Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Jacobsen is the commander, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which is headquartered at Quantico, Va. Jacobsen started his Air Force career in 1980 as a graduate of Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Slippery Rock University, Pa. After four years as a missiles launch officer and crew commander of the 390th Strategic Missile Wing, here, he began his OSI journey.
What are the responsibilities of the Air Force OSI commander?
The first and foremost is to organize, train and equip, and present a competent investigative counter intelligence to the joint force commander. Direct, initiate and conduct felony-level criminal investigations and counter intelligence operations.
Why and when did you decide to join OSI?
I was stationed here at D-M, when I learned that my host wing was being deactivated. I was confronted with an option from Strategic Air Command to continue in missiles at another base or see what else the Air Force had to offer. So I walked over to the OSI office, introduced myself and asked if they could tell me a little more about OSI. I applied and was accepted and left here in 1984 to go to the OSI Academy in Washington, D.C.
Were you hesitant at all?
The unknown made me a little hesitant, but I thought I would really enjoy the challenge of the job. I had come from a very structured missile environment, to something that has no checklist, because every investigation is different.
What made you realize this job was the right path for you?
To me, the reward was really having a direct impact to help bring closure to families who were dealing with a tragedy, the challenge of solving the puzzle of who committed the crime and being able to prove it and just the service-oriented aspect of it all.
During your career what would you consider your proudest accomplishment?
What I am more proud of is the organization. What OSI has been able to do for the Air Force and the nation, especially post 9/11, is pretty phenomenal to me. Post 9/11, we pretty much went from a traditional law enforcement investigative agency to a contingency-based, counter-terrorism, national security, battlefield Airmen concept, and we have been on the battlefield ever since doing some incredible outside-of-the-wire operations.
What has been your most valuable life lesson?
Being an OSI special agent more than 29 years now, the lesson I have learned is there is context in a lot of things. It may seem like you know a situation, but there is always more to it. There is a degree of understanding that choices have ramifications, from an investigative perspective, when confronted with people who have wandered off the path of integrity. Sometimes they don’t fully understand the ramifications of the consequences of their decisions.
What life experiences have prepared you for your current position?
I grew up playing sports. I believe the teambuilding in sports helped me in becoming an OSI special agent. I have found that OSI is a team. You may be an individual agent, but you rely on the broader team. I think being a team is really the key, and I think that is evident in just about everything we do not just OSI as an agency, but also the Air Force.
What are the different fields in OSI?
Our priorities are to defend the nation, serve justice and protect the integrity of the Air force through investigations; anything that is going to undermine the good order and discipline and mission effectiveness of the Air Force, and lastly but most importantly to find the truth.
There are six lines of operation: counter intelligence; criminal investigative mission; fraud at base levels or central systems; cyber security; expeditionary activities outside the wire, battlefield missions and special security; and everything from securing nuclear convoys to protecting very important people and pretty much keeping “secret” secret.
Over the last 5 years have you seen a rise in any particular violation?
Marginally, the increase in numbers recently has been in the sexual assault area. We are heavily involved in trying to bring solutions to the Air Force right now.
If someone is thinking about joining OSI, what are some things you feel that person should know before making that decision?
It is an organization that relies on determination. A lot of it isn’t any different from Air Force services. Air Force core values are the core values, but particular to OSI, the person would have to have an understanding of the commitment that the job brings. It’s not a job that you can predict where and what you are going to be doing. Availability is key, and we are looking for problem solvers. No two investigations are the same, even if they are the same type of crime, because there are so many different dynamics. Persistent and logical thinking; almost scientific in how they analyze problems and also the ability and drive to take on a challenge in solving a problem in a complex situation.