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First choice for a new 1835 - OPINTEL or HUMINT?


New Member
I'll be going to NIOBC soon and then will transfer out of my training unit (where all new 1835s go until they finish NIOBC and get their clearance squared away) as IAP to a real unit until the next JO APPLY cycle.

We're to give our top two preferences and I'm vacillating between an OPINTEL-focused unit and a HUMINT-focused unit. The OPINTEL one is attractive because it's much larger, will give me a better understanding of "big Navy" operations, and likely help me finish my PQS and get my pin faster. But the HUMINT one is doing some fascinating stuff and has some amazing training opportunities. So curious to hear folks thoughts on specializing early vs. the more traditional route of OPINTEL first and then specialize. (I also realize this decision is just for a short IAP stint and the choice won't really matter until the next JO APPLY cycle, but likely I'll apply for a billet in the unit I'm IAP in)


Well-Known Member
I'll chime in with my perspective on this - Everyone that I know that has worked HUMINT enjoyed the job and often time they end up loving the Navy. I can't say the same about people that I know that have worked OPINTEL.

I'm not the best resource for career planning and how one thing leads to another with all things Navy. I've never really approached the Navy that way, though I'm starting to more. I'm a new 1835 with 9 years as an enlisted Intel Spec.

But I'll say it again - HUMINT work can be more exciting, can get you outside the wire more, and involved in some high speed stuff. It's a less traditional role for Navy folks I think, though I'm sure it has always been around. I also bet that with the wars in the Middle East slowing down and ending, the HUMINT role will dry up too - perhaps not completely - but I doubt the HUMINT role will grow.

My suggestion is to do what you like when you can do it. If you like HUMINT - I think now is the chance. Things change, but with the way things have been going I think the HUMINT opportunities will dry up. With Iraq/Afghanistan - we had a lot of Navy folk do the Army Interrogator School post 2003 I'd say. It's pretty hard to do that school now, mostly because the need for Navy folks to do that job is gone.

With stuff like OPINTEL - its not going anywhere. You can do that anytime.
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Hair Warrior

JO 1835
Very, very few reserve intel units do any HUMINT whatsoever.

Better to focus on your quals and go to a unit with a good intel PQS program, versus cherry picking based on the unit’s mission statement (which may or may not match how unit members spend their time on a given DWE).

Even better still, consider asking your NIFR Region staff where you are needed most. Their answer may surprise you.


Registered Member
...to a real unit until the next JO APPLY cycle.
The current cycle is open for applications for those with PRDs before 09/2019.

This said, you will have to submit your preferences and apply for a billet in JOAPPLY along with everyone else, keeping in mind that as a new 1835 you will be spending your time getting your INTEL PQS completed and then your IDWO PQS. Nota bene, after you complete your Intel PQS, your training MAS code is removed and you go onto the National Mobilization List. IDWO is not a requirement for mobilization.

Be aware that in JOAPPLY there are billets that you will not be able to get until you earn your IDWO pin (AQD GC0), and for good reason.


As @Hair Warrior mentioned, you need to focus on going somewhere that will help you get qualified because, honestly, you are of no use to any unit until you get qualified. Intel and IDWO PQS status's are tracked with a fine tooth comb these days and those two things are your sole focus.

Go take a look in JOAPPLY to see what kind of stuff is floating out there. There is not much true HUMINT going on anymore in the Reserve and there is a line of people waiting to go to the places that do have something cool going on (a couple of the NCIS units, the two NSW INTEL units, ONI Kennedy, a couple of the DIA units). The Navy has a love/hate relationship with HUMINT and places that do it are weary of weekend only Reservists due to access and other requirements, and the fact that, in most cases, Reservists will provide little, if any value over the weekend to said places.


Well-Known Member
HUMINT, in the Navy but especially in the reserves/military, isn’t something worth pursuing.

I won’t divulge too much because of classification but if you wanted to do HUMINT and cool guy stuff you joined the wrong community and should have just went and applied for CIA operations and def not the Navy- reserves at that.

Just go focus on qualifying and understanding NAVY operations. I can’t emphasize that enough. You are a NAVY intelligence officer so understand NAVY operations. You’d think that would be common sense but it seems it isn’t.

Don’t embarrass yourself like some new 1835s.

Take a PACFLT billet if you really want to learn.


Well-Known Member
Speaking of JOAPPLY- I’m a new reservist (just left Active Duty after 9 years). Can I email the CO of the units to ask about what they’re looking for or is that frowned upon?

I see a lot of jobs that align with my current civ position (SGA/SIGINT TARGETING) and would like to work those. I’m just IAP right now though and haven’t even shown up to my first drill.


Well-Known Member
I'm on parole from the intel community but here's my take: The CIA is the Major Leagues of HUMINT, DIA and some federal law enforcement agencies work in varying levels of AA/AAA and sometimes get pulled up into the Majors. Navy HUMINT is like playing high school ball; with some jobs in that AA/AAA world.

This isn't to say that the people aren't brilliant and hard working, because they are. They just aren't placed in the position to really do the job; it's an institutional thing.

If you want to do HUMINT, join the CIA. Navy intel is fleet/OPINTEL-centric...as it should be.