Or Operation Stay Behind or Gladio. Secret right-wing paramilitary network in W Europe, set up in the 1950s to arm guerrillas chosen from the civilian population in the event of Soviet invasion or communist takeover. Initiated and partly funded by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), it is linked to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Its past or present existence was officially acknowledged 1990 by Belgium, France, (West) Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal; in the UK the matter is covered by the Official Secrets Act. In 1990 those governments that confirmed their countries' participation said that the branches had been or would be closed down; the European Parliament set up a commission of inquiry.
The network was operated by the secret services and armed forces of member countries, and was reported to have links with right-wing extremist groups—at least in Belgium and Italy. Switzerland officially stated 1990 that its secret resistance army, P-26, had no links with the NATO network, although it had cooperated with British secret services.