INSCOM: Continuity and Change

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army reorganized almost all of its institutional and training headquarters to streamline important administrative functions while improving operational effectiveness. In late 1974, the Army cast its eyes on Army Intelligence to see if it was effectively organized and efficiently managed. The instrument of this scrutiny was the Intelligence Organization and Stationing Study (IOSS), a panel of senior officers headed by Maj. Gen. James J. Ursano. Released in mid-1975, the IOSS report recommended that the Army break up existing intelligence organizations and reassemble them into a new configuration. These recommendations led to the most sweeping reorganization of Army intelligence in a generation.

At the center of this transformation, the Army established a single intelligence command to control an integrated, worldwide structure that provided multi-discipline intelligence support to the Army. The Army Security Agency (ASA), the Army’s Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) organization, was the cornerstone of this new command. To align itself to the new Army structure, ASA transferred its training, combat development resources, and logistics organization to other Army commands. In addition, ASA’s tactical SIGINT units were reassigned to the divisions or corps that they supported.

On 1 January 1977, ASA was redesignated as U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). The new command merged ASA’s remaining SIGINT assets with the Counterintelligence (CI) and Human Intelligence (HUMINT) assets of the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency (USAINTA). Now a multi-discipline intelligence organization, INSCOM was formally established on 1 October 1977.

Headquartered at Arlington Hall Station, INSCOM controlled diverse assets around the world. With Maj. Gen. William I. Rolya as its first commanding general, it provided the Army with multi-discipline intelligence and security at the echelon above corps level.

To support the Army’s overseas theaters, INSCOM relied on its multi-discipline military intelligence (MI) groups. By mid-1978, INSCOM had four such units: the 66th MI Group in West Germany, the 470th MI Group in Panama, the 500th MI Group in Japan, and the 501st MI Group in South Korea. INSCOM tailored these groups to meet theater-specific requirements, each varying in size and composition. To support U.S. Army Europe and its two corps, the 66th MI was large; to support U.S. Army South and its one infantry brigade, the 470th MI was relatively small. The 500th MI, supporting U.S. Army Japan, was primarily a HUMINT outfit, and the 501st MI, supporting the U.S. Eighth Army, had INSCOM’s only aerial exploitation asset. Through these four units, INSCOM funneled its intelligence resources and support to Army field commanders.

In the United States, INSCOM offered general support to the Army with three single-discipline MI groups. Throughout the Continental United States (CONUS), the 902d MI Group handled both CI and signal security support missions. The CONUS MI Group commanded the soldiers who worked with the National Security Agency (NSA) and administered the readiness program that gave SIGINT soldiers opportunities to practice their technical skills against actual threat targets. The last of these stateside groups was the Army Operational Group which coordinated HUMINT collection and supported the overseas theater MI groups.

To meet national requirements, INSCOM also controlled a number of fixed field stations. Two of these stations were located in West Germany (Augsburg and Berlin), two in Japan (Okinawa and Misawa), one in Turkey (Sinop), and one in South Korea (Korea). Two sites were in the continental United States (Key West and San Antonio). In late 1980, INSCOM established a new field station—the first since the Vietnam War—at Kunia, Hawaii. All of the field stations varied in size and mission, but all used sophisticated equipment to monitor potential threats.

Over the first years of its existence, INSCOM established a framework for its elements to cross-cue one another, resulting in a collective effort where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. When Maj. Gen. Rolya turned over command, INSCOM was the centerpiece of the Army’s intelligence organization.

During the 1980s and into the early 1990s, INSCOM continued its global outlook as the Army improved its abilities to both defend Europe and deploy elsewhere to meet potential threats. The Army’s new overarching doctrine of AirLand Battle placed a premium on accurate and timely intelligence. INSCOM responded with the development of a global command architecture of robust and reliable intelligence processing and communications that would allow national assets to be brought to bear on theater and corps requirements. In addition, INSCOM enhanced its ability to physically deploy for war.

The largest and most tangible step towards this goal was the establishment of the 513th MI Group at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey in 1982.

