Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1973


Intelligence and Communications


During fiscal year 1973 there were a number of developments in the intelligence field concerning prisoner of war, attaché, organization, collection, investigation, automation, classification, documentary, and security matters.

On 27 January 1973, the Communists in Vietnam released a list of American prisoners of war. Fifteen days later seventeen of these were turned over to American authorities at Loc Ninh, Republic of Vietnam. Fifty-nine other Army men, including Major Floyd J. Thompson, who had been a prisoner of war longer than any other American in history, were released in Hanoi in three subsequent increments. One other prisoner of war, Captain Robert White, was released alone in the Mekong Delta on 1 April 1973, the last of seventy-seven Army prisoners returned to U.S. control.

In keeping with the joint repatriation operations plan, nicknamed Operation Homecoming, each released prisoner of war was evacuated to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for initial processing and intelligence debriefing. The purpose of this debriefing which, for Army personnel, was conducted by the 500th Military Intelligence Group, was to obtain information on missing and captured American personnel who were not being repatriated by the enemy. After a brief stay in the Philippines, returnees were evacuated by air to one of eight Army hospitals in the continental United States or Hawaii for medical treatment and detailed debriefing. Agents of the U.S. Army Intelligence Command, each selected and trained to debrief a specific individual, conducted detailed interviews of all Army returnees in the continental United States. Three Army men from the Pacific area were debriefed at Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii by members of the 500th Military Intelligence Group.

From information obtained through returnee debriefings, the Army resolved the status of a number of prisoners of war and missing-in-action personnel. Still there were 350 Army men missing in Southeast Asia as the year closed, and efforts to account for them continued, with the joint Casualty Resolution Center in Thailand particularly involved in the search.


Information acquired from the returned prisoners of war revealed much about Communist interrogation techniques and use of torture, deprivation, and psychological pressure to break the resistance of prisoners.

The project to purge the files of the U.S. Army Investigative Records Repository (USAIRR) of unauthorized materials was stepped up in fiscal year 1973. The monthly screening rate increased from approximately 50,000 files in September 1972 to 250,000 in May 1973. By the close of the fiscal year about 25 percent of the holdings had been screened, 57 percent of the files that were reviewed had been eliminated, and 4.2 million files remained to be reviewed. Prior to January 1973, the screening was performed by operational personnel of the USAIRR as an additional duty. In January 1973 fifty enlisted personnel were assigned full time to the project, and in May 1973 an additional seventy-five military personnel were authorized to begin work no later than July. The Intelligence Command expected to complete the screening by 15 March 1974.

Because of an urgent need to reduce the file holdings of the USAIRR before its move from Fort Holabird, Maryland, to Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, authority was requested of the Archivist of the United States to change the retention period for favorable Army personnel security investigations from thirty to fifteen years after the last action. As exceptions, files containing an adverse action against an individual would be retained permanently, and files of personnel who were being considered for employment with the Department of Defense, but who never joined, would be destroyed one year after completion. The request was approved on 26 April 1973, and the policy was implemented. As a result of this policy, the estimated file holdings of 6.7 million dossiers should be reduced by nearly 59 percent and substantial savings achieved in manpower, funds, and space.

Counterintelligence personnel from the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence visited thirteen commands during the fiscal year to insure that the instructions of June 1971, which restricted the collection of information about persons and organizations affiliated with the Department of Defense, were being observed. No violations or discrepancies were noted, and unit personnel at all levels were found to be fully aware of and observant of the policy.

Pursuant to the action to terminate area intelligence collection activities, the U.S. Army Field Activities Command was disestablished in November 1972 and its remaining responsibilities assumed by the 902d Military Intelligence Group.

Significant progress was made during the year on the Army's portion of the presidentially directed Records Declassification Program. Over 1,900 linear feet of pre-World War 11 and World War II intelligence


files were reviewed in detail by Reserve officers assigned for annual or active duty training. In this review initiated by the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence and The Adjutant General, each document had to be scrutinized to insure that confidential intelligence sources and sensitive intelligence methods would not be revealed through declassification. Nevertheless, approximately 98 percent of Defense-originated documents in the reviewed files were declassified.

The Adjutant General's permanent staff of declassification specialists, assisted by several consultants and Reserve officers assigned to four staff agencies for annual training, reviewed over 27,000 linear feet of nonintelligence records and declassified over 22,000 linear feet in bulk. The balance was reviewed on a paper-by-paper basis. To date, very few Army-originated records on nonintelligence subjects will require continued classification beyond the thirty-year limit prescribed by Executive Order 11652. The volume and content of those that should remain classified cannot be accurately predicted at this stage of the project, since most material currently exempted from declassification will require further review by qualified specialists.

Also surveyed in fiscal year 1973 were 51,000 linear feet of Army classified records originated during 1946-48. Positive identification and location data were developed for each record group and series, and preliminary recommendations were formulated for declassification in bulk and for limited or detailed review for each record series. About two-thirds of the material surveyed appeared to be eligible for declassification in bulk.

