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A Brief History of Army Counterintelligence

1776: Nathan Hale

During the American Revolution, a young American officer and member of "Knowlton's Rangers" is on an intelligence gathering mission when he is caught and hung by the British. Often considered America's first spy, Hale was quoted before dying as saying,  "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."


1778: Culper Spy Ring

In the height of the American Revolution, Major Benjamin Tallmadge organizes the "Culper Spy Ring" under orders from General George Washington and tasked to send secret messages reporting about the activities of the British Army in New York. This activity identified potential enemy spies too as a counterintelligence function. This included one who ended up being the infamous traitor: Benedict Arnold.

1861: Pinkerton's Detectives

In the American Civil War, the Union creates the Bureau of Military Information, and famed detective Allan Pinkerton along with his men began conducting counterintelligence missions. Often working undercover, Pinkerton detectives thwarted Confederate plans such as an assassination attempt, and caught several Confederate spies. This early organization is considered a predecessor to both the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Army Counterintelligence.


1917: Corps of Intelligence Police

World War I: The Military Intelligence Division (MID) is created under the command of Colonel Ralph Van Deman - The Father of Military Intelligence. Under the MID, a group of men with police training were selected to create the first organization dedicated exclusively to Counterintelligence: The Corps of Intelligence Police.

1942: Counter Intelligence Corps

After the Attack on Pearl Harbor bringing America into World War II, the Corps of Intelligence Police rapidly expands and is renamed to the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). CIC Special Agents become some of the most highly trained operatives in the U.S. government and operate world wide tracking down Nazi and other foreign spies. Notable historical events CIC agents participated in during this era include Operation Paperclip, and the Manhattan Project.


1977: INSCOM

The creation of INSCOM: Following ACI successes and failures in the Korean War and Vietnam eras, attempts were made to bring intelligence functions under a single command. Replacing the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency, the Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) was created as a major Army command dedicated to intelligence and headquartered at Fort Belvoir, VA. INSCOM remains today as the primary responsible element for intelligence activities within the Army (including counterintelligence).

September 11, 2001

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terrorism which took the U.S. military to Iraq & Afghanistan, reinforced ACI's role in thwarting international terrorist organizations and terrorist intelligence networks. Because of this, the mission of Army Counterintelligence became more vital than ever.


2021: USACIC Established

In response to a growing trend of foreign adversaries targeting the U.S. for espionage and terrorism related activities, the U.S. Army established the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Command (USACIC) under INSCOM, unifying all ACI Special Agents under a single, flattened, organizational structure. This new command enables ACI to be more effective, while also confirming it's status as both intelligence & law enforcement.

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