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Employing critical thinking skills in the USAIC JI-CTC.

The Joint Intelligence Combat Training Center (JI-CTC) provides a one-week, Iraq-based battle simulation called Exercise Eagle 2 designed to immerse students at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center (USAIC) in realistic battalion or brigade Tactical Operation Center (TOC) missions or a division Analysis and Control Element (ACE) mission. The purpose of this experience is to allow students to practice performing the following core Military Intelligence (MI) competencies necessary in a deployed environment:

* Situation development.

* Target development.

* Combat assessment.

Normally, students attend JI-CTC two weeks prior to graduation from a formal MI training course of study. Whereas it is expected that students will come to the JI-CTC fully prepared to participate in Exercise Eagle 2, the reality is that many will find it necessary to strengthen their Critical Thinking (CT) skills in order to successfully complete the program. In general, they do this with enthusiasm.

The level of difficulty in Exercise Eagle 2 requires that students engage in CT skills at the macro level, becoming fully engaged in the learning experience. Unlike other Army Combat Training Centers, which employ Observer/Controllers who have minimal interaction with participants, the JI-CTC relies on Observer/Trainers who serve as mentors to guide students throughout the exercise. The Observer/Trainers consistently challenge students to follow the tenets of scientific inquiry by encouraging them to pose and test hypotheses designed to produce intelligence products. In the case of a task such as "Write an Intelligence Summary", Observers/Trainers explain the task to completed (hearing), provide a sample product (seeing and modeling), and then supervise until the student completes the task (doing). At the micro level, JI-CTC Observer/Trainers develop and follow formal, approved lesson plans and learning objectives that incorporate lessons learned from Iraq and focus on active student participation in the problem solving process. Students are not merely passive recipients of knowledge. Instead, they are fully engaged in the learning experience.

Are students being challenged to articulate problems, pose, and test hypotheses and make decisions? The answer is that scientific inquiry, problem solving, and decision making are clearly integral to the JI-CTC experience. It may be argued that young Soldiers new to the U.S. Army (primarily lieutenants and privates) who have not deployed to a war zone have little to no "concrete experience" to draw from. The JI-CTC experience has shown that all Soldiers, regardless of rank, are capable of effectively demonstrating these skills. For example, students must conduct a daily targeting update where they nominate enemy targets to their Observer/Trainer. Before they can do this, they must have:

* Used their intelligence collection assets, such as a HUMINT Collection Team, to collect specific intelligence data on the potential target to create link diagrams and pattern analysis charts (scientific inquiry).

* Determined where the target terrorist is within the hierarchy of the insurgent network (problem solving).

* Decide whether to nominate the target as a lethal target or non-lethal target (decision making).

At the JI-CTC, constant daily scientific inquiry requires students to put much more effort into the learning process than in other parts of their training, which results in a tremendous value for the students who often cite Exercise Eagle 2 as the most challenging and rewarding part of their training while at Fort Huachuca.

The JI-CTC is intended to serve as a culminating and integrative experience for MI students through which they are offered an opportunity to practice, in a realistic setting, the skills of analysis, synthesis and scientific inquiry that they have learned throughout their formal training at Fort Huachuca. Presently, key JI-CTC personnel participate in a four hour block of instruction designed to strengthen CT skills across the entire USAIC curriculum. The JI-CTC will increasingly serve as the final opportunity to ensure that all MI professionals trained at USAIC are able to effectively employ the basic tenets of CT in order to win in the Global War On Terrorism.


Major Reed currently serves as the JI-CTC Officer-in-Charge at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Previous assignments include Brigade S2, 18th Military Police Brigade, Mannheim, Germany; G2 Operations Officer, V Corps, Heidelberg, Germany; Company Commander and Battalion S2, HHC, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion; Battalion S2, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Detachment Commander and Battalion S2, HHD, NTC Support Battalion; Detachment XO, C Detachment, 203D MI Battalion, and Assistant RS2, 11TH ACR, Fort Irwin, California. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from California State University at Chico. Readers may contact Major Reed at
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Author:Reed, James W.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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