CIB alum wins research award at national intelligence conference

Jack LINCOLNJack Lincoln, a graduate of the CIB’s Iran desk, was recognized for his research at the annual conference of the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) in June. Lincoln, from Glen Head, New York, joined the CIB during his freshman year at Coastal Carolina University. His research, titled “What is the Current State of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps?” appeared in Volume 2, Issue 3, of The Intelligence Review. In June of this year, Lincoln participated at the 15th Annual IAFIE conference, held at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, where he is now continuing his studies. He presented a paper entitled “An Examination of the Methods and Prioritization of Intelligence Collection by select Non-State Actors” and displayed a research poster on the same topic. His poster was awarded 2nd place in the conference’s student poster session. We spoke with him and asked him a few questions about the IAFIE conference, his research, and his experience in the CIB.

Q. Did you find the IAFIE conference useful? Would you recommend that other students attend it in the future?

A. I really enjoyed the IAFIE conference, which had a great turnout and fantastic keynote speakers. I would recommend the conference for students because it is an opportunity to explore a topic in greater depth and explain it to professionals who may initially seem intimidating, but are actually interested in what we have to say and want to help us. For instance, CIB students perhaps could present their semester topics to an even more informed audience, which I think would be beneficial. The conference also rotates its venue. This year it was at St. John’s University, where I attend, and the itinerary also included trips to important landmarks related to intelligence and terrorism like the September 11 Museum and Memorial in Manhattan. A majority of students presented posters, rather than through a PowerPoint like we did at the CIB, so I would also recommend that students do this for another opportunity for feedback and networking with other attendees.

Q. Would you tell us what your research is about? What topic did your poster cover?

A. My research presentation addressed how select non-state or terrorist groups, namely al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State, collect intelligence and assessed their capabilities. One of my findings was that al-Qaeda has an intelligence collection process that was similar to the intelligence cycle in the United States. To adapt my research to the themes of the conference, I drew


Jack Lincoln at the IAFIE conference

conclusions and noted similarities to what is taught about American intelligence in my courses both at Coastal Carolina University and at St. John’s University. I also had to explain how these three groups could be an “emerging threat” and explained how the more appropriate term could be “evolving threats”. My poster, which was similar to my oral presentation, provided an introduction and background, and detailed key points of my research through text and in tables. This was not a challenge, but it required me to organize and present information in a new way besides an essay or PowerPoint, so I think it was beneficial.

Q. You joined the CIB in 2016 and served as an analyst in spring 2017. You also published your work in the third issue of The Intelligence Review. How did your experience in the CIB help you develop and refine your understanding of intelligence and your analytical, as well as presentation, skills?

A. What I learned in the CIB definitely benefited me for this conference and even for class-based group projects. One of the most important things I took from the CIB was the ability to explore media and information from foreign-language sources, even if I did not speak the language. This really expanded the amount of information I could access. The CIB also helped me structure my PowerPoint presentations. Similarly, when I would give my four-minute briefs in the CIB, I started with an opening and then definitions and background slides. This familiarity helped me relax before my IAFIE presentation. It is almost embarrassing to reflect on my CIB demonstration brief and first few briefs, as my confidence and preparedness then were almost non-existent. The CIB also taught me that it is imperative to always keep track of your research topic. For example, part of my paper about al-Qaeda’s re-emergence focused on the potential rise of Hamza bin Laden, son of the late leader Osama bin Laden. While the timing of the recent news stories occurred after my presentation, I recognize that I would have had to make several changes to my conclusions and predictions if the news story of Hamza bin Laden’s demise came out around my presentation schedule.

Q. What are your future professional aspirations?

A. I do not have goal for a specific agency or position. I do want to try and work in the Intelligence Community either in an analysis or an operational role and focus on more strategic intelligence in an agency that has an overseas focus. As I approach my senior year, my plan is to keep my options open. In July, I took the LSAT exam and I think I am going to register for the GRE test so that I can have the option of attending a graduate program in either international relations or economics. If an entry-level career related to intelligence emerges, I would definitely consider it or I would evaluate feasible options for furthering my education.