OAA History - Soldiers in 1776, 1863 and 2007.

Who We Are

In 1789 Congress enacted legislation that provided for a Chief Clerk to assist the secretary of war. As our young nation grew, the duties and responsibilities for the Office of the Chief Clerk also grew. The associated organizational entities significantly expanded and the title changed. Yet, throughout this long history, the tradition of unobtrusive, dedicated service remained a constant in the office known today as the Office of the Administrative Assistant (OAA) to the Secretary of the Army.

The Administrative Assistant has duties in Executive Services and Operations Support and Business Activities.

Executive Services

The Executive Services function comprises special staff elements formed to assist the Administrative Assistant in carrying out Title 10 responsibilities: maintaining custody of all records, books, and papers of the Department of the Army; acting on behalf of the Secretary on administrative matters; providing advice on management issues and administrative continuity within the Army during normal changes; and serving as the primary Army point of contact for transitions between Presidential Administrations.

Operations Support and Business Activities

Operations Support and Business Activities are carried out through field operating agencies that provide administrative products and services to a diverse and dynamic customer base in four distinct functional areas: Resources and Programs, U.S. Army Headquarters Services, Information Technology, and Military History. Our customer base encompasses the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Defense agencies, and the Service Departments, as well as the Army’s Headquarters, Staff support, and field operating agencies. The OAA is also engaged in collateral agreements and customer provider relationships with other Federal agencies. Our geographic network of products and services includes the Pentagon, major commands within the National Capital Region, and field agencies worldwide.

Our annual budget is constantly monitored, allowing us to keep pace with an ever-changing mission and responsibilities during an era of shrinking resources. Yet, our commitment to quality remains unwavering. We realize that to succeed we must ensure that we continue to provide Service and Workforce Excellence!


The Indian Wars of the Old Northwest Territory

When John Stagg, Jr., joined the War Department on 16 June 1790, he became not only the Chief Clerk, but also the only clerk. The entire establishment consisted of the Secretary of War, Henry Knox, one secretary, and Stagg. During the Indian Wars, Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair was ambushed on 4 November 1791, losing over 600 of his men. Stagg assembled true copies of all correspondence pertaining to the St. Clair Expedition. Secretary Knox followed the developments in the Northwest Territory closely and generated a considerable volume of correspondence. In the process, he validated the need for a Chief Clerk in the department.


The Lewis and Clark Expedition

President Thomas Jefferson, culminating his long-standing desire to explore the West, sent a military mission to the new territory in 1804 for that purpose. Known today as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it was led by two Army captains, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Secretary of War Henry Dearborn wrote letters of credit and authorization for hiring men from Army posts to assist Lewis and Clark, and Lewis named a river that begins near modern-day Lincoln, Montana, after the Secretary.

August 1814

The Burning of Washington D.C.

American citizens witnessed the destruction of Washington, D.C., by British forces under Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Rear Admiral George Cockburn, and Major General Robert Ross during the War of 1812. Congress had failed to provide the forces, armaments, or plans necessary to protect the capital from attack. Although many important buildings and valuables went up in flames, Chief Clerk Daniel Parker and his staff removed nearly all papers from the Secretary of War’s offices before the British arrived. They also saved standards and colors captured from the British during the American Revolution.


The Defense of Washington D.C.

To bolster the capital’s weak defenses, the Quartermaster General, Maj. Gen. Montgomery Meigs, mustered War Department clerks and other civilian employees into service. By buying time for the combat veterans to arrive, the clerks of the War Department had contributed to saving the capital.


Intervention in Cuba

In the summer of 1906 a disputed election in Cuba led to a revolt by the challenger’s supporters. Both sides appealed for the United States to intervene to maintain order and confirm them in power. The Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Fred C. Ainsworth, who was the acting Secretary of War, and the Chief of Staff, Brig. Gen. J. Franklin Bell, traveled to Oyster Bay to brief the President on the latest developments. During their absence, John C. Scofield stepped in as the acting Secretary of War, while still upholding his role as Chief Clerk.


World War I

The United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917. President Woodrow Wilson decided to institute a draft rather than rely upon volunteering, the traditional method of manpower mobilization in the United States. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker knew that the Civil War draft, a highly centralized affair, had been something of a political disaster. Baker rejected a General Staff plan for a more efficient Civil War-style draft run by the Army in favor of a system of local boards run by civilians.
Baker’s actions had major consequences for the Assistant and Chief Clerk, John C. Scofield, and his staff. Faced with an unparalleled expansion of the Army (the first draft call would be for 687,000 men) and the War Department, Scofield scrambled to hire staff members and secure sufficient office space and equipment (both rooms and typewriters were in short supply). He and his assistants also faced a major change in how the War Department operated. The draft was but one of the first of many wartime innovations. In this environment, the primary responsibility of the clerks changed from having knowledge of a substantial but relatively limited number of War Department precedents and where the records containing these precedents were filed to managing a tidal wave of paper that almost submerged the department in the early stages of the war.


