LESSONS LEARNED OF AN 0204 – First Edition.

Featured Guest Author: Neal Duckworth, Major USMC, (Ret)
Current Senior Program Director for Executive Education at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


I have been asked several times over the past few years where I picked up some of the things that I have briefed to new officers. The easy answer is that I just remembered most of the things that I did, wished I had done, wished I hadn’t done, and wished someone else had done. I decided to put some things down on paper so that maybe some of you may get something out of it. There is no reason for someone to make a mistake that I’ve already made. Some of the things in this handbook are my opinion, especially in the leadership and protocol areas. This opinion is based on talking to senior officers and SNCOs, observation of situations, and my gut-feelings when something happens, i.e. “that pisses me off,” “that is discourteous,” and “that is not the right way to handle the situation.”

Just so that I don’t get in trouble with the legal-beagles, I wish to point out that these are my own ideas, not direct orders to you, nor approved by any USMC organization.

Treat these as just a guide.

This is just the first edition. I intend to update this every year or so, depending on the feedback from you. This is a handbook for 0210s and 0204s, primarily in the early years, or just returning to the operating forces. I’ve waited long enough to get this out there, so will get this printed and finished. I am sure that there are mistakes. If you have any comments, questions, want to throw the BS flag, or want a few more copies, e-mail me at duckworthnw@hotmail.com. I’ll respond. If you have notes you want to add to this handbook, e-mail me and I’ll send you a fax number so that you don’t have to type everything in.

Special thanks to Chris Pehrson for having me speak to the 0204s going through NMITC and Mike Dubrule for reviewing and adding to the pre-deployment and operations chapters (and to keep me moving on this).

Good luck and Semper Fidelis,
Neal W. Duckworth
Captain, U.S. Marines

Chapter 1 Leadership Tips
Chapter 2 Protocol
Chapter 3 Administration
Chapter 4 Training
Chapter 5 Pre-Deployment Preparation
Chapter 6 Conduct of Operations
Chapter 7 CI / HUMINT Company Commander
Chapter 8 Warrant Officer
Chapter 9 0204 Career Progression


1. Platoon Commander’s Notebook. Use the Platoon Commander’s notebook idea and adjust it to your own format. Make sure you get the names that parents/spouses/children are called, not just formal names. If one of your Marines get hurt and you have call or write his family, it’s good to use their normal name, not their formal name.

2. Family Contact. One of your responsibilities as an officer is to ensure that a Marine’s family is doing well, especially when a Marine is deployed. A Marine that is worried about his family getting his paycheck, having the lawn mowed, or any number of possible problems, is not going to have his head in the game, and may get himself or someone else hurt. If you are in garrison and the Marine is deployed, make weekly phone calls to check that his family okay.

If you are deployed with your Marines, write a letter to their families letting them know all is well and that they are well-trained for the mission at hand. Be professional at ALL times. Use your rank in all identification. When stateside, ensure the Key Volunteer Coordinator knows the Marine is deployed and that you will also be contacting them weekly, as well. (* Note: For single Marines, a letter to his parents or fiancé is good when you all are deployed. Many people only think of the spouses.)

3. Counseling. Counseling is a tool that you should use, just like you are taught in The Basic School. There is even a Marine Corps publication on it. Initial counseling is necessary to get to know the Marine. Use the fitness report to go over the billet description of the CI/HUMINT Specialist or PltSgt, and see if there are any questions. Half-way through the reporting period, or half-way before you think you’re going to have to write one on him, i.e. going to SNCO Academy in October or something, do another counseling to let him know how he is doing and where he can grow. This is very important when you have a less-than-stellar Marine, but it is also great to keep people that are doing well on the same path. Talk about whether they want to stay as a SNCO or try to make Warrant Officer. When you really have a good Marine that is interested in his career, he will be looking for things to do, as opposed to waiting for things to be assigned, so that it goes on his FITREP (as you should be thinking).

a. During counseling, ensure you find out if the Marine has any unique military requirements based on his religion or culture, i.e. must eat kosher, halal, or vegetarian meals. If so, ensure that prior to deployments you order specific rations for that Marine. They are available through normal supply channels.

4. Desk Buffer. If possible, don’t “hide” behind your desk all of the time. Arrange your office where you can come out from behind your desk and speak to people in chairs or on a couch. If not possible, wheel your chair to the side, so that you’re not directly behind your desk. **If you’re giving an ass-chewing, keep the power position behind your desk. When holding meetings, use a large table or chairs and couches together. Get your Marines comfortable, so they’ll open up about the real issues. Too formal an environment may stifle talk and opinions.

5. SNCO Development. When doing PT, conducting training evolutions, or other platoon-level activities or tasks, let your SNCO take over once in awhile while you do “officer stuff.” Assign him items that need to get done, and that he can report back to you. Not make-work things, but real things (arrange for HF comm training, ID what new VRC radio mounts we should try and purchase, lock on training with EOD, etc.), which he can delegate, accomplish, and report back. After meetings with the CO, brief your PltSgt and make him brief the Marines (many times he’ll be a junior SNCO and needs to be seen in his position of authority just as you do). Try not to swap out SNCOs every single time a senior SNCO comes in to the Company. Work with the CO and Chief to get PltSgt’s more than a few months in the hot-seat; then, don’t just send them back into the platoon, but rotate them out to a good school, deployment, etc. Remember that the PltSgt billet is a key billet, not one for hot-racking.

6. Familiarity. Do not think that during urban training exercises or real-world operations that you have to be on a first-name basis with your enlisted Marines. You can speak all day long without using names or ranks. If you are disguising the fact that you are military or an officer (or that your subordinates are enlisted Marines because some foreigners look down on enlisted), just tell them not to call you Sir. Hold your SNCOs accountable as well.

Familiarity breeds contempt—at any rank.

7. Officer/SNCO/NCO Relationships. Because of our MOS, there is often a bit more familiarity than in other MOSs. Marine Officers must maintain a professional separation between their subordinates. If a subordinate is having a party where the entire unit will be there, it is fine to show up, but stay a little while and then leave. Do not play “kill the keg.” The bonds formed in CI school and the NCO/SNCO ranks also sometimes lead to excess familiarity—be sure to correct it.

8. Desktop Procedures. No matter what billet you are filling, from HET OIC to Platoon Commander to S-3A, always leave that billet better than you found it. Shortly after assuming a billet, take stock of what your mission is, what turnover you received (if any), and vow to make it better for the next Marine. For each T/O billet, there should be Desktop Procedures in place, which are an informal SOP. There is no real format for Desktop Procedures, but should include items such as:

a. Fitness reports. Include billet descriptions for all Marines (PltCmdr, PltSgt, CI Specialist), FITREP due dates (so that you can conduct mid-way counseling), MCC list of where Marines can go and what rank, and a few samples of correct Sect C’s and I’s (sanitized of name).

b. Training schedule. Training is very difficult to do when you have Marines coming and going all the time, but if you put in the schedule and put someone in charge, then it’s more likely to happen, especially if you’re using outside resources (EOD, ranges, etc.). Also include known formal courses that you wish to get Marines into (SNCO Academy, JCITA, Law of War, etc.).

c. Counseling sheets (good & bad) and personal information. Sometimes this is separate, since it has personal information, but as long as the Desktop Procedures are kept in your desk, it can be in there).

d. Miscellaneous: Equipment Density Lists; Classified Holdings; Weekly meeting schedule; etc.

9. What Happens TAD… No matter how many times Marines try to say “what happens TAD, stays TAD,” it never does. How you represent yourself and your Marines will always get back to the command. Renting a Cadillac instead of economy car, misspending E&EE funds, wearing civilian clothes when supposedly representing the Marine Corps in uniform, taking unauthorized trips overseas, growing beards while on leave, using a government credit card to supplement your meager income, and any number of other incidents have, and will continue, to happen. And you will always get caught.

10. Unit Organization. Whether you are in a HET or a Platoon, there’s a good way to take some work off of your shoulders, while simultaneously providing some of your Marines tangible responsibility, which can be reflected on their fitness reports. Form a “mini-battalion-staff” by assigning a Marine as the S-1, S-2, S-3, S-4, and S-6 of your HET or Platoon. These Marines will be the single point of contact for you and can take the time to focus on present and future operations. Their duties could entail:

a. S-1. Administration. Country clearance requests; unofficial Visa card coordinator (ensure limits are raised prior to deployment / TAD); submit TAD requests.

b. S-2. Intelligence. Make sure clearances are current; ensure clearances are passed to TAD units; ensure new Marines have interim clearances and EPSQs are at DonCaf; coordinate daily/weekly intelligence briefings (in-house or AFP); coordinate with CIHO to ensure all Marines are read into required Special Access Programs (SAPs) prior to deployment.

c. S-3. Training. Both Marine Corps annual and pre-deployment training. See Training Chapter.

d. S-4. Supply and logistics. Updating Equipment Density Lists; making supply runs; safety; hazardous materials; coordinate open purchase requests.

e. S-6. Communications and Computers. Unit computers and CIHEP gear; SiprNet access and crypto changes; radio and STU crypto changes.

11. Micromanagement. As a new officer, it is common to want to be involved in everything going on in your HET or platoon. Be careful not to “over-supervise.” Let your SNCOs do their job and report back to you.

12. First Impression.
a. Of Marines. There’s an old saying that “You can never give another first impression.”

Based on this, the points outlined in Chapter Two Protocol are very important. As a leader, you will quickly become an expert in judging Marines by first impressions (which may not always be correct, but are often an indicator). “Looking over” a Marine upon introduction is automatic, and it’s not always during the first meeting.

Some things that are automatically looked at by many officers are haircut, uniform, wear of cover (garrison cover perched on top of head), closeness of shave, chest hair protruding from top of t-shirt, nose hair hanging over the top lip, ear hair able to be braided, nasty loose white t-shirt in Service C’s, cockiness of a Marine (most often unwarranted—the good Marines don’t need to be cocky), overly familiar (Hey, Sir, How’s it going?), etc. You’ll quickly become a great judge, and need to correct things on the spot.

These same things which you recognize are recognized by seniors who believe that these Marines are a direct representation of their leader—you.

b. Of Yourself. The first impression, and continuous impression, you give of yourself is equally important. Cockiness in brand-new WOs and 2ndLt’s is wrong. Some Marines like to say this is “confidence” but it’s not—it’s cockiness. As a WO or 2ndLt, you may have plenty of deployed time in your prior life, but you have not led Marines as an officer, and been held accountable for all of your and all of your Marines’ actions. It’s a bit different making a deployment as a Sergeant than as an officer—so therefore you should have no reason to be too “confident.” Most CWOs will tell you the same thing. Remember, just as there have been Lt’s relieved and replaced during deployments, there have also been WOs that couldn’t handle it.

13. Good Enough. Don’t try to add your two cents to every product or report that a subordinate gives you. Is it “good enough?” Then let it fly. Subordinates will first probably be amazed, but will later try to add more of their own thoughts in their writing, which will pay dividends in the long run.

