Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard
504th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs
Military intelligence professionals from across Fort Hood gathered together on Friday to end MI week with the III Corps and Fort Hood Military Intelligence Ball, hosted by the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade.
“Every unit on this installation is busy,” said Col. Deitra Trotter, the brigade commander, “so if we wait for everyone, things like this will never happen. We have to take advantage of these rare opportunities to say ‘hello.’ Step outside our comfort zone and make some new friends once in a while.”
The mission of MI week was to celebrate history and tradition and network MI professionals across the “Great Place.” Army Human Resources Command representatives provided professional development earlier in the week. 504th Brigade and 15th MI Battalion also collaborated to provide an MI Expo at the West Fort Hood airfield, where members of both units provided equipment and capabilities overview.
Last summer James Dietz, an award-winning artist, visited Fort Hood to set the path for a painting to encompass the 504th history in one artistic piece. During the ball, the 504th revealed that painting.
“The ‘Always Ready’ Brigade has made its mark in every American conflict, since its conception on 7 February 1942,” said Trotter. “In this unit’s fine history, the lineage is unmatched in the United States Army. It is worthy of remembrance — that’s why we wanted to do this. We hope that this proud history and tradition will continue.”
In addition to revealing the painting, featured speaker Maj. Gen. Gary Johnston, the commanding General of U.S Army Intelligence and Security Command, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, gave a compelling speech to the MI professionals attending the ball.
“I don’t get many opportunities to speak to this many intelligence professionals at one time,” he said. “I’ve got a message for you … if you are not having fun at what you do, you need to look at that, that’s the first message.
“If you are not having fun at what you are doing, you need to look at yourself,” he continued.
Johnston also spoke about how the MI field is constantly evolving to incorporate methods, analysis and trade craft, and how important it is that the MI community must be able to identify those changing conditions and forecast.
“As we stand today, we are in the midst of a unique organization change,” he said. “My question tonight is, are you ready to change? In order to be ready, Always Ready, we must stand what I call the as is with a ‘to be.’
“The Army and the Nation needs your ‘to be’ vision to be the most comprehensive, the most ambitious, the best-informed strategy.”
Johnston continued, “The battlefield of today is multi-domain, multi-mode, multi-discipline, multi-functional, and real time. Our mission has shifted, and we now reside in a state of perpetual competition.
“Multi-domain operations formed with imagination reach can kick in doors that the adversary didn’t even know were there, by means they didn’t know we had, to exploit weaknesses they never dreamt we could touch” Johnston said. “Not in their wildest dreams.”
Johnston challenged MI professionals to define their ‘to be’ and come up with innovative ideas that will reach past the battlefield.
“Force technology to catch up to you, not the other way around,” he said.
He challenged MI professionals to think about an enterprise.
“Enterprise thinking opens your aperture of how your information feeds the larger tactical, operational and strategic national pictures,” he said. “It doesn’t just consider how you intend to use the data set, but it measures ways your data set can be used in the future.”
While the Army and the intelligence field is growing, technology is greater. He said that the most important factor is the human factor.
“At the end of the day, intelligence serves but one purpose; to inform and to support the decision of a leader,” he said. “Whether they sit in an oval office or down range. The human in the loop provides the conscious and the morality of intelligence.
“This is an exciting time to be an intelligence professional,” said Johnston. “We stand at the edge of something grand. Examine your mindset of your ‘to be.’”
He challenged those in the room to think bigger than their organization and the intelligence field.
“I dare you to craft a vision that makes you uncomfortable. I want you to reach beyond the possible into the space where maybe lives. That’s where intelligence is headed … and that’s where the Army’s going. How are you thinking differently to be ready for the next challenge? Your next adventure.”