0231 - Intelligence Analyst - What you need to know!
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    0231 - Intelligence Analyst - What you need to know!

    Alright, so in the interest of enlightening you poolee's and even some Marines (Enigmatic) on the Intelligence field and what it is like to be a Marine with the 0231 MOS, I've decided to put it all out there in one post. I get about 5 pm's a week asking the same questions so hopefully, this will help many of you in deciding if this MOS is something you're interested in and would like to pursue as a career. I'm going to break it down "Barney Style" and if you have any questions after reading this, then feel free to post them in this thread.

    Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that this information is based on what I've seen, done or heard about from my sources in the 02 field. It is basic information regarding your first tour in the Marine Corps as an Intel Analyst and will show you what to expect should you choose this MOS.

    Security Clearance:

    Prior to bootcamp, you should fill out a form called SF-86 which is the information needed to start your background investigation for your security clearance. While you're in bootcamp, this investigation should start to take place and someone from the Department of Defense will be assigned to contact people who know you in an effort to dig up information. They'll also speak with you at some point (my interview was during MCT) and then they'll submit their findings to the review board (called DONCAF) where they'll issue you a security clearance if they deem you trust worth. The entire process takes about 6 months but can last longer if you have information or a history that causes more investigation. You'll usually receive the decision around the time you check in to your first fleet unit but it may take longer. If you're denied a clearance, expect to be reassigned to another MOS. Some of the information that may cause a set back is relationships or family that are foreign nationals, negative information on your credit report, drug history or a criminal background. Basically anything that might cause you to compromise national security by selling classified information or providing it to someone who shouldn't have access. I can not stress this enough but be completely honest during your investigation because it's better for them to find out prior to you getting your clearance then after. This is not some game you can play with the government because they are spending on average $200,000 on your investigation and approval and they take perjury and treason pretty seriously.

    Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB):

    Although this wasn't offered when I went through school, apparently now, every student going through NMITC takes the DLAB to see if they qualify to go to the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey Bay, California. The test is simply pass/fail and from my understanding, there is no studying for it because it consists of a made up language and only measures your aptitude for comprehending and learning a new language. If you pass it, then you should be offered a spot at DLI following your completion of your 0231 course and you'll learn a language that is assigned to you there. You do not get to choose the language so you may end up learning Farsi, Arabic, Russian, Korean or anything else. If you fail, then no big deal and you will just go to your first fleet unit after school. There are no negative effects on your record if you don't pass so don't go stressing out about it.

    Intel School:

    Following your 13 weeks of bootcamp, you'll get you 10 days of leave and then come back and go through MCT for 3 weeks. Immediately following graduation from MCT, you'll jump on a plane and fly into Virginia Beach, Virginia where you'll then get in a shuttle and go to Dam Neck Naval Base. You'll be taken to the Naval and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center (NMITC) to check in and you will be wearing your Alpha uniform. Following this, you'll be taken back to the barracks where you'll have a room assigned to you and you can finally drop your gear. The rooms are like a dorm with two Marines to a room with electronic keys. When you walk in to the room, there is a common area with a small fridge, sink and some cabinets with a breakfast bar and some stools. There is a shared bathroom on the other side and then two separate rooms with a bed, desk, walk in closet, and some drawers. Easily the nicest living environment I had ever seen in the Marine Corps. Downstairs is a common area for the Marines with a bunch of sofas, big screen TV and a foosball table if memory serves correctly. Also, in the rooms there is internet and cable hook-ups but you have to pay for them monthly. Each deck has their own washers and dryers so you can do laundry whenever.

    Now, depending on how many students have already checked in for your class, you may begin your 0231 training immediately or you may have to wait a month or more for the rest of your class to graduate MCT and check in. If you do end up waiting for that month, you'll fill your time performing working parties around NMITC and taking English classes to learn proper grammar and writing.

