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History Retrospective

1970s

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.

1970 - The pilot class of the USAFSS Senior Officers Orientation Course was conducted at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas. The results were “unfavorable,” so the course subsequently went through an 18-month period of revision and refinement. A small ceremony attended by representatives of the U.S. and Pakistani Air Forces closed out the tenure of the USAFSS “Communications Unit” (6937th Communications Group) at Peshawar, Pakistan, on 7 January 1970, thereby ending 15 years of valuable intelligence support at the site. The year 1970 saw the operational wing concept fall by the wayside as USAFSS reorganized its subordinate unit posture to strengthen the role of the Regions under this concept. All USAFSS overseas wings were redesignated as groups and their subordinate units placed under the direct control of the two Regions. In 1970, the increasing hostile threat against Airborne Reconnaissance Program aircraft focused national level emphasis on reducing manned reconnaissance flights in high threat areas. Consequently, USAF deployed a series of unmanned drone vehicles and piloted airframes. The first of these systems to be deployed was Combat Dawn, an unmanned drone staged and operated from Korea.

1971 - United States Air Force Security Service acquired its first medical facility on 1 July 1971 when the USAF Hospital at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, was transferred from the Air Training Command (ATC) to USAFSS.

Primarily because of the command’s contributions during the Southeast Asia war, USAFSS units earned 46 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, two Presidential Unit Citations, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Award, and two special awards for outstanding contributions to the National Cryptologic Effort during 1967-1971. Prior to 1967 (1948-66), command units had garnered only 33 such awards. The C-130 fleet from Japan replaced the aging C-130 fleet in Europe. The 6908th Security Squadron was activated at Nakhon Phanom Airport, Thailand, to operate Senior Book and Compass Flag programs, as well as process and report the intercept collected from both platforms. The 6300th Support Squadron (later redesignated 6300th Aerospace Support Squadron) was activated at Ko Kha, Thailand, on 1 July 1971 to support Cobra Talon. Hof AS, Germany, was turned over to the United States Air Forces in Europe and the 6915th Security Squadron was inactivated.

1972 - The first class of the Revised Senior Officers Orientation Course was conducted at HQ USAFSS with favorable results. The USAFSS School at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The USAFSS School was the first one in the Air Force to receive this recognition. President Nixon announced a major reorganization of U.S. intelligence agencies and activities on 5 November 1971, causing a flurry of reorganization planning activities during the remainder of Fiscal Year 1972. One of the principal objectives of the reorganization was to establish a more coherent structure for manning the U.S. cryptologic effort to include the creation of a “National Cryptologic Command.” A significant milestone in achieving this objective was reached on 14 April 1972 when the Secretary of Defense approved for implementation the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSACSS) organizational plan. The United States Air Force Security Service organized the Air Force Communications Security Center on Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, on 1 July 1972 to execute Air Force COMSEC missions assigned to USAFSS. It also had overseas units assigned to assist Air Force theater activities with various COMSEC services.

In Japan, DOD Program Budget Decisions resulted in a complete realignment of the cryptologic structure, forcing the closure of Wakkanai AS (6986th Security Group) and inactivation of the 6918th Security Squadron at Hakata AS and the 6988th Security Squadron, the command’s airborne unit at Yokota AB. Concurrently, projects associated with the 6988th Security Squadron, such as Bench Royal and Rivet Gym manning for College Eye, were discontinued, and the remaining Combat Dawn mission was transferred to the 6903d Security Squadron at Osan Air Base, Korea. Host base activities at Misawa Air Base, Japan (6921st Security Wing) were transferred from Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) to USAFSS on 1 July 1972. The 6910th Security Group was moved from Darmstadt, Germany, to Augsburg, Germany. As a part of the reorganization of U.S. Intelligence Agencies and Activities, both HQ European Security Region and HQ Pacific Security Region were deactivated, on 30 June and 31 December 1972, respectively, eliminating the intermediate headquarters between USAFSS and its field units in Europe and the Pacific. The TEABALL/WCC concept was implemented. This concept provided for the relaying of intelligence data to USAF weapons controllers located in the 6908th Security Squadron operations area at Nakhon Phanom Airport, Thailand. The weapons controllers used the data to enhance positive control of USAF aircrews over North Vietnam for both offensive and defense purposes.

