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US Air Force Security Service History 

1950's Source

1950 - The USAFSS concept and plan for production of tactical area intelligence was approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Vice Chief of Staff, USAF, in April 1950.
Sergeant Christena Ogle, the first Women’s Air Force (WAF) to join USAFSS, was assigned to the Command on 2 April 1950 for duty in the Directorate of Security. Major Corinne E. Edwards became the Command’s first WAF officer on 1 May 1950 and was assigned as the Assistant Adjutant General. In May 1950, USAFSS attempted to get the Director of Intelligence at HQ USAF to support the publication of an Air Force regulation which would specify that USAFSS was responsible for the production of Intelligence of interest to the Air Force and that the USAFSS units would be attached to the air commanders to meet tactical intelligence requirements. (Such a regulation was never published.) In June 1950, the Airways and Air Communications Service (later the Air Force Communications Command) transferred to USAFSS the responsibility for service testing USAF cryptological equipment, systems, and devices. Airways and Air Communications Service also transferred the personnel and spaces authorized to perform this function. The USAFSS Flight Section was organized on 1 September 1950 with the assignment of three administrative aircraft — two C-47s and one B-25 — and nine personnel. In November 1950, USAFSS established a detachment at Pyongyang, Korea (Detachment C, 1st Radio Squadron, Mobile), to provide support to USAF organizations engaged in the Korean War.

Personnel of the Headquarters USAFSS Operations Production Division, Brooks AFB, prepare a map depicting the Eurasian landmass, 1950. 1951 - USAFSS gained its first units above squadron level with the activation of the 6910th Security Group at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, on 23 May 1951 and the 6920th Security Group at Johnson AB, Japan, on 1 September 1951. The 6910th Security Group was moved to Germany in July 1951 with the Group Headquarters going to Wiesbaden and Group Operations going to Darmstadt. Brigadier General (later Lieutenant General) Roy H. Lynn, who served as the first USAFSS Commander, returned as the organization’s third commander effective 22 February 1951. There were two incidents in 1951 in which support provided by USAFSS units in Korea resulted in major U.S. air victories. The most significant of the two occurred on 29 November 1951 when a small USAFSS detachment provided 5th Air Force with tactical support concerning the North Korean Air Force which contributed directly to the largest single U.S. air victory of the war up to that point. In a single air-to-air engagement, F-86s from the USAF fighter wing at Inchon shot down eleven North Korean aircraft and damaged four more. The U.S. sustained only one slightly damaged F-86. These incidents were aptly termed “turkey shoots” by U.S. pilots. USAFSS senior commanders pose with world renowed cyrptologist William Friedman (in suit, third from left) at Landsberg Air Base, Germany, 23 November 1951. (Photo courtesy of Brig. Gen. Hetherington, Ret.) USAFSS provided Intelligence support at the Kaesong truce meetings which began on 10 July 1951 and dragged on for more than two years until a truce was signed on 27 July 1953. During those two years, intelligence was provided to Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, who headed the U. S. delegation to the conference. The first Annual USAFSS Commanders’ Conference was held at USAFSS headquarters from 12-16 November 1951. 1952 - On 24 October 1952, National Security Council Directive No. 9 was revised. It redesignated the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) as the National Security Agency (NSA), delegated control of resources of the Department of Defense (DoD) to the Director of NSA (DIRNSA), designated DoD as the executive agent of the Government for SIGINT information, and authorized DIRNSA to delegate control for close support purposes.

