Intelligence Officer

Job description

Intelligence Officers provide military intelligence support in operations, planning and decision-making. Their work has an impact on military and national security, and the political and public relations of the government.

The primary responsibilities of Intelligence Officers are to:

  • Recognize and analyze information which is likely to affect military operations, national policies and objectives
  • Command, direct and control an intelligence unit, section or team
  • Operate and manage information technology systems
  • Advise and plan employment of sophisticated intelligence collection and surveillance systems
  • Safeguard highly classified material

Transcript

INTELLIGENCE OFFICER

HARDING: We live in a dangerous century of asymmetric threats and sudden terror when reading the enemy’s mind is more important and more difficult than ever.

GODEFROY: If you’re ready to lead a team performing real-time, real-world analysis on the front lines of the information age, then serving as an Intelligence Officer in the Canadian Forces may be the best decision you will ever make.

TITLE:

INTELLIGENCE OFFICER

I’m Major Jim Godefroy. I’m an Intelligence Officer from Montreal, Quebec, and I work at the Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.

And I’m Lieutenant Navy Sharlene Harding from Brampton, Ontario. I’m an Intelligence Officer serving with the Canadian Forces Support Training Group in Kingston.

HARDING: The days of knowing who the enemy is, how many battalions they have and how they fight are over. Our job is to predict the future in an asymmetric world where enemies like al-Qaeda and the Taliban have the potential to surprise us -- and hurt us -- every day.

GODEFROY: On deployment, or on base, it’s our responsibility to make sure that the people who need to be informed are informed because these days, it’s not just knowing what’s going on on the ground, it’s knowing what the ground looks like -- the weather, the terrain, the people and the politics.

From a tsunami in Asia to Hurricane Katrina to the situation in central Africa, Canada’s military and political leaders need to know what’s happening as it’s happening. It’s the duty and the privilege of Intelligence Officers to lead the teams that collect and provide them with that information.

HARDING: I’ve been an Intelligence Officer for eight years now. I served as a liaison officer during Operation Halo in Haiti and I went to Bosnia as a task force intelligence officer where my job was to keep our troops safe from external threats among the population.

GODEFROY: Their lives and the possibility that they may come to harm rests on the knowledge that the commander has of what he’s facing going in. So there is quite a heavy burden as far as that goes. You know that the information that you and your staff are able to provide is going to assist him in making a better decision about what risks he can take.

HARDING: To do that, Intelligence Officers in the Canadian Forces rely on some of the best training, the best people and the best resources in the world.

GODEFROY: As your career advances, there are opportunities for specialization and promotion in fields like Strategic Analysis and Intelligence Operations, all the way up to being a Senior Canadian Liaison Officer at an embassy or Intelligence Advisor at a military command overseas.

Successful Intelligence Officers are people who are book-smart with a great hunger for learning, for reading and for knowing what’s going on all around the world.

HARDING: When we read the news and you see something that’s either unbelievable or you knew it was going to happen – that kind of stuff really excites me, so military coups or instability in different regions of the world, it sounds kinda morbid saying it excites me, but it interests me and it makes me want to learn more about it.

GODEFROY: You can find yourself as a quite junior person being the one individual who’s there providing this information and conveying this information to a very senior audience, so you have to become quite comfortable very quickly, both with being self-confident about the information that you’re presenting and also being able to communicate that information effectively to somebody who you might find a little bit intimidating given their rank or position.

HARDING: If you can go in there with “this is the problem, this is what I recommend” or “this is my solution” and “this is based on extensive research that you’ve done”, then you’re fine.

If this sounds like the career you’re looking for, there are two main routes to move from the civilian world to become an Intelligence Officer in the Forces.

GODEFROY: One is to attend the Royal Military College in Kingston. RMC gives you a great education of public expense and a commission and full salary as soon as you graduate. All you owe them when you graduate are three years of full-time service to your country.

HARDING: Or if you already have a degree in Geography, Economics, Journalism, International Studies or a related field from a Canadian university, you can move straight to the Forces under what’s called the Direct Entry plan with an officer’s salary, benefits and pension kicking in the day you join.

