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The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Four Decades Part III: Regional Conflicts and Drawdown (1989 to 2001).

The end of the Cold War presented the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) with a new set of challenges. Largely structured and deployed with the Cold War's priorities in mind, the command looked toward its role in a supposedly transformed world. Before much time had passed, however, INSCOM found itself committed to a series of conflicts unrelated to old American-Soviet tensions.

At the end of 1989, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega posed a threat to U.S. interests and provoked an American military intervention, Operation Just Cause. As American ground forces engaged Noriega's security forces, INSCOM's 470th Military Intelligence (Ml) Group deployed its assets to support the operation. Intimately familiar with both the terrain and the disposition of Panama's armed forces, the group's teams provided spot reports throughout Panama City. Using their sources, 470th Ml Soldiers obtained critical information on troop movements and locations of weapons caches. After the fighting, they helped identify and apprehend a number of Noriega's senior aides. For its role in the operation, the 470th Ml Group was awarded a battle streamer.

Less than a year later, and halfway across the world, another crisis developed when Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait. American ground, naval, and air forces quickly deployed in Saudi Arabia to prevent further Iraqi expansion. As the situation stabilized, elements of INSCOM's 513th Ml Brigade began to arrive on the Arabian Peninsula with a wide array of assets. Meanwhile, INSCOM shifted resources to ensure intelligence support for U.S. Army Central (ARCENT). Companies and teams from the 66th Ml Brigade and reservists from the United States deployed to support the brigade; by Christmas 1990, the 66th Ml Brigade's strength was over a thousand Soldiers.

INSCOM's professionals quickly proved their worth. A terrain team from the 513th Ml Brigade assured Army planners that the desert area around Kuwait was trafficable by Army tanks and armored vehicles, a critical element in the planned operation of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). INSCOM technicians reconfigured the TROJAN system for use as a secure intelligence communication link that could transmit real-time information to the division level. Force protection teams helped secure ports, while technical intelligence teams trained U.S. forces on Soviet equipment used by the Iraqis.

For Operation Desert Storm, INSCOM elements played significant roles at several of CENTCOM's joint intelligence centers, and the 513th's echelons above corps operations center was expanded by a full battalion and placed in support of ARCENT's G-2. As the U.S.-led forces quickly defeated the Iraqi military, INSCOM counterintelligence personnel were among the first to enter Kuwait City where they seized enemy documents and provided support to force protection efforts. When combat operations ceased, human intelligence (HUMINT) and technical intelligence specialists from INSCOM screened and examined 50,000 Iraqi prisoners, thousands of documents, and numerous pieces of Soviet-made equipment.

The challenges of Operations Just Cause and Desert Storm placed large demands on the Army's intelligence community, and INSCOM was critical in meeting these demands. As a result of INSCOM's Cold War posture, the command's relevant organizations were well positioned to support emerging contingencies. For Operation Just Cause, the 470th Ml Group had been in place under INSCOM for more than a decade when the crisis broke. For Operation Desert Storm, the 513th Ml Brigade had a long-standing contingency mission to support ARCENT.

The Army began withdrawing from Iraq after Operation Desert Storm; the drawdown of U.S. military forces that were no longer needed for the Cold War began in earnest. For INSCOM, the most noticeable reductions occurred in Europe where, by 1995, it closed three major field stations--Berlin, Augsburg, and Sinop--and downsized the 66th Ml Brigade to a provisional group. However, reductions were not limited to Europe: INSCOM had transferred most of its HUMINT assets to the Defense Intelligence Agency; in 1997, the Army inactivated the 470th Ml Group and reduced the 500th Ml Group in Japan.

In the midst of these reductions, it became apparent that the post-Cold War world would hold unforeseen and perhaps unforeseeable dangers. Throughout the 1990s, INSCOM was called to support peacekeeping, stability, counter-drug, and humanitarian operations in Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the Balkans. As the 20th century ended, new menaces arose in the form of terrorism and cyberspace warfare. The reduction of resources and redefinition of missions meant that INSCOM faced its greatest reorganization since 1977.

To respond more effectively to various regional crises, INSCOM reorganized once again, beginning in 1994. It merged the Army's intelligence production agencies to form the National Ground Intelligence Center. The center's capabilities were improved when the center moved into its new headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia. INSCOM became the executive agent for two mission sites with cutting-edge technologies in Bad Aibling, Germany (under the 718th Ml Group) and Menwith Hill, United Kingdom (under the 713th Ml Group). At Fort Gordon, Georgia, INSCOM established a Regional Security Operations Center (RSOC) comprising personnel of the newly organized 702nd Ml Group (later replaced by the 116th Ml Group). The 513th Ml Brigade, the command's rapid response unit, moved to Fort Gordon in 1994 and colocated with the RSOC, allowing the theater brigade personnel to participate in national missions. Finally, INSCOM established the Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA), an action that proved prescient by the prominence of cyberspace operations by 2014. LIWA received the missions of defending the Army's automated communications and data systems from intrusion and developing Army capabilities for offensive and defensive operations in cyberspace.

The 1994 reorganization allowed INSCOM to coordinate the movement of intelligence specialists from worldwide units and deploy them where needed. Instead of operating at echelons above corps, INSCOM began to provide interaction between national-level agencies and tactical units. To strengthen connectivity, it developed intelligence cells (called Corps Military Intelligence Support Elements) to provide direct and dedicated support to commanders in the field. Improvements in automation and dedicated intelligence communications gave INSCOM an unprecedented ability to coordinate its subordinate units when deployed. The forward-deployed intelligence assets could access databases and other intelligence information located in the United States, Europe, or other secure areas. As INSCOM reduced its physical presence around the globe, it found itself working more closely with the intelligence community and with the Army's own tactical intelligence assets.

by Mr. Michael E. Bigelow, INSCOM Command Historian

Mr. Michael E. Bigelow has served as the Command Historian for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) since 2006. He received a bachelor of arts in history from Colorado State University and a master of arts in military history from Temple University. He has written numerous articles for military publications such as Military Review and Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin. Before becoming INSCOM's Command Historian, he served as an active duty military intelligence officer for 22 years.
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Author:Bigelow, Michael E.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Jul 1, 2018
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