Network Command History
The U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command traces its organizational history back to Feb. 1, 1945, when it was organized at the Pentagon as the 9423rd Technical Services Unit, War Department Signal Center (Traffic Operations Branch). A Meritorious Unit Commendation streamer commemorates the unit’s conspicuous, albeit short-lived World War II services.
The War Department redesignated the 9423rd TSU as the U.S. Army Command and Administrative Communications Agency in 1947, simplifying the title to U.S. Army Communications Agency 10 years later. April 1, 1962, ACA merged with the U.S. Army Signal Engineering Agency to form the U.S. Army Strategic Communications Command (USASCC). A staff agency of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer located in Washington, D.C., USASCC was charged with the engineering, installation, operation and maintenance of the Army’s portion of the Defense Communications Agency’s global communications network.
Even as the reorganization of the Department of Defense communications network got under way in the early 1960s, the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 exposed serious flaws in communications between the U.S. State Department, American Embassies, and the Soviet Union. Post-crisis analysis of communication delays confirmed a need for a rapid upgrade of interdepartmental and international communication capabilities. President Kennedy ordered the establishment of the National Communications System interconnecting the State Department, the Department of Defense, and several other federal agencies. The Secretary of Defense became the executive agent for the NCS and the director of the Defense Communications Agency (later redesignated Defense Information Systems Agency) was appointed NCS manager.
The USASCC’s mission, as the Army proponent of the NSC, expanded in December 1962 to encompass (1) the management of strategic transportable communications, fixed signal communications, the Military Affiliate Radio System, frequency interference resolution, and communications equipment research and development; (2) worldwide test and evaluation, guidance on maintenance planning practices, and development of engineering criteria for fixed plant and associated equipment; (3) acquisition management of automatic data processing equipment – except tactical – for Armywide application; and, (4) supervision of transportation and traffic management of the Signal field command.
As USASCC’s mission grew, so too, did its physical appearance. Activation of the 11th Signal Group (later Brigade) and the 505th Signal Company May 1, 1963 at Fort Lewis, Wash., provided USASCC with tables of organization and equipment units which, when adequately trained and equipped, could support emergency operations; and emergency operations were not long in the making.
March 1, 1964, the Army established the Office of the Chief of Communications-Electronics and discontinued the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. Simultaneously, USASCC (now U.S. Army STRATCOM) became upgraded to major Army command status with full command and control over worldwide strategic communications. The organizational structure of STRATCOM quickly expanded with the establishment of STRATCOM-Europe in July 1964, STRATCOM-Pacific in September 1964 (and STRATCOM-Pacific’s STRATCOM facilities in Hawaii, Vietnam, Okinawa, Taiwan and Thailand in November 1964).
As the conflict in Southeast Asia committed more and more American forces and services, the mission of STRATCOM in Vietnam grew proportionately. Signal groups and battalions operated in the various Corps tactical zones without the benefit of centralized command and control. To fill that void, STRATCOM established the 1st Signal Brigade. Formed in 1966 in Vietnam, the 1st Signal Brigade assumed command and control over all Army communications-electronics resources in Southeast Asia. Scattered among 200 sites in Vietnam and Thailand, the brigade became the largest combat signal unit ever formed.
In 1967, STRATCOM headquarters moved from Washington, D.C., to Fort Huachuca, Ariz. In 1973, STRATCOM assumed responsibility for the communications systems at all Army posts, camps and stations, as well as depots and arsenals. This responsibility included all telephone systems, telecommunications centers, non-tactical radio systems, television distribution systems and public address systems.
As the nature of the war in Vietnam blurred the distinction between strategic and tactical communications, STRATCOM personnel and equipment became more and more supportive of tactical operations. As such, STRATCOM leaders moved to modify the command’s designation to better suit its changing mission by dropping “strategic” from its designation. In 1973, the Army redesignated STRATCOM as the U.S. Army Communications Command.
During the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the rapid proliferation of computers and ADPE throughout the Army extended the mission of USACC into information systems management. Consequently, in May 1984, USACC was redesignated U.S. Army Information Systems Command. Under the Army’s new Information Mission Area concept, USAISC began to consolidate communications with automation and other IMA disciplines to include records management, visual information, printing and publication. Before the advent of IMA, automation resource control and acquisition management was the business of individual MACOMs. Now, the Army recognized a need to centralize efforts globally under the IS management authority of USAISC.
A general perception in the 1990s among war fighter MACOMs and theater commanders-in-chief held that USAISC’s central management deprived them of needed command and control over regional and theater IS and Signal assets. The Department of the Army agreed and moved to dismantle USAISC and relegate it to major subordinate command status under U.S Army Forces Command.
Upon relegation to FORSCOM MSC status in 1996, ISC was redesignated U.S. Army Signal Command Sept. 16, 1996 -- a TDA organization still linked by heritage to STRATCOM, ACC and ISC. A year later, ASC was officially inactivated. In its place, DA activated the 9th Army Signal Command (a TOE organization) Sept. 16, 1997 to exercise peacetime management over signal units at echelons above corps worldwide.
When instituted, this two-phased transfer process (USASC to 9th Army Signal Command) was intended to ease the transition to TOE status and to relieve the command of its global control over all field elements; however, in order to enhance the continuity of the signal command's global control over MSC commands and brigades, DA “unofficially” set aside (but did not rescind) USASC’s inactivation and 9th Army Signal Command continued to operate under the sustained mantle of U.S. Army Signal Command with lineage to STRATCOM, USACC and USAISC. This enabled the command to "unofficially" keep its Army Signal Command title (a TDA property) and heritage while functioning as a TOE organization. For the next half decade USASC operated as a parent organization to EAC signal organizations worldwide.
In the meantime, left to their own devices, Army MACOMs and theater CINCs worked independently to resource their own IS requirements. This in turn led to a proliferation of non-standardized command, control, communications and computer systems and a general deregulation of Armywide IS equipment and support networks. The USASC continued business as usual with respect to the operations and maintenance of Army global telephone networks; however, computer systems incompatibility within the Army degraded military Internet operations as service users moved on beyond the original scope of simple email to the more complex environment of the worldwide web (intranet, nonclassified but sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network, Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, etc.).
Oct. 1, 2002, DA activated U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Army Signal Command as a direct reporting unit assigned to the Army G6 Chief Information Officer. Operationally, this activation restored centralized management over Army IS assets to NETCOM/9th ASC. In addition, NETCOM/9th ASC became the operational executive agent for Armywide network operations and security – the single point of contact for Army network development and protection, offering seamless C4 information management of common-user services -- in support of the combatant commanders and Army service component commanders. The mission of NETCOM/9th ASC also entailed the provision of technical control and support for Director of Information Management operations; the operation and management of the Army’s total information structure; and management of the Army frequency spectrum.
Organizationally, this activation extended the lineage of the 9th Army Signal Command as a TOE component of NETCOM, while officially resurrecting the organization’s TDA lineage to STRATCOM.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|