There were a number of functional and organizational developments in the intelligence area during the year. In addition to the move of the U.S. Army Intelligence Command and the disestablishment of the U.S. Army Field Activities Command, both outlined above, the Army's intelligence effort was reduced as a result of the transfer of resources to the Defense Investigative Service and the Defense Mapping Agency.

The Defense Investigative Service (DIS) grew out of the recommendations of a special panel to the President, who directed on 5 November 1971 that a single agency be established at Department of Defense level to conduct all DOD personal security investigations. The Secretary of Defense formed the agency on 29 December 1971 to handle all personal security investigations in the fifty states, the Military District of Washington, and Puerto Rico. The Army will continue to be responsible for complaints and limited investigations that stem from allegations of adverse loyalty and subversive activity; counterespionage, countersabotage, and countersubversion; security services including counterintelligence surveys and inspections, technical security surveys and inspections, and security education and assistance; and conduct of personal security


investigation leads for the Defense Intelligence Service outside of DIS jurisdiction. On 1 May 1972, the Defense Investigative Service became responsible for the DOD National Agency Check Center, the Defense Control Index of Investigations, and the Intelligence Data Handling System. During fiscal year 1973 the DIS assumed control of all Department of Defense personal security investigations within its jurisdiction.

The Defense Investigative Service is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with its operational staff located at Fort Holabird, Maryland. It has 20 district offices, 163 field offices, and 80 resident offices. Its authorized strength is 3,000 (646 officers, 1,104 enlisted personnel, and 1,250 civilians), of whom 1,409 are Army personnel (480 officers, 620 enlisted personnel, and 309 civilians), about 45 percent of the U.S. Army Intelligence Command's strength.

On the Army staff, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence was made responsible for "Army representational activities within the Defense Attache System, to include providing the Army point of control for Army attache matters." In the Canal Zone, the Army Human Resource Collection (HUMINT) System (see last year's report) was formalized, although the over-all system for collecting, evaluating, correlating, and disseminating intelligence information continued to decline under pressures to reduce expenditures.

Because of continuing efforts by congressional committees and other governmental authorities to determine the total manpower and money involved in intelligence activities, the Army began in August 1972 to identify and list resources that contribute to intelligence. The Army programing system specifically identified as intelligence resources only those elements exclusively devoted to intelligence. Other elements of operational complexion do, however, contribute to the commander's knowledge of the enemy and the area of operations. To define and list these sources will be a lengthy and complex undertaking because of the units and systems involved and the need to co-ordinate the work with the other services.

In March 1973 the Army launched Project ASSIST, Army Systems for Intelligence Support Terminals, to standardize automatic data processing hardware and software to support intelligence functions. The project will make it possible to access standardized data files in any of the data-handling systems or national level data bases with a system of interconnected centers. When completed, Project ASSIST will facilitate data exchange and co-ordination between Army and Army-supported intelligence and command and control computers, and, through the use of dedicated telecommunications and terminals, improve the response to analysts and commanders.


In April 1973 the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence assumed Army responsibility for the operation, maintenance, and administrative support of the Foreign Disclosure Automated Data System, a Department of Defense system that provides a central repository for the storage and retrieval of data on the release of classified military information to foreign governments. The system will begin in October 1973 and will expand its user capability by the last quarter of fiscal year 1974.

In November 1972 a Honeywell 6050 dual-process computer was installed in the Army Operations Center to provide automatic data support for the operational and intelligence elements of the Army staff. The initial operating capability was achieved in February 1973.

During fiscal year 1973 the Army continued to recognize the importance that foreign powers place upon the interception and exploitation of military communications, primarily unciphered (plain language) voice traffic. An assessment of signal security within the Army revealed that while the number of voice radios in a representative Army division has grown from 225 during World War II to over 3,000 today, the development and procurement of crypto-equipment has not kept pace. The Army therefore looked for ways to improve tactical voice security.

Major commands, Army installations, and tactical units were all successful to some degree in educating the soldier about the foreign intercept threat and improving signal security within the limits of available resources. To help operating commands allocate and use their voice encryption equipment, a study was conducted that attempted to assign priorities for radio nets on the basis of an assumed intelligence value of voice traffic content. The study also provided information concerning the intelligence threat and the vulnerability of Army radios to interception.

Over 80 percent of the Army's tactical secure-voice equipment had been deployed to Southeast Asia to support operations in Vietnam; most of this had been withdrawn by the end of 1972. A major effort in 1973 was to rehabilitate the voice encryption equipment and redistribute it to tactical units. The age and condition of much of this equipment required the procurement of new and more advanced models. Long-range programs were continued in fiscal year 1973 to develop advanced equipment while making good use of existing devices.


In communications as in all aspects of Army operations, fiscal year 1973 was a transitional period between war and peace and a time for efficiency and economy. General objectives were established for the Army communications-electronics field and for the constituent areas of audio-visual technology, communications operations, electromagnetics;


electronics, management, personnel, security, and standardization. Significant reductions were made in the departmental headquarters communications-electronics staff. Operational functions were transferred to the field so that headquarters elements could concentrate on true functions. In November 1972 a comprehensive document was published outlining basic communications-electronics principles and concepts and program objectives and milestones.

