Rich Galen

The lineage of the 717th Military Intelligence Battalion goes back to World War II. According to the official history it "began with the unit designated as 'Monitor Station One' located in Warrenton, Virginia" which is about 42 miles west of Alexandria.

According to the Army:

"Monitor Station One quickly became a critical intelligence gathering unit, playing a pivotal role in eavesdropping on enemy communications [emphasis mine].

In 1943, the station intercepted messages from the Japanese ambassador in Berlin to his superiors in Tokyo providing a detailed description of Nazi fortifications long the French coast."

You know what came next. Knowing how the Germans had deployed along the coast gave allied planners an inside look at how to deal with them during Operation Overlord.

I want to point that out because these young men and women are doing exactly the same thing their great-grandparents did in World War II - using technology to help our side better understand what the other guys are plotting. Exactly what Edward Snowden thinks is so reprehensible.

I got to spent a few hours among men and women who, unlike Snowden, are not looking for public notice - neither glory, nor infamy - but have volunteered to join the American military to help keep the rest of us safe.

Mike Ceroli went back to his base at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I came home to Alexandria, Virginia. In the way of military life, Joe Kushner and his wife are, today, packing up his office, their home, and their two-week-old baby son and are moving to Pennsylvania for a year at the Army War College.

In that essay about our trip to Fallujah I wrote this about the young commander of the PsyOps detachment there:

We just keep growing these kids, asking them to do unbelievably important things in the harshest possible circumstances at an age when we should be worried if they aren't home by midnight much less home by next September and, oh, by the way, please be responsible for the lives of a dozen-or-so other soldiers most of whom are older than you are.

Still true today. And we should thank God for them.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A link to that essay about Fallujah, to a web page showing military pay scales for various ranks, to the official history of U.S. Army Military Intelligence, and to theNSA's definition of SIGINT.

The Mullfoto is a typical buddy photo: Joe Kushner, Mike Ceroli, and me.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at