World War II

The War Department's planning between the wars was driven by the desire to avoid the mistakes made during the hasty manpower and industrial mobilizations for U.S. participation in World War I. Successive Secretaries of War -assisted first by John C. Scofield as he neared the end of his remarkable thirty-year tenure, then by John W. Martyn from the beginning of 1931 -adapted plans and juggled priorities to accommodate these increasingly complex realities. All War Department mobilization planning took place in an increasingly joint context with the Navy, placing a further premium on the information-management skills of the newly redesignated Administrative Assistant and his staff.



A major function of the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army is the management of information technology. This responsibility has deep historical roots in the Chief Clerk of the War Department's original oversight of official correspondence and has developed over time with the adoption of new technology. The Chief Clerk's office originally housed the War Department telegraph apparatus. By May 1913, the Assistant and Chief Clerk supervised the War Department's entire telephone and telegraph service, a charge continued by the Administrative Assistant until the end of the War Department. The Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, in turn, gained executive agency for the entire defense telephone service for the National Capital Region, a responsibility that has extended into the Internet era.



The U.S. Army has conducted numerous peacekeeping missions since 1989, most notably in the Balkans and Haiti. The rapid onset and uncertain duration of these operations, often carried out as part of joint and combined forces, place novel demands on headquarters services such as those provided by the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, especially those concerned with communications. Timely communications, for instance, figured prominently in 1994 in Haiti when Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, leader of the coup against democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, capitulated to UN and OAS demands at the last possible moment, changing a forcible U.S.-led invasion into a peacekeeping mission.


September 11, 2001

On 11 September 2001, American Airlines Flight 77, one of four planes hijacked by terrorists, impacted the west side of the Pentagon. The crash destroyed the outer three rings on that side and killed 125 service members and civilians. The Administrative Assistant’s office was responsible for administrative management, maintaining official records, and managing the programs that provide service, supply, and equipment for the Department of Defense within the National Capital Region. Critical services included telecommunications -telephones and computer operations within the building -motor pool, passports, and contracting. The Administrative Assistant’s staff sustained forty of the seventy-five Army deaths. In one brief moment the office lost almost all of its financial experts and computer files, just weeks before the fiscal year ended. Working around the clock for days and employing budget analysts and accountants from other government agencies and retirees who volunteered to come back to work, Resource Services finished its end-of-year work on time. Meanwhile, the staff found workspace to make up for the 400,000 square feet destroyed and reestablished computer and telecommunications connectivity throughout the building. The extraordinary efforts of the Administrative Assistant’s staff reestablished normal operations within days and contributed to the reopening of the Pentagon on 11 September 2002.


Supporting the Global War on Terror

In 2003, the Office of the Administrative Assistant (OAA) was assigned as an Executive Agency to support the rebuilding of Iraq. OAA provided administrative, human resource, information technology, acquisition, logistics, facilities, and fiscal support to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) offices in Washington and Baghdad. In February 2004, the Logistics Services Washington (LSW) entered a strategic partnership with the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF). Since 2004, the Media Distribution Division of DOL-W has shipped over 6 million items to units actively engaged in our Nation’s global war on terror.

In anticipation of the 2004 Presidential election, Congress called on the Department of Defense to ensure that every member of the Armed Forces who wanted to participate in the election was empowered to do so. In a combined effort, the Administrative Assistant’s Army Publishing Directorate, DOL-W, and Resource Services-Washington coordinated with the Headquarters, Department of the Army G-1, Congress’s Government Printing Office, and military Voting Assistance Offices to ensure more than 2 million ballots were printed and shipped to military posts, camps, and stations worldwide.

On 15 March 2005, the Defense Telecommunications Services-Washington successfully activated long haul telecommunications access at Camp Victory in Iraq to provide those serving in Baghdad with a US dial tone. US military leaders were able to commercially link from Iraq in the event a military network experienced an outage.


Emergency Relief

The Office of the Administrative Assistant provided immediate support in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Within hours of the disaster, Resource Services-Washington executed Army orders for the shipment of military equipment and recovery supplies, while the Defense Telecommunications Services-Washington (DTS-W) successfully provided communications links for the Defense Information Systems Agency, Corps of Engineers, Naval Research Lab, National Guard Bureau, and Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office.