This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle, Missouri, February 20th 2019.
Military Intelligence – what image does that phrase create in your mind? Really smart people? Soldiers studying maps of enemy movements? James Bond or a Tom Clancy character? The Army has an enlisted MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) called Military Intelligence Analyst, MOS 35F. It requires a Top Secret security clearance, and in the words of some soldiers in that job, they get to see and do some really cool stuff.
So what does an Army Military Intelligence Analyst do? He or she collects information from all sources, aerial photos, satellite images, reports from human intelligence collectors, reports from the field. Intercepted radio transmissions or cell phone conversations, prisoner of war interrogations, and news reports and many other sources, and puts it together to try to determine what an enemy or a terrorist cell is doing and what it is planning to do. For a commander to make a decision to commit soldiers to combat, he has to have information about the enemy. What is the enemy doing, where is the enemy and what is he planning? That is the job of the intelligence analyst.
America’s military secrets are classified and compartmentalized into sections that are only available to people who have a need to know that particular information. Potential enemies, and some supposed friends, have vast complex organizations whose missions are to find our secrets, just as we have the CIA. The security classifications are Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret, and then there are probably 20 categories and special compartmentalization’s above Top Secret. I had a Top Secret clearance when I was assigned to the Communications Center of US Army Europe Headquarters, but I had to be processed for Special Category (SPECAT) clearance before I could go into the center and go to work. We were all being processed for SI (Special Intelligence) clearances when I left that job. Having the security clearance doesn’t get access to everything. You have to have a “need to know”. Officially there is no “Above Top Secret” clearance, however there a couple of categories that really are above a Top Secret clearance. There is SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) and SAP (Special Access Programs). Engineers may have a critical need to know certain technical components of a project, but have no need to know the purpose or scope of the entire project, and the fewer people who know the whole scope the less chance for leaks to foreign agents.
Army Military Intelligence Analysts can’t talk much about their job, because most of what they do is classified.
Bradley Manning was an Army Military Intelligence Analyst MOS 35F. After his training he was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. That Brigade deployed to Iraq in late 2009. Manning worked as an analyst in the S2 (Intelligence) Shop of Brigade Headquarters at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Hammer, near the Iranian Border. He was promoted to Specialist and after a few months his immediate supervisor, the S2 NCOIC (Non-commissioned Officer in charge) recommended him for an Army Achievement Medal. That recommendation is now public information. It reads; “Achievement #1 – SPC Manning worked as the night shift Violent Extremist Analytical Team lead. In this capacity, he assisted in the Brigade Commander’s better understanding the Promise Day Brigade in Zafraniyah. His research and efforts led to the identification of the structure in which this particular group conducted operations and how they targeted United States Forces. His research greatly assisted the subordinate unit with accurate information that led to the disruption of the organization. Achievement #2 – SPC Manning’s persistence led to the disruption of Former Special Groups (FSG) in the New Baghdad area. SPC Manning’s tracking of targets led to the identification of enemy support zones that were previously unknown. His analysis led to heavy targeting of insurgent leaders in the area. This effort consistently disrupted their operations. SPC Manning’s dedication led to the detention of a Tier-2 level FSG individual within the Command OE. Achievement #3 – SPC Manning labored to unravel the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures of the enemy smuggling lines from Iran into Command OE. SPC Manning identified key routes that were being utilized as well as support zones that aided in the transportation of explosively-formed penetrators (EFP’s), Katyusha rockets and various small arms. His analysis aided subordinate units in their plans to disrupt these operations and minimize the flow of these systems in to Baghdad. Achievement #4 – SPC Manning was instrumental in assisting the Brigade S2 and S3 plans sections in regards to mission analysis. SPC Manning produced 20 products for three briefings on topics including enemy situation, future enemy operations and current threat assessments. SPC Manning’s in-depth analysis of the areas he covered provided the Brigade S2 and S2 Planner vital information required to lead ground forces to successful mission accomplishment.”
That is the job of an Army Military Intelligence Analyst MOS 35F. That is now public information because Bradley Manning was personally a little off center. He was openly gay, which caused some inter office friction. He punched another soldier and was reduced to Private First Class (PFC), fined 7 day’s pay, restricted to the company area and given 14 days extra duty. In the course of his duties, he saw a film of an aerial attack on civilians. It was a mistake, a telescopic camera lens was mistaken for a weapon, but it flipped a switch in Manning, he started gathering everything he could find that could be damaging to the United States in Iraq. As an analyst in Iraq he had access to a tremendous amount of information. He had combat videos and photos and after action reports and literally hundreds of thousands of classified communications between headquarters’ and Embassies. He contacted WikiLeaks and dumped it. A hacker found his transmissions and reported him. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but President Obama commuted his sentenced to seven years. He is now goes as she Chelsea Manning.
It is normally desk work, but it is much more that pushing papers. In Intell shops the enlisted people do the analyst work and many of the briefings. The officers are more involved in scheduling, meetings, and advising the commander. I once heard the Division G2 tell the Chief of Staff that he wanted to brief him on some real world work they were doing. The Colonel said: “Great, who do you have working on that?” The answer – Smith and Jones. Colonel – “Good bring them along.”
For someone who enjoys mysteries, puzzles that require complex construction, and has a logical deductive thought process, this could be a really neat job. You can be assigned to about any Army post or overseas area. There are analysts’ in the headquarters of combat battalions, brigades, divisions, corps and armies. There are also separate Military Intelligence companies, battalions and brigades.
The AIT (Advanced Individual Training) for 35F is 16 weeks long at the US Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. That is at Sierra Vista, AZ southeast of Tucson, and southwest of Tombstone, about 20 miles from the Mexican border. All Army intelligence courses are taught there. The city population of Sierra Vista is about 45,000, but the metro population of the area is about 135,000. Army Intelligence people like the post and rave about the beauty of the area. The AIT is very relaxed compared to basic training. Students are marched to and from class, chow, and PT, but they are off when the day is over and off on weekends. Hiking in the mountains overlooking the school is apparently popular with AIT students. It is apparently so relaxed that many cautioned others about getting in trouble. Some said your homework is classified so you have go to study hall, but emphasized “do go to study hall”, and always ask questions.
The requirements to enlist for MOS 35F are an ASVAB score of 105 in the ST (skilled technical) area. The following tests comprise the ST area; Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, General Science, Mechanical Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge. I would strive for a score in the 120’s in ST and GT (General Technical) (English and math). Must never have been a member of the Peace Corps, no criminal record except minor traffic violations, and be able to be cleared for a Top Secret clearance, i.e., squeaky clean.
And what are the jobs outside the military that are available to a person with this training and experience? Actually many, FBI, CIA, DEA, ATF, Border Patrol, Homeland Security and others, plus state and large city police use intelligence analysts. This is a very unique skill.
As a November 2020 update to the original story, it has also been a fast promotion job for the past several months, with soldiers making sergeant in two to three years.