ECOM: A VERY BRIEF ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY
by: Richard Bingham
The Electronics Command (ECOM) came into being at Fort Monmouth on 1 August 1962 as consequence of "Project 80," which abolished the technical services, assigned their schools to the Continental Army Command, and created a single logistics agency, the Army Materiel Command (AMC), to oversee the acquisition, distribution, and support of Army materiel. A subordinate element of AMC, ECOM encompassed the Signal Research and Development Laboratories, the Signal Materiel Support Agency, the Signal Supply Agency and its various procurement offices, and other Signal Corps logistics support activities. On the date of its inception, ECOM had a military and civilian work force of about 14,000.
In 1974, having occupied a new GSA-leased office building, ECOM closed its Philadelphia operations, relocating the Materiel Management Directorate and some 1,500 civilian employees to Fort Monmouth.
In April 1974, the Army Materiel Acquisition Review Committee (AMARC) reported reported that the commodity command structure of the Army, with its emphasis on "readiness" limited flexibility and impeded the acquisition process. The Committee recommended that R&D functions within AMC be separated from readiness functions. It broke ECOM into four parts: The Communications and Electronics Materiel Readiness Command (CERCOM), the Communications Research and Development Command (CORADCOM), the Electronics Research and Development Command (ERADCOM), and the Avionics Research and Development Activity (AVRADA). AMC activated the new commands on 1 January 1978.
While increasing the visibility of the R&D community, the AMARC reorganizations produced duplication of effort and complicated the transitioning of materiel from development to readiness. Thus, in December 1980, having completed a formal review of the AMARC organization, DARCOM (formerly AMC), announced its decision to merge CORADCOM with CERCOM. The new Communications - Electronics Command came into being officially on 1 May 1981.
With the demise of ERADCOM on 1 October 1985, ECOM acquired three laboratories (EW/RSTA, NVEO and Signals Warfare) and about 1500 employees.
The transfer of AVRADA from ATCOM to CECOM in 1993 completed the undoing of the AMARC reorganizations.
Meanwhile, in consequence of the AMARC reorganization, DARCOM transferred the Electronics Materiel Readiness Activity (EMRA), Vint Hill Farms Station, from direct DARCOM control to CERCOM, effective 1 July 1978. Following acquisition of the Signals Warfare Laboratory in 1985, the majority of personnel at Vint Hill Farms Station worked for CECOM. The Army transferred control of Vint Hill Farms Station from INSCOM to CECOM on 1 October 1987.
The 1 May 1987 implementation of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, removed Project Managers from AMC (and CECOM) control and placed them under Program Executive Officers, who reported directly to the Army Acquisition Executive (the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development, and Acquisition). The commodity command was to continue, however, to provide functional services to the PEO’s and their PM’s under the matrix support concept. CECOM supported three PEO’s: Command and Control Systems, Communications Systems, and Intelligence/Electronic Warfare.
Date Last Modified: March 24, 2004