Intelligence Officer Questions

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Tkaler, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. Tkaler

    Tkaler Member

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    Hello all,
    I have posted here before and am thankful for the helpful responses I have received. I'm not positive if the topic I am posting on now is in the right spot-please feel free to move it.
    I am applying for an AFROTC scholarship and will receive my results in Feb. regardless of receipt of a scholarship, I will be participating in the program.
    I am very interested in a career in the Finance field, and I plan to major in finance. However, I have been really thinking that I would like to also study a language in college.
    This somewhat correlates to an interest of mine as serving as an Intelligence Officer in the AF. I have a few quests regarding this.
    1) I am looking at studying either Russian, Mandarin, or Arabic. Which would be the best for an intel spot? I know that Mandarin is a great business language, for after my service. However, the eastern block is really st rating to westernize and I think that Russian could be very valuable in the future as well. Also, Middle Eastern countries are often an exception to the common practice of doing business in English, so this could also help...
    2) How competitive are Intelligence Officer positions?
    3) I currently have my major listed as Finance, obviously non tech. If I were to get reboarded for a scholarship, would changing my major to a language (and the double majoring) give me an advantage for the March board?

    Thanks!
     
  2. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    I'm in the AF intel officer course right now so I can give you some current information.

    1) Language proficiency is always good to have but its not going to affect you one way or the other when it comes to getting an intel slot. I speak Russian but it won't have any affect on what kind of job I'm getting after tech school. In the AF, all the linguists are enlisted personnel. As an officer, your job will be more as an all-source analyst and leading the enlisted airmen who are the actual subject matter experts.

    However, if you plan on moving towards a regional/political-military affairs or attaché track later on in your career (O-4/O-5 level) then language proficiency will help big time. But those jobs are technically outside of the AF intel community and open to officers from almost all career fields.

    2) Intel is one of the more competitive non-rated jobs. A lot of people put it down on their wish lists. But it is currently still a relatively undermanned career field so they are taking lots of people. As long as you have good grades in whatever major you're in, and a good commander's ranking, then you should be fine.

    3) If you change your prospective major to a language (specifically, one on the critical language list) then your chances of receiving a scholarship will improve dramatically. The AF wants more officers (in any career field) with knowledge of languages and foreign cultures.

    I highly recommend looking into Project GO once you get into ROTC. They paid for my summer studying in Russia and it was a great experience. If you have any more questions feel free to PM me. Good luck with the scholarship.
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Can one branch intel straight out of ROTC?
    a. If one can, is one also immediately detailed elsewhere?
    b. If one can't, on average, how long might it take to get into intel?
     
  4. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    Most intel students do come straight from ROTC or the Academy. You do not have your follow-on assignment already when you show up to intel school. Its a 6.5 month course and you receive your next assignment around the 4 month mark. The assignments are given out based on performance in the course.

    For someone who started out in a different career field, there are opportunities to cross train into intel. Currently we're taking a lot of the folks since there is a big need for more Capts/Majs in the career field right now. A few years from now that might change, but who knows.
     
  5. -Bull-

    -Bull- Member

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    Just as an FYI for anyone reading this thread, Project Go is also available to Army ROTC cadets.

    You can branch Military Intelligence straight out of college as an AROTC cadet, though most are branch detailed into a MFE branch.
     
  6. soccerchic

    soccerchic Member

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    Are AF intelligence officers normally in charge of analyzing data or actually in the "field"?
     
  7. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    It will depend on the type of unit you're in. With some, you'll have the opportunity to be "in the field" supporting ground units. You won't be kicking in doors and clearing rooms, though. Thats the Army's job.

    There are also opportunities to fly as aircrew on certain aircraft. You can work in traditional flying squadrons supporting fighter/bomber/mobility crews. There are billets on command staffs where you'll brief senior officers. And there are also plenty of opportunities to work in back shops as a traditional analyst, doing research, writing reports, etc.

    There's no standard example of a 14N job right now. There are tons of different ones that may not have much in common with each other. But the two things that all of them have in common is 1) briefing and 2) analysis. So if you're not comfortable with public speaking, thinking on your feet, and solving analytical problems then its probably not AFSC for you.
     
  8. soccerchic

    soccerchic Member

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    Thanks!:biggrin:
     
  9. Ambition

    Ambition USAFA Class of 2017

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    I also have some questions about IO's, if nobody minds. I tried to send a PM but I need to be a bit more active before I am allowed to do that.


    Let me introduce my situation: I am currently applying to USAFA, Georgetown U, and Rutgers U alongside AFROTC. One of my main dilemmas is not just what degree I get depending on where I go, but how I can use this degree in the Air Force and in the long term (Air Force or outside of it if necessary).

    Something you might be able to help me with now is teaching me about what it is an Intelligence Officer does and where they go in the future.

    So here come the questions, but feel free to answer them all directly or none at all, whatever you like!

