USAG HUMPHREYS, South Korea – The 524th Military Intelligence Battalion held its annual Arirang Sentinel Exercise with participation from Eighth Army, 2nd Infantry Division and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) during the third week in November.
The purpose of the exercise is to validate Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and Counterintelligence (CI) Soldiers on tasks in support of contingency and armistice operations.
Exercise participants were able to validate the following tasks:
· Conduct CI screenings for persons of interest.
· Provide CI support to threat analysis.
· Manage CI sources.
· Debrief persons of interest.
· Conduct human intelligence source contacts.
· Conduct tactical screening.
· Interrogate detained personnel.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Ashwell, HUMINT operational management team chief, “the intent of the exercise (from the HUMINT perspective) was to exercise parts of our skill set that we don’t do in our day-to-day armistice mission, so we focused on the interrogations and the screenings to keep our Soldiers fresh in all aspects of the skill set that would have to be used during contingency operations.”
For many new CI and HUMINT Soldiers the task validation is critical for their specialty proficiency. This exercise allowed Soldiers like Pfc. Alexis Repolio-Saniatan, assigned to Alpha Detachment at Camp Casey and Pfc. Parth Soni, assigned to the Humphreys Field Office, both Army Counterintelligence agents on their first assignments in Korea, to accomplish many of the prescribed probationary tasks and to move forward in their development as special agents.
“When you start out as a special agent there is a probationary period where you have to knock out specific tasks,” said Repolio-Saniatan. “So during this exercise we are trying to complete all those tasks as well as a few others.”
Repolio-Saniatan explained, while here in Korea they focus more on the investigatory aspect of their job, but during the exercise they get to focus on the collections portion; learning and reinforcing skills that aren’t apart of their day-to-day job.
“As junior Soldiers coming out of the school house, it is difficult to get exposure to all aspects of CI in a real-world scenario,” said Soni. “This exercise gets us used to it for when we have to use these skills.”
Pfc. Charles Platt, a HUMINT collector, said he appreciated the chance to use the interrogation techniques that he learned in the school house in more of a real-world environment. He also emphasized that the report writing conducted during the exercise would be very useful for his job.
“Despite HPCON (health protection condition) measures due to COVID-19, the battalion was able to conduct our capstone exercise and validate our CI and HUMINT teams on their critical tasks based on the mission set here in Korea,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Reed, commander, 524th MI Battalion. “Multiple health protection measures were employed to enable the exercise to take place.”
“We appreciate the participation the exercise received from Eighth Army, 2ID and NCIS,” said Reed, “and look forward to incorporating additional joint and reserve forces in future iterations of Arirang Sentinel.”
The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade provides indications and early warning of actions by opposing forces that could threaten the tense but stable peace in the Republic of Korea. In the event of hostilities, the brigade’s mission shifts to providing combined, multi-discipline intelligence and force protection support to the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command, the CFC Ground Component Command and their subordinate units.