The group's primary mission was to provide multi-discipline intelligence support to the Army component of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force during contingency operations and to send reinforcing intelligence support to U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) during time of war. During peacetime, it also had the task to meet the training needs of both the active Army and the reserves.

In another step to better support the Army, INSCOM reorganized its oversea MI groups into brigades in 1986 and 1987. More than just a name change, the 66th MI Brigade in West Germany, the 501st MI Brigade in South Korea, and the 513th MI Brigade in CONUS were organized for war rather than having structures geared toward peacetime collection and training. The next year the 470th MI in Panama and the 500th MI in Japan became brigades. INSCOM also took a less concrete stride when it renamed some of its strategic SIGINT organizations as numbered MI brigades which aimed at fostering esprit de corps among their soldiers.

In the 1980s, the Army had emphasized its role in the defense of Western Europe against a Soviet threat. Reflecting this orientation, INSCOM allocated considerable resources to Europe. The 66th MI Brigade was the command’s principal unit in theater and engaged in a broad range of intelligence operations. INSCOM also continued to operate two fixed sites in West Germany—the 701st MI Brigade (formerly Field Station Augsburg) in Bavaria, and Field Station Berlin, 105 miles behind the Iron Curtain—to gather information on the Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies. A third site—Field Station Sinop—collected against the Soviets from Turkey’s Black Sea coast.

While Europe remained the primary focus for the Army, INSCOM still maintained an active presence in the Pacific throughout the 1980s. At Fort Shafter, Hawaii, the INSCOM Theater Intelligence Center provided and planned intelligence support to Army forces in the Pacific. At nearby Schofield Barracks, the 703d MI Brigade managed the Kunia field station. The station’s sophisticated communication systems allowed INSCOM to close down older facilities in the Far East while retaining the same capabilities. In South Korea, INSCOM’s large 501st MI Brigade continued to monitor the Demilitarized Zone in its support of the U.S. Eighth Army. In Japan, the smaller 500th MI Brigade supported U.S. Army Japan as well as meeting theater and national intelligence requirements.

In the Western Hemisphere, INSCOM continued its presence in Panama. In 1982, the command established a new field station and subordinated it to the 470th MI Brigade. Initially, the brigade concentrated its efforts on gathering intelligence on the unstable political environments in Central America. Later, it would broaden its scope to support counter-drug operations in Latin America. To assist the 470th MI, INSCOM created a unit to test a variety of collection systems, including aerostats, unmanned aerial vehicles, and sophisticated aerial radio direction finding aircraft.

In the United States, INSCOM’s CONUS MI Group became the 704th MI Brigade. In addition to its mission to support NSA, the brigade assumed management of the Army’s new TROJAN program that provided Army units in CONUS with access to a live signal environment for training.

The 902d MI Group remained INSCOM’s principal counterintelligence organization. In the mid-1980s, it concentrated on specialized CI functions in the United States.

The Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union produced an environment for espionage and counter-espionage. In 1988, INSCOM CI agents scored two significant triumphs. First, they tracked down Clyde Conrad, a retired Army noncommissioned officer, who was the key figure in an espionage ring that betrayed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) war plans to the Hungarian intelligence service. Later that year, they discovered that Army Warrant Officer James Hall had sold classified material to East German and Soviet operatives. Based on that information, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was able to arrest Hall in Georgia.

After twelve years of effort, INSCOM was finally able to consolidate its staff elements in a suitable headquarters building. During the summer of 1989, INSCOM moved into the Nolan Building at Fort Belvoir, VA. Perhaps ironically, by the end of the year, the Berlin Wall was torn down, signifying the end of the Cold War.

The end of the Cold War presented INSCOM with a new set of challenges. Largely structured and deployed with the Cold War’s priorities in mind, INSCOM looked towards its role in the transformed world. Before much time had passed, however, the command found itself in a series of conflicts unrelated to old American-Soviet tensions.

