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MI Net: digital intelligence community.

Introduction

The Military Intelligence Network (MI Net) is a site that empowers its community members by allowing them to easily publish, manage, organize, and discuss a wide range of content through one accessible website. MI Net which is part of the Battle Command Knowledge System (BCKS) is operated by, devoted to, and used by all personnel interested in MI issues. Hundreds of people use MI Net every week to share what they know and find what they need and get their questions answered in a timely manner by numerous subject matter experts (SMEs). These SMEs are found around the world and represent a variety of passionate professionals from Soldiers in ranks of Staff Sergeant through Major General to DOD civilians of all pay grades as well as contractors. Their job experiences range from Intelligence Analyst to the Army G2 Command Sergeant Major (CSM), MI Corp CSM and even the Commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca (USAIC&FH).

MI Net was created to lessen the experience gap between doctrinal teaching in the Generating Force and emerging tactics, techniques, and procedures within the Operating Force. One of the most difficult problems between the Army's many Centers of Excellence (COEs) and the Operational Force has been eliminating the discrepancy between doctrine and emerging best practices. MI Net along with BCKS has teamed with USAIC's Intelligence Center Online Network (ICON) to form the Intelligence Knowledge Network (IKN) a blended solution of available resources and knowledge. The IKN, like many of its counterpart knowledge networks, has been extremely successful in bridging the knowledge gaps between COEs, Operational Forces and the Army Force Generation cycle.

Digital Social Networking MI Net has been able to help the MI community to quickly transfer knowledge, share ideas, and lessons learned amongst its professionals regardless of rank or duty position. The peer-topeer networking and professional and technical mentoring elements of the IKN on MI Net provide opportunities to collaborate with individuals or groups of people, so that everyone in the community benefits. Professional networking is a key element to breaking the age old cycle of reinventing the wheel which seems to perpetually plague the Army. This assistance is afforded in real-time 24/7 and is available between attendance at MI service schools and to Soldiers who are in non- MI units. The daily knowledge transference on MI Net has aided Soldiers in providing change from the ground up as well as helping them avoid costly situations due to lack of intelligence and experience.

Many of us can remember a noncommissioned officer (NCO) or officer in a past unit who was considered the "go to" person. Thinking back to that NCO or officer many of us can remember a way of conducting business called "the good old boy network," a type of social engineering developed to get missions accomplished even when you or your unit lacked the operational knowledge or expertise. In times where there was an absence of manuals or tools to fix a piece of equipment you could always "go to" that NCO or officer who would in turn call on a buddy in another unit who knew a guy that knew a guy who could get you the manual or tool you needed. This same sort of network has been re-established digitally within the communities of practice (COPs) on MI Net and other forums on BCKS. I have personally witnessed Soldiers ask questions on MI Net and receive multiple solutions to problems or information that aided them in finding their answer.

Getting help to Soldiers is what MI Net is all about. Responses often vary from simple textual replies to much needed tools like standard operation procedures, PowerPoint presentations, or Excel spreadsheets. Every tool on MI Net is intended to be shared and adapted for personal and/or professional use.

The "people" factor on MI Net coupled with technology has led to may successful experiences, answered questions, and individual impact. It's because of these successes that the Knowledge Management (KM) community has begun to see a much needed cultural shift start to occur. Personal identification with KM happens when content upload helps a Soldier get the mission accomplished. Then, and only then, is true change embraced.

One example of personal identification with KM occurred when two Soldiers were able to connect through MI Net and exchange vital knowledge concerning a common mission--Military Transition Team (MiTT) Intelligence NCOIC. The first Soldier was already on the ground in Iraq as a MiTT Intelligence NCOIC. The other Soldier was a Battle Staff student stationed in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas scheduled to replace him. These two Soldiers were able to transfer invaluable knowledge so that when the student deployed to Iraq he was prepared and knew what to expect when he hit the ground. As part of the knowledge transfer the former NCOIC was also able to provide the entire MI Net community as potential MiTT Soldiers, as well as the new NCOIC, with a list of useful equipment to bring as they deployed with a MiTT as well as a list of items that were no longer required.

