APRIL 10, 2017, Joint Base Langley-Eustis (AFNS) – The transition from technical school to duty station created issues within the intelligence community that couldn’t be addressed with on-the-job training alone.
To combat this, the analytic foundations initiative was developed. This initiative was written and is taught by a core group of civilian and military analysts with a wide range of experience in the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
According to Master Sgt. Troy Adamo, a 480th ISRG flight chief, this program will eliminate the skill gap between newly assigned intelligence Airmen and operational intelligence Airmen.
“It is designed to teach the analysts to continually ask questions, figure out what they know and what they don’t know and expects them to accurately communicate the intelligence picture as they understand it,” said Adamo.
The analytic foundations program requires new analysts to become familiar with the intelligence needs, sources, methods and priorities of the mission prior to entering formal OJT. The students learn basic writing, critical thinking, analysis and briefing skills before being asked to process live intelligence which prepares them for success in the OJT program.
“It also creates networking opportunity throughout the building,” said Senior Airman Amanda, an analyst who recently completed the course. “I was the only person from my shop in my class, and now I know people in several other shops that I can reach out to for information and collaboration.”
Students are required to analyze scenario based intelligence which allows them to understand their role in the intelligence community. They are also asked to work as a team tackling large volumes of information, extract pertinent information, write their findings into a formal product, and prepare and present a briefing to senior officials.
“It challenged them to look at analysis as an unending process rather than as an equation that has a solution,” said Adamo. “This encourages them to remain impartial in their analysis. They have also relayed an understanding of their mission which exceeds that of analysts who enter directly into OJT. This is due to the fact that analytic foundations forces students to understand the ‘why’ before they understand the ‘what’ of their jobs.”
The program has been in development for roughly two years. The first pilot class was conducted January through February 2016. A second pilot class, with a slightly retooled curriculum, was conducted April through May 2016.
“It teaches us to focus on biases, source credibility, seeing the bigger picture, catering to your customer’s needs, and accepting that the big picture is constantly changing. That there is no exact answer,” said Amanda. “In the real world people make decisions every day that impact what we know and what we do.”
Airmen who have participated in the program have provided positive feedback and are included as mentors and instructors in future iterations of this course.
“I’ve been given the chance to become an instructor of the course,” said Amanda. “Not only did I receive training that helped me in my shop but now I also get the opportunity to become an instructor and encourage the continuity of the foundations course.”
*Editor’s note: Member’s rank and first name given, last name is withheld for security purposes.
By Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady, 480th ISRW/PA