Newly declassified documents reveal that the Federal Bureau of Investigation trained private citizens across Alaska in the early Cold War years in case of a Russian invasion and occupation of Alaska.
The Air Force and FBI documents from 1950 showed that the United States thought the invasion was a real possibility, The Associated Press reported on Sunday.
“The military believes that it would be an airborne invasion involving bombing and the dropping of paratroopers,” one FBI memo said.
The targets were thought to be Nome, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Seward.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover teamed up on a highly classified project, code-named “Washtub,” with the newly created Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Fishermen, pilots and others in the Alaska Territory were trained to hide out during the possible bombing and communicate the Soviets’ movements back to intelligence officials.
The idea of covert “stay-behind” agents was unique to the early stages of the Cold War. Later, the period was better characterized by citizens hunkering down and building shelters to prepare for the invasion.
The FBI trained 89 local agents for the operation. It also established survival stockpiles for the agents, which were later used during peacetime.
Deborah Kidwell, official historian of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), said the operation was from 1951-59.
“While war with the Soviet Union did not come to Alaska, OSI trained 89 SBA (stay-behind agents), and the survival caches served peacetime purposes for many years to come,” she wrote in an OSI magazine last year