Originally Published: September 25, 2011 10:29 p.m.
When Allison Anderson Cutright Cisneros, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student, asked FBI analysts and an agent during a symposium last week what they wished they had done more of before they started their careers, she received three different answers.
"Language," said James Reichert, a supervisory intelligence analyst for the FBI in Phoenix, who said he wished he'd learned Arabic when he was younger. "You really immerse yourself into the culture and you learn nuances when you learn a language. It answers a lot of questions."
Slowing down, thinking about what you're trying to do, and listening carefully, said Amy Weber, supervisory intelligence analyst from the Tucson office of the FBI.
"The brightest analysis sometimes comes from those who are often the quietest," Weber said.
Investigative procedures, said Marcus Williams, special agent and special events coordinator for the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The session was part of the two-day 7th-annual National Security & Intelligence Symposium at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University presented by the Global Security and Intelligence Studies program at the Prescott campus.
Dr. Phil Jones, a former CIA intelligence analyst and international security expert, and Dr. Richard Bloom created the program after recognizing the growing terrorist threat and the critical need for well-educated intelligence analysts and security officers, said Professor Bob Baker.
The symposium featured sessions on espionage threats, a case study of crime and terrorism, emerging applications for unmanned aircraft systems, post 9/11 intelligence organization at the FBI, and information about the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force among others.
Ju'juan Johnson, a student, asked if there was information the FBI could have shared with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in the recent "Fast and Furious" gun-trafficking operation that might have changed the outcome and the current relationship between the agencies.
"Any time you have an active investigation going, it's something we're not going to comment on," Williams said. "The relationship between the FBI and ATF and all the other federal agencies is exceptional."
The GSIS program at Embry-Riddle is unique in its blending of academic and professional expertise, said Baker, whose background is in law enforcement as well as corporate, government and aviation security.
"The other programs in the U.S. focus either on security or intelligence," Baker said. "Our belief is that understanding both the security and intelligence analysis functions are critical to defending our homeland as recognized in the 911 commission's findings."
The program's standard track, which offers students a choice of learning one of three languages, is the most popular, Baker said. But the Chinese track, in its second year, which focused on language proficiency, has attracted many students, Baker said.
Most students in the program come from high schools and community colleges in the west or are former military.
"Many of the returning veterans under the Yellow Ribbon Program seek out our program, and they add diversity and experience to the student body," Baker said.
For the first time, an educators' workshop at the symposium let high school teachers and counselors know about the growing need for intelligence analysts and security managers, the skills needed for those careers and the role those professionals play in our nation's defense, Baker said.
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