Intel and Comms?

Marauder06

Intel Enabler
Verified SOF
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
10,724
Location
CONUS
I read the quote below on a LISTSERV I'm a member of, the quote is an excerpt so it is slightly out of context, but I underlined the part I thought is important:

Given what the NIE means as far as BCT comms and networks, every MI Soldier should be interested in the NIEs since your unofficial additional duty has been and always will be Commo/Signal.

So, do you agree with the underlined portion of the quote? What do you think of the relationship between comms and intel? While the SIGO is never going to get called to do an air mission brief or to conduct interrogations, and I'm never going to get a knock on the door when the SATCOMMS are failing (again), I personally think there is a lot of overlap between the two. Both have to understand "networks," relationships, and computer systems, and both are dedicated problem solvers. Plus one or the other usually ends up getting blamed for whatever goes wrong in a unit ;)

And given how reliant intel is on a strong comms infrastructure, I think it pays to be able to do as much commo stuff you can on your own if you are an intel guy.

So what do you think?

 

IT101

Verified Military
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
56
I am unable to speak on this topic from the perspective of a Soldier, but allow me to offer input from my current standpoint.

Big Navy and my current three-letter organization that I'm on loan to treat intel and comms from a customer-customer support viewpoint. It is true that people from each field are required to have similar skillsets, such as putting two and two together to make five, but we see it as more of a "Intel relies on comms for getting/correlating/relaying data, and comms relies on intel as a means for existence." Without intel, comms would lose a HUGE portion of their customer base and become less and less relevant.

That being said, from what I read about the NIE (Network Integration Evaluation?), anyone who uses dedicated applications (commercial or otherwise) has a stake in the proper integration of what they want in to the environment they are provided. On my ship, we had a number of new systems that came in, touting great new features, but didn't work at all with the systems that the legacy programs would. Either the customers would cope or they would go back to their old way, which completely undermined the idea of updating our systems.

To actually answer your question, I believe MI and Comms folks should have a decent understanding of the other's job to facilitate better troubleshooting, but should not be required to understand to the point of actually being able to do their counterpart's job. If they want to learn more, good on them, but it shouldn't be forced down their throats.
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
SOF Support
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Messages
15,914
Location
Not Afghanistan
I'll be the bad guy with an effort on doing so somewhat pragmatically.

I'm aware of MI soldiers performing some 25B duties, particularly since 25B's don't always have TS clearances. I disagree with this, but I understand why it is done. Personally I think it shows how broken Army comm can be/ is when this occurs, but you do what you have to do. Because something "is" doesn't make it right.

SOT-A's are a unique breed, but I would expect a SOT-A to be every bit as competent as any 25C when it comes to radios. I remember our SOT-A's from a gazillion years ago and they were just as good as our SIGDET at SATCOM and almost as good on HF.

To say that an MI soldier has an "unofficial" responsibility to perform signal is absurd...or it should be. If Gordon and Huachuca are allowing this to happen it speaks strongly of a failure in the Army system. It is one thing to know some basic IT/ radio troubleshooting, but the comments above sound like MI can supplant SC assets and I think that is a big bucket of fail. The huge exceptions to this would be DBA and GIS work, but server maintenance, most IT work, radio, etc. should belong to Signal. "Unity of command" applies in the technical support world.
 

BravoOne

Always out front...
Unverified
Joined
May 5, 2008
Messages
100
Location
MDW
"I think it pays to be able to do as much commo stuff you can on your own if you are an intel guy."

I agree but where would we learn it from Sir? Who's going to pay for the course? and how would it be justified? If it were so much of an unofficial duty how come nobody wearing the Sphinx knows anything about it or goes to any schools at Gordon? Other than SINGAARS and handhelds what commo training does anyone get at the unit level? Far as I can see they just want us to be able to send/rec a message like any other Soldier.

"If Gordon and Huachuca are allowing this to happen it speaks strongly of a failure in the Army system."

Big time. Nobody at Ft. Wegotcha USAIC&S is thinking about doing any signal work I know that much. This all sounds like wishful thinking on behalf of someone with time on their hands.
 

IT101

Verified Military
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
56
"I think it pays to be able to do as much commo stuff you can on your own if you are an intel guy."

I agree but where would we learn it from Sir? Who's going to pay for the course? and how would it be justified? If it were so much of an unofficial duty how come nobody wearing the Sphinx knows anything about it or goes to any schools at Gordon? Other than SINGAARS and handhelds what commo training does anyone get at the unit level? Far as I can see they just want us to be able to send/rec a message like any other Soldier.

