The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM)
The US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) was organized on 1 January 1977
as a result of the Army's Intelligence Organization and Stationing Study (IONS) -- an in-depth
look at Army intelligence requirements initiated in 1975. Although INSCOM is a relatively new arrival on the Army scene, the command has a rich
heritage. To understand the roots of the command, it is necessary to go back in time and
examine the history of the three main elements which were originally combined to form
INSCOM in 1977: the US Army Security Agency (USASA); US Army Intelligence Agency
(USAINTA); and a number of different intelligence production agencies, most of which had been
under the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI) for direct control.
USASA and Its Predecessors
USASA, the Army agency formerly responsible for all Army SIGINT and communications
security (COMSEC), traced its origins to World War I and the Cipher Bureau of the Military
Intelligence Section, War Department General Staff. At the outbreak of World War 1, the Army
had no effective organization for intelligence at all, apart from a system of military attaches. A
gifted Regular Army officer, Major Ralph Van Deman, quickly set up the Military Intelligence
Section within the Army's General Staff. Recognizing that his organization needed expertise in
both cryptanalysts and code compilation, Major Van Deman engaged the services of a young
code clerk in the State Department, Herbert O. Yardley. Yardley was hastily commissioned and
became the first chief of the Cipher Bureau.
By the time the war ended, the Cipher Bureau had been redesignated as Ml-8, a numbered
section of what had become the Military Intelligence Division. Ml-8 had shown itself to be so
useful that its activities survived Army demobilization. Although the responsibility for Army
code and cipher compilation was transferred to the Signal Corps in 1920, Ml-8's code and cipher
solution section continued on as a covert cryptanalytic agency jointly funded by the War and
State Departments. Under Yardley's expert guidance, this element known as the cipher bureau
scored a number of significant triumphs in the 1920's, especially in managing to break the
Japanese diplomatic code in time to strengthen the United States' negotiating position at the
Washington Peace Conference.
The cipher bureau was finally discontinued in 1929 because of two interacting factors. The Army
had come to the conclusion that Yardley's small operation, with its aging civilian staff, was not
well suited to meeting the War Department's future needs, especially in training another
generation of Army cryptanalysts. At the same time, a new Secretary of State, Henry L.
Stimson, decided that cryptanalysts of foreign diplomatic communications was unethical. As a
result of all this, State Department support of Yardley's cipher bureau was terminated and
Army cryptanalytic activities were transferred to a new signal intelligence service controlled by
the Signal Corps rather than by the Military Intelligence Division. Yardley was offered a
position with the new organization, but the Civil Service pay scale could not match his previous
income, and he refused. Instead, he went on to write a sensational expose of the cipher bureau's
operations entitled The American Black Chamber, much to the embarrassment of US officials.
The US Army Signal Intelligence Service (HIS) which took over the Army's cryptanalytic
function had the rare good fortune to be headed by a cryptologic genius, William F. Friedman.
Friedman had received his initial cryptologic training at the privately-funded Riverbank
Laboratories before World War I. He had gone on to serve as a cryptology officer with the
American Expeditionary Force in France before accepting civilian employment as a code-compiler
for the Signal Corps at the end of the war. Friedman was perfectly qualified for his job. By the
time the United States entered World War II, Friedman and his small organization had not only
devised new electromechanical cipher machines of unparalleled security for U.S. communications,
but had succeeded in breaking the PURPLE cipher system that carried the most secret
Japanese diplomatic messages.
American involvement in World War II caused an enormous expansion of US SIGINT and
COMSEC operations. The SIS grew in size; moved from its cramped quarters in the Munitions
Building, Washington, DC, to Arlington Hall Station in what was then the Virginia countryside;
and was repeatedly redesignated, finally becoming the US Army Signal Security Agency (SSA)
in 1943. Operational control over the SSA was reassigned to the Military Intelligence Division in
1944. By the end of the war, the SSA controlled a worldwide network of intercept stations
through its 2d Signal Service Battalion, and Arlington Hall's success at breaking the main
Japanese military and diplomatic systems was furnishing the Army with an unparalleled stream
of invaluable intelligence.
