APU Careers Careers & Learning

Teaching Experiences in the Intelligence Field

Recently American Public University (APU) interviewed Dr. Jonathan Lockwood, to gain a “professorial view” of the APU experience and how the University manages to accommodate the needs of hard-working students. He understands very well, from personal experience, that many current and prospective students have busy lives, family obligations, and active careers in the military, the government, or in the private sector.  He has been with the university for many years, first as an adjunct professor and later as a full-time professor.  He is also a full-time employee of the Federal government, which has maintained a long tradition of encouraging working professionals to share their knowledge and experience by teaching and lecturing in the public and private sectors.

Dr. Lockwood: I recently retired in May 2007 as a Colonel in Strategic Intelligence from the US Army Reserve, having spent nearly the first 13 years on active duty. I spent 12 years of my Reserve career as a Professor on the Reserve faculty of the Joint Military Intelligence College (now the National Defense Intelligence College), and left the faculty to go into the Individual Ready Reserve shortly after being promoted to Colonel.

Prior to coming on active duty in 1980, I had earned my MA and PHD in International Affairs (Soviet Area concentration) from the University of Miami in Coral Gables.  While in the Army I served as an instructor from time to time, but my next real exposure to teaching was when I was assigned to DIA.  I  was selected in 1992 to be a Fellow in the DCI Exceptional Intelligence Analyst Program, and assigned as a Research Faculty member at what was then the Defense Intelligence College (later to become the Joint Military Intelligence College and ultimately the National Defense Intelligence College).  When I left the Active Army in April 1993 and transferred into the Reserves, I taught both as an adjunct professor for the JMIC and on Reserve duty and as one of their faculty member until the end  of 2004.

As for my history with APU itself, I was first contacted in 1995 by Dr Kenneth Campbell, who at the time was the Department Chair for APU’s new Masters Degree in Strategic Intelligence.  He offered me the opportunity to join the faculty of APU as an adjunct professor. Over the next 13 years, I would eventually design and teach over 20 different courses, mostly in the Intelligence field, but occasionally ranging into other areas such as Space Studies, National Security Studies, and even Political Science on occasion.

APU: Over the last 10 or so years, you must have gotten a pretty good idea of what your students are like.  You teach mostly in the intelligence field, as you mentioned.  Do you have a feel for the students’ age range?  What percentage has families as well?  My understanding is that they include active duty military, ex-military, and civilians.  Where do the civilians generally come from, do you know?

Dr. Lockwood: The average age of APU’s students is 32, and, I can tell you that most of my students (who are now just over half of the students I teach) range in age from mid-20s to mid-40s.  It is seldom that I get any students younger than their early 20s, and if I do, it is when I am teaching an undergraduate intelligence course.  Because of their age, the overwhelming majority of my students also have at least a spouse, if not children as well. Many are soldiers who are looking ahead to eventual careers after the military, mostly in the intelligence field.  As for the civilians, a good number of them are actually former military, but you also get a high number of government civilians or contractors who are trying to improve their credentials in the field.  I am also starting to see an increasing number of foreign students as well from various countries, including Russia, France, Great Britain, and even Sri Lanka! 

APU: Who guides them through the process of finding out what they want to become?

Dr. Lockwood: The starting point for all APU students is their student advisor, who will initiate them into the online learning environment and make the transition easier.  A primary source of guidance, however, comes from the professors themselves, all of whom are either past or current members of the Intelligence Community, and who can provide invaluable assistance to the student in determining the potential direction of their intelligence career.  Student should make every effort to solicit advice and discussion from individual professors, all of whom are dedicated to improving the effectiveness of the intelligence profession.

APU: Since so many of them are in their early to mid-careers, and have family obligations, do these present problems for them – or for you?  Please give some examples.  How do you handle those issues?  What’s the school’s policy?  What discretion do you have?

Dr. Lockwood: In spite of their best intentions, there are students who cannot complete course requirements within the normal period allotted for the course (either 8 weeks or 16 weeks, depending on the version being offered).  Most of these students are best served by requesting a 30 day end of course extension, which they can do up to two times.  This enables the students to complete their coursework without much problem.  I usually advise students to try catching up on their own within the normal time period of the course.  If they discover by the last week of the course that they cannot meet the course requirements prior to the course end date, that is when they should apply for a course extension through the APU registrar, citing their detailed rationale. Some of our students cite participation in response to major natural disasters or unplanned orders to deploy, and I almost always approve such requests in those circumstances. Incidentally, I have found that after the overseas students get settled into their overseas deployment, many of them re-enroll in my courses.  They discover that they actually have the time to do it.

APU: You’re saying there are still second chances; they won’t blow it if they have to drop out?

Dr. Lockwood: Of course!  That is a major reason why the online distance learning environment at APU was developed in the first place, to account for the special needs of such students.  Although the original concept had primarily military members deployed overseas in mind, it also can accommodate students who have to deal with major life crises such as divorce, prolonged illness, financial instability, unemployment, or any other major disruptive experiences you can think of.  We encourage such students to maintain contact with their professors and student advisors at APU, and when they feel they are ready to resume their studies, we help them pick up where they left off. 

