Military deception (MILDEC) is an attempt by a military unit to gain an advantage during
warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or paramilitary groups such as Mercenary, mercenaries, Insurgency, insurgents, and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violenc ...

by misleading adversary decision makers into taking actions detrimental to the adversary. This is usually achieved by creating or amplifying an artificial
fog of war The fog of war (german: links=no, Nebel des Krieges) is the uncertainty Uncertainty refers to Epistemology, epistemic situations involving imperfect or unknown information. It applies to predictions of future events, to physical measurements t ...
via psychological operations,
information warfare Information warfare (IW) is a concept involving the battlespace use and management of information and communication technology (ICT) in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. Information warfare is the manipulation of information ...
, visual deception, or other methods. As a form of
disinformation Disinformation is false or misleading information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The c ...
, it overlaps with
psychological warfare Psychological warfare (PSYWAR), or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations (PsyOp), have been known by many other names or terms, including Military Information Support Operations (MISO is a traditional Japanese cuisine, Ja ...
. Military deception is also closely connected to
operations security Operations security (OPSEC) is a process that identifies critical information to determine if friendly actions can be observed by enemy intelligence, determines if information obtained by adversaries could be interpreted to be useful to them, a ...
(OPSEC) in that OPSEC attempts to conceal from the adversary critical information about an organization's capabilities, activities, limitations, and intentions, or provide a plausible alternate explanation for the details the adversary can observe, while deception reveals false information in an effort to mislead the adversary. Deception in warfare dates back to early history. ''
The Art of War ''The Art of War'' () is an ancient List of Chinese military texts, Chinese military treatise dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period (roughly 5th century BC). The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Su ...
'', an ancient Chinese military treatise, emphasizes the importance of deception as a way for outnumbered forces to defeat larger adversaries. Examples of deception in warfare can be found in ancient
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...
, and
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...
, the
Medieval Age In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages i ...
, the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

, and the
European Colonial Era The historical phenomenon of colonization is one that stretches around the globe and across time. Ancient and medieval colonialism was practiced by the Phoenicians, the Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ...

European Colonial Era
. Deception was employed during
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
and came into even greater prominence during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. In modern times, the militaries of several nations have evolved deception tactics, techniques and procedures into fully fledged doctrine.


Military deception may take place at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of warfare. The five basic tactics include: ; Diversion : Use of feints, demonstrations, displays, or ruses to draw the enemy's attention away from a friendly main effort and induce the enemy to concentrate resources at a time and place that is to the enemy's disadvantage. : Example: On the night of 17–18 August 1943, the Royal Air Force carried out Operation Hydra, the bombing of a
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
rocket research center at
Peenemünde Peenemünde (, en, "Peene
iver Iver is a large civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their com ...
Mouth") is a municipality on the Baltic Sea island of Usedom in the Vorpommern-Greifswald district in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. It is part of the ''Amt (country subdivision), Amt'' (collective municipality ...
, a German town on the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
. Over a period of time, the British had conditioned the Germans to expect and respond to attacks on
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...

by sending
de Havilland Mosquito The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito is a British twin-engined, shoulder-winged, multirole combat aircraft, introduced during the World War II, Second World War. Unusual in that its frame was constructed mostly of wood, it was nicknamed the "Wooden ...

de Havilland Mosquito
bombers along the same route towards the city. When the British executed Operation Hydra, the Germans believed eight Mosquitoes flying towards Berlin were the vanguard of yet another attack on the same target. As a result of this diversion, the Germans deployed the majority of their fighter aircraft over Berlin, which gave the British an advantage over Peenemünde. ; Feint : An offensive action involving force-on-force contact with the adversary which deceives the adversary as to the location and/or time of the friendly side's main effort. A feint will cause the enemy to concentrate resources at an incorrect time and location. A series of feints will condition the enemy to friendly activities in the same location, causing the enemy to lower their guard or respond ineffectively to the friendly main effort. : Example: In May 1940, Nazi Germany's Army Group B attacked the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

. At the same time, Army Group A invaded France by attacking through the
Ardennes The Ardennes ( ; french: Ardenne ; nl, Ardennen ; german: Ardennen; wa, Årdene ; lb, Ardennen ), also known as the Ardennes Forest or Forest of Ardennes, is a region of extensive forest A forest is an area of land dominated b ...

towards the city of
Sedan Sedan may refer to: Transportation * Sedan (automobile), a passenger car in a three-box configuration * Litter (vehicle), or sedan chair, a human-powered, wheelless device for transport of persons * Franklin Sedan, built by H. H. Franklin Manufac ...
. Army Group B's attack was a feint intended to disguise Germany's main effort from British and French military leaders. ; Demonstration : A demonstration presents a show of force similar to a feint, but avoids actual force-on-force contact with the adversary. The intent of a demonstration is for the adversary to incorrectly determine the time and location of the friendly main effort, which gives the friendly side an advantage by causing the adversary to incorrectly allocate resources, move to the wrong location, or fail to move. : Example: During the Peninsula campaign of the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (American Civil War), Union and sout ...
, Union commander believed he faced a stronger
Confederate Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...
force commanded by John B. Magruder than he actually did. Magruder reinforced McClellan's perception with numerous demonstrations, including parading his soldiers where they could be viewed by Union observers, concealing them as they moved back to the start point, then parading them again within sight of McClellan's observers. McClellan concluded that he was outnumbered and decided to retreat. ; Ruse : The deliberate exposure to the enemy of false information that causes the enemy to reach an incorrect conclusion about friendly intentions and capabilities. A ruse is a trick of warfare that relies on guile to contribute to a larger deception plan. : Example: The creation of the fictional Major William Martin ("The Man Who Never Was") as a British officer carrying important
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
battle plans. As part of the
Operation Mincemeat Operation Mincemeat was a successful British disinformation, deception operation of the Second World War to disguise the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. Two members of British intelligence obtained the body of Glyndwr Michael, a tramp who died ...
deception that concealed the location of the planned Allied invasion of
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

, the Allies intended for the Nazis to acquire the false documents, which indicated a planned Allied invasion of
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geogr ...

and the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

, and then incorrectly allocate troops and materiel. ; Display : The static portrayal of activity, troops, or equipment. A display is intended to deceive the adversary’s visual observation capability, causing him to believe the friendly force is in a location other than where it is, that it has a capacity or capability it does not possess, or that it does not have a capacity or capability that it does possess. : Example: The Allied use of "sunshields" in Operation Bertram and inflatable decoys in
Operation Bodyguard Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception, deception plan employed by the Allies of World War II, Allied states before the 1944 invasion of northwest Europe. The plan was intended to mislead the German high comm ...
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
to deceive the enemy as to the size, location and objectives of Allied forces. These basic deception tactics are often used in combination with each other as part of a larger deception plan.


Adherents to
Protocol I Protocol I is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions The Geneva Conventions are four , and three additional , that establish for humanitarian treatment in war. The singular term ''Geneva Convention'' usually denotes the ag ...
(1977) of the
Geneva Conventions file:Geneva Convention 1864 - CH-BAR - 29355687.pdf, upright=1.15, Original document as PDF in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions are four Treaty, treaties, and three additional Protocol (diplomacy), protocols, that establish internatio ...
agree not to engage in acts of
perfidy In the context of war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad a ...
during the conduct of warfare. Perfidious conduct is a deceitful action in which one side promises to act in good faith with the intention of breaking that promise to gain an advantage. Examples include one side raising a flag of truce to entice an enemy to come into the open and take them as prisoners of war, then opening fire on the uncovered adversary. Additional examples include misusing protected signs and symbols, including the red cross, crescent, and crystal, such as concealing a weapons cache by making it appear to be a medical facility.

Axioms and principles

The development of modern military deception doctrine has led to the codification of several rules and maxims. In U.S. doctrine, three of the most important are expressed as Magruder's Principle, the Jones' Dilemma, and Care In the Placement of Deceptive Material (Avoid Windfalls). Magruder's Principle: Named for
Confederate Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...
general John B. Magruder, this principle states that it usually easier to deceive a deception target into holding on to a pre-existing belief than it is to convince the target that something the target believes to be true is not. Examples include the Allies of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
making use in the
Operation Mincemeat Operation Mincemeat was a successful British disinformation, deception operation of the Second World War to disguise the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. Two members of British intelligence obtained the body of Glyndwr Michael, a tramp who died ...
deception of the pre-existing German belief that
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geogr ...

and the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

would be their next invasion target after
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
, when the Allies actually intended to invade
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

. Jones' Dilemma: Named for British scientist
Reginald Victor Jones Reginald Victor Jones , FRSE Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and Literature, letters, judged to be "eminently d ...
, who played an important role in the Allied effort during World War II, the Jones dilemma indicates that the greater the number of intelligence and information gathering and transmitting resources available to the deception target, the more difficult it is to deceive the target. Conversely, the more of the target's intelligence and information systems that are manipulated in a deception plan or denied to the target, the more likely the target is to believe the deception. One reason the World War II
Operation Bodyguard Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception, deception plan employed by the Allies of World War II, Allied states before the 1944 invasion of northwest Europe. The plan was intended to mislead the German high comm ...
deception was accepted as true on the German side is that Germany's ability to acquire information about activities in England was limited, enabling the Allies to manipulate the few German intelligence gathering resources that were available. Avoid Windfalls: If a deception target obtains deceptive information too easily ("too good to be true"), the target is unlikely to act on it and the deception will fail. This requires deception planners to take care in placing deceptive information so that it will appear to have been acquired in a seemingly natural manner. The deception target is then able to assemble details from multiple sources into a coherent, believable, but untrue story. The best deception plans co-opt the enemy's skepticism through requiring enemy participation, either by expending time and resources in obtaining the deceptive information, or by devoting significant effort to interpreting it. In an example of valid information being dismissed as a windfall, early in World War II a plane carrying German officers to
Cologne Cologne ( ; german: Köln ; ksh, Kölle ) is the largest city of Germany, Germany's most populous States of Germany, state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the List of cities in Germany by population, fourth-most populous city and one of t ...

became lost in bad weather and landed in
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

. Before being arrested by Belgian authorities, the Germans attempted to burn the papers they were carrying, which included copies of the actual invasion plans for Belgium and the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

. Belgian authorities discounted this true information as false because of the ease with which they obtained it.

Planning process

The doctrine for planning deception has been codified over time. In the U.S. military, this doctrine begins with understanding the deception target's cognitive process. Expressed as "See-Think-Do", this understanding of the adversary considers what information has to be conveyed to the target through what medium in order for the target to develop the perception of the situation that will cause the enemy to take an action beneficial to the friendly side. In the planning process, "See-Think-Do" is considered in reverse order—what does the friendly side want the enemy to do as a result of the deception, what perceptions will the target have to form in order to take the action, and what information needs to be transmitted to the target through which medium so that the target will develop the desired perception. As an example, the intent for Operation Bodyguard was for Germany to allocate forces away from Normandy ("Do"). The perception the Allies wanted to create in the mind of the deception target (Hitler) was that the Allies were planning to invade at Calais ("Think"). The information the Allies conveyed to the target to create the perception included the false radio traffic, dummy equipment displays, and deceptive command messages of the fictional First United States Army Group ("See").


