Questions about 35M/HUMINT

JAG2

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Hey everyone,

I'm just out of college, and hoping to enlist soon as a 35M (Human Intelligence Collector). Submitting a packet for 38B or 18X after a few years has also crossed my mind, but for this discussion I'll stick to 35M. I want to do my research before setting a path for myself, which is why I'm on here.

I'm interested in 35M because I'm passionate about HUMINT and source ops (yes even all the paperwork). I have read all about the 'not as sexy as it sounds' aspect of it, and take it all to heart, but even with the lowest of expectations the job description still resonates with me. I've heard horror stories about peacetime 35Ms spending all day at the motorpool and having an awful time, though. If I were to go 35M I would push hard for Airborne, because I would jump at the chance to deploy (no pun intended) especially as an enabler for SOF activities. But the possibility that I'll be somewhere in the States doing a whole lot of nothing for a few years is what's holding me back. The fact that this is neither a combat arms nor special operations position is also a big drawback for me when it comes to life-after-army. Though the HUMINT experience would definitely be a big plus...if I can get any.

Side note: Active duty is my primary aim, but I did have a few questions about reserves as well just in case a job I can't turn down miraculously comes my way. From the research I've done on this site and elsewhere, I've heard:
1. Reserve 35Ms have zero job most of the time since it's illegal for non-LE to perform HUMINT in the states
2. At the same time, reserve 35Ms have an easier time locking in training/schools? Seemed strange to hear this but has a lot of value if true
3. Reserve 35Ms who are based in the DC metro area occasionally work with alphabet soup agencies nearby. I initially dismissed this claim but it popped up a couple times and is worth poking into.
Can anyone throw in any insight to these or other considerations?

Not very interested in going to OCS, only because I've heard you get way less freedom when it comes to choosing your branch, and you have to wait much longer for opportunities that have much smaller windows to pass by. I'd also rather be on the ground conducting source ops than in a planning room this early in the game. But I'm open for hearing arguments either way.

Thanks for reading this far, looking forward to any details, feedback, personal experience, or advice.
 

Il Duce

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1 and 2 are incorrect - very, very incorrect. Number 3 is true but not if AIT is the extent of your training. A lot of opportunities in being a 35M - active or RC. But like anything, there are a lot of folks that don't make the cut. If you're a stud, there's a ton of opportunity.
 

SpaceshipDoorGunner

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Something else to consider, is that I hear they are making language a priority for 35M soon. (Again?) So you may have two big ticket items to add to your resume that are in demand on the outside.

My $0.02 is that maybe you should consider transitioning to 35M with the eventual goal of 35L or getting into the SMU/Special Program world. FWIW (and it probably shouldn't be this way) however, you can make your way to Group out of AIT and that will set you up for success and keep you relatively busy until you progress up. This is if you are going active...

If you weren't set on the Active Duty 35M lifestyle, I would suggest seeing about a National Guard spot at 19th/20th Group. Both still deploy and have a little bit more money than your average NG unit to spend towards training, etc. *Paging NG Group dudes*

35 and 18 series are both great choices. You can always try to get to Group first as a 35 series guy and then decide if the 18 series lifestyle is for you.
 

JAG2

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1 and 2 are incorrect - very, very incorrect. Number 3 is true but not if AIT is the extent of your training. A lot of opportunities in being a 35M - active or RC. But like anything, there are a lot of folks that don't make the cut. If you're a stud, there's a ton of opportunity.
Thanks Duce, glad to dispel the rumors and confirm what's true. Without breaching opsec, can you give any more insight on getting into a career as an intel enabler? Glancing at your profile I sense tons of gold worth of experience.
P.S.-I'm a New York guy myself. Only been in DC for about 5 years.
 

JAG2

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Something else to consider, is that I hear they are making language a priority for 35M soon. (Again?) So you may have two big ticket items to add to your resume that are in demand on the outside.

