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New Intel O-1: Carrier "ships company" VS. "squadron"

Discussion in 'Intel Officer' started by Logico, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. LFCFan

    LFCFan *Insert nerd wings here*

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    Agreed about the vicious cycle of poor intel Os leading to death by collaterals. The mentoring thing is complicated I think, because it depends on your geographic location. If you are in Japan, Lemoore or Hampton Roads areas, you are near your CAG AI and can work with them (assuming that you aren't in a squadron on a different coast from the rest of your airwing, and that your CAG AI is good). If you aren't in those two areas, or you are somewhere that doesn't report to a regular airwing, it is really tough. I understand that there are some exceptions to this though. We also don't have chiefs around.

    Then there are the squadrons that don't really need an intel O and still get one, which is a bad deal.

    I can't help but imagine that someone who spends two years at ONI or a JIC is learning a whole lot about intel that will make them better to support a squadron. I think that what squadrons want (tactical and mission planning stuff) is very different from what the rest of Navy intel wants (Opintel), which is what you get outside of squadrons. Fortunately there are other things improving training wise that are helping AIs do their job better. I do think that a more experienced AI will be better and more experienced officers and won't have the whole Ensign stink on them, which would certainly help (although a new guy is a new guy).

    What I don't want to see happen is AIs/ISs pulled away into a FID construct like they did with the ship's company intel folks. If it were up to me the training would get better, or we'd work as a department at the CVW level broken into smaller divisions with our ISes, specializing in different areas/missions.
     
  2. Uncle Fester

    Uncle Fester Robot Pimp Super Moderator None Contributor

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    To be honest, the really good AIOs I saw in the Fleet were the exception. And when I say really good, I mean they made themselves part of the ready room and supported the squadron with good intel product. I'd argue that's what they're there for. Yes, I understand they're also part of CVIC's workforce and some Intel types see that as their "real job," but then let's just attach them to the CVW or Boat staff.

    If we want to have it both ways, let's have a Super JO aviator AIO and make ENS IW the Assistant AIO or Intel Branch O or whatever. The squadron has an operational guy as their intel dude, he can 'mentor' ENS IW in the ways of aviation, and the Ensign can still disappear into CVIC if that's what he really wants, without hurting the squadron. It'd be really nice if the Super JO AIO could get a 4-to-6-week course at ONI/SPEAR on the way, but I'm not greedy.
     
  3. DDE1990

    DDE1990 INFORMATION DOMINATOR WARRIOR OR W/E

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    Probably a dumb question, but do the IW folks ever make it into the AIO billets, or is that strictly an Intel gig?
     
  4. Flash

    Flash SEVAL/ECMO Super Moderator None Contributor

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    I think you are overestimating the 'challenge' of being an AIO and underestimating the folks who would be willing to do it. As a matter of fact there is an office full of aviators Fester mentioned who are already doing the very work we are talking about and they produce some of the best products out there. A relatively short course, 6-8 weeks possibly, and they would be good to go for a squadron or CVIC.
     
  5. LET73

    LET73 Active Member

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    Well, why have Intel at all, then? (Haha, don't answer that...) Seriously, though, the issue isn't really that the AIOs are 1830s, it's that they're 1830s who, with a few exceptions, have no experience doing intel work, and barely know how to be in the Navy. If new intel ensigns spend their first tour getting a solid grounding in how to do intel, and if prospective AIOs get a more intensive course before they report to their squadrons, you'll get better aviation intel.
     
  6. LFCFan

    LFCFan *Insert nerd wings here*

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    I don't think that disappearing into CVIC is the "real job" of a squadron AI, just the side of the job that a lot of aviators don't actually get to see, and is the side of the job that we are actually trained in quite a bit in our schoolhouse (watchfloor opintel). I do think that threat products, LFE support, etc are a huge part of the job (and why I asked for a squadron). This is also why I think a FID model would be bad. The Fleet intel detachment model is where you work out of ONI (or Fallon, for the targeteering types) and then deploy with a ship/airwing that you are geographically separated from. It works well with the ship intel types because they get to train full time when they aren't deployed. You can only do so much for a squadron on the other coast when you're in Fallon.