Ancient Egypt

According to
a story ''A Story'' is an album packaged in book form, like a photograph album An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), Phonograph record, vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded s ...
from an ancient Egyptian papyrus, in about 1450 BC, an Egyptian army under Pharaoh
Thutmose III Thutmose III (variously also spelt Tuthmosis or Thothmes) was the sixth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Eighteenth Dynasty. Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost 54 years and his reign is usually dated from 28 April 1479 ...

Thutmose III
and his general Djehuty besieged the city of Yapu (later Joppa and now
Jaffa Jaffa, in Hebrew Yafo ( he, יָפוֹ, ) and in Arabic Yafa ( ar, يَافَا) and also called Japho or Joppa, the southern and oldest part of Tel Aviv-Yafo Tel Aviv-Yafo ( he, תֵּל־אָבִיב-יָפוֹ – ''Tel Aviv-Yafo'' ...

). Unable to gain entry, they resorted to deception. Djehuty hid several soldiers in baskets and had the baskets delivered to the town with the message that the Egyptians were admitting defeat and sending
tribute A tribute (; from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be ...

. The people of Yapu accepted the gift and celebrated the end of the siege. Once inside the city, the hidden soldiers emerged from the baskets, opened the city gates, and admitted the main Egyptian force. The Egyptians then conquered the city.

Ancient Greece

The ''
Iliad The ''Iliad'' (; grc, Ἰλιάς, Iliás, ; sometimes referred to as the ''Song of Ilion'' or ''Song of Ilium'') is an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Moder ...

'' and The ''
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí ...
'', epic poems composed between the 9th and 6th centuries BC, are credited to the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally re ...

. These poems contain details of the
Trojan War In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Homer), Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris (mythology), Paris of Troy took Helen of Troy, Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta. The war is one of the ...
, presumed by the Greeks to have been fought in approximately the 13th century BC. The ''Odyssey'' provides the details of the
Trojan Horse The Trojan Horse was the wooden horse used by the Greeks, during the Trojan War, to enter the city of Troy and win the war. There is no Trojan Horse in Homer's ''Iliad'', with the poem ending before the war is concluded. But in the ''Aeneid'' ...

Trojan Horse
, a successfully executed deception. After several years of stalemate, a Greek leader,
Odysseus Odysseus ( ; grc-gre, Ὀδυσσεύς, Ὀδυσεύς, OdysseúsOdyseús, ), also known by the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken ...

, devised a ruse. Over three days, the Greeks constructed a hollow wooden horse, which they inscribed as an offering to the goddess
Athena Athena or Athene, often given the epithet An epithet (, ) is a byname, or a descriptive term (word or phrase), accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied ...

in prayer for safe return to their homes. The Greeks then pretended to depart the area around Troy, giving the impression that they had sailed for Greece. Rather than risk offending Athena, the Trojans brought the horse into the city. That night, Greek soldiers concealed inside the horse came out of their hiding place and opened the city gates. The main force of Greek soldiers who had actually remained nearby then entered the city and killed the inhabitants.

Ancient Macedon

In 326 BC, the army of
Macedon Macedonia (; grc-gre, Μακεδονία), also called Macedon (), was an Classical antiquity, ancient monarchy, kingdom on the periphery of Archaic Greece, Archaic and Classical Greece, and later the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece. Th ...
, which was led by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
, had advanced through the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

, conquering numerous kingdoms along the way. Alexander planned for battle against the forces of
Porus Porus () or Poros (from Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search ...
, the king of the region of
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

that is now
Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts. ...

. To confront Porus, Alexander needed to cross the . Porus used the terrain to his advantage and arranged his forces to prevent Alexander from crossing the river at the most likely fording point. Leading up to the battle, Alexander scouted several alternative fords, but Porus moved each time to counter him. Alexander eventually located a suitable crossing point approximately 17 miles north of his base. He then led a portion of his army to the crossing site, while his subordinate
Craterus Craterus or Krateros ( el, Κρατερός; c. 370 BC – 321 BC) was a Macedonian Macedonian most often refers to someone or something from or related to Macedonia (disambiguation), Macedonia. Macedonian may specifically refer to: People M ...
kept the entire army's campfires burning within sight of Porus and feigned several river crossings that Porus was able to observe. With Porus distracted, Alexander successfully led his detachment across the river, then marched south to engage in battle. In the
Battle of the Hydaspes A battle is an occurrence of combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or devic ...
, Alexander's army had the element of surprise and quickly defeated Porus' troops, while sustaining relatively few casualties on the Macedonian side. Having conquered Porus' kingdom, Alexander then allowed Porus to rule his former kingdom as one of Alexander's
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...

Ancient China

In 341 BC, troops under the general
Sun Bin Sun Bin (died 316 BC) was a Chinese general, Military strategy, military strategist, and writer who lived during the Warring States period of History of China, Chinese history. A supposed descendant of Sun Tzu, Sun was tutored in military stra ...

Sun Bin
of the state of Qi faced battle with the forces of the state of Wei. Knowing that Wei regarded the army of Qi as inferior and cowardly, Sun Bin decided to use Wei's perception to his advantage. When Qi's forces invaded Wei, Sun Bin ordered them to light 100,000 camp fires on the first night. On the second night, they lit 50,000. On the third, 30,000. Sun Bin's deception caused the Wei forces led by general
Pang Juan Pang Juan (died 342 BC) was an ancient Chinese military general of the Wei state during the Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and milita ...
to believe Qi faced mass desertions. Rushing to attack what they believed to be an inferior army, the Wei forces assaulted Qi's troops at a narrow gorge, not knowing Sun Bin's soldiers had prepared it as an ambush site. When Pang Juan's troops reached the gorge they observed that a sign had been posted. Lighting a torch to see the message, the Wei commander read "Pang Juan dies beneath this tree". The lighting of the torch was the signal for Qi to initiate the ambush. Sun Bin's army quickly routed Pang Juan's and Pang Juan committed suicide. Another well-known deceptive measure from ancient China has come to be known as the
Empty Fort Strategy The Empty Fort Strategy is the 32nd of the Chinese Thirty-Six Stratagems. The strategy involves using reverse psychology (and luck) to deceive the enemy into thinking that an empty location is full of traps and ambushes, and therefore induce the e ...
. Employed several times in numerous conflicts, the best-known example is a fictional one contained in a
historical novel Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Although the term is commonly used as a synonym for the historical novel, it can also be applied to other types of narrative, including theatr ...
from the 1320s AD, ''
Romance of the Three Kingdoms ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms'' () is a 14th-century historical novel Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Although the term is commonly used as a synonym for the histori ...
''. This work, which contains embellished tales of actual Chinese history from 169 to 280 AD, includes the story of general
Zhuge Liang Zhuge Liang ( ; 181–234), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Ko ...

Zhuge Liang
Shu Han Han (; 221–263), known in historiography as Shu Han ( ; often shortened to Shu ; pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland ...
employing the Empty Fort Strategy. As recounted in the novel's description of
Zhuge Liang's Northern Expeditions Zhuge in Chinese, Jegal in Korean, Gia Cát in Vietnamese or Morokuzu in Japanese is a compound surname in East Asia. It is ranked 314th in ''Hundred Family Surnames The ''Hundred Family Surnames'' (), commonly known as ''Bai Jia Xing'', als ...
, an actual historical event, the forces of general
Sima Yi Sima Yi ( ; 179 – 7 September 251), courtesy name Zhongda, was a Chinese military general, politician, and regent of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He formally began his political career in 208 under the ...
Cao Wei Wei (220–266), also known as Cao Wei or Former Wei, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). With its capital initially located at Xuchang, and thereafter Luoyang, the ...
arrived at Zhuge Liang's location, the city of Xicheng, while the bulk of Zhuge Liang's army was deployed elsewhere. Zhuge Liang instructed the few troops he had on hand to pretend to be townspeople and told them to perform tasks which would make them visible to Sima Yi, including sweeping the town's streets. Zhuge Liang ordered Xichneg's gates to be opened, then took up a visible position on a viewing platform, playing his
Guqin The ''guqin'' (; ) is a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument. It has been played since ancient times, and has traditionally been favoured by scholars A scholar is a person who pursues academic and intellectual activities, particu ...

while flanked by only two pages. Because Zhuga Liang's reputation as a military leader was so great, Sima Yi assumed Zhuge Liang had prepared an ambush, so he declined to enter Xicheng. Zhuge Liang's deception saved the town and prevented the few soldiers he had with him from being massacred or taken prisoner.

Ancient Carthage

During the
Second Punic War The Second Punic War, which lasted from 218 to 201BC, was the second of three wars fought between Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading ...

Second Punic War
, the Carthaginian general
Hannibal Hannibal (; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋, ''Ḥannibaʿl''; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern ...

employed deception during the
Battle of Cannae A battle is an occurrence of combat in warfare between opposing military units of any number or size. A war usually consists of multiple battles. In general, a battle is a military engagement that is well defined in duration, area, and force c ...
in 216 BC. In preparing to face a Roman force led by Lucius Aemilius Paullus and
Gaius Terentius Varro :''For others with a similar name, see Varro (cognomen).'' Gaius Terentius Varro ( 218200 BC) was a Roman politician and general active during the Second Punic War The Second Punic War (218–201 BC) was the second of three wars fought bet ...
, Hannibal had 40,000 soldiers, as compared to the over 80,000 that had been amassed by Rome. To overcome the Roman advantage in numbers, Hannibal placed his less experienced and disciplined
Gauls The Gauls ( la, Galli; grc, Γαλάται, ''Galátai'') were a group of peoples of in the and the (roughly from the 5th century BC to the 5th century AD). The area they originally inhabited was known as . Their forms the main branch of th ...
in the center of his formation, arranged to bulge out towards the Romans. On either side of his line, Hannibal positioned his experienced and disciplined
Libyan Libyans (ليبيون) and their population density, Ethnic group, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the Libyan population. No complete population or vital statistics ...
Gaetuli Gaetuli was the Romanised name of an ancient Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concent ...
infantry. Hannibal intended for the Gauls to give way to the advancing Romans, with the center of his line bending but not breaking. Seeing the Gauls appear to retreat, the Romans would advance into the bowl shape or sack created by the bending of Hannibal's line. Once inside the sack, the African infantry positioned on the left and right would wheel inwards and attack the Roman flanks. In combination with the Carthaginian cavalry, the infantry on the flanks would continue moving until they encircled the Romans and could attack their rear. The battle unfolded as Hannibal had envisioned. Only 10,000 Romans escaped, with the rest either killed or captured. The battle came to be seen as evidence of Hannibal's genius for tactical generalship, while it was among the worst defeats suffered by Ancient Rome.

