Is there an NCIS for the Army?

If you’re part of the US Navy, you’re probably familiar with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service or NCIS. It is essentially a civilian federal law enforcement agency tasked with investigating felony crimes, preventing terrorism, and protective service operations for the Navy and Marine Corps.

Comprised of approximately two thousand personnel, with over a thousand people as civilian Special Agents, the NCIS is a unique entity within the Navy and Marine Corps because it is a civilian law enforcement agency.

But does the NCIS have an equivalent in the army? This article will delve into how investigating felony crime is conducted in the Armed Forces of the United States. Given how critical criminal investigations are in any context, these agents play a crucial role in military operational control.

investigation typed on white paper

How Do Military Criminal Investigation Services Work?

Each United States military branch has a designated law enforcement agency tasked to investigate criminal allegations against its members. These agencies have a singular purpose: to thoroughly examine alleged crime utilizing investigative tools and federal government resources worldwide to produce a written report for the Commanding Officer or General’s view.

Within the Navy Department exists the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. This agency is responsible for criminal investigations, which centers on felony, terrorism investigations, and protective service operations for the Navy. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service covers the Navy and Marine Corps operations only.

What Is the Army’s Equivalent to NCIS? US Army CID Overview

The Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is the premier law enforcement agency of the US Army. Consisting of over three thousand individuals stationed worldwide, Army CID special agents are responsible for the following:

  • criminal intelligence collection and analysis
  • cybercrime investigations and operations
  • felony criminal investigations and operations
  • multi-dimensional forensic support
  • protective services for the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other high-risk personnel
  • war crimes and terrorism investigations

Brief History of US Army CID

The concept of an Army Criminal Investigation Command started in the First World War. General John Pershing ordered the creation of a separate organization within the Military Police Corps. Its goal was to prevent and detect criminal actions among the American Expeditionary Force in France. The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) was led by a division chief who served as the advisor to the Provost Marshal General on all matters about criminal investigations.

In 1971, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird ordered the Army Secretary to set up a Criminal Investigation Division (CID) to create an Army Criminal Investigation Command with authority and command over all Army-wide CID assets.

The Army Criminal Investigation Division is involved only in the most severe criminal conduct. Allegations of less severe crimes are under the jurisdiction of military investigative officers appointed to conduct administrative investigations. As its name would suggest, the Army Criminal Investigation Division is concerned only with Army personnel. Other agencies spearhead investigations for different military branches.

CID vs NCIS: What Are the Differences?

One might get confused by how the CID and NCIS cover crimes within the military. The main distinction between the two agencies is that the NCIS focuses on felony crime offenses, while the CID concerns itself with misdemeanor-level crimes and military-specific offenses

While their jurisdiction may differ, there are instances wherein both agencies work together for investigations involving both felonies and lesser crimes. The centralization of these agencies has enabled their special agents to work together on cases. Moreover, it should be highlighted that the CID is assigned within the Provost Marshall’s Office or Marine Corps Police Department and works directly for the Provost Marshal or Police Chief.

Law Enforcement Agencies in Other Military Branches

The United States Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division

The United States Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is another Navy organization focused on law enforcement. The USMC CID is in charge of misdemeanor charges and military-specific offenses.

Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI)

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations has been the American Air Force’s primary investigative service since 1948. This particular agency reports directly to the Inspector General, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.

The agency provides professional investigative services to all Department of the Air Force activities commanders. Its primary focus is criminal investigations and counterintelligence services.

The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS)

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, or CGIS, has law enforcement authority derived from Title 14 of the United States Code. This law provides special agents the right to conduct investigations of actual, alleged, or suspected criminal activity, execute and serve warrants, carry firearms, and make arrests.

The CGIS comprises a mix of active duty military special agents (enlisted, warrant officer, and officer), civilian special agents, and special agents who are Coast Guard Reserve members.

black magnifying glass on white paper

What Are Your Rights As a Serviceman When Being Investigated?

Most people are familiar with Miranda Rights, but these cover civilian personnel only. As Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) outlines, military personnel have different rights.

Right to Understand the Charges

When service members are arrested, accused of a crime or brought in for questioning, they have the right to know the charges they’re facing. If that person is confused about why they’re part of a particular investigation, they have the right to clarify to take action and protect their rights.

Right to Remain Silent

Explaining one’s side of the story may be tempting, but by doing so, that person waives their right to remain silent. Anything the accused says or writes down may be taken against them.

Right to Refuse a Search

The accused may refuse to give their consent to search their belongings depending on the case’s circumstances. Even if that person has nothing to hide, they’re not obliged to consent to a search.

Right to an Attorney

Like civilians, accused service members can get legal representation to aid them in their case. However, they can opt for the free legal representative the state assigns them.

Career Opportunities in Army CID

The Army Criminal Investigation Division, or CID, offers special agents various opportunities such as financial management, forensic science, information technology, and public affairs. Like any job opportunity, each job offer has different qualifications and designated roles. If you’re interested in being part of the Army CID, you should check the job description and requirements.

Compared with NCIS agents, CID special agents are tasked with dealing with lower-level crimes. Thus, the repercussions aren’t as severe. Thus, the qualifications of their job opportunities may not be as stringent. However, this would depend on the job requirements and expected tasks. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in either agency, you should thoroughly read the career opportunity website details.

The Future of Military Criminal Investigation

Working in criminal investigation is generally challenging, but crimes nowadays have accelerated in complexity and technological advancement. Since the law is constantly evolving, military investigative organizations face many problems.

Simultaneously, the rewards for participating in these operations can be life-changing. Being part of the Army CID may interest people looking for a challenge.


Maintaining law and order is crucial, especially in institutions like the US Army. Fortunately, organizations like CID and NCIS are tasked to keep their members in line.

To learn more about military life, explore the Military Verification website further.


What is Army NCIS?

The Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is the Army equivalent of this organization. CID special agents cover Army personnel only.

Is NCIS civilian or military?

The NCIS is a civilian operation agency. However, select officers and reserve members are part of the organization.

Is there an Air Force equivalent to NCIS?

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations serves as the Air Force equivalent of this organization. As its name suggests, this agency covers Air Force members only.

What rank are NCIS agents?

There are ten main ranks within the organization. These include Probationary Agent, Junior Field Agent, Field Agent, Senior Field Agent, Special Agent in Charge, Supervisory Special Agent, Assistant Deputy Director, Deputy Director, NCIS Director, and Navy Secretary.

Do you have to be in the Navy to be NCIS?

No, you don’t have to go to an army military police school or equivalent to apply for the NCIS. This is a civilian operation.

What is the difference between JAG and NCIS?

The Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps is a law firm, while the NCIS is a civilian operation. Their areas of expertise differ immensely.

Similar Posts