Better to prepare for CI, FET or COIST?

My unit is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan and I plan on reclassing to 35L when we get back. There are a lot of special teams being formed for the deployment that I am interested in for a few different reasons, but mainly I want to build my experience in Intel work. The two teams I am interested in are the FET (Female engagement team) and COIST. Don't know what COIST stands for! The FET basically goes out with the patrols and works to build a rapport w/the females in the cities and towns with the hopes of gaining information about the area that can be useful to us. COIST basically briefs convoys before they go out and debrief them and send up reports when they return (to my understanding) so I'm just trying to decide which would serve me better when I go into 35L and later when I get out and do Counterintel on the outside. Thanks again,

CPL B
Original Post
COIST = Company Intelligence Support Team

What's your current MOS, clearance?

Dependent on this will determine which avenue to take. If you're a non-MI mos, you would be able to collect passive intelligence however wouldn't be able to do nuts and bolts activities.

My suggestion (dependent on your answer) is to do COIST, liaise with every intel element at your location (HUMINT, CI, etc) and see what type of requirements they're trying to answer. You can disseminate your information to the 2 Shop, Intel Partners while providing them with leads for follow up so they may conduct the military source operations. Make sure your S2 is coordinating all this and understands your effort. They may also be able to provide additional guidance.
I am not familiar with either concept however COIST seems a little more comprehensive opposed to just FET.

I don't know if there's an MOS requirement however get into some local intelligence trainings within your post to include foundry offered by contractors. Also try to get some mobile training teams from Ft Huachuca to come out. I don't know all the protocol on this nor am I aware if your mos will impede these efforts. Get your BC and/or 3 shop to draft letters to support the training as well. If you have an MI unit within post doing CI/HUMINT, they may be able to provide baseline training to give you a better feel for the operations and how it incorporates to a battlespace.

With all this being said, read and re-read the COIST handbook (I found it using google) on your roles, responsibilities, etc.

Good luck.
Your decision will really depend on how you like to spend your times in the 3rd world.

It sounds as though if you handle COIST info then you will likely have a good standard of living. This may be contrasted by interacting and living like a third world female with far less hygiene, more aches, and more pains by being in a female engagement team.

The second one sounds a whole lot more Army Strong, but 35L is still understrength, so in reality either one will help you into that arena. CID should be another avenue to consider along with 35G and 35N in the Intell world.

The FET is far riskier, and I believe you have at least one little one correct? With that said, me personally, I'd pick the COIST assignment if I had children. Just my $0.02 best of luck though, I am sure there are some other females on the forum that would like to hear possible roadblocks along the way.

Myself, I personally would just like to hear the interesting story that should unfold (opsec of course)along the way so please keep the forum posted.
COIST is completely worthless. It's the biggest joke and one of the biggest mistakes the Army has made in the intel world in recent memory. None of the people on the team have a friggin clue what they are doing, they all think they are more trained on intel collection than they really are, and often the team is violating the rules to the point where they could be put in jail if someone decided to prosecute.

The purpose of the COIST is to basically be a poor man's 35M if they don't have one around, yet all they actually do is create more work for us. They want all their reports to go up in DIIRs, but COIST members (thank God) aren't assigned FRNs so they have to ask the 35M or 35L to write the report unless they are just sending up MS Word documents these days.

Neither team has anything to do with real world Human Intelligence or Counter Intelligence collection. Any soldier can do either of the jobs (as you can see they have a mechanic with ZERO intelligence training that doesn't even know what one of the acronyms stand for possibly filling the role).

And since they aren't intelligence soldiers, they have no clue when they are overstepping their boundaries. For example, one article states that they should be able to tactically question people on patrols or guide tactical questioning. But how many of them know that the moment they ask a source a question twice for any other reason other than clarification/poor translation they are running an approach and therefore conducting an interrogation IAW FM 2-22.3 which is a violation of UCMJ?

How many times have you heard inexperienced officers or soldiers tell a random person that if they don't provide intelligence they will be put in jail away from their families? Again, violation of FM 2-22.3 as only 35M are authorized to run approaches, and only then with an approved interrogation plan.

