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The Military United States

Rubber Tanks and Sonic Trucks: the Ghost Army of World War II (hackaday.com) 82

szczys writes: While you may have heard of the Ghost Army that was used to fake troop movements during WWII, it's unlikely that you truly grasp the level of skill and success these elite groups achieved. At its surface, the story is about inflatable armies that could fool German intelligence from afar. That is one visual component, but there were many more involving sound and radio communications. Before the digital age, it was quite a trick making authentic audio recordings of military vehicle sounds on 2-mile long spools of very thin wire played back from vehicles outfitted with 500 Watt speakers. The A/V wasn't complete without radio communications spoofed to look like the Ghost Army was the real deal: this used the best of personal-morse-code-style impersonators. Elite groups trained in these phony arts operated throughout the European theater. Their story was top secret long after the war because the craft was considered a strategic asset well into the cold war era.
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Rubber Tanks and Sonic Trucks: the Ghost Army of World War II

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @07:21PM (#51133785)
    either could be your band's name.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How exactally does this relate to news 4 nerdz??

    man things get worse as the year goes on..
    Are you guys really participating in the killing of this institution, just to get rid of it at the right price..

    Shameful..

    • Re: Lame,,, (Score:2, Interesting)

      My thought exactly. And for all the releases and all the programs made about ww2,our governments are still inventing new lies about it and leaning on old lies to try and stop folk learning too much of the truth. If you have good walking legs and boots,can read maps and have some knowledge of major points in ww2 history,it's amazing what you can find in the southern half of the UK,but you have to be very careful cos being a tiny,cramped little island there are only so many places that current establishments
      • > You soon realise how much of our "history" is pure bs...

        such as?

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Some of the more interesting ww2 related crypto news is at this blog
        "Christos military and intelligence corner"
        http://www.chris-intel-corner.... [blogspot.com]
        The blog has offered some great insight into what Germany could break wrt US and UK codes.
        What other nations did to Germany and other nations experts helped Germany gain some interesting insights into US and UK mil thinking.
        A lot of the low and mid level codes where junk and its nice to see some new info beyond the usual Enigma like efforts.
      • If you have specific examples you'll be able to provide them. Otherwise you're full of bovine fecal matter.
  • More info (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @07:49PM (#51133945)

    There's a PBS documentary called The Ghost Army on Netflix about this that was made in 2013. This group was mostly Hollywood effects men and not soldiers, which made it especially dicey when the Germans actually advanced on their position quite rapidly at one point and they had to run like hell to get away as they had no real weapons or training to fight! The documentary is quite good if you're interested. It's an hour and seven minutes long.

    • Re:More info (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pipedwho ( 1174327 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @12:38AM (#51135029)

      Probably a really good thing that they ran, as they would have been dramatically outnumbered if they'd hung around to 'fight'.

      Keep in mind that this was a couple of guys in a vehicle pretending to be a whole battalion. So any attack on them would have been made by a force big enough to have some chance of success against the much larger 'illusory' target.

  • Patton vs. Bradley (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @08:37PM (#51134145)

    The big victory here, was that the Germans swallowed it hook, line and sinker. The Germans considered Patton to be the most formidable General that the Allies had. Unfortunately for Patton, he was on the shit-list, because he slapped a patient in a field hospital in Italy, who Patton mistakenly claimed was just suffering from cowardice.

    The German spooks heard of this, but discarded it quickly. Why would an Army sideline a brilliant General, just because he slapped a simple enlisted man? At any rate the "Patton Threat" really played a crucial role in all this, and helped the Normandy landings to be a success.

    Personal Note: I met an old German soldier a long time back, and we discussed the Normandy landings. He said, "We were waiting the whole time for Patton to land in Calais."

    Hey, fooled you, most awesomely!

    • by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @08:44PM (#51134191)

      america sucks at how we treat our most talented generals. patton, macarthur, mcchrystal, petreus. all shut down by the paper pushers. its like the ultimate muscle-flexing by the civilian-controlled military. any time a military leader gets too powerful, knock him down a few rungs.

      • by youngone ( 975102 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @09:21PM (#51134391)
        I have no personal view about Patton's ability, but I have read of men who served under him that were appalled by his disregard for the lives of his men.

        MacArthur however was treated with barely concealed contempt by the Australians (in particular) because of his grandstanding, and the way he was followed around constantly by camera men.

