Intelligence Professors Learn the Latest at Annual Conference

By Daniel Perez

UTEP News Service

As most UTEP students started their summer vacations, 150 of the world’s leading intelligence educators and trainers spent a week on campus to listen and learn “behind the scenes” information that will help them bring the latest perspectives to their classrooms.

Participants at the 9th annual International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) Conference praised the event’s coordination and programming conducted in various rooms on the third floor of The University of Texas at El Paso’s Union Building East. IAFIE is the leading academic organization in its field.UTEP President Diana Natalicio, right, talks about the University’s history with Caryn Wagner, former Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis, and Joseph S. Gordon, Ph.D., IAFIE chair, during the association’s 9 th annual conference in the University’s Tomás Rivera Conference Center. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News ServiceUTEP President Diana Natalicio, right, talks about the University’s history with Caryn Wagner, former Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis, and Joseph S. Gordon, Ph.D., IAFIE chair, during the association’s 9 th annual conference in the University’s Tomás Rivera Conference Center. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News Service

The conference, themed “ Expanding the Frontiers of Intelligence Education,” included a broad range of panel topics and an impressive list of keynote speakers including current and former military and government leaders who focused on terrorism, cyber aggression, future intelligence reforms, challenges, integration and transformation, and how to use defense intelligence against new domestic security threats.

IAFIE officials said the decision to bring its annual conference, which usually is in Washington, D.C., to El Paso was based on the city being an important part of the nation’s security corridor and the University’s growing focus on intelligence, defense and security studies. It was the first time the conference was conducted in the Southwest and the second time it was staged west of the Mississippi River.

“I’ve been to seven of these conferences and this is the best one yet,” said Mike Collier, Ph.D., associate professor and homeland security coordinator in the School of Safety, Security and Emergency Management at Eastern Kentucky University.

Collier, a retired commander with the U.S. Coast Guard, moderated several of the panel discussions and was especially interested in the session about security along the U.S.-Mexico Border. He said he plans to integrate everything he has learned at UTEP into his curriculum.

“The information you get (from the speakers) at these conferences gets you current by taking you behind the scenes,” Collier said.

Bob de Graaff, Ph.D., professor of intelligence and security studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, said he enjoyed the interesting presentations and talking with his colleagues about the mechanics of creating a successful intelligence graduate degree track.

De Graaff thought the most fascinating session focused on the future challenges that face intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“It gave us an idea of the international problems we could be headed for,” he said.

In her welcoming remarks, UTEP President Diana Natalicio thanked the association for having its conference in El Paso and noted that many participants had to come a long way.

“That tends to be true even if you come from somewhere in Texas,” she said as the audience chuckled.

She spoke of the pride the University has in its intelligence and related courses, and praised Larry Valero, Ph.D., associate professor of security studies at UTEP, who led the effort to bring the IAFIE conference to the University, as well as other opportunities to showcase UTEP and its Intelligence and National Security Studies (INSS) program.

Joe Gordon, Ph.D., the IAFIE chair and Colin Powell Professor of Analysis at the National Intelligence University in Washington, D.C., lauded the conference for its content. He said one of his favorite presentations was about security along the U.S.-Mexico border because he received information from El Paso representatives from the DEA, FBI, and the El Paso Intelligence Center.

“I haven’t heard a single complaint, and this is a group that will tell you if something’s wrong,” he said with a laugh.