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This paper presents an historical account of the operations of United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) special operations units in the French campaign of 1944. The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, it is intended to be a brief history of the creation, development and combat record of these units. Second, it is intended for use as an example of the utility and effectiveness of air force special operations in high intensity conventional warfare.

The narrative basically begins in early 1943, as the Western Allies began making plans for the cross-Channel invasion of Normandy. At the request of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the USAAF commands in the United Kingdom and North Africa secretly organized a small number of special operations squadrons for use in covert operations over France. Their overall mission was to provide specialized airlift for clandestine warfare activities intended to support the conventional ground forces during the critical days and weeks immediately after D-Day.

From October 1943 through September 1944, these squadrons flew thousands of clandestine missions, parachuting guerrilla warfare teams and intelligence agents deep behind German lines, dropping weapons, ammunition, explosives and other supplies to French resistance fighters, and extracting teams from enemy territory.

The USAAF squadrons, operating in conjunction with similar British squadrons, enabled American and British special forces and French irregular units to operate with great effectiveness in the vulnerable rear areas behind German lines.

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