Title: Blast From the Past: YRS in the Beginning

Release Date: 2015-08-03

Document Date: 2011-01-01

Description: This January 2011 article from Northwest Passage, the NSA internal newsletter for the Yakima Research Station gives an account of its history, including its involvement in ECHELON: see the Intercept article GCHQ and Me: My Life Unmasking British Eavesdroppers, 3 August 2015.

Document: TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, FVEY

Volume 2, Issue 1

THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE

January 2011

(U) BLAST FROM THE PAST: YRS IN THE BEGINNING

(U//FOUO) YRS has recently unearthed mountains of historical records; everything from photos to
fascinating 40year old briefings. To celebrate the amazing work the YRS Chief of Staff has accomplished.,
through sorting and archiving these valuable documents., The Northwest Passage will begin a series of
monthly historical tidbits. We will start at the beginning with a brief history of the Yakima Research
Station....

(C//REL) Almost 10 years passed between the launch of the first Soviet (MOLNIYa-I) and INTELSAT
communications satellites (EARLY BIRD) in 1965 and the time Yakima Research Station (YRS) - built to
respond to this emerging technology -- reached full operational capability in 1974. As we inch closer to our
40th anniversary in 2014, YRS is pleased to share some of its unique history with our newsletter audience in
a series of articles that highlight various aspects of our operations, activities, and environment.

(S//SI//REL) In 1966, NSA established the FROSTING program, an umbrella program for the collection and
processing of all communications emanating from communication satellites. FROSTING’s two sub-programs
were TRANSIENT, for all efforts against Soviet satellite targets, and
ECHELON, for the collection and processing of INTELSAT
communications. Two years later, approval was given for
FROSTING’s West Coast project (jAcKKNIFE) to begin initial site
surveys and Mr. Jack G. Daniels (later to become the second YRS
Chief of Station) was designated JACKKNIFE Project Manager.

(S//SI//REL) Several locations were considered in addition to the
site eventually selected on the Yakima Firing Center (later renamed
Yakima Training Center) in south central Washington. Alternate
locations were near the town of Yelm, Washington, rejected because
of anticipated electromagnetic radio frequency interference (EMI/

RFI) from the proposed SAFEGUARD antiballistic missile system to be
installed nearby, and near Stevenson, Washington, free of radio interference, but too far from sizeable
population centers to support the assigned workforce. The fourth potential site was near Oakridge, Oregon

in the Willamette National Forest, also rejected when assessed to be
affected by EMI and RFI from the network of microwave
communications crisscrossing the valley. In October 1970, the
Department of Defense formally approved the Yakima Firing Center
as the location for the JACKKNIFE facility.

(U//FOUO) Ground was broken for YRS on 23 July 1971 and the
first two appointments were announced -- Arthur J. Newman, Chief
of Station, and John Markland, Security Officer. NSA took
occupancy of the operations building on 18 December 1972. The
Yakima Herald Republic subsequently ran an editorial on 21
December that read, “We in the Yakima area may never have more
than a vague idea what goes on inside that new facility at the
Yakima Firing Center. .Essentially all that can be told is that the
facility will be engaged in various forms of communications security
research.. Employees’ families will begin moving into the Yakima
area next June. that means relatively high-salaried individuals
making a substantial payroll boost to the entire area. It is altogether
a welcome addition to our community.” (Cont. on pg. 9)

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TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, FVEY

(U//FOUO) Ground Breaking Ceremony: L
to R, Charles Cowardin, NSA; Richard Le-
Boeuf, DIO YFC; Morris Johnson, Post Engi-
neer, YFC; LTC Mervin Emmel, Deputy
Commander, YFC; Jack Daniels, NSA; Rich-
ard Schmidt, NSA.

(U//FOUO) YRS Construction Site, July 1971.

TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, FVEY

Volume 2, Issue 1

THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE

January 2011

(U) YRS IN THE BEGINNING (CONT.)

