In November 1968, the Counterintelligence Analysis Division (CIAD) of the Counterintelligence Division (CD) of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (OACSI) of the Department of the Army (DA) was located in an obscure building off the beaten path of Baily’s Crossroads.
A traditional mission of the 902nd MI Group, of which CIAD was a part, was maintaining security at the Pentagon. This had taken on greater importance following the October 21, 1967 antiwar march on the Pentagon that followed a rally on the Mall by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. This large demonstration against the Vietnam War was immediately chronicled when Harper’s Magazine published Norman Mailer’s 25,000 word article “The Steps of the Pentagon” in in March, 1968. This piece later appeared as the epilog to Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize winning antiwar book of New Journalism, “The Armies of the Night.”
Apart from physical security issues, since the Pentagon was the center of the nation’s military establishment, the building always housed a motherload of military secrets the Soviet Union and other bad actors of the day were always targeting. As a result, part of the 902nd was colloquially referred to as “the night crawlers.” This group was largely made up of enlisted men who spent their nights patrolling the Pentagon corridors and offices looking for security violations such as filing cabinets left unlocked. This was the kind of boring drudgery I mostly escaped at CIAD. However, I did get assigned once to one of these nightcrawler details. As soon as the day workers at the Pentagon departed, I began the rounds of a section of offices looking for filing cabinets left unlocked, and collecting the large special paper trash bags filled with all the classified documents people had thrown out during the day. That was the night I learned the way to the Pentagon’s industrial grade furnace for daily classified document disposal.
The Counterintelligence Analysis Division, as the name suggests, didn’t directly run any spies. It was instead in the business of digesting the production of pertinent intelligence gathered primarily by other Army and service intelligence units, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The goal was to sift through this production and cull out what pertained directly to performing the Army’s designated counterintelligence missions.
The CIAD office was in warehouse-type building with few windows that also housed a Northern Virginia Community College automotive repair training workshop.
A number of CIAD analysts were assigned to read and evaluate counterintelligence reports from Vietnam. During my time there, a young analyst with this job had the time to put two and two together in a way that wasn’t possible for his time-pressed counterparts in Saigon. Though the details of his breakthrough were as usual kept under “need to know” wraps, the CIAD chief organized a small party to celebrate and honor my colleague. Thanks to his careful analysis of the counterintelligence traffic crossing his desk, he had pretty much single-handedly caused a North Vietnamese spy ring in Saigon to be rolled up.
While some aspects of the 902nd’d duties, like Pentagon security, never changed much, race riots, which had racked the country in 1919 and 1943, were back recently back on the Army’s agenda. In the summer of 1967, right before the march on the Pentagon, Detroit had been the scene of a race riot that had exploded beyond the control of local police and the Michigan National Guard. The Regular Army had been called in by the Michigan Governor and the President to help quell the violence.
After the Detroit riot and the march on the Pentagon, the takeaway from 1967 for the Army was that it needed to be much better prepared for a continuing period of civil and racial unrest.