GLADIO: A Legion of
Sleeper Combatant Units
On October 24, 1990, the history of another clandestine army saw the light in Italy: Gladio. Its name alluded to a small double edged sword of Roman times which appears in the standard of the supreme military command of NATO. The mentioned day, Italian prime minister, Giulio Andreotti, revealed to an overwhelmed Parliament the existence, in several European countries, of a secret network of anti-Communist activists created by NATO in the 50's, and still effective at the time of the public revelation.
According to Andreotti, "after World War II, the fear to Soviet expansionism and the inferiority of the forces of NATO, in relation to the International Communist Movement, lead the nations of Western Europe to examine a new and unconventional forms of defense. Therefore, they created in their respective territories a hidden network of resistance destined to perform intelligence work, as well as to carry out acts of sabotage, propaganda and guerrilla warfare, in case of enemy occupation".
The Gladio exposé crossed the European ministerial cabinets quickly and declarations of the governments implicated in this network followed one another. Andreas Papandreu revealed that, between 1955 and 1984, a mysterious paramilitary organization called the Skin of the Red Goat had acted in Greece, wherein it coexisted with a special unit of the Greek Special Forces and the secret services of the CIA, with the purpose of "fighting the communist danger".
In France in Minister of Defense confirmed that Gladio had existed indeed in years 50, but would not have been active during the Gaullist presidency (1958-1968), a presidency characterized by the French nonalignment with U.S. policy. The governments of the German Federal Republic and Luxembourg also recognized the existence of Gladio in their countries, while new information allow glimpses that Holland and Norway were also participants of said organization.
In November of the year 1990 the Belgian network of Gladio was dismantled and a report of the Swiss Parliament stated that a clandestine military organization called P-26 had operated in the Helvetic republic until that same month, when it was also dissolved. Finally, in December of 1990 it was known that in 1958 Sweden and the CIA had collaborated in the creation of a defensive mechanism (that had had continuity until at least 1978) to confront a possible Soviet aggression.
It also came to light information on the existence of a Turkish Gladio, which since 1984 had dedicated its effort to fight against the Kurd separatism, whereas in Spain the issue was not as clear. In 1996, 65 of the 79 hiding places of arms created by the US during the Cold War to face a hypothetical occupation of the USSR, were dismantled in Austria.
According to the Austrian Minister of the Interior, in those hiding places "there were thousand of tons of explosives and hundreds of artillery projectiles". Therefore, Gladio had been present in most Western Europe countries preparing the resistance machinery against a possible communist invasion. How it arose and was organized the network?
ARMED ANTI COMMUNIST NETWORKS
Gladio was born and gained momentum in this frame of fear of Soviet expansionism, first, by the US, and later by NATO (organized in 1949). Gladio would have had the function to quickly unfold a stay-behind armed force upon a communist invasion. This dormant force would have been deployed progressively and the already organized and armed networks of activists of different European countries would then coalesce into a one and the same organization.
They were actually called the stay-behind groups, whose origins and blueprints were diverse: From the models provided by the anti Nazi resistance in some countries, to the ones offered by the Werwolf Nazi (the Third Reich equivalent of Gladio). Thus in Gladio varied operatives would have come together; largely drawn from and based upon, the reconversion of ex-nazifascists and extreme right-wing combatants into anti-Communist urban guerrillas.
It would have been in Italy, the country with the largest communist party of Western Europe (with 1,771,000 affiliates), where the first initiatives in this direction would have been significant. In Italy the formation of clandestine anti-Communist groups like the Osoppo came about in 1946 and the Italian Freedom Army in 1947. This type of groups had numerous ex- fascists amongst their members which may have accounted to as high as eighty percent of their total membership.
The anti-Communist mobilization took place in all Western Europe, protected by the United States Information Services. As a result, in the Belgium of the late 40's several anti-Communist organizations existed. In 1949, for example, the Belgian National Front of Independence was created, whose goal was to gather together all patriotic anti-Communists. A registry in its headquarters allowed to discover plans to create networks of combatants in case of Soviet invasion.
