Commander Toni Gay Introduces Structured Analytic Techniques at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy
CDR Toni Gay, Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities, has been highlighted in a number of academic venues recently due to her work incorporating Structured Analytic Techniques (SATs) into an advanced Intelligence Studies class at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (CGA). She designed the course to provide Intelligence Studies students a more in depth understanding of U.S. Intelligence collection and analysis methods, and included SATs as a mechanism for improving student skills in analysis and critical thinking.
SATs have been around for a while – Jack Davis, longtime CIA analyst and educator at the CIA’s Sherman Kent School, began writing about “alternative analysis” in the 1980s. However, introducing SATs into the Intelligence Analysis course is new ground at the CGA and CDR Gay chose Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis by Richards J. Heuer, Jr., and Randolph H. Pherson as the primary text for the class. She felt it defined SATs well within the taxonomy of analytic methods and divides 50 SATs into eight well defined categories.
SATs are useful for conducting analysis on any subject and the coursework is relevant to all majors. The advanced course 2375 Strategic Intelligence: Collections and Analysis, is the final in a continuum of intelligence focused classes for Government majors offered in Humanities, but it is open to all cadets as long as they satisfy the prerequisites. Her counterpart LCDR Duane Ripley teaches the prerequisite class 2481 Intelligence and National Security Policy which is designed for all majors.
For course 2375, CDR Gay designed and facilitates a three-day end of course simulation exercise based on the 2008 Mumbai, India terrorist attacks. The experiential exercise allows the cadets to use the SATs learned earlier in the course to decompose the problem, visualize information to help conduct analysis, and present findings in a clear, concise and well-written way. Cadets in the first offering of the class presented their exercise findings at the 2012 Spring Research Symposium at CGA, and Cadet Ann Fecskovics, CGA Class of 2013, co-presented the class findings with CDR Gay at the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) Forum “Intelligence Education: Theory and Practice,” at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling, in Washington, D.C., May 23, 2012.
CDR Gay has most recently presented her work on SATs at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Five-Eyes Analytic Workshop “The Analysts of 2023: What They Will do and How We Can Prepare Them,” at James Madison University (JMU), in Harrisonburg, Virginia., February 12, 2013. There she collaborated with scholars and practitioners from JMU’s Institute for National Security Analysis, DIA, The Citadel, and academic partners from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Discussions and workshops centered on teaching similar coursework, and sharing best practices and methods for teaching intelligence analysis courses in higher education.
Commander Gay’s presentation “Critical Thinking in Intelligence Studies” was featured at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Center for Advanced Studies luncheon at CGA, November 28, 2012 where she presented on her work in this area to her CGA colleagues and CGA senior leadership. The week prior she spoke about her work in this area at the National Military Intelligence Association’s “Intelligence and Education Training Workshop” in Fairfax, Virginia, November 15. There she was a panel discussant about the use of SATs in the classroom to enhance critical thinking.
CDR Gay arrived at CGA Summer 2009 to take up the reins of the Intelligence Development Program (IDP) at the CGA, a landmark initiative begun in 2005 to infuse intelligence awareness into academics and training for cadets, and intelligence training for permanent party and students at the Leadership Development Center. The cornerstone of the IDP is a secure classroom equipped with a SIPRNet terminal for each cadet that enables students to study real world intelligence analysis and information up to the Secret level. CDR Gay’s office is located in Satterlee Hall and her courses focus on Government majors. She is assisted by LCDR Ripley whose office is in Smith Hall and his coursework is focused on non-Government majors. LCDR Ripley also frequently guest-lectures in Science and Engineering classes.
Summer 2013 will mark the end of CDR Gay’s teaching and research at the CGA when she returns to the field of practice as Chief of Analysis and Requirements at Atlantic Area (LANT-25) in Portsmouth, Virginia. She will continue her academic endeavors as a doctoral student at William and Mary in Williamsburg. She plans to focus her research efforts there on incorporating critical thinking into National Security and Intelligence Studies coursework and professional development for faculty teaching analysis in that still maturing discipline.