In addition they are given tools to work with that they have no clue how to use, like BATS, HIIDE, link diagrams etc and given very little training. Most are just thrown into the mix and as a result are very ineffective.

If you can't tell, I hate the COIST with a passion.
That's because while the COIST is supposed to be staffed by "high speed" individuals, it never is. Because high speed individuals are people that commanders don't want to give up to fill an additional duty (the COIST is not located on the MTOE). So what you get are a bunch of dead beats and people that are extraneous personnel, regardless of whether or not they are squared away.

For example, if the company has 5 slots for mechanics but has 6 on hand and a CRBN with no job those two extra people are usually tossed into it.

So it also leads to a high turnover in soldiers.
being a part of FET is very risky. I can tell you that half of the female soldiers in my company on this team have already been taken out due to combat related injuries. There is an ongoing investigation relating to this.

quote:
Originally posted by ArmyWife~N~Soldier:
My unit is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan and I plan on reclassing to 35L when we get back. There are a lot of special teams being formed for the deployment that I am interested in for a few different reasons, but mainly I want to build my experience in Intel work. The two teams I am interested in are the FET (Female engagement team) and COIST. Don't know what COIST stands for! The FET basically goes out with the patrols and works to build a rapport w/the females in the cities and towns with the hopes of gaining information about the area that can be useful to us. COIST basically briefs convoys before they go out and debrief them and send up reports when they return (to my understanding) so I'm just trying to decide which would serve me better when I go into 35L and later when I get out and do Counterintel on the outside. Thanks again,

CPL B
quote:
Originally posted by ArmyWife~N~Soldier:
My unit is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan and I plan on reclassing to 35L when we get back. There are a lot of special teams being formed for the deployment that I am interested in for a few different reasons, but mainly I want to build my experience in Intel work. The two teams I am interested in are the FET (Female engagement team) and COIST. Don't know what COIST stands for! The FET basically goes out with the patrols and works to build a rapport w/the females in the cities and towns with the hopes of gaining information about the area that can be useful to us. COIST basically briefs convoys before they go out and debrief them and send up reports when they return (to my understanding) so I'm just trying to decide which would serve me better when I go into 35L and later when I get out and do Counterintel on the outside. Thanks again,

CPL B


Either of these teams, are they volunteer, or are you ordered to them?
In my unit, which is CAV, the FET were ordered to go because they were worthless otherwise ( overstrengthed MOS's in our company who are moved around for HEY YOU reasons )

They actually earned AAM's for their minimal work on a few overnight checkpoint missions. Maybe you don't care about awards, but if your trying to work on fruit salad just be completely motivated during your work with the line troops and volunteer to be in the suck as much as any other swinging joe out there.

The COIST team for our FSC is, like others said, full of deadbeats as well. All they do is copy and paste the same crap every mission to the higher COIST team, unless we hit an IED or see some sort of shady shit, then they have minimal work to do, then go back to turning wrenches or answering the radios.

To answer your question Corporal, I'd volunteer for the FET, it's a way to earn extra recognition, display your leadership skills in the field, and earn awards, plus it might help you a little when you go to Intel, but I doubt it.
The FET is also difficult because in rural villages in Afghanistan, the first sight of men, the women run and hide.

And if you have a team of women trying to engage the population, who is pulling security? That's right...men.

You might get lucky in a village or you might talk to them during a MEDCAP or something...
quote:
Originally posted by Corvette1140:
Either of these teams, are they volunteer, or are you ordered to them?
Usually you are ordered because you are a pain in the ass to the command and they want to be rid of you, worthless, overstrength, or are in an MOS that doesn't have a job otherwise (like CBRN or something).

Either way, as you can see by the people that have backed up what I've said, these are teams designed to use up extra soldiers to do mundane and otherwise useless tasks.

Although they might have asked her "which worthless team would you prefer to be on, the FET or COIST?"

Even if you get on the FET and manage to build enough rapport with the locals for them to give you intelligence you don't have the training to conduct a thorough questioning nor do you have the training to write the reports properly. So in that scenario, let's say you build up enough rapport with a local female for her to give you information, who are you going to turn to, to conduct proper questioning/write the report? A female 35M? In which case, why not just have the 35M question in the first place?
Village raids led by the ANP and ANA and tactical checkpoints searching vehices leaving and entering an AO are a few examples of what goes on that our FET participated in.

