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News | May 14, 2015

NSA Observes Armed Forces Week - Air Force

The men and women of the United States Armed Forces work tirelessly to protect and uphold the safety and freedom of the country and its citizens. Each service has uniquely contributed to the fields of intelligence and cryptology through technologic advancements, critical breakthroughs, and amazing discoveries.

This week, NSA/CSS will honor each service by highlighting significant cryptologic events of that service throughout our nation's history.


The creation of the United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS) in October 1948 ushered in the service's cryptologic intelligence organizations, thus beginning the Air Force signals intelligence (SIGINT) legacy. Their original motto, "Freedom through Vigilance," is still used today.

One of the iconic symbols of the SIGINT world, the AN/FLR-9 antenna, also known as the Flare 9 or Elephant Cage, was originally constructed in the early 1960s. The antenna enabled triangular targeting providing coordinates for appropriate action. The antenna array covered 35 acres collecting A, B, and C high frequency signals. Only one antenna remains; and its demolition will bring 50-plus years of legacy collection to an end.

On February 16, 1973, the National Security Operations Center (NSOC) opened at the National Security Agency. Its creator, Maj. Gen. John E. Morrison, Jr., NSA's Assistant Director of Production, wanted a central location where all SIGINT information could be quickly and easily accessed. As a colonel, Morrison served as USAFSS' Director of Operations. He is one of three people from the Air Force intelligence community to be inducted into NSA's Cryptologic Hall of Honor.

As of May 11, 2015, 42 airmen have been honored on the NSA/CSS Cryptologic Memorial Wall in remembrance of those who gave their lives while "serving in silence" in the line of duty.

During the last 60-plus years, seven Air Force generals have served as the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), with five of those generals serving as both DIRNSA and Chief of the Central Security Service (established in 1972).