    Once you class begins, you'll have a class lead instructor and one or two junior instructors. A common day is having:

    0600-0700 - PT
    0700-0800 - Shower, get dressed, grab some breakfast at the chow hall, form up in the parking lot next to the barracks and march to school as a class (barracks are about a mile from school)
    0800-1130 - Class
    1130-1300 - Chow
    1300-1630 - Class
    1630-0600 - Your Time

    During your 3 months of school, you'll be taught mapping, order of battle, C2PC/Falcon View (program used to make overlays and track forces and incidents), terrain models, the intelligence cycle, research methods, enemy tactics, common threats, military history and command structures to name a few. You'll also be required to give two briefs which account for a large portion of your final grade average. One will be on a country assigned and will include the military capabilities, their natural resources and population.

    The second will be on a foreign militaries weapon system such as the MIG-22 jet or a SA-7 rocket system. You will brief it as if you were briefing a unit who will be performing an operation and may encounter this weapon system. You will need to know the threats, its capabilities and what you unit should do if it encounters it.

    Your grades on each test, your briefs and other miscellaneous grades will be figured together for your class average. I can not stress to you how important it is to finish as high as possible in your class because that's how they determine what duty station you'll end up at. About 2 weeks before graduation, the instructors will write all of the available duty stations on the board and starting with the 1st in class, he/she will go up and write down their name next to the duty station they want, then the 2nd in class will go, and so on until all the spots are gone. You want to finish 1st or as high as possible because there are usually some good locations in the first few spots like Hawaii or a joint command if you're lucky. Usually the last couple people in the class get stuck in 29 Palms for 4 years and hate life (you'd understand if you've been there). Following your selections, you'll finish school and graduate as a basically trained 0231. You'll be allowed to take 10 days of leave again and then fly to where ever you have orders to and you'll check in to your first fleet unit.

    Many of you will be 18-20 years old and out on your own for the first time. I will caution you that although Virginia Beach is a great place to spend a couple months and you will have plenty of free time to go to the beach and party, make sure you stay out of trouble. Remember that at this point, you're a Marine now and you are charged to uphold the character and dignity that along with that title. Nobody anywhere is going to be impressed that you're a Marine when you're drunk off your a** and you get on a table in some dive bar and start singing, "From the Halls of Montezuma." Just stay out of trouble because there is no easier way to have your clearance revoked than by getting arrested at Intel School (I've seen it happen).

    The Fleet:

    First and foremost, let's put the misconception to rest that you're going to be out in the **** with the trigger pullers laying down suppresive fire and going on raids. Does it happen? On rare occasions or extenuating circumstances, yes it does. Realistically though, you'll spend the majority of your time working in an office with no windows (security reasons) and a big electronic door in a building called a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility) where they keep all the classified. If you're in an infantry battalion, you'll have secret level information only so it's not that locked up. Your main job as a 0231 is to support the war fighters who are at the tip of the spear, not be that tip. You may see my ribbon rack and say, "well he has a combat action ribbon and some other stuff so 0231's must be trigger pullers too." I was fortunate enough to be very good at what I did and because of that, I was the only Intelligence Analyst assigned to a counter intelligence team in Iraq. I did this for two of my four deployments and it was in Ramadi when it was the most dangerous city in the world. So don't get any ideas about kicking down doors and being a bad ass because it just isn't that way.

    With that being said, being a 0231 in the fleet is a lot different than having another MOS. You should be a PFC by now and some of you may even be a very junior LCpl. This doesn't mean anything because you're still going to be a boot who doesn't know how to do Intel yet. That's ok though because you're about to be fully indoctrinated into the job. You'll likely spend the first couple weeks doing admin stuff, getting checked in, getting your gear, going to dental and medical and learning from some of the Marines in your shop. Expect to have your hand held for the first month or so as they walk you through the way your unit does Intel (because every unit is different). You'll learn what products they produce on a regular basis and you'll begin to read up on current threat countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to better understand the current situations there. As you progress through your training, you'll learn more and be entrusted with more responsibility. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND SOMETHING. Nobody is going to scream at you for asking a question but you will get your ass handed to you if you assume you know and do something wrong. You're new to this and your NCO's realize that and will be more than willing to teach you. Expect to do countless briefs on useless information in order to familiarize you with public speaking. You'll also need to work on memorization because when you're deployed, you'll be reading through several hundred reports a day. Learn how to browse for key words and then go from there. You'll need to be able to not only retain this information but recall it when ever someone above you asks about it. You need to be the information repository that can spout off anything at any time. This is one of the keys that will make you a good analyst. Writing is another key skill set because you need to be able to formulate complete and coherent sentences. You'll learn all of this over time but if you don't have a fundamental concept of the English language currently, you better start to learn now.