Intelligence operators of the 37th Radio Squadron Mobile, RAF Station, Kirknewton, Scotland In March 1952, HQ USAF consolidated the Security Service Liaison Office and the major command (MAJCOM) Special Security Office activities into an Air Force Special Security Office system. The responsibility for the development and operation of the Air Force Special Security Office System was delegated to USAFSS in April 1952. At the time, the consolidated system consisted of nineteen authorized offices worldwide. The USAFSS emblem was approved in August 1952 after a command-wide contest to select a winning entry. It was designed by Airman Second Class William Rogers. The motto, Freedom Through Vigilance, was adopted in January 1964. The United States Air Force Security Service flew its first Airborne Reconnaissance Program test mission in the Pacific on 18 April 1952 using a converted B-29 aircraft. The aircraft was later sent to Europe for additional testing before commencing regular operational missions in the Pacific in March 1954. The United States Air Force Security Service reorganized to operate with the procedural functions, authorities, and responsibilities of a major Air Force command, which it had been since its activation on 20 October 1948, but within policy constraints required by tri-service relationships.

1953 - Brigadier General (later Major General) Harold H. Bassett replaced Major General Roy H. Lynn as Commander effective 14 February 1953. On 1 July 1953, the 6901st Special Communications Center was activated at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, to perform the operational functions previously handled by the Analysis and Disseminations Divisions, Deputy Chief of Staff/ Operations, HQ USAFSS. Simultaneous with establishment of the 6901st Special Communications Center on 1 July 1953, the Air Force Communications Security Center was established to take over the communications security operational functions of DCS/Operations. Two USAFSS airmen — Staff Sergeant Donald G. Hill and Air Second Class Earl W. Radlein, Jr. — were presumed killed on 29 July 1953 when the RB-50G-2 aircraft of the 343d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron on which they were serving was shot down off the Soviet coast near Vladivostok. This marked the first loss of USAFSS airborne operators as a result of hostile action. Headquarters USAFSS closed out operations at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, effective 31 July 1953 and began operations from its new headquarters building at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. A C-47 “Bluesky” Aircraft. Manned by USAFSS crews the platform began experimental collection operations over Korea in early 1953.

The move into the newly constructed Headquarters building at Kelly Air Force Base was accomplished during the first week in August 1953. On 8 August 1953, the 6901st Special Communications Center was moved from Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, to “Security Hill” at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, and renamed the Air Force Special Communications Center. Initially, the mission of the Air Force Special Communications Center was: (1) producing and disseminating long-term intelligence data; (2) operating the USAFSS School for training intelligence specialists; (3) providing technical guidance and operational assistance to USAFSS field units; (4) assisting the USAFSS Deputy Chief of Staff/Operations to develop and test operational procedures and techniques for implementing the USAFSS program for providin intelligence support for the Air Force; and (5) directing and monitoring operation of the Special Security Office system. The 6900th Security Wing was activated at Landsberg Air Base, Germany, on 1 August 1953 as an intermediate Headquarters (numbered Air Force equivalent) to plan, coordinate, and direct the activities of all USAFSS units in Europe. The 6920th Security Group at Johnson Air Base, Japan, provided the same support to USAFSS units in the Pacific. The USAFSS School was activated at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, on 1 August 1953 and placed under the operational control of the Air Force Special Communications Center. One of the major functions of the school was to train personnel in intelligence duties.

1954 - In March 1954, USAFSS initiated a new concept in reconnaissance collection by implementing its Airborne Reconnaissance Program effort. One RB-29 began flying missions in the Far East in April 1954. This was the only aircraft, Airmen assigned to the 6920th Security Group, Johnson, Air Base, Japan repair radios--1953. which USAFSS already had jurisdiction over, engaged in the Airborne Reconnaissance Program effort at that time; however, USAFSS had personnel serving as operators aboard 343d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron RB-50G ECM aircraft. In March 1954, the USAFSS Commander submitted tentative plans for expansion of processing activities at the squadron level and for direct reporting to the using commands. In June 1954, the point of analysis and reporting concept was implemented on a test basis at the 6901st Special Communications Center in Europe (Germany) and the 6902d Special Communications Center in the Pacific (Japan). In late August 1954, the point of intercept analysis and reporting concept was approved. The objective was to facilitate a direct and timely response to the requirements of military commands and other organizations receiving intelligence support. By the end of 1954, the technical training function and oversight of the Special Security Office system had been transferred from the Air Force Special Communications Center to HQ USAFSS.