1973 - On 24 February 1973, Major General (later Lieutenant General) Walter T. Galligan replaced Major General Stapleton as commander of USAFSS. Shortly thereafter, General Galligan directed a comprehensive, command-wide manpower and organization review of the USAFSS organizational structure which, on 1 July 1974, resulted in a major reorganization of the command. Program Budget Decision 138C, dated 22 December 1972, cut four RC-130 Airborne Reconnaissance Program aircraft from the European Airborne Reconnaissance Program fleet, effective in early 1973. The TEMPEST (compromising emanations) function was transferred from the Air Force Cryptologic Depot to the AF Special Communications Center, effective 20 April 1973. The command’s European Airborne Reconnaissance Program unit (the 6916th Security Squadron) moved from Rhein Main Air Base, Germany, to Athens, Greece, on 30 June 1973.

Beginning on 2 October 1973, HQ USAFSS, its European units, and the AF Special Communications Center became actively engaged in providing intelligence and electronic warfare support to U.S. forces/agencies observing the Arab/ Israeli War.

1974 - United States Air Force Security Service implemented the Main Operating Base/Forward Operating Base concept on 1 January 1974. Under this USAFSS/SAC concept, 12 Rivet Joint ASRP RC-135 aircraft and crews were based at the Main Operating Base (Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska) where they received the bulk of their support, but flew many of their missions from the Forward Operating Base (Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom) where they received only mission essential support.

A major reorganization of USAFSS resulted in the restructuring of most USAFSS units. Significant actions included: (1) a major reorganization of six USAFSS host units overseas; (2) a restructuring of USAFSS units engaged in airborne operations, including activation of the 6944th Security Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; (3) activation of the 6955th Security Group at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, and the resubordination of five USAFSS squadrons (including the emergency reactions units) under the newly formed group; and (4) the downgrading from groups to squadrons of three USAFSS tenant units. On 21 May 1974, Major General H. P. Smith assumed command of USAFSS, replacing Major General (later Lieutenant General) Walter T. Galligan who was reassigned as commander of 5th Air Force at Fuchu Air Station, Japan. General Smith came to USAFSS from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) where he served as Deputy Director for Intelligence. In the face of constant reductions, the only solution for USAFSS was to find ways to do the job better. The Command’s Rivet Joint modernization proposal, which the Secretary of Defense approved on 29 July 1974, represented one approach toward improved operations. It was aimed at replacing the obsolete equipment in the 12-aircraft Rivet Joint fleet. When the last C-47 Airborne Radio Direction Finding aircraft returned to its base at 1545 hours on 15 May 1974, it marked an end to a relatively brief but proud era in USAFSS airborne operations. For eight years, the Airborne Radio Direction Finding program had provided valuable support to U.S. and friendly tactical commanders throughout Southeast Asia. Yet another era in USAFSS mission operations ended on 30 June 1974 when the 6910th Security Group at Augsburg, Germany, and the 6994th Security Squadron at Ubon, Air Force Station, Thailand, were inactivated. The 6910th Security Group had been a mainstay of USAFSS operations in Europe since December 1953, while the 6994th Security Squadron served as the Command’s unit in Vietnam during the war. At one time, the 6994th Security Squadron and its detachments operated the mission equipment aboard some 48 EC-47 aircraft in South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. On 1 July 1974, the Consolidated Security Operations Center, a joint USAFSS and Army Security Agency was activated in San Antonio, Texas, at Lackland Air Force Base Annex (formerly Medina Base). The United States Air Force Security Service deployed a 114-man emergency reaction unit to San Vito, Italy, for 60 days resulting from the Cypriot/Cretan Crisis. On 16 August 1974, Greek protesters penetrated the base perimeter at Iraklion AS, Crete (6931st Security Group) inflicting considerable damage to U.S. property located near the station’s perimeter fence.

United States Air Force Security Service Commander, Major General H. P. Smith, established a Crisis Management Team (consisting of operations specialists having an intimate knowledge of unit operations, posture, and functions) to be available to the USAFSS Battle Staff for consultation during future crisis situations. Colonel (later Major General) Norma E. Brown became the first woman to command an Air Force wing when she assumed command of the 6940th Security Wing, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, on 1 December 1974.