GODEFROY: Either way, you’ll go through the same basic field-craft and weaponry training that infantry, artillery and armoured officers get. You’ll learn how a modern army moves and fights and you’ll begin to understand that true leadership doesn’t come in a nice neat envelope with your commission. It’s something you have to earn every day.

HARDING: When your Basic Officer and Common Army phase training is complete, you’ll enter the Basic Intelligence Officer Course here in Kingston. That’s where you’ll start to learn about open- and closed-source information gathering, threat assessments and analysis. You’ll work with and lead a section of non-commissioned Intelligence Operators as they prepare briefings and monitor enemy communications.

GODEFROY: You’ll probably spend a lot of your time on base working behind a desk. It’s sort of like editing a small newspaper supervising the news-gatherers and molding their reports into a concise, readable form. Of course, in military intelligence, there are lives on the line and Canadians in harm’s way. If you get it wrong, you can’t just run a correction the next day.

HARDING: Do you know when your mission is completed or when things are successful? Traditionally, at the end of your mission when you’re coming back home and everyone’s coming back with you, you know your mission’s been done.

GODEFROY: Knowing that you’ve had this instant impact on the situation, being able to see what the impact is of what information you’ve provided is quite gratifying. It keeps people going.

HARDING: Wherever you go as an Intelligence Officer, there’s a lot of writing, a lot of thinking and a lot of getting up and telling a group of people what you’ve learned and what you think is going to happen. You have to prove yourself, but when you do prove yourself, you get incredible respect -- and earning respect is what being an officer is all about.

TITLE:
INTELLIGENCE OFFICER

Overview

Working environment

Intelligence Officers usually work in an office environment but they can also participate in local, national and international operations, in various climates and conditions.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Intelligence Officer is $51,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (Navy) or Captain, their salary is approximately $74,000 per year.

Intelligence Officers generally begin their career as a Watch Officer, Strategic Analyst or Intelligence Operations Officer, to gain experience under supervision. Intelligence Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Intelligence Analyst or Operator
  • Political Analyst
  • Information Management Specialist
  • Police and Security Investigator and Consultant

Back to top

Training

Basic military officer qualification

After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.

Common Army phase

After basic training, you will go to the Infantry School at the Combat Training Centre in Gagetown, New Brunswick. You will build upon the leadership training you received in basic officer training in addition to learning the skills required of all Combat Arms Soldiers, including more advanced weapons-handling, field-craft, and section-level tactics.

Professional training

Intelligence Officers attend the Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence in Kingston, Ontario. This course lasts approximately six months. Training includes intelligence skills and theory, strategic analysis, threat assessment and intelligence support. Emphasis is placed on leadership, administration, writing, oral briefing, and theory and application of intelligence operations. Intelligence Officers will learn to supervise and lead an intelligence section in tactical operations.

Specialty training

Intelligence Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Strategic Defence Intelligence Analyst
  • Advanced Intelligence Officer Course
  • Counter Intelligence
  • Interrogator
  • Source Handling
  • Imagery Analysis

There are different areas an Intelligence Officer can be employed into including for example, Human Intelligence, Counter Intelligence, Targeting Intelligence, among others.

Back to top

Entry plans

Direct entry

If you already have a university degree, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.

Paid education

Regular Officer Training Plan

Because this position requires a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a Bachelor degree program at a Canadian university. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time.

Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. In some instances, the CAF is able to pay for Officer Cadets to attend other Canadian universities in a relevant degree program.  Officer Cadets who attend other Canadian universities typically attend university during the regular academic year and participate in additional military training during the summer months.  If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the Canadian university of your choice. For more information, see Paid education.

Back to top

Part-time option

This occupation is available part-time within the following environments: Navy, Army, Air Force

Serve with the Reserve Force

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at a Reserve Unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part-time employment

Intelligence Officers may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force. They provide military intelligence analysis support in operations, planning and decision-making. Their work has an impact on military and national security, and the political and public relations of the government. When employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis they usually serve at CAF unit locations within Canada.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic officer training, the home unit will arrange for additional training for specialized skills. Intelligence Officers attend the Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence in Kingston, Ontario for approximately six months to achieve their qualification.

Working environment

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.

Back to top

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Privacy statement

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: