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CIA Simulation Training Team Participates in Regional Competition

CIA Simulation Training Team Participates in Regional Competition

Four START interns polish their intel analysis skills

November 20, 2014Lauren Sagl

Intelligence analysis can be intense and stressful, but it is all in a day’s work for four START interns.

The group participated in a regional competition at the University of Richmond. There, they met with ten other schools to provide intelligence analysis briefings to CIA employees.

In order to prepare for the event, team members were assigned background readings on intel analysis and went through two practice simulations, each of which took a few hours of additional preparation. Interns then briefed Marcella Morris, Dr. Katherine Izsak and other faculty on the materials they read.

“We worked together to interpret information, identify gaps, inconsistencies and questions. We would then create a brief to properly state our information,” said Charmaine Wilson-Jones, one of the four team members.

“A lot of the time, we would finish a long day of classes and internships, and then meet up for a couple hours at night to go through simulation materials,” said Matt Williams, another team member.

The ambitious group took all of their hard work to the competition, where they were provided a 30-page packet of intelligence material on a fictitious country. Interns were told to go through the information, analyze it and provide a briefing to a CIA employee, who was playing the role of their superior.

“The CIA employees would come in and change the situation on the fly, which meant we had to be quite adaptive and ready for anything,” Williams said.

Though the experience taught the team about the intelligence process and how to synthesize information, Williams said it is the teamwork that he will remember most.

“I could not speak highly enough of my fellow teammates,” Williams said. “Each one of them did an amazing job and I know they will have wonderful careers going forward.”

The project took the students roughly two and a half hours of uninterrupted work. The team was knocked out by the eventual first place team, William & Mary.

Williams said his global terrorism minor, his internship at START and the guidance of Marcella Morris and Dr. Izsak helped to prepare the team in what they needed to know for this competition.

While the competition gave the team a near-real-world intel experience, it also acted as a major recruiting event. This was especially helpful for Williams, who dreams of becoming a federal law enforcement officer.

“I believe a lot of the experience I gained from this event will be applicable given my future career goals,” Williams said. “Just having this experience is something I can talk about in job interviews going forward.”