Advice for a 35F

Tron_98

US Army
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Hello everyone,

I'm currently in AIT to become an army 35F (all source Intel analyst) I'm liking the job so far... However, the more I read about intelligence and as I learn more about the modern battle space, I'm having doubts about my MOS.

I'm realizing that I want a more hands on "dirty" role as an intelligence soldier. I want to participate in reconnaissance/collection missions and get out from behind a desk. I want to help collect information, and as a "soldier first" I want to be forward with combat arms (specifically, recon elements like cavalry)

From what I've been able to research on my own, I figure my best bet would be to land myself in a Company/Troop Intelligence support team. (Or maybe attend the army reconnaissance course) but I hear the as a 35F I'll be lucky if I end up in a building that has windows. Frankly, this has me doubting my career choice, but I'm torn because I enjoy IPB and analysis.

I'm looking for advice for achieving this goal, or any insight as a 35Fs ability to go out with combat arms soldiers. Anything at all would be appreciated.

Thank you.
 

GOTWA

Half Faceless Man
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598
You shouldn't doubt your career choice this early on. You're new to the Army, young, and inexperienced. Take this time now to hone your craft. There will be other career opportunities as you climb the ladder. Analysis is THE driver of everything we do and will only help you make positive decisions in the future under a different INT. Don't just learn your job, but also understand the why things are done the way they're done. I'm a 35L with an Infantry background. I understand the battlefield from an Infantry CDRs perspective. Your products and deliverables to the CDR will teach you how to look at the battlefield from an Intel perspective.

Quickly lose that idea about rollin' out with combat arms folks because that's not your role. If you want to be a collector, then you need to become a collector.
 

Marauder06

Intel Enabler
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Hello everyone,

I'm currently in AIT to become an army 35F (all source Intel analyst) I'm liking the job so far... However, the more I read about intelligence and as I learn more about the modern battle space, I'm having doubts about my MOS.

I'm realizing that I want a more hands on "dirty" role as an intelligence soldier. I want to participate in reconnaissance/collection missions and get out from behind a desk. I want to help collect information, and as a "soldier first" I want to be forward with combat arms (specifically, recon elements like cavalry)

From what I've been able to research on my own, I figure my best bet would be to land myself in a Company/Troop Intelligence support team. (Or maybe attend the army reconnaissance course) but I hear the as a 35F I'll be lucky if I end up in a building that has windows. Frankly, this has me doubting my career choice, but I'm torn because I enjoy IPB and analysis.

I'm looking for advice for achieving this goal, or any insight as a 35Fs ability to go out with combat arms soldiers. Anything at all would be appreciated.

Thank you.
This was an articulate and well-written post. I understand where you're coming from, a lot of young analysts feel the same way you do. They just don't normally express it as well. Here are some things for you to consider:

You are in AIT. Your ability to contribute anything meaningful from "out behind a desk" is at, or very close to, zero. If you want to be cavalry or combat arms, go be cavalry or combat arms after your current enlistment. But if you like IPB and analysis, give that a shot in an actual unit before you decide what it is you think you want to do.

I've been in the Army 24 years, the first four in the infantry under the branch detail program, and the last 20 in intel. In that time, I've learned that doing intel is hard. Let me clarify: doing intel well is hard. It takes practice, the kind that comes with years of experience and, yes, a lot of desk work. The people you are supporting probably don't need you to be the best at recon or shooting people or maneuver warfare or whatever. They have people for that, and you're never going to be as good as them. So don't try to be. Be good at your job--your intel job--that's what they have you for.

I think CoISTs are a waste of intel assets that could be better utilized elsewhere, largely because the companies don't know how to use them and the intel types that get assigned to them often don't want to do intel, they want to do infantry things. So in the main, little intel gets accomplished at that level. Others will disagree and that's OK.

If you want a sexy job in a sexy unit, you've got to grow into that. And if you want to stay in those types of jobs as an intel guy, you need to appreciate your role an enabler and not over-romaticize what it is the people you support are doing. Be the best you can at the job the Army assigned you (and I'm assuming the one you asked for?) for now. Later you can make the jump to Special Forces, if that appeals to you and if you have what it takes. There are also entry-level intel positions in SF and in the Ranger Regiment. But again, go there to do intel work, not because you couldn't get in as a shooter.

I'm including a couple of things in this post. The first is a link to a Havok Journal article called "Know Your Role." It was written by an enlisted Navy intel guy in JSOC. The second link is to a story written by an Army intel officer supporting the 160th SOAR, that was published in West Point's Modern War Institute. Those are to help you understand perspective and how to be comfortable being a supporter instead of being the supported.

