The Office of Strategic Services (U.S.) Before she was brought into World War II the USA's intelligence resources were scattered over a wide variety of government agencies (FBI, State Department, War Department, etc) and conducted on a largely ad hoc basis. On the 13th of June 1942 President Roosevelt ordered the formation of the Office of Strategic Services to conduct covert warfare against Imperial Japan, Those Wacky Nazis, and their allies. Headed by "Wild Bill" Donovan , the OSS conducted sabotage and subversion as well as plain old espionage against their enemies. Initially at something of a disadvantage because of their lack of contacts abroad and general inexperience, they made up for it by representing appealing ideologies and being insanely rich. They undertook their job with ingenuity and what sometimes seems to some to be a curious zest. The OSS had some notable failures but also some remarkable successes. As it had been founded for the specific purpose of prosecuting the war, the OSS was disbanded upon the war's ending. However, it was soon resurrected in the form of the CIA.
Tropes from the history of the organization
- Badass Bureaucrat: Betty Carp was a secretary in the OSS-Istanbul station. She was famous for her ability at cutting through red-tape and dodging Obstructive Bureaucrats and finding what was needed. Though little known on the outside, to the OSS she was considered a very valuable Lady of War.
- Badass Bookworm: Allen Dulles.
- Canon Discontinuity: It was disbanded then reappeared as the CIA.
- City of Spies: Operated from several of these. Geneva was Dulles' turf.
- Four-Star Badass: Wild Bill Donovan.
- "Get out of Jail Free" Card: Operation Paperclip, where the OSS smuggled Nazi scientists out of Germany and put them to work developing American rockets and other cool science.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Of the thousands of recruits staffing the organization, field agents included Moe Berg, Julia Child, and John Ford.
- La Résistance: Often worked with these.
- Large Ham: George Earle who seemed to think he was a movie spy and was so careless that the OSS just quietly cut him out of any real information and used him as a distraction.
- Recruiting the Criminal: The OSS borrowed some of the inhabitants of various prisons to teach agents their crafts so that they could be used on Those Wacky Nazis.
- Refuge in Audacity: Allen Dulles did this in Switzerland. Instead of concealing his vocation he practically advertised it in the hope that recruits would come to him. This actually worked.
- Rule of Cool: Some of the schemes of the OSS were more cool then practical.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Who did not like the OSS. Not at all.
- Training the Peaceful Villagers: The OSS did some of this.
- Upper-Class Twit: Subverted; they were accused not unjustly of having too many of these, but they did do their job well.
- World War II: The heyday of OSS operations.
The OSS in fiction
- Robert De Niro's film The Good Shepherd chronicles the transition from the OSS to the CIA.
- O.S.S, a transparently-tilted 1946 film starring Alan Alad about the Office of Strategic Services. A 1957 ABC TV-series of the same name was also produced.
- Indiana Jones was an accomplished OSS intelligence officer During the War.
- In Inglourious Basterds, the "basterds" are members of OSS.
- The player character of Wolfenstein 3D is a member of the Office of Secret Actions, the OSS by any other name.
- In most Medal of Honor games, the player is an OSS agent.
- In Spy Kids, the titular agents (as well as a lot of others) work for this group.
- The film Charade depicts the CIA's efforts to clean up a profoundly botched OSS operation to deliver a massive shipment of gold to the French Resistance in WWII. The botch arose because the couriers decided they would rather have it themselves, then started killing each other.