257. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (Hall) to Secretary of Defense Laird1


  • Establishment of a Unified National Cryptologic Command (The National Security Agency and the Central Security Service)
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By his 5 November 1971 memorandum on organization and management of the intelligence community,2 the President directed the establishment of a unified national cryptologic command under the Director, National Security Agency, and the corresponding revision of the National Security Council Intelligence Directives including No. 6 on Signals Intelligence (SIGINT).3 In consultation with the staff, Office of Management and Budget, who are responsible for incorporating basic policy changes in the revised National Security Council Intelligence Directives, we have agreed that the President’s desires can be accomplished by the establishment of the Central Security Service.

There are still some areas of disagreement between your staff and that of OMB in regard to, (1) the extent to which SIGINT-related equipment integral to weapons systems is to be included in SIGINT operations and, (2) the manner in which a unified National Cryptologic Command is to be achieved. This disagreement stems from an apparently strong OMB concern that there will not be a truly unified direction of all SIGINT operations, which they believe is essential if cost savings are to accrue. We believe that our approach is currently the most feasible and practicable.

Under this concept, a Central Security Service (CSS) will be established under the Director, NSA, who would concurrently be designated as the Chief, CSS. As he does in his capacity as Director, NSA, the Chief, CSS would report directly to you.

For the purpose of direction, control and conduct of their SIGINT operations, all SIGINT organizations and units of the military departments and the commands would be designated as subordinate elements of the CSS, while retaining their departmental identity for administrative and logistic support.

Under its chief and a two star deputy, the CSS would be responsible for conducting assigned SIGINT collection, processing and other SIGINT operations. Military commanders will retain normal command responsibility for providing and operating primary mobile SIGINT collection platforms, but the Chief, CSS, will have clear, unambiguous authority to specify (not recommend) the deployment and scheduling for such platforms, subject to the review and supervision of higher authority.

The Director, NSA, will be the program manager for all SIGINT resources, except for that equipment which is integrally a part of a weapons system. Establishment of the CSS leads to the strengthening of the functions of RDT&E, procurement and training.

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This concept closely follows the structure of the unified combatant commands in the Department of Defense, in that the Chief, CSS exercises operational control over his components, but the parent military department retains administrative and logistic support. In this fashion it is expected to optimize flexibility of the management of his operational resources. In regard to mobile SIGINT collection platforms, these play the role of “supporting forces”; that is, they respond to the SIGINT direction of the Chief, CSS, but the platform operating procedures remain the responsibility of the parent military Service.

Additionally, the directive makes provision for appropriate approval by the JRC and the 40 Committee of sensitive missions.

However, there are two major ways in which this concept for the unified SIGINT organization differs from that of a unified combatant command. First, the Chief, CSS, reports directly to you, rather than through the JCS. This is necessarily so, since you are the Executive Agent for the national SIGINT program, the NSA/CSS is your operating arm for this responsibility, and your responsibilities transcend those of the JCS. A second significant point is that the same individual, in his dual capacities as Chief, CSS and Director, NSA fuses the authority of operational control and resource management, thus creating a management structure for multi-Service operations which will be as strong as any such other structure within the DoD. From a practical standpoint it would be unworkable to have the same man report directly to you as Director, NSA and report to you through the JCS as Chief, CSS.

The new directive will have its strongest impact in the field of ELINT operations, which will come under a single manager, in contrast to the present fragmented ELINT structure.

Essentially, there is no change in the process for submitting and responding to national SIGINT requirements, and in the tasking of SIGINT units to respond to these requirements, except that the CSS now becomes the vehicle for tasking and response, via a strengthened chain of direction and control. I do propose to introduce specific provisions for the CSS to respond to emergency requirements of the DoD at any level of command on an override basis, and this problem will be addressed in the implementing plan.

On 6 December, a concept for a Central Security Service was circulated for comment to the JCS, DIA, NSA, and the military departments.4 With the exception of those from Mr. Froehlke and the NSA, all responses urged that the Chief, CSS report to you through the JCS to [Page 584] insure responsiveness to military requirements and to provide rapid and orderly transition from peacetime to wartime. In their opinion, such a reporting channel would also insure positive direct support, the dilution of which the Services fear under any other arrangement. For the reasons outlined above, the reporting channel must run from Chief, CSS, to you. Provisions for adequate support are made in the proposed directive.

Control over SIGINT mobile platforms and the conduct of certain ELINT operations were also major issues raised.

The JCS, DIA, and the Services believe that the Chief, CSS, should only make recommendations for the deployment and use of SIGINT mobile platforms. To satisfy fully the intent of the President’s memorandum, the Chief, CSS, would have to be in a position to control collection resources across the board. The directive, as written, provides the Chief, CSS with SIGINT operational control but requires him to issue movement requirements through appropriate military channels and leaves command and operation of the platforms with the military commanders.

Also, as a result of the military Services logical opposition to including Communication Security monitoring activities under the authority of the CSS, this feature has been removed from the proposed directive. Existing NSA COMSEC authority is not changed.

The contents of the proposed Directive, which set forth the responsibilities of Vice Admiral Gayler in his dual role as Director, National Security Agency and Chief, CSS, have been staffed informally with the Chairman, JCS, and Director, National Security Agency.

Attached at Tab “A” for your signature is the proposed DoD Directive to accomplish the establishment of an effective “unified cryptologic command.”5

As provided in the implementation paragraphs of Tab “A,” I propose that the directive become effective on publication, to meet the President’s desire for an effective issuance by 1 January. However, the full establishment of the CSS will require the preparation and execution of a time-phased implementation plan, provision for which is made in the redraft of NSCID No. 6. Accordingly, this proposed directive charges Director, National Security Agency to prepare and submit such a plan for your approval.

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Attached at Tab “B” for your signature is a memorandum to the President outlining your action taken in response to his 5 November memorandum.6

Attached at Tab “C” for your signature is a memorandum to Vice Admiral Gayler elaborating on conceptual guidance for him to follow in preparing his plan for the establishment of the Central Security Service.7

Albert C. Hall
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330 76 197, 020 NSA 1971. Secret. The memorandum was coordinated with Cooke and General Counsel J. Fred Buzhardt, Jr.
  2. Document 242.
  3. See Document 248.
  4. See Document 252.
  5. Reference is to DOD Directive 5100.20, December 23, attached but not printed.
  6. Tab B is attached but not printed. In his December 23 memorandum to the President, Laird stated that, in addition to signing the directive establishing a unified SIGINT collection organization, he planned to issue implementing directives for the Office of Defense Investigations (see Document 259) and the consolidated Defense Mapping Agency before the end of the year. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 333, Intelligence Reorganization, Vol. II) Laird’s memorandum and directive establishing the Defense Mapping Agency, dated January 1, 1972, are in the Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330 74 45, Signer’s Copies January 1972.
  7. Not printed; signed by Laird and dated December 23.