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Intelligence Officers
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Featured Profile for Intelligence Officer

Ramon Rodriguez

My father had a 24- year career in the Air Force before he retired at the rank of Master Sergeant, so the military has always been a proud part of my family. I was in high school when he retired and we moved to Florida. I needed a job, so I started working at Disney World. It was a great experience playing a character in the park, and I’ve been acting ever since.

I applied for a scholarship that would allow me to attend any school in Florida. After graduation, I attended prep school for the Air Force Academy. I was enjoying myself there, and the prep school awarded credit equivalent to Academy courses, so when I heard that I was awarded the scholarship, I decided to stay on the Academy track anyway. I joined the theatre program at the Academy called the “Blue Bards.” While pursuing my military career I continued acting in musicals like Guys and Dolls and Jesus Christ Superstar.

I graduated from the Academy in 2002 with a Space Operations Degree and math and Spanish minors. Although I’d originally chosen Intelligence as my field, I pursued Space and Missile Operations, and I was off to California for training in the Missile Operations track. I spent five years in Missile Operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB) doing things like missile maintenance (acting whenever I could). I was in charge of nuclear missiles in flight and sometimes I was responsible for personnel and security. I was even prepared to launch weapons if necessary.

After five years, I offered to leave active service, as the Air Force was overmanned in my field. I joined the 9th Space Operations Squadron in the reserves that had a demand for Intelligence officers, so I was asked to go through the necessary training and switch fields. Intelligence had been my first choice back at the Academy so naturally I said yes, and I went to Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas to undergo about 7-8 months of training to get certification for my current position of senior intelligence duty officer.

Now, I’m back at Vandenberg AFB, but as the intelligence officer, on the operations floor. I answer any intelligence questions for operations as well as senior leadership, and I coordinate with intelligence personnel for any answers I can’t get immediately. As opposed to intelligence officers who deal with future operations, it’s my job to deal with operations ‘at this time,’ so my work really has an ‘in the moment’ feel to it. My shifts are usually about twelve hours long, and can be either day or night. I prefer the night shifts, though, because nighttime in the US is when the other side of the world is awake, so that’s usually when interesting things happen!

I feel my entire nine-year career serving the Air Force has been a highlight. I’ve been able to do great things both as an active duty service member and as a member of the reserves, including taking part in the ramp up of the North Korean Taepo Dong 2 launch and its subsequent analysis. Military culture has given me skills I don’t think I could learn anywhere else. Even things like organization and communication come easy to me. I stay calm under pressure because that’s what I was trained to do. I’m aware of my own competencies, my potential and my limitations - skills important in any career.

The military hasn’t just influenced my professional life within the Air Force, though. After joining the reserves, I was able to really start pursuing my acting career with a lot more freedom and stability. Working at an Air Force Base in California made living in Los Angeles a natural step. Apart from great benefits, the military has given me a lot of training I can include on my acting resume. I have arms training, combat training, and can convincingly portray someone who has lived and worked in the unique and dynamic military culture. Acting is unpredictable and stressful and that alone is enough to turn a lot of people away, but the confidence and level-headedness the military helped me develop have made me able to keep myself positive and grounded so I can continue to pursue my goals.

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