    Life in garrison prior to deployments will likely consist of you learning about the area you'll be deployed to, doing briefs on these areas and building products similar to what you would do while deployed. Don't expect to do a lot of drill, marching, first aid training or anything else you'll learn in bootcamp because your job is Intel now. You'll work 0800-1630 most days with the evenings being your own time. Nobody is going to hold your hand in the fleet after work gets out...this isn't day care so don't ask me what you should do at the strip club on a Friday night because I don't care...just stay out of trouble.

    Regarding the units in the fleet, there are several different levels that a 0231 can expect to go to straight out of school. The lowest is an infantry battalion S-2 (Intel Shop). You will be the intel support for the grunts and providing them with current Intel on any threat that they might encounter is your primary mission. You won't have a great deal of responsibility as a junior Marine, mainly making slides for your NCO's and Officers to brief, building targeting packages to be given to the line companies prior to raids or patrols and making maps. However, these are all very important in the grand scheme of things and it is what drives the operational temp of the battalion in combat.

    Next would be your Regiment and consists of similar duties but at a larger scale. You'll be doing more analysis of specific individuals that the battalions might find of interest in targeting. You'll be dealing with a larger area of operations on the battlefield and you'll be looking across battalion boundaries for things that those Intel shops lower than you might not see.

    Above them is the MEF level which consists of either the MEF G-2 or an Intelligence Battalion. Intelligence Battalions are comprised of several different elements but as a 0231 is concerned, this is the level where you will be doing full blown analysis. In Iraq, our battalion was broken into section dealing with 3 different AO's (Denver, Topeka, and Raleigh) which spanned all across the Marines area of operations in Iraq. Separately, there were sections dealing strictly with daily attacks on our forces, the economic and political instability, airborne collection assts, imagery interpretation, Al-Qaeda link analysis and a current threat assessment team. All of these are comprised of 0231's with different experience levels and their main effort aside from supporting the trigger pullers was to basically solve the problems in Iraq. It's a lofty goal and one that is daunting to say the least but there have been successes made and as you can see today, Iraq, although far from perfect is still a huge step in the right direction compared to where it stood in 2004-2006.

    The air wing also has analysts whose main effort is to stay up to date with the air threat and brief the pilots prior to their missions. They are responsible for tracking any surface to air fire, determining what it was and keeping the pilots aware of any developing situations which may be a threat to them.

    Any of these jobs is primarily where you'll end up after graduating from Intel School. Following your first enlistment, you'll be able to go to other duty stations in the fleet or to some of the high speed jobs such as the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA), any of the joint commands like CENTCOM, Marine Special Operations Command (MarSOC), NMITC to be an instructor and train 0231's like the one's you're going to become or go to a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and do two floats to god knows where.

    After the Marine Corps:

    I get a lot of questions about what kind of opportunities are there for 0231's after they decide to get out so I'll throw my two cents in on that as well. I will tell you that there will never be a shortage of jobs for Intel analysts in this country, especially while we're fighting two wars. Being a 0231 in the Marine Corps means that you possess a desired skill set that will always be in high demand by both government agencies and defense contractors. You also possess that very important Top Secret Clearance meaning that you are able to access sensitive information for specific purposes. Companies are willing to pay well for someone with those qualifications so keep that in mind. I will use my story as an example but keep in mind also that I am one on many that have gotten out and done the same thing and don't let me be a deciding factor for you.