Communications technical standards developed and distributed throughout the Department of Defense in fiscal year 1973 provided guidelines for equipment and systems, established design standards for certain equipment that would operate in both U.S. and NATO environments, set up criteria for teletype and digital equipment, and developed standards for long-haul and tactical communications. Also testing was under way to validate far-reaching communications concepts established by the Department of Defense.

Progress continued during the year on the joint Tactical Communications (TRI-TAC) Program, established in May 1971 to achieve compatibility among service telecommunications systems and to procure common tactical multichannel trunking and switching equipment for use by all services. From 1965 to 1969 the United States had participated with Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom in Project Mallard, a co-operative effort to develop a standard tactical communications system for the military forces of the participating nations. At congressional behest, U.S. participation was terminated because of the turbulence inherent in international development programs and inadequate joint U.S. service participation. The TRI-TAC program was established to develop and improve tactical multichannel communications for U.S. forces. An office was established at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, staffed by all services on an equal departmental basis. The major objectives of the program are to achieve compatibility among service telecommunications systems, procure common equipment, eliminate duplication, and save money.

Under the TRI-TAC program, the service telecommunications system will be gradually modernized and upgraded to obtain the desired system by 1980. The Army has been designated to develop an automatic voice and message switching system and an associated tactical communications control facility, along with other equipment. Additional elements will be developed by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.

In another joint effort, the Army and the Air Force developed a joint manpower arrangement under which both services will man the Joint Communications Support Element that will augment the unified commands in contingency situations and joint exercises.


Under the Defense Satellite Communications System, the first two satellites were failures. The Pacific satellite became inoperative shortly after launch; the Atlantic satellite was providing communications relay for forty-six ground terminals when it failed in May 1973. Corrective actions were taken by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile System Office and contractors, and two new satellites will be launched in November 1973. Under the Tactical Satellite Communications Program, a contract was awarded in December 1972 to the Radio Corporation of America to fabricate multichannel terminals for engineering development test, and testing of tactical satellite capabilities in a tactical environment continued.

For communications between the National Command Authority and U.S. forces worldwide, various elements of the Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network program progressed during fiscal year 1973. The system will use a variety of unique communications techniques employed within the military departments, covering all portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The government's effort to integrate the Defense Special Security Communication System community into the Automatic Digital Network (AUTODIN) was completed. In the Korea Wideband Network project, designed to upgrade communications in Korea, outmoded foreign equipment was replaced by U.S. equipment, some of it withdrawn from Vietnam as U.S. involvement in the war ended. The American withdrawal from Vietnam had an impact upon the Consolidated Telecommunications Program; funds for this program were reduced for the coming fiscal year for research and development, procurement, and operational needs. Other factors contributing to this reduction included a moderating threat and presidential efforts to limit defense spending.

During fiscal year 1973, a number of steps were taken in preparation for the compatibility testing of tactical air control and air defense systems in joint military operations (TAGS/TADS). These actions included developing joint service documentation, manning the service test teams, and arranging for secure communications support by the Army at the test sites. An interface Test Plan was prepared covering organization, methods, documentation, schedules, objectives, and support for joint testing. The Army portion, approved on 23 February 1973, included communications elements. Personnel of the 268th Signal Company from Fort Lewis, Washington, installed equipment at the test site in southern California in January 1973, and formal testing began on 13 March between the Naval Tactical Data System and the Naval Airborne Tactical Data System of San Diego, California, and the Marine Air Command and Control System at Camp Pendleton, California. Air Force and Army systems (AN/TSQ-73) will join the tests in fiscal year 1974.


The Army Tactical Communications System, which provides the army in the field with its organic capability for multichannel communications, employs a variety of communications assemblages embracing transmission, switching, teletype, control, and other shelter-mounted facilities. Developmental contracts were awarded for equipment that will provide the field army with the means to transmit high-speed data and secure-voice traffic over existing multichannel communications equipment. The first pulse code modulation multichannel transmission equipment was issued to the Reserve Components, and two tactical automatic digital switches were deployed to Europe for use in the Seventh Army communications system.

Also in Europe, the Army assumed from the Air Force the responsibility for providing American television to American military and dependent personnel in the region. This service will be broadened to cover some 140,000 Americans upon completion of site surveys, real estate acquisition, construction, and equipment installation.

In 1973 the Army reviewed a Digital Transmission Application Project designed to test and evaluate digital equipment, procedures, and personnel under field conditions at two locations, one in Germany and one at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The Army concluded that the program should be restructed and co-ordinated with the Defense Communications Agency, and these steps were in progress as the year ended.

There were several developments in communications personnel matters during the year. The communications-electronics portion of the Officer Personnel Management System was developed to provide four specialties for Signal officers: combat communications-electronics, fixed telecommunications systems, communications-electronics engineering, and audio-visual instructional technology. A Civilian Career Program for communications was also established, with the Assistant Chief of Staff for Communications-Electronics as the functional chief and the commander of the Strategic Communications Command delegated the responsibility for program management. At the close of the fiscal year, 996 Department of the Army civilian communications managers and specialists were registered in the program.


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Last updated 9 August 2004