Prior to cessation of hostilities in Korea in July 1953, Hq Eighth Army received and processed a monthly average of approximately fifteen hundred requests for personnel security investigations and clearances initiated by staff sections of that Headquarters and by subordinate units and activities. Of this number, approximately twelve percent were requests for background investigations for individuals whose duties required access to either TOP SECRET or cryptological information and material classified up to and including SECRET. Temporary or interim clearances issued were, in all cases, based solely on information contained in the DD Form 398, Statement of Personal History, on the individual concerned and on results of cheeks of available files and records. However, almost without exception, the checks of available files and records resulted in the negative. Results of completed National Agency Checks were received from six to nine months after the requests were submitted and the results of completed background investigations were received from ten to fourteen months subsequent to initiation of requests. Approximately fifty percent of the results received pertained to personnel who had previously departed the Far East Command upon completion of their tours of overseas duty as established by the then-existent rotation policy.

Although current DA relations wore adhered to in granting temporary or interim clearances for classified information and material, the situation was believed to be contrary to the best interests of national security. The granting of such clearances is


based solely on the basis of the Statement of Personal History and results of checks of very limited available files and records may well have been to the advantage of individuals with subversive intent. Such personnel could conceivably, through falsification or omission of information in Statements of Personal History, occupy sensitive positions and remain in such undetected positions until such time as the results were obtained.

A minimum of six months elapsed in those cases involving access to information and material classified up to and including SECRET. In those cases involving cryptographic or TOP SECRET information and material, a minimum of ten months elapsed. Subversives could have had access to classified information and material until results were received or until they departed the overseas command upon rotation. Another problem was to insure the expeditious notification to higher headquarters of the transfer of personnel restricted to non-sensitive duties because of sufficient credible information reflecting on their loyalty, character, discretion, and integrity. In many instances, upon recheck of the status of those individuals by G2, AFFE, it was discovered that the personnel had been transferred months before and the counterintelligence file upon which restriction was based had been held by the parent organization. The failure of the losing organization to forward the notification of this transfer and file served to minimize the effectiveness of this portion of the security program and greatly complicated the tasks of the gaining command in weeding out undesirable personnel. This problem was not limited to the Korean Theater or the Command as a whole—many personnel were transferred to this Command from CONUS who were the subjects of counterintelligence files. Notification of the disqualifying information was received in several instances some months after the individual arrived in this command.

In addition to losses of personnel through battle casualties, non-combat medical reasons, and rotation—all of which contributed to


the rapid turn-over of personnel in sensitive duties—Eighth Army was faced with the presence of aliens in the U. S. Forces in Korea which decreased to a degree the number of available personnel who might be considered and selected for positions requiring access to classified information and material. Since limited Access Authorizations could not be granted to an alien member of the U. S. Forces prior to the completion of favorable background investigation and polygraph examination, and since, due to operational necessity, the need for personnel who could be placed in sensitive positions was immediate, the selection of personnel who could be granted temporary or interim clearances required careful consideration. Lack of qualified personnel who had prior training for positions requiring access to classified information and material further limited the number of those who could be selected. In many instances, in order to maintain efficient operations, commanders knowingly selected for sensitive duties trained personnel with short periods of service in Korea remaining rather then those with long service periods remaining but who were untrained. The resultant rapid turn-over of personnel contributed substantially to the large numbers of requests received for personnel security investigations and clearances.


During the period July 1950 to December 1950, a total of fifteen CIC combat detachments were activated from the 441st CIC Detachment personnel for duty in Korea. Total authorized strength for CIC in Korea was 376 personnel, over one-third of 441st authorized strength. Loss replacements for these detachments were provided also by the 441st CIC Detachment. Replacements for the 441st CIC Detachment were obtained from CIC sources in the ZI. In order to insure that a maximum number of CIC personnel would be given the opportunity of gaining CIC combat experience and to retain combat effectiveness of the CIC units in Korea, an intra-theater rotation program


was considered to be a logical necessity.

After careful study and consideration relative to the time spent in pipeline, it was determined that the SOP for processing and assigning all CIC personnel replacements from CONUS to the various CIC detachments in the Far East was costly and time consuming. The prevailing policy was to ship all replacements from CONUS to Yokohama or Haneda Airport, then to the Camp Drake Replacement Depot. They remained there until the personnel officer at Camp Drake procured assignment information from the commanding officer, 441st CIC Detachment. This procedure placed an unnecessary burden on the Camp Drake Replacement Depot in that all personnel, irrespective of ultimate assignment, had to attend and participate in a general orientation and personnel processing. Furthermore, the Replacement Depot had to spend needless time in requesting assignment instructions from Hq, 441st CIC Detachment. Personnel were delayed for a period of several days to one week at Camp Drake, and those ultimately assigned to the 441st had to go through an orientation and processing program similar to the one they had already undergone. A more serious disadvantage was that during the course of processing at Camp Drake, there was a tendency to compromise CIC personnel.

