The Intelligence Center's Supervisor Survey Program

by Major General John D. Thomas, Jr., and James B. Ellsworth, Ph.D.

The Intelligence Center’s Student Critique Program helps our MI trainers know how well their courses facilitate student mastery of the skills and knowledge in the programs of instruction. It does not tell the Center whether those skills and knowledge are the competencies that leaders in the field need our graduates to have to accomplish today’s mission. This is the objective of the Intelligence Center’s new Supervisor Survey Program: to find out what our “customers” think we are doing well—and what they would like us to add, drop, or improve.

There is an old saying that “efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things! In these terms, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca (USAIC&FH) Student Critique Program has given us a good look at efficiency. For every intelligence course conducted at Fort Huachuca, we can estimate the average competency levels of our arriving students and the average competency levels of our departing graduates. The difference between these levels represents the impact of the course on the skills and knowledge of the soldiers we train.

Effectiveness, however, is another matter. The Graduate Follow-up Survey Program was dismantled during the Army drawdown, leaving us with no formal strategy for assessing the extent to which USAIC&FH courses continue to meet the changing requirements of the military intelligence (MI) mission. Frankly, we cannot rebuild such a personnel-intensive program with our current staffing. Nonetheless, we are obligated to seek feedback from our “customers,” and to adapt the service we provide to meet their current and future needs. This is especially critical given the pace of change we are experiencing—and will continue to experience—as we evolve to create the Army of the next century.1

Getting There From Here

To meet this obligation, the Intelligence Center is implementing a new field survey program. This program will combine with the existing Student Critique System to create a comprehensive system for assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of USAIC&FH training in improving the on-the-job performance of our MI soldiers (see Figure 1).

This new program will consult first-line supervisors of recent graduates from USAIC&FH courses; however, not all the graduates’ supervisors will receive a survey. Instead, we will use a sampling plan to ensure that we include supervisors representing each course’s mix of strategic and tactical, MI and maneuver, and Army and joint units. This strategy will both ensure that our intelligence trainers obtain accurate and representative data using available resources and reduce the burden on the force of providing this data.

We will design the survey to obtain the most information with the least intrusion. In addition to demographic items, it will consist of two major sections. In the first section, it will ask the supervisors to comment on the skills and knowledge that USAIC&FH is currently teaching. This section will have a twofold purpose. First, it will allow the field to suggest that the Intelligence Center teach a particular competency differently or not teach it at all (perhaps because it no longer supports the mission or because soldiers require retraining to a specific system on arrival). Additionally, it will allow the field to assess the soldiers’ skills and their knowledge in the areas currently taught. This latter information permits comparison to students’ self-ratings at graduation to facilitate more accurate assessment of the lasting effect of training at USAIC&FH.

The second survey section will ask supervisors to suggest new skills or knowledge not currently taught at Fort Huachuca, whose addition to a course would enhance the graduates’ mission performance. Access to this type of feedback will help our MI trainers adapt the USAIC&FH curriculum to support the evolving requirements of our leaders in the field.

Return of the completed surveys to Fort Huachuca will be via channels appropriate to the classification level of the responses. This will give supervisors maximum flexibility to address the strengths and shortfalls of USAIC&FH training in light of the specific local mission.

Implementation Timeline

The Supervisor Survey Program will phase in for all USAIC&FH courses during the next year. This process has already begun, with the MI Officer Basic Course (MIOBC) serving as the pilot course. The first class tracked in this manner will graduate in early June 1999; first-line supervisors of new MI lieutenants can expect to receive surveys late this summer. This delay will allow the new graduates time to complete their permanent changes of station and leave enroute, and to assume their new duties for sufficient time to permit their supervisors to form opinions of their preparation and resulting competence.

This timeline will also allow us to identify the procedural lessons learned from the pilot, and brief the results at the U.S. Army Worldwide MI Conference. Reactions from the senior MI leaders in turn will facilitate fine-tuning of the program before we implement it for all other USAIC&FH courses.

The Commander Drives Intelligence Training

The ultimate intent of this program is to complete the cycle of the Human Performance Technology (HPT) model for organizational learning systems (see Figure 2). MI training exists to generate measurable improvements in the ability of our soldiers to perform their missions in the field. Only by gathering feedback from those who supervise execution of that mission can we assess the actual state of workforce performance we have achieved. Likewise, only in this fashion can we identify changes in the work, organizational, or competitive environment our units face—which must in turn refocus MI training on improving performance in these altered circumstances.

With these factors known, we can compare the current state with the desired state implied by MI doctrine to identify the need—the gaps in performance—that the USAIC&FH curriculum must address. This in turn gives us the basis for determining the cause of these gaps, and thereby the “solution packages” with which we can most effectively solve them. When these packages involve training (i.e., when a gap is due to the soldier not knowing how to perform as desired2), the Intelligence Center’s training developers can craft solutions incorporating resident or distance instruction, or both.

Of course, this same feedback can also guide the evolution of non-training, performance improvement solutions. We may discover areas in which innovation in the field has resulted in best practices or “Exemplary Performance” (Figure 2) which may be useful to the rest of the MI force. Consequently, we will provide the results from the Supervisor Survey Program to the Intelligence Center’s Futures Directorate, where expert combat and materiel developers can evaluate their implications for MI doctrine and systems. Each of these dimensions—and some others—can play an important role in developing the most effective solution package to address a given performance gap. Former Army Chief of Staff General Carl Vuono identified six such dimensions as “fundamental imperatives” for the Army of the future:

Of these six imperatives, USAIC&FH has direct proponency for four in the context of Intelligence—doctrine, modernization, leader development, and training—and is a partner in achieving the others.

While this gives us the tools to create strategies for enhancing the MI force’s ability to perform the real-world mission, the fact remains that merely having these tools is not enough. To apply them effectively, the Intelligence Center must actively collaborate with our Corps’ leadership in the field to discover where our training has diverged from mission requirements. Only with your help can we craft the quality training needed to keep MI Always Out Front!


1. Gramer, Jr., Colonel George K., “Development of the Cradle-to-Grave Training Strategies: Philosophy and Process,” Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin, July-September 1998, page 5.

2. Mager, Dr. Robert F. and Pipe, Peter, Analyzing Performance Problems (Second Edition) (Pittman Learning, Inc., 1984), page 25.

3. Vuono, General Carl E., “Training and the Army of the 1990s,” Military Review, January 1991, page 3.

Major General John Thomas is the Commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca. Most recently, he was the Commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He has also served in varied command and staff positions, including the Department of the Army Staff, Joint Staff, National Security Agency, Central Security Service, and overseas assignments in Germany and Korea. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the National War College. Readers can contact MG Thomas about this program via E-mail at [email protected]

Dr. Jim Ellsworth is Chief of Evaluation Research and Development, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca. He has held a variety of training and development positions at the Intelligence Center, the Intelligence School–Devens, and the Armor School, including Chief of the Intelligence Center’s WorldWide Web Office. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Computer-Based Management Systems from Clarkson University and a Master of Business Administration degree (in Management Information Systems) from Syracuse University. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation from Syracuse University. He is a graduate of the MI Officer Advanced Course and the Training and Doctrine Command Middle Managers Course. Interested readers can reach Dr. Ellsworth via E-mail at ellsworthj@ and telephonically at (520) 538-7417 or DSN 879-7417.