When the commanding general and command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence uncovered the Military Intelligence Crest Monument in front of Fort Huachuca’s Alvarado Hall on Wednesday, they concluded the final event in a year-long commemoration of the gold and silver anniversaries of the MI Branch and Corps. The monument itself is a bronze cast replica of the MI Branch and MI Corps crests, with a description of the symbolism and history of each mounted on the stone pedestal below. The bronze crests were designed to complement the MI Sphinx, also located in front of the Intelligence Center headquarters.
With an audience of more than 150 in attendance, General Gregg Potter highlighted two visionary leaders in the evolution of Army’s intelligence: Maj. Gen. Alva Fitch, who won the battle 50 years ago to establish the Branch, and Maj. Gen. Julius Parker, who led the effort to activate the Corps 25 years later. “What these MI professionals from our past accomplished impacted the lives of every individual in MI and continues to touch us daily, as well as guide us as we prepare for the future,” Potter said.
While much of Potter’s speech was dedicated to pointing out the parallels between historic intelligence practices and modern intelligence disciplines, the biggest reaction from the audience came when he discussed how Signals Intelligence capabilities have evolved. Comparing radio intercept tractors of 1916 with communications intercept “Trailblazers” of the 1980s, even the general had to chuckle in memory of that not-so-distant past vehicle, which bears slim resemblance to the streamlined “Prophet” system of today.
Why is 2012 such a big milestone, deserving of a year-long commemoration? The words on the Crest Monument dedication plaque express it best:
“On July 1, 1962, MG Alva Fitch oversaw the activation of the Intelligence and Security Branch, later renamed the Military Intelligence Branch, bringing together for the first time individuals from diverse disciplines into a single branch. On July 1, 1987, the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Branch, the Military Intelligence Corps was activated as part of the U.S. Army Regimental System. This monument was dedicated in 2012 to commemorate these milestones in Military Intelligence history.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Holiday, whose career very nearly parallels the life of the Corps, felt the significance of the anniversaries personally. “The 25/50 commemoration is very special to me because I was on the parade field as a young sergeant when the Corps’ activation occurred,” he commented. “Not knowing exactly what was happening and what it all meant, and that I was becoming part of history, and to return to the Intelligence Center 25 years later as the MI Corps CSM, I can only say ‘WOW!’ History and traditions are what our nation is built on.”
The 25/50 Commemoration was the brainchild of Lori Tagg, USAICoE’s command historian, and planning for it began nearly three years ago. When asked what her goals for the year-long event were, she said, “We felt it was important to highlight the branch’s rich history and the people who built Military Intelligence into the Corps it is today. We used these anniversaries as a way to increase the MI community’s awareness of its history and heritage and to enhance esprit de corps and camaraderie within the MI Corps.”
The anniversaries were formally recognized on June 29 with a ceremony during which Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s representative read a proclamation declaring July 1, 2012, as “Army Intelligence Day.” The men and women who worked so tirelessly in 1987 to bring the Corps into existence were honored with Knowlton Awards and special recognition, and the new MI Soldier Heritage Walkway was officially opened. However, the vision and scope for the 25/50 Commemoration reached much farther than one day. “Because milestones like this are rare — they really just happen once in a Soldier’s career — we tried to take advantage of it wherever and whenever possible: displays around the post, weekly articles in the “Fort Huachuca Scout,” a new website, educational handouts for the students, and several high-profile events,” Tagg said. In fact, every student who completed initial military training at USAICoE in 2012 received an MI Corps certificate emblazoned with the 2012 Commemoration logos.
Potter has often stressed the need for Soldiers to grasp the significance of their MI heritage, and the 25/50 Anniversaries of MI afforded the Intelligence Center a perfect opportunity to teach that heritage. Some of the educational tools that the History Office produced as part of 25/50 were: decks of playing cards that teach Soldiers about MI’s heroes and pioneers; pocket-sized booklets with key MI heritage information; a special commemorative edition of the “MI Professional Bulletin,” dedicated solely to the history of the branch; and a series of three films highlighting different aspects of Army intelligence throughout history.
Senior leaders have the responsibility of passing on the Army’s heritage to the next generation, a duty well-expressed by the commemoration’s theme of “The Tradition Continues.” Asked for his thoughts on this, Holiday answered, “I often conduct professional forums with NCOs [noncommissioned officers], warrants and officers where I discuss the importance of knowing and understanding the history and traditions of the post, camp or station that they are assigned to. I stress the need to take time to learn about the history of their organization so they can pass this on to their Soldiers. Military Intelligence has a long and proud history, way before it was named and recognized as a Branch and Corps, and it is important that we as intelligence professionals know our history so we can tell our story.”
When asked what he would take away from the 2012 commemoration events, Holiday said, “My participation in the 25/50 Commemoration is one that I will always cherish. To be the senior enlisted advisor of the MI Corps during this celebration is a tremendous honor. This is truly in the top five significant events in my lifetime.”
Dedicating the monument was Potter’s last official act before relinquishing command of the Intelligence Center of Excellence in another ceremony on historic Brown Parade Field on Thursday. During his speech on Wednesday, Potter commented, “Everything we do today has a connection in the past, which brings us to our purpose right now, which is to unveil a monument that highlights our past, validates the present, and guides us as we move into the future. Simply put, ‘The Tradition Continues.’”
(Editor’s note: For the Year in Review 2012, the 25/50 Military Intelligence Commemoration year, go to Page 11A.)