    After 5 years in the Marine Corps and 4 deployments to Iraq, I decided to get out in October of 2007. I started floating my resume on a few websites prior to my EAS and I had several job offers before I got out. I was hired over the phone by a company in Tampa as an intelligence analyst and went to work as a defense contractor in Baghdad making a middle six figure income tax free. I stayed there for almost a year until I decided I wanted to work back in the states so again, I sent my resume out and again, I had several job offers within two weeks. I'm not working for a British contracting company that supports the Marine Corps here in Quantico, VA and I've still got a six figure income. My wife is an active duty Sgt who is also an Intel analyst and works on Quantico so it was a nice fit and the company was more than willing to work with our relocation. Again, companies out there are willing to do what ever it takes because you possess that clearance! So don't worry about having to find a job if you decide to get out because they will be there. If you have a degree, then that is also a bonus and will only make you more marketable so keep that in mind. With any job in the Marine Corps, mission accomplishment comes first so you may not be able to find time for education all the time. However, there is no reason you can't get some college work done while you're in the states as long as you manage your time appropriately.

    I will tell you that being a 0231 in the Marine Corps is a great job, one of the best in fact because you get to see your work put into action on a daily basis. Whether it's seeing someone detained off of information you gave to the grunts or hearing your slides that you made were briefed to the SecDef and POTUS (That really happens). Like anything in life, you get what you put in to it and if you're smart and willing to learn, then it has more benefits than drawbacks. The MOS promotes relatively fast compared to others and it is a lot more laid back than your combat MOS's. Many of my good friends to this day were my NCO's when I was a young PFC and the connections you'll make while doing this job will benefit you if and when you get out.

    Ok, so that's about it in a nutshell, at least the broad stroke version. If you're got anymore specific questions regarding anything I wrote on here or anything I left out, then type away and I'll be happy to answer them for you.

    Semper Fidelis!

  2. #2
    I think that I might have one correction to the post regarding the DLAB. I was informed that it is a scored test, and that your score is what dictates the language that you learn, since some languages are much harder then others. Who knows, I could be wrong though haha.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha90 View Post
    I'm currently in the DEP for the 92 day Reserve program, and following this I'm planning on going into 0811, Artillery. If I do decide to go active duty following college, I want to do this MOS. How feasible is a lat-move into this MOS from another field?

    Also, if one decides to do OCS and become an officer, what is this MOS like in that area?

    Thanks in advance!
    Lat moving to Intel after your first enlistment will likely be approved. Currently, this MOS is a critical need for the Marine Corps and so it would be likely right now that you wouldn't have any issues pending you meet the qualifications. However, keep in mind that the Marine Corps is increasing its numbers and this may change in the next 3-4 years. I can't predict the future so I can't tell you for sure.

    Regarding the officer question, that's an entirely different topic all together and a question that would be better asked in the OCS forum.

    I believe the link is www.marines.ocs.com but I'm not sure. Just google OCS threads or something like that and you should get it.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by rg2o3 View Post
    Hey, this post is very helpful to me as I am going to be an 02xx, but i was wondering what the chances were of getting 0231 because that is the MOS i want, is there certain 02xx MOS's more rare than the other? Or is it basicall luck?
    It goes by the needs of the Marine Corps so there are no guaruntees. You'll end up in the 02 field regardless but it may be as a 31 and it may not be. I know they need analysts though so your chances are decent at least.

  5. #5
    Quick question, what types of things would get you denied for a TS Clearance? Thanks.

  6. #6

    Thumbs up Ts

    Check out:


    You can scan through cases, and see some specifics people were denied. Even though these are industrial/contractor adjudications, they provide quite a bit of insight.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by BLASTAHOE View Post
    Great to know! But percentage wise how likely will you be deployed as an 02xx?
    It just depends on what unit you end up going to. Some duty stations available out of MOS school will be non-deployable while others, you'll deploy almost immediately. I went to 1st Intelligence Battalion and deployed 4 times in 4 years there. Other Marines I went to school with deployed once in that same time frame.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by KilpatrickF250 View Post
    Cpl, is 0231 a five year contract?
    Yes. If the Marine Corps is going to spend the time and money to do a background search, give you a TS Clearance and a highly desirable skill set in the civilian world, they're going to want 5 years from you at a minimum. It goes by fast though.

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