1955 - USAFSS deployed the 6926th Radio Squadron, Mobile, to Japan to participate in Project GRAYBACK.

1956 - The USAFSS developed a new concept of mobile operations to satisfy increased tasking for tactical support during contingencies. The first deployment came in January 1957 in response to the unstable situation in the Middle-East in late 1956 and early 1957. The Air Force Communications Security Center was deactivated on 1 July 1956 and its personnel and communications security monitoring, reporting and management mission became a part of the Air Force Special Communications Center. This change reflected an effort to decrease management overhead.

1957 - RB-50 aircraft were assigned to the Airborne Reconnaissance Program. There were five RB-50s in Europe and five in the Pacific. Major General (later Lieutenant General) Gordon A. Blake replaced Major General H. H. Bassett as Commander effective 4 January 1957. The USAFSS School was moved from Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, to March Air Force Base, California, on 1 July 1957.

1958 - A major milestone in the history of USAFSS occurred on 1 July 1958 when the command assumed control of several bases throughout the world where its units had previously been tenants. Included were: Misawa Air Base, Japan; San Vito Air Station (AS), Italy; Iraklion AS, Crete; Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Chicksands, United Kingdom; Karamursel AS, Turkey, Wakkanai AS, Japan; and Shu Lin Kou AS, Taiwan. Later that year, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, was added to the list. Through coordination with Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) in early 1958, USAFSS increased its airborne capability in Korea by adding three more C-47s to the Blue Sky effort, for a total of four platforms. Each C-47 staged from Osan AB, Korea. They flew an average of 60 hours each month. During 1960, the project name was changed from Blue Sky to Rose Bowl. This “primitive,” but effective, Airborne Reconnaissance Program operation continued into 1962 when the C-130s staging from Yokota AB, Japan, were able to provide the necessary support of Korea and the C-47s were phased out. C-130s were sent to Europe to replace the RB-50s in the Airborne Reconnaissance Program effort. The first two arrived in Germany during July 1958. The USAFSS School was moved from March Air Force Base, California, to Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, on 15 October 1958. The 6920th Security Wing (later redesignated HQ Pacific Air Forces Security Region) was moved from Shiroi Air Base, Japan, to Wheeler Air Force Base, Hawaii, on 1 November 1958. On 26 August 1958, USAFSS sent a unit to Taiwan to augment the 6987th Radio Squadron, Mobile located at Shu Lin Kou Air Station, Taiwan, due to the increased tension in the Taiwan Straits created by the Chinese shelling of Quemoy. Soviet fighters shot down a C-130 Airborne Reconnaissance Program aircraft on 2 September 1958 when it strayed off-course over Soviet Armenia. All crew members were assumed killed, including 11 USAFSS personnel. A B-50 Superfortress, also used by USAFSS as a reconnaissance platform.

1959 - The replacement of RB-50s in Europe was completed in July 1959 with arrival of the eighth C-130. The European RB-50s were moved to the Pacific, giving that area nine RB-50 Airborne Reconnaissance Program aircraft. The transfer of bases to USAFSS under the “Integrated Command Concept” was completed on 1 July 1959 with the transfer of Wakkanai Air Station, Japan, and Shu Lin Kou Air Station, Taiwan.
The United States Air Force Security Service first became involved in the war in Southeast Asia in August 1959 when national intelligence authorities tasked the command to make maximum effort to provide intelligence relating to North Vietnamese or Laotian rebel movements. Existing USAFSS units were not in the most favorable geographical locations to obtain such information; therefore, in the spring of 1960, USAFSS sent a small team to Bangkok, Thailand.

1960's Source

Major General Millard Lewis assumed command of USAFSS effective 21 September 1959, replacing Major General Gordon A. Blake who was reassigned to HQ Pacific Air Forces as Chief of Staff effective 5 August 1959. 1960. The 6917th Radio Squadron, Mobile, became the first USAFSS unit in Italy when it was activated at San Vito on 1 November 1960.

1961 - As the tempo of the Vietnam War increased, USAFSS became involved in a program which eventually became known as the Airborne Radio Direction Finding program. That year, General Curtis E. LeMay, Air Force Chief of Staff, ordered several experimental aircraft, equipped with radio homing equipment, into Southeast Asia.

1962 - In December 1961, PACAF asked USAFSS to send an Emergency Reaction Unit to Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, to support a Tactical Air Control System that was being set up there. USAFSS deployed the unit in early 1962. Intelligence processed by the USAFSS Airborne Reconnaissance Program provided the first significant intelligence data concerning the extent of Soviet involvement in Cuba. The United States Air Force Security Service deployed an Emergency Reaction Unit (ERU) to Key West, Florida, to provide tactical support. Also, the command increased its Cuban Airborne Reconnaissance Program coverage from one to three aircraft. Strategic Air Command operated RC-135 aircraft began flying reconnaissance missions in the Arctic. Major General (later Lieutenant General) Richard P. Klocko assumed command of USAFSS effective 1 September 1962, replacing Major General Millard Lewis who retired from active duty.

1963 - USAFSS activated three Emergency Reaction Units, the 6948th Security Squadron, Mobile, at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas; the 6926th Security Squadron, Mobile, at Clark AB, the Philippines; and the 6911th Security Squadron, Mobile, at Darmstadt, Germany. The following USAFSS communications functions were transferred to AFCS: (1) operation and maintenance of the Critical Communications relay stations; (2) operation and maintenance of terminal station technical control; and (3) terminal station maintenance. In response to the Air Force problem of how to reduce or eliminate intermediate echelons and separate units, USAFSS initiated the “Operational Wing Concept.” Under this concept, the mission unit was discontinued and a support squadron was organized. The functions of the mission unit were absorbed into the wing structure. The concept was implemented in Europe late in 1963 and in the Pacific in 1964.

1964 - The motto “Freedom Through Vigilance” was adopted in January 1964.

The Operational Wing Concept was implemented in the Pacific. In early 1964, the USAFSS commander, Major General Richard P. Klocko, asked the Air Staff and the Strategic Air Command to support the addition of six RC-135s to the airborne effort.

1965 - In June 1965, after many months of intense negotiations, the Office of the Secretary of Defense approved the addition of six RC-135s to the airborne effort. But even then, a debate arose over where to base the RC-135s, and it took 18 more months of negotiations before a base of operations was finally selected. With the air war in Vietnam heating up, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines, as well as Da Nang, South Vietnam, and Kadena, Okinawa, were all considered. On 26 March 1965, USAF headquarters issued instructions to USAFSS to transfer all Air Force Special Security Officer functions to the using commands effective 1 July 1965. This resulted in the transfer of 811 USAFSS personnel at some 50 locations around the world to the consumer commands. The Gold Flow problem, an Air Force-wide program to reduce overseas manning, resulted in the reduction of 302 USAFSS personnel overseas. The loss of an RB-57 over the Black Sea on 15 December 1965 resulted in a Government of Turkey ban on Airborne Reconnaissance Program flights from their country. The RB-57 was one of two aircraft in the Little Cloud project which were manned and maintained by the Pakistan Air Force at Peshawar. United States Air Force Security Service Airborne Reconnaissance Program missions in Southeast Asia increased from one to two daily, using four RC-130s instead of two. The first AN/FLR-9 systems became operational — at Misawa Air Base, Japan, in March 1965 and Clark Air Base, the Philippines, in April 1965.

United States Air Force Security Service Airborne Reconnaissance Program aircraft (C-130s) began participating in tactical operations in Southeast Asia, supporting both USAF and Navy strike forces by providing alert warnings. This was the first time the command became involved in a regular program of providing tactical support to combat operations. The USAFSS Airborne Reconnaissance Program unit in the Pacific area performed the command’s first airborne transmission security monitoring mission on a test basis. On 28 September 1965, the Air Force Chief of Staff approved the release of communication security violators’ names in transmission security reports. This was a first in transmissions security reporting. The approval granted release of names down to division level. Major General Louis E. Coira assumed command of USAFSS effective 16 October 1965, replacing Major General Richard P. Klocko who was reassigned as commander of the Air Force Communications Service.

