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Intelligence Officers
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Neal Hayes

I graduated with a biology degree from the University of Puget Sound. I wanted to work in a health department or research lab; unfortunately, the job market was not very good. After five years of doing odd jobs, I enlisted in the Air Force.

When I entered the Air Force recruiting office, I was ready to try anything. At that point there was an opportunity to enlist or to put a package in for Officer Training School. I didn’t feel comfortable being in charge of people without understanding their lives and since they had an immediate opening for an enlisted Chinese linguist position, I applied for it. To get accepted, I had to score above a 95 on the ASVAB and pass the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB).

I went to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB). From there, I did my technical training at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. For 15 months, I learned Mandarin Chinese and culture from native speakers eight hours a day. Then, I was assigned to Goodfellow AFB to do my technical study to become an airborne linguist. I learned how to use cryptologic equipment and was also trained in how to understand military conversation.

I was at AF SERE (survival school) getting ready to ship out to my first duty station when I found out that I’d been accepted to Officer Training School (OTS). Once I finished OTS, I then had to complete more technical training in my new career field so I went back to Goodfellow for intelligence officer training.

I was stationed in Kadena AFB, Japan and was a flight crew member on the RC-135 RIVET JOINT (RJ) and also was in charge of analysis and mission management. I was there for three years, then received an assignment to the Air Force Command and Control, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center (AFC2ISR) at Langley AFB. Here, I worked in Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT). I kept up with trends in technology, wrote requirement documents, and recommended new equipment. My goal was to make sure that contractors built systems that would meet the real needs of the warfighter. After a deployment to Qatar, I returned to Langley and joined the ACC Intelligence Squadron as the ISR Cell Chief. One of the highlights of this job was writing instructional guidelines for doing post-mission ISR assessment. I wanted to make sure that we had a way to determine whether the intelligence we gathered was getting to the right people in a usable form.

Right now, I work in an intelligence squadron on Elmendorf AFB in Alaska. Because many people in my squadron are or have been deployed, I perform many different jobs. I’ve been in charge of providing imagery and targeting support for all units in Alaska and am currently the director of operations dealing with manpower issues and building renovations on base. I’ve learned great skills in the military such as being able to adapt to changing environments and being able to tackle a project with little lead-up time. I’ve been in the military for 12 years and would like to finish out my full service with the Air Force.

During my career, I’ve been deployed four times: once to Saudi Arabia (RJ Director Current Operations), JAC Molesworth (OIC Airborne Collections), Qatar (PED CELL Chief/Horned Owl LNO), and SOCCENT Tampa (Info Ops Officer). In all those places, my jobs were completely different but had one thing in common. As an Intelligence Officer you are always striving to make sure the right information gets to the right place at the right time. No matter what the operations tempo may be that is always the common goal.

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