Simple Sabotage – OSS Field Manual #3 Part 1

Simple Sabotage – OSS Field Manual #3 Part 1

The OSS Field Manual #3 covering “Simple Sabotage” was issued by the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Office of Strategic services or OSS on 17 January 1944.  Today we present the preface by William J. (Wild Bill) Donovan [a Medal of Honor winner] and the Introduction.  Check Prepography daily as we publish subsequent chapters or download the original declassified version from the CIA online archives.  What follows was OSS doctrine for encouraging acts of Simple Sabotage by soldiers and civilians within the Axis controlled territories and would not be good for your job security if employed today.

This Simple Sabotage Field Manual – Strategic Services (Provisional) – is published for the information and guidance of all concerned and will be used as the basic doctrine for Strategic Services training for this subject.

William DonovanThe contents of this Manual should be carefully controlled and should not be allowed to come into unauthorized hands.

The instructions may be placed in separate pamphlets or leaflets according to categories of operations but should be distributed with care and not broadly. They should be used as a basis of radio broadcasts only for local and special cases and as directed by the theater commander.

AR 380-5 [current edition], pertaining to handling of secret documents, will be complied with in the handling of this Manual.

William J. Donovan












a. The purpose of this paper is to characterize simple sabotage, to outline its possible effects, and to present suggestions for inciting and executing it.

b. Sabotage varies from highly technical coup de main [a decisive attack that relies on surprise] acts that require detailed planning and the use of specially trained operatives, to innumerable simple acts which the ordinary individual citizen-saboteur can perform. This paper is primarily concerned with the latter type. Simple sabotage does not require specially prepared tools or equipment; it is executed by an ordinary citizen who may or may not act individually and without the necessity for active connection with an organized group; and it is carried out in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection, and reprisal.

c. Where destruction is involved, the weapons of the citizen-saboteur are salt, nails, candles, pebbles, thread, or any other materials he might normally be expected to possess as a householder or as a worker in his particular occupation. His arsenal is the kitchen shelf, the trash pile, his own usual kit of tools and supplies. The targets of his sabotage are usually objects to which he has normal and inconspicuous access in everyday life.

d. A second type of simple sabotage requires no destructive tools whatsoever and produces physical damage, if any, by highly indirect means. It is based on universal opportunities to make faulty decisions, to adopt a non-cooperative attitude, and to induce others to follow suit. Making a faulty decision may be simply a matter of placing tools in one spot instead of another. A non-cooperative attitude may involve nothing more than creating an unpleasant situation among one’s fellow workers, engaging in bickerings, or displaying surliness and stupidity.

e. This type of activity, sometimes referred to as the “human element,” is frequently responsible for accidents, delays, and general obstruction even under normal conditions. The potential saboteur should discover what types of faulty decisions and non-cooperation are normally found in his kind of work and should then devise his sabotage so as to enlarge that “margin for error.”

Check back tomorrow as Prepography presents Simple Sabotage Part 2, Possible Effects; the second of five articles that will encompass the whole of the Office of Strategic Services Manual Number 3 Simple Sabotage.

Make sure to read all the articles in this series:  Introduction to Simple SabotagePossible Effects of Simple SabotageMotivating the Sabateur; Tools, Targets & Timing; and Specific Suggestions for Simple Sabotage

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