Know Your Role: 7 Rules For Supporting Special Operations • The Havok Journal
Competition, Call of Duty, and “Naked Chicks with Guns”: Lessons on Teambuilding from an Elite Special Operations Unit - Modern War Institute

The two attachments are excerpts from a book called "Violence of Action: the 75th Ranger Regiment in the Global War on Terror" written by Marty Skovlund. All three of the authors of that book are (or at least were) members of this site. This is to give you a feel for some of the cool things you can do an an intel enabler, in units that understand and value intelligence, if you're really, really good at your job.

Good luck, keep us posted on your progress.
 

Attachments

lindy

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@Marauder06 gave you EXCELLENT advice from his experienced position and, if followed, you will have an excellent career in MI.

This has been my experience working with SOF and government folks who come back sweaty, dirty, and mourning their dead:

Value. The only thing specialized teams give a shit about when looking at intel enablers is what value do they bring. No value = no ticket on the E ride.

It's important to keep in mind that 35Fs compete for value with 18Fs and 35M/L compete with the ASOT III SF soldier (you guys typically lose). We had both attached to the same ODA as us but only the SOT-As were in the stack on DA hits or commando ops.

What makes SIGINTers different is N's have access to data before everyone else does but the "key" thing 35Ps brought to the ODA...our TS crypto fill that nobody else had. Sure we had specialized kit to actually answer the old Verizon commercial "Can you hear me now?" but with our TS fill, we could commo directly with our 35Ns...at the Team, BN, and even SOTF level. For example, when the team commander called the BN to call a TIC to get assets, I made one radio call to all three levels that Fox-02B was in a TIC and got national-level help to find the baddies.

Additionally, SIGINTers use the same commo kit as the 18Es (just different fills) so we could help set up, troubleshoot, and tear down. We also come with our own kit like the ODAs and even our TPE was odd: why a SOT-A needs a SR-25, MK-48, etc, I dunno but it was good kit to have.

Don't get me wrong: not every SOT-A is magic. Some actually quit...one, in enemy territory while actually on enfil to the OBJ. Shit you not.

I'm also not saying that all-source guys are stuck inside a SCIF connected to SIPR or JWICS. In one of the CNN videos I linked to, there's a dude in MARPAT who was an all-source Marine MI officer at the Company level and he came out to get a better understanding of what the team needed. He was a total intel nerd in the field and was very competent behind the gun. He came out for a few days and was FORCED to be allowed to return. I ended up seeing him about 6 months later at work where I exposed myself...uh, him to national-level stuff that would later help as he moved up the career ladder.

Finally, do not be too quick to rush out to get exposed to the "dirty" of MI. Sometimes those decisions and memories are for keeps.

Just my two cents.
 

Tron_98

US Army
Verified Military
Joined
Jul 7, 2019
Messages
8
This was an articulate and well-written post. I understand where you're coming from, a lot of young analysts feel the same way you do. They just don't normally express it as well. Here are some things for you to consider:

You are in AIT. Your ability to contribute anything meaningful from "out behind a desk" is at, or very close to, zero. If you want to be cavalry or combat arms, go be cavalry or combat arms after your current enlistment. But if you like IPB and analysis, give that a shot in an actual unit before you decide what it is you think you want to do.

I've been in the Army 24 years, the first four in the infantry under the branch detail program, and the last 20 in intel. In that time, I've learned that doing intel is hard. Let me clarify: doing intel well is hard. It takes practice, the kind that comes with years of experience and, yes, a lot of desk work. The people you are supporting probably don't need you to be the best at recon or shooting people or maneuver warfare or whatever. They have people for that, and you're never going to be as good as them. So don't try to be. Be good at your job--your intel job--that's what they have you for.

I think CoISTs are a waste of intel assets that could be better utilized elsewhere, largely because the companies don't know how to use them and the intel types that get assigned to them often don't want to do intel, they want to do infantry things. So in the main, little intel gets accomplished at that level. Others will disagree and that's OK.

If you want a sexy job in a sexy unit, you've got to grow into that. And if you want to stay in those types of jobs as an intel guy, you need to appreciate your role an enabler and not over-romaticize what it is the people you support are doing. Be the best you can at the job the Army assigned you (and I'm assuming the one you asked for?) for now. Later you can make the jump to Special Forces, if that appeals to you and if you have what it takes. There are also entry-level intel positions in SF and in the Ranger Regiment. But again, go there to do intel work, not because you couldn't get in as a shooter.

I'm including a couple of things in this post. The first is a link to a Havok Journal article called "Know Your Role." It was written by an enlisted Navy intel guy in JSOC. The second link is to a story written by an Army intel officer supporting the 160th SOAR, that was published in West Point's Modern War Institute. Those are to help you understand perspective and how to be comfortable being a supporter instead of being the supported.

