Fort Huachuca is the largest training center in the United States for Military Intelligence, or MI, service members. As a Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, center of excellence, a variety of MI courses are offered here.
One of the many important military occupational specialties taught here is the Human Intelligence Collector course, also known as the 35M course. The duties of a 35M include conducting interrogations and debriefings, providing Army personnel with information about enemy forces, strengths, weaknesses and potential battle areas.
According the Fort Huachuca Quality Assurance office, 834 Soldiers graduated from the course in fiscal year 2012. The length of training for a 35M is approximately 18 to 20 weeks. This time is spent both in the classroom and in the field.
“Their job is to collect [intelligence information] on the ground, either through interrogations or source operations,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Bobo, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion. “Their primary function is to get actionable intelligence to the commander, as quickly as possible. Human Intelligence Collectors have to vet the information and consider where it is coming from. These are things that [35Ms] are taught here on post.”
Often, a 35M is attached as support for a Brigade Combat Team, or BCT, which is made up of various units necessary to sustain its operations away from its parent division. The purpose of a BCT is to deploy and stand alone, simulating a miniature division.
“When you combine forces like that, you are able to do a lot more,” Bobo said. “You can get a lot more accurate and timely intelligence into the hands of the commander so that they can make their decisions at that point.”
It takes a particular personality for this job. The Soldier must be sociable and personable, and must enjoy being around people, in order to establish rapport with those they intend to get information from. “You have to be able to read someone else and you won’t get that by being shy or looking away,” Bobo explained. “You have to look at everything from their body language to their expressions.”
Some Soldiers may be selected to receive further training in a foreign language at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif.
Along with the importance of this field, a sense of pride comes with being a 35M.
“You have an idea about the big picture of things that are going on, and you really see the impact that you are making with your reporting,” Bobo said. “That’s a big part of the job for me, and I love having job satisfaction.”