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A SHORT HISTORY OF THE ARMY SECURITY AGENCY
(From the 1970 ASA Enlistment Brochure)

The United States Army Security Agency is a relatively young organization within the Department othe Army. The functions of the Agency, however, are as ancient as warfare itself and have long been associated, in one form or another,with our nation's military establishment.

The earliest identification of Signal Intelligence in modern warfare is found in two organizations which were created shortly afterthe entry of the United States into World War I. The first of these, the Cipher bureau of the Military intelligence Division, was formed at the Army War College in June 1917. The other organization was the Radio Intelligence Section, General Staff, American Expeditionary Force, which was made operational in France and opened its first intercept station at Souilly, France, in November 1917. Later, when transferred tothe control of Chief Signal Officer, AEF, a Goniometric Section, a Security Section, and a Code Compilation Section.

Radio intercept stations were maintained at intervals along the front, and there were listening stations for intercepting enemy telephone conversations. Position warfare aided the activities of these intercept units which continued operations until the end of the war.

In 1919 the Cipher Bureau of Military Intelligence Division moved to New York. Code and Cipher compilation was taken over by the Chief Signal Officer in August1921, restricting the Cipher Bureau to functions of solution. This Bureau, financedby secret funds supplied jointly by the Military Intelligence Division and the StateDepartment, was forced to close in 1929, when the State Department withdrew  its support. The remaining functions of the Bureau were transferred to the Signal Corps which set up a new organization to perform them. The new organization was designated Signal Intelligence Service, and was located in the MunitionsBuilding in Washington, D.C. The Military Intelligence Division continued to appropriate funds to help meet the expenses of this reorganized service.

The decade 1929-1939 was marked by reaction against the participation of the United States in world affairs and retenchment in all government agencies. The War Department was hard hit, and it was extrememly difficult under these conditions for the Signal Corps to obtain the necessary funds for expansion ofsignal intelligence activities.

However, the mounting European crisis of 1938, which culminated in Germany's invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, accelerated the planning being conducted by the Army for mobilization and expansion in event of an emergency. In these plans the Signal Intelligence Service had an important part; in fact, in the whole War Department establishment in Washington, this servicewas the first to be augmented in personnel, space, and facilities. 

The rapid increases in personnel that were being made soon brought about an overcrowding of the space allotted to the Signal Intelligence Service in the Munitions Building. Additional space was sought first in the Munitions Building, then in the Pentagon, and finally in nearby Virginia. This led, in June 1942, to purchase of Arlington Hall Station, a tract of land located just a few miles from the District of Columbia, which was to serve as headquarters for the Signal Intelligence Service. 

In order to perform its wartime signal intelligence and security missions in the Zone of Interior and in the various theaters of operation, it was necessary for the Signal Intelligence Service to greatly expand its fixed installations. As radio was used extensively by tactical units, it also became necessary to develop an organization to support Army field units.

 In July 1943, the Signal Intelligence Service was redesignated the Signal Security Agency. In December 1944 the Military Intelligence Service assumed operational control of the Agency, leaving the Signal Corps to carry on the administrative functions. This "dual control" lasted until 15 September 1945 when the Signal Security Agency was reorganized under the Assistant Chief of Staff, G2, WarDepartment, as the Army Security Agency .

With the end of World War II, a period of readjustment and reorganization began. There followed a steady depletion of Agency personnel which continued until the on set of hostilities in Korea in June 1950, when the trend was finaly reversed and wartime expansion begun.

In July 1949 the mutual cryptologic activities of the Army, Navy, and the Air Force were brought together into a single body, the Armed Forces Security Agency(AFSA) which was staffed by each of the services through components drawn from Army Security Agency, Air Force Security Service, and Naval Security Group. As a result of a study which had been ordered by the President, AFSA became the National Security Agency(NSA) in October 1952.

With the publication of AR 10-122, in June 1955, the funtions of the ASA were established essentially as they are at present. Today the United States Army Security Agency(USASA), is a major command under the Department of the Army. The Commanding General, USASA, is the advisor to the Chief of Staff, US Army, and to elements of the Army Staff on matters within their jurisdiction. He is the commander of a world-wide organization with direct control over thousands of persons at over 100 locations scattered over the face of the globe.

 

I want to Thank Steve Stewart  for his permission to copy this ASA History.

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