Ancient Rome

During the
Gallic Wars The Gallic Wars were waged between 58 BC and 50 BC by the Roman general Julius Caesar against the peoples of Gaul (present-day France, Belgium, along with parts of Germany). Gauls, Gallic, Germanic peoples, Germanic, and Celtic Br ...
, in 52 BC Roman commander
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
attempted to engage the forces of tribal leader
Vercingetorix Vercingetorix (; – 46 BC) was a king and chieftain of the Arverni The Arverni (: ''Aruerni'') were a people dwelling in the modern region during the and the . They were one of the most powerful tribes of ancient , contesting primacy ove ...

in open battle in what is now central France. Vercingetorix kept the River Elave (now
Allier Allier ( , , ; oc, Alèir) is a department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivision), a geographical and ...

) between Caesar's forces and his own. His troops destroyed or removed the bridges and mirrored the movements of Caesar's troops, preventing Caesar from crossing the river. Caesar responded by hiding forty of his sixty cohorts and arranging the remaining twenty to give the appearance of sixty as viewed from the opposite riverbank. The twenty cohorts continued to march along the river, and Vercingetorix's troops continued to mirror their movements. Caesar then led the forty hidden cohorts back to a repairable bridge, had it fixed, led his troops across, and sent for the other twenty cohorts to rejoin him. Now on the same side of the river as Vercingetorix, Cesar was able to engage the Gallic tribes in battle as he intended.

Mongol Empire

Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the List of largest empires, largest contiguous land empire in history and the second largest empire by landmass, second only to the British Empire. Originating in Mongolia in East Asia, the ...
frequently used deception to aid its military success. A favored tactic was to exaggerate the size of their army, which would cause their enemies to surrender or flee. When he fought the
Naimans The Naiman (Mongolian language, Mongolian: Найман/Naiman, "eight"; ; Kazakh language, Kazakh: Найман; Uzbek language, Uzbek: Nayman) is a medieval tribe originating in the territory of modern Western Mongolia (possibly during the time of ...
in 1204,
Chinggis Khan ''Chinggis Khaan'' ͡ʃiŋgis xa:nbr> Mongol script: ''Chinggis Qa(gh)an/ Chinggis Khagan'' , birth_name = Temüjin ; xng, Temüjin, script=Latn; ., name=Temujin , successor = Ögedei Khan , spouse = , issue = , house = Borjigin , d ...
ordered his soldiers to light five campfires each, giving the impression of a more numerous army. In 1258
Möngke Khan Möngke ( mn, ' / Мөнх '; ; 11 January 1209 – 11 August 1259) was the fourth khagan Khagan or Qaghan ( otk, 𐰴𐰍𐰣, Kaɣan, mn, Xаан or ᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨ, Khaan, ota, خواقين, Ḫākan, or خان ''Ḫān'', tr, K ...
invaded Szechuan with 40,000 soldiers, and spread rumors of 100,000 in an effort to intimidate his enemy. When confronting numerically superior forces, the Mongols often sent troops behind their own lines to raise dust with branches tied to their horses' tails, which created the impression that reinforcements were ''en route''. Mongol soldiers had more than one horse each, and to exaggerate the size of their army, they would compel prisoners or civilians to ride their spare horses within sight of the enemy, or mount dummies on their spare horses. To make their forces appear smaller, the Mongols would ride in single file, minimizing dust and making the hoofprints of their horses more difficult to count. Mongol armies also used the feigned retreat. A typical tactic was to deploy the Manghit#Military unit of the Mongols, mangudai, a vanguard unit that would charge the enemy, break up its formation, and then fall back in an attempt to draw the enemy into a position more favorable to the Mongols.

Middle Ages

Examples of deception occurred during the Crusades. In 1271, Sultan Baybars captured the formidable Krak des Chevaliers by handing the besieged knights a letter, supposedly from their commander, ordering them to surrender. The letter was fake, but the knights believed it was genuine and capitulated. In 1401, during the Glyndŵr Rising, the Tudors of Penmynydd, Tudors of Wales were seeking a revocation of the price that Henry de Percy, 1st Baron Percy, Henry Percy had placed on their heads. After deciding to capture Percy's Conwy Castle, one member of the Tudor faction posed as a carpenter, gained access, and then admitted his compatriots. The successful deception was in part responsible for the creation of England's House of Tudor, Tudor dynasty.


In an event from the early 1480s that was recounted in Washington Irving's ''Conquest of Granada'', during the Granada War, the Alhama de Granada was besieged by Moors. During the siege, a portion of the fortress' outer wall was destroyed after the earth beneath it was washed away in a violent storm. To conceal the breach, the Íñigo López de Mendoza y Quiñones, Conde de Tendilla, leader of the Spanish defenders, directed the erection of a cloth screen. The screen deceived the Moors because it was painted to resemble stone, and no Moorish besiegers ventured close enough to spot the fakery. The wall was repaired over the next several days, and the Moors did not learn of the gap in the Alhama's defenses. Henry VIII of England led troops on the European mainland during the War of the League of Cambrai. On 4 September 1513, Henry's forces began to besiege the city of Tournai in what is now
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

. The site of a thriving tapestry industry and home to many well-known painters, Tournai prolonged the siege by using painted canvas that resembled Trench warfare, trenchworks to exaggerate the strength of its defenses. As a result of this deception, the city held out for several days longer than expected and obtained favorable terms when it surrendered.

Colonial Africa

In 1659, the kingdom of Denmark–Norway constructed Osu Castle, Fort Christiansborg near what is now Accra in Ghana. Used to control commerce in slaves, as well as raw materials including gold and ivory, the site changed hands several times between Denmark–Norway, Portugal, and Sweden, sometimes by force, sometimes by purchase. In 1692, Nana Asamani, the Akwamuhene, king of the Akwamu people, planned to capture the fort from Denmark–Norway. Disguising himself as a cook and interpreter, he obtained work at the fort, where over the next year he became proficient in the Danish language and conducted reconnaissance to learn about the activities of the facility's occupants and the people with whom they traded. After gaining familiarity with Fort Christiansborg's occupants and operations, in 1693 Asamani informed the Danish traders who occupied it about a group of Akwamu who desired to purchase weapons and ammunition, and suggested they were so anxious to buy that the Danes should inflate their prices. Lured by the prospect of large profits, the Danes bartered with the 80 Akwamu that Asamani had brought to the fort. When the Danes allowed the Akwamu to inspect rifles and prepare to test-fire them, the Akwamu instead used the guns to commence an attack on the Danes. Caught by surprise, the Danes were quickly overpowered and ejected from Fort Christiansborg. The Akwamu occupied the post for a year before Asamani agreed to sell it back to Denmark–Norway. Asamani kept the keys as a trophy, and they are still in the possession of the Akwamu.

French and Indian War

During the French and Indian War, British commander James Wolfe attempted throughout the summer of 1759 to force French commander Louis-Joseph de Montcalm to come out of his well-defended position in Quebec City. When artillery fire that destroyed most of the city did not produce the desired effect, Wolfe employed a deception strategy called "uproar east, attack west" Wolfe ordered Admiral Charles Saunders (Royal Navy officer), Charles Saunders to move the British fleet on the Saint Lawrence River to a position opposite one of Montcalm's main camps east of Quebec City. This demonstration gave the appearance of preparations for an upcoming attack. Montcalm was deceived, and moved troops to guard against a British assault from that location. Wolfe's soldiers at Quebec City capitalized on the favorable balance of forces created by the deception. First, they opened a road from the riverbank to the city heights. Next, they deployed into battle formation on a farmer's field near the city walls. Caught by surprise, Montcalm knew he would not be able to withstand a siege and had no choice but to fight. On 13 September 1759's Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the French were decisively beaten. The loss of Quebec led to defeat in the war and France was forced to cede Canada to the British.

American Revolution

Siege of Boston

As head of the Continental Army, George Washington successfully used deception to equalize the odds in the fight against the larger, better-equipped, and better-trained British army and its mercenary allies. During the Siege of Boston from April 1775 to March 1776, the newly organized Continental Army suffered from numerous equipment and supply shortages. Among the most critical was a lack of gunpowder, which was so acute that in a battle, Washington's troops would be able to fire no more than nine bullets per man. To conceal the lack of gunpowder from the British, Washington's quartermaster soldiers filled gunpowder casks with sand and shipped them from Providence, Rhode Island to the Continental Army's depots. The deception fooled British spies, and British commanders decided not to risk an attack during the siege.

Battle of Long Island

After the Patriot defeat at the Battle of Long Island in late August 1776, Washington's forces retreated to Brooklyn Heights, with a superior British force surrounding them on three sides and their backs to the East River. The British expected Washington would find his position untenable and surrender. Washington instead arranged for a flotilla of small boats to ferry his 9,000 troops across the river to the relative safety of Manhattan Island. Moving under cover of darkness, Washington's troops withdrew unit by unit to avoid the appearance that a general retreat was taking place. The wheels of supply wagons and gun carriages were wrapped in rags to muffle their noise, and troops ordered to remain silent to avoid alerting the nearby British. Rear guard units kept campfires blazing through the night. These measures fooled British scouts into thinking the Patriot army was still on Brooklyn Heights. A morning fog obscured visibility, which helped the Continentals complete their retreat, and all 9,000 were safely ferried across the river. When the British advanced, they were surprised to find the American positions completely empty.

Battle of Trenton

Prior to the Battle of Trenton on Christmas Day 1776, Washington used a spy, John Honeyman to gain information about the positions of Britain's Hessian (soldier), Hessian mercenaries. Posing as a Loyalist (American Revolution), Loyalist butcher and weaver, Honeyman traded with British and Hessian troops and acquired useful intelligence. At the same time, he aided Washington's plan by spreading
disinformation Disinformation is false or misleading information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The c ...
that convinced the British and Hessians that Continental Army morale was low and an end-of-year attack against British positions unlikely. Honeyman's deceptive information enabled Washington to gain the element of surprise, and his troops routed the stunned Hessians.

Battle of Princeton

After the Battle of Trenton, the British dispatched a large army under General Charles Cornwallis to chase down Washington's smaller force. At the 2 January 1777 Battle of the Assunpink Creek, the Continental troops under Washington successfully repulsed three British attacks on their positions. Darkness ended the British attacks and they planned to resume the following morning. That night, Washington again resorted to the same deceptive tactics he had used in Brooklyn, including muffling the wheels of wagons and gun carriages to reduce noise, and leaving a rear guard to keep campfires burning. The British were again fooled, and Washington was able to move his army into a position from which he defeated the British at the Battle of Princeton on 3 January.

Siege of Fort Stanwix

In August 1777, the first Patriot attempt to relieve the Siege of Fort Stanwix, New York (state), New York was blocked by the British as the result of the Battle of Oriskany. A second attempt, led by Benedict Arnold succeeded in part because of a successful effort to deceive the British besiegers. Arnold dispatched a messenger, Hon Yost Schuyler to the British lines. Schuyler was a Loyalist and regarded by the British army's Mohawk people, Mohawk allies as a prophet because of his strange dress and conduct. To ensure his good conduct, Arnold held Schuyler's brother as a hostage. Upon reaching the British positions outside Fort Stanwix, Schuyler informed the Mohawk that Arnold's relief column was nearer than it was, and that it was much larger than it actually was. The Mohawk initially disbelieved Schuyler, but assumed he was telling the truth after other American Indian messengers sent by Arnold began to arrive with the same information. The Mohawk decided to leave, forcing British commander Barry St. Leger to order a retreat. The end of the siege also ended British attempts to control the Mohawk Valley.

