Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Abbreviation NCIS
Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Logo of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
NCIS Badge
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 Washington Navy Yard
Special Agents 1,200 (approx)
Agency executive Thomas A Betro, Director
Parent agency United States Department of the Navy
Field Offices 14

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

Roughly half of the 2,400 NCIS employees are civilian special agents. They 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.

NCIS and the Cold WarEdit

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 became Excepted Civil Service and no longer contract employees.

The early 1970s saw an NIS special agent stationed on the USS Intrepid (CV-11) for six months—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 is a 24-hour-a-day operational intelligence center, issued indications and warnings on terrorist activity to Navy and Marine Corps commands. 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 HistoryEdit

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 is the senior official responsible for criminal, counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism investigations and operations, as well as security matters within the Department of the Navy. He leads an agency composed of some 2400 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 in media Edit

  • In the 1992 movie A Few Good Men, a Marine's letter to the then-NIS was the motive for the homicide at the heart of the courtroom drama.
  • NCIS is mentioned various times in TV drama JAG.
  • In 2003, a television show (NCIS) was started on CBS, based on the NCIS. (This TV series was started as a "spinoff" of JAG.)
  • In Richard Marcinko's book Rogue Warrior, he details his conflict with NIS. Later an NIS investigation called "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: SVU, "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.
  • With the success of NCIS, a spin-off was created called NCIS: Los Angeles and will premiere at the beginning of the 2009-2010 season.
  • Author Mel Odom authored an NCIS series of novel titled, Paid in Blood, Blood Evidence, and Bloodlines.

See also Edit

JAG CorpsEdit


Federal law enforcementEdit


External linksEdit

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