Signals Intelligence in The Cold War - US Movement To Centralization in SIGINT

US Movement To Centralization in SIGINT

The military services formed a "Joint Operating Plan" to cover 1946-1949, but this had its disadvantages. The situation became a good deal more complex with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947, which created a separate Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency, as well as unifying the military services under a Secretary of Defense. While the CIA remained primarily a consumer, the Air Force wanted its own SIGINT organization, responsive to its tactical and strategic needs, just as the Army and Navy often placed their needs beyond that of national intelligence. The Army Security Agency (ASA) had shared the national COMINT mission with the Navy's Communications Supplementary Activity (COMMSUPACT) - which became the Naval Security Group in June 1950. During and after World War II, a portion of Army COMINT assets was dedicated to support of the U.S. Army Air Corps, and, when the independent Air Force was created in 1947, these cryptologic assets were resubordinated to the new organization as the U.S. Air Force Security Service (AFSS).

Secretary of Defense James Forrestal rejected the early service COMINT unification plans. The Department of State objected to the next draft, which put the Central Intelligence Group/Central Intelligence Agency in charge of national COMINT. On 20 May 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson created the Armed Forces Security Agency.

To centralize common services, the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) as a national organisation was established by secret executive order in 1948. Still, until NSA was formed in 1952, AFSA did not have the authority for central control of individual service COMINT and COMSEC. Policy direction of COMINT came from the U.S. Communications Intelligence Board (USCIB) which, in April 1949, requested $22 million in funds, including 1,410 additional civilian employees, to expand the COMINT effort.

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