Brief History of the United States Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and the 9th Army Signal Command
Effective Oct. 1, 2002, Headquarters Department of the Army redesignated the 9th Army Signal Command as the United States Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and the 9th Army Signal Command (NETCOM/9th ASC). NETCOM/9th ASC traced its heritage back to its constitution as the 9th Service Company on Feb.14, 1918, and its organization two months later in Honolulu, Hawaii. From Hawaii, the command discharged its combined installation and maintenance missions for telegraph, telephone and coastal artillery fire control communications. A captain, five corporals and 15 privates first class filled the manpower requirements of the new unit. Detached Soldiers of the 9th Service Company also served on Oahu at Fort Shafter, Schofield Barracks, Fort Ruger, Fort Armstrong, Fort Kamehameha, Hickam Field, Luke Field and Tripler General Hospital.
The 9th Signal Service Company moved its unit headquarters from Honolulu to Fort Shafter in 1921. Operations remained in a status quo for most of the next two decades, though at some point the 9th Signal picked up responsibility for heavy cable construction within the Hawaiian Department. In 1925, the War Department began experimental work in the use of high frequency radio. Four years later, in May 1929, the 9th Signal implemented radio traffic with the mainland and Manila. In August 1930, 9th Signal also established direct radio contact with the War Department station in Washington, D.C.
Signal operations at Fort Shafter shifted with a sudden alarm on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. By 1942, the 9th Signal Service Company’s mission expanded as conflict dictated, and the unit began to furnish radio operators going out to Christmas, Canton, and Fanning Islands. It also supplied radio operators for transports sailing between San Francisco and Hawaii and for boats plying between the islands of the Hawaiian Territory itself.
In April 1943, the unit was redesignated as the 972nd Signal Service Company and on Jan. 8, 1944, was reorganized as a battalion and designated as the 972nd Signal Service Battalion. Its strength then stood at 643 personnel. By this time, the unit was reassigned to the U.S. Army Forces, Central Pacific Area. The expanding offensive in the Pacific and the consequent growth in signal requirements demanded a reallocation of theater signal resources. The 972nd Signal Service Battalion became the “wire battalion.” Its mission was to furnish personnel capable of handling the installation and maintenance of communications for the Wire Division of the Signal Office, Central Pacific Area. Though major elements of the battalion were employed on the Island of Oahu, detachments were set up on the Islands of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai.
The Central Pacific Base Command awarded the 972nd Signal Service Battalion the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque (later renamed the Meritorious Unit Commendation), for superior performance of exceptionally difficult tasks for the period March 1, 1945, to April 30, 1945. The battalion also earned the Central Pacific campaign streamer for the period 1941-1943. The battalion’s Signal Photographic Detachment was awarded the Eastern Mandates campaign streamer as well.
In January 1947, the battalion was reorganized and enlarged to a strength of 760. With this change, Headquarters Detachment, and Companies A and B were added to the battalion. In June 1948, the battalion was again reorganized – this time adding a headquarters company to replace the headquarters detachment. In July 1948, the battalion requested, and the Department of the Army later approved, the designation of Jan. 8 as the Unit Day for the 972nd based on the assumption of battalion status. Three months later, post war organizational reductions in force featured the first of several inactivations for the battalion at Fort Shafter, Territory of Hawaii.
A decade later, in May 1958, the Chief of Signal ordered the 972nd Signal Battalion back to active service, this time not overseas, but at Tobyanna Signal Depot, Pennsylvania. It was formally activated on May 14, 1958, as the 972nd Signal Battalion (Supply and Maintenance). The unit consisted of only a headquarters element with no assigned companies. In July 1962, the 972nd was reassigned from the Chief Signal Officer to Second United States Army. Three years later, in May 1965, it reorganized from a headquarters detachment to a headquarters company
In August 1965, the 972nd was alerted for overseas shipment back to the Pacific. This time it was not going to be the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, but to the war-torn shores of South Vietnam. While on its first tour in Vietnam, from September 1965 to October 1967, the unit operated signal depots as well as signal supply and maintenance points. It provided semi-fixed general support and mobile-fixed support for signal equipment. It was located at Qui Nhon and attached to the U. S. Army Support Command there. The 972nd was inactivated for a second time on Oct. 20, 1967, in Vietnam. This time, inactive status was short-lived and the unit was activated again in May 1968 at Fort Lewis, Washington, where its Soldiers trained for a short five months prior to the unit’s second deployment to Vietnam in October. Meanwhile, U.S. Army Vietnam awarded the 972nd its second Meritorious Unit Commendation in August 1968 for meticulous attention to detail in planning and monitoring signal logistics support for 13 major combat operations. The 972nd also earned four campaign streamers for its first tour in Vietnam.