Because of the small number of CIC replacements arriving from ZI, rotation could be effected only between Korea and Japan. Operation Rotate, as devised by Hq, 441st CIC Detachment and approved by the ACofS, G2 and G1, FEC, established a rotation criteria of six months in a division type CIC or twelve months in Army, Corps and Port-type CIC Detachments; a maximum of fifty-two personnel was established as the monthly rotation figure from Korea to Japan with an equal number of replacements being furnished each month by the 441st. Replacements were to arrive in the Korean CIC unit and be briefed by the rotates prior to the latter's departure for Japan. The 441st, therefore, served as a pipeline.


In order to correct the time lost in pipeline status for replacements, a directive was issued that all future assignments of CIC personnel to the Far East would be made directly to the 441st CIC Detachment. The intra-theater program proved a most satisfactory stopgap arrangement pending arrival of adequate CIC replacements from the ZI. No concommitant problems were created as a result of the intra-theater rotation program.

The new program, eliminating the time lost by CIC replacements in the pipeline, was immediately implemented and its advantages became apparent within a few weeks. Personnel arriving from the ZI were moved directly to Headquarters, 441st CIC Detachment. This arrangement produced the following results:

1. Removed the burden of orientation and processing CIC personnel at the Camp Drake Replacement Depot.

2. Decreased the amount of time spent in pipeline status from approximately seven days to several hours.

3. Assured greater security and prevented compromise of CIC personnel.

4. Eliminated duplication of orientation and processing of personnel.

5. Afforded greater opportunity to screen the individual's qualifications, thus resulting in a more scientific assignment.


Shortly after the entry of the United States into the Korean conflict, it became apparent that many United States prisoners held by the Communists were writing statements, making broadcasts, signing peace appeals, and committing other acts which were detrimental to the best interests of the United States. Information to this effect came from behind the Bamboo Certain by radio, propaganda leaflets, booklets, and through the mail.

No plan existed whereby one central agency would gather data pertaining to Communist-held prisoners who were committing acts which


were detrimental to the best interests of the United States. The 441st CIC Detachment established a central control section within the Background Branch to gather and compile data into individual dossiers on prisoners mentioned in, or collected with, any type of communication which favored or benefitted the Communists. This section kept the dossiers current by adding newly obtained information or cross-referencing reports when more than one name was mentioned. Upon implementation of "Little Switch," Department of the Army directed establishment of a control file on each returnee.

The dossier established on each returnee became the basic part of the control file. Prior to interrogation, each returnee's dossier was made available to the interrogator for background information and to form a basis for direct questioning. Upon completion of the counterintelligence and military intelligence processing, the basic dossier and the results of the interrogation were combined into one control file. The 441st CIC Detachment devoted considerable time and effort to complete the reproduction of the original dossier to accompany the returnee on his departure from the Far East. Subsequently, these dossiers were forwarded to ACofS, G2, of the gaining command. Upon implementation of "Big Switch," each dossier had to be made in one extra copy for retention by the ACofS, G2, AFFE.

The dossiers on captured American personnel proved beneficial as a source of background information on each prisoner and assisted in determining preliminary classifications as security risks. The dossiers also formed the basis for strategically and psychologically directed interrogations. The reproduction process enabled AFFE to make available to the gaining command, simultaneously with the arrival of the returnee, all pertinent information developed during the processing.


The terrain between North and South Korea provides no natural barriers that might serve to prevent the infiltration of enemy


agents into South Korea. Off shore, and outflanking the friendly MLR, are many islands with freak tides, currents and mud flats that provide easy passageway for traffic between North and South Korea. The many mountainous ridges running from North to South also provide convenient avenues which have never been entirely sealed off.

The problem presented by the terrain was solved by maximum co-ordination between all agencies to assure as complete coverage as could be afforded by personnel available. Enemy agents were rendered conspicuous by the establishment of an area extending from the MLR to a "Stay Back'' line. Civilians were kept to a minimum in this area; therefore, security agents kind little difficulty in subjecting all civilians to a vigorous scrutiny. Routes penetrating the MLR were covered by ambush patrols. Check points were set up to screen all traffic along the MLR, manned by U.S. and Korean personnel, and assured adequate travel control. Joint operation was essential since the language barrier precluded adequate screening of individuals by another nationality. Additional checkpoints were set up at boat landings, railroads, and bridges. Naval patrols, friendly partisan forces, and port security agencies attempted to check all travel between the islands. Apprehended agents were given a complete and exhaustive interrogation at the earliest possible opportunity to extract information pertaining to their route of travel through the MLR and on other agents that might be following at later dates so that they might be intercepted. The solutions developed are believed to be adequate, and this problem will be present to a certain degree in any combat situation.


The threat of operations of sabotage nature in Japan was of continuing concern to G2 as a result of the hostilities in Korea and the subsequent military armistice negotiations. Targets for sabotage were numerous, particularly in the field of power, communications, and transportation. A successful disruption of any of these


primary targets could have adversely affected the United Nations' operations in Korea. Constant investigation and subsequent analysis formed the basis for plans with which to counter this potential threat.

