NG Counterdrug Analysis and Fusion revamps training

National Guard Counterdrug Program criminal analysts attending the National Guard

Counterdrug Analysis and Fusion Criminal Analyst Phase II course in Crystal City, Virginia,

 March 23-29 present their findings to the course simulation on illicit drug trafficking to a

panel of judges. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Betty J. Squatrito-Martin,

National Guard Counterdrug Program/Released)

"Status quo, you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in,'" President Ronald Reagan said. Though not in a mess, National Guard Counterdrug Analysis and Fusion section had been maintaining the status quo by teaching the same Criminal Analyst Phase II course for the past seven years. 

"We have wanted to make changes for a while now. We think this updated product is just what our analysts need to succeed." Capt. Mesha Cichon, Analysis and Fusion section chief, said.

The contemporary operating environment has changed over time. As technology changes so do the techniques criminals use to distribute and sell narcotics. In order to effectively support law enforcement the National Guard Criminal Analysts need to stay current in their field. NGB conducted an in-depth review of current law enforcement analytical training standards as set forth by the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit.

Following the review, the National Guard Counterdrug Analysis and Fusion team wanted to change the status quo of their Criminal Analyst Phase II course. They wanted to establish a baseline and standardize the training and in so doing raise the bar.

"If we had continued with the status quo, we wouldn't have a relevant program," Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Anda, Florida National Guard Counterdrug Counter Threat Finance Analyst, said.

The Analysis and Fusion section's goal: Make Counterdrug analysts and counter threat finance analysts the number three and number four-hitter on the team. The team member counted on to hit the ball out of the park and drive in the runs. In this case, drive a case home by building solid case analysis to support their law enforcement partners.

"As Einstein said, 'You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.' The NGB Analysis and Fusion team aimed to expand the criminal analysts' knowledge of the rules of the game, Cichon said. "Our ultimate goal is to be more effective for our law enforcement partners. The National Guard is a key player supporting law enforcement efforts; we need to be at the top of our game."

"We put our collective heads together to put out the best product to our Soldiers and Airmen," Sgt. 1st Class Steven Sparks, Michigan National Guard Counterdrug senior analyst, said.

The Analysis and Fusion team put their new course to the test March 23-29 in Crystal City, Virginia. Instructors were comprised of Counterdrug analyst's subject matter experts and two contractors, James Lewis and Matt Canovi, who come from a well traveled law enforcement background.

‚Äč"We try to teach relevancy, to bring talent to the table others don't have, which makes the analyst better able to assist law enforcement, which makes them more relevant," James Lewis, course instructor, said. 

During the seven consecutive days of training, analysts from around the country were introduced to the most current industry standards in developing case analysis.  

"Our students come from a diverse background, and they don't all follow the same protocols, Matt Canovi, course instructor, said. "We start with critical thinking; we are trying to bring a more standardized thought process--to use a certain methodology when approaching intel [intelligence] analysis."

Students worked as a functioning intelligence cell throughout the seven days. Each day the instructors provide the students with evidence of a suspected criminal enterprise. The students then apply lessons learned to their suspected criminal enterprise. They spend time reviewing evidence, conducting research and developing requirements to drive collection plans.

"We are trying to get them networking and working to improve their skills--to improve their thinking, to think outside the box and think of multiple options as they approach their case analysis," Canovi said.

"We provide a tip, the students exploit the tip," James said. "They have to phrase their questions just right to tell the story of the evidence. If they don't follow the right process to prove the evidence, they end up without a case."

On the final day of training, students present their findings to a panel of guest judges. The student presentations are judged on their clarity, succinctness and relevance.

"It's their time to shine," said Anda. "They need to keep it [analysis] simple, and they need to keep it clear."

Once the presentations are completed, the groups receive an immediate critique on their analysis and approach to the evidence.

"We have a great course, it's challenging and our students are getting things they haven't received before," Sparks said.

"Our Counterdrug Analysts deserve the best quality training we can provide them," 1st Sgt. Donald Cooley, Analysis and Fusion, said. "The Criminal Analyst Phase II course now provides that quality training giving the analyst a variety of tools to take back to their law enforcement agencies to produce real results."

Col. Michael E. Patterson, Chief National Guard Counterdrug Program, speaks to criminal analysts attending the National Guard Counterdrug Analysis and Fusion Criminal Analyst Phase II course in Crystal City, Virginia, March 23-29. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Betty J. Squatrito-Martin, National Guard Counterdrug Program/Released)