35m, your very correct about the females disengaging themselves from coalition, but nearing the end of this deployment I've seen progression in our rural AO. With government funded road work connecting goat trails to good paved road ( where once many IED's have gone off on my sections trucks ) and constant security and engagement of shady activity partnered by ANP and ANA, the females are a little more open now, and dont exactly run away, but rather, continue their tasks impartial to our presence.

(none of this is opsec violating info, it's published in FT Drum Blizzard news paper and all over the internet)

edit: our COIST just prints out SIGACTS in our surrounding AO's and gives them to our Convoy NCOIC or Commander (PSG or PL) sometimes the COIST guy ( a missile repair tech. ) sits in on our AAR's and writes down "pertinent" info about our mission that might show trends or patterns of life different then what is normal.

On paper it looks like something important, but I share the same outlook as 35M4LN7PF about COIST.

However, for personal gain, I think FET is okay for YOU, mission wise, I again agree with 35M4LN7PF, which is why we have REAL intel teams out there, which I could understand have a dislike for the ragtag teams.
35M, thank you for the insight into these teams. I wasn't asked to be on either, I am asking to be one or the other. My friend got put on FET and told me all of the females are flaking out and don't want to do it and that they needed people. I thought it sounded fun to go outside the wire with the batteries so I volunteered for it. When I told my 1SG I wanted on it, he said he didn't really want to send me to a battery b/c we are short on mechanics and he needs me, so he offered to put me on COIST. I see now from what you've said that neither will really help me in the future field of Intel., so thank you. I will probably just stay in the motorpool.
I mean, if by helping out in the intel you mean talking to people as opposed to staying on the FOB, then yes it will help your interpersonal skills with interacting with the local populace...

But as far as being a resume enhancer or something, I highly doubt it.
Well, we don't have very many good NCOs in our motor pool...lots of shitbags. I'm not the best mechanic but I help keep things running smoothly, or so I've been told. The truth is though, I've been out of my MOS pretty much my whole career so outside of like services and simple repairs, I'm not much good as a mechanic. That's one of the many reasons I'm re-classing. I do what I can, I don't just sit around and say "I can't do it" all the time, when I came in I told them up-front I didn't know my job but I was more than willing to learn. So that helped too. But there's a lot of dirty politics in our motorpool w/the higher-ups and it gets really exhausting, so I'm not looking forward to being w/those people for a whole year...
35M, I got it, you dislike them both, especially the COIST. I have a small point for you however, just because its in the FM does not make it a violation of the UCMJ. As many NCO's get wrong, a FM is a guide, not a regulation. Not flaming you, just sayin. To the original question, I am a L and have operated on an HCT. If you are thinking about the intel field the best bet would (my opinion only) be the FET. I have never dealt with the COIST so I will bow to 35M's wisdom on that one. I did work with the FET's to some extent and the job the do would help you learn to deal with locals on a personal level, talk to them, etc. Just my 2 cents for what it's worth (probably less than 2). Good luck either way. Oh, it would probably do you some good to look into the FMs and the ARs (the ones that are not classified) to get an idea to help you decide.
quote:
Originally posted by 68NI0U1:
35M, I got it, you dislike them both, especially the COIST. I have a small point for you however, just because its in the FM does not make it a violation of the UCMJ. As many NCO's get wrong, a FM is a guide, not a regulation. Not flaming you, just sayin. To the original question, I am a L and have operated on an HCT. If you are thinking about the intel field the best bet would (my opinion only) be the FET. I have never dealt with the COIST so I will bow to 35M's wisdom on that one. I did work with the FET's to some extent and the job the do would help you learn to deal with locals on a personal level, talk to them, etc. Just my 2 cents for what it's worth (probably less than 2). Good luck either way. Oh, it would probably do you some good to look into the FMs and the ARs (the ones that are not classified) to get an idea to help you decide.
I didn't see this, but to re-iterate what Backintheday said, FM 2-22.3 is the law. Not only does it contain parts of the UCMJ/Law of Land Warfare directly in the manual, but it outlines who is authorized to interrogate and run sources.