    Where does an IO work?
    What potential does an IO have for promotions? (I know this is a very broad and probably iritating question to get, but the follow up question is my reasoning behind asking it).
    What does an IO do when they are O1? O5? Past that?
    What does an IO necessarily do? Does the briefing scene from any crime investigation show remind you of your work?
    Is there anything that exists today (games, situations, school etc.) that is comparable to what you do?
    Do you enjoy it?
    Does it matter what school I go to or what I major in? Are engineering related majors or Political Science a plus?

    Of course, I know you cannot answer all of my questions (and may wish to ignore them), but I thank you in advanced for at least reading this message.

    Respectfully,

    Robert Stelmack
     
  10. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    Robert, I'll try to give as specific answers as I can. But some of those questions are pretty broad.

    1) Intel officers work literally at all levels of the AF. This includes everything from down at the squadron level, to the theater Air Operations Centers, to Combatant Command staffs around the world, analysis centers like NASIC, as well as AF and Joint HQ staffs in Washington.

    2) Promotions are the same as any other line officer career field in the AF. You compete with the other rated and non-rated officers, including pilots, navs, ABMs, maintainers, cyber, security forces, space & missile, etc. However, keep in mind that the AF is run by pilots and the vast majority of AF units are flying units that can only be commanded by rated officers. So as an Intel officer you can get promoted, but you won't have as many command opportunities as pilot when you get at the O-5/O-6 level.

    3) What you do really depends what kind of unit you're working in. As a Lt/Capt you'll be more involved with the mission itself. As a senior guy your focus will generally be more on the administrative side, making sure your people have what they need and are doing what they need to get their jobs done.

    4) What you do again really depends on the unit you're in. When it comes to briefings, imagine a room filled with 40-80 pilots, all with short attention spans, expecting you to tell them something useful. It can be stressful at times, and if you don't know what you're talking about, it probably won't end well.

    5) I can't think of any kind of games that apply to the career field. But if you can get involved with something like a school debate club, it would help. Anything that gets you standing up in front of people, fielding questions, and thinking on your feet will help.

    6) I can't really answer whether or not I like it since I still have a couple months before I go out to my first unit outside of tech school. But as far as Intel school goes I love it.

    7) As I said in an earlier post, it doesn't really matter what school you went to or what major you were. No one is going to ask you that when you show up to Intel school. We have a lot of people here who did Poli Sci/Int'l Relations. We also have plenty of engineers and tech majors, people who speak foreign languages, etc. No one type of person really has a leg up on anyone else, unless they were prior enlisted and have worked in/around Intel before.

    I hope that clears up a few things. I know it can sound kind of vague, but that's simply because the career field is so broad there's really no way to give a detailed description. Good luck with your school/scholarship applications!
     
  11. Ambition

    Ambition USAFA Class of 2017

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    Thank you very much Nick. I know that my questions were quite broad, so I do not mind a vague answer.

    I am interested about what you mentioned on the O-5/O-6 level, because this is one of my chief concerns in picking a career (of course, assuming I get what I decide for first choice).

    If most command positions have to be held by someone with a rated slot, does that mean that most people getting to O-6 and beyond are going to have or have had a rated position?

    Is it at all possible for me to go to Pilot's school, spend time as a pilot, and eventually transfer into Intelligence? Would I then, going forward, have a better chance at getting commanding positions in Intelligence, or would I just have a better chance at getting a command position in general? (Because I would be able to switch out from Intel to something that requires a Pilot, Nav etc.)

    Thank you again!
     
  12. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    Intel squadrons are almost always commanded by career Intel folks. But there are a lot more flying squadrons in the AF than there are Intel squadrons. That's what I mean when I say there are more command opportunities for pilots.

    There are opportunities for pilots to move over to the Intel side. But I wouldn't recommend going that route unless you were serious about wanting to be a pilot first and foremost. That is a big commitment, being a pilot is a lot different from being an Intel guy.

    If you're interested in Intel and would like to lead Intel units in the later stages of your career, then I'd recommend becoming an Intel officer and not a pilot.

    I hope that all makes sense.
     
  13. christiano241

    christiano241 Member

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    Intelligence Officer

    Hi nick4060, I'm a West Point appointee and very interested in Military Intelligence. I have tons of questions, but I guess before I ask them I need to know if your branch and career experiences in AF Intelligence correlate to Army Intelligence.

    So are your AF IO experiences akin to that of an Army IO's experiences? Are Army and Air Force Intelligence fields generally similar in structure and function? I'm just trying to see if your previous answers about intel apply to Army Intelligence.
     
  14. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    In a very general sense they are similar. Its just the units and requirements that you'll be supporting are different. AF Intel officers support air, space and cyber units. Army Intel officers support ground units.

    So the kinds of weapons systems and threats you'll be required to know won't necessarily be the same as an AF Intel guy. But the general principles that go into supporting an operational unit will be the same. You'll still need to know how to analyze information and be able to brief it to the operators.

