Critical Thinking And Structured Analysis Course

Analyst Training: Writing, Analysis, and Preparing Briefings

Introductory courses for either new or relatively new analysts who have had little hands-on experience in analysis, writing and briefing or for analysts who want to improve their current analytical writing skills.  We teach these as either two-day or three-day courses.  Both courses are designed to get analysts off to a good start in as little time as possible, recognizing that there are important time constraints in such training and that much will also be learned on the job. Our courses allow analysts to be more effective thinkers, writers and communicators sooner.  Both courses examine the role of intelligence in the policy process and then offer an introduction to analytic skills, beginning with critical thinking and reading, writing analysis, and preparing and presenting successful briefings. Much of what is required for good analytical writing takes place before the analyst actually begins to write.  The scoping and planning of the intelligence analysis therefore are major areas of emphasis in these courses, as well as issues of format, length, word selection, etc.  The two-day courses ends with an in-class exercise that seeks to give the students a chance to practice what they have learned.  The three-day course devotes the third day to a capstone exercise, giving the students a more extensive and in-depth opportunity to practice their new skills.  In either format, we create exercises and capstones that will reflect the areas of interest or concern of the client rather than an abstract exercise.  Past exercises have included the areas of diplomacy, homeland security, first responders’ tasks, cyber security for businesses, etc.  These courses have been taught to U.S, government agencies, U.S. and international banks, travel security firms and utilities. (note: the 2-day course is offered through the OpenAcademy for individual enrollment typically once or twice a year)

Analytic Management Training

Prepares managers who are relatively new to intelligence analysis for the issues they will confront as they manage intelligence analysts. Among the issues that are covered are: defining and understanding policy maker needs, the nature of the interagency process, a “typical” analytic day, cultural habits of analysts and the hallmarks of good analysis – defined as analysis that will be of use to policy makers. This is a 1-day course.

Congress and National Security

Examines the role of Congress across a broad range of national security issues – defense, intelligence and foreign policy and through diverse activities – hearings, investigations, budgets. The course is designed to get individuals more accustomed to working with Executive branch agencies a better appreciation for this equally important component of the government. This is a 1-day course.

Critical Thinking

Focuses on a key aspect of analytic tradecraft, the ability to think through a series of conflicting and competing data, but doing so in a manner that is self-aware of the quality and integrity of the thought process.  This course is specifically designed to reflect the standards for analytic integrity and tradecraft as prescribed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203.  Using case-based discussion leadership as the predominant teaching methodology, augmented by several facilitated discussions, this two-day seminar introduces the students to intellectual virtues or traits useful in critical thinking as well as the barriers to critical thinking; structured analytic techniques; and allows  the students to apply ethics in analysis. This is a two-day course.

Cyber Security: Risk & Mitigation

The litany of recent high profile cyber-attacks has focused the attention of managers, corporate officers and boardrooms on their exposure to cyber risk. The pervasiveness of cyber in all aspects of an organization’s daily activities raises both vulnerabilities and opportunities. We offer courses designed to help managers and leaders gain the familiarity they need to deal with cyber-related issues that will affect their enterprise, whether in the public or private sector, and to begin to assess their relative risk in cyber. These courses focus on vulnerabilities, the inevitability of cyber-attacks and the corporate and legal responsibilities involved to manage and mitigate the risk. These courses addresses cyber risk as an existing threat with a focus on the managerial requirements to understand that risk and mitigate its impact. Presentations and level of detail varies with the audience but these courses are appropriate for senior managers, IT professionals, executives, C-suite level leadership (CEO, CIO, CTO, CFO, et al.), Board of Directors, etc.  This is typically a one or two day course.

