Corps of Intelligence Police Initiated, 11 July 1917
July 15, 2013
By Ruth Quinn
On 11 July 1917, Major Dennis Nolan, Intelligence Chief in Pershing's American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, wrote to the Chief of Staff of the Army requesting …"that fifty secret service men, who have had training in police work [and] who speak French fluently, be enlisted as sergeants of infantry in service in intelligence work and sent to France at an early date. As these men will be in intimate relation with the French people, it is a matter of great importance that they not only speak the language but are men of high character." Accordingly, a month later, the War Department authorized the creation of the Corps of Intelligence Police, or CIP. Finally, counterintelligence, which had been practiced since the inception of the American Army, was given official recognition as a professional discipline in an organized intelligence section, or G2.
Concerned over the security issues confronting an American Army operating in a foreign country, Nolan specifically needed personnel to protect American Soldiers from enemy espionage, sabotage, and subversion. The first agents, under the command of 1st Lt. Royden Williamson, arrived in France in November 1917. Upon arrival, not all the recruits were found to have the qualifications required for acceptance at the Allied counterintelligence school at Le Havre, and many were rejected. This inauspicious beginning notwithstanding, the CIP grew into an effective professional organization. By the end of the war, 418 agents were assigned to the AEF and charged with counterintelligence duties. CIP agents were often assigned to the Front Zone, and two were among the first American Soldiers killed in the war. During ten months of war operations, the CIP investigated 3,706 cases and neutralized 229 suspected enemy agents: 3 convicted of espionage, 107 interned, and 119 expelled from the war zone. CIP agents also conducted special investigative duty in highly populated areas throughout the United States.
Sgt. Peter de Pasqua, who emigrated to the United States from Portugal and enlisted in the Army in 1916, was one of the more than 400 CIP agents who served in the AEF during World War I. A master of several languages, De Pasqua was able to move freely and unnoticed while posing as an interpreter with the Red Cross. Posing as an American-hating anarchist named Pietro, the sergeant infiltrated a cell of Spanish subversives working for an agent of the German Secret Service. He acted as their courier, intercepted and translated their mail, and reported their plans of sabotage to his section Chief. General Pershing bestowed De Pasqua with the newly created Citation for Meritorious Service, making him the first CIP agent formally decorated. He received the Purple Heart in 1932 after his mission was declassified.
After the war, during a time of downsizing, the CIP remained a viable, although greatly reduced, Army organization carrying out critical counterintelligence missions in Hawaii, Panama, the Philippines, and along the United States-Mexico border. In 1940, the CIP had an authorized strength of 188, all enlisted men. In 1942, the CIP became the Counter Intelligence Corps, to which men of all ranks were assigned.
In 1988, Peter De Pasqua was inducted into the MI Hall of Fame, and he was memorialized forever when DePasqua Barracks on Fort Huachuca was named after him in June 1995.