U.S. ARMY SPECIAL SECURITY GROUP HISTORY

Although the U.S. Army Special Security Group traces its organizational origins as a separate TDA unit to the establishment of Detachment MIOAC of S.G2 on 15 May 1950 in Washington, D.C., the group's mission dates to World War II. After the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor, Secretary of War Stimson recognized the need to exploit and protect the "MAGIC" intercept material being produced by the Signal Intelligence Service from the Japanese diplomatic code traffic. Secretary Stimson turned to Mr. Alfred McCormack, a prominent New York lawyer of the day, to investigate signal intelligence operations to ensure that they met the requirements of the war effort and that they were exploited to their maximum possibilities.

During the course of his investigation, Mr. McCormack came in contact with Colonel (later Brigadier General) Carter W. Clarke. The two presented their recommendations to the AC of S. G2, who agreed with the findings. Consequently, a section of the Far Eastern Branch of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), the operating arm of AC of S. G2, was made the Special Service Branch (soon renamed the Special Branch) in May 1942. (During the early days of the war, the Far Eastern Branch had prepared the initial intelligence summaries derived from intercepted traffic.) Colonel Clarke was designated the Special Service Branch's chief, and Mr. McCormack was commissioned with the rank of colonel and became deputy chief. By the end of July, the branch had succeeded in assembling 20 officers, one enlisted man, and 18 civilians. Because of numerous personnel restrictions, the total rose to only 28 officers and 55 civilians by March 1943.

In April 1943, Colonel McCormack, accompanied by Colonel Telford Taylor of the Military Intelligence Service and Mr. William Friedman, the famed cryptologist of the Signal Security Agency, went to England and made a two-month survey of British signal intelligence operations. As a result, the Special Service Branch adopted many of the operational principles established by the British for the handling of "ULTRA" material, the code name given for signal intelligence derived by breaking the German high level machine produced ciphers.

In the fall of 1943, approval was obtained to establish a system of MIS special security representatives to serve field commanders in the dissemination and interpretation of MAGIC/ULTRA. By the end of the year, special security officers had been attached to the three major U.S. commands in the Pacific.

By June 1944, the staff of Special Branch had attained a strength of 382.This made the branch larger than all the other intelligence production elements within MIS put together. Because there was a great duplication of effort and the remainder of MIS was producing intelligence reports without the benefit of signal intelligence material, it was decided in June that the Special Branch would be discontinued and its functions absorbed into a homogeneous MIS. The "special security" functions remained within MIS until May 1946, at which time the MIS was discontinued and its operating functions were merged with the Military Intelligence Division, which had formerly served as the staff arm of AC of S. G2.

On 15 May 1950, the "special security" responsibilities located world wide were brought together for the first time in a separate TDA organization with the establishment of Detachment M, OAC of S. G2 in Washington, D.C. Detachment M served as a field detachment under the AC of S. G2. For its personnel's contributions during the Korean War, elements of the detachment received the Meritorious Unit Commendation (30 July 1950 to 27 July 1953) and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

Over the years, the organization was successively redesignated the following: the Special Security Detachment, ACSI on 15 June 1960 and the Special Security Group, ACSI on 1 October 1967. In 1960, the organizational charter was expanded to include control and distribution of all-source intelligence data. For its contributions during the Vietnam War, elements of the group within Vietnam received two Meritorious Unit Citations, a Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and a Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal.

As a result of the Intelligence Organization and Stationing Study, implemented in 1976, the Special Security Office (SSO) system was divided into two separate and distinct components: SSO's supporting activities at echelons above corps (EAC) and those supporting units at corps and below. The former remained a part of the Special Security Group while the later, called tactical SSO's, became organic to the supported units and fell under the command and control of the tactical command. Additionally, IOSS gave the Army Communications Command responsibility for the communications functions previously performed by the SSO's.

In an effort to centralize Special Compartmented Intelligence operations, the Vice Chief of Staff U.S. Army directed the transfer of the U.S. Army Special Security Group from OACSI to HQ INSCOM effective 1 October 1980. In January l985, the unit moved from the Pentagon to Arlington Hall Station, Virginia.

A major mission change for the US Army Special Security Group was formalized on 29 February 1989 when the DCSINT approved a planning memorandum for the eventual decentralization of the SSO system.  A second change in stations occurred on 15 June 1989 as a result of the pending closure of Arlington Hall Station, the SSG was relocated to Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.  On 30 October 1992, the US Army Special Security Group was transferred from HQ INSCOM to the 902d MI Group.  In preparation for realignment as the 902d's third counterintelligence battalion, the SSG transferred all special security functions except contractor support to other agencies or non-INSCOM Army elements.  On 1 October 1994, the USA Special Security Group was redesignated as the USA Counterintelligence Support Battalion and assumed the mission of providing CI support and protecting US forces, technologies and formation from foreign intelligence threats.  On 1 Dec 1995, the battalion was again redesignated as the 716th MI Battalion, which was discontinued on 4 June 1999.  So the SSG that had been in existence since 1955 and whose functions can be traced back to WWII was for all intends and purposes ended on 30 October 1992. 

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