U.S. Africa Command sponsored a three-week basic intelligence course to help train and assist the Burundian Army manage and more effectively implement military intelligence best practices. The class consisted of 28 students, made up of Staff Non-Commissioned Officers and Company Grade Officers, some of whom received their first ever military intelligence training through this course.. The concepts in this class are designed to provide Burundian intelligence personnel with a baseline to help their peace keeping missions Somalia and Central African Republic.
Intelligence can be a difficult and confusing concept for militaries. The idea of predicting enemy courses of action can be riddled with contradictions and confusing motivations. As warfare is changing from conventional to unconventional, with asymmetric operations, intelligence is increasingly valuable for commanders to determine what factors drive an enemy to take specific actions.
The Burundian Army is fighting this predictive battle in its peace keeping operations in Somalia. The Burundians have been engaged in Somalia since 2008, sending multiple battalions to assist with security and counter the growth and capability of al Shabab. This requires a solid understanding of how the local population views the Somali Government and al Shabab as well as what drives individuals to join or support either side. It is no longer enough to simply understand the enemy; it is critical to understand the local population and its perspectives on the fight. This local knowledge could prove to be the critical factor in winning or losing.
"What I like about this class is that it really makes us focus on the basic tenets of problem solving and how to involve the locals in the process of intelligence fusion. We are often focused on trying to react to a threat or determine where an enemy is without considering the population," according to one of the students.
The training emphasized understanding intelligence, understanding the concept of “intelligence preparation of the operating environment”, and highlighted basic map-reading skills, terrain building, and threat evaluation, which are crucial to successful intelligence operations. The Chief Military Intelligence Officer for Burundi, showed considerable support of this course, attending a day of instruction to help the students and provide context to the material.
"Intelligence is a group effort; we must all focus on helping one another and assist with understanding the enemy in order to succeed in intelligence operations," he said.
Although the course was only three weeks, the attitude of the class was positive; they were very engaged and demonstrated a significant increase in their ability to think through problems and manage intelligence information and operations. The training event reinforces the considerable partnership between AFRICOM and the BNDF to address regional security concerns.
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Editor's Note: U.S. Marine Capt. Dustin Partridge is the officer-in-charge for a Burundi Basic Intelligence Course. He shares his experiences with Burundian intelligence service members in this first-person perspective.