Military operations in time of peace may be conducted against a country in such a manner that the majority of the population of the aggressor country is unaware of them. Such operations may even be conducted without the knowledge or approval of appropriate bodies in the legislature of the aggressor country. Active military operations may also be conducted through guerrilla movements under the guise of providing them with weapons and military advisors.
A secret army network called "Operation Stay Behind" was revealed in 1990 as the best-kept political-military secret since World War II. It involves the raising, funding and training of clandestine forces all over western Europe from the days of Cold War tension, behind the backs of parliaments and people, and largely funded by the CIA. Its purpose, a resistance network in the event of Red Army occupation, had long lost validity and this it is thought led to the perversion of the patriotic plan in one country after another by ambitious generals and greedy politicians. The Italian secret army, "Gladio" was first exposed in the Italian Parliament, and was the key reason for the kidnapping and execution of Italian Prime Minister, Aldo Moro. A terrorist organization "Armed Phalange", linked to Gladio and using cooperators from the Sismi military intelligence service, has been responsible for most of the bombings and killings in Italy since 1990, including a number of Mafia and Camorra murders. By 1990, it had become clear that the secret army was spread throughout Europe, officially admitted in Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey, and alleged in the UK, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Thousands of secret arms dumps and guerrilla units trained by USA Green Berets and UK experts are believed to still exist.
Covert operations have no useful place in the policies of a democratic nation. After the Second World War each US administration has discovered that covert war fails more often than it succeeds. Even when covert operations have succeeded in the short run, they damage USA interests and the victim country in the long run.
Traditional forms of warfare are now becoming so extreme as to be suicidal for all. But opportunities for covert tactics, the needs and means for them are developing continually. Covert tactics can be precise, effective, rewarding and cheap. Good use can be made of of surprise, bluff, timing and the adversaries weaker points. They can be used to pre-empt situations in which overt aggressive interaction might seem justified. They could perhaps relieve the planet of its dangerous, expensive overburden of useless military personnel and material, diverting resources to more beneficial ends.