14. Credit claiming. When a subordinate of yours prepares a product or report, which you pass to higher headquarters, it’s good to use “we produced this” until you find out if they liked it. If kudos are deserved, point out exactly who did the work, if it doesn’t meet the mark, say “I’ll get it fixed.” Never, repeat never, pass blame onto subordinates.

15. Shaving. A small note to remind all that morning PT is a military formation (whether or not you cover and align), and therefore all Marines need to be shaved. The “I get bumps if I shave and then sweat” routine is a no-fly zone. If that is the case, Marines can shave at midnight, and then come to morning PT with a shave that’s only six hours old. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until the BnCmdr, BnSgtMaj, or someone else decides to join you for PT and sees all the furryfaces.


1. Reporting in. Report in to the unit identified in your orders, i.e. Intelligence Bn (not CI/HUMINT Company), or the MEF (not MEF G-2). While 0210s will always be assigned to the CI/HUMINT Co or G-2 CIHO, this is not the case with 0204s. Meet with Bn XO or Deputy G-2 to arrange for an in-call with Bn CO or G-2. I know of an instance where a Bn XO saw two officers walking down the passageway and then found out they had been on-deck for two weeks…


2. First names. Although it is common for WO/CWOs and Lt’s to use first names, remember that this may strain a work relationship in later years as 0204s make Captain. Obviously, this will not be a problem with professionals, but sometimes it will happen. Similarly, newly promoted WOs may find their former peers “slipping” and using first or nicknames in the workplace.

3. E-mails.

a. E-mails are usually signed with r/s (respectfully submitted) if it’s a report of some sort, v/r (very respectfully) if it’s to a senior officer, and s/f (Semper Fidelis) if it’s to peers or juniors.

b. Remember that e-mails have a habit of going FAR beyond your intended audience. Never write anything in an e-mail that you would not want the BnCmdr to read.

c. Definitely no passing of pornography. One of the MEF’s had 26 officers, yes officers, being investigated for forwarding and downloading pornography.

d. Senior officers often sign their e-mails with their initials (NWD) or a callsign/nickname. This does NOT mean you have the go-ahead to call them that. It’s still Sir, Ma’am, or rank. Stick with signing yours with your name and rank to anyone but your peers.

You’ll know when to switch to initials in a few years.

4. Punctuality. Use the old phrase “If you’re on time, you’re 15 minutes late.” Plan for the unexpected, and get there early. You are tagged as a dirtbag if you come in late to meetings held by a senior officer more than once (once is too many times). For meetings you are holding, show up at the time you designated, and if someone comes in late, turn to your SNCO and tell him to “take care of that” in front of the room. It usually won’t happen again.

5. Answering the Phone. Answer the phone with your unit name, your rank, and last name. Some people add on the “May I help you Sir or Ma’am.” Unit, rank, name, are usually sufficient unless your C.O. wants more. Hearing an officer say “May I help you Sir or Ma’am” was always good for a chuckle when I was enlisted, so I never did it as an officer. See how your boss does it and do the same.

6. Cellular Phones. When in a meeting, briefing, or any important event, remember to turn your cell phone off. Nothing is more embarrassing to you, and insulting to seniors, than a phone ringing. During classified briefings, turn your phone off and remove the battery. Many places have signs posted to remove the battery. Ask your TSCM Marines why.

7. Speak on Feet. Junior Marines should not speak to senior Marines while sitting down, unless told to by the senior. This goes for any rank. Watch the BnCmdr stand when the MEF G-2 walks in and begins speaking. So should a Sergeant stand when the Staff Sergeant asks him a question. In close quarters and frequent contact, this may not be feasible, but the rule of thumb is to stand for seniors.

8. Miscellaneous.

a. “El-Tee.” This is an Army term, and not something we use in the Corps. Sometimes NCOs watch reruns of “Tour of Duty” and want to try that on Marine Lieutenants. No go.

b. “Gunner.” (Just like “mustang” or “skipper.” Other people call you that, you don’t address yourself as that.)


1. Administration. One of the key aspects of your job. We all thought becoming a CI or HUMINT Officer would be deploying all the time and seeing foreign shores, but you must remember at all times, even when deployed, that you probably have some paperwork to do. Whether it is a letter of recommendation that one of your Marines has asked for, a request for a Sergeant to move out of the barracks, a remedial promotion package, fitness reports, or even a MECEP package, the paperwork takes time and needs your full attention. Shooting, moving and communicating is the easy part…

2. Official Correspondence. The first few times you write official correspondence or do endorsements, break out the manual and see how to do it correctly. If you don’t know how to find it, call the Bn Admin Clerk and he/she will tell you.

a. For Lieutenants, use 2nd or 1stLt, not Lt. It’s not like e-mails where you can see from the e-mail the true rank. There is no rank of just Lt.

b. BLUF. In official correspondence, use the “Bottom Line Up Front” style. The first paragraph should be short and concise, such as: “Sergeant X is enthusiastically recommended for promotion to Staff Sergeant” or “Due to direct support of combat operations with 22d MEU (SOC) the Intelligence Battalion detachment requests simultaneous issue of M9s and M16s for the 6-Marine HUMINT Exploitation Team (HET), in order to maximize personal protection.”

c. When signing it, put your first two initials and last name, in ALL CAPS, with the first initial directly centered on the paper four lines down from the last line of text. Sounds easy, but that is a mistake that is often made. Remember, if you’re in a billet, like Commanding Officer or Officer-in-Charge, there is nowhere on the paper that will have your rank, which is a good thing if you’re a 1stLt CO, or a WO OIC (titles of CO and OIC are usually assumed to be Captains, so this may work to your advantage when writing correspondence). Read the manual, and when you have a few others that are good, just use them as the shell every time. However, never take for granted that the last guy was doing it correctly.

d. When writing correspondence that is going higher than Battalion, it is easier and faster to write it for the BnCmdr’s signature, not yours or the Company Commander. This way, it packs the power of a LtCol BnCmdr on the main page, and doesn’t have two endorsements on top of the “meant” of the request. Clear this with your Company Commander.

e. When providing correspondence to a senior officer, it is professional to provide it in a brown folder, paper-clipped to the right side. If you are returning it with corrections made, put the original copy (with editing marks and comments) on the left side, and the corrected one on the right.

3. Fitness Reports.

a. Your FITREP. When filling a new billet, you should always get a copy of your billet description. Unfortunately, most senior officers do not conduct initial performance counseling on junior officers. They expect you to know the basics of leadership and responsibility, and if you do something wrong, they’ll let you know. There should be a copy of your billet description in your Desktop Procedures, or you can get a copy from your predecessor, or your Reporting Senior (RS).

(1) Fitrep Rough. Know when your next fitness report is due. Half-way to this time, you can even ask your RS if there is anything you need to work on. While often you’ll be told that “if you were doing something wrong, I would have told you,” sometimes, you’ll receive some constructive advice on the impressions the RS has of your performance and ways to improve or keep doing what you’re doing. Approximately 15 days before the due date of the fitness report (or altered around the RS or Reviewing Officer’s (RO’s) leave/TAD schedule), provide the RS with your “rough” fitness report. Provide your Section A (Administrative Information) and Section B (Billet Description) already completed in the PES program. On a separate sheet of paper and a computer file have a list of your Section C information (Major Accomplishments) and Section I (Directed and Additional Comments) information.

(2) FITREP Information. Provide your RS with more billet accomplishments that can fit in a Section C, but only by a few bullets. This will require the RS to prioritize your accomplishments and in fact remember how well you did at each. Quantify wherever possible: “coordinated deployment of 26 Marines on 6 overseas deployments;” “assigned as Responsible Officer for over 6,500 end-items valued at over $4 million dollars;” “trained and led 53 Marines through 4 tactical training evolutions.” For the Section I, only include information regarding Directed Comments (under 89 days, receipt of awards, combat FITREP, etc.)

b. Writing FITREP’s. Know approximately when the next reporting period is for each of your Marines (upcoming TAD, PCS, annual). Know when the next promotion board is for your Marines, and whether or not they will have a current fitness report for the promotion board to see, even when TAD. While TAD, annual fitness reports are not required. However, if a Marine is performing well but this performance will not be known to the promotion board, I’ve heard of officers that wrote change of reporting senior fitness reports (CH), transferring observation duties to the MEU S2 or another officer, in order to write a combat fitrep that the promotion board would see.

c. Your Reviewing Officer (RO). Prior to submitting a report to the RO, you need to make sure you read the entire manual. Ask the RO what he expects from you, as often they will ask for recommended comments (since they may not know the Marine very well). As for their expectations of your writing. i.e. use quantitative comments, make a “this Marine is in the top xx percentile” comment, etc.

d. You, The Reviewing Officer. Don’t try to make grandiose comments as a new officer. Stick with the quantitative basics and maybe make a recommendation for future assignment:

– SSgt Smith has performed in an exemplary manner.
– His knowledge and experience were critical to the development of a training scenario with the II MEF Alert Contingency MAGTF.
– His leadership of subordinate Marines during several tactical training exercises was outstanding.
– MRO is ranked 2 of 17 Staff Sergeants in this company.
– MRO is enthusiastically recommended for promotion and assignment the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center as an instructor.

e. Accelerated. Accelerated fitness reports should be written for Marines that are ready now, for promotion to the next higher rank. Many Reporting Seniors and Reviewing Officers “rubber stamp” a statement that the Marine Reported On (MRO) will “make an outstanding ___ Sergeant” on every fitness report. While this statement looks great to the Marine, it actually does little to have the Marine promoted above his peers–an accelerated fitness report does. For Marines that are not in the Eligibility Zone, this will ensure that their promotion package is briefed to the board as part of the Eligibility Zone. For Marines in the Promotion or Above Zones, it drives home the fact that the MRO should be promoted above his peers (this is not in the manual). Specific writing guidelines are in the Performance Evaluation System (PES) Manual.

(*Note 1: Within each company, there should be a few Marines that are ready for promotion to the next higher grade. Let them know it by using the accelerated fitness report.
**Note 2: Warrant Officers and 2ndLt’s should try to get more experienced officers to write the report if possible, as it may carry a bit more weight than someone that has only been an officer a short time, i.e. CWO3/Capt RS and Capt/LtCol RO.
***Note 3: Ensure that the RO agrees with this recommendation so that the RO Comments support the request.)

f. Raters Profile. The Rater’s Profile of a Reporting Senior is extremely important to the accurate rating of Marines. From the FIRST report you write for each rank, you need to keep track of the relative value (point value) of each report. Years from now you will not remember exactly what you rated a Marine, but all new reports affect your overall average, and will change the standing of all Marines you have ever written on. Many officers use an Excel spreadsheet to track the point value, but it can be as easy as a handwritten list that you keep;

(1) Relative (point) Value. Take each square block on a report from A to H and give it an ascending point value: A=1, B=2, C=3, etc. Add the numbers of observed areas and divide by the total number of observed areas. This will give you the point value of that report.

Example: Staff Sergeants
Smith, A.A 2.59
Jones, B.A. 2.69
Allen, C.A. 3.12
Williams, A. 3.12
Rupert, M.A. 4.00

(2) Based on these five reports, your “average” is 3.104. The next time you write a report on a Marine of the same grade, mark the entire report, ensuring each block is the fair assessment of the Marine. Then, get the point value of that report and see where he falls in the list of your previous FITREP’s. If you give Sgt Peters a 3.50, but he really didn’t do a better job than Allen or Williams, you may want to rethink your marks and maybe move some marks to ensure he is below Williams and Allen.

(3) This is the artificiality of the Performance Evaluation System that some people complain about. If you’re inflating or deflating a Marine based on a Rater’s Profile, it doesn’t actually show the true performance of that Marine during that reporting period.

g. Miscellaneous. Ensure you have a list of all 0211 & 0210 duty stations, and what rank can go there. Often NCOs write on their FITREP SOUTHCOM, NCIS Yokosuka, or Department of State, and these are officer billets.

4. Awards and Recognition. Awards are important for the recognition of a Marines’ superior performance over either a short or sustained period of time. As Napoleon said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” No one likes a “ribbon hunter,” but it is human nature to enjoy being recognized for outstanding work. However, there are other ways to recognize Marines other than, or in addition to, personal awards.

a. Personal Awards.
(1) Impact. The rule of thumb on an impact award is that it should be for a specific action over a short period of time, usually up to 120 days.

(2) “End-of-Tour.” An “end-of-tour” award is not an official award period in the Marine Corps, but it is the best time to recognize a Marine’s actions

(3) “Retirement.” There is actually no such thing as a retirement award, even though on the electronic 1650 there is a block to check for retirement. An award given at a Marine’s retirement is to cover only the period of duty at that duty station. However, the last line in the award citation should begin with something like “His superlative achievements culminated a distinguished career of more than twenty years of loyal and faithful service to his country…” In the summary of action you can get away with adding a paragraph at the end summarizing military operations, B-Billets, key billets, etc.

(4) Miscellaneous Thoughts.

a. Do not give an award just because someone is leaving. Think about whether you would feel right giving the award tomorrow, in front of his peers. Did he really deserve it? Did his peers see or experience his efforts?

b. For Senior SNCOs and CWOs, do you really want to recognize his performance with a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NMCAM) or even a Commendation Medal (NMCCM) for a short period of time? Maybe he already has three of each. Maybe you want to keep all the information in a letter of continuity and submit the Marine for a Commendation or Meritorious Service Medal when he PCS’s.

(Remember—once a Marine is given an award for a specific period of time, you cannot mention any of that service in another award).

Sidebar Sea Story: I had a CWO that I could not get a Meritorious Service Medal for when he retired, because he had done too good a job on deployments. During two different deployments, he was given a Commendation Medals (Joint and Navy/Marine Corps), his third or fourth of each, which left me nothing to write-up for his retirement MSM. I was able to get a Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, which is not a very good award for a 22-year Chief Warrant Officer.

This happened to another CWO, but I noticed that he didn’t have a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal after his 20 years–many other awards, but not a NMCAM. So, I wrote him up for an impact NMCAM for his great work in updating MEU(SOC) training and gave him that at his retirement. He didn’t want a fourth award NMCCM just for retiring, but to recognize a specific event where he made a difference was very important to him.

c. Professional Awards. Professional Awards are not something you can wear on your chest, but is a great recognition program. There are several different awards and I won’t attempt to outline each and every one, but below I’ve listed a few. Just watch message traffic for information on submission times:

(1) Department of Defense Counterintelligence Awards.
(2) Marine Corps Intelligence Association (MCIA) Incorporated Awards.
(3) Department of Defense Force Protection Awards.
(4) Marine Corps Counterintelligence Association (MCCIA) Superior Achievement Award.
(5) National Military Intelligence Association NCO/SNCO/Officer of the Year.

d. Letters of Continuity. A Letter of Continuity (LOC) outlines specific accomplishments of a Marine during a period of time where he is not being recognized for an award for whatever reason. The format is usually in regular Naval Letter Format, with the paragraphs written like a summary of action, so that the new Reporting Senior can cut and paste them into the online awards system. Examples of occasions for an LOC would be:

(1) You are a Platoon Commander PCSing to your next duty station. Write up LOCs on those Marines you believe deserve recognition, and provide copies to your replacement and the C.O.

(2) You are a HET Cmdr and the MEU does not support you putting in your Marines for awards for some reason. Write LOCs and provide them to the Platoon Commanders upon your return.

(3) You deploy on an exercise where your Marines did a great job. Write LOCs for the strong performers for possible inclusion in an award when the PCS.

d. Miscellaneous. There are several awards that I don’t have my references for right here, but you can do Google-searches or look at DOD 1348-33.M the DOD awards order. If you have government civilians working for you overseas, there is an Armed Forces Civilian Service Medal that can be awarded anytime there is award of the Armed Forces Service Medal. There is a vast array of awards out there, and there are many different ways to recognize deserving people; you just have to decide that if someone truly deserves recognition, you will find the best way to do it.

A couple of examples are:
(1) A German Navy Lieutenant in Bosnia worked tireless hours throughout his six-month tour with NATO and I knew that there was no way we could get him a US award. I researched with the German contingent that what is better than medals in the German military is a personally written letter from the unit commander back to the Chief of the German Military Intelligence. Problem solved—person recognized.

(2) The Armed Forces Civilian Service Medal does not come with a formal citation. Additionally, after 1998, it was not rated by civilians in Bosnia. To award our civilians something (it’s not like they’ll wear it), we created a PowerPoint certificate, had a US General sign it, and presented it to them. No harm, no foul.

(3) To recognize people at Defense Intelligence Agency, US European Command, Marine Forces Europe, and other organizations, we created a PowerPoint Certificate of Commendation, which the Battalion Commander signed in Bosnia. It doesn’t matter if it looks less than professionally made, any recognition is inserted into military records and civilian personnel files, and referred to in their fitness reports or equivalent rating form.

(4) In Afghanistan, we did the same thing for the Ambassador’s signature. If you present a Certificate of Commendation to someone in another service, they will do you favors for life, it seems.

***NOTE*** For Marines, any Certificate of Appreciation/Commendation or Letter of Appreciation makes a fitness report commendatory and requires a directed comment explaining it.

5. Letters of Recommendation. Often times, Marines ask for Letters of Recommendation (LOR) for promotion boards or civilian education programs, i.e. enrollment in a Master’s Degree program. For this, I will focus on promotion boards. This is a time when you have to exercise your moral courage as an officer. If a Marine is not ready for promotion to the next rank, or selection to Warrant Officer, you need to tell him that he is not ready, and you couldn’t, in good conscience, recommend him to lead more Marines than he currently has. Use standard Naval Letter format, and follow a few simple guidelines:

a. Use the Bottom Line Up Front strategy: “Staff Sergeant Smith has my most enthusiastic recommendation for promotion to Gunnery Sergeant.”
b. No more than one page. More than that is too wordy.
c. Leadership & MOS Credibility. In the next few paragraphs, cite where the Marine performed extremely well in his MOS and as a leader. You need to mention instances of both. Also include any instances of high-stress performance, i.e. combat, high-terrorist threat, filling billet of senior Marine.
d. Comparative Assessment. Use a comparative assessment to “rack and stack” this Marine against his peers. You can even include “all Staff and Gunnery Sergeants” or “all NCOs.”
e. Point of Contact. Although I have never heard of anyone being called, it is good to put your contact information in the last paragraph. This shows the promotion board that you are completely confident that this Marine should be promoted, and you are willing to further flesh out any questions they have, if need be.

6. Endorsements. Endorsements are done only by the Commanding Officer, not Platoon Commanders or HET Commanders. The format is exactly the same and the letter of recommendation, except that you use the Naval Letter Format for the first endorsement.

7. Language Testing and Pay. All linguists should be tested annually and maintain all language skills taught them by the Marine Corps. Russian linguists sent to Serbo-Croatian training should have to continue that training. Same for Spanish training at DLI-East. Pay. For low-density languages that have no Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT), contact the Foreign Language Officer at HQMC to arrange for an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI—a.k.a. Over the Phone Interview). I don’t believe the current order covers this, but makes sense to maintain any skills you were given.


1. Figuring out what training you and your men need prior to a deployment, can be very difficult. Make Marines returning from deployment brief your platoon and give their “lessons learned.” What training did they wish they had? Think back to your time at TBS, and all the training you received. Most of your Marines have never done anything like that. Use your classes from TBS as a starting point. Wargame, wargame, wargame, to figure out what may happen to you and your men in a foreign country. Here are a few things that many people don’t think of or they put in the “too hard to do in garrison” category:

2. Vehicles.

a. HMMWV. Officers and Marines that have never driven a HMMWV need to get an orientation on them. During a training evolution in an LZ, it is possible to do a little drive around the perimeter, use the lights, etc., but stay off the roads so that you stay out of trouble. Make sure that the senior officer in the training area knows what is happening and assumes responsibility, in order to protect the Marines. ** Officers and SNCOs in the Marine Corps are not allowed to attend formal HMMWV driving school without permission of the CG. 2d Intel Bn has that permission, unsure on others.

b. HMMWV Night driving. Most Marines have never driven at night with black-out lights and are unfamiliar with the “two lights is close enough, one light is too far” routine. (I think that’s right…)

c. Maintenance. Ensure everyone knows and does vehicle maintenance. Know how to mount and detach the pioneer kit, use tow wars, and maybe even snow chains.

d. POV Manual Transmission. Many Marines do not know how to drive a manual transmission, which is a good thing to know. Many countries do not have automatic transmissions. In Bosnia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Afghanistan, the Marines drove civilian vehicles.

3. Weapons.

a. AK-47. This is usually the most difficult. Check with SOTG, Force Recon, and EOD Platoon to see who has them. Even if you can’t fire them, you can get orientation on them. These are the most preferred weapon of our enemy, so it may be nice to know how to use one. If you find a local shooting range with one out in town, try to see if unit funds will pay for orientation firing. Never hurts to ask.

b. Shotgun. Usually there are a few in the MHG armories that you can take on a deployment if you desire (in case they’re out of M-16s, which is quite common). Qualification is quick and easy, and you can usually piggy back on a unit that is doing it (SOTG, 4th MEB, FAST Co.).

c. Others. M09, M-203, SAW. Remember, you received this training in TBS, but most NCOs have not. Everyone should be qualified with the M-9.

4. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). During MOUT operations you will be in cities surrounded by people. Any of them can place an IED under your car without you knowing it. If you ever have to leave your vehicle unsecured, you should know what to look for when you return and search underneath. EOD can provide this training and run you through a course in the woods on booby traps. Real good training.

