Title: NISTing in Kabul and Baghdad - Part Two

Release Date: 2016-08-10

Document Date: 2003-12-10

Description: Part 2 of the intern describing her experience in Kabul and Baghdad: the heat, relaxed uniform standards, food, and sleep hours, as well as SIGINT work tracking targets and delivering intelligence to customers.

Document: DYNAMIC PAGE -- HIGHEST POSSIBLE CLASSIFICATION IS
TOP SECRET // SI / TK // REL TO USA AUS CAN GBR NZL

(U//FOUO) NISTing in Kabul and Baghdad - Part Two
FROM:
IA Intern
Run Date: 12/10/2003

(U//FOUO) Note: This is the conclusion of
article.

two-part

(U) Everyone on the compound lived in a tent city. They were
magnificently air conditioned, and ours was kept pitch black inside
to accommodate the various shifts that team members worked. I
never unpacked anything - we all just rummaged through our bags
in the dark with small red-lens flashlights. There was not much to
worry about finding, since I wore the same thing every day. One of
the many benefits of working for a Special Operations command
was that they allowed for relaxed grooming standards and had
alternative uniform regulations.
(U) While many people on BIAP had to wear full DCUs (desert
camouflage uniforms) despite the 125-degree heat, we wore PT
gear - black shorts and a brown tee shirt. I only donned my DCU
pants when I had to get "dressed up" for a VIP visit. This was a
much-appreciated blessing, since the heat was almost unbearable.
When I arrived, I suffered heat cramps for a few days which made
me walk around on my toes like a dinosaur. At least I was
providing some entertainment for the troops, I kept telling myself.
(U) The food was bland but not bad. We had a chow hall which
served four hot meals a day. Many were basically mass-reheated
MREs, but the hamburgers were nothing to complain about. Living
on Zulu time (Greenwich Mean Time) and not local time was an
interesting experience. I went to sleep as the sun was coming up
and constantly felt jet-lagged. The rest of BIAP, it seemed, was
running on local time, so it added a hurdle when coordinating
meetings.
(U/FOUO) The work with TF-20 was the best I've had the
opportunity to be a part of so far in my career at NSA. I was lucky
to be working with such an able and flexible command. Like most
NISTs, we worked 7 days a week, at least 13 or 14 hours a day.
Whenever an operation was in progress, which was almost every
day, we worked until it was done.
(S//SI) A majority of our work consisted of identifying and tracking
targets using PCS (Personal Communication Service) handsets. We
worked closely with the DIA interrogators, CIA case officers, allsource analysts, and many others to produce timely, actionable
intelligence. Sometimes we made PowerPoint presentations of our
findings, and other times we just made our case with verbal
briefings or diagrams sketched out on the white board. We did a lot
of educating non-SIGINTers on our capabilities and limitations, and
I learned an incredible amount about the other players in the
intelligence community and military structure.
(S//SI) Too often, I noticed, what we think is urgent and earthshattering may not be what our customer really needs. If you can't

SERIES:
(U//FOUO) IA Interns
Abroad
1. Coming Soon: IA
Interns Abroad
2. 3 1/2 Months in
Qatar: Supporting
CENTCOM
3. 3 1/2 Months in
Qatar: Outside of
Work
4. Deployed to
Afghanistan
5. Camp Virginia to
Camp Victory: In
Kuwait
6. Camp Virginia to
Camp Victory: Into
Baghdad
7. NISTing in Kabul and
Baghdad - Part One
8. NISTing in Kabul and
Baghdad - Part Two
9. Working at Prince
Sultan Air Base, SA
10. Deployment
Sketches - Part 1
11. Deployment
Sketches - Part 2
12. Dispatch from CSG
Baghdad

get the right product to the right person in time, it may not be of
any value at all. On several occasions, we were able to hand
additional threat-related information to team leaders heading out
the door on an operation, just in time. Five minutes later, that
same intelligence would have been just wasted time and paper. I
had an amazing experience working in Baghdad and have gained a
perspective on the value of SIGINT that I hope never to lose.

"(U//FOUO) SIDtoday articles may not be republished or reposted outside NSANet
without the consent of S0121 (DL sid comms)."

DYNAMIC PAGE -- HIGHEST POSSIBLE CLASSIFICATION IS
TOP SECRET // SI / TK // REL TO USA AUS CAN GBR NZL
DERIVED FROM: NSA/CSSM 1-52, DATED 08 JAN 2007 DECLASSIFY ON: 20320108

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