AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – General Custer, commander of the 7th Calvary Regiment, was ill-informed on the number of Lakota and Northern-Cheyenne Indians that he would encounter during the Battle of Little Big Horn, and because the military intelligence was weeks old, he lost this battle and his life on June 26, 1876. Today, our military uses up-to-date information from weather patterns, photography, signals, and human intelligence to give commanders a clear-sight picture of what Marines will be facing when they venture outside of forward operating bases, or FOBs.
Marines with Intelligence section, Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team 8, continuously collect and analyze information to make sure that RCT-8 Marines and attachments are well prepared for weather problems, any unsafe routes due to improvised explosive device activity and also provide databased information on the regiment’s area of operations.
“Our mission is to aid in reducing the commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 8’s uncertainty of the battle space and the operating environment,” said Sgt. Matthew A. Golden, senior analyst, intelligence section.
By dissipating the proverbial fog-of-war, the regiment’s command element is able to perform logistics movements, provide security to humanitarian teams and fulfill key-leader engagements.
“They give us the most up-to-date information on the enemy situation,” said Staff Sgt. Michael B. Story, section leader, Mobile Security Detachment.
These intelligence collectors, commonly known as “spooks” or “secret squirrels,” work day-and-night to make sure that intelligence gathered is correct and pertinent to the next mission.
“We predict what the enemy will do, when he will do it, how he will do it, and what he will do it with all before he does it,” said Lance Cpl. Skyler Camacho, an all-source intelligence analyst, intelligence section. “It’s a totally sweet job!”
Intelligence gathering in the military community isn’t built on hunches but on hard work and detailed analysis.
“We are responsible for analyzing aspects such as weather, enemy movement, and terrain,” Golden said. He added that this gathered information aides RCT-8 personnel and its attachments in making informed decisions on how to conduct movements throughout the area of operations.
“From the civilian perspective, the Marine Corps intelligence establishment facilitates a safe and secure working environment,” said Lee Bagan, an Iraq subject matter expert attached to the regiment.
Making sure that Bagan’s escorts have a safe route of travel and the areas he visits are also safe, is only one part of what the intelligence section provides for noncombat personnel when they visit Iraqi citizens.
“My knowledge base is also further augmented by their unique capabilities,” Bagan said. “They provide the tangible know-how to our big picture perspective.”
Along with providing valuable information to noncombat personnel attached to RCT-8, they have always made it their main effort to use their knowledge to keep Marines safe.
“If there’s enemy activity or IEDs, then we’ll avoid that route to take care of our precious cargo,” said Staff Sgt. Sid Gonzalez, platoon sergeant, MSD. “Information is the key to success on and off the battlefield.”
Although the intelligence section isn’t known for heroic battles, they are proud of the essential skills they provide for the regiment.
“I take pride in what I do because through my analysis of the enemy and his trends and patterns, I can possibly prevent future attacks against Coalition forces and possibly save the lives of Marines,” said Cpl. Alexander E. Dorsey, analyst, intelligence section.
“We also provide security input to the ISF in order to aid in the professionalization of their units,” Golden said.
Golden added that his Marines provide support to the ISF through close coordination and the sharing of intelligence in order to develop a strong analytical base for future intelligence operations.
“I can really tell it makes a difference when I tell Marines about a specific event or report in the area they’re traveling to, and they ask questions because they are truly concerned with the situation,” said Cpl. Nicholas W. Nate, intelligence analyst, intelligence section. “The more in-depth I know the current situation in an area, directly relates to how well the Marines are prepared to leave the wire.”
Learning from Custer’s mistake as well as other famous commanders, Marines don’t use outdated intelligence thanks to the diligent men and women of RCT-8’s intelligence section, who work endlessly to collect and analyze information day and night.