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Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Abbreviation NCIS
NCIS Logo.jpg
Naval Criminal Investigative Service
USA - NCIS Seal.png
Logo of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
NCIS Badge.jpg
Badge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Agency overview
Formed 1992
Preceding agency Naval Investigative Service (NIS)
Employees 2,400
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency United States
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters 716 Sicard Street, S.E.
Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C.[1]
Special Agents 1,200 (approx)
Agency executive Gregory A. Scovel[2], Director (Acting)
Parent agency United States Department of the Navy
Field Offices 14

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is the primary security, counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism, and law enforcement agency of the United States Department of the Navy. It is the successor organization to the former Naval Investigative Service (NIS).

Roughly half of the 2,400 NCIS employees are civilian special agents who are trained to carry out a wide variety of assignments at locations across the globe. NCIS special agents are armed federal law enforcement investigators, who frequently coordinate with other U.S. government agencies. NCIS special agents are supported by analysts and other experts skilled in disciplines such as forensics, surveillance, surveillance countermeasures, computer investigations, physical security, and polygraph examinations.




NCIS traces its roots to Navy Department General Order 292 of 1882, signed by William H. Hunt, Secretary of the Navy, which established the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). Initially, the ONI was tasked with collecting information on the characteristics and weaponry of foreign vessels, charting foreign passages, rivers, or other bodies of water, and touring overseas fortifications, industrial plants, and shipyards.

In anticipation of the United States' entry into World War I, the ONI's responsibilities expanded to include espionage, sabotage, and all manner of information on the Navy's potential adversaries; and in World War II the ONI became responsible for the investigation of sabotage, espionage and subversive activities that pose any kind of threat to the Navy.

NIS and the Cold War

The major buildup of civilian special agents began with the Korean War in 1950, and continued through the Cold War years. In 1966 the name Naval Investigative Service (NIS) was adopted to distinguish the organization from the rest of ONI, and in 1969 NIS special agents were reclassified from contract employees and became Excepted Civil Service.

The early 1970s saw an NIS special agent stationed on the USS Intrepid (CV-11) for six months which was the beginning of the "Deployment Afloat" program, (now called the Special Agent Afloat program). In 1972, background investigations were transferred from NIS to the newly formed Defense Investigative Service (DIS), allowing NIS to give more attention to criminal investigations and counter-intelligence. The first female agent was stationed at Naval Air Station Miramar, California, in 1975.

In 1982, NIS assumed responsibility for managing the Navy's Law Enforcement and Physical Security Program and the Navy's Information and Personnel Security Program.

Two months after the October 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, the agency opened the Navy Antiterrorist Alert Center (ATAC). The ATAC was a 24-hour-a-day operational intelligence center that issued indications and warnings on terrorist activity to Navy and Marine Corps commands. ATAC was the facility at which Jonathan Pollard was working when he committed the acts of espionage for which he was convicted in 1987. In 2002 the ATAC became the Multiple Threat Alert Center (MTAC).

In 1984, special agents began training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Georgia, the training facility for most other federal investigative agencies except FBI.

In 1985, Cathal L. Flynn became the first admiral to lead NIS. The command took on the additional responsibility of Information and Personnel Security. In 1986, the Department of the Navy Central Adjudication Facility (DoN CAF) was established and placed under the agency, as the agency was now once again responsible for adjudicating security clearances (although not the actual investigations). DoN CAF renders approximately 200,000 eligibility determinations annually for the Department of the Navy.

Recent NCIS History

In 1991, then NIS, was responsible for the Tailhook scandal investigation involving sexual misconduct and harrassment by Naval and Marine Corps officers in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 1992, the NIS mission was again clarified and became a mostly civilian agency. Roy D. Nedrow, a former United States Secret Service (USSS) executive, was appointed as the first civilian director and the name changed from Naval Investigative Service to Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Nedrow oversaw the restructuring of NCIS into a Federal law enforcement agency with 14 field offices controlling field operations in 140 locations worldwide. In 1995, NCIS introduced the Cold Case Homicide Unit.

In May 1997, David L. Brant was appointed Director of NCIS by Secretary of the Navy John Howard Dalton. Director Brant retired in December 2005. He was succeeded by Director Thomas A. Betro who was appointed Director of NCIS in January 2006, by Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter. As the Director of NCIS, Mr. Betro was the senior official responsible for criminal, counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism investigations and operations, as well as security matters within the Department of the Navy. However, Mr. Betro retired in September 2009. On September 13, 2009, Deputy Director of Operations Gregory A. Scovel was appointed Acting Director by Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work. He will serve concurrently as Deputy Director for Operations until the new Director is selected. Mr. Scovel leads an agency composed of some 2,400 civilian and military personnel that has a presence in over 150 locations world-wide. He is responsible for executing an annual operating budget of approximately $460 million.

