The Soldiers of the 525th 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, Md. before deactivating at Fort Campbell, Ky. 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 Feb. 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 (redesignated as Company, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion in 1959) activated at Fort Riley, Ka. 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, Md., 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 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. The Group manned four combined intelligence centers in Saigon in cooperation with South Vietnamese intelligence agencies.
Most of the non-tactical intelligence organizations in the U.S. Army were attached or assigned to the 525th Group at some point during the war.
In the early 1980’s, the 525th Group underwent significant organizational changes designed to strengthen its capacity to conduct electronic intelligence activities and engage the Soviet military.
In June 1981, the XVIII Airborne Corps G2 established an opposition forces training detachment within the 519th Battalion.
On June 30, 1985, the 525th Military Intelligence Group became the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade. That day, the image of a lightning bolt beneath a yellow and black checkerboard pattern was first approved for wear as the brigade shoulder sleeve insignia.
The lightning bolt symbolizes the unit’s communication and electronic warfare capabilities and the checkerboard represents vigilance throughout both day and night.