(then becomes INSCOM)
The Korean War was followed by an expansion and an intensification of the Cold War as well as an expansion in the size and responsibilities of U.S. intelligence agencies to cope with its challenges.
SIGINTs last ties to the Signal Corps end in 1955 when ASA takes over electronic intelligence (ELINT) and electronic warfare (EW) functions previously carried out by the Signal Corps.
The 1950s saw large strides in the area of aerial reconnaissance and photo intelligence for the Army. Reconnaissance helicopters entered the Army inventory and in 1959 it acquired a dedicated surveillance aircraft, the AO-1 Mohawk. Additionally, the Army acquired access to national-level imagery products during the 1950s and fielded its first aerial reconnaissance support battalions, which exploited photographs generated by Air Force platforms.
The 1950's close out with another great leap in technology - only this time the U.S. isn't the leader! The world's first artificial satellite was launched, demonstrating the technical abilities of the Soviet Union. This shiny basketball-sized sphere took Americans by surprise. Fearing attack from afar and distraught over being beaten by its Cold War rival, the United States jumped headfirst into the space race.
In 1957 ASA is redesignated USASA, pursuant to AR 10-122.
The decade of the 1960s was marked by significant technological advances and further expansion of the Intelligence Community. The decade also started with the notable failure of the CIA at the Bay of Pigs. An invasion of Cuban expatriates, trained by the CIA, launched an invasion of Cuba in the spring of 1961 with the intent of ousting the Castro regime. Without U.S. military assistance, the invasion crumbled and the reputation of the CIA suffered significantly.
In 1962 the Army created an Army and Intelligence and Security Branch. Ever since World War II intelligence staff positions had been held by officers detailed from Combat Arms. With the fielding of large intelligence units it became apparent that appropriate leadership (dedicated MI Officers) was needed. In 1967 it was renamed the MI Branch.
The 1960's also marked the closest the world has come to nuclear war was the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. The Soviets had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of the United States. U.S. armed forces were at their highest state of readiness. Soviet field commanders in Cuba were authorized to use tactical nuclear weapons if invaded by the U.S. The fate of millions literally hinged upon the ability of two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, to reach a compromise.
In August of the same year, Secretary of Defense McNamara created the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to consolidate and to coordinate the production of intelligence analysis by each of the military services and to serve as the principal source of intelligence support to the Secretary and his staff, as well as to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the unified commands. DIA opened a new production center in 1963, but the military departments continued to maintain their own analytical capabilities. In 1965, the DIA was given responsibility for administering the newly created Defense Attache system, consisting of uniformed military personnel serving in embassies and collecting, by overt means, information useful to the military.
In the meantime, there were substantial advances in U.S. technical collection capabilities. Photographs taken by the U-2 were a large factor in the successful resolution of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The first photo reconnaissance satellite was launched the same year. The fist high altitude, high speed reconnaissance aircraft, the SR-71, was built and tested by the CIA a short while later. These new assets came under the control on National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) which had been created in secret in 1961. While the fact of its existence remained classified, the NRO, the using special procurement authorities of the DCI (black funds) was able to expeditiously procure and operate satellite collection systems for the Intelligence community.
Because of the growing importance of infra-red and radar, the discipline of PHOTINT was officially redesignated as imagery intelligence - IMINT - in 1964.
Vietnam saw the largest use of ASA soldiers up to that time. At the height of the war more than 6000 ASA soldiers are serving in country. To read more about ASA in Vietnam please see my Vietnam Time Line.