Battle of Cowpens

In the fall of 1780, Continental Army general Nathanael Greene, commander of the Southern Department, carried out a harassment campaign against the British in North Carolina, North and South Carolina. One of Greene's subordinates, Daniel Morgan, commanded a force of approximately 600, and was tasked with harassing the enemy in the Backcountry (historical region), backcountry of South Carolina. In January 1781, as a British force commanded by Banastre Tarleton closed in on Morgan near Cowpens, South Carolina on the Broad River (Carolinas), Broad River, he opted to fight rather than risk being attacked while attempting to cross the water. Knowing the British regarded Patriot militia as inferior, Morgan used this perception to his advantage by arranging his troops in three lines. The first was sharpshooters, who provided harassing fire and attempted to pick off British officers. The sharpshooters would then fall back to the second line, which would consist of militiamen. The militia would fire two volleys, then feign a rout and pretend to flee. If the British believed they had caused a panic in the militiamen, they would charge forward. But instead of catching up to the fleeing militia, they would run into the third line—Continental Army soldiers commanded by John Eager Howard. As a reserve, Morgan had a small Continental cavalry force commanded by William Washington. Morgan's deception proved decisive. At the Battle of Cowpens on 17 January 1781, the British under Tarleton launched a frontal assault. The militia feigned retreat, and Tarleton's troops charged forward. As planned, they were met by Howard's troops, then surprised by Washington's cavalry charging into their flanks. The British lost over 100 killed, over 200 wounded, and over 500 captured. Morgan's command sustained only 12 killed and 60 wounded.

French Revolutionary Wars

Napoleon Bonaparte made significant use of deception during his campaigns. At the 1796 Battle of Lodi, he used deception to achieve a successful crossing of the River Po. As a diversion, Napoleon mounted a token crossing attempt against a strong Austrian force under Johann Peter Beaulieu. Meanwhile, the bulk of his force moved upriver and obtained an uncontested bridgehead at Piacenza. Once it had crossed the river, Napoleon's force attacked the enemy's rear guard in a tactic he referred to as ''manoeuvre sur les derrières'' ("maneuvering behind").

War of the First Coalition

During the War of the First Coalition, France attempted an invasion of Britain. During the February 1797 Battle of Fishguard, Colonel William Tate (soldier), William Tate an Irish-American commanding French and Irish troops, landed near Fishguard in Wales. English and Welsh militia and civilians under the command of John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor hastily assembled to defend the town. When discipline began to break down among Tate's troops and their attempted invasion slowed down, Tate asked for surrender terms that would permit his command to leave. Instead of offering terms, Cawdor demanded unconditional surrender. As Tate and his subordinates considered Cawdor's demands overnight, Cawdor backed up his bluff with several deceptive measures. According to local lore, these included having women in Traditional Welsh costumes and Welsh hats line the cliffs near the French camp. from a distance, the women appeared to be British soldiers in Red coat (military uniform), red coats and Shakos. Convinced that he was outnumbered, Tate surrendered and his troops were taken prisoner.

First Barbary War

In October, 1803 the frigate ran aground off the North African port of Tripoli during the First Barbary War and was captured by the Tripolitan forces. In February 1804, a U.S. military detachment under the command of Stephen Decatur Jr., was assigned to retrieve the ship or destroy it in order to keep Tripoli from putting it into service. The raiding party deceived the Tripolitan authorities by sailing into Tripoli harbor aboard , a captured Tripolitan ketch which they disguised as a Malta, Maltese merchant ship. The ship's Sicilians, Sicilian harbor pilot spoke to the Tripolitan authorities in Arabic (language), Arabic, claimed the ship had lost its anchors in a storm, and sought permission to tie up next to the captured ''Philadelphia''. Permission was granted and Decatur and his crew overwhelmed the small force guarding ''Philadelphia'', using only swords and pikes to avoid gunshots that would alert authorities on shore of their presence. Unable to sail ''Philadelphia'' away, Decatur and his crew burned it, then safely escaped.

War of 1812

First American Invasion of Canada

In July 1812, General William Hull was at Fort Detroit as the British fortified a defensive position across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. Hull decided to move the British to Fort Malden, further away from Detroit, so that he could seize the defenses in Windsor. To implement his plan, Hull resorted to deception, which began when his troops collected all the boats and canoes they could find. On 11 July 1812, Hull sent some boats down the river to Springwells Township, Michigan, Springwells, south of Detroit, in full view of the British. At the same time, the American regiment commanded by Duncan McArthur marched from Detroit to Springwells, also observed by the British. With the British now anticipating an American crossing south of Detroit, a second American force moved north in the dark until they reached Bloody Run, a crossing point a mile and a half north of Fort Detroit and opposite the Ontario town of Old Sandwich Town, Sandwich. Finding no activity at Springwells, the British believed the Americans had already crossed the river and marched on Fort Malden. Assuming Fort Malden was vulnerable, the British troops in Sandwich marched south, and in the morning the Americans at Bloody Run crossed to Sandwich unopposed. After landing in Sandwich, the Americans then marched from Sandwich to Windsor and seized the British defensive works.

Retaking the brig Nerina

In July 1812, the British warship ''HMS Belvidera (1809), HMS Belvidera'' captured the American brig ''Nerina'', which had sailed for New York City from Newry, Ireland without knowing that war had been declared in June. ''Nerina's'' crew was transferred to a British ship, except for the captain, James Stewart, who remained on board with a British prize crew which intended to sail ''Nerina'' to Halifax, Nova Scotia so a prize court could adjudicate the British claim. When the British ship was out of sight, Stewart suggested to the prize master the propriety of opening the hatches to air out ''Nerina's'' hold. The master gave the order, and the fifty American passengers Stewart had hidden belowdecks before ''Nerina'' was boarded rushed out and retook the ship. Stewart's successful deception enabled him to resume command and sail ''Nerina'' to New London, Connecticut, which he reached on 4 August.

Siege of Detroit

In a notable deception that occurred during the War of 1812's Siege of Detroit, British Major General Isaac Brock and Native American chief Tecumseh used a variety of tricks, including letters they allowed to be intercepted which exaggerated the size of their forces, disguising Brock's militia contingent as more fearsome regular army soldiers, and repeatedly marching the same body of Native American past U.S. observers to make it appear they were more numerous than they were. Though he had superior troop strength, the U.S. commander, Brigadier General William Hull, believed he faced overwhelming numbers of British regular troops and hordes of uncontrollable Indians. Fearing a massacre, in August 1812 Hull surrendered the town and the attached fort. Most of his militia were allowed to return home, while his regular army soldiers were held as prisoners of war.

Capture of brigs Catharine and Rose

American Lieutenant John Downes (naval officer), John Downes was in command of ''Georgiana (1791 ship), Georgiana'' as part of Captain David Porter (naval officer), David Porter's naval force, which raided British shipping in the Galapagos Islands, Galapagos chain. On 28 May 1813, lookouts on ''Georgiana'' spotted two British ships, ''Catharine (1809 ship), Catharine'' and ''Rose (1806 ship), Rose'', off Santiago Island (Galapagos), James Island. Resorting to deception, Downes raised the Union Jack, British flag, which tricked the British whalers into thinking they were not under threat. When the Americans were within range they lowered a few boats filled with men, which rowed to ''Catharine'' and ''Rose'' and captured them without resistance. The British captains revealed to Downes that they had no idea of the attack until the Americans were already on deck.

Capture of HMS Eagle

In 1813, the British Royal Navy continued to blockade America's major ports."Ships' Data, U.S. Naval Vessels" by United States. Navy Department p. 376. The British flagship HMS ''HMS Poictiers (1809), Poictiers'', commanded by Sir John Beresford, 1st Baronet, Commodore J.B. Beresford maintained station just outside Sandy Hook on Lower New York Bay, supported by the schooner HMS ''Eagle''. ''Eagle'' had a notorious reputation among local fishermen for seizing both fishing boat crews and the boats' valuable cargoes. John Percival of the United States Navy volunteered to end the threat, and acquired a fishing boat named ''Yankee''. On the morning of 4 July 1813, he concealed 34 armed volunteers in the Hold (compartment), hold, while he and two volunteers stayed on deck dressed as fishermen. Percival then sailed ''Yankee'' as though it was departing on a fishing voyage. ''Eagle's'' commander spotted ''Yankee'' and ordered it to transfer the livestock it carried on deck to ''Poictiers''. Percival pretended to comply, and when the vessels were less than ten feet apart, he signaled his volunteers to launch a surprise attack by shouting "Lawrence!" in honor of slain U.S. Navy Captain James Lawrence. Percival's volunteers poured out on deck and began firing. ''Eagle's'' crew were taken by surprise and fled below deck. One of ''Eagle's'' crew struck her colors, thus surrendering to ''Yankee''. Two British sailors were killed and another received mortal wounds, but there were no American casualties. Percival brought the captured ''Eagle'' into port and delivered his prisoners to New York City's Whitehall Street docks as thousands of Americans were celebrating Independence Day (United States), Independence Day.

Ambush at Black Swamp Road

In July 1813, Benjamin Forsyth, one of the company commanders in the American Regiment of Riflemen wanted to enlist the aid of Seneca people, Seneca warriors during planned military operations against the British near Newark, Ontario (now Niagara-on-the-Lake). Forsyth and the Seneca leaders agreed to work together to ambush the Mohawk people, Mohawks who were allied with the British. American riflemen and Seneca warriors hid on both sides of the Black Swamp Road. A few Seneca horse riders rode out to gain the Mohawks' attention, then conducted a feigned retreat. After the Seneca horsemen passed the hidden American riflemen and Senecas, Forsyth blew his bugle as a signal. The concealed Americans and Senecas rose from their hiding places and fired into the pursuing Mohawks. Fifteen Mohawks were killed and thirteen surrendered, including a British interpreter. A few Mohawks escaped, while the Americans and their Seneca allies marched their prisoners back to American lines.

Battle of Fort Stephenson

In August 1813, American Major George Croghan (soldier), George Croghan was in charge of 160 soldiers at Fort Stephenson, a base on the Sandusky River in what is now Sandusky County, Ohio which guarded a nearby supply depot. British commander Henry Procter (British Army officer), Henry Procter arrived with a superior force that included at least 500 British regulars, 800 American Indians under Major Robert Dickson, and at least 2,000 more under Tecumseh. Procter met Croghan under a flag of truce and urged him to surrender, but Croghan refused. The British then bombarded the fort by artillery and gunboat, to little effect. Croghan returned fire with his single cannon, "Old Betsy" while frequently changing its position in the hopes that the British would believe he had more than one artillery piece. When Croghan's supply of ammunition ran low, he ordered his men to cease fire. Croghan deduced that the British were going to strike in full force at the northwestern angle of the fort, so he ordered his men to conceal "Old Betsy" in a blockhouse at that location. The next morning, the British feinted twice at the southern angle, then approached the northwest one. American gunners surprised them by uncovering "Old Betsy" and firing at point blank range, which destroyed the British column. Procter withdrew and sailed away. Procter reported British casualties as 23 killed, 35 wounded, and 28 missing. American casualties were only one killed and seven wounded.Gilpin, p. 207 Croghan was celebrated as a national hero and promoted to lieutenant colonel.