        He also viewed the Australians as second class soldiers, despite their heroism in appalling conditions at Kokoda (for example). He ended his career by being sacked after going behind the president's back during the Korean War.

        Petreus' end speaks for itself.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          ... appalled by his disregard for the lives of his men.

          Winston Churchill has been getting some attention lately. The movie 'The gathering storm' shows him as something of a war-monger. But examining the African campaign reveals he wanted a victory to get the respect of the Americans and didn't care about the cost to England or its undersized army that struggled to hold Africa for the allies.

          War is usually seen as throwing bodies at a problem until one gets the solution one desires. But decisive victories, those that change the course of the war are made by

        • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:36PM (#51134861)

          MacArthur however was treated with barely concealed contempt by the Australians (in particular)

          Very obvious lies inspired that. Taking credit for the actions of Australian forces long before he even turned up didn't go down well, but his entire career was like that - whatever real success he had did not seem to be enough for him to boast about.
          I don't know if it's true or not but the history taught to Chinese kids about the Korean war says that the Chinese decided to join in when MacArthur looked across the river into China with binoculars. Reality is likely to be different since the initial North Korean soldiers were the many Koreans that fought in the Chinese army in WWII anyway, and still in units, so effectively China was in the war on day one even if the force committed was a lot less than later.

          Petreus' end speaks for itself.

          Ironically due to wanting to "get his end in" with a journalist.

        • both patton and macarthur just wanted to make america great again.

        • Petraeus's end points out that you can only get away with having affairs and mishandling classified information if your last name is Clinton.
        • In Patton's writings, he claimed to be very concerned for the lives of his men. He tried to reduce US casualties by various means, including ones that were very dangerous to some men. He ordered his men to take risks that would reduce the overall casualty count if successful, and not kill to many if unsuccessful.

          I've read that he wanted his men to walk through minefields on the attack. The reason is that the Germans normally didn't defend behind the minefields very well, and that delaying until the mi

          • Yes, as I said, I have no strong views about Patton, he won battles regularly. Men die in war and it's a general's job to send them to die. My Dad for instance hated Churchill, because he could have negotiated a treaty with the Nazis in 1940 and Dad would not have spent the best part of 6 years fighting. I think my Dad was wrong about that and Churchill was right, but then I wasn't at El Alamein or Monte Casino and he was.
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        The last did the same as Snowden but just because he wanted to fuck a journalist - he shut himself down after being promoted to one of the highest posts in the USA.
      • Civilian control of, what? Civilization I guess. Use it or lose it.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @08:47PM (#51134207)

      The big victory here, was that the Germans swallowed it hook, line and sinker. The Germans considered Patton to be the most formidable General that the Allies had. Unfortunately for Patton, he was on the shit-list, because he slapped a patient in a field hospital in Italy, who Patton mistakenly claimed was just suffering from cowardice.

      The German spooks heard of this, but discarded it quickly. Why would an Army sideline a brilliant General, just because he slapped a simple enlisted man? At any rate the "Patton Threat" really played a crucial role in all this, and helped the Normandy landings to be a success.

      Personal Note: I met an old German soldier a long time back, and we discussed the Normandy landings. He said, "We were waiting the whole time for Patton to land in Calais."

      Hey, fooled you, most awesomely!

      This was no error on the part of the Germans, well at least not a stupid one. The Allies deliberately built a huge propaganda machine centred around Patton for the express purpose fooling the Germans into believing that Patton was leading the invasion and it would be at the Pas de Calais. It wasn't just propaganda either, everything from false intelligence fed through double agents to using Hollywood experts to build an entire fake army around Patton.

      And as you said, the Germans swallowed it hook, line and sinker. When Hitler's aides woke him and informed him of the Normandy landings he dismissed it as another raid and refused to allow the release of armoured reinforcements because he was that convinced the invasion would be at Calais. A deception that saves thousands of allied lives.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @08:47PM (#51134219)

      The German spooks heard of this, but discarded it quickly. Why would an Army sideline a brilliant General, just because he slapped a simple enlisted man?

      Hey, fooled you, most awesomely!

      I wondered the same myself. I think Patton slapping a GI is small stuff, probably did much more to piss off his superiors. Maybe they used that to create a red herring for German spies. Back when History Channel had history, one panelist commented if Patton was active on Normandy landings, they would have been more successful (not sure how to define success, airborne troops scattered about was a disaster but it really confused the Germans to exact beachheads). Speaking of ghost armies, I read that Saddam Hussein really believed he had formable WMDs and other weapon systems because his staff pumped up the numbers out of fear if they really told him he had no capable WMDs, they would be fired (literally). Apparently the American spooks fell for this as well.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        Apparently the American spooks fell for this as well

        No. Don't you remember that the "intelligence" had to be mocked up by a PR agency because nobody in the CIA etc would put their name on anything?

        • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

          you remember that the "intelligence" had to be mocked up

          that too! I was thinking of military conflicts through the centuries how much was driven and diverted from solid intelligence, rumors, lies, and everything in between. Getting back to rubber tanks, same kind of mischief continues on but very good photoshopping and CGI, insert this stuff through intelligence channels.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Patton's mistake was, as I recall, doing it while press was present.

      • Back when History Channel had history, one panelist commented if Patton was active on Normandy landings, they would have been more successful (not sure how to define success, airborne troops scattered about was a disaster but it really confused the Germans to exact beachheads).

        Patton had his soldiers drive till they either engaged the enemy or ran out of gas. Often exceeding their supply lines in doing so. He usually come sup not in D-Day but later when the allies finally broke through the hedge rows. Unknown to the allies, the way to Paris was wide open. One reporter managed to take his jeep, drive to Paris, have some drinks at a cafe, and drive back unmolested. By time he reported that, the Germans had regrouped and filled the gaps. The general feeling is that if Patton had bee

        • Another issue with regards to Paris was that there was a French armored division in the Allied forces (the 2eme Blindee) that Eisenhower wanted to liberate Paris for political reasons. Patton, of course, would have sent what he had into Paris, without regard to the politics.

          • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

            Patton, of course, would have sent what he had into Paris, without regard to the politics.

            and probably wanted to be the first of the Allies entering Paris with the siren on the hood of his jeep blaring away. Maybe it was Eisenhower's or Marshall's plan to sideline Patton so not cause that embarrassment to the French, and have DeGaulle lead the way to the city instead. Another curious thing, how Paris was spared airstrikes and artillery bombardments?

      • Patton did get in trouble for slapping a couple of patients around (and doing worse; I believe "slapping" was claimed in one case to minimize what he did). That was not acceptable in the US Army. He got in trouble for saying politically inconvenient things in public (the wartime alliances were a lot more delicate than they look in retrospect). However, he was arguably the best US general of the war (although he would have been a total disaster in Eisenhower's role), and the Army tried to get him back in

        • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

          "got in trouble for saying politically inconvenient things in public" as portrayed in the movie when Patton mentioned a New World Order, his assistant said, "don't forget the Russians."

          "he would have been a total disaster in Eisenhower's role" Ike spent much of his time balancing the egos of various generals from the allied nations.

          Army Chief of Staff Marshall: There was an article about George goes to work early in morning. He fights [politically] the British, the French, the Soviets, the Dutch, the Be

      • by spads ( 1095039 )

        The German spooks heard of this, but discarded it quickly. Why would an Army sideline a brilliant General, just because he slapped a simple enlisted man?

        Hey, fooled you, most awesomely!

        I wondered the same myself. I think Patton slapping a GI is small stuff, probably did much more to piss off his superiors. Maybe they used that to create a red herring for German spies. Back when History Channel had history, one panelist commented if Patton was active on Normandy landings, they would have been more successful (not sure how to define success, airborne troops scattered about was a disaster but it really confused the Germans to exact beachheads). Speaking of ghost armies, I read that Saddam Hussein really believed he had formable WMDs and other weapon systems because his staff pumped up the numbers out of fear if they really told him he had no capable WMDs, they would be fired (literally). Apparently the American spooks fell for this as well.

        "In America they break the strongest man."

        I heard this once on the NPR show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and have always wondered as to the original source.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Old ideas never die. Schwarzkopf during the first Gulf War used the Marines history of storming beaches to fool the Iraqis into thinking the U.S. was going to retake Kuwait for the fat boys in robes via a seaborne invasion. He had them practicing beach storming in the Gulf in ways the Iraqis could see.

      I wouldn't be surprised if the Patton ruse was a British idea. The things the Brits did to the Germans during WWII with misdirection, deceit, etc. were really amazing.

  • by z0idberg ( 888892 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @09:22PM (#51134395)

    From the first line in TFA:
    Winston Churchill once told Joseph Stalin “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies”

    Certainly explains a lot about how the truth is handled in the War on Terror.

