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President´s Corner - September 2008

September 2008

Dear FTVA Members,

It's early Sept and final plans are in place for the USAFSS 60th Anniversary chris kathy pres corner pix and annual FTVA Reunion to be held later this month, 25-27 September. Twenty-six years ago Major General Doyle Larson, with the help of Colonel Bill Ballard and a hand-full of others, started the FTVA. USAFSS and FTVA have come along way over the years.

According to the Wikipedia, "USAFSS was composed primarily of airmen culled from the cream of the Air Force's enlisted recruits. USAFSS was a secretive and tight-knit branch of Air Force cold warriors charged with monitoring and interpreting military voice and electronic signals of countries of interest (which often were Easter Bloc countries). USAFSS intelligence was often analyzed in the field, and the results transmitted to the National Security Agency for further analysis and distribution to other intelligence recipients.

Individual airmen - stationed at locations scattered across the globe, did a variety of jobs, almost all of them related to listening to, interpreting, and analyzing Eastern Bloc, Communist Chinese, and North Vietnamese military communications. Some were linguists who listened to voice communications. Others monitored Morse code broadcasts. Some were engaged in monitoring other types of radio signal transmissions.

These jobs, which required top secret codeword clearance, were extremely high pressure and were considered essential to U.S. cold war efforts. Members of the USAFSS were not allowed to discuss their jobs with outsiders - in fact, USAFSS members could not talk amongst themselves about their jobs unless they were in a secure location. Because of their value as targets (in Cold War Berlin, the capture of a USAFSS member was worth several thousand dollars), while stationed overseas their off-base travel was severely restricted."

Our own historians report that "The USAFSS command emblem was designed by Airman 2/C William Bill Rogers of Miami, Florida. His design was selected from a command-wide contest of entries.

During WWII, intelligence, most notably signals intelligence (SIGINT) proved invaluable in helping the Allies secure victory. The successes of the ULTRA and MAGIC efforts in the European and Pacific theaters respectively, helped shorten the war and save American lives. America's leaders realized how important establishing and keeping intelligence organizations intact would be to the national security of the United States.

USAFSS beginnings can be traced to the autumn of 1947, when then Colonel Richard Klocko (who would later command USAFSS) transferred from the Army Security Service Headquarters at Arlington Hall, Va, to an office in the newly created air staff. Once there, Colonel Klocko and others began to lay the groundwork for a new, separate air force major command responsible for processing and reporting special intelligence information.

The concept of a separate air force intelligence organization, one vastly different from the army and navy structures, quickly received the approval of Air Force's second Chief of Staff General Hoyt Vandenberg. Within the framework of the newly organized air staff, responsibility for intelligence initially fell under the purview of the deputy chief of staff for operations. The seeds of the new air intelligence organization were sowed months earlier at the Army Security Agency (ASA), and USAFSS began to take shape with the establishment, on 23 June 1948 of the Air Force Security Group in the Directorate of Intelligence at HQ USAF in Washington, D.C. As the junior service in the new Department of Defense (DoD) structure, the AFSG faced many obstacles when dealing with its sister services on policy matters regarding the cryptologic and communications security (COMSEC) missions of the new air force.

The establishment of the DoD in 1947 significantly influenced the subsequent development of the nation's air force intelligence structure. In 1949, other changes in the organization of the nation's intelligence structure resulted when the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced the establishment of the Armed Forces Security Agency, and charged it with overseeing cryptologic and COMSEC operations throughout the military. Then in 1952, the ASA was renamed the National Security Agency (NSA). Because the Air Force leadership wanted the new service to have an active role in producing intelligence information, they established USAFSS on 20 October 1948 at Arlington Hall Station, VA, and Colonel Roy H. Lynn assumed command on 26 October 1948. This is the heritage, and your contribution to it, that we celebrate.

Your Hall of Honor nominations were reviewed and selections made by our HOH selection committee, Chaired by CMSgt (Ret) Bob Sherwood. I'm particularly proud of the group selected for induction this year. They include Lt Col (Ret) Howard Bunton, CMSgt (Ret) Tom Giroir, CMSgt (Ret) Gerard Gething, and CMSgt (Ret) James Sickich. We appreciate your outstanding nominations.

Lt Gen (Ret) James Clapper, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Intelligence), Department of Defense, Washington, D.C. will be our guest speaker at the Anniversary Banquet, to be held at the Lackland AFB Gateway Club. The golf tournament will be held at the Alsatian Golf Club in Castroville, a few miles west of San Antonio. We're thrilled that so many different groups are joining us in San Antonio this year - they include (among others) the EC-47 Association, the FLR-9 Maintenance Association, the 6910th, the 6912th (Berlin Island Association), the 6914th, the 6988th, the 488th, and the Association of Spanish Flyers.

I hope to see all of you during the reunion week to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of USAFSS, the new Air Force ISR Agency, and to honor those members who have given their lives in defense of our country.

Until then ...

Remain in touch,   Chris Cook
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