**Remember to always keep your vehicle dusty, so that maybe there will be a smear if someone touches it. Not caked on dirt which won’t smear, but clean with a good layer of dust. This will also cause anything clean under the car body to really stand out.

5. Urban Patrolling. Sounds basic to you, but most CI Marines that were not 03xx prior to lateral move, have never walked the streets of Combat Town. They don’t know about covering the front, up, across the street, and rear. Teach them, so that if they have to accompany an infantry unit, they’re not a hindrance to the operation.

6. Media Awareness. I’ve been to a few classes on Media Awareness, and they were very good. Prior to any training off base, think about your media plan. What is your story? Will the MEF Public Affairs Officer know what is going on if he is contacted by the local media? There was an incident a few years ago where Marines were out-of-state training and when the Sergeant was asked by a senior officer what he was doing there, he replied “training.” “Training in what?” “Just training.” Seems a bit suspicious. Luckily it wasn’t the Washington Post asking. There needs to be an entire media plan, approved by Battalion and the MEF Public Affairs Office, and a member of the training team (usually the senior officer) identified to handle any media queries.

7. Siprnet. Force your Marines to be familiar with the Siprnet and know which sites are best. **Also, there are some good sites for on-line training which you can take. PACOM and JFCOM have some links on their pages to these. WO Forgash & I took a few in Kabul during slow times and some were pretty informative. You can print of a completion certificate as well and document completion on your FITREP’s.

8. IIRs. Remember that these may be read by someone that started at DIA yesterday. Explain things, give some background, and eliminate the Marine terminology. Make sure the numbering is correct per MEF Orders. My HET wrote a lot of IIRs in Afghanistan and the numbering system was all wrong and it was a pain to reconcile.

9. IIR DIAM. Officers for damn-sure need to know this book, especially where to find things, so that you can quickly find answers to questions. When you proofread an IIR, you need to go line-by-line and check it with the manual. You’d be surprised the mistakes you find. I’ve proofed hundreds of IIRs, and unless I absolutely know that the person who gave it to me went line-byline, I do it myself. Sometimes, I do it anyway, just to check on them and to relearn it myself.

10. Security Classifications. What are the different classifications (X1,X2) and when do you use them? Don’t just use the ones that were there from the last report you wrote.

11. Fitness Reports. Marines should know the Performance Evaluation System almost as well as the Officers. That means a class needs to be given by the Reporting Senior (you) to your Marines.

12. NCO/SNCO Academy. Not optional. While the Marine often argues that “it’s not required” or “I did the non-resident course,” the key is that these courses really help the Marine. If he’s going to be leading your Marines, you want him as best trained as possible. Send him.

13. Promotion Preparation. Although all of this information is on the WWW.USMC.MIL website, a few times a year, usually before the SSgt and GySgt promotion boards, a class needs to be given on preparing for promotion. Believe this or not, there are a few Marines out there who do not realize they have to send in a picture to the promotion board, even after it has been told to them time and again. Usually, I let these Marines get passed for promotion, and then refuse to let them submit a remedial promotion package, unless there were extenuating circumstances.

I really don’t want these bags promoted. But, there are a few young Marines, that due to their fast promotion to Sgt/SSgt and lack of knowledgeable senior SNCOs, really don’t understand the requirements. So, you need to ensure a class is given covering at least the following (this class should be given by the Company Chief or another senior SNCO):

a. Ordering, reading, and updating the Master Brief Sheet and Official Military Personnel File (details in the PES Manual)

b. Reading and updating Basic Individual Record and Basic Training Record (BIR/BTR) through CONAD. Ensure correctness of Date of Rank, Armed Forces Active Duty Base Date, PFT, Rifle, Education (off-duty and official), any languages, degrees, awards, etc. This should be a detailed annual audit like CONAD does, but every Marine should be doing their own as well.

c. Providing additional information to the promotion board. How to submit the information, the format, and what to submit.

d. Requesting letters of recommendation from officers and/or SNCOs and submission. Never submit more than three. Officers/SNCOs should have had close observation of the Marine and his potential. ** Word from the wise—request letters of recommendation from five or six people. Chances are, a few will be late and a few will be terribly written. The Marine should pick the best three for submission. The people who wrote them send them to the Marine, not the promotion board, so they won’t know they weren’t used. Another bonus is that the writer always writes glorifying things and maybe they’ll even believe it one day.

14. Officer and SNCO Training. Some training should be focused on SNCOs and Officers only for a few reasons: 1) it may be a bit more complex and senior Marines will get more out of the training (like J2X Ops and JCISO Courses, which are a bit much for Sergeants) and 2) it separates the SNCOs from the junior Marines more. Because of the quick promotions and closeness of the enlisted ranks, anything you can do to drive home that SNCOs have greater responsibilities should be done. Some training possibilities are:

a. Staff Counterintelligence. Request the MEF and MarFor CIHO to give PMEs on the duties and responsibilities of each billet. If possible, try to augment their staff during exercises or for specific projects.

b. Collection Management. The MEF Collections Manager is resident within each Intelligence Battalion. Request an overview on Collections Management, with emphasis on HUMINT Collections Management, the validation of PIRs, and how they are broken down all the way to SORs (Specific Operational Requirements).


1. One of the garrison missions of counterintelligence is to train and prepare for war (of course, the most important). Pre-deployment preparation is critical to successful operations overseas. When at your unit, look at the current deployments and possible deployments in your area of operational responsibility (AOR). Based on both of these, ensure that regular intelligence briefs are provided to your Marines, either by them, or from the AFP or other analysts. Even MCIA can be requested, although that needs to be a Battalion-sponsored event. There are several key areas, in addition to the training portion of this handbook, which can help as well.

2. Cultural Knowledge. Knowledge of the people and conflict can not be overstated. If you have a short-notice deployment, ask someone to download internet information for you to read, and buy a book or two to read on the trip overseas. Understand the history of the conflict, the relationship between ethnic, religious, and tribal groups. Know the importance of the regional geography and which groups holds the key terrain. Look for friction points that can be exploited between groups (you want to find a reason one group will inform on the other). I lost a Contact for five months because I went in for a meeting and wanted him to tell me about the situation in his town following the Bosnian Civil War. He was insulted that I had not done my research prior to my arrival, and sent me packing.

3. Wargaming. Wargaming is one of the lesser-utilized pre-deployment preparations, and can be done formally or informally, alone or with other Marines. The key is to identify a possible deployment location and start thinking through different aspects of the deployment.

a. Prior to Warning Order. Time is very precious once you actually receive a warning order to deploy, so have as much administrative work done early. Using pre-deployment checklists is a great tool. Think about the following: Are wills and powers of attorney completed? Are all family plans ready for implementation? Are vehicles ready? Does everyone have HMMWV licenses? What are Visa Card limits set at? Do we have international driver’s licenses (some of these are country/region specific and expire in 12 months, need to look into)? Are the computers loaded with essential report shells and country-specific information files? Are these files copied on CD’s as well?

b. Receipt of Warning Order. Who am I supporting? What will the command relationship be? Direct or general support? Unit or area assignment? What does the supported unit owe me and vice versa? Who is in the CI/HUMINT reporting chain that I can speak to if I am being misused? How are reports sent and to whom?

c. Initial entry in-country. What is first step? Run out and begin liaison? No. Ensure S-2/S-3 have run-down of your intentions. Conduct liaison with allies already on the ground. Find out about possible Quick Reaction Force. Establish and test communications. Conduct map recon of area and look for possible no-comm areas, high-threat areas, etc. Speak to local workers or interpreters to get run-down of current situation. Develop initial 5-paragraph order to move into hostile areas. Once situation develops, expand liaison ops to host nation personnel and begin CFSO. Do you want to speak to local police or refugees? Who will be best? What is priority of collection effort? Is there a TFCICA? What leads does he have?

d. Conduct of operations. Think about everything that could possibly go wrong, and ensure you prepare for that. Several possibilities are noted in the Conduct of Operations Chapter.

e. Detachment OIC. Are you appointed Detachment OIC? Were you formally appointed? If so, did you receive NJP authority? If not, an officer of an attached unit may be disciplining your Marines. If they mess up, it’s best that you do the disciplining. (Receiving NJP authority will require some looking into for the details.) As a community, we have a reputation for avoiding these roles or not giving them sufficient attention when appointed. Do your Marines the justice of providing meaningful service, to include your 02xx Marines. Seek out the Bn S-3 or XO and request them to provide formal appointment and adequate guidance.

4. Garrison Files. You never really need something until you need it bad, and usually you know you had it at one time or another. That has been my experience on more than one occasion, usually when looking at something like a possible NEO site and knowing that a CI Marine had been in that country in the last 12 months and we should have tourist maps somewhere—but we didn’t. Think about all the knowledge of countries your unit has as a whole and how to capture some of it:

a. NIMA Maps. Look at the potential hotspots in your AO and try to get several large and small-scale maps of the area. If you cannot find maps at the MEF, put in a request through Intel Bn for Topo to print off large-scale maps on their plotter. You can justify the expense by using these for an in-house exercise on a NEO, using the DIA’s NEO Intelligence Support Handbook to identify the assembly areas around the embassy, and counterintelligence concerns. (You can also check the unclass message traffic for country clearance messages and ask the travelers to bring you back some of the free maps).

b. Tourist Maps. When your Marines go deploy or go TAD to conduct TVAs, to do ICLPTs, exercises, or MEU Operations, ensure they bring maps back. Get approval for E&EE funds, authorize map purchases on their orders, or just have them get the free ones from car rental agencies or hotels. Keep these maps in one location, filed with other miscellaneous information (see below). If a MEU is looking hard at this location, you can even scan the maps and e-mail them. **Note** you may want to contact the MCIA Operations Section to see if they have or want copies of your maps, as well.

c. After Action Reports. Dependent on the unit, these reports are either utilized or not. Some units these have fallen by the wayside, and are therefore cannot be used for planning prior on recurring deployments like Bahrain, Norway, Greece/Turkey, UNITAS, or CARAT. Additionally, as I mention in the Company Commander Chapter, identifying key good and bad experiences for MCIA, DLI, MarCorSysCom, and NMINTC is not properly documented and disseminated for their files and future action.

d. Memorandums For Record. These are good formats to write up anything that you want a record of. I’ve written MFRs when a Commanding Officer did not take my recommendations to change the force protection posture, when an S-2 changed my recommendations before providing to the CO, when conducting host-nation liaison but received nothing reportable by other means, and when I’ve noticed suspicious activity, but couldn’t nail down anything concrete for reporting.

Keep everything and you may even note who else was present.

e. Contact Roster for AO. Make a list of all your US, Foreign, and Host-nation contacts in each country, along with who has met them, and for what. You can use this if you have to contact them. It’s always nice to know who they’ve spoken to in the past and about what.

f. Miscellaneous Reports. There are plenty of reports located on the Siprnet that you can find if you look for them. Look for Threat Vulnerability Assessments, Trip Reports, NCIS and OSI reports, Defense Attaché IIRs and even SODARS (Special Operations Retrieval and Dissemination System).

g. Backups. Remember for your softcopy files, to back everything up. For key contact rosters and maps, you may want hard-copies.

