Covert operations are military or paramilitary operations that are carried out in secret and often involve activities which are legally if not ethically questionable. Although they do take place in wartime the heyday of covert operations was during the Cold War where both sides needed a way to strike at each other without diplomatic interference or public inquiry yet without sparking a major war. Covert operations cover a wide range of activities the US document NSC 10/2 published in June 1948 defined them as comprising of "Propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground movements guerrillas and support of indigenous anti communist elements" As this broad definition indicates the nature of covert operations can vary greatly as can their size and scale. For more information see The History of Covert Operations.
How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T (1 April 2001), Covert Operations, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/concepts_covert.html