On 15 September 1945, the US Army Security Agency (ASA) was set up to conduct an all-Army
SIGINT and COMSEC operations under the command of the director of military intelligence.
The new agency had a sweeping charter. During World War II, the SSA had directed only a
part of the Army SIGINT effort. Theater and army commanders retained control over their own
tactical radio intelligence efforts. ASA, in contrast, exercised control over all US SIGINT and
COMSEC operating through a verticalized command structure. ASA was a separate specialized
entity within the rest of the Army, with complete control over personnel, training, research,
development, and procurement as well as over operations. Although it surrendered certain
operational functions to the new Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) in 1949, ASA grew as a
result of the Korean War, fielding tactical units on a large scale to support the Army's tactical
On 13 May 1961, the first contingent of US Army Security Agency personnel arrived in South
Vietnam to provide support to the US Military Assistance Advisor Group and to train the South
Vietnamese Army as a result of a national policy decision earlier in 1961. With the
introduction of US tactical units in South Vietnam, the US Army Security Agency responded
with the deployment of direct support units. Since its functions no longer were exclusively those
of intelligence and security, ASA was withdrawn from G-2 control and resubordinated to the
Army Chief of Staff, first as a field operating agency and then in 1964 as a major Army
On 1 January 1977, Headquarters, US Army Security Agency was redesignated as
Headquarters, US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM).
USAINTA and Its Predecessors
The second major antecedent of INSCOM was the USAINTA which performed Army
counterintelligence functions in the Continental United States (CONUS) along with certain
HUMINT missions. USAINTA's roots also went back to World War I. In the summer of 1917,
then Major Dennis E. Nolan, the G-2 of Pershing's American Expeditionary Force (AEF),
requested the services of 50 trained investigators fluent in foreign languages. The men would
serve with the "rank, pay, and allowances" of sergeants of infantry and be used to combat
espionage, sabotage, and subversion directed against US forces overseas. In response, the Army
authorized the creation of the Corps of Intelligence Police (TIP). Hundreds of CIP agents were
ultimately assigned to the AEF, and additional CIP men were used by the Military Intelligence
Division to conduct counterintelligence investigations in CONUS. The CIP continued in existence
after Armistice Day, although it was cut back to a skeleton force.
World War II created a new demand for counterintelligence support for the Army. Widespread
fears of an Axis "Fifth Column" operating in the United States led to steady expansion of the
CIP. For the first time, officers were brought in as special agents. A training school was
established, and the corps acquired its own chief to supervise the recruitment, instruction, and
administration of Army counterintelligence personnel.
Soon after Pearl Harbor, the CIP was given the more appropriate designation of the Counter
Intelligence Corps (CIC). At first, CIC personnel functioned as plain-clothes investigators on the
home front, working under the direction of the G-2's of the various Army service commands.
However, the CIC was soon given an additional role overseas, where its members operated in
uniform in support of tactical formations. By the end of 1943, some 5,000 members of CIC were
serving at home and abroad. Unfortunately, the CIC was not popular in all quarters. A number
of ranking Army officers questioned the validity of a counterintelligence function within the
military, and the ClC's activities seem to have displeased certain influential government leaders.
As a result, the CIC was broken up. CIC agents continued to serve with troop units, but most
CIC personnel in CONUS were merged with the criminal investigators of the Provost Marshal
General's Office to form a new consolidated Security Intelligence Corps. The CIC training facility
was shut down, and the position of Chief, CIC was abolished. Despite this setback, the CIC was
able to compile a significant record during World War II. CIC agents guarded the security of the
Manhattan Project and parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with the first waves of airborne
troops. Even before World War II had come to a close, it had become clear that the Army's
decision to do away with the CIC in CONUS had been a mistake. CIC personnel overseas no
longer had a rotation base, and there was no way to train the large numbers of
counterintelligence personnel that would inevitably be needed for occupation duty. Therefore, the
Office of the Chief, CIC and the CIC School were reestablished as part of the Army Service
Forces, and the short-lived Security Intelligence Corps was phased out.