(C//REL) In July 1973, Lt. General Phillips (DIRNSA/CHCSS) visited YRS and
Messrs. Newman, first Chief of Station, and Jack Daniels, Deputy Chief of Station
and Chief of Operations, began their tours of duty and from then on, employees
continued to trickle in. In January, the Communications Center and
Maintenance organization began round-the-clock operations. In February,
TOPCO (Terminal Operations Control in then G8) began 24/7 operations and
the FROSTING program was underway. The summer of 1974 was significant for
areas other than operations. YRS
personnel formed a softball team and
entered the establish City of Yakima
league. They were the first team in the
history of the league to go through the
season undefeated. Also in 1974, a
contest was held to design a station crest for YRS. Twenty designs
were submitted by YRS personnel and voting was by secret ballot.

The winning design was in use until 2008.

(S//SI//REL) When YRS (SIGAD USF-787) reached full
operational capability on 4 October 1974, it represented a capital
investment of approximately $21.3 million and had an authorized

strength of 95 (U//FOUO) 30-Meter Antenna Installation,

people, with an

on-board strength of 89. The mission was “to collect,
process and forward selected International Common Access
telegraphy voice, and facsimile signals relayed over the
POR satellite to NSA for analysis and reporting.” The
station’s collection capability comprised:

(Cont. on pg. 10)

(U//FOUO) YRS Operators in the Early Days.

(C//REL) JACKKNIFE Basic System Diagram at FOC.

Single 30-meter parabolic dish feed antenna
Front-end system consisting of two quads of five
manual receiver and two quads with four auto-
matic receivers, 30 voice channel demodulators
(VCDMs), 64 teletype demodulators (TTDMs) and
two Signal Processing Subsystems.

Single Word Forming Buffer

Single Communications Handler Subsystem

Two Computer Control Subsystems

Single UNIVAC 1108 mainframe computer, which

also served as the message processing system.

TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, FVEY

TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, FVEY

Volume 2, Issue 1

THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE

January 2011

(U) YRS IN THE BEGINNING (CONT.)

(U//FOUO) Aerial view of Project JACKKNIFE, showing
the main and support buildings under construction,

May 1972

(S//SI//REL) In addition to the major components above, the
JACKKNIFE mission was augmented with a voice collection effort
consisting of 16 audio records.

The original collection,
analysis, and processing
configuration also included an
analysis subsystem known as
STEAMS (System Test,

Evaluation, Analysis, and
Monitoring Subsystem).This
collection system and the
missions tasked to YRS would
see tremendous changes over

the next few years (U//FOUO) YRS with its very first antenna. - a

30-meter parabolic feed. JaM still stands today.

(U//FOUO) POC:|

(S//S1//REL) CLOUD INGESTS MULTI-ACCESS DATA
TO SUPPORT CYBERQUEST

(TS//SI//REL) As technology advances and sharing of data becomes increasingly important, data ingestion
into a Cloud environment is currently happening at the Yakima Research Station (YRS) as a means to
advance cyber threat discovery. Traditionally, YRS has specialized in the collection and processing of
packetized data within the Foreign Satellite (FORNSAT) environment and for
over two and a half years, the CYBERQUEST (CQ) mission has relied heavily on
this access to execute the cyber threat discovery mission.

(TS//SI//REL) To date, FORNSAT data has provided an intrusion-rich
environment in which attackers of all skill levels continue to conduct their
operations. That data now resides locally on the SSG Cloud framework called
GINPENNANT and is accessible anywhere in the world via RUMBUCKET by
authorized analysts, who pull the needed data and conduct analysis. With
FORNSAT data continuing to be routinely processed, another data type has been
authorized for processing within GINPENNANT. Recently, four Special Source
Operations (SSO) data snap-shots were received from an external source, then processed like FORNSAT data
and ingested into GINPENNANT to support the cyber threat discovery mission. As a result, numerous
intrusions were detected and documented in the CROSSBONES Analytic Journal.

(TS//SI/REL) Additionally, CQ-YRS also began ingesting and processing network data from national
resources. Relatively small samples of data were received from NSA-Colorado and ingested into
GINPENNANT. Subsequently, analysts accessed the data using RUMBUCKET in a manner like the FORNSAT
and SSO data types. With FORNSAT, SSO and national resources data now being processed and ingested, the
cyber threat discovery mission is expected to grow and expand in the months ahead.

(U//FOUO) POC:

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