USAFSS and Successor Organizations


The Air Force Security Service (USAFSS or AFSS) was activated as a major command* on October 20, 1948, charged with cryptologic and communications security (COMSEC) missions for the newly-created Department of the Air Force. In January, 1964, USAFSS adopted the motto "Freedom Through Vigilance," which was coined by Lt Mike Egan. USAFSS (as well as its successor organizations) was the Air Force component of the Central Security Service (CSS), a companion organization to the National Security Agency (NSA).

The USAFSS emblem is divided into four quadrants. The globe symbolized worldwide influence; the lightning bolt symbolized radio transmissions; the wing symbolized the Air Force itself; and the sword symbolized protection and security. The emblem was designed by Airman Second Class (A2C) William "Bill" Rogers of Miami, Florida. His design was selected from a command-wide contest of entries. The "Freedom through Vigilance" motto was authored by Lt Mike Egan, a former USAFSS member (duty assignment unknown).

ESC Emblem

On 1 August 1979, the Air Force redesignated USAFSS as the Electronic Security Command (ESC), a major command* that assumed the broad responsibility to improve the Air Force's use of electronic warfare technology in combat.

The Electronic Security Command (ESC) emblem was set on a field of blue preserving one of the links to the USAFSS emblem. The blue color also symbolizes valor and loyalty. The lightning blade was also drawn from the USAFSS emblem to preserve tradition and to represent the identification with electronics. Connecting the blade to a sword hilt suggests its transformation into a weapon delivering an immediate readiness of action, much as the more passive mission of USAFSS evolved into the active role with which ESC is charged. The silver shield also originates from the USAFSS emblem, a continuing legacy of defense and security. The chess piece — a black knight conveyed several meanings: The color black takes meaning from the rule of chess that black moves second, representing the counter-movement tactics representative of ESC's countermeasure missions. The knight is a powerful chessman, striking from unexpected quarter and is the only piece able to strike while obstructed. It employs elegant rather than brute force. All of these attributes combine to symbolize Command, Control, and Communications (C3) counter measures and the move/counter-move nature of electronic warfare.

AFIC Emblem

On 1 October 1991, the Air Force redesignated the Electronic Security Command as the Air Force Intelligence Command (AFIC). This new organization consolidated, restructured and streamlined the personnel and missions of the Air Force Foreign Technology Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, the Air Special Activities Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., and elements of the Air Force Intelligence Agency, Washington D.C., into a single command.

The Air Force Intelligence Command (AFIC) emblem is symbolic of its diverse missions. The black knight chess piece was retained from the ESC emblem and indicates classic deception. The shield originated from the USAFSS emblem denoting, as it did then, both defense and the security resulting from that defense. The shield is separated into four quadrants indicating the four corners of the Earth symbolizing the command's worldwide mission of support. The double-edged sword refers to the military role of the Air Force. It signifies the readiness of AFIC to utilize electronics in both defensive and offensive operations and to ensure national security.

AIA Emblem

On October 1, 1993, the Air Force Intelligence Command was redesignated the Air Intelligence Agency (AIA) and simultaneously designated a field operating agency* reporting directly to the Headquarters US Air Force Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. AIA was the "Air Force's single source intelligence agency, combining various intelligence disciplines to provide current, accurate data to air component commanders and national decision makers."In February 2001, the Air Force assigned AIA to Air Combat Command, where it provided support to combat operations during the wars in the Middle East.

The Air Intelligence Agency (AIA) maintains the Air Force colors of blue and yellow in its command emblem. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The globe signifies the intelligence the agency provides to the Air Force Global Reach - Global Power Mission. The key represents the Agency's efforts to unlock its protagonist's secrets. The teeth on the ward symbolize the disciplines of intelligence gathering signals intelligence, imagery intelligence, human intelligence, and measurements and signatures intelligence. The chess knight reflects counter-intelligence and the ability to use intelligence information in a variety of ways. The compass rose symbolizes intelligence operations reaching the four corners of the earth and the use of satellite information gathering.


In August 2006, the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen T. Michael Moseley, directed Air Force intelligence to transform into an organization that stressed its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. As a result of this unprecedented reorganization and mission expansion, the Air Force redesignated AIA as the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AF ISR Agency) on June 8, 2007. The organizational change included transforming AFISRA once again into a field operating agency and reassigning it from Air Combat Command to Headquarters Air Force, reporting to the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.

The AFISRA emblem uses blue to allude to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. The yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of all Airmen. The emblem is divided into four quadrants to represent the Agency's roles and responsibilities in the Air Force Mission. The quadrants signify persistence in the warfighting role; a strategic to tactical ISR integration role for national level decision-makers and combatant commanders; the dedicated, selfless and professional military and civilian personnel who make up the unit; and the Air Force's core values. The chess knight conveys the ability to strike from an unexpected quadrant while obstructed, and embodies the unit's ability to excel in crowded and often obstructed battlefields. The double-edged sword signifies the ability to wage offensive and defensive operations. The key symbolizes the Agency's ability to unlock the adversary's secrets. Finally, the four teeth on the key symbolize the ISR disciplines: signals intelligence, imagery intelligence, human intelligence, and measurements and signatures intelligence. See the AFISRA Fact Sheet (PDF).

25 AF Emblem

On 29 September 2014, AFISRA was redesignated the 25th Air Force. See the 25th Air Force Fact Sheet for details.

Note that the emblem design, color (and meanings) were all carried over from the AFISRA emblem.


* See "Types of Air Force Organizations" for description


1. For a detailed history of USAFSS through the years, see the official "Continuing Legacy" history publications listed and available for download on the Documents page.

2. Emblem descriptions are unofficial. The original statements are on file at the 25 AF History Office.