INSCOM (United States Army Intelligence and Security Command)

INSCOM (United States Army Intelligence and Security Command)

Headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) plans and conducts intelligence, security, and information operations for the U.S. Army and its military commanders, as well for the president and other national decisionmakers. Since the time of its establishment in the years immediately after the war in Vietnam, as geopolitical conditions have realigned, INSCOM has been forced to adjust its mission numerous times.

INSCOM's first quarter-century. Formed from the old Army Security Agency, INSCOM began its life on January 1, 1977, at Arlington Hall Station in Virginia. This was a time of downsizing for the U.S. military, as America entered a period of relative isolationism, but the crises in Afghanistan and Iran during the late 1970s brought about a resurgence in military growth. In its first seven years, INSCOM grew in strength from 10,400 to 15,000 personnel.

By the mid-1980s, the departure of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) from the Arlington Hall facilities allowed INSCOM to consolidate its headquarters, part of which had been at Fort Meade, Maryland. INSCOM reorganized its five multidiscipline intelligence groups as brigades, and placed a greater emphasis on training its personnel to be warfighters rather than information-gatherers alone. INSCOM relocated to Fort Belvoir in 1989.

After the Cold War. That year also saw the beginning of the end of the Cold War, and the decade that followed (1990s) brought considerable change for INSCOM. It was down-sized, along with much of the military, and after absorbing the Army Intelligence Agency in 1991, it returned to its earlier emphasis on intelligence-gathering. At mid-decade, it transferred all of its human intelligence operations to DIA.

In the 1990s, INSCOM, like much of the military, found itself tasked with humanitarian operations rather than warfighting. Other unaccustomed activities in the mid-1990s, according to information posted at the INSCOM Web site in 2003, included "supporting treaty verification, conducting counterdrug operations, and protecting the army against an espionage threat posed by nations not traditionally our adversaries."

INSCOM today. September 11, 2001, brought about another phase in the history of INSCOM and the military as a whole. It would be faced with new challenges in a world once again polarized as in the Cold War, but this time with a more enigmatic enemy.

INSCOM had not remained idle during the 1990s; among the new systems it had helped develop were the Sandcrab jammer, the Trackwolf high-frequency direction-finding system, the Trojan Spirit deployable intelligence communications system, the airborne reconnaissance low platform, and the army portion of the Joint Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar System (J-STARS).

INSCOM consists of four brigades, as well as eight other groups or activities worldwide tasked to specific intelligence disciplines or functions. In all, members of its 14 major subordinate commands and numerous smaller units are in some 180 locations across the globe.



Richelson, Jeffrey T. The U.S. Intelligence Community, third edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995.


Girardeau, John H. "Doctrine Corner: INSCOM Intelligence Support to the Tactical Commander." Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin 28, no. 2 (April-June 2002): 56–57.


United States Army Intelligence and Security Command.

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