At the end of 1989, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega posed a threat to U.S. interests and provoked an American military intervention: Operation JUST CAUSE. As American ground forces fought Noriega’s security forces, INSCOM’s 470th MI Group deployed its assets to support the operation. Intimately familiar with both the terrain and the disposition of Panama’s armed forces, teams from the 470th MI provided spot reports throughout Panama City. Using their sources, 470th MI soldiers obtained critical information on troop movements and locations of weapons caches. After the fighting, they helped identify and apprehend a number of Noriega’s top aides. For its role in the operation, the 470th MI Group was awarded a battle streamer.

Less than a year later and halfway across the world, another crisis developed when Iraqi troops crossed into Kuwait. American ground, naval, and air forces quickly deployed to Saudi Arabia to prevent further Iraqi expansion. As the situation stabilized, elements of INSCOM’s 513th MI Brigade began to arrive on the Arabian Peninsula with a full array of assets. Meanwhile, INSCOM shifted resources to ensure complete intelligence support for U.S. Army Central (ARCENT). In addition, companies and teams from the 66th MI Brigade, as well as reservists from the United States, deployed to support the 513th MI Brigade. By Christmas 1990, the brigade’s strength was over a thousand soldiers.

INSCOM’s professionals quickly proved their worth. A terrain team from the 513th MI Brigade assured Army planners that the desert area around Kuwait was trafficable for Army tanks and armored vehicles, a critical element in the planned operation of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). INSCOM technicians reconfigured the TROJAN system for use as a secure intelligence communication link that could transmit real-time information down to the division level. Force Protection teams helped secure the ports, while Technical Intelligence (TECHINT) teams trained U.S. forces on Soviet equipment used by the Iraqis.

For Operation DESERT STORM , INSCOM elements played significant roles at several of CENTCOM’s joint intelligence centers, and the 513th’s echelon-above-corps operations center was expanded by a full operations battalion and placed in support of ARCENT’s G2. As the U.S.-led forces quickly smashed the Iraqi military, INSCOM CI personnel were among the first to enter Kuwait City where they policed up documents and provided essential force protection. When the fighting came to a halt, HUMINT and TECHINT specialists from INSCOM screened and examined 50,000 Iraqi prisoners, thousands of documents, and numerous pieces of Soviet-made equipment.

The challenges of JUST CAUSE and DESERT STORM placed large demands on the Army’s intelligence community. INSCOM played no small part in meeting these demands. Fortunately, INSCOM’s major players had been correctly postured. For JUST CAUSE, the 470th MI Group had been in place under INSCOM for more than a decade when the crisis broke. For DESERT STORM, the 513th MI Brigade had a long-standing contingency mission to support ARCENT. In both cases, INSCOM had been able to draw on resources built up for the Cold War.

As the Army began withdrawing from Iraq after DESERT STORM, the drawdown of U.S. military forces—no longer needed for the Cold War—began in earnest. For INSCOM, the most noticeable cutbacks occurred in Europe where, by 1995, it closed three major field stations—Berlin, Augsburg, and Sinop—and downsized the 66th MI Brigade to a provisional group. Reductions were not, however, limited to Europe. In 1997, the Army inactivated the 470th MI Brigade and reduced the 500th MI Brigade to group status. Earlier, INSCOM had transferred most of its HUMINT assets to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

In the midst of these reductions, it quickly became apparent that the post-Cold War world would hold unforeseen and, perhaps, unforeseeable dangers. Throughout the 1990s, INSCOM was called to support peacekeeping, stability, counter-drug, and humanitarian operations in the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans. As the 20th century drew to a close, new menaces arose in the form of terrorism and cyber warfare. The reduction of resources and redefinition of missions meant that INSCOM experienced its greatest reorganization since its establishment.