5. Deployment CD. Cut all pertinent reporting, maps, and report shells to a CD prior to deployment. Bandwidth when deployed is usually so bad that you don’t want to have to download something from the Siprnet unless you have to.

6. Physical Training. Focus your unit physical training not just on PFT preparation, but on combat skills. True, we are not the infantry, but we will be right there with them, doing what they do. Do off-road running, hikes with full gear, wear flak jackets and carry weapons (ID sore spots and gear placement), train in sand, and train for endurance.

7. Courier cards. Courier cards are much misunderstood, and I believe it will be a lot of trouble to figure them out. Marines are supposed to have a security letter signed by the Battalion Security Manager to transport Secret material and below outside secure spaces (although I don’t think I’ve ever seen this done), or put on TAD orders. For TS/SCI information, a courier card produced and signed by the MEF SSO is required.

a. The problem with carrying classified outside of secure installations is when you are in a foreign country. If you are carrying a double-wrapped box of classified information in Saudi Arabia, Japan, or Kuwait, and you are stopped by the police, what happens when they want to search the box? Is your courier card translated into their language? Are you authorized to try and stop them? If you are in Kuwait, in civilian clothes, and armed, are you authorized deadly force?

b. Dependent on what country you will be operating in, how do you handle this? Talk to the SJA for legal guidance and the G2 for intelligence guidance.

8. Carrying of Credentials. There are a few different schools of thought on this.

a. To carry. A few old-timers say that you need to carry them so that you’re comfortable having them and won’t forget them when you’re in a foreign country. Additionally, Marines coming off NCIS billets carry, but are good about not abusing them.

b. Or not to carry. I’m in this category. I have never carried my credentials, in garrison or deployed. In garrison, I have never found the time when a member of NCIS or OSI failed to believe that I was who I said I was. When deployed, the last thing I wanted to be caught with was those credentials.

c. The cowboy option. There are several Marines out there that like the prestige of having the badge, so use the leather case as a wallet. Of course, they’re not “flashing their badge” when they shouldn’t be, they’re just getting out their wallet… My Platoon Sergeant did an annual inventory one time, and this two-pound credentials carrier came out from one of the Sergeants.


1. The key point to remember when overseas is that all operations conducted outside the wire are MILITARY OPERATIONS. That means you need to designate a mission route, identify rally points, talk through or practice immediate action drills, decide whether cover teams or additional security are needed, lay out a communications (especially no-comm) plan, and plan for all worse case scenarios.

2. Planning Scenarios / Checklist. Below are a few scenarios used in Bosnia and Kabul, which may help you develop your own SOPs. They are also good guides to expand training scenarios for possible real situations. Remember, not always are you going to be with your team during operations outside the wire, so both they and you have to know how each other will react to situations.

a. All communications are lost while the team is outside the wire. What do they do, where do they go? You must have multi-layered communications plan. Redundancy, redundancy, redundancy. For example, 1) AN/PRC-119; 2) AN/PRC-104; 3) Iridium cellular phone; 4) courier.

b. The camp is attacked when CI teams are outside the wire. Do they come running back in? Definitely not. They could be fired upon by friendly forces or get in the way of reinforcements. What do they do? How do you communication with your teams if you don’t have a dedicated HET Net? Set up a panel marker within view of the Scout-Snipers?

c. A CI Team is attacked when outside the wire. Where is the closest “safe haven?” What if medical support is needed? This will change several times as you travel. Ensure all are in your pre-mission briefing.

d. Host nation military forces will not let you through roadblocks and attempt to detain. Is deadly force authorized? They attempt to arrest you. Do you release your weapons? Should you already have a “get out of jail free card” signed by host nation government and written in local language? What if you’re carrying classified material? Is deadly force authorized now?

e. A walk-in offers a Stinger missile for sale and wants it picked up at his house. Do you do it? No—possibly a trap. Notify higher and allow G-3 to mount an operation if they want to retrieve it. (The G-3/S-3 relationship must be fostered early-on. They must understand the WIFM “What’s in it for me” concept and know how to correctly employ your assets).

f. One of your teams get a flat tire on the side of a road. Call for security element or conduct self-help? (This will happen. Ensure that your Marines are well-trained in maintenance).

g. A team crosses into another AO and needs assistance. How do they contact closest QRF? Cell phone? VHF? Red Star Cluster? Panel markers?

h. What are visual recognition signals to coalition camps where English is not their primary language and you are not in uniform?

i. Where do you start looking when you lose contact with your teams? How long was it between scheduled check-ins? Was comm check-in by time, distance, or location? ** I’ve used entry and exit of towns/villages for trips less than 30 minutes, entry and exit into comm-blackout areas, before/after specific task, hourly intervals when in static positions, etc. Each situation will dictate, but the key factor is having a radio log which records time, location, and movement intentions.

3. CFSO. I won’t go into detail about the CFSO, as much of the other portions of this chapter fit into it. However, we have to remember that the entire purpose of a CFSO is to obtain early warning of hostile actions against US, Coalition, or Host-nation personnel. So, how do we obtain that information? How does someone you have spoken to contact you at any time? If they come to your camp at 0300, what do they say to the guard? How will they get through checkpoints?

Will the guards know what they are saying? Will the guard know to contact you? What about a visual signal? Will helo pilots or recon patrols recognize it as a signal? Will they know what to do and who to call? These are things that we often forget about during operations. Handwritten notes were used often during OIF, but remember the consequences of someone being caught with it.

4. Rehearsal of Scheduled Meetings. When operating in a MOOTW environment where you will be scheduling and conducting meetings, rehearsal is paramount. Remember that the people you meet are important people in their country, not foreign “hicks” that you can treat poorly. Think about how your actions are perceived by them. Tailor your plan to the audience. Find out what makes him/her “tick.” Genuine interest in their history and culture goes a long way in establishing rapport.

a. Note taking. Should you take overt notes or not? Some Marines will conduct a meeting without taking notes, believing that they don’t want to show that they are reporting the information after the meeting. But think about this. A person, say a mayor, is telling you what is important to him, and you are not taking notes in front of him, just smiling and nodding when he tells you his problems. Pull out a notepad and let him know that you are taking him seriously and his concerns are your concerns. If you’re in a public place, however, maybe you don’t want to overtly take notes. Wait until your team is alone and debrief the entire team, including the interpreter, to chronologically recreate the meeting and make good notes.

b. Questions. Prior to going on a meeting, plan out how you will run the entire thing, from movement to the location, introduction, rapport, transitions, questions regarding PIRs/RFIs, and ensuring you can meet again. ** Remember your classes on cross-cultural communications. In low-context cultures, rapport and initial conversation is critical—don’t be too business-like upfront.

c. Security. What type of security will you employ? Cover teams, direct communication with Quick Reaction Force? Will you leave someone with the vehicle? Alone? What is the signal from the security element to the Operators?

d. Ingress & Egress. What are the routes? Is different possible? Where are the chokepoints along the route? What is the no-communication plan? Where are the rally points? What are your immediate action drills?

5. Liaison. Before conducting liaison even with your own forces, picture how the meeting will go. Put yourself in the other person’s position. Is he a US General meeting with a 2ndLt or Sergeant? How is he going to feel about his importance? Maybe the S-2 should go with you, or you can piggy back with someone else (S-3, Contracting Officer, NCIS), which would allow you to get in a few questions, where normally he would not give you the time of day. Remember that three is a crowd when you meet with anyone, whether in an office or restaurant. Don’t overwhelm them. Does anyone already have established rapport with the person?

6. Interpreters. The use of interpreters is the norm when conducting tactical operations. Very seldom will you have the luxury of speaking to people that speak English. There are usually three sources of interpreters: U.S. Military, U.S. contractor, or local-hire (there have been foreign military interpreters from time to time, but it will depend on their nation whether you treat them more as US Military or local-hires). There are many issues that you will experience with interpreters, so the following is not all-inclusive, by any means.

a. Interpreter classifications. Something to remember when planning deployments is that interpreters come in different categories.

Category I is a local hire foreign national with no security clearance.
Category II is a US Citizen with a Secret Clearance.
Category III is a US Citizen with a Top-Secret clearance. Be realistic with what you request.

As a side note, usually MEU and Bn S-2s, and sometimes MEF CIHOs, maintain a roster of Marines who have not taken a DLPT, but say they speak/read/write a foreign language. Using the MEU for example, the MEU S-2 directs the GCE, ACE, and CSSE S-2s to compile a list of all Marines who say they speak some type of language (usually other than Spanish). The Marine rates it himself as “Native,” “Good,” “Fair,” or “Some,” (or something like this) in each category of reading, writing, and speaking.

These reports are kept in the MEU S-2 along with the Navy’s equivalent report, and can really assist when you need a linguist. Many Marines only speak a language, so do not want to take the test, or maybe just don’t like taking tests. The HET should always remember these lists and prompt the creation of one in every unit they go to.

b. Training of interpreter. Training the interpreter is extremely important. Do some dry runs in garrison or in-country before actually conducting a meeting. The first meeting will develop bad habits if you don’t stop them early. In the schoolhouse, they teach you that the interpreter should translate exactly what is said in the meeting, not interpreting it to “He said” or “He wants to know.” However, some interpreters in very low density languages are not good enough to do that. They have to “give you the gist” of what the other person is saying, and often say “He said.” Try to change it, but be prepared. If you have a good interpreter who is vetted, you can sometimes allow them some “free play” to establish local rapport.

Writing this, I can hear the old-school screaming “NO!” but, they weren’t there in Bosnia when we used 21-year-old female interpreters all the time. The Serbs weren’t going to stand for not speaking to a pretty girl, so we let them, and it softened them up. They liked to brag in front of her.

c. Speaking/Reading/Writing. When you get a new interpreter, ask up front how they would rate their own ability to speak, read, and write. Oftentimes, you might be surprised to find that they don’t read or write, just speak—especially in low-density languages.

d. Unique vocabulary. Having used an interpreter who I found out did not know the difference between platoon, company, battalion, and division, I now give a test to ensure they know specific words that I will be using. This is something that can affect any category of an interpreter. I usually make a list of words that I will be using or expecting to hear, based on the PIRs. Sometimes this will be military information (tank, armored car, machine gun, mortar) and sometimes medical, criminal, or even economic information. Once you have a list of words, have your interpreter put the local-language equivalent and slang (if known) and then have it looked at by a known expert interpreter, maybe one working for DIA.

e. Position of interpreter. Common schools like NMITC and Chicksands teach that the interpreter should be behind the Operators. This ensures the Operator is seen as the important person and that the interpreter is just a tool. However, you may want to think about other ways. In meetings where you go to a person’s house or office, it’s often good to put the interpreter across from you, with the other Operator behind the interpreter. Local contacts will always look at the interpreter when he/she is speaking. That gives you the opportunity to look around the room and pick up clues as to the persons lifestyle, religion, political affiliation, or any other items.

f. Vetting of interpreter. If using a Cat I interpreter (local hire), you may want to bring in a military interpreter to vet him/her during a meeting. Don’t tell the Cat I that the person is an interpreter, just have them accompany you as another operator, observing the meeting. Then, find out if the Cat I is truthful and accurate in their interpretation.

g. Reporting. Following every meeting, discuss what happened during the meeting and recap the information. Even when using a Cat I, ask the interpreter if they sensed anything from the Contact’s mood or behavior. This also serves as a reminder to the interpreter of how the meeting went, and whether or not the interpretation was as accurate as it could have been. Often there are several ways to interpret a foreign language, and the interpreter might, on rethinking things, be able to expand a little bit more on what was said. When using Cat II, Cat III, or military interpreters, have them actually look over the reports to ensure accuracy of the information. Again, this may prompt them with more or slightly different information to improve the accuracy.

