CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Staff Sgt. Krystle Parks, an intelligence analyst with the Tennessee Army National Guard's 230th Sustainment Brigade, recently supported exercise Saber Guardian, a large-scale, multi-national training exercise in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria that saw more than 25,000 troops from 23 countries take part.
The overall role of Park's unit was to provide supplies, logistical planning and transportation to many of the military units participating in the exercise.
"Saber Guardian isn't just an opportunity to demonstrate that we can work together effectively – it is a chance to reassure our allies that we are willing and able to lend aid if needed."
Parks worked with a team of service members to collect and analyze information from various sources which could impact the operation's success.
"My job is to learn everything I can about our mission area – the terrain, environment, political climate, the social structure, you name it," she said. "I need to analyze everything to determine what could positively or negatively affect our mission."
But Parks isn't just an intelligence analyst with the Tennessee Army Guard. On the civilian side, she works as an analyst for local, state and federal law enforcement inTennessee.
Parks credits her intense training to her ability to work in both spheres.
"My work with the military and with law enforcement is very similar," explained Parks. "My military training helped me to quickly learn how to work with law enforcement."
It also means continually honing her skills, especially with new technology.
"I am constantly getting exposed to new complications and applications in cases, so I have to keep my skills and understanding of technology up-to-date," she said.
Her work on the civilian side also helps her in her military role.
"Working in law enforcement has given me a different perspective," she said. "It helps keep me focused and helps me hone my skills as a military analyst. Whether I am working with the military or civilian law enforcement, I get to do something new and something I enjoy every day."
Parks is not the first person in her family to serve in the military. Her grandfather's military career motivated her to follow in his footsteps.
"I spent my life looking up to him and listening to his stories about being in the Army," she said. "He joined when he was 15, back when you could sign up at the post masters office," said Parks.
Despite being underage when he enlisted, her grandfather's career spanned more than 20 years and three conflicts.
"He talked his father into lying about his age for him on the paperwork and he went off to be a tanker," said Parks. "He served as a tanker through World War II and Korea, where his service took him all through Africa and Italy. He was called back during Vietnam and worked as a [military police officer]."
Parks said that devotion to duty inspired her.
"My Papa knew when he was 15 that he wanted to give his loyalty to his country and that he wanted to protect his family, friends," she said. "He instilled in me the desire to do the same."
And now as an intelligence analyst with the Tennessee Army Guard, Parks has continued her family's tradition of service, expanding into her civilian career and leading to success while taking part in Saber Guardian and other exercises and missions.