Speech given by SMA Kenneth O. Preston to the graduating class of the Community Imagery Analysis Course at the Defense Geospatial-Intelligence School, Fort Belvoir on June 19, 2006.
As the Sergeant Major of the Army, I spend much of my time traveling to posts, bases, camps and stations, visiting Soldiers and their families. Currently, we have more than 235,000 Soldiers deployed to over 120 countries. It is no secret that we are a busy Army. I travel to the AOR quite frequently to talk to not only Soldiers but to service members deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and the Horn of Africa. I was the Command Sergeant Major of V Corps and Combined Joint Task Force 7 in Baghdad in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom I. Every time I travel back to Iraq to visit Soldiers I see incredible progress, and that is due to the hard work of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Department of Defense Civilians.
The United States military is vastly different today from the one I joined in the 1970s. Back then we were a 'threat-based' organization, designed to defend against a specific threat--the threat of the Soviet Union on a traditional battlefield. Today, we are a 'capabilities-based' force, focused on building a wide range of capabilities to fight on an asymmetric battlefield against an unpredictable enemy. We are taking the fight to the enemy in this Global War on Terrorism. The enemy is constantly changing his tactics, techniques, and procedures and we must also adapt to successfully defeat our enemy. Soldiers and service members forward deployed are proving our adaptability every day.
Sergeant Elizabeth Leroux, an Imagery Analyst from the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion out of Wiesbaden, Germany, is a stellar example of the type of Soldiers we have in our Army today. SGT Leroux is currently deployed to Iraq and was providing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) support during a raid on an insurgent 'safe house'. It seemed like an ordinary raid but the situation quickly changed when she spotted two insurgents who ran out of the house into a small shed. The insurgents climbed on top of the shed roof and hid.
The Soldiers on the ground did their sweep of the area but could not find the insurgents. SGT Leroux directed the payload operator to the shed and pointed out a hidden entrance on the roof to the team on the ground. The raid team apprehended the insurgents without firing a shot.
Just last week, Private First Class Katherine Baker, an Imagery Analyst from the 205th Military Intelligence Battalion, provided force protection for President Bush's unannounced visit to Iraq. This young Soldier provided operational over-watch using UAV imagery, monitoring the surrounding area for any unusual activity. We now know the President's visit was a safe one, thanks to Soldiers like PFC Baker.
Examples like these prove that your job is an extremely important one in today's Global War on Terrorism. Every mission our service members undertake relies on intelligence and how quickly we can exploit and integrate it into our current operations.
This graduation marks a significant day for all of you. You have just completed 11 weeks of intermediate Imagery Analysis training. This course has helped you bridge the gap from entry-level imagery identification to critical thinking and analysis. Those types of skills are crucial as you lead and mentor young Soldiers and service members at your home stations.
Our military today is more 'Joint' than it ever has been. In this class alone, you have nine Soldiers, two Airmen, two Sailors, one Marine and one Civilian. That is a good representation of our Armed Forces. There is also a lot of deployment experience in this class. These professionals have deployed to places such as Iraq, Bosnia, Somalia, Pakistan, Kuwait, and Qatar. Your experience is invaluable to our Armed Forces.
The media has said that Task Force 145, the Special Operations task force that received most of the credit for capturing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is the 'unblinking eye'. I would also say that intelligence professionals such as yourselves are also an 'unblinking eye' that will eventually track down all the terrorist leaders that want to do us harm.
Providing real-time intelligence and imagery to our commanders and troops on the ground and to the pilots in the air is crucial to winning the Global War on Terror. I can tell you from the senior leader perspective that the work you do everyday is priceless.
There is no doubt that our Navy and Marine Corps are second to none; that the Air Force rules the skies; and that we have the most powerful Army in the world. Together, our Armed Forces stand alone in the world, providing a deterrent to rogue nations, or if needed, to be an overwhelming force to defeat any enemy on any battlefield.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.
I wish you the best of luck and Godspeed as you depart Fort Belvoir for your duty station following graduation today. God bless you and your families, God bless the United States Armed Forces, and God bless all of our deployed service members. Hooah!
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|Author:||Preston, Kenneth O.|
|Publication:||Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2006|
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