Believe me when I tell you that if something happened in another detention facility similar to Abu G and they looked at the manual and saw that only 35M/L should be running sources and only 35M should be interrogating whoever's leadership allowed that non 35M to interrogate would be in a heap of shit.
quote:
Originally posted by Backintheday:
And yes, the COIST is a stupid idea, along with the idea of putting 35Ms in them... which is going to happen.

35M is a great job, but suffers from poor senior leadership and management.
I can agree to this for now. The Army recruited a bunch of a clueless E6s and E7s a few years back and now they are platoon sergeants and team leaders.

It's a bummer but it's true. I'd like to think that I do not fall into this category as I have been in the MOS since mid 2004.

The issue is also that they really lessened the requirements to graduate. I know an E6 that failed SOC with no repercussions, a warrant that failed the 10 course with no repercussions, etc.

Neither of these people are bad people, but do they really belong in the MOS???

Some people just aren't meant to be in the HUMINT field, and everyone seems to be afraid to say that out loud.

When I went to the strategic debriefer course, there were tons of DIA civilians that wrote reports at the third grade level - it was horrendous, and they basically forced me to mentor them to help them pass. I tried to explain that it wasn't that I didn't want to be a team player, but that holding their hand in a course where there was a 4 hour report writing class, a 45 minute refresher, an example and template on the shared drive was just setting them up for failure in the future.

If you can't write a report correctly with all of those tools at your disposal how are you going to do so when you are stationed at a remote FOB supporting an infantry battalion???

/rant
quote:
Originally posted by insertarmysaying:
I did not know that mechanic was an MOS that qualified for a TS clearance.


I have heard of bases, especially in Colorado, that require higher clearances just to be allowed on the base. I guess it really just depends if they are in the vicinity of materials that would need to be safeguarded.

My former NCOIC was given his TS as a MP because he had to guard an area(they were building a facility) that would eventually be TS.

Hate to speculate but maybe they were given clearances ahead of deployment in case they need to pull guard duty. At least ArmyWife~N~Soldier has had her opportunities expanded by having it.
As a member of a FET currently deployed, all I can say is that this is the best job I've ever had.

We do missions up to 10-12 days long, stay on small SP's without electricity or even structures, often sleeping on the ground or cots under cammo net. We do patrols with the infantry (not just FET missions). We keep up, and have come under fire and proven ourselves capable of reacting under contact. Moreover, we've retrieved information that is extremely important to our mission almost every time we go out.

As for the women running away....you won't see women on the street, but my team member and I have never had a problem getting into homes to talk to women. We're either asked by eager children to come inside, or walk up to an elder and just ASK if we can talk to the women of his household. They are receptive and welcoming 99.9% of the time. In fact, we've only had 1 incident where a female seemed reluctant to talk to us. They graciously feed us chi and candies or even lunch and talk about everything from security in their village to their marriage and kids.

Anyone who thinks that COIN or FET (CST's) don't work, isn't properly working their teams as they were meant to be used, either out of ignorance, or a deep determination to see the program fail (which I've seen a few times. Not everyone is eager to have women out there under fire).

I don't know much about CST, only what I've heard by rumor.

Know that if you do decide to do FET, you will have to endure the same hardships and danger as the 11B's you work with. Get used to sleeping outside, not having a bathroom (go on line and by a device that lets you use a cat-hole: see Amazon). Believe me, when you're on patrol and you have to pee or Die, and you can't drop trow in the middle of the road, or step off the road to an uncleared area for privacy, a P-EZ is a life-saver, literally. You'll get used to not showering other than a water bottle wash off for up to 2 weeks. You'll walk around until your feet want to die and you're drenched in sweat.

And it will be worth every second of pain if you love your job.

Last point: if you're in this for a CAB or to try to be 11B, forget it. One thing we never considered during all the training we had--When you come under fire you have ONE mission---Protect the Unarmed, Civilian, American Citizen, Female Interpreter on your Team!! Period. She's paid to interpret, not be left behind when you try to go running into a firefight. Her Safety will be your primary mission.

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