ABUJA, Nigeria (July 22, 2009) -- Thirty officers from seven African nations graduated June 26, from a 12-week, introductory intelligence course held at Nigeria's Defence Intelligence School aimed at training junior officers in the basic skills necessary to operate on a military intelligence staff.

The Military Intelligence Basic Officer Course-Africa (MIBOC-A) is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored course whose purpose is to assist partner nations in further developing fundamental military intelligence skills.

The curriculum focuses on the basic intelligence cycle, analytic processes, functional staff integration, and how to share information in a multinational environment.

MIBOC-A is one of hundreds of security activities the U.S. military conducts in Africa to continue to strengthen the capabilities of African militaries, according to Africa Command officials. Other events range from large-scale multinational exercises to smaller activities such as familiarization courses on the law of armed conflict or civil-military relations.

Though MIBOC-A has a formal curriculum, the real value of the course is the relationship the participating officers develop.

"MIBOC-A has turned out to be one of the best learning experiences in my career so far," said one student, a Nigerian naval officer. "I have no doubt that future cooperation between our armed forces will be less daunting because I now know the man on the other side."

The course also aims to enhance capacity for intelligence analysis and sharing among these nations and to provide an environment designed to improve collaboration methods within the region's military intelligence community. The learning that takes place during the course is paramount to the development of successful intelligence professionals, according to the U.S. Africa Command military mentor Marine Maj. Fred Catchpole.

U.S. Africa Command manages the course with support from the command's Marine component, U.S. Marine Forces Africa. This was the third MIBOC-A mentored by the Marines since its inception in January 2008. The curriculum is based on the U.S. Army's international military intelligence officer course, which provides an introduction to basic military intelligence.

"This is an incredible opportunity for officers from multiple nations to not only learn the valuable skills needed to be an effective military intelligence officer, but also to forge lasting professional and personal relationships," said Catchpole, a reserve officer from Casper, Wyo.

MIBOC-A also supports the U.S. government's Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership program, a U.S. State Department-led initiative developed to build regional capacity, promote interoperability and strengthen Inter-regional cooperation in the trans-Sahara region.

"The cross-nation interaction generated through this course creates tremendous collaborative opportunities," said Tracy Colley, based at the Regional Joint Intelligence Training Facility (RJITF), located at Royal Air Force Base Molesworth, England.

Africa Command organizers noted the Nigeria Defence Intelligence School's focus on making the course a success was obvious. "The host nation has been truly helpful and engaged in ensuring this course is successful," said Cynthia Lenhart, an RJITF training coordinator. "In addition, the facilities have been first rate."

The students' professionalism and work ethic caught the eye of the instructors, as well. "I've been tremendously impressed with the students' dedication, as well as their desire to learn," Catchpole said. "They've come in after hours and on weekends to continue to study, learn, and practice."

The Nigerian naval officer said building lasting relationships was the most important aspect of the course. "MIBOC-A has given me a rare opportunity to meet, interact, and establish very strong and invaluable relationships with military officers from across the continent."