Ambush at Odelltown

On 28 June 1814, Benjamin Forsyth, commander of the American Regiment of Riflemen, advanced from Chazy, New York to Odelltown, Quebec, Odelltown, Lower Canada intending to draw a British force of Canadians and American Indian allies into an ambush. Upon arriving at the British positions, Forsyth sent a few men forward as decoys to make contact. When the British responded, the American decoys conducted a feigned retreat, which successfully lured 150 Canadians and American Indian allies into the ambush site. During the ensuing fight, Forsyth needlessly exposed himself by stepping on a log to watch the attack and was shot and killed. Forsyth's riflemen, still hidden and now enraged over the death of their commander, rose from their covered positions and fired a devastating volley. The British were surprised by the ambush and retreated in confusion, leaving seventeen dead on the field. Forsyth was the only American casualty. Even though Forsyth was killed, his feigned retreat and ambush succeeded at inflicting heavy casualties on the British force.

Battle of Lundy's Lane

In the July 1814 Battle of Lundy's Lane, American forces used deception at several critical points. When troops under Winfield Scott returned from attacks on British formations they were twice mistaken in the dark for a British unit and allowed to pass. In one incident, a British leader asked who was approaching by shouting "The 89th?" The Americans recognized the opportunity to pass unmolested and called back "The 89th!" In another event, American Captain Ambrose Spencer saw a unit approaching in the dark. He rode up and called out "What regiment is that?" "The Royal Scots, Sir!" a Scottish officer replied. Spencer called out "Halt, Royal Scots!" and then rode off. Believing a superior officer had given them a command, the regiment stopped, then remained in place until a real British officer found them and gave them new orders. In a third incident, British soldier Shadrach Byfield reported that an individual in a company of hidden Americans impersonated a British officer and told the British troops opposing them to form up and stand tall in preparation for inspection. The British troops believed a superior officer was addressing them and stood, enabling the Americans to fire a volley, after which they escaped retaliation by scattering in the dark.

Battle of Conjocta Creek

In August 1814, American Major Lodowick Morgan of the Regiment of Riflemen, who was based in Buffalo, New York, correctly deduced that the British were going to attack Buffalo from Canada by crossing the bridge at Scajaquada Creek, Conjocta Creek (also called Scajaquada). Morgan and 240 riflemen marched to the point where the road from Black Rock, Buffalo, Black Rock crossed the Conjocta. They sabotaged the bridge by pulling up a number of planks, then built breastworks at the south side. Afterwards, they continued on to Black Rock. Once at Black Rock, Morgan's troops marched back the way they came while playing music and making as much noise as possible to gain the attention of the British and make them believe the Americans were headed to Buffalo. Once out of sight, Morgan and his men marched secretly through the woods to occupy the breastworks they had constructed on the south bank of the creek. The unsuspecting British arrived at the bridge and discovered the sabotage. While they halted to consider their options, Morgan began the Battle of Conjocta Creek by blowing a whistle to signal his soldiers, who fired a devastating volley. The British sought cover on the north bank and fired back, but the American troops remained protected behind their breastworks. The British attempted an assault on the breastworks, which the Americans repulsed. The British then attempted a flanking maneuver, which the Americans also repulsed. Unable to proceed past the Conjocta, the British retreated back to Canada. The Americans lost two killed and eight wounded, while the British sustained twelve killed and twenty-one wounded.

American Civil War

Peninsula campaign

In the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (American Civil War), Union and sout ...
's Peninsula campaign, Union commander was the victim of a deception executed by the forces under
Confederate Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...
commander John B. Magruder during the 1862 Siege of Yorktown (1862), Siege of Yorktown. Magruder, who had acted in and produced plays, used his knowledge of visual and audio effects to deceive McClellan into believing Magruder's force was larger than it was. These included placing straw dummy crewmen alongside Quaker guns—logs painted black to resemble cannons—in his defensive works. Magruder interspersed his Quaker guns with the few real cannons he possessed, making his artillery seem more numerous than it was. In addition, he used shouted orders and bugle calls to march his relatively small force of about 10,000 in front of Union positions until they were out of sight, then had them loop around unseen and march through the same area again, making his troop strength seem greater than it was. Magruder's elaborate charade convinced McClellan, who outnumbered Magruder by ten to one, that he faced a more formidable opponent than was actually the case, which caused him to delay attacking. McClellan's delay allowed Confederate reinforcements to arrive, causing him to retreat back to Washington, D.C.

Vicksburg campaign

In early 1863, Union naval commander David Dixon Porter lost a new ironclad, after it ran aground on the Mississippi River near Vicksburg, Mississippi and was captured by Confederate forces. As the Confederates attempted to repair and refloat the damaged ship so they could use it against Porter's fleet, Porter executed a deception to thwart their effort. His men constructed a giant dummy ironclad from barges, barrels, and other materials that were on hand. Made to resemble a new, real ironclad, , the dummy was painted black to give it a sinister appearance and flew the Jolly Roger pirate flag. Porter's sailors floated the dummy, christened Black Terror (ship), ''Black Terror'', downstream at night, and it appeared impervious to Confederate shore battery fire. Exaggerated rumors about the seemingly indestructible super ship quickly spread to Vicksburg and reached salvage crews working on ''Indianola''. In a panic, they halted their efforts, blew up ''Indianola'', and abandoned the wreckage. When ''Black Terror'' ran aground and was inspected by Confederates, local newspapers roundly criticized military and naval commanders for being unable to tell the difference between a real warship and a fake.

Second Boer War

During the Second Boer War, British commander Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, Robert Baden-Powell made extensive use of deception during his October 1899 to May 1900 defense of Mafeking, South Africa, Mafeking. After he occupied the town with a force of 1,500, Baden-Powell faced 8,000 Boers who intended to begin a siege. As the Boers advanced, Baden-Powell wrote a letter to a friend in Transvaal Colony, Transvaal whom he knew had died, which contained news of the imminent approach of more British troops. Baden-Powell intended for the letter to be intercepted and when it fell into Boer hands, they believed it was real. As a result, they diverted 1,200 troops to guard the approaches against Baden-Powell's fictional reinforcements. Baden-Powell's troops also set up fake defensive works at a distance from the town itself, including one marked as his command post, which further diverted Boer attention. In addition, he had local residents execute deceptive tactics, including carrying boxes of sand labeled "mines" in places where they could be observed. Word of these supposed mines reached the Boers, and when they soon afterwards observed supposed minefields appear around the edge of the town, they assumed the danger was real. These deceptive measures held off a Boer attack, which allowed Baden-Powell time to improve Mafeking's defences. As a result of his effort, the British were able to hold out until reinforcements arrived and lifted the siege.

World War I

Gallipoli campaign

During World War I, deception shifted from the tactical level to the strategic as modernized warfare and advances in technology increased the size and complexity of battlefield organizations. Several methods of deception were used by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) during its Gallipoli campaign, withdrawal from Gallipoli in Turkey, which was completed on 20 December 1915. As early as mid-November, artillery and sniper activity went silent for periods of time, giving the impression that the Anzacs were preparing to remain in the defense with limited resupply of ammunition during the upcoming winter. To cover the removal of the last troops, "drip rifles" were prepared to fire about 20 minutes after they were set, with a water can leaking into a second can that was tied to a rifle trigger. When the second can was full, the weight caused the unmanned rifle to fire. The sporadic firing created by this ruse convinced the Turks that the Anzac troops were still manning their defenses. In addition, Anzac troops used dummy artillery and mannequins to further enhance the impression that soldiers remained in their positions. As a result of these deceptive measures, both the main body of Anzac troops and the rear guard retreated unmolested. Given the failure of the Gallipoli effort from the Anzac perspective, the evacuation was considered the most successful part of the entire campaign.

Western front

In March 1917, leaders of the Imperial German Army, German Army on the Western Front (World War I), Western Front decided to withdraw from their positions in France to the Hindenburg Line, a 90-mile long defensive position that ran from Arras to Laffaux. With Germany unable to conduct an offensive because of personnel losses earlier in the war, commanders intended for unrestricted submarine warfare and strategic bombing to weaken the British and French, giving the German army time to recuperate. In addition, the move to the Hindenburg Line supported the plan of commanders Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff to shift the German focus to Russia and the Eastern Front (World War I), Eastern Front. The withdrawal to the new defensive line would shorten Germany's front by 25 miles, enabling 13 divisions to be employed against the Russians. Under the plan code named Operation Alberich, the Germans abandoned their old positions in a staged series that began in late February. The majority of their movement occurred between 16 and 21 March, and the full German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line was completed on 5 April. The German withdrawal included numerous efforts to deceive the Allies, among them night movements and skeleton crews who remained behind to provide screening fire from machine guns, rifles, and mortars. The deception activities proved generally successful, and Germany completed its withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line largely unmolested. In August 1918, the Allies intended to launch two offensives, one led by British Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-chief, Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the British Expeditionary Force (World War I), British Expeditionary Force (BEF), near Amiens, and the other by American General John J. Pershing, C-in-C of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), near Saint-Mihiel. Prior to the Battle of Amiens (1918), Battle of Amiens, Haig's subordinate, General Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson, Henry Rawlinson, commander of the British Fourth Army, employed several deceptive tactics, including periods of radio silence by units involved in the coming attack and false radio traffic from other parts of the British lines. In addition, Rawlinson delayed troop movement for as long as possible prior to the start of the attack to prevent German observers from obtaining data on his disposition of forces, and moved troops and materiel almost entirely at night. The British offensive was immediately successful because they had maintained the element of surprise. British troops and tanks advanced eight miles, captured 400 artillery pieces, and inflicted 27,000 casualties, including 12,000 prisoners. In an effort to gain an advantage near Saint-Mihiel, U.S. planners including Arthur L. Conger attempted to deceive the Germans into believing the American attack would come at Belfort, 180 miles to the south. False orders left where spies or informants could find them and staff officer reconnaissance activity created the appearance that the U.S. intended to conduct operations in and around Belfort. Pershing gained surprise at Saint-Mihiel and his offensive was successful. In 1926, Conger discovered from a former German officer that while the ''Belfort Ruse'' had not been completely successful, it had aided Pershing. Concerned that an Allied attack in the Belfort area was at least a possibility, many German units that could have reinforced German lines in the Saint-Mihiel area delayed movement from their rear area positions near Saint-Mihiel until it was too late. As a result of the success of Pershing's offensive, they did not have time to execute their withdrawal plans, and either abandoned their weapons and fled or were taken as prisoners.

