Deployment. The word itself can be intimidating for Marines who are entering an unfamiliar world. Therefore, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity has created a formula that gives Marines a well-rounded idea of what to expect while deployed.
The MCIA consists of five key groups: analysis, imagery, geospatial, cultural and the expeditionary support branch, which all work together to help inform and prepare Marines for worldwide deployments. These five groups break down information to meet specific needs for each Marine.
"Very few Marines in general know what it is that MCIA can do for them, and frankly, a lot of the intelligence community in the Marine Corps doesn't know the full spectrum of what MCIA can do, especially the Marines who are about to deploy," said Maj. Richard M. Martin, MCIA expeditionary support branch head.
Some common products of MCIA intelligence support include the Department of Defense Country Handbook, Country Smart Cards, Cultural Field Guides and regional orientation briefs, which are the most popular, Martin said.
Regional orientation briefs are an excellent source of information for deployments, said Staff Sgt. William C. Rapier, company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps.
"My experience with MCIA and the intelligence community has led me to believe that MCIA products are invaluable to ensuring optimal mission success," said Rapier, who has deployed four times. "MCIA was instrumental in providing wonderful intel products in the form of maps, area of operation briefs, past and present activity in an AO, and other vital information that small unit leaders can utilize to optimize their pre-deployment training and (be) better prepared during ongoing operations."
Unlike other forms of intelligence support, MCIA doesn't concentrate solely on Iraq or Afghanistan, Martin said.
"When I took leave and went to Italy, (I) contacted MCIA for a country brief prior to departing. They gave me detailed maps, terrorism briefings and recent activity in and around where I was going to be traveling. This helped me to make informative and safe travel plans," Rapier said.
Rapier also said he encourages all Marines who will be traveling abroad or deploying in the future to give MCIA a call.
"I firmly believe MCIA is an asset for any unit to tap into prior to and during a deployment. The products that they produce are evidently the key to success of any forward deployed Marine and unit," Rapier said.
MCIA has made this information available for Marines so they can be prepared and informed for any deployment. However, in the end, it is up to the Marine to reach out and utilize the information provided, Martin said.
"It is really easy, we are here 24-7 and we are the Marine Corps' advocate into the intelligence community," said Master Sgt. Scott H. Stalker, intelligence operations chief of MCIA.
Marines can contact the Expeditionary Support Branch at (703) 432-7270 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org