Defense Intelligence Agency

COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE IN DEFENSE OF THE NATION

History

1960s: Early Years

  • DIA’s “Activation Plan” was drafted by the agency’s Director Designate, Lieutenant General Joseph Carroll, USAF.
  • DIA occupied “A” and “B” Buildings at Arlington Hall Station from the early 1960s until the agency moved to Bolling Air Force Base in 1984.
  • DIA validated and approved many U-2 missions from the 1960s through the 1990s. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, photo-interpreters discovered Soviet medium range ballistic missiles on Cuba using film from U-2 flights over the island.
  • The medium range ballistic missiles installed by the Soviet Union in Cuba in 1962 were capable of hitting a significant portion of the United States, including much of the East Coast.
  • DIA’s Defense Intelligence School was chartered 1962.
  • In 1963, DIA established the Production Center at Arlington Hall Station. Under the leadership of Brigadier General Herron Maples, USA (seated at the head of the table), the Production Center allowed DIA to consolidate and integrate several production elements from the Military Services.
  • On February 6, 1963, DIA’s John Hughes, special assistant to DIA Director Lieutenant General Joseph Carroll, USAF, conducted a televised briefing on the removal of the Soviet missiles from Cuba.
  • A U.S. Air Force B-53 Stratofortress delivers a payload of bombs over Vietnam in 1966. DIA supported these strategic bombing missions, codenamed ARC LIGHT, by providing target lists to the Joint Chiefs of Staff who then selected targets for individual missions.

1970s: Years of Transition

  • In November 1970, U.S. forces conducted a raid on Son Tay prison camp in Vietnam to rescue American prisoners of war (POWs). DIA provided intelligence support to this operation.
  • Bombs are lined up in preparation for Operation LINEBACKER II in 1972. DIA analysts evaluated potential targets and provided bomb damage assessments in support of the operation.
  • President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev sign the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Offensive Arms on May 26, 1972, in Moscow. The agreements created new intelligence requirements resulting in increased production pressures for DIA’s analysts.
  • Former American POWs cheer as their aircraft lifts off from Hanoi on its way to the U.S. in 1973 as part of Operation HOMECOMING. For two decades, DIA was at the center of the POW/Missing in Action (MIA) effort in Vietnam.
  • The Defense Attaché Office in Saigon established its compound in the old MACV Headquarters on Tan Son Nhut Airbase after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. During the fall of Saigon in April 1975, the Defense Attaché MG Homer D. Smith distinguished himself with the courage and heroism he displayed during the evacuation efforts.
  • A U.S. Air Force nurse secures infants prior to takeoff during Operation BABYLIFT, an effort to evacuate Vietnamese orphans from Saigon. Five DIA employees lost their lives during the operation when the first flight crashed on takeoff on April 4, 1975.
  • Shortly after the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia seized the U.S. container vessel SS Mayaguez and its crew and took the vessel to an island off the coast of Cambodia. DIA coordinated the intelligence efforts to locate the ship, and President Ford ordered a contingent of U.S. Marines to retake the vessel.
  • The Cobra Dane radar on Shemya Island became operational in 1977 and played a key role in evaluated Soviet ballistic missile capabilities throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

1980s: DIA Comes of Age

  • In 1981, DIA issued the first in a series of unclassified publications on the strengths and capabilities of Soviet military forces. “Soviet Military Power” was a lavish production that included dozens of color photographs and paintings depicting Soviet hardware. It was republished in 1983 and subsequently updated every year until 1991.
  • In April 1983, terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. Later that year, terrorists bombed the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American servicemen stationed there as peacekeepers. These and subsequent terrorist attacks in the mid-1980s prompted DIA to establish its first all-source fusion cell for terrorism analysis.
  • In October 1983, President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. troops to Grenada in Operation URGENT FURY. DIA provided the bulk of the intelligence work in support of the operation. This marked the first time since the Son Tay Raid of 1970 that DIA supplied operational and tactical intelligence to combat forces.
  • The new Defense Intelligence Analysis Center (DIAC) became operational in 1984. The new building allowed the agency to benefit from the consolidation and centralization of personnel and missions formerly scattered in a number of locations across the National Capital Region.
  • In 1986, DIA supported Operation EL DORADO CANYON, during which the U.S. military launched a series of air strikes against Libya in response to Libyan-sponsored terrorist attacks in Berlin. DIA aided planning for the operation by providing target lists and indentifying Libyan air defenses.
  • In October 1986, DIA received its first Joint Meritorious Unit Award for providing “unparalleled intelligence support encompassing the broadest range of intelligence analysis, technical services, photographic processing and reconnaissance imagery to meet the real time requirements of national decision makers.” DIA’s support to counterterrorism operations was singled out for special acknowledgement.
  • The Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 designated DIA as a “combat support agency,” a major milestone in the agency’s history that resulted in an expansion of DIA’s efforts in support of the war fighter.
  • In November 1989, following several weeks of unrest, the East German government  announced that it would permit visits to West Germany and West Berlin. Exuberant crowds of East and West Germans began to dismantle the Berlin Wall. The fall of the Berlin wall was soon followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, ushering in a new and challenging era for DIA.

