AL ASAD, Iraq -- For service members deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, constant security is a must to maintain the operational integrity and safety of their unit.
The intelligence section with Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), informs, trains and conducts security inspections for the Marines and sailors to ensure the headquarters element and subordinate units have the knowledge and tools to maintain that integrity.
“Our main focus is to ensure the subordinate squadrons’ intelligence sections are provided with timely intelligence and administrative support,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Soler, intelligence section chief, MAG-16. “We train the squadrons on operational security measures by informing them of current security policies and how to implement them.”
In order to maintain constant security and guarantee the squadrons are implementing the policies, the MAG-16 intelligence Marines carryout numerous inspections of the units.
“We conduct continuous inspections to ensure subordinate squadrons are abiding by the regulations that are in place,” said Soler, a Bridgeport, Conn., native. “The only way to do it accurately is to physically go to the squadrons and see what they are doing.”
According to Soler, the intelligence Marines work a lot more in Iraq than they do in the United States because of the added security measures needed in a combat zone.
“Before coming to Iraq, we put the Marines in the mindset of what we would be doing out here,” added Sgt. Brian T. Griffie, intelligence specialist, MAG-16. “We had security refresher courses, because out here, that is the main thing: security. We gave them briefs on what to expect, not only with the job, but being in the environment and how things would be run -- the stresses that go with it and maintaining situational awareness.”
This is Griffie’s third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he has worked in three different levels of intelligence within 3rd MAW.
“I’ve worked from the lowest level to the highest in the Wing,” he said. “It helps, especially being the middleman, at the MAG level. You know what to expect from higher, and you put out a better product.”
Although the security inspections help maintain the operational integrity of the squadrons, the intelligence section also gives unclassified briefs to keep MAG-16 Marines, soldiers and sailors informed of current worldwide events.
“We give the briefs, because a majority of the Marines are caught up in their day-to-day responsibilities,” said Soler. “This gives them an opportunity to gain knowledge of what’s going on in the world outside of Iraq.”
In the United States, the section conducts analyst specific training to sharpen their skills, but while here, they put those talents to use by providing intelligence in support of the War on Terrorism.
Now, they are putting their knowledge to use and have all contributed to the command by either giving an unclassified brief or helping upgrade security measures as needed. To continue providing such support, they have kept a schedule, which allows them to stay proficient in their job.
“We have a training program that helps develop their briefing, analytical skills and in-depth research capabilities,” Soler said. “They need to stay sharp on these skills, because they are the duty experts. In a brief, if they are asked a question, they should have the background knowledge to give the correct answer. We don’t want to misinform our audience.”
When the intelligence Marines begin to work on the briefs they give to the squadrons, they view what is going on in the world and choose what type of brief should be given. From there, they begin their research. The work included to prepare the brief is often time consuming and tiring, but the Marines in the section aren’t deterred, because their work is beneficial to everyone in the unit.
“We pick a topic to brief the headquarters and squadrons on, and then, we research it, rehearse it and finally give the brief,” said Griffie, a Biglerville, Pa., native. “Studying the area of interest and briefing what’s going on based on what we’ve researched, is what we bring to the table. The briefs not only benefit the squadron but us too, because we are able to keep up our research and analytical skills. It’s nice being able to know that when a unit needs something done quick and right, they come to MAG-16, because we have a good group of Marines who put out great products.”
By keeping their skills sharp, maintaining security and using up-to-date research for their briefs, the MAG-16 intelligence Marines will continue to maintain the operational integrity of their unit, as well as others.
“We like what we do, because we know our support is useful and it can lessen the loss of American life out here,” said Soler.
Disclaimer -- Photos associated with the article can be found at the following links:
1 - http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/200612425538
2 - http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/200612425743
3 - http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/200612425952
4 - http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/20061243218
5 - http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/20061243336