This is just one example of how the power of social networking can make an organization better by providing the right knowledge to the right people at the right time. Asynchronous collaboration allows experts from different places to come together and help solve the problems of anyone requiring help. The collective minds of the COP become the knowledge of the individual seeking assistance. Nielsen/NetRatings, a global leader in Internet media and market research, reported that social networking sites continue to grow in user participation at a rate of 47 percent each year. MySpace last year alone grew by over 300 percent and it is estimated that now over 50 percent of the Internet population belongs to at least one COP or social networking site. One of the most interesting challenges to this exciting new way of doing business, however, has not been the technology but rather the cultural constraint in getting people to embrace a new way of operating. The interaction between people on COPs has become the fuel driving KM to harness the power of tacit knowledge.

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BCKS

One of the problems faced by KM professionals has been that most people who embrace sites like MI Net tend to be the digital natives or younger people and are more consumers of knowledge rather than providers of expertise and experience. This void of experienced personnel has been closing however through diligent recruiting and education efforts on the behalf of KM personnel and Army leadership. BCKS currently has Knowledge Management Advisors (KMAs) assigned to numerous locations like the MI, Maneuver, Fires, and Sustainment COEs as well as at operational units such as the 82ND Airborne Division, 1ST Calvary Division and many others. For more information on where BCKS advisors are check out the map below for locations.

Since its inception almost two years ago, MI Net has grown exponentially from a COP with only a few passionate individuals to becoming the official USAIC professional forum with a collection of hundreds of dedicated MI colleagues. MI Net's parent organization, BCKS, has also grown expanding its services to include supporting units in building AKO organizational sites, SharePoint portals, providing reach back support as needed to units' KM needs, and assisting the Army in KM doctrinal development. In addition BCKS has started providing organizational KM assessments and process recommendations to units to include KM training and suggested KM processes with methods and best practices to incorporate them. (This is a limited capability at this time.)

The Warrior Knowledge Base (WKB), another BCKS initiative, is a huge repository of documents completely meta-tagged and searchable by meta category, author, date, keywords, etc. Because of these great initiatives BCKS and many of its subordinate forums have been recognized by the Army and the U.S. government, winning awards such as the Army Knowledge Award (AKA) for Enterprise/Cross Functional Solution; the AKA for Knowledge Transformation Initiative; the E-Gov KM award for Best Initiative or Organization Successfully Using KM Practices, and the E-Gov KM award for Best KM Initiative Delivering High Value to a Broad User Community/Supporting Agency Mission.

Conclusion

If you are interested in becoming a member of MI Net, visit this community by going to https://minet.bcks.army.mil or by clicking on the forums link at ICON at https://icon.army.mil. MI Net is cleared For Official Use Only documents and discussions. Visit MI Net's parent organization BCKS at https://bcks.army.mil or explore the WKB at https://wkb.bcks.army.mil/Search/. Please note that in order to gain access into the WKB or BCKS you must have an Army Knowledge Online username and password. Contractors are provided access to BCKS, MI Net, and WKB on a need-to-know basis. For more information about anything mentioned in this article, contact the USAIC KM Advisor, Mr. Dustin D. Cloos at (520) 5330263, DSN 821-0263 or by email at dustin.cloos@us.army.mil.

Dustin D. Cloos is a Certified Knowledge Management Advisor with 13 years of MI background specifically in the area of Intercept/Electronics Warfare. While in the Army he served in positions such as the Fort Huachuca Post Combatives Instructor, 1SG, Senior Drill Sergeant and many others. Dustin holds certifications for Basic and Advanced Knowledge Facilitation, is a Microsoft Certified Professional (Access), and a certified Unix System Administrator.
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Author:Cloos, Dustin D.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Article Type:Company overview
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Words:1572
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