    Sounds reasonable. Training officers can be helpful - mine have always been willing to answer questions, murderboard briefings, etc. But a lot of intel officers simply don't take the initiative to try and learn about the mission they are supporting, so a full time person who also mentors them ain't bad.

    Fair enough. I don't think it would even take a major career restructuring to send folks to squadrons on their second tour instead of their first. In the Air Force, they get sent to the Operations Support Squadron (OSS) of a wing for a while, get mentored, and then get sent to a squadron at the same wing once they have their act together. As well as a course at the RAG for the platform they support. Apparently Navy F-35 AIOs will be attending this course along with their AF equivalents in the future. Even just a few plays for the AF intel playbook would be useful.

    I'm familiar with ONI spear. I just wish that the solution to Naval Aviation Intel problems was "better training and selection of AIs" vice "we can just do it all ourselves."

    Nope. Strictly intel.
     
  7. azguy

    azguy Active Member None

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    SPEAR isn't a "solution" to all the problems you cite, but they fill a gap that an Intel guy never will be able to fill.
     
  8. alphablonde

    alphablonde New Member

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    *knock knock*


    Any one still here?


    Let’s say I’m at Dam Neck and the list comes out and it’s all squadrons. Let’s also pretend for a second that I’m looking strictly for professional development and location doesn’t come into play. Are there specific platforms/ types of squadrons with which you think a green intel O can make a bigger contribution?


    Follow up: as an enlisted Marine reservist, I spent most of my time attached to a huey/cobra squadron. My only exposure to fixed wing has been tangentially, editing C130 tech pubs civilian side. Would you advise sticking with what I’m vaguely familiar with in the rotary world? Branching out? Doesn’t really matter/it’s up to personal preference assuming I get an option?


    Thanks for your time and for all the great info you all have already posted.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  9. LFCFan

    LFCFan *Insert nerd wings here*

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    There will be squadrons on your slate. The number and types vary from class to class. They are a great first tour but you MUST be a self starter and you MUST have thick skin. If you aren't a self starter you're going to do nothing but security, get little professional development, and contribute little to your ready room.

    For the carrier side, I think that VFA (F-18) or VAQ (Growler) are the way to go. And you should go carrier, because getting exposure to the carrier strike group on your first tour is a great thing. I also think that the FID has major pluses but being part of a no-shit operational unit and learning about how operations work, how operators think, and so on, is something you'd miss at the FID or sitting in SUPPLOT.

    VFA: Their mission is the center of the carrier air wing and strike group. If you take the time to learn as much about the mission and supporting it as you can, you'll have insight into something that few of your fellow 1830s have. There is loads you can do to support this community - tons of new threats out there, and if you can learn enough about what they need you can make some solid briefs that will be appreciated. You'll be supporting guys who are going into combat in the middle east or flying very close to our adversaries in the Pacific.

    VAQ: Electronic warfare is a big part of the nerd world you're going to live in post-squadron. I've also noticed that the VAQ guys actually have expectations for their intel shops that other communities don't really have, which is a good thing. I will also say that more of what you'd need to know to support here is academic in a way that you can understand without being a pilot or EWO (which is a bigger problem if you're in an F-18 squadron).

    Helo and E-2 squadrons tend to be a mixed bag. I will say that as long as you're on a carrier based squadron, intel works as a giant team where people are assigned to work to their strengths. So if you end up in a helo squadron when you wanted fighters you don't need to lose too much sleep that you aren't going to be the go-to guy on enemy TACAIR in CVIC if you're F-18 AIs aren't up to snuff. I know the AI who did all the OIR CAS briefs for the first half of the Ike's cruise was the VAQ guy, for example. The HSM squadrons only started getting intel Os in the last few years, so that's new territory.

    Stay the hell away from HM-14/15, VFA-101/106/122 (Training squadrons for the VFA community). Not much intel work to be done there.
     
  10. Renegade One

    Renegade One Well-Known Member None

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    Agree...plus you'll have a shit-ton (AKA metric buttload) of peers as well as mid and senior grade intel officers for all that good mentoring and exposure to bits and bobs that may not be specific to your particular squadron. Team Scrum in CVIC or whatever it may be called now.
    Unless classified pubs inventory/control and trips to the incinerator are your thing!
     
