News: Guard members broaden Counter Threat Finance skills
Story by Tech. Sgt. Betty Squatrito-Martin
WASHINGTON - National Guard Counterdrug Counter Threat Finance (CTF) analysts along with CTF analysts from other intelligence organizations attend the first iteration of the Advanced Threat Finance Analysis Course (ATFAC) at the Defense Intelligence Agency May 19-23.
This training was developed by the National Guard Counterdrug Program as a solution to the gap of advanced training available and was taught by DIA’s Intelligence Training Department at the Academy of Defense Intelligence.
The training is designed to build the tool box of skills needed to conduct Counter Threat Finance analysis, a relatively new actor in the intelligence world.
“The Counter Threat Finance career field is in its infancy, so any training our Soldiers and Airman can get to improve their skill set, is imperative,” Army Capt. Mesha Cichon, National Guard Counterdrug CTF Program Manager, said. “This training will enable our CTF analysts to support our law enforcement partners at a very high level.”
Experience gained during the course is not just from lectures and books. Training includes networking: the sharing of information and capabilities among CTF analysts from across the different agencies.
"CTF analysis is so new, we have to reach out to each other,” Tammy, chief of CTF at Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S), said. "This course brings us all together so we can move ahead. We get to see how counter threat finance analysts in other regions are working.”
"In working the case [with different members of the Intelligence Community (IC)], everyone brings their unique background to the task," 1st Lt. Andrew, Minn., Army National Guard said.
The training takes place in the form of lectures and hands on training. Students work in small groups to identify a threat network using multiple sources of information.
“It's a good balance of pertinent modules and overarching practical exercises,” Andrew said. “It nicely switches between instruction and working a case that closely mirrors the real world.”
The ATFAC is recommended training for analysts who are assigned to a task force with a money laundering focus. The DIA Counter Threat Finance Course is a required prerequisite, and at least two years of experience is recommended to ensure students have the ability to synthesize the complex material.
In the real world, National Guard CTF analysts support federal law enforcement agencies. Each agency has its own means of developing and furthering cases against Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs). The advanced CTF training highlighted ways in which analysts can use inter-agency support, laws and policy to further their cases.
“It's good to hear how to leverage interagency tools to further a case," Andrew said.
Counter Threat Finance is a toolbox. It is filled with a number of authorities that are the tools from which to choose, and the National Guard is best at working with multiple tools, Kathleen, a U.S Special Operations Command CTF specialist, said.
The National Guard brings a unique set of authorities to the fight against TCOs that use our financial systems to launder the proceeds of their illicit activities, Cichon said.
Although the National Guard CTF program is less than three years old, it has achieved extraordinary results in supported seizures, arrests and capacity building. Performance measures achieved directly impact the disruption and dismantlement of illicit networks.
“They [National Guard] are the bridge between the IC, law enforcement and the military,” Kathleen said.
“Even though CTF is still in its infancy, this course and people in this course show how far CTF analysis has come,” Tammy said. “In a few short years, we've developed an impressive cadre of CTF analysts."
(First names used for operational security)