In furthering this effort, spot reports of all incidents which could conceivably have been sabotage were immediately transmitted to G2, AFFE. To augment the continuing positive action being taken in connection with the potential sabotage threat, a counter plan was immediately implemented. Informants, all police, governmental investigative agencies, and press sources were thoroughly covered with even greater emphasis. With the possibility of retaliation by released indigenous employees from installations supporting the United Nations Command, the "Post-Armistice Plans, Counter-Subversive Activities" were emphasized by more frequent security surveys, security lectures to installation personnel, reviewing Troop Information and Education lectures, and re-screening all indigenous employees. Liaison was extended to all responsible officers of Marine ground and air forces, and all other units recently assigned in Japan. The purpose and intent of the reference letter was explained and the services of CIC in the implementation of this program were emphasized and explained to all unit commanders and/or security officers.

Several alleged sabotage attempts were reported, but none were confirmed. The result of investigation and analysis of alleged sabotage incidents for the period 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953 failed to reflect any large-scale, or any trend in, sabotage operations. Therefore, the conclusion was that sabotage, as a primary threat in Japan, represented a potentiality rather than an actuality for the period covered.


With the advent of the Korean War it become apparent that the Communist-controlled countries, especially North Korea, would intensify their espionage activities in Japan. CIC was aware of this and increased its coverage of targets which it believed Communist


agents would attempt to penetrate. In August 1950, the first big break came with the apprehension of a North Korean major, the controlling agent of one of the cells of the North Korean Espionage Ring in Japan. Under interrogation he unfolded a fantastic tale of operations by the ring. Through leads developed from this interrogation, many arrests were made and much of the agents' work was nullified. In some cases, agents were "doubled," which enabled CIC to cover the other cells of the ring operating in Japan. There were many problems encountered in the investigation. First, the Communists attach great importance to espionage and intelligence work in general; consequently, it was easy for the agents to obtain needed funds, supplies, and personnel from their headquarters in Korea. The second big obstacle was the lack of effective espionage laws in Japan under which these agents could be prosecuted. Many other general aspects made investigation difficult. Among these were the fact that the Koreans in Japan owe no particular allegiance to either Korea or Japan, which made for easy recruitment of espionage agents. Even those Koreans not ideologically inclined toward Communism or North Korea could be recruited readily. The ease of getting agents into and out of Japan by illegal means and the relative ease of providing identity documents for illegal entrants, together with the usual oriental indiscriminate use of aliases, made their movements difficult to follow. Because of the propinquity of Japan and Korea, vast numbers of the residents of both countries engaged in smuggling operations and used these operations for their espionage purposes, thus securing a ready-made means of getting agents and information into and out of Japan. Through smuggling rings already established or newly created rings, profits from illegal transactions were used to finance the operations of the espionage ring. There was no language barrier to hamper or restrict the activities of the Korean espionage agents, since the majority of the Koreans speak Japanese fluently. High-level penetration into Japanese governmental agencies by Korean agents revealed United States'


activities and intentions in Japan. As a result of the Administrative Agreement and the Peace Treaty, CIC was prevented from making arrests or raids and conducting investigations.

The fact that there is no espionage law in Japan allowed the North Korean agents to conduct their espionage operations with relative impunity. To circumvent this situation, espionage agents were apprehended and charged with other offenses which they committed, e.g., illegal entry or smuggling. After serving a minor sentence for these offenses they were deported to Korea where there are more stringent laws for espionage. Here they are re-arrested, this time charged with violation of the espionage laws. CIC agents were thus enabled to interrogate these agents personally, and obtain additional information which might have been overlooked by the Japanese police or which reflected unfavorably on the Japanese government.

The illegal entry and exit of North Korean agents was, to a great extent, curtailed by increased vigilance of the South Korean and Japanese Coast Guards. Before the Korean War ships were actually chartered to smuggle and transport illegal entrants. With the beginning of hostilities and more thorough screening by the authorities the ring resorted to smuggling individual agents into the country on legitimately operated ships. This meant that there was no mass saturation of the country with agents. CIC relied on inside informants to give information on these new agents when they made their contacts.

Although these agents entered the country illegally, it was imperative that they secure Foreign National Registration Certificates from the Japanese Government so that they could travel throughout the country without fear of arrest. Many were able to obtain these certificates through connivance with corrupt ward officials, but the fact that a picture of the applicant had to be on file neutralized the extensive use of aliases. Information was received on other active agents by having an informant search thousands of registration cards.


Although the Administrative Agreement and Peace Treaty prevented CIC from actually making arrests and raids, they did prove beneficial in other ways. Because of effective liaison with Japanese authorities, the police were able to do most of the work normally performed by CIC. Thus, the CIC could expand the scope of its investigation. For example, one CIC agent was able to direct the investigative activities of an entire police section. Besides the check the Japanese police made of agents in Japan, a further check was made by CIC in Korea when the agents were sent there for further interrogation and prosecution.

The system of arrest, detention, and thorough interrogation was effective in that many of the controlling enemy agents were removed from circulation. The transmittal of vital information and free liaison between enemy agents and North Korean authorities was controlled and curtailed, and espionage operations by North Korean agents in general was retarded.


page created 10 January 2002

Return to the Table of Contents

Return to CMH Online