REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--By its very nature, the Cold War was a secret war.

Now in the history books, the Cold War " with the U.S. and its allies facing off against the communist world of the Soviet Union and its satellite states -- had its roots in World War II, beginning in 1946 and continuing through five decades until 1991.

And yet, no missiles were fired, no Soldiers were deployed to theater, no injuries were sustained by the U.S. or the Soviets.

Instead, it was a war of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition on the surface. Below the surface, it was a war of espionage, top secret agents, James Bond-type vehicles and spy equipment. Like all secret conflicts, its stories are hidden in the personal accounts of the men and women who carried out espionage for their nations.

Several of those personal stories from a U.S. perspective have been captured by Leland McCaslin in the book “Secrets of the Cold War: US Army Europe’s Intelligence and Counterintelligence Activities Against the Soviets.” The author and his book will be among featured authors at the 14th annual Space and Missile Defense Conference, Aug. 15-18 at the Von Braun Center.

McCaslin is a former Army officer, disabled veteran, participant in the Cold War in Germany and retired security specialist with the Counterintelligence Division of U.S. Army Europe now living near Birmingham. He will be available to sign his book during the conference on Aug. 16 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-5:30 p.m., and Aug. 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“The Cold War in Germany involved collecting military information in East Germany, and fighting spies and terrorists in West Germany,” McCaslin said in a telephone interview. “I was certainly part of that as a member of the intelligence staff at U.S. Army Europe headquarters in Heidelberg from 1979 and then leaving 16 years later as the most senior security specialist in Europe.

“Most of my book is not research. It’s firsthand experience. There’s not much out there about the good job we did during the Cold War, and I thought it should be preserved in history before we’re all gone.”

“Secrets of the Cold War” provides personal accounts of those working at U.S. Army Europe during the struggle between the two superpowers of the world. Many of the accounts have never been published before.

“I signed an oath when I retired from the Army that if I was ever to publish what I knew from that time that I would first send my book to the Army for review to make sure it contained no classified information,” McCaslin said. “My book has had exhaustive security reviews before it was published.”

Those reviews, however, doesn’t mean the book is void of thrilling personal accounts. It includes stories about how a British agent risked his life jumping on a moving train in East Germany and then used an apple to measure the muzzle size of a Russian tank and about how a French officer drove into a Soviet tank column and was able to use dusty road conditions to escape undiscovered. There are stories of communists in West Germany shooting a rocket-propelled grenade into a general’s occupied limo, the terrorist kidnapping of a general and a first sergeant lured by sex to be an unknowing participant in spying.

“I wanted to publish this book because it presents new information,” McCaslin said. “There are a lot of firsthand narrations of people who were there. It’s about the intelligence and counterintelligence activities of the U.S. and its allies during the Cold War.”

“Secrets of the Cold War” was published in October 2010. It has been purchased by several libraries, including those at the Air Force Academy, Harvard University, Rice University and several ROTC units.

“My target audience is military government-type people,” he said. “I hope readers will see the important work that was done by brave Americans from that era. One college professor said the book took her back to a time when too little is known, making the book both valuable and intriguing. I hope all readers find it that way.”

Page last updated Wed August 10th, 2011 at 12:08