On January 15, 1953, Brig. Gen. Harry Reichelderfer assumed command of the Army Security Agency (ASA). A long-serving Signal Corps officer, Reichelderfer would serve as the ASA chief for almost four years, providing much needed stability in the eight-year-old organization.

The 57-year-old Reichelderfer received his Army commission just after the United States entered World War I. Before joining the Signal Corps in 1921, he served as an infantry officer with the 27th Infantry in Siberia in 1919-1920. As a Signal Corps officer, he proved a capable administrator with a particular talent for combat development. He served as the commander or deputy for the Signal Corps’ Sound Laboratory (1922-1924); Aircraft Radio Laboratory (1935-1938 & 1940); and Engineering Laboratory (1949-1951). He also served as the commander of both the Signal Corps Training Center at Fort Gordon, Georgia (1948-1949) and Signal Corps Center at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey (1951). On the operational side, Reichelderfer served as the signal officer for Gen. Walter Kruger’s Sixth Army in the Southwest Pacific Area during World War II. In short, Reichelderfer took command of ASA with a good stock of administrative and operational experience.

When Reichelderfer assumed command, ASA was a world-wide organization of just over 13,000 uniformed personnel (1,270 officers, 167 warrants, and 11,606 enlisted). These troops were divided into thirty-six table of organization and equipment (TOE) units and thirty table of distribution (TD) organizations. The TOE units operated from mobile intercept positions and were meant to directly support the Army’s forces in the field. The TD organizations included twelve field stations that supported national collection efforts. Overall, ASA’s personnel strength was divided almost equally between TOE units, field stations, and administrative groups. The ASA history for FY53 stated: “The overall agency strength was considered satisfactory; ASA schools were at peak load; and agency recruiting activities were as a rule meeting established monthly quotas.”

To operate the agency, Reichelderfer had a budget of $14.8 million. The agency allocated just under 58 percent of the budget ($8.4 million) to procurement of cryptologic equipment. Another $2 million went to equipment for field stations and mobile units, while $2 million paid the civilians.