"If Gordon and Huachuca are allowing this to happen it speaks strongly of a failure in the Army system."

Big time. Nobody at Ft. Wegotcha USAIC&S is thinking about doing any signal work I know that much. This all sounds like wishful thinking on behalf of someone with time on their hands.
Screw schools and courses. The best bet is for people to ask questions, prompt for training, shoulder surf, take notes, etc. I'm not saying that from the view of intel needing to know my job, but as a two-way street so the comms guys can properly support their customer base. How can I troubleshoot why a proprietary application isn't syncing up with a database if I know nothing of the system? Learn from the customers, installers, and technicians.
 

goon175

Ranger
Verified SOF
Joined
Dec 27, 2010
Messages
1,803
Location
Jedi Center of Excellence
SSMP
SOF Mentor
I can understand how this applies to certain MOS's in the M.I. field, but certainly not all of them. I have yet to meet a 35F who can do much more than turn an MBITR on (not saying all are like this), nor should he really need to. His job is analysis, not using/troubleshooting/fixing commo.
 

Brill

SOF Support
Joined
Oct 24, 2010
Messages
4,842
Location
221B Baker St
I can understand how this applies to certain MOS's in the M.I. field, but certainly not all of them. I have yet to meet a 35F who can do much more than turn an MBITR on (not saying all are like this), nor should he really need to. His job is analysis, not using/troubleshooting/fixing commo.

Just imagine how fucked up things would be if a 35F was dictating how SIGINT assets were employed. Yep, shit gets fucked up real quick lick.

Regarding the comms and MI, I read the NIE as National Intelligence Estimate but there is a reason there are two separate MOSes: 35-series and 25-series. Using basic 2nd grader logic, if there were in fact related, any 25-series could do the job of 35-series.

As FF said, some <----SOME 35Ps serving on SOT-As could manipulate the shit out of some PSC-5s, MBITRs, and SKLs as well as set up their own LAN. Replace a 25C? No. However, troubleshooting their shit is the same as our shit: ABCs.

HUMINTers and all-source guys may be able to button fuck a MBITR but troubleshoot SATCOM? doubtful.

I sound like a broken record but a 35P/N on a SOT-A is expected to much more than just a MI job. He's expected to be a proficient linguist, analyst (all the INTs), infantryman, commo guy, electrician, and had better be a comedian too. All that and one paycheck. "GD, I love my job."
 

Beowulf

Unverified
Joined
Jun 27, 2012
Messages
2
As a HUMINT guy comms "stuff" hasn't always been a huge priority for me - other than loading fills and basic troubleshooting.

Once I took the MFT I've had to get much smarter on a lot of different aspects of "comms".

I still believe that if it has antennas that it's magic and comms guys are all wizards.
 

Salt USMC

Intel
SOF Support
Joined
May 3, 2010
Messages
3,117
Location
Washington, DC
Being familiar in basic comm stuff, mostly networking, will save you a ton of time that would be otherwise spent waiting for a guy from the 6.
 

0699

Verified Military
Joined
Jan 22, 2007
Messages
3,549
Location
NoVa
Being familiar in basic comm stuff, mostly networking, will save you a ton of time that would be otherwise spent waiting for a guy from the 6.

Unfortunately the networks are so password protected, you can't even attach a printer without a data dink doing it...
 

Salt USMC

Intel
SOF Support
Joined
May 3, 2010
Messages
3,117
Location
Washington, DC
Thats true, but in some places and on some networks (SIPR mostly) theres still a bit of open functionality with networks. Having a little bit of network know-how could mean the difference between having a happy S-2 actual and explaining to said Actual why your plotter wont show up under printer options.
 

0699

Verified Military
Joined
Jan 22, 2007
Messages
3,549
Location
NoVa
Thats true, but in some places and on some networks (SIPR mostly) theres still a bit of open functionality with networks. Having a little bit of network know-how could mean the difference between having a happy S-2 actual and explaining to said Actual why your plotter wont show up under printer options.

