Episode 010: U.S. Army Special Observer Group (WWII)

Rick Anderson, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of History whose research interests include Coalition Warfare, Transatlantic aid programs, and Anglo-American cooperation during WWII. The later is the topic of discussion for this podcast episode. (Photo Credit: Rick Anderson)
34th Infantry Division soldiers arrive at the Belfast Docks in Northern Ireland on January 26, 1942. They were the first U.S. combat troops to arrive in Great Britain during World War II. (Photo Credit: National Archives)

Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Rick Anderson is an active duty Army officer who currently serves as a History Instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He served six years in the U.S. Army Reserves before earning an officer’s commission from the University of Iowa Army ROTC program in 2002. After entering the Active Duty force as an Aviation Officer, Rick’s held leadership positions in various aviation units stateside and while deployed to combat operations overseas. Following completion of graduate school in 2012 he taught history at West Point. While at West Point, Rick transitioned career fields and became a Functional Area 59 Army Strategic Plans and Policy Officer. In this role he served in Korea and most recently in the Future Operations Branch at U.S. Army South. LTC Anderson holds a PhD in History from the University of Kansas.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by LTC Anderson on this podcast are from his own research as an academic and do not represent the views of the United States Military Academy, nor do they represent the views of the Department of Defense.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richard-anderson-1494a5193/

What You’ll Get From This Episode

You’ll learn about the mission, accomplishments, and legacy of the United States Army Special Observer Group from World War II including…

What was the U.S. Army Special Observer Group.

What major planning initiatives activities they were involved in.

How they laid the foundation for the creation of the European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (ETOUSA) and the Allied invasion of Europe.

Resources for Topics Discussed in the Episode

Special Observers: A History of SPOBS and USAFBI, 1941-1942. Rick Anderson’s PhD dissertation gives an in-depth narrative and analysis of the Army Special Observer Group mission from their creation in 1941 until the establishment of the ETOUSA headquarters. You can download a copy of this work for free on the University of Kansas KU ScholarWorks website.

The Origins of the Grand Alliance: Anglo-American Military Collaboration from the Panay Incident to Pearl Harbor (William T. Johnsen). This book, published in 2016 by the University of Kentucky Press, provides the first comprehensive analysis of military collaboration between the United States and Great Britain before the Second World War, which includes discussion of the SPOBS mission.

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