The newly organized 972nd Signal Battalion arrived at Long Binh, Vietnam, on Oct. 29, 1968, and was assigned to the 2nd Signal Group, 1st Signal Brigade, U.S. Army Strategic Communications Command, to provide contingency communications support throughout the Republic of Vietnam. In November 1968, the 107th Signal Company (Support) was assigned to the battalion. The 107th was a federalized Rhode Island Army National Guard unit called up for Vietnam. Later that month, the 972nd gained the 267th Signal Company (Cable Construction) and the 327th Signal Company (Radio Relay).
During October 1969, as a third inactivation loomed for the 972nd, the battalion transferred control of the 267th and 327th Signal Companies to the 39th Signal Battalion, 2nd Signal Group. Also in October, the 107th Signal Company was released for redeployment to the continental United States. Later that month, despite the battalion’s imminent inactivation, the 972nd assumed control over the 324th Signal Company (Support). Then, in late November 1969, the Army inactivated the 972nd in conjunction with the phased redeployment of U.S. Army Forces from South Vietnam. During this tour in Vietnam, the battalion earned six more Vietnam campaign streamers.
For the next 28 years, the unit remained dormant on the Army’s inactive list. Then on Sept. 16, 1997, from the ashes of inactivation, the phoenix rose again. Originally designated the 9th Signal Service Company, the 972nd Signal Battalion materialized on the regular Army’s active rolls yet again, this time as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 9th Army Signal Command (ASC), a major subordinate command assigned to U.S. Army Forces Command.
Operationally activated at Fort Huachuca in the place of the short-lived and simultaneously discontinued Army Signal Command, 9th ASC continued to pursue the signal specific operational objectives of ASC and its MACOM predecessors,* providing long-haul communications systems for large military elements. In addition, 9th ASC has committed itself, without reservation, to strengthen Army command, control and communications reliability, connecting theater and field commanders with the Pentagon and National Command Authority in Washington, D.C.
In 1998, 9th ASC established Project Info-guard (an Army-wide network intrusion detection program) and the Army Network Systems and Operations Center (ANSOC), to supervise the protection of Army computer networks and critical information. As a new millennium loomed, follow-on development and integration of Theater Network Systems and Operations Centers, the Army Computer Emergency Response Team and Regional Computer Emergency Response Teams enabled 9th ASC to further upgrade the protection, availability, confidentiality and integrity of Army information assurance systems.
In conjunction with a turn-of-the-century Army-wide transformation initiative, 9th ASC next embarked upon a contingency package upgrade program to render the mobility of its field commands and brigades smaller and much more rapidly deployable. Under a separate Army Knowledge Management (AKM) transformation initiative in 2001, 9th ASC became the single operator and manager for the Army’s information structure. As such, 9th ASC was given the mission to operate, manage and defend the Army’s information networks at the enterprise level.
Finally, as part of the Army’s department-wide transformation, the newly redesignated NETCOM/9th ASC became a direct reporting unit (DRU) assigned to the Army Chief Information Officer (CIO/G6) on Oct. 1, 2002. Operationally, this activation accorded AKM (particularly the development of Army Knowledge Online (AKO)) to NETCOM/9th ASC. In addition, NETCOM/9th ASC became the operational executive agent for Army-wide network operations and security: the single point of contact for Army network development and protection, offering seamless C4 information management of common-user services in support of the combatant commanders and Army service component commanders. As such, the mission of NETCOM/9th ASC entailed the provision of technical control and support for Director of Information Management operations; the operation and management of the Army’s total information structure; and the management and defense of the Army frequency spectrum.
* For the purposes of mission definition, Army Signal Command formed an operational, non-lineal link between NETCOM/9th ASC and the Signal MACOMs of Fort Huachuca’s past dating backward to United States Army Information Systems Command (USAISC), United States Army Communications Command (USACC), and United States Army Strategic Communications Command (USASTRATCOM).
Visit the Center of Military History for more historical information about the U.S. Army