1975 - For nearly eight years, Combat Apple played a key role in Southeast Asia operations. Then, on 30 April 1975, after the emergency evacuation of U.S. and South Vietnamese personnel from Saigon, the last Combat Apple mission was flown. The Air Force Special Communications Center (AFSCC) was redesignated the Air Force Electronic Warfare Center (AFEWC), effective 1 July 1975, to reflect more accurately the Center’s EW mission and give it greater visibility throughout the Defense Department. Early in 1974, General John Vogt, Commander in Chief, United States Air Forces in Europe, (CINCUSAFE), based on his experience with intelligence support during the Vietnam War, established a requirement for timely intelligence support. Headquarters USAF decided USAFSS could best provide this support through its 6911th Security Squadron (M) which would become a direct support unit. But first the unit had to undergo a significant expansion of personnel, equipment, and real estate and be moved from Rhein Main, Germany, to Hahn Air Base, Germany. That happened on 25 July 1975 when it was converted to a Direct Support Unit (DSU) immediately responsive to requests from European consumers, mainly USAFE, for intelligence support of a primarily tactical nature. United States Air Force Security Service ended an era on 24 June 1975 when it turned in all of its administrative aircraft — two O-2s and three C-118s — ending 24 years of airlift support to the command headquarters. The Kelly Air Force Base, Texas-based USAFSS Flight Operations Section closed out operations with an unblemished flying safety record (zero accident rate) for those 24 years, averaging 2,200 flying hours per year. On 25 July 1975, the Turkish government ordered all U.S. operations at Karamursel Air Station shutdown immediately, due to an arms embargo imposed against Turkey by the U.S. Congress. Major General Kenneth D. Burns replaced Major General H. P. Smith as USAFSS Commander effective 11 August 1975.

1976 - In June 1975, termination of the high altitude reconnaissance drone, nicknamed Combat Dawn, created an intelligence void that was only partially offset by introduction of the Burning Candy RC-135. Approval of an operation to fill that void was stalled until a flurry of activity in early January 1976 pointed toward imminent activation of a U-2 operation from Osan Air Base, Korea. When the dust settled, USAFSS was charged with manning the system, nicknamed Olympic Game, and the 6903d Security Squadron at Osan AB was assigned the Olympic Game mission. The AFEWC learned that it had been awarded the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award for the period 1 January 1974-1 January 1976 in recognition of its “. . . comprehensive operational electronic warfare support to the Department of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all of the military services . . .” The 6924th Security Squadron, Ramasun Station, Thailand, which had been stationed at Da Nang AB, South Vietnam, during the war in Southeast Asia, was deactivated on 15 May 1976.

1977 - A longtime USAFSS unit, the 6987th Security Squadron at Shu Lin Kou Air Station, Taiwan, was discontinued on 1 April 1977. After two years of unsuccessful negotiations between the U.S. and Turkey to reopen operations at Karamursel, the 6933d Security Group was discontinued on 1 October 1977. The impact of the Thailand, Taiwan, and Turkey reductions was partially offset by reallocation of tasks and resources to other USAFSS bases. USAFSS transferred its cryptologic school at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, to the Air Training Command (ATC) on 1 July 1978. Three months later, on 1 October, USAFSS ended 20 years of base management, transferring its last four bases — San Vito Air Station, Italy; Iraklion Air Station, Crete; RAF Chicksands, United Kingdom; and Misawa Air Base, Japan — to the theater commands. The net result was the transfer to other Air Force commands of 17 USAFSS units, a cryptologic training mission, 5 host bases, and about 4,000 USAFSS personnel. Although the outflow of personnel from the command sometimes seemed like a flood, there occasionally was a trickle of spaces back into the command. The Command headquarters building (Bldg. 2000) was named Ardisana Hall on 14 July 1978 in memory of Brigadier General Bernard Ardisana, a longtime member of the command and a former vice commander who died on active duty while assigned to NSA. The first operational application of C3CM by ESC occurred during exercise Blue Flag 79-1, 1-10 December 1978, at Hurlburt Field, FL.

1979 - Major General Doyle E. Larson replaced Major General Kenneth D. Burns as USAFSS Commander effective 19 January 1979. General Larson was the last USAFSS Commander and the first ESC Commander. On 1 February 1979, USAFSS transferred operation and maintenance of its Telecommunications Center to Air Force Communications Service (now Air Force Communications Command). On 17 July 1979, Major General Larson officially opened the Command Alert Center. Headquarters USAFSS was redesignated the Headquarters Electronic Security Command (ESC), effective 1 August 1979, because of its broader electronic warfare (EW) responsibilities. The units assigned to USAFSS were automatically transferred to ESC.

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Last Updated: 17-Jul-02