7. Reporting. Information that cannot be understood by an analyst or referred back to by your team quickly is no good to you. Usually, this is a result of poor filing or lazy report writing,

a. Contact Reports. These are the most important, yet most underutilized and mis-utilized reports that I have seen. Why underutilized? Because they are for internal use and not for publication like an IIR or CIR. The Contact Report should outline the full mechanics of the meeting from exiting the base to re-entry. Where was the meet, how did you get there, where did you park, where were cover teams deployed, what small talk did you engage in, did the Contact show any emotion (nervous, scared, cocky), what did you notice at the meeting site, how did Contact respond to certain lines of questioning, what did the cover team observe, what was the sentiment of the people on the street, what route was used to return to camp, etc.

Additionally, list the RFIs/PIRs that you attempted to gain information on, whether or not Contact appeared to have information, and most importantly: If you are unable to make the next meeting, what specifically, should the Operators ask the Contact? Give specific instructions on how to handle the meet. Where meet, how establish immediate rapport (is your daughter well?), follow up on last meeting, etc.

b. Intelligence Information Reports (IIRs). Who actually writes the IIRs by turning CIRs into IIRs? The collector on the street, the TFCICA, someone back in garrison? It is different everywhere. In Bosnia the Army writes the IIRs based on coalition reporting or US Army Force Protection Information Reports (FPIRs). In Afghanistan, the TFCICA began releasing the information with their own numbers on them, not giving credit to the collectors doing the work. If you’re not in maneuver warfare, and actually have an office to come back to, why not just write the IIR? Your chain of command will have to decide.

c. Spot Report (SPOTREP). Many units have different criteria for Sport Reportable information. The rule of thumb is usually whether the information could affect US, allied, or host nation lives in the next 24 hours. Any SPOTREP information should first be passed by voice if possible, then by the detailed SPOTREP format. I have received information of impending attack on my location, perfectly written out in the correct format, FOUR hours after the information was obtained. Similarly, after being attacked, you should immediately notify adjacent and higher units in case multiple attacks are planned (this is most important in a MOOTW/defensive position).

d. “Yellow Canaries.” These are the format often used to report SPOTREP type of information and can also be used to quickly report HUMINT SALUTE reports which are usually, but not always SPOT reportable. In combat and other highly fluid environments, your job is to speed up the Intel cycle as much as possible. You will not always have the power, space or time to bust out the computer and punch up a CIR/IIR. HUMINT SALUTE reports fill this need and are easily understandable and recognized by infantry types who use this method as well. Train your Marines to understand and employ these reports, as they will be your primary means during offensive ops. Switch to other reports when you become static or for less time sensitive information.

Do not allow your Marines to put forth a half hearted report just because they are hand writing “yellow canaries”. These reports carry a lot of weight and will probably be the first production the supported element sees from you once engaged. Have your men make several carbon copies and file these in the journal just like other reports. It will be vital to refer to them just as CIR/IIRs will be later in the fight. When planning for deployment take more books of “yellow canaries” than you think you will need, you will not have enough (and they usually somehow get wet). As with other reporting, if you have several layers of command/reporting chains (Battalion, Regiment, Brigade, Division) and are relying on that means for the reporting to make it to the CIHOC, have a backup plan and double check that the reporting is making it as often as possible.

During OIF, 50% of HET reporting from I MEF and TF Tarawa HETs got held up at one of these nodes, especially if it was SALUTE/SPOT reporting, due to bad comms or failure of that node to pass the report via time consuming voice relay. It’s your reporting, make sure it gets where it’s supposed to or you just wasted your Marine’s time, effort and exposure to danger for nothing.

e. Reporting Chain. This is something that will have to be worked out with the supported unit and the Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center (SARC) (if there is one). While in direct support of a unit, all information needs to go immediately to the S-2. During area assignment, the information usually goes right to the SARC. However, some HETs in the direct support role are required to report information simultaneously to both. This can cause circular reporting when the supported unit reports up through their reporting chain and it marries up with information received at higher HQ hours earlier. There must be an established way to identify the information that you are reporting through both channels.

f. Numbering system. Ensure that prior to crossing the line of departure that each element in the chain of command understands and deconflicts the naming conventions for the reports. If using “yellow canaries” and transmitting by voice, ensure that the report numbers is transmitted with the report, so that when the full-text report shows up it is not seen as confirming information. Have a talk with each element in your reporting chain and ensure the Marine doing the relaying understands the importance of not leaving off that information.

8. Dissemination. One of the key points to remember about this job is that information that cannot be reported is no good to anyone. When deployed in your AO, look at the communications systems you have and develop a communications plan for the dissemination of reports, using and prioritizing gall methods. A few to think of, other than the normal Siprnet and secure phone or radio, are:

a. Courier:
(1) Copy reports to a CD, PCMCIA Card, or floppy disk. These are easier to destroy than paper copies. These are better for digital photos or scanned items, as well. Paper is hard to destroy if the courier has to escape and evade. In austere environments, CDs and especially floppy disks are prone to failure. Have a backup plan (reoccurring theme). Also, using weather resistant media like pen drives (small and not easily recognized as a storage device) with high capacities and low failure rate prior to deployment will help in this regard. Unfortunately, communications will fail. Plan on it and be fully prepared to courier reports.

(2) If a member of the team cannot get the reports to higher, think about convoy commanders, helicopter pilots, etc. They can actually frag a helo to come pick up intelligence information.

b. Unclassified means. Remember that the key is getting information passed in a timely manner. Think about cellular phones, unencrypted land lines, even e-mail. Because of this, you should have brevity codes established with higher headquarters prior to your movement forward or outside the wire. Although if you’re being shot at, you don’t need brevity codes since the enemy knows he’s shooting, I have used codes for the following:

(1) Enemy attack return to base.
(2) Enemy attack go to nearest safe haven.
(3) Indirect fire on our position.
(4) Direct fire on our position.
(5) Enemy sighted (numerical designator).
(6) Numerical designators were also assigned to different towns, areas, key terrain.
(7) Shift of numbers and letters “x-many digits up/down, left/right” when passing grid coordinates.

9. Operational Files. Filing your reports sounds like a no-brainer, but you will be surprised at how quickly the number and types of files mount up. Types of reports and files you’ll create or receive are IIRs, CIRs, SpotReps, IntSums, DISums, imagery, map chips, casing reports, RFIs, and any open source research you have conducted. How will these be filed? While the oldschool philosophy is to have a hardcopy dossier, many Marines are finding that this is just not practical when you have a multitude of Contacts. This much paper will not support an effective emergency destruction plan in case you have to displace or escape and evade.

You just don’t have the time to destroy everything. So, most of us keep everything on laptops and conduct daily backups. Do not fall prey to having one “master” computer with all of the information on it and the rest set up as slaves. While your backups should allow any computers to be reloaded with your information, you plan redundancy here just as you do in communications. **Remember that military operations often go on for a long time, so you need to have a good system in place to refer to historical activities (especially when doing a CI review to see if you have a bad guy).

There are several different ways I’ve seen, so here are a few thoughts:

a. The softcopy dossier. Create a folder on the hard drive by the Contact’s number and put all reporting in that directory. It’s a one-shot snapshot that will really help you when you’re preparing for a meeting and need to re-learn everything about this guy before you head out the door (this is where that well-written Contact Report will pay for itself). IIRs, CIRs, BACPs, CRs, BSDs, pictures, and related information can all go in here.

b. I’ve seen folders for all IIRs, all CIRs, and all CRs. You had to go to the CI Journal and find where you had a meeting, then cross reference to the reports made that day, all under different folders, to figure out what all happened. It was terrible.

c. For naming the files of the reports, when I use the softcopy dossier style, I name the files by the date and then the type of report.

2003 07 04 IIR
2003 07 04 CR
2003 07 04 BSD I
2003 07 19 CIR
2003 07 19 CR

What this does is allow you, when using Microsoft Explorer, to sort the files by file name, and they will be sequential. You’ll see the dates of each meeting with the Contact, the reporting results, and then choose which one’s to look at. You can also see when the last time a BSD was updated and know that you need to take another look at that (another lazy item for Marines).

10. Fusion and Analysis.
a. Fusion. Most times when you deploy, you will not have dedicated intelligence analysts to support your collection operations. Therefore, you must be familiar with the other intelligence disciplines—both how they operate and what products may assist you. Working with SIGINT, IMINT, and topographic units are the most common. Ensure you receive briefings from them, even when deployed, to see how they can support your ops, or how you can support there’s. The information from these other disciplines can very much enhance your collection and fill gaps that you may have. NIMA representatives in-country usually have unclassified imagery from open sources, which you can show a Contact. This is often easier when map-tracking for those that cannot (or will not admit it) read a map.

b. Analysis. Along with reporting, you must always remember your responsibilities of conducting CI analysis to further refocus collection efforts. Using the PIRs provided, or established by you in relation to your tactical mission (i.e. secure a town, locate and capture, etc.), you must continually ensure the collection efforts are focused on the satisfying of the mission. Conduct your own grassroots analysis of reporting, and send your Marines back to follow up on any intelligence gaps you may have identified. Use your analysis to verify reports with different sources (vetting), as well. You can also submit requests for information (RFIs) up the chain of command to have other intelligence disciplines verify reporting you have received, in order to vet your information.

c. Grassroots Fusion & Analysis. You will seldom receive timely, if any, feedback from higher unfortunately—especially in maneuver warfare. Therefore, your Marines must be trained to conduct their own grassroots fusion and analysis. Force them to think about the supported unit’s current mission and planned operations (patrol, raid, convoy security) and match the source to the mission’s area of operations. You can refine your collection focus as often as you need to when your mission changes.

11. Support to IPB. CI/HUMINT can support urban IPB really well. Imagery and maps can only go so far in identifying possible avenues of approach and launch/firing positions. CI Marines that can operate in the urban areas are especially effective in playing “red cell” and figuring out where the enemy will attack from. This information can be used to adjust patrol routes, Counterreconnaissance / Countersurveillance efforts, obstacle plans, or even escape and evasion routes.

