As the European war drew to a climax in the summer of 1944 the technological advantage that the Germans demonstrated in tanks, jet aircraft, rockets and missiles became apparent, causing great concern among allied planners. A number of intelligence operations, planned to become operational as soon as practicable in the event of a German collapse, were designed to seize the intellectual property of the Third Reich. Loosely coordinated by the Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee a number of these operations such as ALSOS, which searched for nuclear information and research, OVERCAST, dedicated to the capture of rockets, and SURGEON, the search for avionics and jet technology, were planned. These operations were well documented in both popular and academic literature after the war. However, a lesser-known operation, TICOM, which targeted the capture of German signals intelligence organizations remained top secret and to this day remains shrouded in mystery.
It was assumed that Germany, like all other major states, had an active program in diplomatic and strategic signals intelligence, and experience had provided plenty of evidence as to their capabilities in tactical SIGINT on the battlefield. Questions arose as to the German’s actual capabilities, their level of success against Anglo-American codes and ciphers, and their level of cooperation with their Japanese allies. In order to find answers to these questions the British began planning a program to actively seek out and capture the cryptologic secrets of Germany. US Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall, getting wind of these plans, ordered General Eisenhower to cooperate with the British effort, and a secret joint operation was formed, codenamed TICOM (Target Intelligence Committee).
The basic concept of TICOM was to form teams of cryptologic experts, mainly drawn from the code-breaking center at Bletchley Park, to go into Germany with the front line troops and to capture the documents, technology and personnel of the various German signal intelligence organizations before these precious secrets could be destroyed, looted, or captured by the Russians.
I. Introduction >