1966 - The USAF Airborne Radio Direction Finding Program was nicknamed Phyllis Ann. The first Phyllis Ann EC- 47 Airborne Radio Direction Finding Program aircraft arrived at Tan Son Nhut, Air Base, Vietnam, in April 1966 for use by the newly activated 6994th Security Squadron. The first AN/FLR-12 antenna system became operational. In 1966, Office of the Secretary of Defense requested USAF to provide an objective evaluation of its electronic warfare system effectiveness. Later that year, the Chief of Staff, USAF, directed the establishment of an Electronic Warfare evaluation function in USAFSS. CSAF assigned this task to USAFSS because: (1) USAFSS was a disinterested command — it neither built nor operated electronic warfare systems; (2) USAFSS had the necessary core skills; (3) it had access to the critically needed intelligence data; and (4) it had a close working relationship with NSA as the Air Force component of the service’s cryptologic system. The task was to assess the effectiveness of protective electronic countermeasures employed by U.S. aircraft during air strikes against North Vietnam.

United States Air Force Security Service Airborne Reconnaissance Program units began performing airborne transmissions security monitoring on a time available, non-interfering basis. In consonance with a USAF program to increase the use of women in the Air Force, USAFSS assigned women to its units in Karamursel, Turkey; Iraklion, Crete; Chicksands, United Kingdom; Misawa, Japan; and Shu Lin Kou, Taiwan; as well as at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, and Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. This was the first time enlisted women were assigned to USAFSS operational sites overseas. On 16 January 1967 the Air Force Special Communications Center established a 24-hour/7-day per week function to provide direct support to any agency needing information. This data base was the culmination of several years of developmental effort by the Center. It proved increasingly valuable in permitting rapid response to complex queries for technical and intelligence data. The 6990th Security Squadron was organized at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, to receive the six RC-135 aircraft assigned to the Pacific Airborne Reconnaissance Program effort. The first RC-135 Airborne Reconnaissance Program mission, named Combat Apple, was flown on 12 September 1967. The Iron Horse system was put into operation at Da Nang AB (6924th Security Squadron) and Monkey Mountain, South Vietnam.

In 1967, USAFSS assigned its new electronic warfare evaluation mission to the Air Force Special Communications Center (later AF Information Warfare Center) at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. The USAFSS assigned the mission to the Air Force Special Communications Center because the Center had a cadre of experienced analysts. In addition, the Center’s analytic task was phasing down which made the necessary office space available. This new mission was the first major change in the command’s mission in many years. The initial evaluations were disseminated electrically in Comfy Coat reports. Later, the effort was expanded to cover evaluation of Navy and ground electronic warfare, and Army, Navy, and Marine personnel were assigned to the Air Force Special Communications Center. As the years passed, general usage of the term Comfy Coat came to mean all operational electronic warfare effectiveness evaluations being conducted by the Air Force Special Communications Center.

1968 - The Government of Pakistan refused to renew the lease for the USAFSS site at Peshawar (6937th Communications Group). The unit closed by the end of 1969. The 6990th Security Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, won the Travis Trophy for its highly significant contributions toward the fulfillment of both national and tactical cryptologic objectives.

1969 - The Department of Defense decided to reduce forces in Turkey and realign the intelligence posture there. This realignment caused the subsequent closure of the USAFSS sites at Trabzon and Samsun and the establishment of a USAFSS squadron (6934th Security Squadron) at Sinop. Operations site of the 6924th Security Squadron, Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1966.

The 6994th Security Squadron, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam, received the Travis Trophy for outstanding contributions to the cryptologic efforts of the U.S. Major General Carl W. Stapleton replaced Major General Louis E. Coira as commander effective 19 July 1969.

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Prepared in  2004 Revised 2005  by David Ullian Larson        eMail