An intelligence specialist collects, analyzes, and organizes data to support military operations. This is a specific job title in the United States Navy and Coast Guard, but other service branches as well as other military organizations have their own versions of this position. Intelligence specialists typically need to be able to maintain a high clearance because they handle sensitive information. Though it can be helpful if someone has an interest in becoming an officer, a college degree is not required for this job in many cases.
As intelligence information from a variety of sources comes in, the specialist evaluates it. Some sample sources can include broadcasts, photographs, Internet communications, and reports from agents in the field. This data can be used to track a target, identify trends, or collect general information about a region, organization, or situation. An intelligence specialist might want information about what is going on in a country because troops are preparing to enter, for example. Such data might also support ongoing treaty negotiations and other government activities.
The job can also involve developing intelligence missions. This can include planning surveillance flights, planting listening devices, and meeting with field agents to discuss information collection goals. The intelligence specialist can conference with other specialists, field commanders, and interested parties to determine what kind of information is needed and create a plan for acquiring it. Incoming information can be analyzed and used to create formal reports.
Maintenance of databases is also a task supervised by an intelligence specialist. This can include storing data in a stable environment, developing indexes to find information quickly, and working with information technology specialists on upgrades and system tools. Such databases may be in centralized facilities or mobile intelligence units, each of which have their own unique security needs that must be considered. Periodic declassification of information can also occur after reviewing data and determining what intelligence needs to be kept confidential to protect national security.
Some intelligence specialists operate in the field. They may be found on board ship or in mobile vans that travel with deployed teams of soldiers. Others work in intelligence facilities on home ground. It is necessary to work with a variety of communications systems to maintain contact with other members of the intelligence community as well as commanders and other people who need access to key information. This can include confidential computer networks, radios, and undersea communications that allow an intelligence specialist to maintain high speed contact.