The Kunia Field Station is now known as KR-SOCK or Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center. Throughout World War II, Korean War, Cold War and Vietnam War, it served as an intelligence operation for the Navy and Army. Kunia was originally developed after the attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequently has changed hands multiple times. It is most famous for the documents released by Edward Snowden who worked at Kunia and revealed secrets about the PRISM surveillance program.
History of Kunia Field Station
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, a new installation was to be created and built that would be bomb-proof and develop underground. It would comprise 250,000 square feet for floor space to facilitate aircraft assembly in a nearby airfield called Wheeler. In the last year of World War II and in the years that followed, Kunia became a cryptologic and intelligence activity compound.
Operations included miliary units that would occupy the structure. These units came from the US Naval Security Group Activity Hawaii and the US Army Military Intelligence Corps 500th Military Intelligence Brigade.
The Kunia Regional Security Operations Center (RSOC) is part of the United States Cryptologic System that employs personnel from all branches of the military along with Department of Defense civilians. The installation is just 15 miles west of Honolulu and 10 miles south of North Shore in Oahu.
Naval Security Group Activity as part of Kunia offers cryptologic personnel, communications and information that supports Pacific and national warfare actions. It provides host support services to the Kunia Regional Signals Intelligence Operations Center. For Pacific operations, it also provides engineering installation services.
Construction began in 1942 on another part of the Kunia Field Station known as the underground tunnel complex. It was started following the Pearl Harbor attack that prompted so many posts and installations to start up in the US as the country prepared for war. There was a fear of a repeat attack after the first and that prompted the Army and Navy even more to construct underground facilities that would become apart of storage and vital defense operations.
The facility was made to be bomb-proof and house aircrafts in an underground assembly that was created and built by the military. It was also given the name “The Hole” in the 1940s. The facility with the underground tunnels would add up to a total of $23 million spent between 1942 and 1944.
In addition, the facility included a natural open bay area that was completed without interior cement blocks. The outer walls also include dirt and reinforced concrete. In total, Kunia covers 250,000 square feet in overall size with 30,000 square feet set aside for power generation and air conditioning. The other 220,000 square feet were available for assembly of folded winged aircraft.
The facility was able to create charts and maps but was never really used for aircraft assembly. The first people to work at Kunia were shfit workers who would work at the post for eight hours a day and create maps. They also created aerial negative photographs and contact prints, which would eventually become photographic mosaics.
A ton of maps were produced at Kunia in the early days by the 30th brigade. They were created quickly and efficiently. There were 2,700,000 maps printed in one month. World War II soldiers talked about the tunnel as a great underground cavern. It was equipped with the facilities and three other floors that also were also made to be bomb-proof.
The Korean War and After for Kunia
In the 1950s, action increased for Kunia because of the Korean War. However, there was an article published in the Honolulu Star Bulletin in 1953, it would change over to the bunker into a secret facility. There was a local team of construction workers that would get the contract for $1.7 million to renovate the facilities.
The facility was transformed in the early 1960s once more under the Commander in Chief over the Pacific Forces used the facilities as a central command. In 1966, the facility was reinforced to prevent damage from chemical, radiological and biological attacks.
In the 1970s, fleet operations changed again and were moved to a new location. The tunnel then changed hands to the General Services Agency. There were a few other suggestions like the GSA recommending that the facility underground would become a laundry plant or even a hospital. The GSA were also the first to close the tunnel.
In 1980, Congress gave project funding to activate the Field Station Kunia under the control of US Army. Operations would begin the same year. The soldiers who worked at Kunia and were supported at the field station who lived at the barracks on Wheeler Army Air Field. It would become a “joint” mission where the Field Station Kunia was changed over to the Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center as of 1993.
The field would again transition to another command in October 1995. The position of the tunnel would go to the Navy. While it is still referred to as the Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center, it’s under the Naval Security Group Activity, Kunia.
Direct cryptologic support is also given to the regional assets that continues to be crucial to the intelligence production in the Pacific Theatre. The field would change hands again and constantly be renovated throughout the 1990s.
Operations and Future and Kunia
There are several units that currently occupy Kunia including the US Navy’s Naval Security Group Activity Hawaii and the US Military Intelligence Corps 500th Military Intelligence Brigade.
The National Security Agency Central Security Service office was just built at the Regional City Operations Center that was under construction until just recently. It was located near Oahu in Whitmore Village and was a part of the circular, huge antenna that was at the Naval Computer and telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific. The contract to build this new building was worth $318 million.
Edward Snowden worked at Kunia and revealed top secret information including classified files from the PRISM surveillance program, which revealed the mass surveillance plan for all citizens in the US.