Cyberforce Superiority® – Executive/Managers Course

Many experts agree that cyber is a new warfighting domain, requiring new approaches and new skills.  This course is a five-day distillation of the longer, more detailed Cyberforce Superiority “Belts” courses. Unlike most cyber training courses that emphasize either computer security or hacking skills, our course is designed to give students a preliminary integrated understanding of the methodologies and interrelated offensive and defensive factors that come into play when training a cyber warrior.  Students will learn a sample of the introductory, mid-level, and high-level tactics used for Computer Network Operations (CNO) including Computer Network Attack (CNA) & Computer Network Exploitation (CNE), Computer Network Defense (CND), as well as Computer forensics.  Topics of instruction include: ethical hacking, Boolean Logic, networking for both advanced Unix and Windows, vulnerability identification, computer exploit development, and reverse engineering.  This will be a practical course with instruction that is focused on in-class computer exercises and lab work.   This course is offered in partnership with Raytheon Solipsys. This course is eligible for CEUs from George Mason University.Select this link for detailed information on our Cyberforce Superiority education program.

Cyberforce Superiority® – “Belts”

This is a cycle of 12-16 weeks of courses, taking the student from White Belt to the level of expertise they need, up to Black Belt.  This series is designed to take individuals from novice to a highly-skilled cyber warfare practitioner.  The topics are the same as in the Cyberforce Superiority™ Introduction course but in much greater depth and detail. This series is designed to allow the student to acquire exactly the skill level needed, making it highly effective in terms of cost and time.  Again, these are very hands-on courses with in-class labs following each teaching module. These courses are offered in partnership with Raytheon Solipsys. These courses are eligible for CEUs from George Mason University.Select this link for detailed information on our Cyberforce Superiority education program and each of our “Belts” courses.


Jointly with the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF, we offer a two-day GEOINT 101 course designed for both newcomers to geospatial intelligence as well as those interested in brushing up on the fundamentals and the current breadth of GEOINT. The course is developed around the idea of a systems view – describing structure, function, and processes. Students will be introduced to the basic concepts and definitions of GEOINT as the course explores the broad range of missions supported by national security, governmental, and commercial applications) and then focuses on how GEOINT is managed within the United States.

Health Security Analysis

Examines the still-developing field of health security intelligence (pandemics, biological terror or warfare) and examines what it is, what roles are played by health security, national and state/local intelligence and the types of analytic skills that homeland security analysis requires. This course runs from 1 to 2 days depending on the number of modules selected.

History of U.S. Intelligence

This is a one-day course that reviews the major events and trends that have shaped U.S. intelligence, from its colonial pre-history through the current day. Among the issues covered are: responses to external threats; the role of technology; espionage; Congress and partisan politics. This course gives attendees a much better context and understanding of the major forces that continue to influence or determine U.S. intelligence policy.

Homeland Security Intelligence

Examines the still-developing field of homeland security intelligence and examines what it is, what roles are played by homeland security, national and state/local intelligence and the types of analytic skills that homeland security analysis requires. This course runs from 1 to 2 days depending on the number of modules selected.

Intelligence and the Law

This half day course examines the legal and policy framework that governs the U.S. Intelligence Community. It presents the core legal authorities and restrictions — the Constitution, statutes, and Executive orders — and explores how and why they are applied to the conduct of U.S. intelligence today. Designed for a wide audience, the course reviews the history and evolution of intelligence law and policy and provides an in-depth look at selected laws that affect intelligence activities. Topics include:  Covert action; congressional oversight; privacy and civil liberties including electronic surveillance, FISA, and other restrictions on the conduct of intelligence; protection of sources and methods, classification, and leaks; the role of the DNI; and the laws and relationships that govern the fight against terrorism. This is a half-day course.

Intelligence Collection

This is a two-day course designed to explain how technical intelligence is collected; the special terminology used in different collection “INTs”; their capabilities and limitations; how they are used in practice; the intelligence that is gained from them; and how that intelligence supports policy makers and military operations. This course will be of use to a broad array of intelligence professionals – all source analysts, collection discipline specialists and analysts, and collection managers who need to understand how collection assets work in practice and the challenges of managing and interacting across collection disciplines. This course will also be of value for the national policy and military communities who use intelligence products in the furtherance of U.S. national security objectives.  This is a 2-day course.

Intelligence Community: An Introduction

Offered as either a 1-day or 2-day course.

In the one-day session, we offer a broad introduction to the major current issues in U.S. intelligence, typically including the current structure of the Community and the role of the agencies and the DNI; collection; analysis; current national security issues; the intelligence budget; and the role of Congress. This is an appropriate course for those who are fairly new to intelligence issues or as a refresher for those returning to intelligence issues.

