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News | Oct. 1, 2020

J26 Collection Management Course Curriculum Revamp and Certification Program

By Maj Douglas Wietlisbach, USAF Air Land Sea Bulletin 2020-2

The Joint Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) are hard at work meeting the collection management (CM) training and certification demands of today’s warfighter and combatant commander. Historically, collection managers were assigned their role with little, if any, training or experience in the various aspects of CM, various DOD reviews and reports noted this discrepancy. To rectify this current shortfall, DIA offers training courses and an accredited certification program.

DIA offers the Collection Management Basic Course (CMBC), a 2-week classroom experience consisting of a fundamental overview of CM tasks, roles, and relationships of collection managers within the context of the Joint Intelligence Process (JIP). Students gain knowledge through experiential learning activities and discussions designed to support key enterprise learning objectives. Course materials include concepts applicable to all echelons, from the tactical to the strategic levels. Classroom engagements support the student’s visualization of broad concepts, including: the joint intelligence process, how intelligence requirements become collections requirements (CRs), the CR lifecycle, and the various CM relationships in the Defense Intelligence Community.

Additionally, students participate in simulations demonstrating the five major CM functions: writing CRs, collection strategy architecture, selection of assets, development of collection plans, and discovery of CM improvements through assessments. This is accomplished via a building-block approach and success of the student depends upon learning the various concepts of Collections Requirements Management, the intelligence disciplines, and systems of record (such as CRATE, PRISM, and COUGAR).

DIA also offers the Collection Management Intermediate Course (CMIC), which is the follow-on course from the CMBC. Currently, this course is being revamped by the Academy for Defense Intelligence (ADI) to update the curriculum and better align its learning objectives with the recently approved joint training standards. The first CMIC course iteration took place in June of 2020 at DIA, with mobile training teams brings the program to offsite locations after ADI determined the instruction meets all course objectives. CMIC is designed to expound upon the CMBC instruction, taking the foundational knowledge to the next level by giving the student more in-depth knowledge on proper communication functions; intelligence discipline-specific intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; and assessments. Students test their knowledge with a capstone exercise integrating their CM knowledge and abilities by going through a computer-generated scenario simulating what a collection manager will experience in crisis operations.

Also on the horizon is the Collection Management Advanced Course (CMAC), being developed through the collective efforts of Training, Tradecraft, and Certification (J2621) and a dedicated panel of subject matter experts (SMEs). The impetus of this course is to fill a requirement to ensure collection manager leaders understand the role and training requirements of their subordinates and ensure leadership has the training and knowledge to effectively and efficiently execute their role. This course is envisioned for the DIA civil service grade GG-14 and the projected course length is 3–5 days, depending on the feedback from the SME panel and the needs of the students. The projected implementation of this course is set for 2021The Certified Collection Management Professional-Fundamentals (CCMP-F) program is part of a DOD-wide initiative to bring the intelligence workforce to a professional level. The Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence directed the development of professional certification programs to ensure an integrated, agile intelligence workforce that can meet the intelligence community’s needs in a dynamic environment. Its purpose is to develop, define, and measure broad-based core competencies for CM professionals across the Defense Collection Management Enterprise (DCME). The DCME includes all agencies, Services, and combatant commands involved in Defense Collection Management.

The CCMP-F was developed by, and for, collection managers. The vision is to develop a CM workforce of certified professionals through: establishing a common lexicon of terms for CM professionals, maximizing the capability of these professionals to work in a multi-international environment, and allowing these CM professionals to apply their skills and knowledge to operations at all echelons. This certification program is open to all civilians, military members, and contractors, especially those that work with CM. However, a CM background is not required. The knowledge required to pass the certification exam from the Essential Body of Knowledge (EBoK) will enhance intelligence professionals, regardless of discipline.

Individuals who are interested in the program can log into, on an unclassified system, for the most up to date information. The test is a proctored and contains 100 multiple-choice questions and takes place in one of 17 worldwide exam facilities. The questions on the test are generated from the EBoK, which is online for viewing/printing. Those interested may pick up a hard copy at the office located in DIA headquarters. The key to passing this test is to study the EBoK, and think of this exam as retaking a driver’s license exam. Most people have a valid driver’s license and operate vehicles coherently enough to use them when needed, but how many people remember all of the rules and guidance listed in the licensing manual? How far should one park from a fire hydrant? When is a turn right on red permissible? What are all of the rules on passing a school bus? Those who want to pass, better study! The current pass rate is 49%. Those who study an average of 20 hours have a much higher success rate than those who study less. Those who pass are certified for two years and may renew using one of two routes: retake the exam or submit a log of 100 professional development units (PDUs). PDUs document students’ continuing education and learning in the field of CM and all PDUs tie back into the knowledge, skills, and abilities listed in the EBoK and tested in the exam.

There are several benefits to becoming a certified member, and the one that applies to all certificants is the post nominal students earn. It is a definitive delineator that says, the person entitled to display it has taken the only peer-reviewed testing medium overseen by a psychometrician and, therefore, has a solid foundation. (A psychometrician is a doctor in the field in psychology and education who is devoted to testing, measurement, assessment, and related activities.) 

For enlisted military members, there are defined benefits for gaining this certification via the Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program. The United States Army grants 40 promotion points for enlisted members who become certificants, and the other Services have displayed various degrees of credence and reciprocity.

These are the current offerings for CM and J2621is striving to expand and expound its offerings and portfolio. There appears to be a “one and done” implementation schema when it comes to CM, and while force development and the desire to broaden the experiences of intelligence professionals may drive this pragmatic approach, everyone is strongly encouraged to examine CM principles and practices. The processes and lessons learned in CM contribute to the effective prosecution of the JIP and the assessments are often overlooked aspects that are keys to a unit’s success. Leaders cannot improve their unit or processes without measuring themselves with validity and accuracy. This is just one of the many benefits inherent in CM and will enhance a person’s ability to support the mission whether directly involved in CM or not.

Maj Douglas Wietlisbach is an Air Force officer serving as the Branch Chief for J2621 and the functional manager for CM at the DIA. His main responsibilities are training, doctrine, and policy.