    But like in the AF, Army Intel officers also have opportunities to work outside of operational units. They can work in dedicated Intel units that do collections, or work on command staffs, or analysis centers, etc.

    Hope that helps. Maybe some Army vets on here can give more detailed experiences with Army Intel.
     
  15. christiano241

    christiano241 Member

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    In that case, I suppose I can ask some broad applicable questions about Intel:

    1. Do Intelligence Officers generally can the opportunity to work overseas or where do they end up working?

    2. How does leadership function into an IO's job? Do you lead a team of analysts as you solve problems and gather information or how does it work?

    3. If you are promoted, what new responsibilities would you be responsible for? More men under your command? Larger area to secure or analyse?

    4. Are the skills learned in Intelligence skills that are useful and desired in a non-military job? In other words, do intel folk get recruited relatively easily after their military careers?

    5. Personal question: what about Intelligence excites/interests you and propelled you to join? Are you glad you did versus other branches? What are the perks of intel (pros/cons)?
     
  16. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    1) Intel officers work overseas as much as any other military career field. If you’re working directly with an operational unit, you will deploy with that unit. If you're working at an intelligence unit, you can be deployed to fill all kinds of different Intel positions overseas. Just about anywhere in the world where there is an American military presence, you can find intelligence personnel there supporting them.

    2) Leadership does play a role into an Intel officer’s job. The amount of people you’re leading will depend on the type of unit you’re in. If you’re in an operational unit, you’re likely to have fewer enlisted Intel folks working for you. If you’re in an actual intelligence unit, then you’ll have a much larger leadership role.

    3) Like any other career field, your responsibilities will grow as you’re promoted. For example in the Air Force, a fighter squadron commander (Lt Col) will have a Lt as his intelligence officer. A wing commander (Col or Brig Gen) will have a Maj as his intelligence officer. A MAJCOM commander (3 or 4 star) will have a Col or Brig Gen as his intelligence officer.

    There are also opportunities for you to command intelligence units in the later stages of your career. So as a Lt Col you could have the opportunity to command a military intelligence battalion. As a Col you could command an MI brigade, etc.

    4) The experience, as well as the TS/SCI security clearance will open a lot of doors when it comes to post-active duty jobs. But almost all of these jobs are still gov’t/defense-related. Some people go to work for other gov’t agencies. Some continue working for DoD as civilians. Others work for private defense contractors. So if you’re willing to stay in the defense industry and live near DC, then there shouldn’t be any trouble finding high-paying jobs.

    5) I chose Intel because its such a broad career field. There are so many different sub-disciplines that you can get a very wide range of experiences over a career. There’s no real set career path that you’re encouraged to take. They actually prefer for you to be a “jack of all trades, master of none” as opposed to some other career fields where you’re supposed to become an expert in something specific and stick with that through you’re entire career.

    Im sorry if some answers seem vague. But again that's just the nature of the career field. There are just so many different types of jobs within Intel that may not have much in common with one another. Its difficult to group them all together.
     
  17. christiano241

    christiano241 Member

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    "4) The experience, as well as the TS/SCI security clearance will open a lot of doors when it comes to post-active duty jobs. But almost all of these jobs are still gov’t/defense-related. Some people go to work for other gov’t agencies. Some continue working for DoD as civilians. Others work for private defense contractors. So if you’re willing to stay in the defense industry and live near DC, then there shouldn’t be any trouble finding high-paying jobs."

    But does this mean that it would be difficult for a Intel guy to move into business law or work for a company? Are former Intel guys limited to Defense-related jobs or can they "get out" per se?
     
  18. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    There's nothing saying you can't "get out". However, the fact that you were an Intel officer won't help you get a job in business / law any more than if you were in some other MOS. Most former Intel officers stay in defense related jobs simply because those jobs are high-paying and much easier for them to get.
     
  19. christiano241

    christiano241 Member

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    Oh okay. I was under the impression that being an Intel officer specifically hindered the ability of one getting a job when compared to another branch. So the security clearances and such will not prevent me from moving into another field if desired?

    Also, do Intel officers work mostly on computers sitting down, in general? Or do they move around, doing different jobs? I'm just trying to get a feel of what a day would be like. I wouldn't mind if you would describe yours :) haha.
     
  20. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    A security clearance will help you get certain jobs. But it will never specifically prevent you from getting one.

    The daily duties of an Intel officer will vary based on the unit you're in and the position you're filling within that unit. Some positions involve a lot of sitting in front of a computer. Some positions involve leading a bunch of airmen who sit in front of computers. Others involve doing a variety of different things.

    The job I'm going to after Intel school is a flying position. So I'll be a member of an aircrew. The daily duties of that job are entirely different from the duties of the jobs some of my class mates are going to after we graduate. Some jobs will have very structured routines where you do the same thing every day. Others will be the exact opposite where you're constantly doing different stuff.

    Point is, if you're interested in intelligence in general, chances are there will be specific units and positions that you'll enjoy. And there may also be some that you wouldn't enjoy. Its all based on the individual.
     

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