“If you have to keep a secret it’s because you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place” – David Nicholls.
Well, that may or may not apply to military organizations. They need first mover’s advantage to get enemies in their pants. While some fierce battles in the recent past were fought head-on, many others were planned and executed quietly. As their masterminds might have hoped, some secretly executed military operations did succeed in rocking the world.
10 Attack on Pearl Harbor:
Perhaps the most striking military operation carried out in utter secrecy, the Imperial Japanese Navy struck the scenic US Naval base at Hawai islands in the middle of Pacific Ocean on 7th December, 1941. The large scale military operation devastated the military base completely in which 8 US naval battleships and 188 aircrafts were destroyed. The surprise attack killed 2402 and left 1247 armed personnel and dragged America into World War II.
9. Operation Neptune Spear:
In the dead of the night on 2 May, 2011, Navy SEALs of United States armed forces violated Pakistan’s sovereignty, crossed the border, to conduct a daring raid in which Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, was gunned down in a operation that last just a few hours. The killing, by the way, lasted only about 15 seconds.
8. Operation Wrath of God:
Carried out in the aftermath of the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli Olympic team members at Munich, Operation Bayonet also code named Wrath of Gods was authorized by Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel. Spanning over 20 years, the covert operation by Israel are said to have located and assassinated about 25 to 30 members of Black September and Palestine Liberation Organisation, who were considered responsible for executing the 1972 massacre.
7. Operation Thunderbolt, Entebbe:
Executed in high secrecy, it was one of the most daring rescue operation ever carried out by the Israeli military, where a crack team flying at tree level, stormed a hijacked Air France plane parked at Entebbe in Uganda and rescued 102 hostages. The Tel Aviv-Athens-Paris flight was hijacked soon after leaving Athens on 27 June, 1976 with 268 passengers on board and diverted to Entebbe. In the week long stand-off, the hijackers belonging to Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had released all non-Israeli passengers before the hijacked plane was stormed at night and the remaining passengers released.
6. Operation Olympic Games:
Changing tract from conventional military operations to cyber attacks, United States and Israel in 2006 unleashed offensive cyber weapons, particularly the Stutnext virus, to damage and slowdown Iran’s nuclear program. The secretly executed operation is the first of its kind used by one country against another.
5. Trojan Horse:
To end a ten year fruitless siege of Troy with the historical Trojan War, the Greeks in 1300 BC are said to have used a huge wooden horse in which 30 soldiers were hidden in the belly and two spies in the mouth. The Trojans unaware of the covert operation pulled the ‘abandoned’ horse into the besieged city only to regret doing so, for not only did it provide entry for the Greeks into Troy but the city was destroyed putting an end to the war. Since then ‘Trojan Horse’ has come to mean any trick or stratagem used to invite an enemy into an secured space.
4. Operation Fortitude and Invasion of Normandy:
To keep Hitler’s German forces attention away from Normandy beach, allied forces successfully carried out Operation Fortitude in the summer of 1944. Invasion of Normandy that began on 6th June, 1944 was the first successful landing of armed forces across the English Channel in over 8 centuries and ultimately led to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
3. Kargil Conflict:
Transgressing the Line of Control in the high altitude zone of Kashmir, the intrusion of Pakistani armed forces into Indian side in Kargil between May and July 1999 was carried out is such secrecy that the Indian armed forces woke up to a rude shock to launch Operation Vijay. The heightened tension between India and Pakistan, did not escalate into a full-fledged war among the two nuclear armed countries but it was a close call.
2. Cuban Missile Crisis:
At the height of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960 had brought the two superpower USA and Soviet Union in a dangerous face-off over the Soviets installing nuclear tipped missiles on communist Cuba, a nation that lived in fear of being invaded by USA. Though the Soviets eventually pulled back and withdrew the missiles but a hundred odd missiles went undetected. On realizing the danger these missiles posed the Russians convinced Cuba to surrender them an avert another confrontation with the US.
1. Operation Eagle Claw:
The failed operation to rescue 52 American hostages held in the US Tehran embassy was carried out on 24 April, 1980 as an attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis. Not only did it damage American prestige around the world but also paved the way for Ronald Regan to win the 1980 presidential election over Jimmy Carter.