Adapting intelligence training, overcoming obstacles

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Erick Lawson
  • 316th Training Squadron commander
Throughout history there have been critical points in time when the citizens of our great nation stood up and explicitly felt compelled to make an unforgettable impact - be it in Trenton with Nathanael Greene, at Little Round Top with Joshua Chamberlain or with Col. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller commanding two battalions of Marines 26 miles south of the Chosin Reservoir while surrounded by enemy forces - Americans have always answered the call to arms.

The greatest generation abandoned their isolationist ideals when Imperial Japanese Naval forces decided to extend their sphere of influence throughout the Pacific Theater and attacked the American Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Today only one percent of American men and women volunteer to wear the military uniforms of our Armed Services. For most of them, their calling came that fateful day in September 2001 when one of the greatest symbols of American prosperity, security and freedom were the recipients of calculated and cowardly attacks by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists, killing more than 3,000 citizens.

Immediately after the Japanese Naval attack at Pearl Harbor, the American military machine recognized a number of faults and failures with the development and training of our servicemembers. One of these failures was the lack of linguists trained in the Japanese language, history and culture. To overcome these deficiencies, the U.S. Navy rapidly developed a language training program at the University of California, Berkeley, which was later transferred to the Boulder School at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The language program only accepted the best and brightest students from the top universities throughout the United States and immersed them in one full year of demanding language and cultural studies. Upon their successful completion they were transferred to Naval and Marine Corps units throughout the Pacific theater where they found themselves engaged in direct combat operations, interrogations of enemy prisoners and code breaking missions.

Today the Armed Services trains brave and intelligent young Americans in the same ground-breaking fields of cryptology. Just as their predecessors, today's cryptoanalysts and crypotlinguists have been adapted to fulfill the ever-changing combat environment to meet our nation's needs in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas around the world. These brave Americans could very well find themselves once again trying to coax a hardened and determined enemy out of a cave complex in Afghanistan just as they did 66 years ago on the island of Okinawa. They could also find themselves pouring through countless messages and raw intelligence confiscated during combat operations which could lead to the capture of enemy combatants determined to conduct further evil acts against Americans or our Allies.

Answering our nation's need for a cryptological capability and operationally relevant intelligence, Goodfellow trains thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines as cryptoanalysts, cryptolinguists and operational intelligence professionals. Good intelligence is crucial to any military endeavor. Without timely and reliable intelligence, military leaders are unable to make accurate decisions in times of war. These decisions carry great weight and may put Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in harm's way to complete our mission. The success of our forces fighting in today's asymmetric battlefield is greatly influenced by their access to good intelligence. The Global War on Terrorism routinely tests the ability of our military forces to provide timely and reliable intelligence to those who need it, whether that is the individual riflemen, combatant commanders or senior leaders.

The ever-changing battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere demand our forces' training and preparation to adapt quickly just as they did after Dec. 7, 1941. In anticipation of changes on the war front, visionaries began researching and developing curriculum to arm Pashto, Iraqi and Levantine Language Analysts for contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The courses focus on solidifying language proficiency and target knowledge, enabling the war fighter to provide the intelligence demanded in the field. Our intelligence professionals continue to prepare and equip our students with the language and cryptologic skills they need as new requirements emerge. As a result of these efforts, the calls from national leaders are answered and the war fighters receive the vital support required.

Intelligence war fighters need to be ready to conduct operations in expeditionary and forward operating areas. This is why many of our students are provided training at Goodfellow's Forward Operating Base Sentinel ran by the Army's 344th Military Intelligence Battalion. Here, students are exposed to a simulated deployment environment that includes direct action operations, defensive engagement operations and lifesaver skills. Students are subjected to radio broadcasts during which they utilize the skills acquired from their training to collect and analyze intelligence, mirroring an actual combat environment.

Our ability to adapt and overcome all obstacles presented by our enemies hinges on our continued ability to excel at providing predictive battlespace awareness to our war fighters. This battlespace awareness is pivotal to our success in The Global War on Terrorism and future asymmetric conflicts. To maintain information superiority and battlespace awareness our Armed Services must continue to provide our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines with the best training, preparation and leadership available.

Cryptology is but one key to our success and will continue to be a vital piece of the puzzle ensuring successful global Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance operations. Goodfellow continues to train the nation's finest intelligence professionals ensuring our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who are responsible for defending our freedoms and way of life are prepared to the fullest extent possible to defeat a ruthless enemy hell bent on the annihilation of the Western World and our beliefs.