Veterans

March 29, 2012

Women made significant MI contributions, too

Tags:
Lauren Ayers
U.S. Army
A Women's Army Corps company is pictured at Vint Hill Farms Station, Va., where they served as radio interception operators for the Signal Security Agency during World War II.

Secret agents and powerful leaders are not limited to the men of military intelligence. In the brief history of women officially serving in intelligence positions within the United States Army, there are several notable figures. Like other fields within the military, military intelligence embraced women in service for the first time in significant numbers during World War II.

As members of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps and later the Women’s Army Corps, women worked during World War II as photo interpreters, cryptographers, and cryptoanalysts. Additionally, a select few women fought for the United States as members of primarily male intelligence organizations.

One heroine of World War II, Virginia Hall, served in France as one of the women agents who made up one-fifth of all agents in the Office of Strategic Services, the agency tasked with the responsibility of heading intelligence activities behind enemy lines for the U.S. armed forces during the war.

USAICoE Command History Office

Virginia Hall stands with three U.S. Army lieutenants, including Paul Goillot, far left, who Hall married after the war.

Hall first served in France as an agent for the clandestine British Special Operations Executive where she rescued downed British airmen, kept an eye on German activities in the area of Lyon, and organized a French resistance network. She returned to England in late 1942 when Nazis occupied the formerly free zone of France.

In England, the U.S. OSS recruited Hall to return, at great risk to her own life, into Nazi-occupied France to coordinate parachute drops of supplies for resistance groups. Hall camped in barns and attics disguised as an elderly woman to avoid detection. She armed and trained three battalions of French resistance fighters, and she and her team are credited with killing 150 Germans, destroying four bridges, derailing trains and downing telephone lines.

Nazi officials, aware of Hall’s work, called her “one of the most dangerous Allied agents in France” and dubbed her the “Limping Lady” (Hall’s left leg was amputated below the knee in 1933 after a hunting accident). At the end of the war, Hall was awarded the Order of the British Empire and the Distinguished Service Cross, an unprecedented honor for a civilian, for her courage and perseverance.

For the complete story of Hall’s brave work with the OSS see “The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy” by Judith L. Pearson.

Post World War II women continued to serve in intelligence positions, although in smaller numbers. For example, the 600th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment, activated in 1949 at Camp Lee, Va., was the first all-women detachment and was responsible for post security. Women in Army intelligence, such as Doris “Lucki” Allen (featured in the Feb. 23 “Fort Huachuca Scout” article, “African Americans Played Role in Military Intelligence”) continued to make strides during the Vietnam War.

However, a majority of the growth in opportunities for women in Army military intelligence occurred from the 1970s onward. In 1971 the United States Army Security Agency opened operational training to women, more than a year before the Army became an all-volunteer force and opened recruitment to women in large numbers. By the end of the decade, 10 percent of the Army Security Agency was made up of female soldiers. The Army as a whole did not reach the 10-percent mark until 10 years later. The Military Intelligence Corps again led the way in encouraging gender equality in the U.S. Army in 1988 when it opened positions in tactical, forward-deployed MI units to women. At that time, women, such as Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, began to rise up through the ranks.

U.S. Army

Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the first female general officer in Military Intelligence, served 31 years in the Army and retired as the deputy chief of staff of Intelligence in 2000.

Kennedy was the first woman promoted to three-star general in the Army. She was also the first woman in military intelligence to achieve the rank of general officer. Prior to her promotion to general, Kennedy commanded the 714th MI Battalion in Germany, the San Antonio Recruiting Battalion, Texas, and the 703rd MI Brigade in Hawaii.

In 1994 Kennedy was the deputy commander of the Intelligence Center here at Fort Huachuca. While Kennedy served here, she worked to revamp the language lab. In 1997, she served as deputy chief of staff for Intelligence at the Pentagon.

While describing the future of military women, Kennedy wrote: “An Army comprised of men and women serving their country side by side with mutual respect provides [the] optimum balance.” After a 31-year career serving her country, Kennedy retired in 2000. For more information about Kennedy, check out her autobiography, “Generally Speaking,” at the MI Library.

Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to remember the contributions of women such as Hall and Kennedy, while simultaneously celebrating the ways that the military intelligence community continues to lead the way in broadening opportunities for women in the Army.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

VA: Disability claims backlog drops by 44 percent

WASHINGTON — One year after the backlog of pending disability compensation claims peaked at over 611,000 in March 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs has reduced that number by approximately 44 percent to 344,000 claims — a reduction of more than 267,000 — while at the same time improving the accuracy of the decisions being...
 
 

Retiree Council shares news, notes

Army changes retirement status listing Some customs and courtesies will never change, such as showing respect for the U. S. flag. However, the Army recently modified how retirees list their retired status. The Army published the new policy on May 17, 2013, in Army Regulation 25-50, Preparing and Managing Correspondence. The policy puts retired Reservists...
 
 

Social Security launches expedited veteran disability process

WASHINGTON — Social Security claims from veterans with a Veterans Affairs Department disability compensation rating of 100 percent permanent and total have a new process that will treat their applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions. Carolyn Colvin, the acting Social Security commissioner, said the new process is similar to the way the agency...
 

 

Retiree Council shares news, notes

In accordance with Army Regulation 600-8-7, the objectives of the Retiree Council Program are to provide the Army’s top leaders with insight into vital issues and concerns of retired Soldiers. The program also gives the Army retired community an opportunity to: Communicate with the Active Army; receive advice on, analyze and provide input on decisions,...
 
 
U.S. Postal Service

VA launches online tool to calculate Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits

U.S. Postal Service The Department of Veterans Affairs launched an online GI Bill Comparison Tool, Tuesday, to make it easier for veterans, service members and dependents to calculate their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and learn ...
 
 

VA offers $600M to support services for homeless vet families

WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Department officials announced Tuesday the availability of about $600 million in grants through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program for nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives that serve very low-income veteran families occupying permanent housing. “Those who have served our nation should never find themselves on the streets, living w...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin