Thursday, December 09, 2004

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, demand for employees in the field of intelligence research and analysis has grown dramatically. For example, a March 2004 article in U.S. News & World Report stated that the FBI was actively recruiting nationwide to fill 900 new analyst positions.

At the federal level, there is great demand for those qualified to work in the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. Law enforcement agencies at the state and local levels are seeking analysts nationwide. There is also a growing demand for research analysts in private industry as companies are faced with the challenges and opportunities of globalization.

In response to the growing needs of our nation, Fairmont State University has created a Bachelor of Arts degree in Intelligence Research and Analysis. The program began two years ago and is growing quickly.

"Since 9/11, there has been a lack of qualified intelligence analysts," said Dr. George Sprowls, Associate Professor of Political Science and director of the program. "Our program combines existing political science, history and criminal justice courses plus specially tailored intelligence analysis labs and field work."

The interdisciplinary program focuses on research and writing skills. The work of intelligence analysts, whether relating to national security, criminal investigative activities or competition analysis, involves the preparation of assessments based on the collection, correlation and analysis of intelligence data. Students also take business courses as electives because the job market for intelligence analysts is not limited to government agencies. Large companies in private enterprise use intelligence analysis to study their competitors.

"Employers are looking for students who can write and are computer literate," Sprowls said. "The findings of intelligence analysts have to be in report form that may be read by the highest-level officials, so students must know how to write well."

Sprowls, who served as U.S. Naval Attaché in Saudi Arabia and Egypt before joining the faculty at FSU, brings firsthand knowledge of the intelligence community to the program.

"As far as I know, FSU is the only institution offering a major in this field in the state of West Virginia," Sprowls said. "Our students seem particularly pleased with our small class sizes and the ready accessibility of our faculty."

Emily Narog, a native of Barrackville and the current Student Body President, is a junior working on a double major in Intelligence Research and Analysis and Political Science. In fact, it was the Intelligence Research and Analysis major that attracted the PROMISE scholar to Fairmont State.

"The Intelligence Research & Analysis Program has been challenging, but most of all it has been indispensably valuable to my future aspirations in the intelligence field," Narog said.

"The professors teaching these courses are knowledgeable and experienced in the disciplines of IRA, which in turn, makes me confident in my studies. The two most valuable things about this major are that it touches on a variety of concepts and ideas, and above all, the classes present a challenge of intellectual growth. I believe that FSU is preparing me for a demanding and prosperous future in the intelligence community. Through FSU and the Washington Center, I am planning to intern in Washington, D.C., this summer with a program related to the intelligence field."

Stephanie Mayle, a student from Delaware whose father is a native of Philippi, W.Va., and an FS alumnus, also chose to attend Fairmont State because of the Intelligence Research & Analysis major.

"When I was in Delaware, I was enrolled in my high school's ROTC program, and we did a lot of programs involving current events," she said.

"My last year there was during the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan and that got me interested in this field. The backbone of it all is intelligence gathering and research. My ROTC instructor's entire Army career was spent in military intelligence. He gave me a good idea of what it would really be like. It's not always the glamorous way you see it on television. I just really want to help people, and through the experiences I've had, it seemed like a good way to put my abilities to work to help people. I was torn between West Virginia University and Fairmont State, but I chose FS because it had the major I wanted."