The Role of the NCO in Military Intelligence

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by Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy

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Noncommissioned officers (NCOs) are the backbone of the MI Corps just as they are the backbone of the United States Army. The Army and MI have traditionally been at their best when our NCO Corps has been at its best in training, leading, coaching, instilling and enforcing Army values, mentoring, and setting the example for soldiers in peacetime and in combat. Our Army has resolved, despite downsizing and restructuring, never to repeat the mistakes of the past when we undervalued the essential importance of the NCO.


Vision for the MI NCO

With these fundamental, enduring truths as a foundation, I would like to share my vision for the Army MI NCO of the future, and the challenges that we all face in making that vision a reality. The Army MI NCO of the future must possess a variety of technical and human skills unmatched in the history of our Army. The scope and complexity of NCO responsibilities are astounding as our goal of truly seamless intelligence becomes a reality. With national-tactical partnerships key to each intelligence discipline, our NCOs will have to understand a vastly more demanding array of systems, procedures, and skills than ever before. The reality of the future is that multiple national, operational, and tactical intelligence collection, processing, analysis, reporting, dissemination, and display capabilities will be knitted together to provide focused intelligence support to Army ground commanders forward.

The time when we could afford a stratified Army MI force split between support to national policymakers and support to tactical commanders is over. Strategic, operational, and tactical support must be woven together seamlessly. Our NCOs will be required to balance the competing demands of providing intelligence on a daily basis to Army, Department of Defense, and national-level decisionmakers, with those of supporting tactical forces engaged in contingency operations. This will require personal and professional versatility, as we must demonstrate the ability to understand and satisfy intelligence needs with widely divergent requirements for resolution and timelines. MI NCOs will be critical in this process as they first train their soldiers and then manage intelligence operations.

Our NCOs are faced with the challenges of ------

They have to do all this while never forgetting the human dimension. To accomplish the broader goals of the Intelligence XXI vision, we must take care of all of our people: soldiers and civilians.


Challenges We Face

The challenges are manifest. As never before, the MI force must be ready every day to conduct the business of intelligence. Taking care of people demands that our NCOs fight to ensure their soldiers' daily involvement in the business of intelligence during peacetime so that they will be prepared for any contingency. Gone are the times when NCO’s could "peak" their soldier’s technical skills when crisis was imminent.

Today, and in the future, crisis and conflict will develop at a startlingly fast pace. Our intelligence force will respond with early deployments to multiple locations to leverage national systems' capabilities and to provide focused support forward. Our NCOs are training a force which will be operationally split among multiple locations. If our NCOs do not train the required soldier skills on a daily basis in a collocated garrison environment, our doctrinal split-based operations have no chance to succeed. The ability to respond immediately, coupled with the exacting demands of our force protection mission, demand that we be ready. If our NCOs are not ready, our solders will not be ready, and we will be unable to provide the support our Army requires and deserves.


Fundamental Values

As we move into this increasingly complex and fast-paced environment, the basic fundamental values of our profession become more important:

These values form the cornerstone of what makes our Army the best in the world. From them follow trust, cohesion, esprit, and ultimately victory. NCOs are the standard bearers for Army values. They must instill them in their soldiers, enforce them without exception, and live by these values themselves.


The MI NCO is faced with an unprecedented set of challenges. Our NCO Corps will get smaller. We will operate with fewer NCOs; they will have to master a greater range of tasks that will be executed by a more junior force. The extended environment will require our NCOs to lead, manage, support, and mentor soldiers operationally deployed across the globe. Soldier skills trained on a daily basis will translate into mission accomplishment and lives saved. The backbone of readiness and training is our NCO Corps. Noncommissioned officers must excel at their jobs if Army MI is to succeed.


Lieutenant General Kennedy has served in her current position as the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence since March 1997. General Kennedy has held a variety of command and staff positions throughout her career. Her key assignments include: Commander, 3d Operations Battalion, U.S. Army Field Station Augsburg; Commander, San Antonio Recruiting Battalion, U.S. Army Recruiting Command, and Commander, 703d Military Intelligence Brigade, Field Station Kunia. She has served as Operations Officer, U.S. Army Field Station Augsburg; Staff Officer, Director of Training, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans; Director of Intelligence, G2, Forces Command; and as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca and Assistant Commandant, U.S. Army School. General Kennedy was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in June 1969 through the Women's Army Corps and received a bachelor of arts degree in Philosophy from Southwestern University at Memphis. Readers can contact the DCSINT telephonically at (703) 695-2968 and DSN 225-2968 and via E-mail at [email protected]