1L John Andrew shares his experience working as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army before coming to law school.
Greetings! For those of you whom I haven’t met, I am John Andrew, and I just finished a stint as a Signals Intelligence Analyst for the U.S. Army. I’ve done this job off and on for the past 15 years or so, and I’m now a 1L here at the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Intelligence analysis is the gathering of raw intelligence information and placing it together into something that will assist either commanders on the battlefield or our government in its operation. To do this, raw information is gathered from multiple sources; the CIA and some military elements deal in Human Intelligence (or HUMINT), the NSA and other military elements deal in Signals Intelligence (or SIGINT, of which I specialize).
This information, in its raw form, is very wide ranging and full of unnecessary information. This is where analysis helps to provide the insight to our military commanders and civilian government leadership. Intelligence Analysts are trained to take this information and cross-reference it with other information. They take this combined information and write it into a report that will read easily for leadership to make their decisions.
To train as an analyst, one must possess first the intellectual skills to see patterns in a multitude of incoming raw information. Identification of these patterns is a skill that is part training and part natural ability, and tends to be the hardest part of training as an analyst. Writing a report in the right format that makes it readable for its consumers is also very important; the intended recipient must be able to understand your information.
As you can already see, there are some skills in Intelligence Analysis that translate well into the study of law. This is one of the reasons I chose to study law (probably International Law) as a post-military career.