INSCOM provides base for expanded Army intelligence program
Jan. 1, 1977
(Editor’s note: The following text is an excerpt from an article published in the July-September 2012 issue of Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin entitled “A Short History of Army Intelligence,” by Michael Bigelow, command historian at the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command.)
Facing cutbacks [at the end of the Vietnam War], the Army undertook a major reorganization of its intelligence components. At the end of 1974, the Army chief of staff commissioned the Intelligence Organization and Stationing Study, known as the IOSS, to reconfigure the Army’s intelligence structure that had grown somewhat haphazardly since World War II.
For eight months, a panel of senior officers headed by Maj. Gen. James Ursano conducted the study. In August 1975, the Ursano panel released its report which was critical of Army Intelligence.
At the top, it found that the assistant chief of staff for intelligence did not facilitate proper supervision of all intelligence agencies, especially signals intelligence, or SIGINT. The report also concluded that the Army’s intelligence production was fragmented among too many agencies.
Finally, it sharply criticized the Army Security Agency, or ASA. The agency, it stated, was not able to adequately meet the requirements of tactical commanders.
Moreover, the ASA had developed its own personnel, training and research and development systems and, in many ways, was functionally independent of the Army. This independence created “a stovepipe” of SIGINT that worked against the effective development of all-source intelligence.
To correct these problems, the IOSS recommended a radical change in Army Intelligence structure. First and foremost, it proposed dismembering the ASA to bring SIGINT operations and organizations more in line with the rest of the Army. The agency’s training center should fall under the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and its research and development activities should move to U.S. Army Materiel Command. Next, ASA’s tactical units would be resubordinated to the field commanders, specifically at the corps and divisional levels. These units would merge with other MI assets to form units with all-source capabilities.
The Army began implementing the IOSS proposals in 1976. The proposals would lead to a more sweeping reorganization of Army intelligence and result in the formation of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command and the Combat Electronic Warfare and Intelligence, or CEWI, organizations.
On Jan. 1, 1977, the ASA was re-designated as the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, or INSCOM, with Maj. Gen. William Rolya as the first commanding general.
Headquartered at Arlington Hall Station, Va., INSCOM was considerably smaller than its ASA predecessor, but it still controlled a vast array of diverse assets. Initially, these included four theater MI groups, a variety of CI and HUMINT functional units, and eight fixed field stations.
Initially, the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency, or USAINTA, operated as a separate command under INSCOM, but the two headquarters merged on Oct. 1, 1977, thus completing the integration of Army-level intelligence organizations. In broad terms, this new organization was to perform multidisciplinary intelligence, security and electronic warfare functions at the echelons above corps.
Theater intelligence groups were INSCOM’s centerpiece. These groups were multidisciplinary elements, formed by integrating former ASA assets into existing intelligence units. Originally, INSCOM had four such units: the 66th MI Group in Germany, the 470th MI Group in Panama, the 500th MI Group in Japan, and the 501st MI Group in Korea. INSCOM tailored the four groups to meet theater-specific requirements, and each of them varied in size, mission, and composition.
In 1982, INSCOM added another theater intelligence group — the 513th MI Group at Fort Monmouth, N.J. The 513th MI Group’s primary mission was to support possible operations of the newly organized U.S. Central Command, which had been set up to defend American interests in the Middle East. In case of war in Europe, the 513th would deploy to Germany to support U.S. Army Europe.
The 513th’s activation signified INSCOM’s commitment to provide deployable support to the Army. Regardless of size, composition or location, the Army theater commanders largely retained operational control of these groups.
By bringing together the full spectrum of intelligence disciplines, INSCOM provided the Army with a single instrument to conduct and coordinate intelligence operations at the level above corps and to provide finished intelligence adapted to meet the Army’s needs.
The new command established a framework for the various elements of the Army’s intelligence system to cross-cue one another, resulting in a collective effort where the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. It also provided a central organization for the administration of personnel and logistics in support of national agencies and theater commanders. Moreover, INSCOM provided a base on which the Army could build an expanded intelligence program.