A Most Unusual Collection Agency

How the U.S. undid UNSCOM through its empire of electronic ears

As NSA outstations were closed or remoted, new and relatively smaller intercept facilities— such as the "gateway" facility in Bahrain, reportedly used for retransmit signals intercepted in Baghdad last year to the U.S.— sprang up around the world. In addition to providing NSA operators with fresh and exotic duty stations, the new stations reflected an enhanced mission for NSA economic intelligence gathering. Scrapping its old Cold War A and B Group SIGINT organization, NSA expanded the functions of its W Group to include SIGINT operations against a multitude of targets. Another unit, M Group, would handle intercepts from new technologies like the Internet.

Many people who follow the exploits of SIGINT and NSA are eager to peruse lists of secret listening posts operated by the agency and its partners around the world. While a master list probably exists somewhere in the impenetrable lair that is the NSA's Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters, it is assuredly stamped with one of the highest security classifications in the U.S. intelligence community. — W.M. & J.V.


Mark Phares

The United States SIGINT System (USSS)

The following list is the best unclassified shot at describing the locations of the ground-based "ears" of the Puzzle Palace. It is culled from press accounts, informed experts, and books written about the NSA and its intelligence partners. It does not include the numerous listening units on naval vessels and aircraft nor those operating from U.S. and foreign embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions.

United States


  • NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
  • Buckley Air National Guard Ground Base, Colorado
  • Fort Gordon, Georgia (RSOC)
  • Imperial Beach, California
  • Kunia, Hawaii (RSOC)
  • Northwest, Virginia
  • Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico
  • San Antonio, Texas (RSOC)
  • Shemya, Alaska -3
  • Sugar Grove, West Virginia
  • Winter Harbor, Maine
  • Yakima, Washington
  • Albania


  • Durrës -6
  • Shkodër -6
  • Tirana -6
  • Ascension Island


  • Two Boats -1
  • Australia


  • Bamaga -6 -7
  • Cabarlah -7
  • Canberra (Defense Signals Directorate Headquarters) -5
  • Harman -7
  • Kojarena, Geraldton -1
  • Nurunggar -1
  • Pearce -1
  • Pine Gap, Alice Springs -1
  • Riverina -7
  • Shoal Bay, Darwin -1
  • Watsonia -1
  • Austria


  • Konigswarte -7
  • Neulengbach -7
  • Bahrain


  • Al-Muharraq Airport -3
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Tuzla
  • Botswana


  • Mapharangwane Air Base
  • British Indian Ocean Territory


  • Diego Garcia -1
  • Brunei


  • Bandar Seri Begawan -7
  • Canada


  • Alert -7
  • Gander -7
  • Leitrim -1
  • Masset -6 -7
  • Ottawa [Communications Security Establishment (CSE) Headquarters] -5
  • China


  • Korla -1 -6
  • Qitai -1 -6
  • Croatia


  • Brac Island, Croatia -6
  • Zagreb-Lucko Airport -7
  • Cuba


  • Guantanamo Bay
  • Cyprus


  • Ayios Nikolaos -1
  • Denmark


  • Aflandshage -7
  • Almindingen, Bornholm -7
  • Dueodde, Bornholm -7
  • Gedser -7
  • Hjørring -7
  • Løgumkløster -7
  • Eritrea


  • Dahlak Island -1 (NSA/Israel "8200" site)
  • Estonia


  • Tallinn -7
  • Ethiopia


  • Addis Ababa -1
  • Finland


  • Santahamina -7
  • French Guiana


  • Kourou -7 (German Federal Intelligence Service station)
  • Germany


  • Achern -7
  • Ahrweiler -7
  • Bad Aibling -2
  • Bad Münstereifel -7
  • Braunschweig -7
  • Darmstadt -7
  • Frankfurt -7
  • Hof -7
  • Husum -7
  • Mainz -7
  • Monschau -7
  • Pullach (German Federal Intelligence Service Headquarters) -5
  • Rheinhausen -7
  • Stockdorf -7
  • Strassburg -7
  • Vogelweh, Germany
  • Gibraltar


