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Research Questions

  1. What are key analytic knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics of 35F analysts, and how might the 35F career life cycle affect the development and retention of key analytic competencies?
  2. What measures and methods can be used to assess analytic competencies and job proficiency?
  3. What is the association between key competencies, training proficiency, and job proficiency for 35F analysts?

U.S. Army military intelligence (MI) analysts work in increasingly complex and dynamic operational environments requiring intangible competencies, such as critical thinking (CT) and adaptability. This report describes the development and implementation of a process to assess key analytic competencies and proficiency of the Army's analysts in the 35F military occupational specialty and the design of a protocol for ongoing evaluation. The study included subject-matter expert interviews and document review to identify key analytic tasks for 35F analysts; a review of research regarding competencies associated with intelligence analysis and measures of those competencies; and a field study assessing competencies, life-cycle factors, training proficiency among junior analysts, and job proficiency among junior and midgrade analysts. Analysis of training proficiency results shows that analysts with greater general mental ability had higher grade-point averages and better odds of graduating from initial skill training than other analysts had. Results comparing junior and midgrade analysts indicate that both groups have few opportunities to perform MI tasks on the job. Both groups were similar in most competencies, but midgrade analysts demonstrated higher CT skills than junior analysts did. Differences between junior and midgrade analysts in job proficiency were mixed; junior analysts performed better on some criteria and midgrade analysts performed better on others. However, job proficiency scores were relatively low across groups, and few competencies predicted job proficiency; these findings could be a result of skill decay or low motivation of study participants.

Key Findings

35F Analysts Require a Range of Cognitive and Noncognitive Competencies

  • Critical competencies for 35F analysts include general mental ability, critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, domain knowledge, communication skills, adaptability, open-mindedness, and conscientiousness.
  • A range of established tests and surveys can be used to assess competencies and proficiency of 35F analysts.

General Mental Ability and Conscientiousness Are Key Predictors of Proficiency in Training

  • 35F analysts with greater general mental ability than other analysts and who were more conscientious than other analysts had higher grade-point averages and higher odds of graduating from initial skills training than other analysts had.

35F Analysts Show Similar Competencies at Different Stages in the Career Life Cycle and Generally Lack Sufficient Opportunities to Perform Analytic Work on the Job

  • Junior and midgrade analysts were similar in most competencies, but midgrade analysts demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills.
  • Junior and midgrade analysts reported having few opportunities to perform military intelligence tasks on the job and reported proficiency on only about half of key analytic tasks.

Few Competencies Were Associated with Job Proficiency

  • Differences between junior and midgrade analysts on tests of job proficiency were mixed; however, scores were relatively low across groups, and few competencies predicted job proficiency. These findings could be a result of skill decay or low motivation to complete study assessments.

Recommendations

  • Establish proficiency standards for analysts.
  • Develop and implement instruments to assess proficiency.
  • Provide analysts with sufficient opportunities to maintain and enhance their skills on the job.
  • Modify resources to support changes to assessment and development policy.
  • Expand on this study's findings in future research and practice by using alternative approaches to identifying key analytic competencies, assessing competencies not measured in the study, and addressing competencies for intelligence analysis conducted by teams.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Identifying the Competencies Required of 35F Analysts

  • Chapter Three

    Linking Analyst Competencies with Job Performance

  • Chapter Four

    Research Approach and Findings

  • Chapter Five

    Study Conclusions, Lessons Learned, and Recommendations for Ongoing Assessment and Development of Analytic Proficiency

  • Appendix A

    Detailed Results on Factors Predicting Proficiency

  • Appendix B

    Details About 35F Work-Experience Surveys

Research conducted by

This research was sponsored by the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2, U.S. Army, and conducted by the Personnel, Training, and Health Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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