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  11. SynixMan

    SynixMan Professional CCX Wrangler Contributor None

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    To piggyback on what @LFCFan said, if you want it, try to land in a carrier based squadron. I was HSC(CVW) and we had some meh and great Intel Os, but the ones who wanted to be there were amazing assets and well respected in the air wing and beyond. If you're trying to identify CVW based squadrons for helos, HSC-4/5/6/7/8/9/11/12/14/15 and HSM-7x are the ones.
     
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  12. cfam

    cfam A pilot is a pilot. An NFO is something else. None Contributor

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    If you go VAQ intel, there some additional interesting opportunities that weren't covered in @LFCFan's post.

    First, you could end up in an expeditionary VAQ squadron instead of a boat based squadron. While you won't get the carrier strike group exposure, the quality of life is a bit higher (shore based deployments only), and you'll get a ton of joint intel exposure (their entire workup syllabus involves large Air Force exercises). I don't claim to know how that affects your intel progression, but it's certainly a chance to get exposure to a different side of life.

    Second, the VAQ community sends two intel officers a year through the Growler Weapons School. If you're interested in VAQ tactics, and how you can best support your squadron tactically, it's a good place to shoot for. Additionally, it sets you up for a potential follow-on VAQ tour if you're interested (both the Growler Weapons School in Fallon and the type-wing weapons school in Whidbey Island have patch-wearing intel officers on staff).
     
  13. Dark_Matter

    Dark_Matter New Member

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    New to the forum but am not new to the Navy/Intel. Agreed with most things said above. If you have not picked already and have the option, I would definitely broaden your horizon beyond CSG FID and Squadrons. Both can be very rewarding but in some cases can be detrimental to your overall development as an intel professional depending on your timing. For instance, if you check into a squadron (especially a CVW type) right after a deployment then expect to not do really have done any intelligence for your whole 24-30 month tour and likely be inundated with Security Management, ATO, OPSEC, even IT related collateral duties. You may hit the beginning of a workup cycle but I am seeing 3 AI's in the air wing depart with ZERO underway time (1 got a 9 day CQ det) and still really not "getting" what an intel professional really does in CVIC or what the hell mission planning/cyclic ops/or SIAC is. All they know is what is told to them about each workcenter without real experience of working/standing watch underway.

    If available, try not shying away from COCOM or ONI watchfloor as your first tour. I can personally tell you that 2 of the better and well prepared squadron AI's ready to contribute to the mission both went to a COCOM for their first tour.

    Besides squadrons or CSG FID (ONI), keep ATO (assistant Targeting Officer for CAG) as an option if available. Fallon may not be awesome but within the air wing, I would say the Targeteer and the ATO are the technical experts with actual applicable quals and experience that can be helpful down the road at various echelons.

    At the end, everyone would agree that your first tour is what you make of it. You're the new guy who is learning to make his/her way in the squadron/organization while learning to be an officer. Have fun, enjoy it, be a team player and DO NOT be a know it all. All the best to you.
     
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  14. LFCFan

    LFCFan *Insert nerd wings here*

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    If the AI in question has any initiative and is willing to work hard, showing up at the start of maintenance phase means they have time to learn about their squadron's platform and get decent at briefing the ready room. Some squadrons make this harder/easier than others, but generally speaking a good AI will make themselves useful beyond the collateral duties they are assigned. A lot of them don't realize you can be a B+ security manager (not amazing but no one gets in trouble) and make time to be a good AI. Being an A+ security manager will make you a pretty mediocre AI.

    And orders are being cut for 36 months these days, which should limit the amount of people who don't deploy - something that was a big problem for the reasons you outline. It isn't unheard of for AIs in that position to get TAD time in theater on whichever CVN was underway.
     
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  15. Dark_Matter

    Dark_Matter New Member

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    LFCFan, good reply and there are no points of disagreement there really. I would only say that there are a lot of "ifs" involved when you show up at the beginning of maintenance phase. Some AIs do get a chance to get underway ISO different CVW's or SUPPLOT but those opportunities are few and far between.

    36-month orders are definitely a departure from the way it used to be handled and it is indeed a good thing.

    On a separate note, I assume you are or were a CVW AI...Correct?
     

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