Football, like many sports, is based on the statistics of the game. Learning and comparing that data to determine how teams will compete against each other and which should come out on top in any given rivalry is an analysis skill that can be learned.
Using the same idea, soldiers from Fort Polk and across the United States train at Fort Polk’s Counter Improvised Explosive Device Integration Cell to learn all-source intelligence skills used during a deployment — all while performing the mission of their normal military operation specialty.

Football, like many sports, is based on the statistics of the game. Learning and comparing that data to determine how teams will compete against each other and which should come out on top in any given rivalry is an analysis skill that can be learned.
Using the same idea, soldiers from Fort Polk and across the United States train at Fort Polk’s Counter Improvised Explosive Device Integration Cell to learn all-source intelligence skills used during a deployment — all while performing the mission of their normal military operation specialty.
“We are teaching soldiers — most with an MOS (like truck driver) that has nothing to do with analyzing intelligence — to perform intelligence operations, use intelligence tool sets like pattern analysis, link diagrams and association matrixes," said Christopher Maxwell, a Forces Command Counter IED Integration Cell, Company Intelligence Support Team instructor (COIST). "Then they learn how to use these tools to develop a big picture about what’s happening on the battlespace.”
Being a member of a COIST isn’t an additional duty for these soldiers — it’s a dedicated duty, said Maxwell. Typically four to six people man a cell, but it’s under the commander’s discretion as to how they are utilized.
As part of the CI2C Company Intelligence Support Teams classroom training, a scenario was introduced to the four members of the COIST class taught by Maxwell during the week ending Aug. 24.
Class members worked together using the intelligence skills they had been taught in the week-long class to construct a presentation with little information. They then performed a mock briefing for their S2 and company commander — as they will have to do when deployed. This exercise was the culmination of their training. The briefing took place Aug. 24 at a classroom inside Fort Polk’s CI2C training facility, bldg 4276.
The training is a requirement from the FORSCOM Pre-Deployment Guidance that enables battalion S2s (the intelligence section of a battalion) who can be overwhelmed due to information overload, according to Maxwell.
“A COIST can take some of the workload off an S2, as well as provide direct intelligence to their company commanders and patrols," he said. "In fact, a COIST is just like an S2, but on the company level. The members of the cell debrief their peers who are seeing what’s happening first hand within their own area of operations. In turn, they are able to analyze the information to produce actionable intelligence to their peers."
The soldiers that performed the briefing are members of A Co, 94th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. Maxwell said that like these four soldiers, a lot of the guys that take the classes know each other because they are in the same company, but they don’t know each other well.
“This class almost immediately forces them to begin to identifying key skill sets in one another," he said. "The class allows them to gain trust in each other’s abilities and develop as a team that works well together."
Pfc. Brian Noland said that by working in smaller groups, like this class, instead of with the entire platoon, you discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
“I didn’t even know I could write a timeline down and figure out a link analysis until I did it with these guys,” Noland said.
“I had to think a lot, especially hen we were trying to put this big puzzle together and find the next piece before something bad happened,” he said. “If you fail to use the skills learned here during a deployment, you’ll know you didn’t stop the attack, such as an improvised explosive device, when you could have solved that next piece of the puzzle before it happened."
Pfc. Fred Hopkins said he found the class difficult at first.
“The information was hard to wrap your head around," he said. "You had to read what was going on, figure out who was supposed to be doing what and then you started to develop a picture in your head. As long as you maintain the proper degree of focus about what is going on, you’ll be alright. I know these skills were hard to learn and it will be even more stressful when we are deployed, but it’s going to save lives when we go on our missions and gather the information the commanders need while doing our normal duties."
Spc. Enrique Goodridge said once the pieces start falling into place, things get interesting.
“You had to read the material multiple times to find every little piece of information," he said. "Every time you read it, you discovered something new. It’s fun, but it’s hard work. To me, the scenario we were given seemed very real."
The scenario was only a paragraph long and involved a known local terrorist along with a couple of key pieces of information that students had to flesh out using everything they learned in the class.