'First in Support' Soldiers learn to think about their thinking, develop strategies to strengthen in
November 26, 2013
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - The 21st Theater Sustainment Command hosted Critical Thinking Structured Analysis training for intelligence analysts from the Kaiserslautern Military Community Nov. 12-21 on Panzer Kaserne.
Analysts from the 21st TSC's 16th Sustainment Brigade, 18th Military Police Brigade and 30th Medical Brigade received the training alongside members of the Air Force from the 603rd Air Operations Center and Distributing Ground Station. Their instructor flew from Royal Air Force Station Molesworth in the U.K. and taught each member analysis and critical thinking skills to make them more effective, said Peter J. Hansen, a Defense Intelligence Agency instructor and native of Newport, Vt.
"We want these intelligence analysts to be critical of any information they receive," Hansen said. "We also want them to be critical of the way they think. They need to think about their thinking."
Hansen defines "thinking about their thinking" as analyzing how information becomes knowledge. When developing an intelligence report, soldiers receive intelligence data and form opinions early on. One objective of the class is to break them of that habit.
"One of the things I learned during the class is to stop jumping to conclusions early in my analysis," said Pfc. Michael A. Peirre-Louis, an intelligence analysis with the 21st TSC and native of Gaithersburg, Md. "When I work on an intel product, I form an opinion based on the first pieces of information I read. Now I know not to do that."
During the eight-day course, the soldiers and airmen learned of and used strategies designed to make them more critical in their thinking and analysis of information. It taught them to question their own logic, question the validity of the information received and draw solid, data-based conclusions, said Hansen.
"By evaluating their sources and evaluating their own thinking the analyst can better assess the information and make any patterns in attack or hostility more apparent," Hansen said. "In the end, this training will lead to better intel analysis products for these Soldiers and airmen. It will also allow them to develop these products faster, helping soldiers that may be in harm's way."
The course concluded with the soldiers and airmen breaking up into small groups and conducting their own analysis of information on a terrorist organization. Each team worked together and applied what they learned to identify the leader of the terrorist group based on information from a variety of simulated sources. Each team presented their findings to the class before graduation.
"The exercise at the end let us put everything we learned into play. I put together a timeline with the simulated information we received so my team could get a better picture of who the terrorist leader might be," said Pfc. Ashley N. Wyche, an intelligence analyst with the 21st TSC and native of Grovetown, Ga. "When I go back to my section I will take these critical thinking skills with me."