Military Wiki
United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Abbreviation NCIS
NCIS Logo 2013.png
Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Seal of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service
USA - NCIS Badge.png
Badge of the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Agency overview
Formed 1992
Preceding agency Naval Investigative Service (NIS)
Employees 2,500
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency United States
General nature
  • Federal law enforcement
  • Civilian agency
Operational structure

Russell-Knox Building,[1] Quantico, Virginia

Marine Corps Base, Quantico
Special Agents 1,250 (approx)
Agency executive Andrew Traver[2], Director
Parent agency United States Department of the Navy
Field Offices 16

The United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is the primary law enforcement agency of the United States Department of the Navy. It investigates activities concerning crimes against or by United States Navy and United States Marine Corps personnel, along with national security, counter-intelligence, and counter-terrorism cases, and is the successor organization to the former Naval Investigative Service (NIS).

Roughly half of the 2,500 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 posed 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. Additionally, in 1982 two classes of NIS Special Agents were trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), Glynco, GA, in an assessment of FLETC's capability to train military investigators. Prior to this and subsequently until 1984 NIS Special Agent Training was in ONI Headquarters, Suitland, MD.

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 the , the DEA, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

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.

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

Recent NCIS history

In 1992, the NCIS 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. 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 served concurrently as Deputy Director for Operations until the new Director was selected.

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. (USMC CID continues to exist to investigate misdemeanors and felonies and other criminal offenses not under NCIS investigative jurisdiction.)[3]

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

Mark D. Clookie, director of NCIS, at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

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.[which?]

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 or 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.[4]

Jonathan Jay Pollard was an NCIS analyst who was convicted of spying for Israel after being caught by NCIS and FBI. He received a life sentence in 1987.[5]

On February 14, 2010, Mark D. Clookie became the fourth civilian Director of NCIS, having been appointed to the position by the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.[2] Clookie leads an agency composed of some 2,500 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 December 2012, the FBI released redacted documents regarding operations against Occupy Wall Street. In one FBI report, the NCIS is quoted as looking into links between Occupy and "organized labor actions" in December 2011.[6]

Special Agents Afloat

The Special Agent Afloat Program of NCIS sends NCIS Special Agents aboard U.S. aircraft carriers and other ships (for example, hospital ships and amphibious assault ships).[7] The purpose of the program is to provide professional investigative, counterintelligence, and force protection support to deployed Navy and Marine Corps commanders. These special agents are assigned to aircraft carriers and other deployed major combatants. Their environment can best be described as a "floating city." The assignment offers many of the same investigative challenges found by any criminal investigator working in a metropolitan city. A special agent assigned to a carrier must be skilled in general criminal investigations including: crime scene examination, expert interview techniques, and use of proactive law enforcement procedures to stop criminal activity before it occurs. The special agent afloat also provides guidance on foreign counterintelligence matters, including terrorism. It is also the mission of the special agent afloat to offer Navy and Marine Corps leadership advice and operational support on security issues which might threaten the safety of ships, personnel and resources.


NCIS's former standard issue sidearm was the 9×19mm SIG Sauer P228. Their current standard issue pistol is the SIG Sauer P229R DAK or SIG Sauer P239 DAK in .40 S&W.[8]

NCIS in media

  • NCIS was mentioned frequently on the series JAG. In 2003, the series NCIS began as a spin-off of JAG and features the fictional Major Case Response Team consisting of a specialized team of NCIS agents based at Washington Navy Yard in Washington D.C.. In 2009, that series spun off NCIS: Los Angeles, featuring a fictional Office of Special Projects team based in Los Angeles that specializes in undercover assignments.
  • 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.
  • 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 NIS investigation of Pollard.
  • In the 2006 CBS drama Jericho a character was found with a counterfeit NCIS badge.
  • The 2000 movie Dangerous Evidence: The Lori Jackson Story is based on the 1995 best-selling book Dangerous Evidence. The book recounts the true story of NIS Agents framing an African-American marine corporal for a crime he did not commit. CBS News journalist Ellis A. Cohen covered the story for 60 Minutes and then wrote the book and produced the Lifetime movie.
  • In the 1997 film, G.I. Jane, LT Jordan O'Neil is threatened with a then-NIS investigation involving an alleged lesbian relationship.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Special Agent, Vietnam: A Naval Intelligence Memoir was written by former Special Agent Douglass H. Hubbard about special agents during the Vietnam War. Hubbard served as an NCIS Special Agent in Vietnam from 1969 to 1972.
  • NCIS is mentioned in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk is Underwater".
  • 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.[9]
  • Investigation Discovery filmed a 13-episode series called "The Real NCIS" highlighting thirteen different crimes solved 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

  • List of United States federal law enforcement agencies

Military Criminal Investigative Organizations

Defense Criminal Investigative Organizations

Federal law enforcement

JAG Corps



  1. "NCIS Headquarters". Naval Criminal Investigative Service. ( Retrieved October 18, 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Leadership: Special Agent Mark D. Ridley, Acting Director, Naval Criminal Investigative Service". NCIS. 
  3. "CID page at 29 Palms Provost Marshal's Office". 
  4. 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." 
  5. "NOVA Online | Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies | Jonathan Jay Pollard". 1985-11-18. Retrieved 2013-07-17. 
  6. Partnership for Civil Justice Fund: "FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring", page 32 of documents
  7. "NCIS Special Agent Afloat Program". 
  8. Sig Sauer press release. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  9. Inside the Real NCIS - National Geographic Channel

External links

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