Service members, civilians learn to harness power of 'Open Source' information
January 9, 2013
DOHA, Qatar (Jan. 9, 2013) -- Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Department of the Army civilians from all across the Army Central Command area of operations converged on Camp As Sayliyah, Dec. 3-6, 2013, to attend two coveted Open Source fundamentals courses offered locally by the Open Source Center-Doha Bureau.
Many students arrived believing that the field of Open Source was a new phenomenon brought on by the technical revolutions of the 1990s; however, Open Source actually dates back to the Foreign Broadcast Information Service created in 1941 to access and exploit open source intelligence in relation to World War II operations. A classic example of their value and success is reflected in the price of oranges in Paris as an indicator of whether railroad bridges had been bombed successfully.
Students attended the courses offered here at the OSC-Doha's education center. The deputy director of the OSC-Doha, Jenn B, stated that the Open Source Center's mission is to collect and disseminate publicly available information from around the world into usable products for decision makers.
OSC-Doha also provides regular training classes to the military and diplomatic community in the Army Central, known as ARCENT, area of operations. The courses offered consists of open source analysis techniques, open source familiarization for OSC-D's AOR (Gulf, Yemen, Iran, CT, Af/Pak), geospatial tools training and hands on training using www.opensource.gov.
The courses offered on Camp As Sayliyah were designed to prepare individuals in harnessing the open sources that have come to dominate the informational landscape and to train attendees in the basic tools needed to navigate the immense sea of sources in the most precise and efficient way possible.
The courses offered, open to anyone interested in refining their skills, are designed for professional and personal uses. Open Sources include, but are not limited to, a wide variety of information in many forms of media (newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and computer-based information,) web-based communities, user-generated content (social networking sites and blogs,) public data (government reports, official data such as budgets, demographics, hearings, legislative debates, press conferences, speeches, marine and aeronautical safety warnings, environmental impact statements and contract awards,) observation and reporting (amateur airplane spotters, radio monitors and satellite observers among many others have provided significant information not otherwise available), and has now expanded into areas formerly available only to major government services (professional and academic or grey literature): conferences, symposia, professional associations, academic papers, and subject matter experts.
Using the above tools taught to students in the course can be professionally rewarding, making anyone able to develop products that are not only relevant but classified for the greatest general use possible. For those in the private sector, it can make their personal positions and individual companies more competitive, focused and directed to specific emerging opportunities so that even small and medium businesses can compete in markets usually reserved for larger companies.
Area Support Group - Qatar's Staff Sgt. Ortland Meadows, a participant in the course, stated that "the courses were professionally developing for me as an analyst and will also, help me complete my bachelor's degree much easier using the research tools."