The 690th Electronic Security Group originated as the 12th Radio Squadron (Mobile) (RSM). It was activated on 16 November 1950 at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, and was subordinate to Headquarters, United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS).
The 12 RSM moved from Brooks AFB to Landsberg, Germany, in March 1951 and was assigned to the 6910th Security Group on 22 April 1952.
The squadron was redesignated the 6912th Radio Squadron (Mobile) on 8 May 1955 and moved to Bingen AB, Germany, that same month.
On 1 July 1959 the unit moved from Bingen AB to Tempelhof Central Airport, in Berlin, assuming the personnel, equipment, and mission of Detachment 1 of the 6910th Radio Group (Mobile).
The first USAFSS operations in Berlin began on 1 January 1954, with tasking being given to Flight A of the 2nd Radio Squadron (Mobile). In the following years the original USAFSS element underwent a number of designation changes, first to Det 1 of the 85 RSM on 1 October 1954, then Det I of the 6914 RSM on 8 May 1955, and finally Det 1 of the 6910 RGM on 1 September 1956. On 1 July 1959, its mission was assumed by the 6912 RSM.
Responding to increasing mission demands, on 28 June 1962 the unit established an operating location at Marienfelde. Renovation of existing facilities and construction of new, expanded facilities began at Marienfelde in October 1965. The Marienfelde site began full operations on 10 June 1967.
In 1965, a unit-staffed USAFSS liaison team began operations at U.S. Army Field Station Berlin’s Teufelsberg site. The team gradually grew in size and was designated a special processing activity. In 1976 it became an operational section under the Directorate of Operations.
In July 1963 the 6912 RSM was redesignated the 6912th Security Squadron. In 1979 the Electronic Security Command replaced USAFSS, and the unit was redesignated the 6912th Electronic Security Squadron. In September 1980, the squadron was elevated to group status as the 6912th Electronic Security Group. On 15 July 1988 the 6912th Electronic Security Group became the 690th Electronic Security Wing. On 12 June 1991–due to dissolution of the Soviet Union and the resulting mission drawdown–the 690 ESW was redesignated the 690th Electronic Security Group.
This unit has had a long and distinguished record of outstanding operational achievements in Berlin, earning two Freedom Through Vigilance Awards, two Tactical Readiness Awards, and eight Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards. In 1983, 1986, and again in 1990 it won the prestigious Travis Trophy–the major Department of Defense level award recognizing the greatest contribution to the U.S. Cryptologic Effort by a field station.
The flag, crest, and outward symbols of the 690th will be retired today. However its inner strength, its fierce determination to succeed, and the indomitable spirit characteristic of this unit throughout the years will remain in the hearts, minds, and memories of its talented men and women.