced anything substantial, involving as they did shallow, short-term penetrations of "largely uninhabited ... border areas." The result was that "no REDSOX agent ever succeeded in passing himself off successfully as a Soviet citizen and penetrating, even briefly, into the Soviet heartland."

In 1971, Operations Directorate (DO) historians attributed the failure of REDSOX to two factors. One was the "implacable and ubiquitous KGB." The other was the absence of the prospect of liberation that might have fueled resistance movements like those in Western Europe during World War II.

Beginning in 1956, CIA pilots began flying high-altitude U-2 spy planes over the Soviet Union to photograph a variety of missile and defense related installations. On May 1, 1960, Francis Gary Powers, a CIA pilot, had his U-2 plane shot down over Sverdlovsk in the Soviet Union, prompting Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to cancel his scheduled conference at Paris with President Dwight Eisenhower.

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Page last modified: 09-02-2017 19:38:37 ZULU