Vantage Point

by MG John D. Thomas

As we begin the last year of the 20th century, the Military Intelligence Corps is ready to move with the rest of the Army into Army XXI—an Army ready for the challenges of the information age. The MI Corps has tremendous opportunities to innovate as we provide critical intelligence supporting our commanders and policy-makers. The dawn of the information age together with our readiness to fight and win our nation’s wars, respond to contingencies, and shape the world environment, present a real challenge to our Corps. There are three areas that I think every leader must focus on for the MI Corps to be successful: teamwork, unit training, and attracting and retaining quality soldiers and leaders.

Intelligence is a team sport in many ways. Today’s Army requires that we nurture and develop that teamwork. We should develop approaches and procedures that best use the talents of all our personnel. We must develop a strong partnership between the Active and Reserve Components; about 30 percent of our Corps is in the Army Reserve and National Guard. Today’s Army cannot rely on the Active Component alone— we must develop a seamless MI force. Seek opportunities to develop partnerships, understand the strengths and challenges of each component, and endeavor to integrate training and missions. We should have the same relationships with our civilians and contractors. It is essential for us to make good use of these resources and put together the best possible team to support the commander.

I do not need to tell you that we are busy. The deployment tempo is high and intelligence is a complicated business. We need to reemphasize training, especially small unit training, within the MI Corps. Time is our most precious commodity and often, in the press of other requirements, training falls out. Recently, the senior leadership of the Army met with the Chief of Staff to discuss training; in attendance were senior leaders (commissioned and noncommissioned officers) from all echelons, active and reserve. One common theme emerged—we must get back to basics. The Army training doctrine contained in FMs 25-100 (Training the Force) and 25-101 (Battle Focused Training) is sound, and well-developed techniques such as the eight-step training model work. Senior leaders need to properly resource and protect training, but junior leaders executing quality training based on proven doctrine make the difference. I encourage all of you to talk about how to organize and conduct training. Dust off the field manuals and get back to basics.

We cannot execute the mission if we do not have the soldiers and leaders. The MI Corps is presently at 87-percent strength. We have significant shortages in many critical military occupational specialties such as 96B (Intelligence Analyst) and 98G (Voice Interceptor). Our recruiting and retention are not keeping up with our requirements. We all must confront this serious issue, and there are several initiatives in place to help solve this problem. We have addressed selective reenlistment bonuses (SRBs), we are working hard to reduce attrition, and we are increasing our training capacity. The MI Corps has increased the number of MI soldiers assigned to the Recruiting Command. The senior leadership of the Department of the Army is urging pay and retirement increases. I ask each of you to help. Support recruiting: put great soldiers back into their communities as MI advocates, work with local schools and recruiters, and support all opportunities to showcase MI to the local communities. Perhaps most importantly, ensure that you are creating an environment in which we show that we value soldiers and civilians for their contributions and support them through a caring, engaged chain of command. If we work together, we will attract and retain America’s best.

You accomplish challenging missions every day and I am proud of you. I am convinced that if we focus on these three basics: teamwork, training, and retaining quality, we will be well positioned for the 21st century. Thanks for all that you do and remain—