By Timothy W. Coleman and James R. Lint
Editors Note: This is part one in a two part series highlighting the importance and availability of professional training for GSPIA students. It is intended to illustrate the availability of supplemental information sources that complement rigorous academic studies. The inclusion of specific training programs does not necessarily constitute or imply endorsement.
“Train, Maintain, Sustain” is the unit crest and motto of the 81st Regional Readiness Command of the U.S. Army Reserve. According to its official page, The 81st Regional Support Command “provides essential customer care and services to Soldiers, Civilians and their Families in the Southeast Region and Puerto Rico, enabling supported commanders and leaders to maximize resources and meet global requirements.” Their motto is a poignant reminder that training requires maintenance to be sustainable.
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics
Napoléon once quipped, “An army marches on its stomach.”
It’s a truism that even Alexander the Great, the Macedonian King whose unprecedented military campaigns through Asia and Africa forged one of the largest empires the world has ever seen, knew all too well. A military leader of world renown, Alexander was a gifted strategic planner and one who capitalized on a seemingly obscure element – logistics.
Indeed, Alexander supposedly planned his military campaigns across Asia to coincide with upcoming harvest seasons. His reasoning was simple: a harvest season made fertile supply routes for a hungry army on the march and provided enough substance to feed both his troops and the pack animals that accompanied the army.
At the core, many truisms and similarly relevant historical adages boil down to confirm fundamentals. There is, after all, a reason they’re called “truisms.”
Attention to seemingly insignificant details can make or break an endeavor. But such cognizance does not just serve the head of the spear or the commanding general of an army. The true value of consequential particulars touches all those involved; once a best practice is identified, it must be learnt down the ranks through training to truly become an operational staple.
Utility of Best Practices
The utility and applicability of training best practices remains at the core of both intelligence and security professional disciplines. These best practices, however, are constantly evolving within a competitive market and what worked yesterday or today, won’t necessarily work as effectively tomorrow.
To stay abreast and ahead of competitors requires continuous self-education. All businesses seek to create differentiators between competitors; similarly, you, as a prospective job applicant, need to find, highlight, and hold your own individual competitive advantage.
Be a Better Fish
Your academic studies at the University of Pittsburgh set you apart from your peers and illustrate that education matters, qualifications count, and that you likely rank right up there with the most qualified job seekers on the market. Even so, this just makes you a bigger fish in a smaller pond (or a well-qualified candidate in a pool of other well-qualified applicants).
So how, then, do you make your application stand out? It’s a challenge that has many solutions but no definitive and universally applicable answer. Nevertheless, if you reach back and think about the importance of fundamentals, it becomes clear that supplemental training goes a very long way.
Take the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a case in point. In a ‘frequently asked questions’ segment of its Website, the CIA explains, “The Agency places a high priority on preparing officers for increasing levels of responsibility and leadership over the course of their careers.” Adding later in another section, CIA states, “The world of intelligence is increasingly complex, making continuous learning an imperative.” They’ve made it clear that initial and continuing training is imperative to the operational success of the CIA.
The role and utility of training within the intelligence and security community should not be dismissed, ignored, or underappreciated. It’s a vital component for both those currently in the community as well as those seeking to enter it. It can be a stepping-stone for career development, or the differentiating factor of the bigger, brighter, and better fish in the applicant pool.
To that end, we would like to highlight a free training and certification resource that will help build your KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities), bolster your resume, and perhaps even be the key indicator of a diligent applicant who knows the values of continuous learning and therefore holds themselves to constantly improving standards.
Defense Security Service:
The Defense Security Service (DSS), an agency of the Department of Defense (DoD), under the direction of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, provides training and education services via its Center for Development of Security Excellence (CDSE).
The CDSE’s mission is to “Provide the DoD with a security center of excellence for the professionalization of the security community and be the premier provider of security education and training for the DoD and industry under the National Industrial Security Program (NISP). The CDSE provides development, delivery, and exchange of security knowledge to ensure a high-performing workforce capable of addressing our Nation’s security challenges.”
The training and certification programs offered by DSS run the gamut of core elements of security disciplines. Course offerings are broken down by specific functional and operational areas and include: Counterintelligence, Cybersecurity, General Security, Industrial Security, Information Security, International Security, Operations Security, Personnel Security, Physical Security, and other areas of interest. Most of the training and certifications that are publicly available are Unclassified. Note: most courses require a DoD affiliation, but GSPIA may be able to secure access for students. This is something worth inquiring about at the Ridgway Center.
Training programs and certifications are the gold standard for DoD security professionals in both civil service and contractor fields. The curriculum is rigorous and the material is challenging. Web-based training videos and course materials are readily available online 24-hours a day.
From a user perspective, DSS training courses should not be taken on a whim. After registering for a class and successfully completing a course there is a multiple-choice exam that one is required to complete in order to receive full credit. There is an important caveat to note to prospective participants: if you fail an exam three times, you cannot register again for the same exam, and the passing grade is 75 percent.
Perhaps most importantly though, DSS CDSE training courses and certifications are free of charge. To review training courses that may be of interest and to register, check out: http://www.cdse.edu/about.html. Note: most courses require a DoD affiliation, but GSPIA may be able to secure access for students. This is something worth inquiring about at the Ridgway Center.
The goal of taking and successfully completing DSS CDSE courses is to one day qualify for entrance into the Security Professional Education Development Program (SPēD). The goal for DoD is to use this four level program as a future hiring requirement. Future promotions will likely require SPēD certification for DoD security positions so it’s a good idea to started early.
A Key to Victory
Training is a gift. It is intended to be tool of substance and the foundation on which to build a viable skillset for real world application. To excel in the world of intelligence and security, either as a member of the civil service or a contractor, you need to take advantage of the opportunities that provide the right tools for achieving the mission at hand.
Leaders realize this. They provide opportunities for their employees and team members to garner the knowledge that will enable ultimate victory. Good leaders embrace training, but greater leaders instill continuous learning as both an operational imperative and a strategic value – not because it’s easy, but because they know, as General Matthew B. Ridgway observed, “If an army fails, it is because its leaders have failed; if it succeeds, it is because they have succeeded.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy or the position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or any other department or agency within the US Government.