I’m Master Corporal Michael Freeman, I’m originally from northern British Columbia – and I’m an Intelligence Operator currently posted to 8 Wing Trenton.
And I’m Master Corporal Sagnik Das, I’m from Calgary, Alberta. I’m an Intelligence Operator posted to NORAD, in Colorado Springs, USA.
DAS: As Intelligence Operators, our job is to anticipate the future in an ever-changing world, where our enemies have the potential to surprise us. It’s all about evaluating risks, identifying threats, and assessing the enemy’s intentions.
DAS: While almost everybody else in the military is concentrated on how we work, how blue forces work, intelligence professionals get to concentrate on the enemy, or the opposition, or the other side – we get to study the red team.
FREEMAN: 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.
FREEMAN: We provide commanders and senior leaders with the information that they require to make decisions. We do research, we provide briefings, we answer questions, we provide various types of graphic intelligence products. Ultimately it all contributes to increasing the effectiveness of the commander’s decision-making by making sure he has the right information to do his job.
FREEMAN: Intelligence factors heavily into the decisions Commanders make. Their decisions frequently place soldiers in harm’s way and the information that you and your team provide will assist commanders to take better-calculated risks. Soldiers are briefed as well. Before they step out on any mission, they’re given a very good idea of what the picture is on the ground with respect to the threat. They have that situational awareness: tactics, doctrine, what to expect from that threat, their limitations, their vulnerabilities… everything we can give them.
DAS: If your intelligence allowed people on the ground to complete their mission, to come home safe, to really make a difference – that is when you, as an intelligence professional, really know that you’ve achieved success.
DAS: We’re one of the oldest professions in the world, ever since standing armies have existed – there’s always been somebody who needed to know what the enemy is doing. We take those lessons learned over centuries and get to apply it to modern-day problems.
DAS: Intelligence Operators don’t just follow the news, they wonder about what the causes are, what’s happening behind the scenes and most importantly, what will happen next. Predicting what will happen next is our bread and butter. You could find yourself conveying information to a very senior audience early in your career. So you have to be comfortable communicating effectively to experienced officers of senior ranks.
FREEMAN: Intelligence Operators in a way really do punch above their weight, for impact, especially with the rank of the people you’re dealing with. For example, here at 8 Wing Trenton, I brief the Wing commander at least once a week. We brief all the air crews, the aircraft commanders as they’re moving around the world in millions of dollars of equipment. At my last job, I talked to generals.
FREEMAN: With the backing of your training and tradecraft, you’ll gain confidence making judgments based on incomplete, contradictory and time-sensitive information.
DAS: We break down large pieces of information into something that’s understandable and something that’s presentable. Doing that, you actually will come to an understanding yourself as to how the world works.
FREEMAN: Wherever you go as an Intelligence Operator, 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. You have to prove yourself, but when you do prove yourself, you get incredible respect.
FREEMAN: When you complete your training, you’ll likely be posted to a Canadian Armed Forces base, working with the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Special Operations Forces.
FREEMAN: My first posting out of the Intelligence school was to NORAD Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. So right out of the gate, I was dealing with very senior military and political officials, both American and Canadian. It was a large responsibility – it was strategic-level briefs there. And that was my first posting out of the school. So just because you’re new to the trade doesn’t mean you can’t have a big impact very quickly.
FREEMAN: As your career advances, there are opportunities for specialization and promotion in fields like Strategic Analysis, Cyber Operations, Imagery Analysis, Targeting and Human Intelligence.
FREEMAN: You can work on becoming an interrogator, a Hum Int specialist, you can work at embassies around the world. There are all kinds of opportunities, lots of opportunity for travel, lots of opportunity to learn new skill, and lots of opportunity to really make an impact.
FREEMAN: I think a lot of the people that join the military know that it’s not a regular job, you’re almost getting an adventure out of it. And the job changes – every time I’ve had a posting, my job’s been entirely different. You really have a chance to learn a lot of new skill-sets, a lot of new things, and it really doesn’t get boring.