Know Your Role: 7 Rules For Supporting Special Operations • The Havok Journal
Competition, Call of Duty, and “Naked Chicks with Guns”: Lessons on Teambuilding from an Elite Special Operations Unit - Modern War Institute

The two attachments are excerpts from a book called "Violence of Action: the 75th Ranger Regiment in the Global War on Terror" written by Marty Skovlund. All three of the authors of that book are (or at least were) members of this site. This is to give you a feel for some of the cool things you can do an an intel enabler, in units that understand and value intelligence, if you're really, really good at your job.

Good luck, keep us posted on your progress.
Thank you very much for this! You're right, I'm new to the army and new to my job. I'm also romanticizing the heck out of operators and infantry and cavalry soldiers (to be honest, it came down to Intel analyst or cav scout back when I enlisted). Perhaps it's a case of "the grass is greener on the other side" or maybe it is a deeper desire that I'll need to address later (whether it be with SF or a change of MOS.) This internal struggle is not new to me.

From what I understand so far, the war is away from conventional forces right now, so I suppose my desire to go outside the wire is irrelevant right now because it's not likely I'll be deploying overseas any time soon.

I'll certainly do my best to be the best at my job. I'm doing well here so far which is why I'm torn (currently #1 in my pod) and I know to be a good soldier I must fulfill my duties to the best of my ability. Although CoISTs may be a waste, perhaps it is that kind of assignment that can help me determine where I want to take my military career.

I'll keep my eye out for opportunities as I progress, and I'll see if I can carve my own path... I suppose I just need to figure out for myself what path that is.

I've downloaded your attachments, and I'm going to read them right after this. Thank you again!!!
 

Tron_98

US Army
Verified Military
Joined
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Messages
8
@Marauder06 gave you EXCELLENT advice from his experienced position and, if followed, you will have an excellent career in MI.

This has been my experience working with SOF and government folks who come back sweaty, dirty, and mourning their dead:

Value. The only thing specialized teams give a shit about when looking at intel enablers is what value do they bring. No value = no ticket on the E ride.

It's important to keep in mind that 35Fs compete for value with 18Fs and 35M/L compete with the ASOT III SF soldier (you guys typically lose). We had both attached to the same ODA as us but only the SOT-As were in the stack on DA hits or commando ops.

What makes SIGINTers different is N's have access to data before everyone else does but the "key" thing 35Ps brought to the ODA...our TS crypto fill that nobody else had. Sure we had specialized kit to actually answer the old Verizon commercial "Can you hear me now?" but with our TS fill, we could commo directly with our 35Ns...at the Team, BN, and even SOTF level. For example, when the team commander called the BN to call a TIC to get assets, I made one radio call to all three levels that Fox-02B was in a TIC and got national-level help to find the baddies.

Additionally, SIGINTers use the same commo kit as the 18Es (just different fills) so we could help set up, troubleshoot, and tear down. We also come with our own kit like the ODAs and even our TPE was odd: why a SOT-A needs a SR-25, MK-48, etc, I dunno but it was good kit to have.

Don't get me wrong: not every SOT-A is magic. Some actually quit...one, in enemy territory while actually on enfil to the OBJ. Shit you not.

I'm also not saying that all-source guys are stuck inside a SCIF connected to SIPR or JWICS. In one of the CNN videos I linked to, there's a dude in MARPAT who was an all-source Marine MI officer at the Company level and he came out to get a better understanding of what the team needed. He was a total intel nerd in the field and was very competent behind the gun. He came out for a few days and was FORCED to be allowed to return. I ended up seeing him about 6 months later at work where I exposed myself...uh, him to national-level stuff that would later help as he moved up the career ladder.

Finally, do not be too quick to rush out to get exposed to the "dirty" of MI. Sometimes those decisions and memories are for keeps.

Just my two cents.
I agree. I'm a support soldier first and foremost. Unfortunately I may have bought into "the jack of all trades" buzzline a bit too much when it comes to my MOS. I want to provide good Intel products, and I enjoy making them. However, I do want to be like that Marine officer, able to go outside the wire and contribute to the mission. I just wish I knew which units and assignments would offer that duel hat role that I currently want. (Perhaps I should try to find those roles on the conventional side, because

I'll be entirely honest. I'm kind of lost in the sauce when it comes to the SOF community. I suppose that means OPSEC is doing it's job. However that means I don't know the function of a fox in SOT-A teams or who we compete with. So you've provided me alot of info for me to dig around for.

I appreciate all this, thank you!
 