My $0.02 is that maybe you should consider transitioning to 35M with the eventual goal of 35L or getting into the SMU/Special Program world. FWIW (and it probably shouldn't be this way) however, you can make your way to Group out of AIT and that will set you up for success and keep you relatively busy until you progress up. This is if you are going active...

If you weren't set on the Active Duty 35M lifestyle, I would suggest seeing about a National Guard spot at 19th/20th Group. Both still deploy and have a little bit more money than your average NG unit to spend towards training, etc. *Paging NG Group dudes*

35 and 18 series are both great choices. You can always try to get to Group first as a 35 series guy and then decide if the 18 series lifestyle is for you.
Thanks Spaceship. Love the username. Great info, and you sort of hit the nail on the head re: my intentions. Didn't want to go too in-depth on the public forum since I know this site's policy on SMUs. Making my way to Group out of AIT would definitely be the first major goal, and yep, unless something major pops up, active duty is my target.

Your $0.02 was worth way more than that, would love any additional insight you might have in getting a foot in the door of the Community.
 
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Il Duce

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@JAG2 there's not much to being an intel enabler. Very similar to other enablers - be good at your job, stay fit, and push to serve in elite units (which tend to take volunteers). Being good at intel is like being good at other things - study, practice, assess yourself with brutal honesty, then repeat continuously. When you arrive at a point where you think you've got it all down you've made a huge error and should either correct yourself and go back to the previous steps or get out and pursue your dreams in the civilian world.
 

SpaceshipDoorGunner

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@JAG2 I think @Il Duce hit the nail on the head. Intel is a great thing to be a part of, though it isn't all sunshine and roses. I think you have a solid choice in mind. As long as you work hard and practice good expectation management, you can't go wrong. There's a lot of different avenues so learn as much as you can about the SOF and Intel Community when you pass through the gates, and it will guide you to where you want to end up.
 

JAG2

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Awesome, thanks for the support. I intend to do everything I can to practice constantly and to stand out. I already familiarized myself with all the -INTS and how they intertwine, OPSEC and CI, went crazy in-depth into HUMINT (esp. source ops) in different organizations and settings, the missions and capabilities of the IC agencies, and several SOF paths. Gathering, management, targeting, analysis, direct-action, logistics, trying to make sure I know a little about what's going on at every station. Attempting to gain as much as I can from books on books plus interwebs, but I'm positive I'm only scratching the surface.

Are there any schools I should push for, or windows of opportunity I should be on the look out for once I get in?
 

Il Duce

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Both the CIA and DIA (DH at DIA) have reading lists for prospective candidates. It's a different level of HUMINT than you'll be doing but there are some great books on there (at least there were when I read them) and that's a great place to start your 'research.'

Your 50m target needs to be basic and AIT for 35M - I would not take for granted the need to work hard while you're there to stand out. One of the easiest ways to be an early stand-out anywhere is to always be a PT stud. Make the commitment to make fitness key to your lifestyle and it will give you a leg up your entire career.

Once you're out of AIT you should be working to attend and graduate the Source Operations Course (SOC) at Ft. Huachuca.
 

JAG2

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Great. I've already been grinding through the CIA's reading list, and I'll be sure to look into DIA's as well.

I'll definitely stay sharp re: Basic and AIT. To be honest, PT is my biggest problem. My pushup/pullup/situp/rucking game is decent-ish, but I am probably the worst long-distance runner you have ever seen. This is not an excuse, I will definitely work very hard to improve myself in this area, but it's also a reality I'll need to take into account. I intend to score myself on an APFT soon for more specifics.
 

Il Duce

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I'd recommend you add some fitness stuff to your reading prep - starting with threads on this forum - and look at joining a gym like a crossfit box you like. Doesn't have to be crossfit, but something other than a Gold's or other massive company. What you want to do is start educating yourself and making choices on how you're going to make fitness a lifestyle for the rest of your career/life. That means nutrition, sleep, recovery, and training (with all that entails - effort, plan, recovery, etc.). Your APFT score will come with increased fitness and be less likely to fade over time (or due to injury).
 
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