Gladio (Italian: Operazione Gladio) is the codename for a clandestine NATO
“stay-behind” operation in Europe during the Cold War. Its purpose was to
continue anti-communist actions in the event of a Soviet invasion and conquest.
Although Gladio specifically refers to the Italian branch of the NATO
stay-behind organizations, “Operation Gladio” is used as an informal name for
all stay-behind organizations. The name Gladio is the Italian form of gladius,
a type of Roman shortsword.

Operating in
many NATO and even some neutral countries, Gladio was part of a series of
national operations first coordinated by the Clandestine Committee of the
Western Union (CCWU), founded in 1948. After the creation of NATO in 1949, the
CCWU was integrated into the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC), founded in
1951 and overseen by SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe),
transferred to Belgium after France’s official withdrawal from NATO’s Military
Committee in 1966 – which was not followed by the dissolution of the French
stay-behind paramilitary movements.

The role of
the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in sponsoring Gladio and the extent of
its activities during the Cold War era, and its relationship to right-wing
terrorist attacks perpetrated in Italy during the “Years of Lead” (late 1960s
to early 1980s) and other similar clandestine operations, is the subject of
ongoing debate and investigation but has never been proven. Switzerland and
Belgium have had parliamentary inquiries into the matter. (Source: Wikipedia)

Declassified Documents

AFOSI Documents Releasable on Operation Gladio
 [10 Pages, 1.05MB]

ARMY Documents Releasable on Operation Gladio
 [7 Pages, 1.43MB]

CIA Documents Releasable on Operation Gladio
[93 Pages, 12.41MB]

DIA Documents Releasable on Operation Gladio
 [8 Pages, 1.14MB]

State Department Documents Releasable on Operation Gladio
Pages, 2.9MB]