In 1999, NCIS and the Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division (CID) signed a memorandum of understanding calling for an integration of Marine Corps CID into NCIS, and in 2000, Congress granted NCIS civilian special agents authority to execute warrants and make arrests. Virtually all NCIS investigators, criminal, counterintelligence, and force protection personnel are now sworn civilian personnel with powers of arrest and warrant service. The exceptions are a small number of reserve military elements engaged in counter-intelligence support.

A growing appreciation of the changing threat facing the Department of the Navy in the 21st century, culminating with the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole (DDG-67) in Yemen and the attacks on September 11, 2001, led NCIS to transform the Anti-terrorist Alert Center into the Multiple Threat Alert Center (MTAC) in 2002

NCIS agents were the first U.S. law enforcement personnel on the scene at the USS Cole bombing, the Limburg bombing and the terrorist attack in Mombasa, Kenya. NCIS's Cold Case unit has solved 50 homicides since 1995 — one of which was 33 years old.

NCIS has conducted fraud investigations resulting in over half a billion dollars in recoveries and restitution to the U.S. government and the U.S. Navy since 1997. NCIS investigates any death occurring on a Navy vessel or Navy/Marine Corps aircraft or installation (except when the cause of death is medically attributable to disease or natural causes). NCIS oversees the Master at Arms programs for the Navy, overseeing 8800 Masters-At-Arms and the Military Working Dog program. NCIS's three strategic priorities are to: Prevent Terrorism, Protect Secrets, and Reduce Crime.

Current missions for NCIS include criminal investigations, force protection, cross-border drug enforcement, anti-terrorism, counter-terrorism, major procurement fraud, computer crime and counter-intelligence.

NCIS Special Agent Peter Garza conducted the first court-ordered Internet wiretap in the United States.[3]

NCIS in media

  • In the 1992 movie A Few Good Men, a marine's letter to the then-NIS was the motive for the alleged homicide at the heart of the courtroom drama.
  • NCIS is mentioned various times in TV drama JAG, based on the Navy's legal division, the Judge Advocate General's Corps.
  • In 2003, a television show (NCIS) premiered on CBS, based on the NCIS. (This series was a "spinoff" of the television series JAG.) The show is still in production.
  • In 2009, a television show (NCIS: Los Angeles) premiered on CBS, based on the OSP arm of NCIS, in Los Angeles. (This TV series is a "sister show" and "spinoff" of NCIS).
  • In Richard Marcinko's book Rogue Warrior, he details his conflict with NIS. Later an NIS investigation named "Iron Eagle" would result in a federal prison sentence.
  • In the 2006 CBS drama Jericho a character was found with a counterfeit NCIS badge.
  • Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History was Brought to Justice was published in 2006. Written by retired NCIS Special Agent Ron Olive, it recounts the NCIS investigation of Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1986 by an American court for spying for Israel.
  • Special Agent, Vietnam: A Naval Intelligence Memoir was written by Douglass H. Hubbard about special agents during Vietnam.
  • In a 2008 episode of the comedy-drama TV series Monk, "Mr. Monk Is Underwater", a submarine officer dies in a locked room aboard a submarine and NCIS is called in and rules it a suicide. When Monk and the crew investigate, the ship suddenly descends and Monk finds himself trapped on board, underwater, and proves that it was a murder.
  • In a season 10 episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, "PTSD", a Marine who was pregnant by a rapist, supposedly another Marine, is reported missing. JAG is called in and NCIS will supposedly do some of the investigating.
  • Author Mel Odom authored an NCIS series of novels entitled Paid in Blood, Blood Evidence, and Bloodlines.
  • The National Geographic Channel filmed a documentary entitled "Inside the Real NCIS."
  • Investigation Discovery filmed a 13-episode series called "The Real NCIS" highlighting thirteen different crimes solved by NCIS Special Agents.
  • The Pentagon Channel aired a documentary in June 2009 entitled "Recon: Military CSI" about crime scene investigation techniques used in the theater of war by NCIS Special Agents.
  • The Crisis: A Dan Lenson Novel by David Poyer details the adventures of NCIS Special Agents in the Horn of Africa (HOA).

See also

JAG Corps


Federal law enforcement


  1. ^ "NCIS Headquarters". Naval Criminal Investigative Service. ( Retrieved October 18, 2009.  
  2. ^
  3. ^ Power, Richard (October 30, 2000). "Joy Riders: Mischief That Leads to Mayhem". InformIT. Pearson Education. Retrieved 2009-11-01. "I called the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston on a Thursday and asked if we could have the court order in place by Monday, Garza recounts. They laughed. Six months was considered the ‘speed of light’ for wiretap approval. But we started to put the affidavit together anyway, and got it okayed in only six weeks, which at that time was unheard of. Indeed, the work of Garza and the others to obtain a wiretap in the 1995 Ardita case laid a lot of the groundwork that made it possible for investigators in the 1999 Solar Sunrise case (which I describe later in this chapter) to obtain wiretap approval in one day."  

External links

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