The general Army reorganization of 1946 restored CIC to the control of the Director of
Intelligence. The CIC Center and School, initially established at Fort George G. Meade,
Maryland, soon moved to Fort Holabird, Maryland, a small and congested post located in an
industrial suburb of Baltimore. For many years, Fort Holabird would remain the traditional
home of the CIC, and additional Army intelligence activities would come to be collocated on
post. In 1955, Army combat intelligence training was relocated to the school at Fort Holabird
which was redesignated as the US Army Intelligence School. At the same time, the school began
offering training in a new intelligence discipline -- field operations intelligence (FOI) -- and the
Chief, CIC assumed administrative control over FOI personnel.
In 1961, CIC and FOI personnel were merged into a single Intelligence Corps (INTC), and
positive intelligence collection was added to its counterintelligence mission. The series of Army
reorganizations brought about in the 1960's by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara
substantially affected the organization of the new Intelligence Corps. In 1962, as part of an
effort to make the Army more efficient, Secretary McNamara imposed a system of major
functional commands upon the Army. Almost all Army training activities were placed under a
new Continental Army Command, and most Army posts subordinated to the commanders of the
CONUS armies. This had the effect of placing the Chief, INTC under multiple command
structures because of his additional responsibilities as commandant of the US Army Intelligence
School and post commander of Fort Holabird.
In 1964, a study of US Army counterintelligence capabilities entitled Project SECURITY
SHIELD concluded that the existing decentralized arrangements, in which CONUS
investigations were handled by the various armies and the Military District of Washington, were
inefficient and lacked cost-effectiveness. Project SECURITY SHIELD recommended a complete
overhaul of Army counterintelligence and investigatory arrangements. The combined impact of
these two initiatives transformed the existing structure of Army counterintelligence.There were
three major reorganizations within a 3-year time frame. The end of this process was marked by
the creation of the US Army Intelligence Command (USAINTC) on 1 July 1965 and the
subsequent discontinuance of the US Army Intelligence Corps. In effect, the structure of the US
Army counterintelligence was turned inside out. The commander of USAINTC found himself at
the head of a new major Army command that was tasked with performing all
counterintelligence investigations in CONUS. For the first time in the institutional history of
Army intelligence, the head of Army counterintelligence assumed operating functions At the
same time, he was divested of his previous responsibilities for recruitment, training, and
USAINTC expanded the scope of its activities in 1969 when the Chief of Staff, Army directed
the Office of Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (OACSI) to reduce its operational role. As a
result, USAINTC took over control of certain OACSI field operating agencies, including a
HUMINT detachment; a specialized counterintelligence group; the Army's imagery interpretation
center; and other elements For a time, under this new arrangement, USAINTC served as the
directing center for much of the Army's intelligence activities, except for SlGINT -- a function
that remained under the jurisdiction of ASA.
The creation in 1971 of a centralized Defense Investigative Service (DIE), accompanied by a
shift in public sentiment towards intelligence activities in general, brought an end to USAINTC.
DIS gradually assumed the function of conducting personnel background investigations in
CONUS -- a role which had been USAINTC's bread-and-butter. At the same time, the Army
temporarily abandoned the conduct of certain other intelligence functions. The steady diminution
of the functions and assets of USAINTC made maintenance of MACOM status increasingly hard
to sustain. As a final ironic touch, the command even lost its traditional home at Fort Holabird.
Relocation of the US Army Intelligence School to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, had made the
Baltimore base redundant to Army needs, and the command was relocated to Fort George G.
Meade, Maryland, in 1973.
USAINTC was formally discontinued on 30 June 1974. The US Army Intelligence Agency
(USAINTA), a field a operating activity of ACSI, was created in its place the next day.
