Army

September 13, 2013

Military Intelligence – this week in history

Tags:
Ruth Quinn, Staff Historian
USAICoE Command History Office

Army Security Agency established

This picture shows the interior of Field Station Kagnew in Asmara, Eritrea, in 1958.

Sept. 15, 1945
Signals intelligence had been a part of the Army’s warfighting toolkit since World War I, practiced by radio interceptors, code-makers and code-breakers. The first Army organization to take on the function was the Signals Intelligence Service in 1930, led by William Friedman. This organization, which became the Signal Security Service in 1943, and later the Signal Security Agency, or SSA, exploited the communications of both Germany and Japan during World War II.

Control of communications intelligence collection assets were split between the SSA (under the chief, Signal Corps), and the theater commanders. This arrangement created significant problems, since it proved impossible to neatly separate the tactical aspects of communications intelligence from the strategic ones.

When the war ended, the SSA was removed from the Signal Corps and reorganized as the Army Security Agency, or ASA, under the control of the director of Military Intelligence, or MI.

For the first time, MI, through the organization of ASA, assumed command of all signals intelligence and security establishments, units and personnel in the Army. The new agency inherited the mission, functions, and assets of the SSA, while adding the communications intelligence and security resources that had previously been at the disposal of theater commanders.

This put the ASA in a unique position. According to its official historian, ASA was “within, but not part of, the overall military establishment.” ASA’s headquarters at Arlington Hall, Va., staffed primarily by civilian experts, controlled the collection activities of all its units through a separate chain of command — a “stovepipe” approach to organizational management.

This vertical command structure, along with the necessary secrecy of its operations, kept ASA apart from the rest of the Army — a condition which suited the new organization just fine, as it became almost completely self-sufficient. As historian John Finnegan writes, the agency not only conducted its own operational missions, “ASA administered its own personnel system, ran its own school, arranged for its own supplies, and conducted its own research and development.”

The initial organizational structure of ASA did not last long. In 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency. With command and control going through the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the individual services were therefore relieved of their autonomous control in this field. Oversight of the agency would be on a rotating basis by officers from all services. However, the focus of the agency remained strictly military rather than on national security, and the rotating command impaired administrative continuity. Therefore, in 1952, the National Security Agency, a civilian agency under the Department of Defense, replaced the Armed Forces Security Agency.

Nevertheless, ASA persevered. The agency’s primary collection assets were a number of large fixed field stations that stretched from the U.S. to Germany, from Turkey and Africa to the Pacific.

While ASA lost most of its original mission and the bulk of its civilian staff to the Armed Forces Security Agency in 1949, the agency restructured itself to meet Army-specific needs. It developed smaller, mobile field units that could support tactical commanders at every level, which became critical with the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950.

Over the ensuing decade, ASA became the Army’s largest single intelligence and security organization. It exercised tight control over its overseas elements through large regional headquarters in Germany and the Pacific, but processing and direction were centralized at its Arlington Hall headquarters, near Washington.

From personnel strength of 11,500 in 1952, ASA grew to 18,300 in just five years. New field stations and tactical units cropped up around the world, and the mission of the agency expanded to include electronic intelligence and electronic warfare, acoustical intelligence and noncommunications-jamming functions. In 1964, the ASA achieved the status of a major Army field command.




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


 
 

 
David Kamm, NSRDEC

Natick studies link between body armor fit, performance

David Kamm, NSRDEC Rachel Terveer measures a Soldier’s forward reach extension as part of a study at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center that seeks to understand the link between body armor fit and...
 
 
SFL-TAP_logo_Color

Transition Assistance Program is for spouses, too

Spouses of transitioning and retiring service members are eligible for all Transition Assistance Program services. This means everything available to the transitioning service member is also available to his or her spouse. This...
 
 
Department of Defense photos

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

Intelligence plays role in Operation URGENT FURY On Oct. 19, 1983, Grenada’s pro-Communist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several other leaders were murdered by a faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard. The sub...
 

 
Airman 1st Class Krystal Ardrey

Air Force: Airmen train for ‘new wild, wild west’ in cyber domain

Airman 1st Class Krystal Ardrey Staff Sgt. Alek Albrecht participates in a Network War Bridge Course at the 39th Information Operations Squadron Sept. 19, at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Albrecht is practicing to hack into a simulated ...
 
 
U.S. Army photo

Aviation Restructure Initiative allows UAS workhorses to remain aloft

U.S. Army photo Pvt. Kenneth Lewis and Pvt. Austin Morrison assemble a Shadow unmanned aircraft system during training at 2-13th Aviation Regiment, 1st Aviation Brigade, based at Fort Huachuca, in July. FORT RUCKER, Ala. — In...
 
 

Watch TRADOC leaders discuss U.S. Army’s future

Those unable to attend the Association of United States Army (AUSA) National’s 2014 Annual Meeting and Exposition can still watch TRADOC leaders live at livestream, www.army.mil/professional, as they discuss the future of the U.S. Army during panels throughout the week. Held every October in Washington, D.C., the AUSA Annual Meeting is the largest landpower exposition...
 




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