To respond more effectively to the regional crises of varying sizes, INSCOM reorganized its assets. INSCOM merged the Army’s intelligence production agencies together to form the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC). The center’s capabilities were improved when it moved into its new headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia. INSCOM also became the executive agent for two mission sites with cutting-edge technology in Bad Aibling, Germany (under the 718th MI Group) and Menwith Hill, United Kingdom (under the 713th MI Group). At Fort Gordon, Georgia, INSCOM set up a Regional Security Operations Center (RSOC) comprised of personnel from the newly organized 702d MI Group (later redesignated the 116th MI Group). The 513th MI Brigade, the command’s rapid response unit, moved to Fort Gordon in 1994 and co-located with the RSOC, allowing the theater brigade personnel to take part in national missions. Finally, INSCOM established the Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA), a completely new type of unit that defended the Army’s automated communications and data systems from intrusion.

The efficiencies gained by these reorganizations were crucial in allowing INSCOM to effectively coordinate the movement of intelligence specialists from its units worldwide and deploy them where needed. Instead of simply operating at echelons above corps, INSCOM began to provide a seamless connectivity between national-level agencies and tactical units in the field. To strengthen this connectivity, it developed intelligence cells, called Corps Military Intelligence Support Elements, to provide direct and dedicated support to commanders in the field.

Improvements in automation and dedicated intelligence communications gave INSCOM unprecedented connectivity with its subordinate units when deployed. The forward-deployed intelligence assets reached back and exploited databases and other intelligence located in the United States, Europe, or other secure areas. As INSCOM reduced its physical presence around the globe, it found itself working even more closely with the overall intelligence community and with the Army’s own tactical intelligence assets.

The attacks of 11 September 2001 demonstrated in no uncertain terms that the United States faced a new kind of threat: a complex network of international terrorists, who transcended national borders and military areas of responsibility. This new Global War on Terrorism demanded a truly global intelligence effort. Consequently, INSCOM, with its ability to draw on soldiers and information around the world, necessarily played a major role in this new conflict.

In response to the attacks, the U.S. and its allies launched Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) in Afghanistan. To support the deployments, INSCOM units sent CI and Force Protection teams to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. It later sent specialized CI teams to support OEF forces in the Philippines.

The scope of combat expanded in March 2003 when U.S.-led forces began Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). The 513th MI Brigade once again found itself at the center of INSCOM’s support to the warfighter. The brigade successfully executed split-based operations when its main body deployed in Camp Doha, Kuwait and elements of its headquarters and subordinate battalions remained at Fort Gordon. In Kuwait, the brigade manned joint intelligence centers to produce fused intelligence for ground force commanders as well as providing critical force protection. In the end, the 513th MI Brigade’s deployed strength exceeded 2,200 personnel.

To support the ongoing campaigns from the United States, INSCOM’s NGIC sent customized intelligence products to the field. Of particular note, it worked on counter-improvised explosive device (IED) techniques and technologies. To use these new techniques, NGIC’s 203d MI Battalion trained and equipped Weapons Intelligence Teams (WITs) to gather intelligence on IEDs and their makers. Meanwhile, the 704th MI Brigade’s Meade Operations Center trained and deployed SIGINT terminal guidance teams to directly support brigade combat teams with critical targeting information. At Fort Gordon, the 116th MI Group (later designated 706th MI Group) provided direct support to units in Southwest Asia. Furthermore, INSCOM acted as the executive agent for contracting linguists, providing interpreters and translators proficient in over 30 languages worldwide.

Moreover, INSCOM fielded the first battalions—the 201st MI and the 14th MI—specifically designed to operate within a joint interrogation and debriefing center (JIDC). These two battalions were to deploy and re-deploy in Iraqi and Afghanistan. To ensure that the interrogation battalions would be prepared to work in a JIDC, INSCOM established the INSCOM Detention Training Facility (IDTF) under the 470th MI Brigade to train the Army’s interrogation battalions in JIDC operations.

INSCOM accelerated ongoing efforts for restructuring the command into an operational headquarters. It sought to improve synergy and integration among INSCOM units to better support the forward deployed units. At INSCOM headquarters, the Information Dominance Center (IDC) became one of the primary instruments for this synchronization.

