1L Andrew Goforth talks about his experience as a former military intelligence analyst before coming to law school.
I started undergrad as an engineering major at Oklahoma State University. Shortly after my first seven o’clock Calculus class, I was on track for a degree in business. After 9-11, and the following emotional “war on terror” announcement, most of the discussions heard around campus were filled with questions about the country’s direction, the job market, and what changes students would make to be marketable in a post 9-11 world.
The path to an individual’s decision to join the Army most often requires a story itself. Suffice it to say, my decision was made based on seven ideas that have, and continue to guide me: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. My interest in technical knowledge and social engineering guided me to the intelligence field.
The job of an intelligence analyst can vary greatly. At a strategic level, an analyst parses and funnels raw information reporting from an area of interest and converts it into actionable intelligence for commanders. Think-tanks such as this are vital to higher echelons of the military understanding of the big-picture situation. At a tactical level, the game changes completely.
In an intelligence and security section at the tactical level (maneuver units such as infantry or cavalry), I was responsible for processing and regulating over 20 active security clearance investigations and roughly 800 soldiers’ access to classified material. I was also in charge of physical security inspections of safes, armories, and motor pools and access to sensitive assets.
Upon announcement of the 2007 surge, my unit deployed to Southern Baghdad. My role was now oversight of intelligence collection through many classified and open-source venues—you won’t believe what terrorists will blog about. We also used public opinion in our favor, starting grass-roots neighborhood watches, donating to schools and helping expand access to resources such as electricity and clean water. Once the majority of the population in the area realized the help we could provide, our intelligence collection efforts were simplified. This form of social engineering and networking was vital to the success of our mission.
I recently spent a second deployment based in Kuwait as part of the 45th Infantry Division, Oklahoma National Guard. We supported the mission to close down Operation Iraqi Freedom. My second visit to the region allowed me to realize the level of success we have had in offering the Iraqi people a level of security and relative peace they have not had in a generation. It’s truly amazing to be able to say I was a part of that.
As I turn the page to a new chapter, I realize the level of discipline and respect I gained from my experiences will help my drive to expand my skills and abilities in research, writing and critical thinking. I look forward to cultivating new relationships on the adventure and quest for knowledge here at the University of Tulsa, College of Law.