I’m Captain Nicholas Weishaar, from Abbotsford, British Columbia. I’m an Intelligence Officer serving with the Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.
And I am Major Raphaël Guay, from Chicoutimi, Québec, an Intelligence Officer currently serving at the Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence here in Kingston, Ontario.
WEISHAAR: The days of simply knowing who the enemy is, how many battalions they have, and knowing how they fight are over. As Intelligence Officers, our job is to predict the future in an asymmetric world, where enemies have the potential to surprise us – and hurt us – every day.
WEISHAAR: We provide commanders and other high-ranking officials, both in the government and in the military, with the information they need to know at that moment to make decisions that could affect people’s lives or the direction of an entire country.
GUAY: So, intelligence doesn’t grow in trees, you have to fight for it, you have to hunt for information. As an Intelligence Officer, you lead a team who work at hunting those pieces of the puzzle, bringing them back for you to assemble them and make sense of it.
WEISHAAR: It’s our responsibility to make sure that our commanders are well informed, because just knowing what’s going on, on the ground, in the air or on the seas is not enough. We need to know and understand the operating environment – the weather, the terrain, the enemy, the people and the politics.
GUAY: Essentially, the work of Intelligence Officers is, in its simplest expression, making puzzles. The first part is getting the pieces together. So for that, you rely on various teams, whether it is troops on the ground or satellite imagery, electronic collection, informants…
WEISHAAR: Some of them are highly classified, but some of them are open-source, including news as well as social media.
GUAY: The difficult portion is that there will always be missing pieces of the puzzle but you have to make the call regardless. And incomplete information now is more useful than a complete picture after the fact.
GUAY: Intelligence is both an art and a science. So the science behind it is how we manage information, how we use computerized tools to help us go through a massive amount of information, how we can leverage technology to track electronic signatures and get very clear images taken from the sky. This is the science aspect of it. The art piece is how you will use your own instincts, your own intuition, use the strength from your training into evaluating what are the missing pieces in that puzzle.
WEISHAAR: From incidents at home, to natural disasters, to terror-inspired online activities, to emerging crisis situations in developing nations, Canada’s military and political leaders need to know what’s happening, as it’s happening.
GUAY: As soon as you’re overseas, intelligence is what drives all of our actions on the ground – we call it intelligence-led operations or intelligence-driven operations – and that’s where you see that when it matters most, when it’s for real, everyone pays attention to what you have to say and they entirely rely on the intelligence assessment to drive our own actions. And that is very rewarding work.
WEISHAAR: The job we do is actually much more interesting than what you see on TV. We have a much wider breadth of responsibilities, we’ve got many more capabilities than you just see on TV and it allows us to actually have a deeper understanding of real issues, current events, and really society at large that you just won’t get anywhere else.
GUAY: After completing your basic military training, the specialized training to become an Intelligence Officer begins at the Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence in Kingston, Ontario.
WEISHAAR: When you leave Kingston, you’ll likely be posted to a Canadian Armed Forces Base, working with the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Special Operations Forces.
WEISHAAR: Wherever you go as an Intelligence Officer, you’ll do a lot of writing, a lot of thinking and a lot of talking to people about what you know and what you think is going to happen.
WEISHAAR: The first word when you get out of intelligence training is credibility. You’re going to come out as a very green analytical mind and you’re going to actually have to earn the trust and the credibility that is required of any Intelligence Officer.
WEISHAAR: You could end up commanding an All Source Intelligence Centre or an intelligence collection unit, or be the Senior Canadian Liaison Officer at an embassy, or work as an Intelligence Advisor at a military command.
GUAY: What I really like about the Canadian Forces is that it provided me with more opportunities to move with my family and serve my country in Canada at different locations and also around the world.
WEISHAAR: I personally don’t believe that there’s any job out there in the civilian world, or even in the Canadian Forces, that allows you the opportunity to effect change like being an Intelligence Officer. The amount of credibility that comes with being a competent Intelligence Officer is simply extraordinary.