12. Mission Creep. CI/HUMINT Marines are often known as “fire and forget” NCOs and SNCOs. Because of their maturity and training they can, and often do, things that are not doctrinally CI missions. Examples are Initial Terminal Guidance (ITG) and personal security operations. For ITG, the MEU has only a certain number of people who can go ashore, so everyone has to pull extra duties, just like radio watch. For personal protection, who better top identify potential threats to a principal and someone that has spent some time with the locals and understands the culture more than most. Additionally, having the only interpreters may slow down your mission if the Commander “reprioritizes” things and takes your interpreter. Ensure that the Commander knows the importance of your mission prior to deployment.

These possible mission creeps will prevent you from giving 150 % to the overall CI mission.

13. Safety. Safety seems like a no-brainer, but if you push yourself and your men too hard, mistakes will be made. A few mistakes which I have seen and experienced are:

a. During the packing of HMMWVs for a field exercise, Marines stacked six-cube boxes too high in the back without strapping them in. If the driver were to hit the breaks too hard, the boxes would have surged forward and hit the driver and a-driver.

b. During a MEU TRUEX, it was alleged that the MEU was putting too many requirements on the HET, not allowing them to get any sleep. Therefore, the Marines were driving throughout the city on little-to-no sleep for several days. During my investigation, I found that while the Marines were getting very little sleep, this was caused by poor leadership of the HET OIC and Chief and their delegation of tasks. The Marines will try to do as much as they can, and will not always recognize that they are operating on less than optimal strength. That’s the leader’s responsibility. An officer must be able to identify when they are being over-tasked. Maybe the HET should be augmented by 0211s from the rear? Maybe you can bring out an 0231 to handle source administration?

14. Relaxed Grooming & Civilian Clothing. One of the key things that gives CI/HUMINT Marines the “cowboy” label is the use of civilian clothing and relaxed grooming. Yes, it is sometimes necessary. Remember to refer to the MarAdmin on relaxed grooming. You can get waivers for beards if required.

a. Civilian clothing. In an operational environment, ensure CFSO Umbrella Proposal or CG/Combatant Commander authorizes this (because of Geneva Conventions). If not in an operational environment and just conducting liaison, you will be authorized in your orders. **Make sure this is authorized in your orders, so that you can claim the laundering of your clothes on your travel claim. The overarching intent of civilian clothing is to not readily be identified as U.S. military. In addition, personnel could conduct surveillance detection and Countersurveillance without being readily identified.

b. Grooming. When authorized civilian clothing, relaxed grooming is usually authorized with it, to support the “total package” as it related to Force Protection. Again, the overarching intent is to put a question in the mind of any would-be assailant as to whether the Marines are Americans, ex-patriots (ex-pats), and whether they are military or civilian personnel.

c. The image. Once you’ve decided to do wear civilian clothing and have relaxed grooming, look at the overall image you are displaying to anyone that will be observing you. How do you blend in? What stands out? Do open-source searches for news coming out of the area and see what people are wearing. Should you resemble a European businessman? Tourist? State Department member if going to the embassy? If more than one person traveling what is overall image? Three physically fit men with goatees may stand out.

d. My view. Personally, I never saw a great need for relaxed grooming in most cases. Short hair is very stylish in most places, and if you just keep a very low-regulation, it’s easy to go ashore from a MEU and conduct your business. Many times the relaxed grooming on a MEU will ostracize you from your peers and lend to that “cowboy” persona in the minds of others. I have heard several stories of Marine Officer’s views of CI bubbas, and they usually refer to them wearing goatees and flight suits.

15. Miscellaneous.

a. Sanitizing. Before going outside a secure location, think about what the enemy CI guy will get from you if you are captured. Make a conscious decision as to whether you’re going to carry personal pictures, letters, or even wear wedding rings. Think about what you are writing down during any meetings with local nationals. Will it compromise them? What about your “to do” lists? Are you carrying your team’s family information? Leave what you can behind, especially your credentials, or at least secure them in your team safe. ** NEVER carry PIRs and/or RFIs written down in your green memo books

b. Hand-Held Imagery. Does a north arrow truly show the direction or is an annotated azimuth better? Remember to put yourself in the place of the person seeing the photo for the first
time, or trying to do mission planning from it.

c. Transmission Windows. Are transmission “windows” required if using satellite communications for transmission of images or large files?

d. File Backups. Historically, nearly all computers crash for some reason or another during a deployment, especially in desert environments. Therefore, daily backups of all reports is essential to long-term operations.

e. Emergency Destruction Plan. Is there an Emergency Destruction Plan in case you need to displace? Is it still doable if your headquarters is only minimally manned? Is the plan approved by Higher HQ? The Emergency Destruction Plan is usually a reason for softcopy dossiers, as it is so time-intensive to destroy a lot of paper.

f. Escape & Evasion Pack. You never need an E & E pack until you need one badly. Every AO and mission will require something different, based on the supplies and equipment being used. Any time you are outside a secure compound, you should have one with you. This is something that is often forgot by Marines that “get comfortable” in an AO. I saw it in Bosnia and Afghanistan. From an ambush to a car wreck, you need to be prepared for anything when outside the wire. A few possible items are:

(1) Chow & Water
(2) First Aid Kit (Put together an expanded kit. Not just what you are issued. Get more bandages from the BAS.)
(3) Space blanket or poncho liner (cold weather)
(4) GPS
(5) Compass
(6) Panel Marker
(7) Firefly
(8) Extra batteries (Iridium, camera, radios)
(9) Chemical suit and mask (if necessary)
(10) If operating in civilian clothes, carry a helmet and utility blouse in case you get into trouble and need to identify yourself to friendly forces.


1. Many senior officers say that when assuming a command or new position that there is no way to fix everything the way you want it. The key is to have an idea of what a good unit should look like and if it’s not where you believe it should be, pick three things to focus on and make those your goals. Your time in that position is limited, so try to make a definite difference in those areas. A few examples are:

a. Tactical training. Do all Marines know how to operate in the field? To drive the HMMWV, hook up a trailer, set up camouflage netting, set up and establish all communications systems and transmit reports? Can all Marines use the CIHEP gear and annotate imagery? Can all SNCOs lead teams by themselves, conduct a Threat Vulnerability Assessment (TVA) and brief an infantry officer on the results? Can all of these things be done individually, or are they relying on someone else?

b. Morale. What is the state of morale? Is there confidence in the SNCO and Officer leadership? If not, why? How do you fix? Unit functions, family functions, hail/farewell luncheons? Are Marines proud to receive a going away plaque from the unit or do they just want to leave? Are Marines recognized for their hard work with personal or professional awards?

c. Physical training. What is the state of training in your unit? Can everyone achieve a first class PFT and first class swim qualification? Is everyone Tan Belt qualified?

d. Administration. Is proper administration being conducted? Are Marines receiving TAD orders on time? Are Visa card limits raised prior to TAD, so that Marines are not stuck without funds overseas? Are awards processed in timely manner and for only deserving Marines?

e. Leadership. Are the Officers and SNCOs actually running their platoons, or does everyone naturally go to the Ops Officer, Chief, or Company Commander for the “real deal?” Do SNCOs train their subordinates to replace them? Can every Marine step up and take the place of the next senior person? Even the Chief’s billet?

2. Training Subordinates. As I mentioned above, every Marine needs to be able to handle the duties of the next senior rank or position. One way to work on this, is to allow your Company Chief and PltSgt’s to go on short TADs, so that the next junior Marine has to step up. This is good for morale of Chief and PltSgt’s, just as it’s good to give others an awareness of the more stressful billets.

For the 0204 Lt’s, taking them to the Battalion meetings to sit in, will get them over stage-fright when it’s their turn to go to the meeting in your stead.

3. Training. Most of my lessons learned on training are in the chapters on training and conduct of operations. However, there are a few items that Company Commanders need to think of, or do, to ensure the company training plan is well-written.

a. Tactical. The next time you run a CI Training Exercise (CITEX) or HET Operations Course (HOC), have someone take the Training and Readiness (T&R) Manual and check off which Level 2 training standards are being met. If the training standards are unrealistic, then changes should be made to the T& R Manual. If you’re not training to the standards, then maybe you should add training events.

b. Long-term training.

(1) Language training. Special attention needs to be made to ensure that linguists are given time (and made) to use the language lab or to participate in in-language guided discussions, in order to keep their language skills sharp. Additionally, Marines should conduct In-Country Language Proficiency Training (ICLPT) at least once every 18 months.

There is no better language training than immersion training.

If money is a problem, contact the Defense Attaché Office and see if there is some way they could attach themselves to the DAO, get housing through the embassy, and be able to immerse themselves in the culture and possibly sign up for a local language course.

(2) Advanced Training. When selecting people for advanced training, screen the Marine to ensure that he is a careerist. Marines have attended REDACTED and REDACTED and then left the Corps within a year.

(3) Training of Intelligence Analysts. The integration of the All-Source Fusion Platoon into the HOC would pay long-term dividends. Conduct in-house training for 0231s on link analysis and event matrices. During a HOC, have the HETs transfer information to a CIHOC, who will pass the information to the co-located 0231s, where they will conduct analysis and produce RFIs back to the collectors to obtain follow-up information.


1. Selection to Warrant Officer. Is supposedly the most difficult of the selection processes. Unfortunately, there is no formal school for CI Officers, so you must go from savvy SNCO to experienced WO, all on February 1st. Most senior officers know that there is no miracle on that day, so don’t expect you to be a “true” expert until you are commissioned a CWO-2. Therefore, your beginning as a WO must be spent relearning the publications and orders the MOS uses, understanding E&EE in-depth, legalities of the posse comitatus act, the MOUs with NCIS, and a thousand other small details that an officer should no without having to go look things up each and every time. This is not the time to just be happy about the new rank. Now it is time to earn the rank, and not embarrass yourself, your seniors, or your men.

2. Transition. The transition from enlisted to officer is extremely difficult, although it often appears that it is no problem. If you believe that it’s easy and that anyone can do it, you’re probably doing it wrong. The issues listed in the Protocol chapter are extremely important as Warrant Officers. The first impression that senior officers get of WOs very likely sets the stage for their relationship, whether it be a guarded or trusting relationship. Below are a few things to think about:

a. Don’t wear your old camouflage utilities if there are visible holes in the collar from your enlisted insignia. This states any number of things to people who see it, but mainly it just looks lazy.

b. Do not address yourself as “Gunner.” The first time an infantry officer or SNCO hears that, they may choose to humiliate you on the spot. If your Marines introduce you to someone as “Gunner X,” reintroduce yourself as Warrant Officer X, so that that person does not think you’re calling yourself Gunner.