In this manner Gladio would have articulated a set of dispersed anti-Communist networks throughout Western Europe; an operation initially conducted by the U.S. and U.K. intelligence services and later by NATO. This project would have gather a collection of extreme right and ex- nazifascists combatants as well as a diverse and trained personal of political militancy. Diverse, but anti-Communist.
Apparently, to recruit its members the military in each country were contacted, but also, in some cases, simple citizens of proven anti-Communist conviction were contacted to be later trained in secret. In such way, a web of clandestine activists would have been formed with the purpose of confronting a Soviet occupation; thus, the creation of deposits of arms distributed strategically in each country.
In case of a fast advance of Soviet armored vehicles, the gladiators were to harass the enemy from the rear, in order to gain time and to allow the arrival of Anglo-American reinforcements that would create a stable front battle.
CRIMES WITHOUT PUNISHMENT?
By the time the 60's and 70's came around (specifically on May 1968, a new French extreme left came into being) it became clear that the Soviets would not launch an invasion of Western Europe. Then the priority of Gladio probably became to fight the "enemy within": the revolutionary Marxist terrorism and the growth of the communist parties or leftist electorate which were becoming strong enough to introduce substantial political changes.
In this assumed new period of activity for Gladio, these activists of NATO could have resorted to other means in their fight against the leftist forces, concretely the so-called "strategy of tension", which used the violence with perverse aims, although it could not be proven.
This strategy consisted of criminal attacks of supposed neofascist origin which were then apparently alternated with others which were apparently coming from the extreme left. This strategy initiated a scaling up of massacres to discredit to the institutions of the State. This spiral of violence - inspired and instigated by individuals close to Gladio - would have the purpose of driving the population to a level of insecurity which would move them to demand authoritarian governments or, plainly speaking, dictatorships.
Therefore numerous covert activities were attributed to Gladio: "Four attempts of coup d'etats in Italy, a successful putsch in Greece [the Coup of the Colonels of 1967], dozens died in the wave of terrorism which traumatized Europe in the years 1970-1980, strange relations with the Mafia and international delinquency, close relationships with the great financial scandals that even splashed the Vatican (Ambrosiano Bank), the disintegration of the Italian State [... ], the suspicions which they still exist in relation to the kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro", wrote in 1994 investigator Jean-François Brozzu-Gentile.
The conclusion which may be extracted of the analysis of the activities of the evolved Gladio is that some individuals wanted to create chaotic situations which would to lead to strong anti-Communist policies. It should not be forgotten that the greatest fear of the West during the Cold War was that the countries of Western Europe would fall in the Soviet orbit.
WHY WAS THE EXISTENCE OF GLADIO EXPOSED IN 1990?
Probably the revelation of the existence of Gladio, simultaneous to its (official) dissolution, allowed (forced?) NATO and the governments who integrated it to abandon an obsolete, resource consuming and no longer socially acceptable to an even more enlightened European leadership. In addition, in November of 1989, the Soviet block had begun to crumble with the fall of the wall of Berlin and the Gorbachev era had initiated a distention stage in which the USSR gave many concrete examples of internal crisis.
Therefore, the revelations of Andreotti about Gladio in 1990 served (forced?) to (officially) dismantle an already unnecessary structure which constituted another legacy of the Cold War. Therefore, the informative avalanche that promised revelations on yet to be resolved crimes came to nothing.
In fact, while simultaneously acknowledging its existence and officially dissolving it, a smoke screen was created to cover Andreotti's presumed responsibilities on the crimes which were officially imputed to him: Gladio, could have been behind everything and everything was dissolved into nothing.
Its end, surrounded by and aura of mystery, was in accordance with the motto written on the walls of its center of training of Capo Marragiu (near the Alguer, in Sardinia): Silencio libertatem servo ("I serve to the freedom in silence").
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INDEX of Attached Documents