Washington, D.C., June 20, 2019 —
Tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States were not limited to Europe and Cuba in 1962. Just months after DIA’s establishment, strain over the strategic value and use of the Arctic rose. The Soviets established a station in the Arctic, but hastily evacuated it when shifting ice made its aircraft runway unusable, leaving behind equipment and research materials. Upon discovering the station was abandoned, the Intelligence Community formed a team of officers from DIA, the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Air Force and CIA to develop a plan. A plan conceived by U.S. Navy Lt. Leonard LeSchack. Coined Operation Coldfeet, the team would parachute onto the site, collect anything of intelligence value, and then be extracted using a unique airborne device, the Skyhook. The Skyhook was an adaptation of devices Great Britain and the United States used in the 1940s and early 1950s to allow fixed-wing aircraft to lift people or objects from the ground without landing. This device was tested, but was never used operationally. To honor Coldfeet participants, a painting depicting the operation was unveiled at CIA headquarters on April 21, 2008.
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