Posted on Mar 9, 2020
SSG(P) Instructor
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I've recently completed a tour in a Joint command, with civilian personnel from the Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial Agency, other three letter agencies, and service members from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines.

There was an initial learning curve and what I discovered during the course of this assignment was that I lacked training during my formal military education to prepare me to work in this environment, which also exposed me to multinational engagement opportunities, and work with other government agencies such as the State Department, Department of Justice, FBI, etc.

How does your branch of service or career field prepare you for service as an enlisted member for service in a JIIM environment, short of the SEJPME 1 & 2 offered on JKO? I understand that officers are afforded "Joint" credit for working in Joint assignments- this does not appear to apply to enlisted.

Additionally, if you have experienced this, what kind of training or formal requirements in the development of enlisted service members would you recommend to prepare members for this kind of assignment?

Thank you for your time.

V/R
SSG Mullet
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Responses: 4
SSG Intelligence Analyst
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Hey SSG Mullet. I also spent some time at DIA when I was a young SGT. It was my second duty station and like you I had no idea what to expect after about 5 years in FORSCOM. It went well though. I would say best thing is to learn your new boss's expectations. Whether they're Military or Civilian, they should let you know what's expected of you.
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Lt Col Jim Coe
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I was a Joint Service Officer (JSO) before there were JSOs. I was assigned to US Readiness Command in 1986. This now-defunct unified command was in many ways the predecessor to US Northern Command and the Department of Homeland Security. Its Service Components were Army Forces Command and Air Force Tactical Air Command (later Air Combat Command). When I arrived, I was handed the Joint Chiefs of Staff "Purple Book" explaining the Joint Service structure that existed at the time. In about a year the Defense reorganization act was signed and the Unified Commands gained greater power, the Military Departments lost some power, and JSOs were created. Significantly, any General Officer/Flag Officer had to have had a joint service assignment to be promoted to O-7. Everybody currently serving in a joint or combined command became an instant JSO.

I spent the next five years in Unified Commands: US Special Operations Command, US Transportation Command. I helped plan joint and combined exercises at the national and international levels. I learned to work with and greatly respect officers and enlisted personnel from all 5 Services, NATO partners, and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Those years also encompassed DESERT STORM. The Joint and Combined exercises we had planned and executed provided the best training for working in the Joint/Combined/Interagency environment. When we actually had to deploy a joint force half-way around the world, our joint training stood us in good stead. It was "normal" for us to work with the Joint Staff, Departments, and the Services. We knew what to expect and even the Air Force personnel could write an understandable OPORD.

After retirement, my joint and combined experience set me up to be a contract exercise planner for a unified command. I traveled worldwide helping my military customers represent the command at exercise planning conferences. My real-life experience allowed me to construct believable exercise scenarios to teach new JSOs and even some Flag Officers about working in the Joint/Combined environment.

Officers and NCOs headed for a joint/combined assignment need training in the joint and combined operating environment. Learning basic facts about the structure and operation of the Joint Staff, Services, and Department of Defense is essential. The "who handles what" aspect of the job is often complicated. A subject area covered by the Joint Operations Directorate (J3) in one command may be handled by the Combined/Joint Plans and Programs Directorate (CJ5) in a combined command. Combined commands are more complicated because of multicultural influences and treaty arrangements. Also, understanding forms and formats used in joint, combined, and interagency situations is essential. In some cases, correct formatting of an order or request for information is absolutely necessary to get some international agencies and allied Services to respond. Finally, patience is essential. Working in the Joint/Combined/Interagency environment isn't the same as working at the Wing or Battalion level in terms of getting stuff done. Coordination takes much longer. Sometimes it's a matter of getting documents translated. Sometimes it a cultural thing--some cultures just don't function at the speed we are accustomed to in the US. It's necessary to occasionally adopt a "it's their country and we aren't changing it soon" attitude to survive.
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SFC Casey O'Mally
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My experience has been that we aren't really trained for it in the formal PME. It was very briefly touched in my ANCOC (MI, which in my mind has a higher likelihood of being JIIM than many other branches). My understanding is there is a chunk of the SGM academy that deals with this.

I would guess that big Army believes (and my whopping ONE Joint deployment would bear this out) that for most enlisted below the SGM/CSM the job is very little different whether you are dealing with just American Army or are dealing with other services and/or allied nations. Sure,there will be a learning curve for terminology (WTF is Cosmic Top Secret???), and for new ranks structures, but aside from those obstacles (which, honestly should be quickly overcome), the job is little different at the tactical level, or even at the team/section level of a strategic command. It doesn't really change until you are at the strategic level, which is why formalized training (on the enlisted side) is reserved to the academy.

At least that is my theory of the big Army's thinking.
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