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"Loose lips sink ships" according to new Intelligence chief

Conjure up in your mind every film or television program you have ever seen about security personnel, espionage and special agents. They cut across generations, from the sexy James Bond to Jack Bauer on television's "24" to "The Man From U.N.C.L.E" and to the ridiculously funny "Get Smart."

One of the rules for these fictional heroes is the less they let anyone know about themselves, the better their chances of survival. Look at poor Jack Bauer. He has lost family just because some bad guys found out they existed.

So imagine an interview with one of these "security types". Ask a simple question. For example, "What do you like to do in your spare time?" And then sit back and wait for an answer. Silence.

James Lint

James R. Lint, the new CECOM LCMC deputy chief of staff for Intelligence. Photo by Russ Meseroll

"How about golf, cooking, playing the banjo, reading about St. John the Baptist?" There is more silence. "Come on, you can tell me….Mozart…Scrabble… Bruce Springsteen… "The Sound of Music"? More silence and then comes an answer, "I would rather not say."

James R. Lint, the new CECOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, would also rather not say, of course.

His lifetime of security and intelligence work is summed up in a two-paragraph resume. Do an Internet search on him and he turns up, but only in obscure quotes from a couple of books. There is no online mention of his 21 years of military service.

But Lint spent seven years as a United States Marine, four in Marine Corps Counterintelligence, and has served 14 years in Army Counterintelligence as a Special Agent.

Lint began his military career because he wanted to do things "his way." That meant joining up and becoming part of the Marine Corps Infantry.

He says his career path changed because of a chance meeting with a "shady lady."

"I was on a tour on a ship in the Mediterranean and we were on liberty in Athens, Greece. A young lady clad in a mini skirt approached a group of us. After exchanging pleasantries, she started asking questions and something clicked in my head," he said

The questions were about the ship he was on; its capabilities and status. He remembered a briefing he had received, his unit's annual security education briefing about "Subversion and Espionage Directed Against the U.S".

"I thought to myself 'this sounds like a script'. It sounded like she was following some formula. So I just started making up information. She asked if the ship was nuclear and I said 'sure' but, of course, it was not," he said.

After giving erroneous information, he reported the meeting to Marine Corps Counterintelligence Special Agents.

They concluded he had skills for Intelligence and Security so Lint was asked to make a career change which has made the difference for him ever since. Lint calls returning to work with the Army the "capstone of his career."

As a civil servant, he's spent time in Korea as the Deputy Director for Intelligence and Security with the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Brigade. That was followed by a couple of years with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis and then a stint as the Deputy Director for Safeguards and Security Division, Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy.

There he managed an $81 million dollar budget providing security services for 10 national science laboratories run by the undersecretary of Science, Department of Energy.

Lint said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) job" was so different from other positions I have held because it was after 9/11 and we were a new entity reporting directly to the DHS Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, At one point we did not even have a permanent work space and we were making presentations that were going directly to the White House," he said.

"Staff members would ask what the policy or protocol was for an action and I would say 'there is none' because we had not had time to develop policy. It was all new."

Now his mission is to oversee a security and intelligence office here where he wants to continue to develop, implement and administer threat-based security programs in support of the CECOM LCMC and Army Team C4ISR.

That covers a wide variety of operations, including information security, foreign disclosure, industrial clearances and review, operational security, security violation oversight and personnel operations.

According to Lint, operational security challenges have grown immensely from the typewriter and paper era to the computer and Internet age. He acknowledges that the international tragedy of 9/11 has intensified much of the focus of security and intelligence operations but Lint said nothing has changed when it comes down to the basics.

"The goal is to build better security focused on validated needs and a validated threat," he said. "This requires a better integration of intelligence-supporting security which was one of the early issues the Army determined as a post 9/11 requirement. To provide too much or unneeded security that is not required, will degrade America's treasury, and waste resources needed elsewhere. That can be a win for the enemy.

"Security is knowing the threat, and having a better understanding of intelligence and of who the enemy is and what they may do. You have to know what kind of counter espionage you can establish," he said. "For example, you don't want to go ahead and spend all your time creating a [defense] perimeter only to find out that you are vulnerable to an air attack," he said.

Lint noted that one of his career goals is to help provide Soldiers in the field with "new toys" for gathering intelligence. He also wants to help Soldiers "do their homework" about different cultures and customs so Soldiers do not make cultural mistakes that may cause others to distrust them.

For example, some Japanese natives think it is an insult to be with someone who blows their nose in public; and, in some Asian nations, it is an insult to let your host see the soles of your feet.

When asked if he ever committed any social offenses in the field, he simply said "I would rather not say."

For the record, Lint spends much of his spare time working to provide scholarships, mentorship and assistance to those who would like to begin careers in intelligence and national security. If you want to know more, you can ask him.

 

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