Fort Huachuca
The Story of Army Intelligence

Sierra Vista, AZ

January 31, 2001

While visiting in Sierra Vista, AZ. we were invited by an old army buddy to visit Fort Huachuca's (Wa-chu-ka) museums. This military installation was of particular interest to me as my father had been stationed there for a brief time during WW II. My parents lived in Bisbee for a while and then moved to Tombstone. I can remember as a child hearing stores of the old west and life in Arizona. The Fort was created in March of 1877 by the 6th US Cavalry as a protection for the local ranchers from marauding Apaches headed up by a particularly aggressive Chief named Geronimo. The Fort soon became home to the famous "Buffalo soldiers", the all black Cavalry unit of the army. Today much of its size has been reduced but the Fort is none the less an active intregal part of our Nation's defense system. It houses several sections of army intelligence including an electronic surveillance unit. This was particularly nice for my walking mornings, as on most days they flew a surveillance blimp a thousand feet or so in the air at the east end of the base about 2 and half miles from the trailer park. It made a delightful navigational beacon both day and night. The Mexican border is only a few miles away where such balloons are employed spotting undocumented crossings of the Rio Grande on foot. One museum houses some interesting artifacts from Army Intelligence. It featured Captain Parker Hitt who was 34 years old in 1911 when the Signal school at Fort Leavenworth conducted its first conference on military cryptology. The infantry officer had interrupted his studies in civil engineering at Purdue university to join the Army in 1898. He served in the Philippines, Alaska and California before attending the Signal School and then becoming an instructor at the institution. He possessed a flair for solving ciphers and deciphered coded messages intercepted from Mexico from both the agents of Pancho Villa and the Constitutionalists, the latter code becoming known as the Mexican Army Cipher Desk. As a Colonel, Parker Hitt went to France with the American Expeditionary Force and served on Pershing's staff before becoming the Chief Signal Officer for the 1st Division. Hitt wrote the U.S. Army's first publication on cryptology in 1915 when his Manual for Solution of Military Ciphers was printed at Fort Leavenworth. From 1914 to 1917, Hitt developed a code machine that, after some improvements by Joseph Mauborgne, Chief of the Signal Corps' Engineering and Research Division would become, in 1922, the Army's M-94. It was used up until WW II. In the 1930s it was replaced by the M-138a, which incorporated some more improvements on Hitt's prototype. His hand crafted prototype is on display. The Corps of Intelligence Police formed in World War I was renamed the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) in 1942. In the U.S. the CIC was responsible for the security of the Manhattan Project, the secrete scientific work on the atomic bomb, and performed censorship duties for all mail arriving from overseas. Counter Intelligence Corps detachments were assigned to each Army division in the North African, European and Pacific theaters, with a total of 241 CIC detachments operating during the war. Overseas the CIC secured captured enemy headquarters, interrogated prisoners, and impounded enemy documents. They arrested or surveilled any suspected enemy agents. They surveyed and protected public utilities, supply depots and other potential targets of sabotage. They seized radio stations and telephone switchboards, halting all communications and turning over any communications data to the Signal Corps personnel. They shut down presses and seized mail for censorship teams. They cooperated with local provost marshals on matters of law and order. CIC operatives familiarized themselves with the local economic, political and social conditions and cultivated well placed informants. I was particularly delighted to find one of the infamous "Enigma" coding machines who's part has been the subject of many a great spy story of the WW II era. Secure radio communications are indispensable in modern war. To safeguard their messages, the Nazi forces relied on the Enigma machine, a compact, battery-powered Electro-mechanical cipher device. The three rotors of the version of the enigma used by most elements of the Wehrmacht permitted 1,560,000 permutations for each character. Additional security was provided by a plug-board which further scrambled each letter. Messages keys were changed every 24 hours. The German High Command felt that the Enigma was unbreakable. They gambled everything on the cryptographic security of the "Glowworm" machine, as the Enigma was sometimes called. Fortunately for the course of the world history, they lost. The secret of the Enigma was broken early in World War II by expert British crypto-analysts working out of temporary huts on the grounds of Bletchiey Park, an English country mansion. The British were able to build on prior work by the Poles and the French. The fact that the Enigma had been broken was a closely guarded secret for 30 years. The intelligence obtained by decrypting Enigma messages and other high-level systems was known as ULTRA and was disseminated under the closest controls. When the Unites States joined the war, this intelligence was shared. Ultimately, US Army detachments helped in the effort. ULTRA gave Eisenhower and his subordinates an unparalleled insight into the workings of the German High command.

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