Eastern front

At a war council held with senior commanders and the czar in April 1916, Russian General Aleksei Brusilov presented a plan to the Stavka (the Russian high command), proposing a massive offensive by his Southwestern Front against the Austria-Hungary, Austro-Hungarian forces in Galicia (Central Europe), Galicia. Brusilov's plan aimed to take some of the pressure off France, French and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, British armies in France and the Royal Italian Army, Italian Army along the Isonzo Front and if possible to knock Austria-Hungary out of the war. As the Austrian army was heavily engaged in Italy, the Russian army enjoyed a significant numerical advantage in the Galician sector. Brusilov's plan was approved, and he massed 40 infantry divisions and 15 cavalry divisions in preparation for the Brusilov Offensive. Deception efforts included false radio traffic, false orders sent by messengers who were intended be captured, and equipment displays including dummy artillery to mislead Austria-Hungary as to the location of his units. Beginning in June 1916, Brusilov's surprise offensive caused Germany to halt its Western front attack on Verdun and transfer considerable forces to the Eastern front. It also effectively knocked Austria-Hungary out of the war, depriving Germany of its most important ally.


In October 1917, Edmund Allenby, commander of Britain's Egyptian Expeditionary Force, planned to attack the Ottomans in southern Palestine (region), Palestine. Rather than repeat previous frontal assaults at Gaza Strip, Gaza, which had been unsuccessful, he planned a flanking attack at Beersheba. As part of the larger deception effort to convince the Ottomans that Gaza was his objective, an officer under Allenby's command executed a deceptive tactic now known as the Haversack Ruse. In this effort, usually attributed to Richard Meinertzhagen, the officer intentionally dropped a knapsack which contained false plans for an attack on Gaza, which the Ottomans recovered. As a result of the Haversack Ruse and other deceptive measures, the British surprised the Ottomans and achieved victory at the 31 October 1917 Battle of Beersheba (1917), Battle of Beersheba. Allenby again resorted to deception as he prepared to attack the Ottomans again at Tel Megiddo in September 1918.Bruce 2002 p. 205Powles 1922 pp. 234–235 In preparation for the battle, British forces concealed the movement of three cavalry and several infantry divisions from the eastern end of the front line, the Jordan Valley (Middle East), Jordan Valley, to the western end on the Mediterranean Sea. The single mounted division that remained in the east, reinforced with infantry, maintained the illusion that the Jordan Valley remained fully garrisoned. Deceptive measures included marching infantry into the valley during the day when they could be observed by the Ottomans, transporting them out by truck at night, then marching them back the next day. The tents of the departed units were left standing, and dummy horses, mules, and soldiers made from canvas and straw were displayed throughout the encampment. In addition, mules dragged branches up and down the valley to generate thick clouds of dust, giving the impression of more animals and men on hand than there actually were. Though the deceptions did not induce Otto Liman von Sanders, the commander of the Ottoman Army, to concentrate his forces on the eastern flank, as Allenby hoped, the Ottomans could not be certain of his intentions, so they could not mass their forces. With the Ottomans spread throughout their line, Allenby's forces had a numerical advantage at 19 to 25 September Battle of Megiddo (1918), and attained victory over the Ottomans.

At sea

Britain's Royal Navy made extensive use of Q-ships to combat German submarines. Camouflaged to look like a civilian sailing vessel or decrepit Tramp trade, tramp steamer, the Q-ships were decoys that carried concealed heavy guns. The function of the Q-ships was to appear to be an undefended target. If successful, German submarines would be lured to the surface to sink or destroy the ship by using deck guns, enabling the submarine to conserve its limited supply of torpedoes for use against warships. If a German U-boat surfaced, the Q-ship would immediately display the Royal Navy's White Ensign flag in compliance with international law, then deploy its guns against the submarine. In 150 engagements, British Q-ships destroyed 14 U-boats and damaged 60. 27 of the 200 Q-ships the British employed were lost to German attacks.

World War II

Eastern Front

Before Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, German High Command explained away the creation of a massive force arrayed to invade the Soviet Union by informing Soviet leaders including Joseph Stalin that it was training in preparation for an invasion of the United Kingdom. The deception worked, and Stalin continued to ignore German preparations until after the invasion of the Soviet Union had actually commenced. When the Allies on the Western Front planned the Normandy invasion for June 1944, the Soviet Union simultaneously planned for a major Eastern front offensive against German forces. Called Operation Bagration, this Soviet attack was designed to catch the Germans unprepared in Belarus, Belorussia, at the center of their lines. To gain and maintain the element of surprise for Bagration, the Soviets executed a successful deception effort. The overall intent was to make German commanders believe the Soviets would only defend in the center of the front (Belorussia), while launching a major offensive to the south in Ukraine and Crimea and a feint to the north in Finland. Soviet military leaders successfully masked preparations for action in Belorussia and limited German reconnaissance in the center of the front while drawing German attention to deceptive activities in the north and south. Germany was caught off-guard at the start of the Bagration offensive on 23 June, and the Soviets quickly pushed retreating German forces from the Soviet Union all the way to Poland.

Western Front


= From early 1941, Dudley Clarke commanded the 'A' Force, based in Cairo, Egypt, which developed much of the war's Allied deception strategy. In an initial deception failure from which Clarke derived an important lesson he put to use in the future, the British intended to retake British Somaliland by an advance from Sudan into Eritrea. Operation Camilla was intended to deceive the Italians occupying British Somaliland into thinking the British intended to retake British Somaliland by an amphibious assault from Aden. Instead of moving their troops to meet the potential amphibious landing, or retreating to Italian-occupied Somalia, the Italians withdrew into Eritrea. As a result, they possessed greater strength at the British objective when the genuine British attack occurred. Clarke's lesson was to focus deception not on what the enemy should think is happening but what the deception planner wants the enemy to do as a result.

=North Africa

= Deception played an important part in the war in
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
. In 1941, a British Army unit led by magician and illusionist Jasper Maskelyne prevented the destruction of Alexandria, Egypt by using lights to recreate the nighttime image of the city, while blacking out the actual city lights. Coupled with explosives that simulated German bombs landing on the city, Maskelyne's illusion caused German planes to release their ordnance on the empty coastal site he had prepared rather than on the city. Maskelyne was subsequently tasked with preventing the Germans from attacking the Suez Canal, a key asset in the Allied supply chain. He responded by creating a system of swirling searchlights which cast a spray of strobe light over more than 100 miles of the sky above Egypt. German pilots were unable to see the canal, and so were unable to destroy it. As part of the deception surrounding Operation Crusader during the Siege of Tobruk, camouflage artist Steven Sykes (artist), Steven Sykes built a dummy railhead near Misheifa in Egypt.Stroud, 2012. pp. 123–133. The intent, which succeeded, was to divert German aerial attacks from the real railhead and deceive the Germans into believing that the British attack would not begin until the dummy was completed. Before the Second Battle of El Alamein, camouflage unit commander Geoffrey Barkas led Operation Sentinel and Operation Bertram, which used dummy equipment and other deceptive measures to deceive German commander Erwin Rommel about Allied strength and the timing and location of the Allied attack. In Operation Sly Bob, Maskalyne's unit attempted to create a dummy submarine that would draw the attention of German reconnaissance aircraft along the German and Italian Italy-to-Tripoli supply line, enabling British ships to gain the element of surprise when attacking Axis shipping. By using old railroad sleeper cars, a wooden frame, nailed and welded beams, and metal tubing, Maskalyne's unit succeeded in creating a prototype that British ship commanders unaware of the deception plan nearly sank when they observed it near the Suez Canal. The difficulty in creating a viable dummy rendered the project impractical, and Sly Bob was abandoned before it was fully implemented. Based on the experience with Sly Bob, the British attempted to portray an aging cruiser as a battleship that would pose a threat to German shipping. When the effort proved unsuccessful because the dummy equipment and fixtures added to the cruiser were unrealistic, Maskalyne's team used the partially-dummied cruiser as "sucker bait". With sucker bait, a magician uses an audience's powers of observation against it by allowing members to falsely believe they see through a trick. By appearing to attempt to camouflage the cruiser-turned-dummy battleship, which Maskalyne christened HMS ''Houdin'' after magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, but allowing German observers to see through the camouflage, Maskalyne's team enabled the Germans to conclude on their own that the British were attempting to hide a battleship. Allowing the Germans to believe they had penetrated the camouflage and detected the battleship created in the minds of German military leadership the same risk to German shipping a real battleship would have posed.


= Before the June 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy, the Allies launched a deception codenamed
Operation Bodyguard Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception, deception plan employed by the Allies of World War II, Allied states before the 1944 invasion of northwest Europe. The plan was intended to mislead the German high comm ...
. As part of Bodyguard, the Operation Quicksilver (WWII), Operation Quicksilver deception portrayed First United States Army Group (FUSAG), a skeleton headquarters commanded by Omar Bradley, as an army group commanded by George Patton. In Operation Fortitude South, another component of Bodyguard, the Germans were persuaded that FUSAG would invade France at Pas-de-Calais in the fall of 1944. British and American troops used dummy equipment, false radio traffic and double agents (see Double-Cross System) to deceive German intelligence on the location and timing of the invasion. The Germans awaited the Calais landing for many weeks after the real landings in Normandy, leaving in place near Calais several divisions that could have helped delay or defeat the Normandy attack. By the time the Germans realized the Normandy landings were the actual offensive, Allied units were so well established in Normandy that they could not be dislodged.

Pacific theater

Japan continued diplomatic engagement with the U.S. on several issues of concern throughout late November and into early December 1941 even though attacking ships had sailed from their base in the remote Kuril Islands. The surprise 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor took place several hours before Japan presented a formal declaration of hostilities and officially broke diplomatic ties. Japan also made extensive use of decoys and other deceptive displays throughout the war, which took on increased importance as the tide of the war went against it in 1944 and 1945. Prior to the October 1944 Battle off Samar, the Japanese incorporated deception into their plan of attack by luring Admiral William Halsey Jr. into leading his powerful United States Third Fleet, Third Fleet to chase a decoy fleet, a target so inviting Halsey took with him every ship he commanded. With Halsey's force out of the way, the Japanese intended to attack the Allied Battle of Leyte, landings on Leyte. The U.S. responded with their few remaining forces, the three escort carrier groups of the United States Seventh Fleet, Seventh Fleet. Escort carriers and destroyer escorts had been built to protect slow convoys from submarine attack, and were later adapted to attack ground targets, but they had few torpedoes, as they normally relied on Halsey's fleet to protect them from armored warships. These ships, organized as Task Unit 77.4.3 ("Taffy 3"), and commanded by Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague, possessed neither the firepower nor the armor to oppose the 23 ships of the Japanese force, which included ''Yamato''s 40 cm/45 Type 94 naval gun, 18-inch guns, but took the initiative and attacked. In addition to ships firing on the Japanese from point-blank range, aircraft including Grumman F4F Wildcat, FM-2 Wildcats, Grumman F6F Hellcat, F6F Hellcats and Grumman TBF Avenger, TBM Avengers, strafed, bombed, torpedoed, rocketed, and depth-charged the Japanese force until they ran out of ammunition. They then resorted to deception, including numerous "dry runs" at the Japanese ships. Concerned that he faced a larger force than he actually did, Japanese commander Admiral Takeo Kurita decided to withdraw. During the Battle of Iwo Jima in February and March 1945, Japanese deception included dummy tanks sculpted out of the island's soft volcanic rock. At the Japanese-held airfield in Tianhe District, China, the Japanese painted on the ground the image of a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, B-29 Bomber that appeared to be on fire. Their intent was for the painted image to appear real to high-flying aircraft, which would lower their altitude in order to investigate, thus making them targets for Japanese anti-aircraft fire. In addition, the Japanese made extensive use of bamboo-framed dummy aircraft to project airpower and protect their remaining aircraft, straw dummy soldiers and wood weapons that made defensive works appear to be manned, and wood dummy tanks to make infantry soldiers appear to have more combat power than they actually possessed. The Allies planned an invasion of Japan to take place after the end of fighting in Europe. This plan, codenamed Operation Downfall, had several components, including the Operation Downfall#Olympic, Operation Olympic invasion of the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. The deception created to enable Olympic to succeed, Operation Pastel, would have included false attacks against Japanese held-ports in Republic of China (1912–1949), China, as well as Japanese positions on the island of Formosa. The end of the war following the U.S. atomic bomb attacks on Japan ended the need for a ground invasion or a deception plan, so Pastel was never implemented.

