KUWAIT – Soldiers from Task Force Spartan's intelligence section created a podcast to enhance skill sets and communicate important information to a broader audience.
Soldiers deployed to Kuwait under Task Force Spartan's 42nd Infantry Division are using the weekly podcast to understand historical topics better and spread their intelligence knowledge to a broader community.
"The first challenge, which frankly was more of small hurdle given the open-mindedness of the command team, was convincing leadership that creating a podcast was doable and valuable," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jonathon Molik, Task Force Spartan-42nd Infantry Division, intelligence analyst control element officer in charge. "That then led to the real challenge, and that was finding the right software and equipment to produce the recordings while following the appropriate guidelines."
Molik said that he wasn't aware of any other podcasts in the intelligence community, so he and his colleagues had to ask lots of questions and get approval from levels above.
The intelligence team decided to use a podcast format because it is a widely popular medium in the civilian world to convey information. They put together a plan, bought some equipment and began podcasting.
"We have supplemented our written products with recorded conversations to enhance our customers' understanding of our products," Molik said.
"I lament using such a cliché, but thinking outside the box can lead to great success," he said. "The team has received many responses from listeners telling us that while our written products are certainly useful, having a recorded discussion as a supplement has really enhanced their understanding of topics we have covered."
With a steady rise in the popularity of podcasts, the intel Soldiers decided to present their analysis in a way that was increasingly common to get more people outside the military to listen.
"Typically, analytic production is either written, briefed or discussed over teleconferences. We wanted to add a recorded discussion that enhanced our written products and could be consumed at the customer's leisure," Molik said.
Making the transition from written products to a podcast was inspiring for the group of Soldiers who regularly listen to podcasts outside work.
"We loved the idea of doing a podcast, said Staff Sgt. William Simone, Task Force Spartan-42nd Infantry Division, Military Intelligence Fusion noncommissioned officer in charge. "The idea originally came about while discussing how much easier it is to consume information while driving or doing other tasks. In the military world, our intel audience is always busy, so the podcast – in theory – allows them an easier exposure to intelligence."
The Soldiers initially created the podcast to be listened to on a classified network, but they wanted to expand their audience. So, they now produce two podcasts, one on a military secured classified network, and the other on an unclassified system.
"Our podcasts are recorded; it gives the customer the freedom to listen whenever they choose, as opposed to attending a scheduled briefing, and the recordings allow the analysts to present their information and analyze exactly how they like," Molik added.
After receiving a lot of positive feedback from the command team, Molik said that innovation, although at times uncomfortable and new, can lead to better outcomes.
With each recording, the Soldiers learn to research and rehearse the topic and improve their unique skill sets.
Their primary focus is to allow Soldiers to speak about their research topics and have fun.
"We want our Soldiers to improve their analysis; by conversing with other analysts, I believe the Soldiers enhanced their ability to form in-depth analysis," Simone said. "And also answering on the spot questions forces Soldiers to know their topic completely and maintain that information, not just put it on paper."
Molik's advice: If you have an idea, and it's within reason and supports the commander's mission, try it. Don't fall victim to the "we've always done it this way" mentality.