Eisenhower’s Guerrillas

Title:                      Eisenhower’s Guerrillas

Author:                 Benjamin F. Jones

Jones, Benjamin F. (2016). Eisenhower’s Guerrillas: The Jedburghs, the Maquis, and the Liberation of France. New York: Oxford University Press

LCCN:    2015014744

D810.S7 J46 2016


Date Posted:      March 21, 2017

Complied and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake[1]

The story of the OSS Jedburgh teams, their relationship to the French Maquis resistance elements, and their contribution to defeating the Germans in France, has been told before.[2] The typical emphasis on their origins, training, and operations is undertaken with some discussion of the political factors influencing their deployment and rules of engagement. Eisenhower’s Guerrillas takes a different approach. While operations comprise an important part of this story—though little new is added—author Benjamin Jones focuses on complicated and often conflicting political objectives of the Allies.

As Colin Beavan explains in Operation Jedburgh, the British and Americans viewed the invasion of France as a military operation, the first step on the way to Berlin and Nazi defeat. They planned to establish a military government in France headed by Eisenhower until the end of the war. But as Jones points out, the French provisional government, led by Charles de Gaulle, would have none of it. From their point of view, the invasion was just the first step to regaining French sovereignty. In de Gaulle’s view, he would lead the new French government once the Germans were expelled. The French resistance, a loose collection of quasi-military units, ironically supported logistically entirely by the Allies, pledged their allegiance to de Gaulle. Britain and America considered their support after the invasion to be crucial to tying down German military units. De Gaulle agreed, but demanded official American and British recognition of his provisional government before he would consent to Allied use of the resistance. Complicating matters, French recognition was beyond Eisenhower’s authority, and Roosevelt opposed it. The practical consequence was that the French were denied a role in planning for the invasion, and that, in turn, made coordination of Jedburgh efforts with the resistance difficult.

Two events occurred that eased Eisenhower’s task of getting the support of resistance units after D-Day. First, Roosevelt finally recognized de Gaulle as the leader of France, and second, he added French general Pierre Koenig to his staff to coordinate operations with the French. In the end, resistance operations delayed German movements after D-Day, as intended.

The Jedburghs teams—one American, one Frenchman and one Brit—were originally conceived by the British to support the resistance units with which the Special Operations Executive (SOE) had been working since early in the war. For reasons of security, they were not dropped into France until after the invasion. In his book, Beavan shows that the record of the 93 Jedburgh teams was mixed. They performed well only when liaising with well-organized resistance units, though their secondary mission of supporting Allied headquarters went well, setting a precedent for coalition warfare. Eisenhower’s Guerrillas reveals the interaction of solid military planning and often conflicting political considerations, and adds a new dimension to the Jedburgh story.

[1] Hayden Peake in The Intelligencer (22, 2, Fall 2016, p. 121).  Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence. Other reviews and articles may be found online at  www.cia.gov.

[2] See for example: Beavan, Colin (2006). Operation Jedburgh : D-Day And America’s First Shadow War. New York: Viking. A much older, but still valuable source is Lewis, S. J. (1991). Jedburgh Team Operations in Support of The 12th Army Group, August 1944. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Command and General Staff College

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