2. Career progression. For a CWO, this is rather similar to that of SNCOs. The Marine Corps is looking for that mix of operational and staff billets that well-round you as you progress up the food chain. The old rule of thumb of one tour in the operating forces, one tour out, is the best way to go. However, there has not been a CWO passed for promotion since 1997, without violating the UCMJ, so two tours outside of the operating forces probably won’t kill you.

3. Promotion and PME. Promotions in the future will not be as automatic as they have been. In 5-6 years, there will be competition on promotion boards. Just think about the math: more WOs selected now than ever before; most recent WOs have 9-13 years in service; almost all will be competing for CWO-3 before they have 20 years service; there are limited numbers of CWO3 billets. It’s too late to affect your lineal number from how you did in TBS, but you can make yourself as competitive as possible by completing your required PME.

4. College Degree Program. Often referred to as the Degree Completion Program, this will allow you to have up to 18 months to complete a Bachelor’s degree full-time. Don’t think this program is automatic. There is a regulation that states that no more than 10% of a restricted MOS can be in special programs at one time. If there are already a few 0210s finishing their degrees, you may not be selected when you want to be.

5. The Marines. Hopefully, the reason you became a Warrant Officer was to lead CI Marines. Remember that. You cannot do that by staying out of the operating forces. You need to be in the Companies to lead, train, and teach the Marines.


1. Background. Most everyone knows a bit of the history on the creation of the 0203, 0204, 0206, and 0207 MOSs, commonly referred to as the Van Riper Plan. One thing that always upsets 0204s being assigned to the Operating Forces, is when they find out about the two billets for 0204s at the Intelligence Battalion: RFI Manager and Requirements and Disseminations Officer.

Yes, it does seem strange for those two billets to be 0204s, but I recently found out the reason they were created as 0204s and not another officer MOS. When the intelligence community was transferring all of the 0202 and 2602 Lieutenant billets to 0203, 0206, and 0207s, it was obvious where all of these officers would go.

Radio Battalions got the 0206s, the Marine Air Wing got the 0207s, the Marine Divisions got the 0203s, and the Intelligence Battalions got the 0204s. With the philosophy of the Intelligence Community wanting to develop the officer corps and grow their own general officer, there needed to be more 0204s than were possible with only the three platoon commanders in the the CI/HUMINT Companies. So, they created the two billets in the Intelligence Battalion, the Analyst billets in the Marine Divisions, and sometime afterward, the Intelligence Officer billet at CBIRF and the XO billet at the CI/HUMINT Company (Reserve). Not all of the intelligence battalions fill these billets at the battalion headquarters, but it is a way to get more 0204s into the operating forces and give them some experience.

2. Platoon Commander Billet. Oftentimes the PltCmdr billet in the CI/HUMINT Company is more of an “administrative” billet. The Company HQ may not ask you for your input on who to send on a deployment, but rather will tell you who is going. This is not micro-management or a slap in the face, it’s just the fact that usually the Company HQ knows the requirement (language, AFCITC, SNCO, able to operate independently, etc.) and there may be only one Marine for the job.

Also, the historical knowledge of who has deployed, his strengths and weaknesses, and other issues may be already known. You will probably be upset at some time in your billet, but talk this out with your CO and the Co OpsO and explain to them that you would like first shot at deciding who should go. If they have specific reasons on who it should be, that will also educate you in what you should be looking at when making a decision.

I was a PltCmdr for five days when I went to the CO and told him I had a problem with not being able to select my men for deployment. Two months later, as CO, I saw exactly why it had to happen that way. Decisions often have to be made very quickly and the names submitted, and if you’re at chow or the rifle range, no one is going to wait to consult you.

3. Initial Tour. In an e-mail I wrote to the senior intelligence community a few years ago, I outlined my belief that two back-to-back tours within the MEFs should be the rule, not the exception. Currently, the way to do this is to try and transfer from 1st/2d IntelBn to 3d IntelBn, and vice-versa. Additionally, 3d Marine Division is using their 0204 billet, but 1st and 2d MarDiv are not.

There have been several complaints from new 0204s that the 3d MarDiv billet was not 0204-related. To them, I say “obviously, you failed your first test in the Operating Forces—selling yourself.” There have been several officers in that billet that have done outstanding, and were actually the unofficial CIHO of the Division, conducting continuous interaction with III MEF CIHO, conducting FORMICA, providing capabilities briefs, requesting CI support from IntelBn (and leading the HETs requested), and even being deployed for in excess of six of their twelve month tour. Some G-2s are harder to convince than others, but no one said it was going to be easy.

4. Intelligence Battalion. Although every 0204 should go straight to the CI/HUMINT Companies and get some operational and platoon commander time, subsequent assignments as IntelBn S-3A and HUMINT Collection Manager (currently the most common assignments, regardless of what the T/O says) are beneficial to you in the long run. If you are going to stay in the Marine Corps for more than your initial obligation, these assignments will help you further down the line in your career. Remember, everywhere you go, your goal is to educate people on CI/HUMINT and the uniqueness of it, whether it be in the establishment of collection requirements, or the need for additional training funds from the IntelBn—it’s the same with 0203, 0206s, and 0207s.

That’s one reason of specializing in the beginning of your intelligence career, so that you can educate others later on. Try to get exposure during the small exercises (MEB-Ex, MEF-Ex, etc.) to key billets of the SARC, HUMINT Collections Management, and HET OIC (if possible). Additionally, scripting for an exercise lets you see things from another viewpoint that really will develop you.

5. Seek Responsibility. While you are a new officer, you should seek as much responsibility as possible, so that when you are a Captain, you can advise your Lieutenants. This responsibility is not restricted to your MOS, but in officer-specific areas. Volunteer for Officer of the Day (once will probably be enough volunteering for this, but everyone should do it, just for the experience), preliminary investigations or JAG Manual investigations, courts martial, administrative separation boards, and even parades where you serve as platoon commander. These small items will develop you in many ways, which you may only understand when you’re a Captain, and having done them all.

6. Professional Reading. Many officers believe that deployments are the only way to learn. Deployments augment the education that you should already have. However, many new officers forget about reading the orders, SOPs, and MCWPs and understanding the true regulations before deployment, therefore operating somewhat ineffectively when deployed. Here are a few things to ensure you read while you have the luxury of time in garrison (you should have a PME afterward to discuss the nuances of each as well):

a. All classified and unclassified MCO 3850 orders. (There may be some local MEFO and MarForOs as well).
b. Same with MCO 7040.xx on E&EE
c. Posse Comitatus Act
d. Current MOU with NCIS
e. There are several more out there. Send me the names of the one’s you are using and I will add.

7. Developmental Training. There are several courses and exercises which will add to your knowledge. Below I’ve listed a few, not in any precedence:

a. Joint CI Staff Officer Course (overview of CinC-level CI and Service CI)
b. J2X Operations (familiarization with duties of J2X/C2X) For quotas, call 202-231-5467.
c. Joint CI Training Academy.
d. Foreign Disclosure. A five-day course at DIA, or a 2-day MTT. Call 703-695-5373 (DSN 222) for quotas and information.
e. Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (great course for personal development and will assist if you have to do POW/MIA debriefings)
f. Exercise Vigilant Blade/Shield (great training at TFCICA/C2X level with Coalition forces. Enlisted and WOs should be on the street).
g. Exercise Southern Knight (Interrogation exercise by 202d MI Bn. Great to participate or observe the management of Joint Interrogation Facilities)
h. Exercise Half / Full Blast (good TSCM exercise for participation or observation of offensive and defensive operations)
i. DIA Indications and Warning Course (Shows macro-level I&W which you can use on the tactical level to identify possible hostile activity)
j. Collections Management Short Course (The 5-day course is sufficient to familiarize you with all the collection disciplines and how you can request and use other disciplines to support CI operations. Additionally, you’ll understand how HUMINT Collection Management works, and how to use RFIs as collectors to support operations.
k. Exercise Dragon Warrior. (observation will show raise your awareness of how hostile intelligence services may operate.
l. USAF Special Operations School regional orientation courses or Dynamics of International Terrorism (good courses and only five days). Remember to return and train your Marines.
m. Intelligence in Combating Terrorism. Ft Huachuca. Quotas issued By-Name- Assignment (BNA) system. Check with unit training office.

**** AIRBORNE **** This is not necessary for your job. It doesn’t add to your credibility or liaison abilities. Confidence, Competence, and Personality will get you where you want to go—not jump wings.

8. MIOC – 0202. Keep your eye on the fact that if you are staying in the Corps, you WILL be an Intelligence Officer. That’s your goal. You don’t have to try and get the school in the first four years, but remember that once you’re a Captain, you really need to go to MIOC and develop yourself, so that you can “talk the talk” of the field grade 0202s, and further sell CI/HUMINT capabilities. This will be a lot easier once you can fully understand how CI fits into the larger intelligence cycle. MIOC is not a bad thing, remember that. If you have shown competence in your initial tour as an 0204, you will most likely get a second tour in HUMINT, whether it be in the Intelligence Battalions or the external assignments.

9. Subsequent Tours. For some reason in the operating forces now, there is this belief that after one tour at Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejeune, or Camp Hansen, you automatically “rate” an external assignment. No. You are not ready. In the past, we have had to send people to external assignments as Captain-Selects, but this was the exception, not the rule. External assignments should be third-tour assignments, after you have experience at the platoon, company, and battalion levels. You are not ready to represent the US Marine Corps in counterintelligence to the joint community, and you are losing key time as a young company-grade officer to be with Marines.

The key to being an officer is to lead Marines and should be your only goal.

Confidence, competence, and personality get you deployed. No one “owes” you a deployment. As a former Company Commander, I sent out senior SNCOs in charge of HETs when I didn’t think a Lieutenant was ready, and I know future C.O.’s will do the same. Semper Fi.

Neal Duckworth served in the United States Marine Corps from May 1986 until his retirement in February 2009. Mr. Duckworth is currently the Senior Program Director for Executive Education at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Major Duckworth was a Marine 0204: Counterintelligence (CI) / Human Source Intelligence (HUMINT), CIHUMINT, Officer. He is a graduate of the USAF Joint Psychological Operations Course and the USMC Intelligence Officer Course. Mr. Duckworth earned innumerably USMC Counterintelligence & Human Intelligence Certifications as well as the Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist badge. Mr. Duckworth is Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Qualified.

Mr. Duckworth earned his Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies from American University in Washington D.C. Mr. Duckworth earned his Master’s Degree in International Security Studies from the United States Naval War College in Newport, RI. Mr. Duckworth has more than 23 years of global experience within CI/HUMINT, all-source intelligence related fields and is considered the preeminent expert with extensive counterintelligence and human intelligence collection and management experience in Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Mr. Duckworth is a Marine Officer Combat Veteran, Educator, Leader, Academic, iconic within his field, and dedicated family man.



Eric graduated with honors in 2004 from the The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA. He was then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps the same year, completed multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Counterintelligence / Human Source Intelligence Officer and later as a Case Officer and Active Duty Special Agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Eric honorably discharged as a Captain after 8 years’ service in 2012.

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