In the two-day session, we provide a broad overview of the roles, functions and activities of the U.S. Intelligence Community. This course is specifically designed to provide government employees or contractor professionals who work with Intelligence Community clients a firm basis for understanding the Community’s roles, needs and culture and the issues that they are facing today as the Community deals with a new structure and new threats. This course places special emphasis on the changes that have been implemented since 2001 and how they are progressing. For the two-day session we typically cover six of the modules below.

  • The legal basis of the Intelligence Community
  • Structure & Missions: which agencies do what and why
  • 21st Century national security threats to the United States
  • Intelligence Collection: how the system works, what each type of collection does, its relative strengths and weaknesses
  • Issues in intelligence analysis
  • Intelligence Programs: structure of the intelligence budget
  • The role of Congress in intelligence
  • Intelligence Management Issues: major current management issues, especially those that tend to be obstacles to a more integrated approach to intelligence, including the agencies vs. the DNI, roles and missions, acquisition, security et al.
  • Intelligence and the Policy Maker: examples of how intelligence is used with senior policy makers, including the International Court of Justice and foreign officials

We also incorporate threat and collection exercises into the 1-day and 2-day sessions. These are particularly useful in helping the students to begin applying their knowledge to real problems.

If a client is interested in all of the modules we have to offer or would like additional exercises incorporated, we can extend to a 2 1⁄2 or 3-day course.

Intelligence Community: Advanced Seminar

Provides more in-depth examination of many of the issues covered in the introductory course, with a greater emphasis on viewing these as Community-wide issues at the managerial level. This course is designed for current or upcoming managers who will be supervising programs and staff in support of the Intelligence Community. The Advanced course also includes exercises to begin putting the course information to use. This is a 1-3 day course depending on the number of modules selected.

Intelligence Community 101 (IC-101)

This course is tailored for new intelligence officers, with presentations on the structure, mission and main issues facing U.S. intelligence and intelligence officers, regardless of agency or function. Topics include policy maker goals, issues in collection and analysis, the role of Congress, legal and ethical frameworks, and many others. The goal of the instruction is to provide the students with an understanding of key events in the history of the IC; the Intelligence Cycle; sourcing for the IC budget (National Intelligence Program and Military Intelligence Program) and the role of Congressional oversight (HPSCI and SSCI); the role of each of the 16 IC organizations, the major IC occupations, and the value of working joint IC projects through collaboration; the mechanisms and value of information sharing, partnerships, and teamwork; ODNI major components and functions; the Joint Duty Program goals; key events that shaped the ODNI’s establishment and contribute to its vision and leadership in the IC; how ethics and values underpin decision-making and mission accomplishment in the IC. Exercises enable students to apply their knowledge on a real-time basis. Case studies are conducted as a means of both enhancing the learning experience and testing the students’ knowledge of the material. This is typically a four-day course.

Intelligence Process

Covers in detail the issues and stress points that exist in each stage of the intelligence process or intelligence cycle: requirements, collection, analysis, dissemination, policy consumption and covert action. This course examines the interdependencies of each step in the process and includes the role of executive branch and congressional policy makers in each stage of the process. This is a 1-day course.

Intelligence Resource Management (Intelligence Budget)

Intelligence Resource Management thoroughly examine the financial management of intelligence resources in the federal government. This course provide students an in-depth understanding of the intelligence budget components, the creation of the budget in the Executive branch, consideration of the budget in Congress, and the actual expenditure of funds. Covered in detail are the National Intelligence Program (NIP) and its component programs and the Military Intelligence Program (MIP); the resource management systems used to formulate budgets for these programs; the roles of the Office of the DNI and the Under Secretary of Defense/Intelligence in formulating and coordinating the NIP and MIP; the role of the President’s Office of Management and Budget; the congressional budget process, with special emphasis on the authorization of intelligence activities, and highlights of budget execution. This is a highly interactive course with many in- class exercises. This is a 3-day course. This course is also offered in an abbreviated 2-day version through the OpenAcademy for individual enrollment typically once or twice a year.

