The intelligence community has had a bit of a rocky road the past few years when it comes to working with the former president. However, despite the politics, careers in the field are still grabbing the attention of young people and inspiring employees with exciting missions.
“The relationship with the former president had been under stress and it has impacted morale, at least as an outside observer I’ve seen that,” said Larry Valero, department head for intelligence and security studies at The Citadel, during a discussion sponsored by the school. “But the intelligence community has dedicated professionals in it that have the best interest of the security of the country at heart.”
Valero said politics will always swing opinions back and forth, but the IC is always there weathering the storm and continuing to provide important and relevant information to the government.
“I assure my students that this is an honorable line of work that is really dependent on their future leadership and the skills that they can bring to the table in order to keep our country safe,” he said. “Annually, the intelligence communities and the agencies that are a part of it ranked very high in terms of the best places to work, there’s a great balance between work and family life.”
The new challenges constantly presented to the IC keeps professionals motivated and excited, and the importance of the work keeps employees engaged in the subjects they work on, Valero said.
With the current threat landscape, there are more of those subjects than ever.
“We have seen a pretty significant change in terms of what the intelligence community and the larger national security enterprise has focused on,” Valero said. “We’ve moved from largely a counterterrorism mission since 9/11, to one that is reengaging with what we call peer-on-peer conflict, conflict with other countries in a number of arenas, economic, political, the cyber domain, and elsewhere.”
Recently, the IC is also honing in on domestic right-wing extremism.
Cyber and space are growing as domains for intelligence, but also areas where the IC can glean new information.
“Data science and cyber operations are very marketable. Right now, if you have skills in those areas, they’re very much in demand in the intelligence community,” he said. “Space is important as well. With the establishment of the United States Space Force, its intelligence element has just been stood up as a constituent member of the intelligence community. There are going to be opportunities there as well, not just now but in the future.”
“We are beta testing analytic software that we have helped develop in two courses this semester, a special topics course examining critical infrastructure protection and our intelligence capstone course,” he said.
That work is led by a wide variety of experienced professionals that work at the school.
“Our faculty have worked at the White House, the FBI, CIA and National Counterterrorism Center, Army Intelligence, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Coast Guard Intelligence, and even Capitol Hill,” Valero said.
To meet the nation’s growing demand for intelligence professionals, The Citadel offers both undergraduate and graduate-level intelligence degrees that can be completed online.