Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Andrew N. Buchanan
The Office of Strategic Services’ (OSS) agents were a critical piece of the Allied effort to defeat the Axis powers in Yugoslavia. Their reports influenced and informed policy. Their collection activities resulted in timely, accurate intelligence that provided accurate targets for strategic bombing runs. Their efforts to support and supply the two main resistance groups—the monarchist Chetniks and the communist Partisans—were a lifeline to the beleaguered fighters in desperate need of war materiel. Their mission, then, was seemingly straightforward: support the resistance group that was doing the most damage to the Axis occupiers, while remaining aloof to postwar political considerations inside Yugoslavia. Yet, that charge proved too simplistic to reflect reality.
The OSS agents who deployed into Yugoslavia faced longstanding ethnic conflicts that were too complex for them to comprehend, let alone the strategic decision-makers they informed with their reports. As agents navigated the violent country attempting to report the ground truth to officials in Washington, they came to believe that the strategists who sent them did not care for, nor understand, the Yugoslavs’ plight. Up until this thesis, it has primarily been the strategists’ lens through which readers have learned about the conflict. This thesis provides a look from the tactical level to the strategic level, with a focus on the OSS agents and their reports. In doing so, readers will gain a greater understanding for how strategic decisions affected tactical situations, and how OSS tactical actions and reports, in turn, provided strategists the valuable information needed to make their own consequential decisions.
Number of Pages
Reilly, Caleb M., "Leaping into Darkness: On the Ground with the OSS in Yugoslavia" (2023). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1703.
Available for download on Friday, April 11, 2025