A glance at the NFS(Q) Basic Intelligence Officer Course

Basic Intelligence Officer Course NFS(Q)

LCdr James Cantafio, Training Division Officer, Naval Fleet School Quebec — Situated on the banks of the historic Saint Lawrence River in scenic Old Quebec, Naval Fleet School (Quebec)(NFS(Q)) continues to support Naval operations and Intelligence capability for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) at large.

The Basic Intelligence Officer Course (BIOC) is offered by the Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence (CFSMI) in Kingston, Ont. The naval course is delivered at NFS(Q), at the Achille Pettigrew Building at Pointe-à-Carcy in Port of Quebec. The most recent course began in October 2022, and students graduated in March 2023.

As witnessed by growing global tensions and increasing demand for intelligence capability, the BIOC remains essential. This course prepares junior officers to fill various intelligence-related roles and functions within the Naval Reserve, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).    

The BIOC aims to generate Intelligence Officers (Int O) who can perform the duties within their designated environment or in joint staff positions; the course essentially prepares junior Intelligence Officers to support both naval and CAF operations. The Int O must be a well-informed specialist, capable of supervising and producing various intelligence products and services, as required by land, naval and air commanders for the successful execution of a myriad of domestic and international missions. Int O training is therefore designed to provide the CAF with capable personnel. BIOC Graduates will pursue on-the-job (OJT) and/or regenerative training (RTR). Local mentoring and leadership are offered at their home units to complete their formal training requirements to prepare qualified members to operate in a changing operational environment.

Instructor-student interaction is critical to competency development for BIOC students. Candidates are generally a mix of both Regular Force and Primary Reservists. Typically, more seats are open to reservists during the summertime course offerings to accommodate university schedules and the flexibility of part-time employment associated with being a member of the primary reserve. Upon completion of the BIOC, reservists will typically return to their respective home units, where they will have the opportunity to maintain and progress with their newly acquired skills. On the other hand, Regular Force graduates will be assigned their first posting upon completing the BIOC.

Three dedicated instructors deliver and facilitate learning for the BIOC under the supervision of the course officer and a course petty officer. Additionally, 15-20 guest lecturers are drawn upon to share critical experiences throughout the course, such as intelligence specializations, open-source research, and perspectives from other elements. Coupled with experienced staff, the guest lecturers provide the latest and greatest perspectives on how Int O can best contribute to supporting RCN and the CAF, both at home and abroad. Each instructor brings personal and professional experience unique to their career and interests. Ultimately, this cumulation of expertise and community of practice expands the breadth and depth of understanding. Students, therefore, gain a greater appreciation as to when, where, and how to apply Int O competencies best.

Comprised of a mix of theory, tutorial exercises, and practical exams, the BIOC culminates with a final exercise. During this critical assessment, candidates work together in an Embarked Intelligence Team (EIT) in a Simulated Environment to support a simulated major deployment. Reflective of the actual working environment, this realistic training environment, as offered at NFS(Q), helps prepare and develop briefing and intelligence writing skills essential to Int O capability. Given the significant doctrinal base, the course offers practical application of skills. This is to ensure intelligence-related products and services are effectively disseminated for commanders to make effective, ethical, and timely decisions supporting the mission, values, goals, and objectives of the RCN and CAF.

The next BIOC is currently scheduled to run over the summer of 2023. To learn more, please visit: Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence – Canada.ca, or contact Lt(N) Matthew Bishop, Course Instructor at NFS(Q) at matthew.bishop2@forces.gc.ca.

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