The Soldiers of the 525
Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, also known as the “Lightning Brigade,” have a distinguished history dating back nearly seven decades. The brigade is a unique combination of military intelligence, cavalry and long range surveillance capabilities that traces its lineage to three World War II era units: the 525th Interrogation Team, the 218th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment, and the 38th Cavalry Squadron.
During World War II, the 38th Squadron participated in the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe campaigns. The squadron was especially famous for being the first unit to enter a liberated Paris in August 1944. The 218th Detachment spent most of 1945 operating in Germany, France and Fort Meade, Maryland before deactivating at Fort Campbell, Kentucky that October. The 525th Team served a six-month tour in Heidelberg, Germany before temporarily deactivating in November 1946.
The late 1940’s and 1950’s were a period of rapid growth and major re-organization for the 525th Group and many of the units that would eventually fall under its command. On February 21, 1948, the 525th Headquarters Intelligence Detachment was reactivated and assigned to Fort Bragg.
Originally a small element of one officer and three enlisted Soldiers, the unit expanded to become the 525th Military Intelligence Service Group in 1950, with an authorized strength of 350 enlisted personnel, 100 officers, and one warrant officer.
Organizations specializing in censorship, interpretation, and counterintelligence were attached to the Group.
The 523rd Military Intelligence Service Platoon (re-designated as Alpha Company, 519th
Military Intelligence Battalion in 1959) activated at Fort Riley, Kansas in 1950 and deployed to Korea from 1951 until 1954. The platoon became a company in 1952 and earned one Meritorious Unit Citation and two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations during the deployment.
On April 30, 1952, the 218th Counter Intelligence Detachment was reactivated at Fort Holabird, Maryland, which at the time was the home of the U.S. Army Intelligence School and Counter Intelligence Records Facility. In June of that year, the 218th Detachment relocated to Fort Bragg and remained active there until September 1978. The 218th Detachment would merge with the 525th Military Intelligence Group on June 16, 1979.
In 1957, the 525th Group moved to Fort Meade, Md. and took charge of two attached units: the 541st Military Intelligence Platoon and 177th Military Intelligence Detachment, the latter of which specialized in armed forces censorship. Sections dedicated to intelligence education and language training would later join the unit at Fort Meade.
In November 1965, the 525th Military Intelligence Group was assigned to U.S. Army Vietnam. The largest military intelligence organization stationed in the country, the Group was tasked with conducting counterintelligence activities and intelligence collection throughout the entire theater of operations.
(Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part story about the 525th BfSB. For part two, see next week’s Paraglide.)