By Michelle Butzgy/ParaglideFebruary 10, 2012
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - As warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan has changed the way Soldiers fight, it has also changed the way Soldiers gather information.
Enter the Company Intelligence Support Team, a group of four to six Soldiers from privates to lieutenants trained to gather intelligence and pass along the information in real time, allowing distribution both up the chain of command and to their fellow companies in the battlespace.
Just as Soldiers need to learn about new weapon systems or how to clear a house safely and efficiently, Soldiers also need training to become their company's intelligence experts.
The COIST instructors at Fort Bragg's Mission Support Element G3 make it their mission to teach non-military intelligence Soldiers at the company level to sort through information, analyze it and provide it to their command, said Chely McAninch, a COIST instructor with Booz Allen Hamilton, the government contractor that provides training and instructors for the MSE G3.
The 40-hour class gives participants the basics of intelligence functions. The students are put through scenarios that allow them to put those concepts into practice, added McAninch.
One of the skills Soldiers learn during the class is gathering information from various sources of reporting.
"There are many entities that supply that information. What we're giving them is a tool for the commander down at the lowest level, the company level, to sort through it and see what's of relevance, what's pertinent to their area," said McAninch. "(The Soldiers) turn it around immediately instead of waiting for it to go higher and then come back."
The instructors say that Soldiers must prove they can use all their new skills before they pass the class.
"Everything they were taught through the week culminates in a final practical exercise where they have to apply everything that we taught them through the week. They do the analysis, put the product together and present a briefing on it," said Gary Crecelius, COIST instructor.
The MSE G3 has trained Soldiers on COIST skills for a year, said McAninch. Before that, a military training team would come to Fort Bragg and teach the class.
Having trainers at Fort Bragg instead of military training teams visiting from other installations is a big benefit for Soldiers, said McAninch.
"With us being located on Fort Bragg, we give them the initial training piece, the 40-hour class. Later on, we can provide them some sustainment training if they request it, and/or mentorship if they go to the field and ask for our support to go and help them and see how they're doing," she said.
The instructors also work with unit commanders with leadership awareness training and help with screening Soldiers for specific capabilities. They also show units how to integrate COIST training into their unit training so it becomes collective training, said Crecelius.
Crecelius has also mentored units in the field and observed their COIST training in action. He recently assisted the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
"They just went to their JRTC (Joint Readiness Training Center) rotation at Fort Polk (La.) I went down there to observe how the COIST did. We had some very positive feedback," said Crecelius.
With COIST training established at Fort Bragg through MSE 3G, timely information and intelligence can be passed to Soldiers on the ground, keeping them, and higher command situationally aware of the battlespace.