For as long as America has had soldiers, its army has been scrutinizing information about its enemies to gain an advantage on the battlefield. George Washington advised his commanders to maintain logs of intelligence on British forces detailing the sizes of their regiments, arms and food supplies among other things [source: Central Intelligence Agency].
Weapons have changed since the Revolutionary War, but the role of the Army intelligence analyst remains no less important. Essentially, the intelligence analyst is a soldier who compiles timely facts about an enemy from as many sources as possible, interprets the information and relays that analysis to commanding officers to help them determine strategy on the battlefield [source: U.S. Army]. The role is like an assistant coach on a football team who pores through film and scouting reports to prepare a strategy for an upcoming game. In the war in Iraq, intelligence analysts organized data about the date, time and nature of insurgent attacks on military convoys, which led analysts to make educated guesses on future attacks, as well as determine the specific insurgent groups conducting them [source: Meeks and Brundige].
Intelligence analysts don't make restrictive predictions on what will happen in a particular combat scenario. Instead, they examine all available sources of information -- which could include weather conditions, intercepted enemy communications and facts acquired from interrogations and interviews -- place the information into context and provide their commanders with a full scope of threats and potential courses of action to help them make informed decisions. Useful intelligence exploits enemy weaknesses using immediately available forces and can save lives [source: House].
Let's take a closer look at what intelligence analysts do and what they need to know. We'll also learn about a few of the jobs that require similar skills.
Army Intelligence Analyst Careers
The intelligence analyst, which the Army designates as Military Occupational Specialty 35F, is responsible for processing incoming reports and messages, determining the accuracy and credibility of the intelligence, organizing records and files, and conducting intelligence preparation of the battlefield -- the continual analysis of threats, the terrain and the environment on the battlefield [source: GoArmy.com]. Intelligence analysts identify threats, potential targets and social elements that might affect an operation, and they distribute their findings manually and electronically to commanding officers. In addition to these duties, intelligence analysts also perform fundamental tasks like guard duty, administrative work and all of the other basics required of soldiers [source: Linton].
Within the Army, several jobs require skill sets similar to that of the intelligence analyst.
- Human intelligence collectors conduct interrogations and debriefings of people to gather intelligence about an enemy.
- Imagery analysts analyze aerial photography and electronic images to identify targets and conduct damage assessments in battle areas.
- Counterintelligence agents conduct investigations to detect and counter enemy threats to U.S. national security.
- Psychological operations specialists develop and disseminate flyers, television and radio messages and other media to influence the attitudes of foreign populations to benefit U.S. objectives.
The Army is one of 17 member agencies in the United States intelligence community, which also includes the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, as well as other military branches [source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence]. The skills and experience acquired by Army intelligence analysts make them natural candidates for positions within these agencies. Civilian jobs for former intelligence analysts could include database administrators, detectives, business planners and other occupations that require creative thinking to draw conclusions from a set of facts.
Next, some things to keep in mind if you want to pursue a career as an Army intelligence analyst.
Tips for Becoming an Army Intelligence Analyst
Before you consider working toward a career as an Army intelligence analyst, make sure you meet all of the basic requirements. New intelligence analysts must have:
- A high school diploma
- U.S. citizenship
- No convictions by court-martial or in a civilian court for offenses other than minor traffic violations
- A minimum score of at least 105 on the skilled technical version of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a series of standardized tests for newly enlisted
- Eligibility for top-secret security clearance and sensitive compartmented information access, which is determined through background checks and interviews with the soldier, his friends and relatives [source: TAOnline.com]
- An ability to occasionally lift more than 50 pounds (22 kilograms) and frequently lift more than 25 pounds (11 kilograms)
Army intelligence analysts must complete 83 total days of specialized instruction at the United States Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca in Arizona (in addition to nine weeks of basic training). The specific skills covered in the curriculum include using automated intelligence systems and software, analytical writing, assessing the effects of weather and terrain on operations, analyzing threats, developing courses of action and creating reconnaissance and surveillance plans [source: Linton]. Entry-level intelligence analysts should have a talent for gathering and organizing information, an interest in reading and interpreting charts and maps, and strong written and verbal communications skills [source: GoArmy.com]. More experienced analysts should also possess extensive knowledge of the culture, geography, and history of the region in which they are operating. They should also be competent speaking the language of the region in which they're working [source: Lewis].
In terms of personality, successful intelligence analysts are self-motivated people with a natural curiosity. They have a natural ability to solve complex problems, an aptitude for learning new computer software programs and an ability to think critically without bias.
For lots more information, visit the next page.
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- Central Intelligence Agency. "Intelligence Techniques." July 2008. (April 13, 2011)https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/intelligence/intelltech.html
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- GoArmy.com. "Psychological Operations Specialist." (April 10, 2011)http://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/browse-career-and-job-categories/intelligence-and-combat-support/psychological-operations-specialist.html
- House, John. "Why War? Why an Army?" Greenwood Publishing Group. 2008.
- Lewis, General George III. "Army Intelligence Analysis: Transforming Army Intelligence Analysis Training and Doctrine to Serve the Reasonable Expectations and Needs of Echelons Corps and Below Commanders, Consumers, and Customers." United States Army. April 2005. (April 14, 2011)
- Linton, Tanja. Media Relations Officer, Fort Huachuca Public Affairs Office. Personal Correspondence. April 18, 2011.
- Meeks, Lt. Col. Heber S.; Brundige, Maj. Barton T. "The Role of Intelligence in Sustainment Operations." Army Sustainment. Jan.-Feb. 2010. (April 14, 2011)http://www.almc.army.mil/alog/issues/JanFeb10/intel_sust_ops.html
- Office of the Director of National Intelligence. "Member Agencies." (April 8, 2011)http://www.intelligence.gov/about-the-intelligence-community/member-agencies/
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