The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops was activated by the War Department through AGF’s Second Army on 20 January 1944. It assembled its units, trained quickly and prepared for overseas movement at Camp Forrest, Tennessee. By 6 June 44, the first of its detachments was in action against the enemy. By 23 June of the following year, the unit was on its way home after having served with four U.S. armies through England, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and Germany. This is an unusual record for a young organization with such a strange mission.
When Colonel Harry L. Reeder arrived in Camp Forrest, the big camp was almost deserted. The 8th Infantry Division had just pulled out and the 17th Airborne was not due for another month. The assignment in "DECEPTION" must have looked highly irregular to an old soldier. Nothing that he had learned on the Mexican border with the Maryland National Guard or in France with the 1st Infantry Division or while occupying Germany with the 4th Infantry Division or in Panama, Benning, Leavenworth or the Desert Training Center seemed to apply. The Colonel had met new military theories before, however, when he had been among the first American officers to attend the Ecole de Tank in Paris. He had also spent many years in U.S. military classrooms studying and instructing in the latest tactical developments. Finally, he had solid command experiences behind him: most recently as CO of the 46th Armored Infantry Regiment, 5th Armored Division.