USAINTA continued to conduct Army counterintelligence operations in CONUS, but it did not
inherit all of its predecessor's assets since a number of the elements which had gone to
USAINTC in 1969 were resubordinated and placed under ACSI. Headquarters, USAINTA was
assigned to INSCOM on 1 January 1977 and redesignated as Headquarters, US Army INSCOM,
Fort Meade on 1 October 1977. The completion of the integration of the assets within the
headquarters was marked by the formal discontinuance of Headquarters, US Army INSCOM,
Fort Meade on 30 November 1978.
The third of the major building blocks initially used to form INSCOM consisted of a group of
field operating agencies engaged in intelligence production. These included the US Army
Intelligence Threat Analysis Detachment, US Army Imagery Interpretation Center, US Army
Special Research Detachment, US Army Intelligence Support Detachment, and US Army
Intelligence Operations Support Detachment -- all from ACSI; and the US Army Forces
Command Intelligence Center from the US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM).
Assigned to INSCOM on 1 January 1977, these elements were formed into INSCOM's
production element, the US Army Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center (ITAC), in 1978.
Subsequently, INSCOM took over the function of disseminating special compartmented
intelligence throughout the Army when it was given command of the US Army Special Security
Group (SSG) in 1980. On 1 October 1991, the SSG was reorganized to reflect the
decentralization of Special Security Office (SSO) functions to other MACOM's.
The Intelligence Organization and Stationing Study which led to the establishment of INSCOM
in 1977 had recommended that all Army intelligence production agencies be consolidated into a
single entity. However, only those production agencies directly under OACSI or FORSCOM were
consolidated under INSCOM. After several subsequent relooks, support grew for a larger
consolidation. Consequently, in July 1984, INSCOM's production element, the US Army
Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center, was placed under the operational control of the newly
established US Army Intelligence Agency (Provisional), a field operating agency under OACSI.
On 1 December 1984, the US Army Intelligence Agency (AIA) left its provisional status, and
ITAC was formally assigned to AIA. In addition to taking over ITAC, on 30 April 1984, the new
agency also was assigned two production elements formerly subordinate to the US Army
Materiel Command: the Foreign Science and Technology Center at Charlottesville, Virginia, and
the US Army Missile Intelligence Agency at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. On 1 October 1991,
AIA was reassigned to INSCOM, only to be disestablished by April 1992.
The formation of INSCOM put an end to the fragmentation of Army intelligence assets under
the separate control of ACSI, USAINTA, and USASA. By centralizing control of all Army
intelligence and security activities conducted at echelon above corps (EAC) level, the Army
sought to achieve its intelligence goals with maximum economy and efficiency. The
establishment of INSCOM promoted the integration of the various intelligence disciplines within
the Army and provided the Army with a viable intelligence structure for the immediate future.
After years of training and preparation, INSCOM's ability to support the US Army in a tactical
environment was tested on two different continents in rapid succession. On 20 December 1989,
President Bush responded to Panamanian dictator General Manuel Noriega's campaign of
physical harassment against U.S citizens by ordering the use of military force under Operation
JUST CAUSE. The US forces successfully seated pro-Noriega strongholds, cornered Noriega, and
forced him to surrender on 3 January 1990. The 470th Military Intelligence Brigade received the
Panama Battle Streamer for its participation and was recognized as the first INSCOM unit to
participate in combat operations.
In less than a year, INSCOM was called upon to provide support to US forces responding to a
second crisis. On 2 August 1990, President Saddam Hussein ordered three of his heavy divisions
of Iraqi-Republican Guards to invade Kuwait. Immediately, President George Bush inserted U.S.
combat troops under operation DESERT SHIELD to protect Saudi Arabia from further Iraqi
aggression. On 16 January 1991, a multination force launched an air campaign which was
followed weeks later by a successful ground assault. Throughout Operations DESERT SHIELD
and DESERT STORM, INSCOM's 513th Ml Brigade served as the principal intelligence and
security element in support of the Army Central Command.
Adapted from: US Army Intelligence and Security Command, Command History Office, "US Army Intelligence and Security Command."