APU: Let’s focus specifically on intelligence studies.  How can a student tell if they should focus on the operational side of intelligence studies, rather than on the analyst side?  What’s the main difference between the two, anyway?

Dr. Lockwood: Actually, that choice is pretty much already made for the student by virtue of the nature of the APU intelligence curriculum and the major difference between analysis and operations.  The operational side of intelligence tends to focus on intelligence collection activities, most of which are inherently classified due to the need to protect methods and sources.  While APU students can learn about intelligence collection or intelligence operations at the unclassified level, in addition to the advantages and disadvantages of each method of collection, they cannot learn to become intelligence operators per se just from their academic studies, with the exception of gathering open source intelligence.  This is not necessarily a disadvantage, since about 80% of intelligence information is gathered through the exploitation of open sources.  It is the individual intelligence agency that trains the entry-level (or mid-level) intelligence professional to become an intelligence operator or collector.

On the other hand, intelligence analysis is the process of converting raw collected information into actionable intelligence that can be acted upon by the commander or national policymaker.  The methods of intelligence analysis are all inherently unclassified, and so can be readily learned in an academic environment using open source information.  The main emphasis at APU therefore, is on producing an intelligence analyst rather than an intelligence operator.  It is the primary foundation upon which all other intelligence skills can be built.

APU: Are there specialization courses?

Dr. Lockwood: Certainly!  In fact, the variety of specialization areas can be somewhat bewildering for the new students, since a casual examination of the Intelligence Studies curriculum on the on the APUS Web site will show that there are many more concentrations than a student could possibly take advantage of within a single degree program, although taking two concentrations is possible.  Aside from the “general studies” concentration, one can concentrate in Competitive Intelligence, Criminal Intelligence, Homeland Security, Information Warfare, Intelligence Analysis, Intelligence Collection, and Intelligence Operations, to name just a few.

 APU: Once they’ve gotten the degree, what’s next? 

Dr. Lockwood: Most begin applying for jobs at the entry level either in the Intelligence Community or with a defense contractor in need of analysts.  Because of the continuing high demand for entry level intelligence analysts by the Intelligence Community, this guarantees a fairly high success rate.  In many cases, their prior military experience (along with the possession of a TS/SCI security clearance) gives them an additional “leg up.” The APU degree then becomes the icing on the cake for many employers.

APU: I understand you actually hired one of your former students to work with you at the Department of Homeland Security.  Without naming names, what sort of job was it?  What is he doing now, do you know?

Dr. Lockwood: I know the student you are talking about.  While I was working for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis from 2005-2007, I was the Branch Chief in charge of building their Intelligence Training, Education, and Professional Development programs.  This student had recently graduated with the Masters in Strategic Intelligence from APU, and wanted to work for me in DHS.  I hired him to be my Senior Intelligence Officer (SIO) for Training, and he headed up a small team of contractors that eventually put together and taught the Basic Intelligence Threat Analysis Course (BITAC), which was the first DHS course designed to teach entry-level analysts how to function in the DHS Intelligence environment.  The pilot course was taught in January 2006, and it is now being offered quarterly.  The student has since left DHS to work for General Dynamics, and I believe he has begun pursuit of a PHD degree in Executive Leadership at George Washington University.

APU: You’ve also helped other students find new jobs?  Can you give me some examples?

Dr. Lockwood: One of my other students who graduated from APU with his Masters in Strategic Intelligence was not only hired by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at DHS, but he also has gone on to begin teaching as an adjunct professor himself in our Undergraduate Intelligence program!  This is an example of our graduate students not only joining the Intelligence Community, but then giving back to APU as professors themselves.  One of my early graduate students, Mr. Niklas Oxeltoft (from Wales in the United Kingdom of Great Britain), is another excellent example.  He was one of the most enthusiastic advocates of my Lockwood Analytical Method for Prediction (LAMP) and designed my original LAMP website.  He was also able to gain employment with a Swedish law enforcement agency.  I have provided numerous references for students who wish to pursue doctoral studies, and these students are developing success stories themselves.

APU: Here’s a key question. Obviously you’re confident that the kinds of people who succeed at APU are, or become, highly employable.  That’s partly because they had the drive, the ambition, the VISION, to improve themselves.  Do you get a feel for what they get out of the experience?  What do their employers say, do you know?

Dr. Lockwood: I do not get that much feedback from employers as such, but I do get constant feedback from my graduates who say that the courses they took at APU not only gave them the tools they needed to succeed as an intelligence analyst, but also the ability to be a “self-starter,” which is critical in the online learning environment.

APU: Do you have any general words of wisdom for future would-be students and graduates of APU?

Dr. Lockwood:  If you are a motivated student, you should feel comfortable working in an online environment.  APU offers you the chance to pursue your academic goals at your own pace.  The key qualities for a successful APU student are persistence, patience, and focus.  Even if you don’t have these qualities in abundance at first, APU will help you develop those qualities over the long term as you pursue your degree.

Comments are closed.