At sea

As a liaison to the British Navy early in the war, actor and U.S. Navy officer Douglas Fairbanks Jr. observed and participated in several raiding parties and diversions on the French coast. Upon returning to the United States, Fairbanks proposed to Ernest King, the Chief of Naval Operations the creation of a unit that would plan and execute diversionary and deception missions. King authorized Fairbanks to recruit 180 officers and 300 enlisted men for the program, which was named Beach Jumpers. There are several stories about how the unit was named; during an interview late in life, Fairbanks said British admiral Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Louis Mountbatten coined it with the intention of creating a designation that provided cover for the unit's activities by being partly descriptive and partly in code. On 16 March 1943 Beach Jumper Unit ONE (BJU-1) was commissioned with the mission "To assist and support the operating forces in the conduct of Tactical Cover and Deception in Naval Warfare." Eleven BJUs deployed during the war, and were used in all theaters. The Beach Jumpers raided false landing zones and shore defenses during amphibious attacks, sowing confusion with the enemy about actual landing sites and causing the enemy to defend in the wrong place. To carry out these deceptions, their boats were equipped with two .50 caliber machine guns, 10 window rockets, smoke generators, and floating time-delay explosive packs. They were also outfitted with naval balloons and communications and psychological operations equipment, including recorders, speakers, generators, and radio jammers. The balloons included radar reflective strips that when towed would cause Beach Jumper units to appear to enemy radar operators as a larger force than they actually were. Beach Jumper units created diversionary landings during several battles, including Allied invasion of Sicily, Operation Husky and Operation Dragoon. The Beach Jumpers were inactivated after World War II, but were reconstituted for service during the Korean War and Vietnam War. With the U.S. military creating and fielding an Information Operations (United States), Information Operations capability beginning in the early 1990s, the modern Beach Jumpers exist as part of U.S. Naval Information Forces.

Korean War

In the summer of 1950, the Korean People's Army (KPA) of North Korea attacked South Korea. 140,000 South Korean and allied soldiers were nearly defeated. In August and September 1950, South Korea and its allies waged the Battle of Pusan Perimeter against the KPA and succeeded in establishing a defensive line that prevented the KPA from destroying them. To enable the counterattack that started with an amphibious landing at Inchon (codenamed Operation Chromite), United Nations (U.N.) forces staged an elaborate deception that made it appear the landing would take place at Gunsan, 105 miles away from the actual landing site at Inchon and closer to the Pusan Perimeter. On 5 September, the United States Air Force, U.S. Air Force began attacks on roads and bridges to isolate Gunsan. This was followed by a naval bombardment, which was followed by heavy bombing of military installations in and near the town. These tactics were typical pre-invasion steps, and were intended to cause North Korea to believe Gunsan was the planned U.N. invasion site. In addition to the aerial and naval bombardment, United States Marine Corps officers briefed their units on the supposed Gunsan landing within earshot of many Koreans, assuming that the information would make its way to KPA leaders through rumors or spies. On the night of 12–13 September, the British Royal Navy landed U.S. Army special operations troops and Royal Marines commandos at Gunsan, making sure that enemy forces noticed their supposed reconnaissance of the area. U.N. forces also conducted rehearsals on the coast of South Korea at several sites with conditions were similar to Inchon. These drills enabled U.N. forces to perfect the timing and actions of the planned Inchon landing while simultaneously confusing the North Koreans as to the actual landing site. On 15 September, United Nations forces under Douglas MacArthur surprised the KPA with the Inchon landing. In the ensuing Battle of Inchon, the U.N. ended a string of victories by North Korea. The KPA collapsed within a month, and 135,000 KPA troops were taken prisoner.

Cuban Missile Crisis

During the period leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, Cuba and the Soviet Union employed several deceptive measures to hide their activities.Hansen (2002), p. 50.Gribkov and Smith (1994), p. 24. These included the codename for the plan to deploy missiles in Cuba; Anadyr (town), Anadyr, a Russian town, is associated with the sparsely-populated and inaccessible area of Northeastern Russia and did not suggest an operation in the Caribbean. Soviet soldiers constructed false superstructures to hide the defenses of the ships transporting missiles and launching equipment to Cuba, and placed agricultural equipment and other non-military machinery on deck where it could be seen. Upon arrival, the ships unloaded at eleven different Cuban ports to deceive American surveillance efforts.Hansen (2002), p. 53. At the same time, Soviet and Cuban news media reported on the supposedly massive agricultural assistance the Soviets were providing Cuba, which provided a plausible explanation for the activity and equipment that could be observed. The Soviet deception proved highly effective and the missiles were discovered only after they were already operational.

Vietnam War

Operation El Paso

As part of Operation El Paso, which took place from May to July 1966, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division (United States), 1st Infantry Division deliberately exposed information about a planned resupply and engineer equipment convoy from Minh Than north to An Lộc, Bình Phước, An Lộc. Division planners anticipated the enemy response would be an ambush at one of a number of possible locations. As a result, the supposedly lightly armed convoy actually consisted of armored cavalry and infantry. Additionally, 1st ID planners prepared for air assault operations at the most likely ambush sites. Events unfolded as the planners had foreseen, and the Viet Cong ambushed the convoy. The ambush sprang the 1st Infantry Division's trap, and the subsequent Battle of Minh Thanh Road resulted in 50 percent of the Viet Cong regiment becoming casualties.

Operation Bolo

Both North Vietnam and the forces of South Vietnam and the United States made use of deception during the Vietnam War. In 1967's Operation Bolo, a United States Air Force unit led by Robin Olds successfully countered the threat posed by Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21, MiG-21 fighter planes operating in North Vietnam. During bombing missions, unescorted U.S. Republic F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers would often be attacked by MiG-21s. Heavily laden with ordnance, the F-105s were no match for the faster MiGs. On occasions when the F-105s were escorted by F-4 Phantom II fighter planes, the MiGs would refuse to engage. In addition, the rules of engagement on the U.S. side prevented attacking the MiGs when they were on the ground. This measure was intended to keep the Soviet Union from becoming further engaged in the conflict by preventing casualties to the Soviet mechanics and technical advisors who were assisting North Vietnam. To counter the MiG threat, Olds' 8th Fighter Wing prepared its F-4s to display the electronic and radar signatures of F-105s. To create this effect, the 8th Fighter Wing outfitted F-4s with QRC-160 jamming pods, a device used only by F-105s. When they flew the mission, Olds and his fellow pilots assumed the route, elevation, speed, and formation of an F-105 flight. They also staggered the takeoff and arrival times of the F-4s, enabling later-arriving F-4s to prevent the MiGs from landing. The Bolo deception was executed successfully. The North Vietnamese believed they faced an F-105 flight and dispatched their MiGs. The later-arriving F4s prevented the MiGs from returning to their base. The 8th Fighter Wing destroyed seven MiGs in a matter of minutes, while Olds' fighters sustained no losses. The destruction of half their MiGs and uncertainty about whether future flights observed on radar and electronic sensors were unescorted F-105s or F-4s pretending to be F-105s caused North Vietnam to ground its MiGs. The MiGs failed in their mission of preventing U.S. Operation Rolling Thunder bombing runs over North Vietnam.

Tet Offensive

In 1967, the government and military of North Vietnam began planning for an offensive that would begin in early 1968. The intent within the war's area of operations was to spark an uprising by the Viet Cong and others in South Vietnam who were sympathetic to the government in the north. In a wider sense, North Vietnam hoped the offensive would cause a withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam by undermining U.S. public confidence in the war. North Vietnam implemented several deceptive measures to mask preparations for the offensive. In October, the North Vietnamese government announced that it would observe a seven-day holiday truce from 27 January to 3 February 1968, several days longer than previous Tet truces had lasted. The U.S. and South Vietnam presumed that the coming offensive, of which they had received some intelligence, would take place before or after the truce. When the attacks had not commenced before the holiday, South Vietnamese and U.S. leaders assumed it would come after the holiday. As a result, they allowed many soldiers to take holiday leave and relaxed the usual security measures. As an additional deceptive measure, while intending to attack South Vietnam's major cities and military installations, the North Vietnamese continued attacks along the border between the two countries during late 1967. These diversionary assaults served to draw U.S. attention to the border and U.S. forces away from the actual objectives—the heavily populated South Vietnamese coastal lowlands and cities. When the offensive commenced, South Vietnam and the U.S. were surprised by the coordinated attacks. However, the U.S. and South Vietnam regrouped and over several days repulsed the North Vietnamese assaults. North Vietnam failed to attain the immediate objective of creating an uprising in South Vietnam. In the longer term, the offensive aided in swaying U.S. public opinion against the war, which led to a decreased U.S. presence in Vietnam and eventual withdrawal.

Cherbourg Project

In 1969, France abruptly declared an arms embargo against countries in the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
, chiefly aimed at Israel, and cancelled a contract to build patrol boats for Israel's navy. France also refused to release the last five boats built under the contract even though Israel had already paid for them. In response, the Israel Defense Forces mounted an elaborate scheme involving the purchase of the boats by a civilian company for non-military purposes. When they became concerned that the dummy transaction would be exposed, Israel decided to secretly take possession of the boats. The Israeli navy dispatched crews disguised as civilians, who gradually arrived at the French Atlantic seaport of Cherbourg. Once the crews assembled, they secretly sailed the five boats out of the harbor on the night of Christmas Eve 1969. Though they encountered a winter storm, the boats reached the Mediterranean Sea and safely completed the voyage to Israel. The plan to take possession of the boats, which the Israelis called "Operation Noa" but came to be known as the Cherbourg Project, was assisted by sympathetic Cherbourg shipyard and boat building company employees, but the French government was kept totally unaware until the boats had left port.