The IDC fused all kinds of intelligence focused on terrorist activity, making INSCOM the Army’s critical information conduit to leverage national, theater, and tactical reporting and create actionable intelligence that could be funneled to the commanders in near real time. The technology and capabilities were field tested with the 501st MI Brigade in South Korea and eventually fielded to Iraqi as Joint Intelligence Operations Capability—Iraq (JIOC-I). Later, the capability would become part of the Distributed Common Ground System—Army (DCGS-A) program of record.

For the sustained, global war, INSCOM marshaled its resources. Besides providing individual soldiers and teams to reinforce both Afghanistan and Iraq, the other INSCOM theater brigades and groups tracked terrorist activities in their areas and established new priorities to better support worldwide operations. In 2010, the 470th MI and 500th MI Groups were reorganized into theater brigades for U.S. Army South and U.S. Army Pacific. Then, in 2016, the 207th MI Brigade joined INSCOM as the theater brigade for U.S. Army Africa. INSCOM now had theater MI brigades for every major theater of operations.

To these theater MI brigades, INSCOM added an array of single-discipline or functional units. General CI support for the Army remained with the stalwart 902d MI Group. To provide the same kind of support on the HUMINT side, INSCOM established the Army Operations Group for collection and the G2-X staff element for policy. Furthermore, INSCOM activated the 116th MI Brigade as the Army’s primary MI aviation organization, allowing for more efficient use of the low-density, but high-demand aerial assets. To reach into the cyber domain, INSCOM activated the 780th MI Brigade.

History in the Hallways

Remember Our Fallen

The ASA Memorial was officially dedicated on 9 May 1969 at Arlington Hall Station, Va. and moved to Fort Belvoir, Va. in 1989. The memorial is a nine-foot-tall Georgia granite base upon which is mounted the seal of the ASA and the names of 37 men who lost their lives in combat while supporting their units. Atop the base is a four-foot-tall Italian marble statue depicting an ASA noncommissioned officer “calling in” an intelligence report. The soldiers memorialized served in campaigns including the Korean War, Dominican Republic intervention, and Vietnam War.

Names on ASA Memorial

PFC Jay R. Stoner – 11 Jul 53 – 304th ASA Bn
SP4 James T. Davis – 22 Dec 61 – 3rd RRU
PFC Donald R. Taylor – 9 Feb 64 – 3rd RRU
SP4 Arthur W. Glover – 9 Feb 64 – 3rd RRU
2LT George P. Samples – 13 May 65 – 313th ASA Bn
SP5 Timothy F. Powell – 13 May 65 – 313th ASA Bn
SSG Robert F. Townsend – 4 Nov 65 – 371st RR Co
SSG Donald D. Daugherty – 13 Apr 66 – 3rd RRU
CPT James D. Stallings – 25 Sep 66 – 337th RR Co
1LT John F. Cochrane – 24 Oct 66 – 409th RR Det
SFC John F. Stirling – 8 Mar 67 – 335th RR Co
SFC Robert D. Taylor – 26 Nov 67 – 335th RR Co
SGT Diego Ramirez, Jr. – 26 Nov 67 – 335th RR Co
SP5 Michael P. Brown – 26 Nov 67 – 335th RR Co
CPT John M Casey – 25 Mar 68 – 371st RR Co
SP4 Christopher J. Schramm – 13 May 68 – 371st RR Co
SP4 Jeffrey W. Haerle – 13 May 68 – FS Okinawa
SP5 Samuel C. Martin – 17 May 68 – 101st RR Co
SGT Thomas J. Tomczak – 23 Jul 68 – 403rd RR Det
SP5 Harold D. Biller – 25 Feb 69 – 175th RR Co
SP5 Harry J. Colon – 21 Jun 69 – 409th RR Det
SP4 James R. Smith – 29 Nov 69 – 371st RR Co
PFC Henry N. Heide II – 29 Nov 69 – 371st RR Co
SP4 Robert E. Dew – 30 Aug 70 – 330th RR Co
SP5 Carl H. Caccia – 21 Feb 71 – 404th RR Det
SP5 Robert J. Thelen – 21 Feb 71 – 404th RR Det
SP5 Robert J. Potts – 21 Feb 71 – 404th RR Det
SP5 Mitchell B. Smith – 21 Feb 71 – 404th RR Det
SP5 Gary C. David – 1 Mar 71 – 371st RR Co
SP4 Frank A. Sablan – 1 Mar 71 – 371st RR Co
CPT Michael W. Marker – 4 Mar 71 – 138th Avn Co
WO1 Harold L. Algaard – 4 Mar 71 – 138th Avn Co
SP5 Richard J. Hentz – 4 Mar 71 – 138th Avn Co
SP5 Rodney D. Osborne – 4 Mar 71 – 138th Avn Co
SP6 John T. Strawn – 4 Mar 71 – 138th Avn Co
SP5 Gary P. Westcott – 30 Mar 72 – 8th RR FS
SP4 Bruce A. Crosby, Jr. – 30 Mar 72 – 8th RR FS