  • by OctobrX ( 2726 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @09:39PM (#51134473) Homepage

    So I was a 93F with the 101st and one of the first things we did when we got in country was take a trip into Iraq. I was amazed at the HUGE giant amount of tanks I saw as we approached our area to run a met mission(fly a weather balloon lol). As we got closer and closer... I started to notice something. About 50 feet away, I noticed there were wires holding these inflatable vehicles down and let out the biggest cackle you'd ever heard. It was brilliant.

    We were there as a part of the GHOST ops to make it look like stuff was happening. Pretty smart if you think about it.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      The W-M-Ds were probably also inflated fakes.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:37PM (#51134705) Homepage Journal
      The problem now is the numbers of rushed in, poorly vetted contractors, random dual citizens working for contractors, other nations workers, private sector staff, US gov staff who are needed to provide support for the once secure all US mil only areas.
      As the US looks to out source and no bid contract even more of its invasion, occupation and other massive war like efforts, the amount of random people wondering around, looking around will be interesting.
      WW2 worked well as Germany only had look limited fancy new down platforms and had to work with vast radio and telephone capture. German over flight optics was only so good.
      Germany had lost its spies in the UK early in WW2. The UK always had very good methods to track people globally.
      The UK was also very active in hunting down Germans or people in contact with Germany in neutral nations too (MI5 section 1a teams, Camp 020 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] ).
      UK teams would go to neutral nations and find German related radio networks and turn them or ensure the radio traffic stopped.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The problem between the US then and the US now is that the enemy discovered how to turn the press against us. In Vietnam, the press decided to tell the Army to F-off, and start showing Vietnamese being killed. It made for great profits for the news companies, and sank the US's war effort.

        The first Gulf War was a stroke of genius. Iraq was pushed out of Kuwait, then the US left Saddam still in power and the balance in the ME was maintained with the same evil men at the helm... but evil men that were known

        • The press was not the cause of Vietnam War protests. The protests were against fighting a long war in a country almost nobody had heard of before the war, having tens of thousands of US dead, and how Johnson was screwing it up. Had the war been competently handled, there still would have been protests but not on the same scale.

          Unfortunately, mass politics is an extremely blunt weapon, and this turned into a lot of political pressure to get the US out of Vietnam, allowing North Vietnam to conquer the So

  • 1. Not news. Story reheated too many times. Older articles:
    http://www.theotherside.co.uk/... [theotherside.co.uk]
    http://www.voanews.com/content... [voanews.com]
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/his... [telegraph.co.uk]

    2. The Russians did it too.
    https://books.google.de/books?... [google.de]

    3. The Germans/Axis did it too:
    http://www.track-link.com/foru... [track-link.com]
    This is also mentioned in the monumental 1970s British documentary "The World At War", which I strongly suggest to watch instead of reading this drivel.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • Deploying fake weapons is a tactic that goes back hundreds of years. See Quaker gun [wikipedia.org]

  • Russians weren't that far behind. I am mostly posting because of the "cold war asset" reason for secrecy.

    One link: http://leon-spb67.livejournal.... [livejournal.com] (Russian)

    During the War, Russians made wood artillery base mockup. Germans dutyfully bombed that mockup using... wooden bombs!

    After learning that germans know about mockery, headquarters decided to place real artillery there and brought fire to germans from unexpected direction.

    Just one of many episodes from our War.

    • During the War, Russians made wood artillery base mockup. Germans dutyfully bombed that mockup using... wooden bombs!

      Sounds legit.

  • So it's hackaday raiding Reddit for story ideas this time. Sorry, Buzzfeed, I blamed you out of habit.

    Seriously, https://www.reddit.com/r/histo... [reddit.com] was yesterday.

  • A very well done film was made in the Fifties about an operation along these lines. Check it out. [imdb.com]
  • I had been playing Metal Gear Solid 5 a lot recently, and in that game there are inflatable decoys (of personnel, not materiel). I had thought that this was another one of Hideo Kojima's outlandish bits of in-game humor, but after learning about this, apparently is isn't so far fetched after all.
  • "Elite groups trained in these phony arts..." are alive and well in the 21st century.

    For example, they pulled off 9/11 and made it look like a bunch of freedom hating Muslims did it.

    Sadly, there are still some people who believe that official conspiracy theory put forth by the Bush administration. (Which is absolutely ridiculous and has more holes in it than swiss cheese)

    It's all about the manipulation and control of the average person.

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