1990s: New Missions, New Adversaries

  • In the early stages of Operation DESERT STORM (1990-1991), DIA provided U.S. Central Command with much of the operational intelligence that allowed Coalition air power to destroy Iraqi air bases, radars and air defense sites. In 1991, DIA received a Joint Meritorious Unite Award in recognition of its support to Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM.
  • During Operation DESERT STORM, DIA attempted to track mobile Iraqi SCUD launchers with limited success.
  • President George H.W. Bush and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in the Kremlin, Moscow, in July 1991. At the time, DIA analysts were predicting Gorbachev’s imminent fall from power. Within months, the Soviet Union had ceased to exist.
  • In 1992, the Missile and Space Intelligence Center (MSIC) located in Huntsville, Alabama, became a field production element of DIA. MSIC personnel provide intelligence on short-range missile technologies such as those found in surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank guided missiles and short-range ballistic missiles.
  • The Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (AFMIC) now the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) became a field production element of DIA in 1992. NCMI’s mission includes monitoring foreign environmental health and infectious disease risks, foreign biotechnology development and other issues that could potentially impact U.S. military operations and the health of U.S. troops.
  • From 1992 to 1993, DIA supported Operation RESTORE HOPE, the U.S. effort to capture Somali warlords who were preventing Somalis from receiving international assistance.
  • DIA deployed a National Intelligence Support Team (NIST) to Bosnia from 1995 to 1996 to assist U.S. and NATO efforts to stop the genocidal war raging there. The NISTs brought sophisticated and secure communications equipment to the Combatant Commands to support rapid turnaround intelligence requirements from the field.
  • In 1996, terrorists bombed the Khbar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. servicemen. Following this attack, DIA created the Office for Counterterrorism Analysis.

2000s: Years of Transition

  • On September 11, 2001, a group of foreign terrorists flew two commercial airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City and a third into the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked aircraft crashed into a field in western Pennsylvania. The attacks claimed approximately 3,000 lives, including seven DIA employees.
  • In response to the September 11th attacks, on October 7, 2001, the U.S. launched Operation ENDURING FREEDOM to destroy terrorist camps and topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Hundreds of DIA personnel eventually deployed to Afghanistan to provide in-theater analytic support, assist with document exploitation, support prisoner interrogations and provide direct support to military operations.
  • The U.S. launched Operation IRAQI FREEDOM in March 2003 in response to the perceived threat posed by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Many deployed DIA analysts worked at the Perfume Palace in support of the effort.
  • Starting in the months after Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, DIA supported and participated in the efforts of the Iraq Survey Group, a 1,400-member international team formed to located evidence of mass destruction programs developed under Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
  • The Defense Intelligence Analysis Center expansion was completed in the summer of 2005. The first group to occupy the new facility was made up of 66 employees from the Directorate for MASINT and Technical Collection.
  • In 2010, the new Joint Use Intelligence Analysis Facility opened in Rivanna Station in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • In 2011, the Russell-Knox Building, housing elements of five military investigative agencies including DIA’s Counterintelligence and HUMINT center, opened at Quantico Marine Corps Base.
  • In October 2011, DIA’s current and former leaders gathered to celebrate the agency’s 50th anniversary. Former DIA Directors and Deputy Directors stand with DIA Director Lieutenant General Ronald L. Burgess Jr., USA, and Deputy Director David Shedd in the lobby of the DIA headquarters.