  • Gibraltar -7
  • Greece


  • Iráklion, Crete
  • Guam


  • Finegayan
  • Hong Kong


  • British Consulate, Victoria ("The Alamo") -7
  • Iceland


  • Keflavik -3
  • India


  • Charbatia -7
  • Israel


  • Herzliyya (Unit 8200 Headquarters) -5
  • Mitzpah Ramon -7
  • Mount Hermon, Golan Heights -7
  • Mount Meiron, Golan Heights -7
  • Italy


  • San Vito -6
  • Sorico
  • Japan


  • Futenma, Okinawa
  • Hanza, Okinawa
  • Higashi Chitose -7
  • Higashi Nemuro -7
  • Kofunato -7
  • Miho -7
  • Misawa
  • Nemuro -7
  • Ohi -7
  • Rebunto -7
  • Shiraho -7
  • Tachiarai -7
  • Wakkanai
  • Korea (South)


  • Kanghwa-do Island -7
  • Osan -1
  • Pyong-dong Island -7
  • P'yongt'aek -1
  • Taegu -1 -2 -6
  • Tongduchon -1
  • Uijongbu -1
  • Yongsan -1
  • Kuwait


  • Kuwait
  • Latvia


  • Ventspils -7
  • Lithuania


  • Vilnius -7
  • Netherlands


  • Amsterdam (Technical Intelligence Analysis Center (TIVC) Headquarters)-5
  • Emnes -7
  • Terschelling -7
  • New Zealand


  • Tangimoana -7
  • Waihopai -1
  • Wellington (Government Communications Security Bureau Headquarters -5
  • Norway


  • Borhaug -7
  • Fauske/Vetan -7
  • Jessheim -7
  • Kirkenes -1
  • Randaberg -7
  • Skage/Namdalen -7
  • Vadsø -7
  • Vardø -7
  • Viksjofellet -7
  • Oman


  • Abut -1
  • Goat Island, Musandam Peninsula -3
  • Khasab, Musandam Peninsula -3
  • Masirah Island -3
  • Pakistan


  • Parachinar
  • Panama


  • Galeta Island -3
  • Papua New Guinea


  • Port Moresby -7
  • Portugal


  • Terceira Island, Azores
  • Rwanda


  • Kigali
  • São Tomé and Príncipe


  • Pinheiro
  • Saudi Arabia


  • Araz -7
  • Khafji -7
  • Singapore


  • Kranji -7
  • Spain


  • Pico de las Nieves, Grand Canary Island -7
  • Manzanares -7
  • Playa de Pals -3
  • Rota
  • Solomon Islands


  • Honiara -7
  • Sri Lanka


  • Iranawilla
  • Sweden


  • Karlskrona -7
  • Lovön (Swedish FRA Headquarters) -7
  • Muskö -7
  • Switzerland


  • Merishausen -7
  • Rüthi -7
  • Taiwan:


  • Quemoy -7
  • Matsu -7
  • Shu Lin Kuo -5 (German Federal Intelligence Service/NSA/Taiwan J-3 SIGINT service site)
  • Turkey


  • Adana
  • Agri -7
  • Antalya -7
  • Diyarbakir
  • Edirne -7
  • Istanbul -7
  • Izmir -7
  • Kars
  • Sinop -7
  • Thailand


  • Aranyaprathet -7
  • Khon Kaen -1 -3
  • Surin -7
  • Trat -7
  • Uganda


  • Kabale
  • Galangala Island, Ssese Islands (Lake Victoria)
  • United Arab Emirates


  • Az-Zarqa¯ -3
  • Dalma¯ -3
  • Ras al-Khaimah -3
  • Sir Abu Nuayr Island -3
  • United Kingdom:


  • Belfast (Victoria Square) -7
  • Brora, Scotland -7
  • Cheltenham (Government Communications Headquarters) -5
  • Chicksands -7
  • Culm Head -7
  • Digby -7
  • Hawklaw, Scotland -7
  • Irton Moor -7
  • Menwith Hill, Harrogate -1 (RSOC)
  • Molesworth -1
  • Morwenstow -1
  • Westminster, London -7
  • (Palmer Street)
  • Yemen
  • Socotra Island (planned)
  • KEY:

    -1 Joint facility operated with a SIGINT partner.

    -2 Joint facility partially operated with a SIGINT partner.

    -3 Contractor-operated facility.

    -4 Remoted facility.

    -5 NSA liaison is present.

    -6 Joint NSA-CIA site.

    -7 Foreign-operated "accommodation site" that provides occasional SIGINT product to the USSS.

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