Intelligence Support to Policy Makers

Designed to give analysts a much better sense of what policy makers want & expect from intelligence.  The course assesses policy-analyst relationships, the nature and importance of requirements and the fundamental of sound analysis, thus enabling the analysts to prepare papers that are intellectually sound, more on target as well as more creative.  This is a one-day course.

National Security Policy Process

Examines the role of the interagency process in the formulation of national-level security polices and intelligence. It provides an overview of security policy and strategy development and reviews the institutions, mechanics and output of this complex dynamic. The course reviews the roles and responsibilities of the White House and NSC, departments and agencies, Congress and the private sector. Through a critical review of relevant case studies, the course improves understanding of the national security decision making process and provides a practical foundation for policy consumers and intelligence analysts. This course complements our intelligence courses by providing a firm policy context. This is a one-day course.

National Security Policy Seminar

Offers an extensive exploration of the key processes, players and factors that influence U.S. national security policy.  The issues discussed include the national security policy process; bureaucratic cultures of key players; the interconnectedness of the various aspects of national security, including law, diplomacy, defense and intelligence; the role of Congress; the role played by external factors such as domestic and global economics, health issues and the media; and the challenges presented by transnational threats, counterinsurgency, radical Islam, energy security, cyber security, etc.  The course includes lectures, guest speakers and a variety of in-class exercises, including a capstone graduation exercise.  This course is either a 1-week or 2-week course, depending on the preferences of the client.

Risk Awareness Intelligence (RAI)®

This course offers an analytical approach that explores how to identify, analyze and evaluate unexpected risks; risks that are ignored because they seem irrelevant or unlikely; or are not considered because of the crush of day-to-day analysis.  The course begins with a discussion of indications and warning and issues involved in conveying warning and in estimating.  It then moves on to RAI, which is a concurrent, issue specific, focused and active approach to “defensive risk scouting.”  It helps identify, evaluate and manage the probable consequences of unknown, or overlooked, political, economic, technological, social, cultural, security and military risks likely to derail the best-laid strategy in private industry, or the best thought-out public policy. This course has been taught for multiple clients, including the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Joint Information Operations Warfare Command, and universities within the U.S. and overseas. This is a two-day course.  This course is also taught in Spanish or Portuguese at the client’s request.

Using the Internet as an Investigative Tool

The U.S. Intelligence Community estimates that some 80% of the intelligence it seeks is in open source intelligence, OSINT, meaning anything that is not classified or proprietary. At the same time, the Internet is a largely unstructured and unauthenticated body of data. Using the Internet in successful searches and investigations requires more than the rudimentary knowledge with which most people approach it. This one-day course is designed to improve students’ ability to use the Internet for very specific, targeted investigations, while also keeping in mind legal issues and the issue of internet security.

Regional Seminars

The Intelligence Academy will bring together groups of experts in a given region (current and former government officials, academics, journalists, business) to explore the current issues in a given region and their importance for the United States. Because of the nature of the people upon whom we rely for presentations, these seminars typically are unclassified. These are usually one to three-day seminars.

Any of our courses can be held at your site and tailored as appropriate.

In addition, we offer a limited number of our courses for individual enrollment through our OpenAcademy®. Please see our OpenAcademy schedule!

The objective of Strategic Foresight Analysis is to generate a solid set of scenarios that can bound the range of plausible alternative futures. It has proven highly effective in helping analysts, decision makers, and policymakers contemplate multiple futures, challenge their assumptions, and anticipate surprise developments by identifying “unknown unknowns.” In this course, students engage in hands-on exercises to apply foresight techniques that help them:

  • Identify key drivers
  • Generate alternative futures or trajectories
  • Develop validated indicators
  • Create action plans for complex issues

Topics and Techniques Explored: 

  • Definitions of predictions, forecasting, and foresight
  • A taxonomy of strategic foresight analytic techniques
  • Key Assumption Check
  • Structured Brainstorming
  • Multiple Scenarios Generation
  • Indicators Generation
  • Indicators Validation
  • The Opportunities Incubator™

This is a two-day classroom course, with up to 24 students. Instructor-led classroom learning emphasizes small group exercises.



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