Tron_98

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You could try and get to regiment or group. Do you have airborne in your contract?
No I don't have airborne in my contract. However, it is my understanding that one can be attached without going airborne. If the opportunity presents itself I'll gladly take it though. Right now I'm looking at the bigger picture, both conventional and SOF, for opportunities to be out front. (Hence why I mention cavalry, from what I hear there's lots of opportunities for intel in those units due to their reconnaissance role)
 

Tron_98

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Wow. I can't imagine anyplace other than SS where a brand new Soldier can get this level of guidance from a very senior and highly-experienced Officer. I strongly suggest the OP share this with everyone in his AIT class and chain of command for widest dissemination (perhaps leaving out that you're less than thrilled so far.)
This is true, it's very good advice and insight that truly blew me away. I'll share this with a few of my battle buddies who also have the same aspirations as me.

I know I may come across as less than enthusiastic, however I must say that I enjoy Intel work. Hence why I'm trying to find a way to serve a duel purpose (and not simply looking to reclass to combat arms) I know I must sound stupid, but essentially I'm a POG who wants to do both POG and Grunt work.
 

Tron_98

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Joined
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Messages
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You shouldn't doubt your career choice this early on. You're new to the Army, young, and inexperienced. Take this time now to hone your craft. There will be other career opportunities as you climb the ladder. Analysis is THE driver of everything we do and will only help you make positive decisions in the future under a different INT. Don't just learn your job, but also understand the why things are done the way they're done. I'm a 35L with an Infantry background. I understand the battlefield from an Infantry CDRs perspective. Your products and deliverables to the CDR will teach you how to look at the battlefield from an Intel perspective.

Quickly lose that idea about rollin' out with combat arms folks because that's not your role. If you want to be a collector, then you need to become a collector.
I appreciate the bluntness. I've been in the army for a solid two minutes so doubt isn't the best way to start my career.
I understand that I can't serve as a collector (certainly HUMINT, due to legal reasons) however, I'm digging for opportunities to at least assist such teams, or head out with the scouts and observe the bad guys. Perhaps you're right, that the only way for that to happen is for me to pursue a collector position, or reclass to scout. However, I am torn because I do enjoy this job, I just don't enjoy how far behind the lines I'll be (though I suppose if we go to war with a near peer or any other conventional force, I'll get to see the action I want)
 

lindy

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I'll be entirely honest. I'm kind of lost in the sauce when it comes to the SOF community. I suppose that means OPSEC is doing it's job. However that means I don't know the function of a fox in SOT-A teams or who we compete with.
Don’t worry, it’ll come with more experience. Also with experience comes exposure to more specialized units where there is zero daylight between F & Ns.
 
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Marauder06

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I hear this a lot from new airmen, my advice that I give to them is, "How can I release you to go do high speed job when you have no idea how to do the low speed job?".
Agreed. "Don't worry about what's outside the box, until you understand why the box exists and what's already in it."

Conveniently, we had another long-term member of this site, a Special Forces officer, write an article a few years back that explains that perfectly.

Special Forces soldiers, the Green Berets, get a bad rap for “outside the box” thinking. Detractors label us “cowboys;” bearded, gun-toting, sleeve-rollin’, hands-in-pockets, Rolex wearing, ne’er-do-wells. The stereotypes, while flattering, ignore facts. Green Berets master the fundamentals. No other Soldier in the U.S. Army is trained to lead a company size element of indigenous personnel in combat, permissive, or semi-permissive environments. The successful Green Beret is an independent thinker. He is skilled at the fundamentals. Those traits not mutually exclusive; one requires the other.
 

Tron_98

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I hear this a lot from new airmen, my advice that I give to them is, "How can I release you to go do high speed job when you have no idea how to do the low speed job?".
Fair enough! How would you recommend I master the low speed job? Extra Intel schools? (35F related ones) finishing my tasks to high standard? How should I go about proving myself?
 

Braz

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Fair enough! How would you recommend I master the low speed job? Extra Intel schools? (35F related ones) finishing my tasks to high standard? How should I go about proving myself?
It's all in steps,

STEP 1 - Finish AIT
STEP 2 - Do good things and not be a turd at your unit

Another quote I tell my childern (my E4s and below) "I need you to learn how to adult" once you master that you'll do just fine. Yes extra schools not bad idea shows you got some drive. But preforming well and being responsible go a long way, and the intelligence world is small never forget that.
 

lindy

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Fair enough! How would you recommend I master the low speed job? Extra Intel schools? (35F related ones) finishing my tasks to high standard? How should I go about proving myself?
Acquire via experience:

Expert understanding of network analysis tools such as Analyst Notebook and Palantir.

Expert understanding of tools such as M3, Lucky, HOT-R, JIDO ANTS, TAC, NCTC Online, TIDE, DataXplorer, PROTON, TargetCOP, BHTK.

Expert understanding of Intel targeting tools such as the Skope toolset or the Voltron toolset.

Practical understanding of geospatial Intel tools such as ArcGIS and Google Earth.

Must be able to work independently with limited oversight and function effectively as part of a team in a joint working environment.
 
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