Bribe your S-6 guys with Mountain Dew and Moon Pies and you won't have any problems... :D
 

IT101

Verified Military
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
56
Unfortunately the networks are so password protected, you can't even attach a printer without a data dink doing it...
I agree with DMD on this one. At least 75% of the problems I've fixed were under the user's account, mostly because "someone set it up like that, and it disappeared". If you can't re-map a printer, that's okay, but know you'll be lower on my list versus people with work-limiting issues. Hypothetical situation, not saying that of any of you gents.
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
SOF Support
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Messages
15,914
Location
Not Afghanistan
As a former SysAdmin type now relegated (gasp!) to a common user status, I've experienced cases where what a user account can do today isn't the same as tomorrow. If a GPO is changed the user rarely knows about it. I have, along with other savvy users, been caught by this before and left to look like dumbasses for it. "It's always been like this" should deserve a thorough skull-fucking especially when I've been on the same network for 3 years now vice some E-3 with 4 months on the same. Two quick examples come to mind: adding printers and the command prompt. You either don't have the rights to those OR the admins migrate your print server to a new name/ IP. Same with Exchange: a new server name means a user can't set up their Outlook to talky-talky unless the new name is published...which it never is.

I also think the average military SysAdmin type isn't as capable as his civilian counterpart despite the plethora of training opportunities available to a servicemember. I don't know how many book smart people I've met with the obligatory MCITP/ CCNA or A+ and the now required Security+ who couldn't troubleshoot a PC to save their lives, much less a network problem.
 

IT101

Verified Military
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
56
As a former SysAdmin type now relegated (gasp!) to a common user status, I've experienced cases where what a user account can do today isn't the same as tomorrow. If a GPO is changed the user rarely knows about it. ~clipped
Admittedly, I have made changes that... broke things, but generally got around to fixing them before it got too bad. Yes, even SysAdmins screw things up, but I agree it's especially bad when the users have no forewarning.

Freefalling said:
I also think the average military SysAdmin type isn't as capable as his civilian counterpart despite the plethora of training opportunities available to a servicemember. I don't know how many book smart people I've met with the obligatory MCITP/ CCNA or A+ and the now required Security+ who couldn't troubleshoot a PC to save their lives, much less a network problem.
This has more truth than most people understand, which is why the Contractors/Gov Civs lock down the networks so that the SA's can't screw things up too badly.
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
SOF Support
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Messages
15,914
Location
Not Afghanistan
Admittedly, I have made changes that... broke things, but generally got around to fixing them before it got too bad. Yes, even SysAdmins screw things up, but I agree it's especially bad when the users have no forewarning.

To be fair, sometimes they are just doing what they are told. Some order/ reg is published that says "Deny users access to XXXXXX" and that's what they do. I've seen cases of SA's doing dumb stuff and cases of leadership making changes without telling the users. It happens.

I'd also be so bold as to state that Mil SA's are more arrogant than their Civ counterparts, and by "Civ" I'm encompassing Corporate America types, not just Contractors. I think that arrogance, which is common to IT in general, is something IT needs to dump because it causes problems like what we're describing. That's a different rant/ thread though. :)

So I agree, particularly in a Mil environment, that the user should have some skills, but we have to balance that with A) Policies change which can confuse the user or cause them to say "Screw it" and default to the help desk all day, every day and B) How much do we want the user to do/ how much do we want them to mess up?

One last related point and it applies across any relationship is that when the Customer and Provider/ Operations and Support have an antagonistic relationship then you go ahead and plan to fail. If that isn't fixed it will drag down your organization.
 

Powder

Verified Military
Joined
Nov 21, 2011
Messages
31
Location
Kentucky
Although comms are way out of my wheel house I would say as a HUMINT guy that we (the HUMINTers) need more training on a platoon/company level before any school or the like could be brought onto the radar. In a BCT we are going out with the infantry but we don't know how to use a radio? That isn't going to get us too many brownie points. Worst part may be that we (my team) were assigned an MBITR but neither I being the fresh private that I was nor my team leader knew how to use the thing. I had to ask the fisters to teach me. My point being that even if it is not necessary for HUMINT to know how to do commo stuff it would be a good call to get the basics down. That would be the only "unofficial" commo job that would be required. I also believe they are referred to as basic soldiering skills.
 

goon175

Ranger
Verified SOF
Joined
Dec 27, 2010
Messages
1,803
Location
Jedi Center of Excellence
SSMP
SOF Mentor
Using an MBITR and calling it "doing commo stuff" is like firing an M-4 at the range and calling it "doing infantry stuff"

Both are common soldier tasks, regardless of MOS. When I think "doing commo stuff" I think going to get a new fill on my radio, setting up satcom, making sure the TOC/JOC is running smoothly, etc.
 
Top