JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The Intelligence Academy wrapped up March 22, after two weeks of training. The military intelligence school is a first of its kind for soldiers on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Key leaders of the academy developed the idea and brought it to fruition in efforts to enhance training and standardize the level of knowledge for intelligence soldiers across the base. The newly developed academy offers the soldiers an opportunity to sharpen their skills and learn more about the Pacific Command area of responsibility, said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Gardner, analysis control element senior intelligence sergeant, 7th Infantry Division.
“We want to ensure that all newly assigned [military intelligence] soldiers have the same baseline level of knowledge so that they can move into collective training at their unit sooner,” said Capt. David Miller, analysis control element chief, 7th Inf. Div.
“If we didn’t have something like this we may have soldiers that can’t do their job as well as they could and help their units as much,” said Sgt. Maj. Tyler Overton, intelligence sergeant major, 7th Inf. Div.
Military intelligence soldiers gather information from a variety of sources, compile it, analyze it and pass it on to commanders. This information is what helps commanders make decisions on how and where to deploy troops and in what strength.
“The critical information that we are able to give to the commanders is what saves lives, saves our soldiers’ lives and the joint environment soldiers around us,” Overton said.
During recent operations intelligence has focused mainly on Afghanistan and Iraq. The intelligence focus will move to more of a force on force versus the counter insurgency aspects of the last 10 years. As this focus shifts to the Pacific, the thoughts and analysis of the intelligence community here must shift as well, said Miller.
One instance that they must prepare for would be the after effects of natural disasters in the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is active with volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricane, typhoons and tsunamis.
Gardner, an instructor at the academy, posed these questions, “How do we provide the commander information in response to a natural disaster? How can we get that commander information as quick as possible so that we can help the people affected by a natural disaster?”
“A natural disaster could create a humanitarian crisis, which could lead to emergency situations, which could lead to an insurgency, which could lead to a failed state,” Gardner said. These are all ideas and lines of thought that he tries to impart to his class.
Gardner’s learning objective for his class is for the Soldiers to understand their job, be able to perform it proficiently, increase the level of training they have received since Advanced Individual Training and introduce them to the PACOM area of responsibility, he said.
He compared the intelligence school to an infantryman learning and fully understanding their individual weapon to the extent that the soldier no longer has any questions on how and when to use it.
Leaders at the academy intend to hold quarterly training for military intelligence soldiers. They want to improve the school steadily over time. Eventually they would like to provide not only a baseline level of knowledge but an intermediate and advanced level.