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National Security Agency Founded 1952

Happy Anniversary, National Security Agency!  The NSA was founded 60 years ago today, and the CECOM Historians have been fortunate to meet and spend time with the historians, librarians, and museum staff from the Cryptologic History Office.  This entry has been formatted from many of the excellent NSA history publications; and there’s dozens you can read – for free – right on their website.  Happy reading!

On 13 December 1951 President Truman ordered a searching analysis to be conducted by a special committee to be named by the Secretaries of State and Defense, aided by the Director of Central Intelligence. Chaired by George Brownell, an eminent New York lawyer, the Brownell Committee surveyed the situation and in June 1952 recommended that a unified communications intelligence (COMINT) agency receive greater powers commensurate with clearly defined responsibilities. It also advised that the unified agency be controlled in policy matters under the chairmanship of the Director of Central Intelligence, in which the representation of military and nonmilitary intelligence interests would be evenly balanced.

The President and National Security Council adopted most of the Brownell Committee’s recommendations on 24 October 1952.

A mingling of military and nonmilitary interests was expressed in the word “national.” The production of COMINT was declared to be a national responsibility. In place of an Armed Forces Security Agency, the U.S. government was to have a National Security Agency (NSA), an organization with the same resources plus a new charter. The Director, NSA, reported to the Secretary of Defense through a unit in the latter’s office that dealt with sensitive operations. The Secretary himself was declared to be executive agent of the government for COMINT and subordinate to a special committee for the NSC, of which he and the Secretary of State were the two members and the Director of Central Intelligence was an advisor.

The Secretary of Defense was instructed to delegate his COMINT responsibilities to the Director, NSA, and to entrust to him operational and technical control of all U.S. military COMINT collection and production resources. The Director, NSA, was ordered to bring about the most effective, unified application of all U. S. resources for producing national COMINT.

On 4 November 1952, Major General Ralph J. Canine, US Army, became the first Director, NSA. In 1967 NSA consolidated its headquarters operations at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.

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