Yom Kippur War

In the period before the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and the joint forces of Egypt and Syria, Egypt executed annual maneuvers near the Sinai Peninsula, Tahrir 41, which conditioned Israel to Egyptian troop activity in the area. In addition, several months before the start of the war, Egypt created the false impression of an imminent attack, which caused Israel to announce an emergency military reserve call up. When Operation Badr (1973), the war started, Israel believed the initial Egyptian troop movements were another iteration of the exercises the Egyptians had previously undertaken. In addition, because an emergency call up was costly and disruptive, the Israeli government was reluctant to conduct another one until it was sure an attack was underway. As a result of the deception, Egypt had surprise on its side when it attacked.

Operation Entebbe Rescue Mission

After the aircraft hijacking, hijacking of an Air France plane in late June 1976, the perpetrators had the aircraft diverted to Entebbe Airport in Uganda, where they threatened to kill all the Jewish and Israeli passengers if their demands were not met. The Israeli government pursued diplomatic efforts to free the hostages while the Israeli Defense Forces planned a rescue mission in secrecy. When the raid was launched, IDF commandos secretly landed at an old unused area of the airport, where they offloaded decoy vehicles resembling Ugandan president Idi Amin's motorcade. By making themselves appear to be Amin and his security detail, the Israelis intended to gain the element of surprise on Ugandan guards at the terminal where the hostages were held. The ruse was only partly successful because Amin had recently changed limousines, and his new one was white, while the one the Israelis were using was black. The Ugandan guards realized the trick, which led to a gunfight that cost the Israeli commandos the element of surprise, but the raid ended with the successful rescue of the hostages.

Falklands War

The Falklands War took place between April and June 1982. During the period prior to the war, Argentina's military leaders, who were subordinate to general and president Leopoldo Galtieri, used the December 1981 change of command ceremony for Argentina's new chief of naval operations as cover to begin secretly planning for an invasion of the Falkland Islands. In April 1982, the forces of Argentina carried out the Invasion of South Georgia, an island possession of the United Kingdom. In mid-March, Argentina had used deception to successfully position an advance guard on South Georgia. An Argentinian company received a contract to dismantle a British whaling station for scrap. When the contractor's ship arrived, it contained members of an Argentinian Navy special forces unit who were disguised as scientists. When the British prepared to conduct a Falklands landing in response to Argentina's invasion, Argentina anticipated an assault at Stanley, Falkland Islands, Port Stanley, the capital and site of the largest airport on the islands. The British gained the element of surprise by launching a feint at Stanley while conducting their main assault at San Carlos, Falkland Islands, San Carlos, on the opposite side of East Falkland. The British then marched overland to Port Stanley, where they launched a land-based attack on the Argentine defenses surrounding the city. The Argentinians were caught off-guard and were soon compelled to surrender.

Operation Just Cause

When the leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega realized he was being surveilled by the U.S. military prior to the United States invasion of Panama in December 1989, Noriega resorted to several deceptive measures to mask his movements and locations. These included look-alike doubles, decoy vehicles and aircraft, false convoys, frequent changes of clothes, recordings of his voice played at locations where he was not present, and frequent changes of his actual location. On the U.S. side, deception included troop movements in and around U.S. bases in Panama made to look like routine training missions, a logistics buildup disguised as routine activity, and large-scale exercises in the United States that desensitized Panamanian leaders as to U.S. capabilities and intent. While Noriega and his subordinates knew the United States had the capacity to act, they were misled by their perceptions of U.S. activity and misreading of U.S intent into believing that the U.S. would not attack. As a result, when the attack occurred, the U.S. had the element of surprise, which helped it gain a quick victory.

Operation Desert Storm

During the period prior to the 1990–1991 Gulf War, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein positioned 100,000 troops near Iraq's border with Kuwait. To mask his true intention of invading Kuwait, during the summer of 1990, Saddam told ambassadors to Iraq, the leaders of other countries, and members of the international news media that his troops were on a training mission or were near the border merely as a tactic to extract concessions from Kuwait during diplomatic negotiations. On 2 August, Iraq's invasion commenced; the small Kuwaiti military was quickly overwhelmed, and Iraq occupied Kuwait. After invading Kuwait, the creation of an Coalition of the Gulf War, anti-Iraq coalition and its movement of troops and materiel into Saudi Arabia caused Saddam to anticipate a Coalition ground assault from Saudi Arabia north into Kuwait and an amphibious landing on Kuwait's Persian Gulf coast. Prior to the start of the Coalition offensive in February 1991, its ground forces successfully moved multiple divisions west to the largely undefended border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. When the attack commenced, the Coalition conducted a feint directly into Kuwait while the main effort—the "Left Hook" enabled by concealing the move of units to the west—attacked into Iraq and cut off Iraqi forces in Kuwait. After advancing into Iraq, Coalition forces turned right and attacked Iraqi forces in Kuwait from the rear. Facing overwhelming Coalition combat power in Kuwait and unable to retreat to Iraq, the Iraqi military in Kuwait quickly surrendered.

Kosovo War

During the 1998–1999 Kosovo War, the Serbian Army made extensive use of deception, which caused NATO forces to expend time, effort, and resources attacking false targets. According to post-war assessments, NATO often attacked crude decoy tanks, artillery, and wheeled vehicles made of easy to obtain material including sticks and plastic. Many of these decoys included easily produced heat sources, such as burning cans of oil, which deceived the thermal imaging systems in NATO aircraft. As a result, NATO believed it inflicted far more damage on the Serbian Army than it actually had, and Serbia gained a propaganda victory by showing how easily NATO had been deceived.

2006 Lebanon War

Prior to the 2006 Lebanon War, the Hezbollah terrorist group employed deceptive measures intended to degrade Israel's military reputation both internationally and within Israel. Deceptive measures included the construction of false bunkers and command posts which Hezbollah allowed Israel to observe while the work was in progress, while simultaneously concealing the construction of actual facilities. When Israel attacked Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in July, the dummy sites were destroyed while the actual ones were left intact.

Russo-Ukrainian War

In 2014, Russia and Ukraine went to war after Russia contested control of Ukraine's Crimea and Donbass. Russia employed
disinformation Disinformation is false or misleading information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The c ...
and denial to facilitate its military activities, in addition to engaging in several deceptive activities. As an example, in August, Russian television news carried stories about a Russian truck convoy transporting water and baby food to Crimea. The international news media reported heavily on this convoy, presuming it was carrying Russian military supplies or materiel, and that they would be able to prove Russia was lying about the cargo. While attention was focused on this diversion, Russia's military was moving soldiers, combat equipment, and vehicles into Donbass.

Sino-Indian border dispute

During the 2020–2021 China–India skirmishes, 2020-2021 China–India skirmishes, China employed military deception to gain an advantage. Intending to increase its troop presence in disputed areas of Ladakh, China's military conducted training maneuvers near the areas that were the source of tension with India. This activity conditioned India to the presence of Chinese troops in the vicinity. In addition, China began construction of a nearby airbase. In early May, China began marching troops into several of the contested locations. In mid-to-late May, the Chinese military diverted trucks from the airbase construction project and used them to rapidly transport soldiers into portions of the disputed territory. The rapid troop movements came without warning and took India by surprise. As a result, China gained numerical superiority in several of Ladakh's contested areas.

In fiction

Fictional examples of military deception include the 1966 ''Star Trek'' episode "The Corbomite Maneuver". When ''USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), Enterprise'' is held by the tractor beam of an alien ship, its commander announces his intention to destroy ''Enterprise'' and its crew for the hostile act of trespassing into the alien's territory. Captain James T. Kirk informs the alien commander, List of Star Trek characters (A–F)#Balok, Balok, that ''Enterprise'' is on a peaceful mission and trespassed accidentally. Balok does not accept Kirk's explanation, and still intends to destroy ''Enterprise''. Kirk responds with a deceptive Bluff (poker), bluff, claiming that ''Enterprise'' is outfitted with a secret doomsday device made of "Corbomite" the details of which are known only to the captain. Destruction of ''Enterprise'' will trigger the Corbomite device, resulting in destruction of both ''Enterprise'' and the alien ship. Balok uses a smaller ship to tow the Enterprise to a remote area where it can be safely destroyed. The Enterprise breaks free from the smaller ship's tractor beam, but damages the smaller ship in the process. Kirk then leads a boarding party to render assistance to the aliens. Kirk's party meets Balok, who is alone and replies that he was testing the ''Enterprise'' in order to discern whether Kirk's claims of peaceful intentions were true. Satisfied by their willingness to render aid to a perceived enemy that Kirk is honest about his claim to be on a peaceful mission, Balok expresses a desire to learn more about humans and their culture. A scene from the 2000 film ''The Patriot (2000 film), The Patriot'' depicts a Patriot (American Revolution), Patriot militia leader, Benjamin Martin, employing deceptive decoys when negotiating for the release of several members of his command who have been taken prisoner. Martin offers to exchange eighteen British Army during the American Revolutionary War, British officers, whom he claims are held on a hillside near the British headquarters. The British commander, Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, General Cornwallis views the hill with a Refracting telescope, spyglass, observes figures in British uniforms who appear to be prisoners, and agrees to the exchange. After Martin and his men leave, the officer dispatched by Cornwallis to recover the British prisoners discovers they are scarecrows in captured British uniforms. In the 2003 film ''Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World'', Captain Jack Aubrey of HMS ''HMS Surprise (1796)#Surprise in fiction, Surprise'' is pursued by the French privateer ''Acheron''. When ''Acheron'' appears likely to catch ''Surprise'', Aubrey orders construction of a raft with sails, which contains lanterns arranged in the same pattern as those visible on the stern of ''Surprise''. After night falls, a member of Aubrey's crew lights the raft's lanterns while another crewman douses the lanterns on ''Surprise''. After recovering the crewman from the raft, Aubrey has the raft cut loose. The darkened ''Surprise'' then escapes on a new course while ''Acheron'' pursues the decoy, which appears to be ''Surprise'' as it continues on ''Surprise's'' original course. In the 2018 video game ''We Happy Few'', "We Happy Few#Story, Arthur's Story" depicts an alternate version of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
that includes the German military threatening the village of Wellington Wells with dummy tanks made of papier-mâché. The populace does not resist because it believes the threat is real.


Opinions vary among military strategists and authors as to the value of military deception. For example, the two books on warfare usually considered the most famous classics, Sun Tzu's ''
The Art of War ''The Art of War'' () is an ancient List of Chinese military texts, Chinese military treatise dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period (roughly 5th century BC). The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Su ...
'' and Clausewitz's ''On War'' have diametrically opposed views. Sun Tzu emphasizes military deception and considers it the key to victory. Clausewitz argues that the fog of war prevents a commander from having a clear understanding of the operating environment, so creating some sort of false appearance, particularly on a large scale, is unlikely to be meaningful. Because of the cost and effort, Clausewitz argues that from a cost-benefit analysis, a large deception is an acceptable part of a course of action only under special circumstances.

See also




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External links

* * {{Use dmy dates, date=April 2017 Military deception, Information operations and warfare Military operations by type, deception