In the late 1990s, the INSCOM leadership decided to erect a separate memorial for INSCOM soldiers who had lost their lives as part of the command. It was dedicated on Memorial Day, 26 May 1998 in front of the Nolan Building on Fort Belvoir. Initially, the memorial consisted of a single black marble monument with two additional steles added in 2008 to accommodate additional names. Today, the INSCOM Memorial honors 30 comrades who have fallen during the Cold War and in operations in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Names on INSCOM Memorial

CW4 Robert L. Collins – 22 Sep 86 – 470th MI Bde
CW4 Richard W. Stein – 22 Sep 86 – 470th MI Bde
MAJ Charles D. McKee – 21 Dec 88 – SCD
CW4 Gaylord M. Bishop – 1 Dec 89 – 470th MI Bde
CW4 Howard E. Morton – 1 Dec 89 – 470th MI Bde
SPC Peter R. Rivera – 1 Dec 89 – 470th MI Bde
PFC Mark C. Elkins – 1 Dec 89 – 470th MI Bde
SPC Jeremy Brown – 15 Jul 97 – 203d MI Bn
CPT Jennifer J. Odom – 23 Jul 99 – 204th MI Bn
CPT Jose A. Santiago – 23 Jul 99 – 204th MI Bn
CW2 Thomas G. Moore – 23 Jul 99 – 204th MI Bn
SPC T. Bruce Cluff – 23 Jul 99 – 204th MI Bn
SPC Ray E. Krueger II – 23 Jul 99 – 204th MI Bn
SFC Christopher R. Willoughby – 20 Jul 03 – 513th MI Bde
SSG Richard S. Eaton, Jr. – 12 Aug 03 – 513th MI Bde
SGT D. Travis Friedrich – 20 Sep 03 – 513th MI Bde
CW2 Christopher G. Nason – 23 Nov 03 – 513th MI Bde
SGT Cari Ann Gasiewicz – 4 Dec 04 – 513th MI Bde
SGM Robert D. Odell – 21 Dec 04 – SCD
SGT Roberto Arizola, Jr. – 8 Jun 05 – 513th MI Bde
SGT Myla L. Maravillosa – 24 Dec 05 – Wpns Intel Tm
SSG Darren P. Harmon – 3 Jun 06 – Wpns Intel Tm
MSgt Brad A. Clemmons – 21 Aug 06 – Wpns Intel Tm
SGT Keith E. Fiscus – 2 Dec 06 – Wpns Intel Tm
Capt Kermit O. Evans – 3 Dec 06 – Wpns Intel Tm
SGT Taurean T. Harris – 2 Aug 07 – 513th MI Bde
SSG Jason A. Reeves – 5 Dec 10 – 66th MI Bde
SPC Joshua N. Nelson – 16 Sep 12 – 513th MI Bde
CW3 Andrew L. McAdams – 10 Jan 14 – 306th MI Bn
SGT Drew M. Scobie - 10 Jan 14 – 306th MI Bn