The massive drawdown of the Army after the Vietnam war led to pressures to achieve economies by the consolidation of intelligence functions. In 1975, the Army Chief of Staff accepted recommendations of the Intelligence Organization and Stationing Study and agreed to a wholesale reorganization of Army Intelligence. The decision was made to create multi disciplinary MI organizations within the Army at both the tactical and departmental levels. As a result, ASA was effectively dismembered. ASA?s tactical units were resubordinated to the local commander, its functional responsibilities for training, research and development spun off to the other major army commands and its headquarters and fixed sties used as the nucleus of a new intelligence and security MACOM. ASA gave up its traditional regional headquarters overseas (USASA-Europe and USASA-Pacific) and a number of stations it had manned for years were discontinued. On 1 January 1977, Headquarters, U.S. Army Security Agency was redesignated as Headquarters, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command. In 1976 the first experimental CEWI (combat electronic warfare and intelligence battalion), the 522nd MI Bn, was fielded at Fort Hood, TX and assigned to 2nd Armored Div..
In addition to ASA, INSCOM absorbed the United States Army Intelligence Agency, the Forces Command Intelligence Group, the Intelligence Threat Analysis Detachment, and the Imagery Interpretation Center. INSCOM is unique among military service intelligence agencies in that it conducts large-scale signals intelligence activities along with clandestine collection and counterintelligence operations. Thus, INSCOM operates a series of Army Field Stations in the United States and overseas which collect communications and electronic intelligence against Soviet Bloc and other targets. INSCOM officers run agents, particularly in Eastern Europe, who provide intelligence on Warsaw Pact ground forces. In addition, INSCOM conducts offensive counterintelligence operations in which United States servicemen who have been approached by Soviet Bloc intelligence services operate under INSCOM control and provide those intelligence services with false or distorted information concerning United States military capabilities and plans.
Two events in 1979 energized the American people and government into expanding and modernizing the Army's intelligence units. In November, the U.S. Embassy in Iran was seized and its personnel taken hostage. During 1979 the Soviet Union also invaded Afghanistan.
The 1980's began with the election of a new President, Ronald Reagan, who had made the revitalization of intelligence part of his campaign. Intelligence budgets were increased, and new personnel were hired. While the Intelligence Community remained stable during the decade, it was a period of burgeoning growth and activity.
Among INSCOM's assets were a number of fixed installations (Field Stations) inherited from the former Army Security Agency. These INSCOM field stations were initially located at Berlin and Augsburg in Germany, Sinop Turkey, Okinawa and Misawa Japan, Pyongteak Korea, Key West Florida, and San Antonio Texas.
In 1980 INSCOM establishes the first new Army field station since the Vietnam war at Kunia, Hawaii.
In 1981, INSCOM was assigned responsibility for the Intelligence Support Activity, the successor to the Foreign Operating Group that was established on an ad hoc basis to aid in the attempted rescue of the Americans taken hostages in Tehran in 1979. ISA has since been involved in a variety of intelligence operations in North Africa and Latin America.
The growth of INSCOM fixed sites continues with the establishment of another new field station in Panama in 1982. The 513th MI Group (201st, 202d, and 203d MI Bns) in support of CENTCOM (the unified command created to deal with contingency situations in Southwest Asia) is also created.
In 1987 INSCOM redesignates TDA units (this included a number of field stations) as numbered MI brigades, battalions and companies in the 700 series. As a result of this step, existing command assets combined into three new MI Brigades - the 701st, 703rd and 704th, and a number of new battalions. On 1 July 1987, all Army Intelligence personnel, military and civilian, become part of a single large regiment, The Military Intelligence Corps, headed by MG Julius Parker.
By 1988 5 MI Brigades and no less than 30 MI Battalions have been formed under the CEWI concept to support tactical units in the field. Another 5 TOE MI Brigades and 10 TOE single-function battalions carry out theater- and national-level support missions under INSCOM. 25,000 active duty MI specialists exist, with over 15 percent of them female. 8,700 MI personnel are in the reserves.
INSCOM moves its headquarters from Arlington Hall Station to the Nolan Building, on the north post of Fort Belvoir, Virginia in 1989. The chief of Military Intelligence becomes commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, paving the way for the eventual closure of the Intelligence School at Fort Devens and the consolidation of almost all MI training at Fort Huachuca.